Reading: "Duel in the Sun"

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but all is well. Just not all that interesting.

I’m finishing up week three of my 24 week base building program. I’ll run 40 miles this week and eventually work my way up to 65-70 miles per week by mid-November. I’m adding in the miles very gradually, with a “rest week,” in which I pull back the mileage by about 30%, every 3-4 weeks. I want to avoid injury at all costs so I can really train when the time comes. Training for five months with shin splints is not something I want to go through again.

I’m also doing time on the stationary bike — typically around 50 miles a week — primarily for the extra calorie burn, although the cardiovascular benefits are a nice bonus. I’ve managed to drop 15 pounds since mid-February, but it’s been very difficult. Amazing how much that weight wants to stay on. But I keep plugging away at it and am confident that I can get down to a good racing weight by the start of training.

I’ve yet to decide on a training program for the marathon, although I do know that it needs to be an 18 week program. I’m leaning toward one of the 18 week plans in Pete Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning, but I’m not totally sold on it yet.

Nor do I know yet what finishing time I’ll be training for. My goal is to place in the top 10 of the More Marathon in 2008, which means running it in 3:45 or under (assuming the competition is similar to what it’s been in years past). But my dream is to run it under 3:30. That may take me more than a year to get to, if it’s even possible.

I’ll probably do a shorter race toward the end of my base building period to gauge my fitness and go from there. But I’ve got 21 weeks to figure all of this out.

This morning I finished John Brant’s book Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America’s Greatest Marathon. It’s an account of the 1982 Boston Marathon, in which Salazar and Beardsley dominated the race, running as a twosome from mile 9 on and finishing two seconds apart. Yet it’s much more than a 250 page race piece. Structured in alternating chapters describing each man’s life leading up to and beyond that race, Brant weaves in biographies of two men with diametrically opposed personalities and motivations.

Every few chapters you’re returned to the race for a vivid blow-by-blow of the two men battling it out to the finish line. Even if you know the race’s outcome ahead of time it makes for suspenseful, compelling reading. And even if you have little interest in competitive running, the book is interesting in its portrait of two figures who were irrevocably damaged by this one event lasting just over two hours, yet who later found redemption, peace and a tentative friendship. Along the way there are recoveries from catastrophic accidents, seemingly intractable addiction and depression, and heartbreakingly naive attempts at finding miracles. Eventually, some real miracles are found in the form of modern psychiatric medicine and twelve step recovery, not to mention the wisdom of experience and the gift of perspective.

All in all a great story, well told.

Also on this summer’s reading list are…

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Dog of the South by Charles Portis
This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes
In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders

…but I’m saving those for an upcoming extended vacation, so I need to be very disciplined and not crack those spines.

2 Responses

  1. Finally finished the Duel book, myself and I loved it. Boo to the naysayers who don’t like the back and forth storyline.

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