Friday, February 19, 2010

Flashback Friday: Born to Read

When I travel, I find the megafocus to read like my mother, who routinely starts and finishes books in the span of 24 hours. Shortly after embarking on the first leg of my flight to Houston, I finished the book I've been reading, Way Up North in Dixie, and finally started Born to Run. I finished Christopher McDougall's book last night after reading all but 10 pages while I was out of town for work. And I must say, I'm disappointed.

After reading here, there and everywhere about Born to Run, I had gotten the impression that the book was all about barefoot running. If nothing else, barefooting seemed like "the big takeaway" from the recent best seller. Shockingly, I find the media (including you bloggers) has latched onto a ancillary topic of an otherwise very good book.

Yes, there is a chapter that decries the evils of the shoe industry for making products that ruin our running. Yes, there is a character named "Barefoot Ted," as all barefoot runners must have the same moniker prefixed to their names, and a whole tribe of Mexicans who run almost barefoot. And the author has since switched over to barefoot or near barefoot running himself. But barefooting was hardly the book's focus.

The main spotlight was on this amazing race set in the Copper Canyons and how running is an essential component of our humanity. McDougall does a splendid job of building suspense by interspersing scientific research about running's role in human evolution, his own foibles with running, and the lead up to the race between some of the best ultrarunners in the United States and the Tarahumara tribesmen.

Two of the ultrarunners, Jenn Shelton and Billy Barnett, would be perfect BHI teammates, as they proved that excessive boozing and excessive running go hand in hand, even if they almost died.

The conclusion of the race is both triumphant and heartwarming as the audience learns the fate of all these interesting characters, how their lives intertwined and were enriched by the act of running.

Booze Hound Rating: 4 fingers, neat

[Drunkard's note: The Booze Hound rating system is based on a good pour. Up to five fingers, either "on the rocks" or "neat." If you can't figure out what's good and what's bad, you need to spend more time drinking.]

Wherein we skip the Back Talk and learn how to I singlehandedly raised the threat level to Orange--or was it already at Orange?

I left for Houston Tuesday morning and was a bit rushed. I threw on the jeans I had worn the day before and gathered the last of my things so the Enthusiast could drive me to the Akron-Canton Airport. I signed in and waltzed through security without a fuss.

Later, as I was standing in the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, I reached a hand into my pocket and felt the butt of my ...

... knife. Ever since I was about eight years old, I've carried a pocket knife. In fact, I probably had one on me when I flew down to Asheville, N.C., by myself to visit my grandparents when I was eight. But that was before "box cutters" became a whispered word in airports throughout the United States.

You'll be happy to learn that this knife I carried on two packed flights was just sharpened late last summer and features a thumbstud for a quick-action blade deployment. The TSA guy at Akron-Canton even patted me down because I was wearing a bulky hoodie. But he didn't touch my Schrade Old Timer.

I can't decide if this story is hilarious and terrifying.

Travel Tasting
Thanks to those of you who recommended the Saint Arnold Brewery. I didn't have time for a visit, but I picked up a sixer of the Texas Wheat at the Kroger across from my hotel. Pretty tasty. Didn't knock my pants off or anything, but I'd get it again. Maybe next time I'll be able to take a tour.

Happy Hour is nearly upon us, teammates. Have a finely brewed weekend. Run well and drink well. Cheers!


The Sean said...

Check "Why We Run" good read as well... nothing to do with barefoot running at all.

-Shod Sean

Junk Miler said...

"Why We Run" is great - good tip, The Sean. If I remember correctly, it does have a little barefootery in it. He tries going barefoot on a ten mile run on a rocky road in Africa. Surprisingly, his feet get bloody.

I share your feelings re Born To Run. Only one character, Barefoot Ted, actually spends time barefoot. Even the Tarahumara put on running shoes when they were made available to them by the nuns. There are a lot of serious subjects addressed by the book - The War on Drugs, cultural conflict, etc. Barefooting is a sidenote, and frankly, not as important as the other issues. Strange, when confronted with the plight of an innocent people stuck between thugs and governments (as if there were a difference), the message readers take away is "Hey! I want to run barefoot!"

I once worked with a group that aspired to interpret data from pedestrians killed by car drivers. One meaningless tidbit was that in NYC, on a per-mile basis, more pedestrians are killed by garbage trucks than any other kind of vehicle. Guess what made the headlines: "Killer Garbage Trucks!"

I had to go with "Barefoot Josh" because the url was available. And dammit, this time I was going to choose my nickname. I was tired of being called SLUTcliffe or SUCKcliffe all the time. I'm sensitive. Like a delicate flower.

S said...

I'm always disgusted when I get through security and realize later that I brought something I shouldn't have.

My last flight I had a lighter, a bottle of water and lotion chilling in my purse and had no issues getting through.

And not that I have any idea how to make explosives out of liquids...but IF I DID...I'd be a threat :-)

However, I am impressed how you take things to the next level and bring a knife through.

Jess said...

My mom had her pocketknife taken away by TSA. So, they catch the old ladies but not the quick and wiley young guys, I guess.

Barefoot Johnny O said...

Interesting take on the book. I picked it up after hearing a radio interview. Since I wasn't a runner at the time, I wasn't aware of the hype, I was just impressed with his portrayal of fixing himself by throwing out tradition (read shoes) and that as humans, we evolved as runners. As a non-traditional worker (read unemployed - or is that more the norm these days) I wanted something to do with my time and figured if I could perhaps find a way to improve my soul at the same time - and all for free - better give it a try. I'm now a runner and I think my soul is improving. I know my fitness has. All because of his book. I got the "book on cd version" from the library - should get a 5 finger 'cuz you can rip it to your ipod as I did.

Now I'm looking forward to "Why We Run."

Born to run? Damn right!!

misszippy said...

Viper--you have a good point about the book; I think what has happened is that the media has turned the take-away into the whole barefoot thing, while the book encompassed so much more. I asked Chris M. if this bothered him and he said not really. He himself does barefoot, fwiw.

The TSA reassuring!

Unknown said...

Yeah, I think that McDougall was supporting a running style more closely akin to barefoot running, so the book has become the bible for barefoot runners and those people looking to reduce injuries. I really liked the book also. As far as the TSA, they must have known that you were heading to Texas and figured you needed the protection. I'm surprised that they didn't give you a pistol when you got to Houston.

Jess said...

Glad to hear our airport metal detectors are totally working to keep us all safe.