Friday, May 15, 2015

Taking the Long Way Home Book Club Book Review: Tales From Another Mother Runner


"When it comes to miles and times, I only compete against myself and I try to see my life more globally. I wouldn't trade my life/kids/work for really amazing numbers. I can't be awesome at everything, so it's okay to try to keep my awesomeness with my kids and work--and my running can be just somewhat awesome."--Ellen
About five years ago, a friend of mine, Sandy, who happens to be an accomplished triathlete and Ironman told me about a t-shirt she saw. She thought I would like it. "Badass Mother Runner" was emblazoned across the front. Oh yes, right up my alley! I headed to Google, found the shirt and the original badass mother runners, and I was hooked. I subscribed to their blog and found women who were just like me.

The original badass mother runner shirt!
As a runner, I'd struggled with my friendships with non-running women. My friends were accepting of my running but just didn't get it--my need to leave parties at an early hour to get a good night's sleep before a long run. Stopping after one or 2 drinks because I just couldn't afford to feel crappy in the morning and miss out on a run. Trying to explain the difference between a 5k and a marathon...runner problems.

So many of Dimity and Sarah's posts spoke to me. I commented several times on the blog, and even had one of my comments featured, a comment about an unsupportive spouse. I couldn't believe how many other mother runners had the same issue. I even read the blog post to my husband. I'm not sure how he felt about being the featured spouse, but he has definitely warmed to my running since then. When SBS's mom was ill, I sent her words of support and received a personal email in reply. That's the kind of ladies Dimity and Sarah are.

When they began taking their show on the road, to promote their second book, Train like a Mother, I was thrilled to see that they were hosting a house party in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, which is about 40 minutes from my home. Although I didn't leave the party with any new friends, I felt a kinship with the women I met. Both Dimity and Sarah signed my book, and I was breathless meeting these ladies who I felt "knew" me.

Where it all started--my tribe (sans me) with Dimity and Sarah; Sara, Sarah, Dimity, Karen, Penny, and Michelle (picture courtesy of anothermotherrunner.com)
I have Dimity and Sarah to thank for my "tribe". Although I met Karen through her blog, Trading in My Heels, Karen met Penny, Sara, and Michelle at a different house party. Following that party, I ran a race, met up with Karen, who introduced me to Michelle and Sara. We all connected on Facebook, and began meeting up at races and have had some dinner outings. Our bond continues to grow, and we communicate almost daily with group chats. I've never had a more supportive group of friends in my life.

The tribe--Karen, Penny, Michelle, Sara, and me
Clearly, I'm not alone. The popularity of the Mother Runners has continued to grow. With their newest release, Tales From Another Mother Runner, they've moved from house parties to full fledged book release parties. The ladies are hosing running retreats, they've started training challenges, and expanded their AMR clothing line. I own quite a few of their t-shirts, which feature sassy sayings like "High Mileage Mom" and "It's all good, I ran today".

Sporting yet another fun AMR shirt while meeting up with Ashtyn, another mother runner!
Prior to embarking on the new book, the ladies sent out a survey about what readers might be looking for in a book. I eagerly completed the survey and mentioned a story about quitting an unwanted running partner. Imagine my surprise when I received an email from their associate, Adrienne Martini, who wanted to interview me for the book. It was a thrill talking with her, and several months later, I received an email that my story wouldn't be featured in the book, but they would share it on the website. I sent a picture of myself. What a thrill to see my picture and story on the blog! And several months later, I received an email from Dimity, asking if she could use my frozen face picture for a "you might be another mother runner" meme.

This is the essence of AMR, and heart and sole (pun intended) of the book. Dimity and Sarah have created a "tribe" and they haven't forgotten that the tribe is central to their success. As they say in the introduction:
"Even if we've never been in that situation, we all know exactly where she's coming from."
and
"Despite the speed bumps life is throwing at her, she (the mother runner) realizes the transformative power of a mile, the importance of pushing toward new challenges, the value in taking care of herself, one step at a time." --Tales from Another Mother Runner
Tales of Another Mother Runner is a collection of essays from a variety of mothers who run. There are essays by "celebrity mother runners" and bloggers. The essays are categorized, but there is a central theme throughout the book: we all run because of and in spite of the fact that we have a million other responsibilities.

Some of the essays that really stuck with me included one called "Taking the Long Way Home" by Heather Johnson Durocher--not just because that's the name of my blog, but because of the struggles she endured in her marriage and how she worked it out through running.
"Nearly everything I know about myself--the person I am today at forty--I've discovered through running."--Heather Johnson Durocher
I loved the essay by Bethany Meyer on her coach, cleverly titled, "Who Needs Prada, I've Got Coach". I've written about my coach, and it was fun to ready Bethany's thoughts as she gave her running over to her coach.
"Being accountable to Coach meant demanding more of myself. Although it sounds harsh, the demands didn't leave me feeling drained. They actually gave me confidence."--Bethany Meyer 
Yes! Yes! Yes!

