TEN MARATHONS by Doug  Schneider


Searching for the Soft Ground in a Hard World
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A runner shares life lessons in a debut memoir that combines inspirational text, a tour guide, and a career survey.

The prologue of this book features a fraught phone call between Schneider and his elderly mother, who’s in decline due to Alzheimer’s disease and terminal cancer; this gives way to the author’s childhood memories of Bowling Green, Ohio. Long-distance running, a grueling activity that engages body, mind, and spirit, initially provided the author with stress relief; he relied on it during exams, as he faced uncertainty about his educational options, and had troubles in his first marriage. The book’s prominent themes include dedication, pacing, stamina, self-awareness, and the humility that comes with occasional stumbles. Most chapters begin with the date and location of a particular marathon, Schneider’s running time, and a relevant quotation. He employs marathons as structural devices, allowing him to explore his relationships, with a focus on his relationship with his supportive second wife, Elaine. After they received terrible news, he writes, “we were in such a daze that I couldn’t even taste the pepperoni” in their pizza. Schneider thus succeeds at underscoring critical moments through plainspoken language, as in a touching anecdote about his father, who marveled at a marathon’s 26.2-mile distance: “That’s longer than the drive between Bowling Green and Toledo.” In another vignette, the author’s college-age stepson Rik got up early on a Sunday morning to hand the author Gatorade during one marathon. Other race locations included California, New York, and Ontario, although most occurred in Ohio and Michigan. The route descriptions offer evocative passages: “For me, that Big Ten Run was about learning how to love a place for the first time, and nothing can quite match that feeling.” The epilogue finds the author taking a chilly December run in Greenville, South Carolina, where he nicely ties together the book’s narrative strands; he cleverly inverts the chronology here so that the events of the epilogue precede the prologue’s, suggesting that he will need all the lessons he learned in order to face an unknown future.

Ideal for runners but accessible to all readers seeking wisdom and inspiration.

Pub Date: March 7th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-73352-730-9
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Saybrook Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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