Monday, March 26, 2012

Bookworm: "Running After Prefontaine" by Scott F. Parker

Sometimes I'll receive a book in the mail, and after ripping open the envelope, I just don't have the time to dig into it the way I'd like to. Whether it be due to an overloaded work schedule or just the nuances of life not allowing me to sit down and read, it happens. I've had this particular book sitting on my bedside table for a few months until this weekend, and I'm glad I finally got to it. What a fun read!

If I were to write a memoir at this point in my life, there would certainly be some striking similarities with what I would put to paper and with what Scott F. Parker has done in "Running After Prefontaine." Parker is a few year's younger than I and from the opposite side of the country, but there are plenty of parallels, as I am sure there are with plenty of 20 and 30-something distance runners out there.

With a title like "Running After Prefontaine," one would think there would be a ton of Pre talk.Well, there is, but it doesn't come until about 170 pages in. Where Parker excels is in telling his own story (/memoir) of his evolution as a runner and what it's meant to him over the years. He romanticizes the art of the run and the pain of the marathon very eloquently, as it did a great job of bringing nightmares of my first attempt at the marathon on no training.

Forest Park
In telling the story of his life and the running component to it, Parker speaks of his Portland, OR upbringing and the excellent running at Forest Park. I've heard the Nike folks mention this, as well as the 3 Non Joggers. When I visit Eugene again this summer for the 2012 Prefontaine Classic, I hope someone will take me on a 10+ mile tour! And while speaking of Forest Park, one chapter is especially entertaining, entitled "On $hitting in the Woods and Other Tragedies of Running." Pretty much any distance runner worth their mettle has had an "episode" and lost a sock or two. On that note, I can happily endorse a product for any runner who spends time in the woods: a box of Wet Ones singles. Thank me later (note: this link is not my review).

Parker's Two Rules of Running:
Rule #1: No Treadmills
Rule #2: No iPod
**Rule #3: If breaking #1, also break #2

The pilgrimage Parker took to Coos Bay, where he saw Pre's sister speak during a theater viewing of Fire on the Track, shows his passion for the story of the sport. His PR at the Prefontaine Memorial Run was an obvious personal highlight as well. At the time, it's apparent that he's been slightly obsessed with the Pre biopic, Without Limits, and the mythic figure that Prefontaine has become in his untimely passing.

"Runners, by tendency not definition are misfits, in high school particularly so." That quote couldn't be more true. Parker embraces the joy of running, per his between chapter interludes, and it's no surprise that he was a fan of Gabe Jennings at the 2008 Olympic Trials, rather that someone like Galen Rupp. Jennings came from that bizarre mold that Pre had a lot in common with. That is the underlying theme of the whole book. To enjoy running for what it gives you. To embrace the good and the bad and to ride it out. Sure, one can follow a training program and achieve a goal, but sometimes it's more fun and intrinsically satisfying just to run free!

Pick up a copy of "Running after Prefontaine" at (where you can also read a preview)

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