A female runner learns more about herself with each race she runs.
Arnold, a Santa Fe–based contributing editor at Outside magazine, shares the specifics of her childhood and the relationship she had with her father, a photographer for National Geographic, a profession she respected even as a child (“just the thought of this gave me a little shiver of pride”). When he fell terminally ill, the author embarked on a search to find out who he really was and why he left her mother when she was a young girl. In meticulous detail, Arnold recounts the many times she and her sister visited their father over the years and the ways in which he pushed her to do more than she thought she could. The first example was a six-mile race she ran at the age of 7, an event that set the author up to be a dedicated runner for life. She used running to deal with her father’s death, to overcome her doubts as a mother, and to find herself in each phase of her life. Inviting descriptions of the surrounding countryside, the natural highs of extreme exercise, and the pursuit of a peaceful existence balance the monotony of learning how Arnold prepares for each race, each one seemingly longer than the last. She describes setting personal goals prior to each race and how she pushed through the pain and self-doubt to finish. Interwoven with stories of her father and running are the author’s reflections on being a mother of two girls and life with her husband, who also runs but who gives Arnold the space and freedom to pursue her own goals. Although overlong, Arnold’s memoir will appeal to runners of all types, whether they participate in short-distance races or ultralong endurance tests.
A contemplative, soul-searching account of the death of the author’s beloved father and how she used long-distance running as a way to heal from the grief.