One of the most poignant essays was written by Dimity. In her essay, she writes openly about her struggles with depression.
"And the fact that I have a life with only first-world problems made me believe I was a selfish, ungracious fool for feeling so terrible."--Dimity McDowell 
As one who has struggled with anxiety and depression over most of my adult life, I read her essay with sadness and understanding. Running has saved me from the depths of depression. Dimity talks about this and how when she's running, she "rarely feels anguish or worry".
"Running, I am the person I want to be when I am standing still." 
And how finally, one day, the sun began to shine. Powerful stuff.

There are essays by authors like Kristin Armstrong, whose work I always enjoy, and our own book club author, Jennifer Graham. SBS writes about aging. Throughout the book are quotes from women who contributed via the blog or the survey. All meaningful.

It's not a stretch to say I loved this book. I kept highlighting passages and folding over page corners of essays I wanted to come back to. All of the mother runner books have been great, but this one is the most personal of the trilogy. This is the stuff I read the blog for. The aha! moments when I read something and realize it isn't just me that feels a certain way. The TMI posts about things too squeamish to mention but hey, it happened and maybe it happened to you. The quotes that hit home so hard, I want to commit them to memory.

I'll be coming back to read this book over and over. Because as mother runners, we're all in this thing together.
"Many people think running and racing is about speed, but really, it's about slowing down. You may be moving faster than you ever have on two legs, but in the quiet of a prolonged effort, time stretches out and elongates. You listen to a song you've heard a hundred times before, and it sounds different. You hear it with your body, not your brain. You absorb everything around you...Your mind drifts away; you're moving on instinct. You are transported without ever leaving your body...."Katie Arnold

What did you think about this book? What essay inspired you the most? Have you been to any of the Mother Runner parties? If so, did you make any friends? Do you have a tribe?

A side note: I have not heard back from Dimity regarding my interview questions. As you know, SBS broke her ankle, and Dimity is having to host all the parties, plus run the show aka the blog and social media outlets. I'm sure she's completely overwhelmed! If I do hear back from her, I'll be sure to pass her interview along.

Be sure to link your review below! You know the rules...just link back to the original post. The badge is below. Be nice and read the other posts! Sharing is caring after all...and if you don't have a blog, just post your review in the comments. I'm really excited to hear what everyone has to say.

For next month's book, I've chosen a light, funny book! It is summer after all...We'll be reading The terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distances by Matthew Inman aka creator of the Oatmeal. If you aren't familiar with his work, his comics are irreverent (which is probably why I like them so much); since Inman is a runner, he takes his sense of humor to the road! I hope you'll join us in this one.



-- start InLinkz script -->

43 comments :

  1. Not a review as I've not finished it yet, but had to say how much I agree with you on every point. These women are not only rock stars and inspiring, they are wonderful writers. All connected by Dimity's and Sarah's input, they make a powerful statement about women who are runners, no matter when they came to it in their lives, no matter what their level of expertise. We all struggle to find balance. Finding a tribe of like-minded, like-hearted women is a godsend.

    Yes, Dimity and Sarah pay close attention to their tribe. Dimity asked me last year to send her a copy of my book, "Journey to 10K: Adventures of an Older Novice Runner." Of course I was thrilled. At one point during some e-mail correspondence, Dimity apologized that she had not yet been able to read it, but it was still on her list of thing to do. Oh course I understood! Recently, I had the great thrill of attending one of the book release parties. I was of course not going even to mention the book, but as I walked up to her, Dimity reached out and hugged me, recognizing me immediately from my f/b photo!!!!! "I still haven't had a chance to read your book, but it's on my nightstand waiting for me." Can you imagine, of the thousands of women who write and comment, she recognized me before I ever told her my name? That caring, warmth, friendship, and love is precisely why the AMR tribe is ever-growing.

    I can't wait to get back to "Tales." Every essay resonates.
    Thanks for a great pick.

    Connie

    ReplyDelete
  2. This whole crew and tribe is new to me. So thank you for bringing it more to my attention! I can't wait to get involved a little and at the very least, check out the other books! Thanks as always for getting me out of my normal reading routine. Love participating!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for linking up! I love the whole "tribe" thing!

      Delete
  3. Wendy, I haven't read this book (or any of the Mother Runner books) because I'm not a mother runner - ha! It sounds like there's plenty of other great material included so I may give it a shot, at some point. I'm not big into their organization, podcast, etc. because, as a non-mother, I'm not really interested in hearing other folks talk about their kids and that has been my experience with some of their podcast episodes. I just don't relate to the struggles that you all face (I can't even imagine!), but I have a ton of respect for all of you! I think I would kind of feel like a poseur among this group, since I'm not a mom!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think you're a poseur--I"m glad you took the time to comment. Next month's book will apply to everyone! :)

      Delete
  4. Great review of the work of some great ladies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They've done a world of good for us mom runners!

      Delete
  5. I really need to make more time to read. Having a tribe is so very important in life...You are truly blessed to be surrounded by such amazing ladies!!! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I consider you part of my "tribe"...we're all so lucky to have each other!

