Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running

Overview


Rachel Toor was a bookish egghead who ran only to catch a bus. How such an unlikely athlete became a runner of ultramarathons is the story of Personal Record, an exhilarating meditation on the making, and the minutiae, of a runner?s life. The food, the clothes, the races, the injuries, the watch (and Toor loves her watch) are all essential to the runner, as readers discover here, and discover why.
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Overview


Rachel Toor was a bookish egghead who ran only to catch a bus. How such an unlikely athlete became a runner of ultramarathons is the story of Personal Record, an exhilarating meditation on the making, and the minutiae, of a runner’s life. The food, the clothes, the races, the injuries, the watch (and Toor loves her watch) are all essential to the runner, as readers discover here, and discover why.
            
A chronicle of Toor’s relationship with the sport of running, from her early incarnation as an Oreo-eating couch potato to her emergence as a hard-bodied marathoner, this book explores the sport of running, the community it brings into being, and the personal satisfaction of pursuing it to its limit. Alternating with Toor’s account of becoming a runner are the stories—meditations, examinations, celebrations—of how runners become a pack. An homage to running, a literary take on how an activity can turn into a passion, and how a passion can become a way of life, this book runs all the way from individual achievement—a personal record—to the world of friendship and belonging, the community that runners inevitably find.
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Editorial Reviews

Booklist

“Readers who have thought about taking up running but have kept putting it off will discover that Toor has deftly taken away all of their excuses, from ‘I don’t have time’ to ‘I’m too out of shape’ to ‘It’ll hurt too much.’ A book that will appeal equally to novices and experienced runners.”—Booklist

— David Pitt

Reader's Digest

“A finely written ode to the art, the trial, the lifestyle of marathon running. Toor, an experienced runner, has the ability to take you inside that niche world and make it real.”—Reader’s Digest

— Maureen Mackey

New West

"In her new essay collection, Personal Record, Toor immerses the reader in the world of long-distance running, examining her bruised, muscular body, the contents of her closet, her pantry jammed with energy gels and protein bars, and her love life in the process of explaining what running means to her and describing the experiences the sport has given her."—Jenny Shank, New West

— Jenny Shank

Story Circle Book Reviews

“Rachel Toor makes me want to be a runner. . . . We can all find something inspiring in this book of stories about her running experiences.”—Doris Anne Roop-Benner, Story Circle Book Reviews

— Doris Anne Roop-Benner

Pat Conroy
"Personal Record takes you on a grand tour of the running life, which goes from hobby to one of the purest forms that fanaticism in sport can take-ultramarathons. As any great running book deserves, Rachel Toor's writing is swift, disciplined, sinewy, and indomitably strong. It is also hilarious. The story she tells is a marvel."

-Pat Conroy, author of My Losing Season and The Prince of Tides

Bill Rodgers
"In an unconventional, inspirational, and loving account of running, really well done and funny as heck, Rachel Toor shows how this simple activity is so powerful it sweeps us off our feet into friendships that endure. I'm a fan."

-Bill Rodgers, four-time winner of both the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon and owner of the Bill Rodgers Running Center

Pat Conroy

Personal Record takes you on a grand tour of the running life, which goes from hobby to one of the purest forms that fanaticism in sport can take—ultramarathons. As any great running book deserves, Rachel Toor’s writing is swift, disciplined, sinewy, and indomitably strong. It is also hilarious. The story she tells is a marvel.”—Pat Conroy, author of My Losing Season and The Prince of Tides
Bill Rodgers

“In an unconventional, inspirational, and loving account of running, really well done and funny as heck, Rachel Toor shows how this simple activity is so powerful it sweeps us off our feet into friendships that endure. I'm a fan.”—Bill Rodgers, four-time winner of both the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon and owner of the Bill Rodgers Running Center
Booklist - David Pitt

“Readers who have thought about taking up running but have kept putting it off will discover that Toor has deftly taken away all of their excuses, from ‘I don’t have time’ to ‘I’m too out of shape’ to ‘It’ll hurt too much.’ A book that will appeal equally to novices and experienced runners.”—Booklist
Reader's Digest - Maureen Mackey

“A finely written ode to the art, the trial, the lifestyle of marathon running. Toor, an experienced runner, has the ability to take you inside that niche world and make it real.”—Reader’s Digest
New West - Jenny Shank

"In her new essay collection, Personal Record, Toor immerses the reader in the world of long-distance running, examining her bruised, muscular body, the contents of her closet, her pantry jammed with energy gels and protein bars, and her love life in the process of explaining what running means to her and describing the experiences the sport has given her."—Jenny Shank, New West
Story Circle Book Reviews - Doris Anne Roop-Benner

“Rachel Toor makes me want to be a runner. . . . We can all find something inspiring in this book of stories about her running experiences.”—Doris Anne Roop-Benner, Story Circle Book Reviews
Reader's Digest
"A finely written ode to the art, the trial, the lifestyle of marathon running. Toor, an experienced runner, has the ability to take you inside that niche world and make it real."

