Friday, May 6, 2011

"Running on Empty" by Marshall Ulrich - an interview with the author and a giveaway!

"Strength. Resilience. Discipline. Follow-through. Responsibility. Honesty. Perhaps most intently, independence and self-reliance. Both native to and cultivated in me, these things grew even more important in my life after Jean's death."
Marshall Ulrich

TLC Tours has given me the wonderful opportunity of reading, reviewing, as well as conversing with the author of "Running on Empty." I love reading and I love running, so reading about running was the perfect combination for me.

After only the first chapter, I became less afraid - not as daring as Marshall Ulrich, but wanting to push some limits.

Here are the questions I asked Marshall (I hope it's okay if I use your first name - I can't help but feel like I know you after reading your book), as well as a few comments he responded to.

Anne: I'd love to tell you what the take home message was for me, but first, I'd like to know what you hoped that message would be as you were writing about your journey?

Marshall: I wanted this “running book” to transcend the typical book that is out there. So many talk entirely about themselves with little message to be derived. Just a few things I hoped to accomplish with this book are:

To tell the story of “us” as Americans, what we went through to make this nation great as I like to say “honor the past and look to the future”

Give the reader a story about how difficult life can be at times, but facing forward and putting one foot in front of the other is the key to overcoming obstacles. Don’t let anyone or anything get in your way of what you KNOW to be the right thing to do.

Acknowledge those around us who are closest to us, don’t shut them out, they are a huge part of or maybe even mostly responsible for our success. And connect with them, as they are suffering too at our hands (when we do shut them out).

Others can show us how to learn to love again, let them.

And lastly and least; The story of the run which shows how to overcome adversity (even if by our own hand). A story of suffering, which I believe there is a purpose for, it helps us pay attention to the little, finer things in life. And I wanted to give the reader a glimpse into the mind of an extreme athlete; what does it take to do what I do, what/how do I think (it’s likely not much different than all of us, just a different gig ;-) ). Hey, we’re all in this thing called life together (let’s make the most of it while we are here).

I could go on and on, as this is a multilayered book, I think to really understand it needs to be read twice or three times. If you do take the time to re-read the story you will see what I mean. I will :)

A: It's been a little over two years now, and I wonder if, like many of us tend to do, you have found yourself slipping back into old patterns of escape when dealing with frustration?

M: Yes, yes, yes, I am no different, I doubt myself,  that I am doing too little. And I find myself frustrated and wishing I was different, that I could relate to my children better…and my wife. Sometimes I feel totally inadequate, but I try and remind myself that is part of being human and I try and do the best I can with the cards I was dealt. And I fall short, but I pick myself up and carry on trying to do the very best I can.

My way of dealing with things is sometimes to slip into my fantasy world and ignore what is happening around me. I’m trying to pay attention to the detail of others needs and that is what helps keep me grounded. I’m not so much into doing extreme things unless it is meaningful to myself and others can draw from it too. “Doing for others” is of utmost importance in maintaining my mental health. When I forget that and let my ego get in the way (take myself too seriously) then I am lost again.

A: Not once do you mention having problems with your asthma during the transcon, which I found encouraging.

M: I was religious about taking my inhaler as prescribed EVERY day and when I (or my wife in particular) would hear me/myself wheezing, we would nip it in the bud. Mine is an exercise induced asthma and certainly not as pronounced as yours…so I’m lucky. 

A: It made me smile that you speak of the transcon as a single run, pg. 241, "...I know I learned more during this one run than in all the other years of running combined."

M: Yes in the whole scheme of running over 120 races over 125 miles (average) I count the transcon as one… people who exaggerate are one of my pet peeves. I wanted to “walk the walk” before I wrote the book and “talked the talk”. It just took me 30 years to feel like I had done enough to have an inkling of insight on the subject of an extreme athlete. I would like to think that I have more to tell people though and thus “Running on Empty” was written, finally, whew!

A: Finally, I'd like to tell you what the take-home message was for me:

After reading only the first chapter, I could feel myself become mentally stronger. As I read about your journey, I became more and more convinced that the body is much less fragile than we generally assume. Perfect timing as I hope to train for my own "transcon", my first marathon...soon!

M: Yes, the first thing I set out to prove is that we “can do (way more) than we think we can” and recover faster than previously thought.

Second is to diversify and think you can be good or great at many different things.

Third is to keep on doing it (whatever) for as long as you live. You know, keep on keeping on.

A: What I enjoyed most about this book, was the honesty and genuineness of the author. Marshall Ulrich is no Superman, he is human, he was 57 years old, his relationship with his wife was tested and passed with flying colors, his relationship with his children was touched and changed for the better, but he cried and he yelled and he laughed and he hurt and he succeeded! Thank you Marshall, you have made a difference in my own perspective.



Kate said...

So cool that you interviewed him! I think I could sit in a room and listen to him all day, but I had no idea what to ask.

Paul said...

I would love a copy of that book!

My favorite running book: The Lore of Running, by Dr. Tim Noakes.

Marlene said...

Sounds like a great book. Well done on the interview - excellent questions and Marshall's answers are very well thought out.

Marlene said...

Favourite running book - Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer!

Caroline said...

Anne! this was really interesting!
would love to read and win this book, well in the other and then read.

favorite running book: Run like a mother!

Joyeuse Fete des Meres!!!!!

RockStarTri said...

Thanks for recommending this. I need to put it on the list. I bounce between "Once a runner," "Running with the Buffalos," and "Born to Run."

LisaMM said...

Great interview!! SO interesting. Thanks so much for being on the tour!

Abby @ Have Dental Floss, Will Travel said...

So cool! I'd love to win a copy :)

Amy said...

Very intriguing!

Amy said...

Oh, and my favorite running book thus far is the one by Haruki Murakami, "What I Talk About when I Talk About Running".

Black Knight said...

A beautiful and interesting review. The book sounds interesting but I leave the chance to win to another lucky blogger because I live too far.

Anonymous said...

A good interview, thank you for sharing this with us.

Adam said...

That is so awesome that you were able to interview Marshall! IT was SUCH a good book.

MomRunningFromCancer said...

Oh I would LOVE to win this book. I so need mental toughness, especially after todays race. Not a pretty site - and I know I could have kept running without walking but simply gave into my lack of disipline. I was constantly telling myself to keep running until a tree or the next corner or until I got to a certain point - and instead of pushing through - I would get to that point and then walk. Too many times today!

Anabela (Bela) Neves said...

Its amazing that everyone doubts themselves...we are all so hard on ourselves arent we?
Great interview and opportunity!

Sylvie said...

Great interview!! Really want to add this book to my collection :)

Sylvie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sylvie said...

My favorite running book has to be Running through the wall, Personal encounters with the ultramarathon by Neal Jamison
It's the most inspiring running book ever!

Giorgio said...

It looks interesting!
Happy Mother's Day to you, Anne!

Johann said...

Lovely interview! I would certainly like to have my own copy of Running On Empty!

Johann said...

My favorite running book is The Lore of Running by Tim Noakes

momof3 said...

Cool. You're just cool, what can we say?

Hey - thanks for your comment today. I always value what you have to say to me, because ... well, you seem to "get it" where I'm concerned.