      Delete
  6. I remember the story of the unwanted running partner. :) I'd forgotten that was you. They have built such a fantastic community! I am trying to work up the courage to buy myself a Badass Mother Runner shirt. I have several others but haven't been able to convince myself I'm really worthy of BAMR status yet even though I know Sarah and Dimity would say we all are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe that all of us are BAMRs. You are worthy!!!

      Delete
  7. I love Sarah and Dimity and had the opportunity to go to one of their house parties when they came to my area. Love them. I need to get this new book! I have the first one, but this one looks great.....and the next book on the list is intriguing....I may have to go pick it up :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I liked this one the best out of all 3 of their books. So inspirational!

      Delete
  8. I like to read when traveling, which I'll be doing soon. I think I'll pick this book up. Thanks for the recommendation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you'll enjoy it. There's something for almost everyone here!

      Delete
  9. I've been saving this book to read on an upcoming long flight in early June....This post made me that much more excited to read it....I've read the first two and loved them, so to hear this is your favorite is great! My favorite of their shirts is the "I Run Things"....which I wear all the time....for me, it has an extra layer of meaning...it's not just that I run or that I run the household, etc....it's that I run with all my feelings, doubts, insecurities.....I run with everything....and on my runs, they get solved.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I will have to get this book to read. It is great that you have your own tribe that understands and supports you. Non runners don't always get why we run and some even think I am a little nuts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, a lot of people tell me I"m crazy! That's why we need our running friends!

      Delete
  11. oh *** I forgot about the link up for this! I so have loved the past 2 books and I am halfway into the this one. Reading the essays, I feel like am talking to myself or one of my friends. Runner probs are real and it is definitely a balancing act. I met the ladies at my first Zooma half marathon. I was so nervous and Sarah really talked me down off of the ledge. She wrote on my hand, "believe in your training" and suddenly I was ok. Completed my first half. They also featured me on their blog a few months back. So flattering. I love all that they stand for and need to finish this book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not too late! The link up stays live for 2 weeks.

      And congrats on winning the Skirt Sports contest!

      Delete
  12. I'm so glad I found your blog. I can identify with everything you said about your non-runner friends not getting running. I will be getting this book. It looks enjoyable! Thanks for reviewing it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you for sharing. I am glad to read this as I have two races reserved this year. I am pretty much still a novice and is constantly learning as I go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This book will give you a lot of inspiration!

      Delete
  14. It's important to team up with people having your same lifestyle. I run, but not as "seriously" as you. Chapeau!
    Baci,
    Coco et La vie en rose fashion blog - Valeria Arizzi

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sounds like a great book! I love the community of mother runners.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Having a "tribe" of runners that you can relate to is so important. Thanks for the reminder!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The tribe has made a world of difference in my running!

      Delete
  17. I love my running tribe. I couldn't be ok without them! It sounds like you know have a fantastic tribe who gets you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I haven't read this book but it's a great concept. I love to read books that have different POVs and takes on the same subject.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love this: Nearly everything I know about myself--the person I am today at forty--I've discovered through running. - I know I go to running when I need some self discovery!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Beautiful, beautiful ladies..beautiful tribe :) I have only one real life run buddy, who I rarely get to run with, I need a tribe.
    I need to put this book on my reading list!
    "Running, I am the person I want to be when I am standing still." <---------Love this so much.
    My husband saw some Mother Runner things on line and asked me what I liked, he does this fishing for gifts :) anyway, I told him it's odd because I am a mom who has exercised my whole life, but I didn't start running until 45 when my son was grown, sometimes I don't feel like a mother runner, but I always identify with the neeed for intensity. When my son was growing up I was doing step aerobics :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't get to run with my tribe often, but when I do...it's great. This was a wonderful book!

      Delete
  21. I got to meet Dimity and Sarah at an event in October 2013 when they were promoting Train Like A Mother. There were a ton of ladies in attendance, and I wish I could have talked to them all! It's so cool that you were featured in their blog post and "frozen face" meme.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're just awesome, and what they have done for women's recreational running? It's truly amazing, I think!

      Delete
  22. I've read all three books and cherish each of them. Dimity's and Sarah's voices and humor are strong and likeable, and their unstinting support of their tribe is unmatched. Even in this last of the trilogy, their input and essays sandwiched between the layers of others' essays were the glue that made the whole book cohesive.
    So many of the essays in "Tales of Another Mother Runner" resonated deeply. They were honest and funny, sad and heartbreaking, inspiring and heartwarming and real. They are real life, and every runner can see a bit of herself in each of them. Additionally, they are wonderfully written, a joy to read for the intrinsic pleasure.

    I found myself astounding as the tenacity and courage with which these women approached both their running goals and the obstacles they faced in their every day lives, and amazed at the level of honesty they displayed in telling their stories.

    Best of all, they made me believe I can do anything.
    I will be returning to "Tales of Another Mother Runner" again and again, for inspiration and connection.

    I did get to meet Sarah and Dimity recently, in Andover, Massachusetts. I had pre-ordered the book the first day we could, but ordered it with Christmas gifts for my husband to be delivered to me at the school where I work. I forgot all about that my March. When they delivered it I was not at my desk and it went back! I got it re-delivered the very day of the book party! Phew.

    ReplyDelete