— Maureen Mackey, Reader's Digest

Booklist
"Readers who have thought about taking up running but have kept putting it off will discover that Toor has deftly taken away all of their excuses, from ''I don't have time'' to ''I'm too out of shape'' to ''It'll hurt too much.'' A book that will appeal equally to novices and experienced runners."

— David Pitt, Booklist

New West
"In her new essay collection, Personal Record, Toor immerses the reader in the world of long-distance running, examining her bruised, muscular body, the contents of her closet, her pantry jammed with energy gels and protein bars, and her love life in the process of explaining what running means to her and describing the experiences the sport has given her."

— Jenny Shank, New West

Story Circle Book Reviews
"Rachel Toor makes me want to be a runner. . . . We can all find something inspiring in this book of stories about her running experiences."

— Doris Anne Roop-Benner, Story Circle Book Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Running Times senior writer Toor (Writing/Eastern Washington Univ.; The Pig and I: Why It's So Easy to Love an Animal, and So Hard to Love a Man, 2005, etc.) charts her transformation from exercise-resistant "pretentious little intellectual" in college to 40-something ultramarathoner. Fifteen years after forswearing her Oreo-eating ways, Toor has run more than "forty marathons and ultras" and won "a handful of small boutiquey races in mountainous, out-of-the-way places" like the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and the Himalayas. She has also become one of a dozen or so athletes selected by Clif Bar as pacers, who volunteer in helping less-experienced runners achieve their PRs (personal records, or personal best times at a given distance) in marathons throughout the country. Toor's somewhat fractured collection of short essays on all things running offers many helpful maxims for long-distance runners, ranging from what to expect after a marathon ("You finish the race and walk around feeling fat. Bloated. Porked out. Your whole everything is swollen like a bruise") to a detailed description of Ride and Tie events, lengthy races involving teams comprised of a pair of runners and a horse. No matter what the subject, though, the spotlight always returns to, and shines brightest on, the author and her accomplishments. She doesn't hesitate to relate why she prefers running with men ("you can talk about nothing for hours") or offer reasons why she's had trouble in relationships ("I don't cook, and I'm kind of mean"), admitting she's guilty of that "least appealing" runnerly trait: "blinkered self-absorption." She writes: "Sometimes, when I'm racing, the thing that keeps my mind off the discomfortI am feeling is the story I will tell about it when I'm finished." For Toor, the acts of running and writing are seemingly intertwined, so readers will gather that the present volume brought much therapeutic relief. Narcissus in Nikes. Agent: Susan Arellano/Susan Rabiner Literary Agency
Dean Karnazes

“Rachel Toor writes the way she runs, with passion, conviction, and calculated abandon. Personal Record is a candid and revealing look at the strange allure of long-distance running, captured intimately by someone who has been down that twisted road herself, and keeps going.”—Dean Karnazes, ultramarathoner

Bernd Heinrich

“I couldn''t put it down. It’s insightful-funny, and passionately real and personal.”—Bernd Heinrich, author of Why We Run: A Natural History

Don Kardong

“In this gem of a book, Rachel Toor shares her thoughts and emotions as she tiptoes, trots, and eventually races into the quirky world of running. Toor''s journey is a personal adventure, intimate and sometimes confessional, and runners of all abilities will enjoy traveling along with her.”—Don Kardong, former Olympic marathoner and Runner’s World senior writer

Dean Karnazes
"Rachel Toor writes the way she runs, with passion, conviction, and calculated abandon. Personal Record is a candid and revealing look at the strange allure of long-distance running, captured intimately by someone who has been down that twisted road herself, and keeps going."

-Dean Karnazes, ultramarathoner

Bernd Heinrich
"I couldn't put it down. It's insightful-funny, and passionately real and personal."

-Bernd Heinrich, author of Why We Run: A Natural History

Don Kardong
"In this gem of a book, Rachel Toor shares her thoughts and emotions as she tiptoes, trots, and eventually races into the quirky world of running. Toor's journey is a personal adventure, intimate and sometimes confessional, and runners of all abilities will enjoy traveling along with her."

-Don Kardong, former Olympic marathoner and Runner's World senior writer

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803260337
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Pages: 182
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Rachel Toor teaches writing at Eastern Washington University, is a columnist for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and a senior writer for Running Times. She is the author of The Pig and I: How I Learned to Love Men (Almost) as Much as I Love My Pets and Admissions Confidential: An Insider’s Account of the Elite College Selection Process. A graduate of Yale University, she received an MFA from the University of Montana and currently lives in Spokane.
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Table of Contents

Toeing the Line

1 The Body 1

2 Reasons Not to Run 5

3 The Routes 9

4 One Runner's Beginnings 13

5 The Closet 17

6 The Coach 23

7 The Magazine Rack 27

8 Ride and Ties 31

9 Weekend Mornings 39

10 The First Marathon 43

11 Speed Goggles 49

12 The Fast Young Man 53

13 Boston 61

14 Becoming a Marathoner 67

15 Racing 79

16 The Western State 85

17 Injuries 99

18 Ultras 103

19 The Watch 115

20 The Coach 119

21 The Fuel 125

22 On the Road 129

23 The Hospital 139

24 Pacing 143

25 The Break Up 149

26 The Curtain Rod 155

27 Getting to the Finish 159

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