Cami Ostman of 7marathons7continents.com recently sent me a copy of her book Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents (Seal Press, November 2010).
“Second Wind is the story of an unlikely athlete and an unlikely heroin: Cami Ostman, a woman edging toward midlife who decides to take on a challenge that stretches her way outside of her comfort zone. That challenge presents itself when an old friend suggests she go for a run to distract her from the grief of her recent divorce. Excited by the clarity of mind and breathing space running offers her, she keeps it up—albeit slowly. Soon the old friend, Bill, now a romantic interest, invites her to Prague to run a marathon. Little does either of them know that this race will ignite a quest to run seven marathons on seven continents.”
I was sucked into Cami’s whirl-wind adventure as soon as I cracked the cover, from learning to run, to experiencing her first marathon, to marathoning all around the world. As a running blogger, I love race reports and this book is full of them – but it’s much more than that. What makes Cami’s journey to completing 7 marathons on 7 continents even more enthralling is her simultaneous journey of self-discovery, the lessons she learns, the people she meets and the impact they have on her along the way.
Cami kindly offered to write a guest post, which I have posted below.
I enjoy Marlene’s blog because she encourages me to continue pushing my own limits and to enjoy friends and keep a smile while I’m doing it. Here’s to the greater running community and to the blogosphere that helps us stay in touch with one another!
BQs and BoPs Live in Perfect Harmony–and Leave the World a Better Place
I love my Boston bound pals. I’m even married to one. In fact, I’ve been to the Boston Marathon twice–as a fan. Twice I’ve stood on the sidelines at mile 16 with a motley assortment of international fans as we screamed and rang cowbells and craned our necks to find our runner in the hoard of athletes streaming by us. The experience was exhilarating and inspiring.
With around twenty marathons under my own belt, including one on every continent, I watch many of my friends working hard to qualify for the Boston Marathon with a mixture of admiration and pride. I check results regularly to track their successes or near misses, and I’m the first to post a virtual pat on the back on Facebook when they’ve been victorious. But I will never be one of them. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
At age 45, my Boston Qualifying time is 3:55. My fastest marathon was in 2009 in Tateyama, Japan (4:53), and although I always put in my training with a pit-bull-like commitment, I typically come across a finish line after the time clock has flipped over the five hour mark.
One might think that the Boston Qualifiers (BQ-ers) and the back-of-the-packers (BoP-ers) are such different breeds that we have little to bring to a meeting of the minds besides the marathon distance, but I have learned that we BoP-ers and our BQ brothers and sisters have a great deal of mutual respect. My respect for the likes of my husband and others who hold Boston in their sights is probably fairly obvious: it’s about the hard, the carefully organized training, the commitment to improvement, the “leave it all on the route and throw up at the finish line” mettle of the BQ crowd. Their commitment to the PR, that determined gaze which remains the same at mile 25 as it was at mile one, and their self-recrimination when they miss meeting their goal by one minute all transfixes me, as well it should. I admire the focus, the determination, and the godlike command of their bodies.
When I first started running marathons, I felt apologetic about my slow plodding on the marathon course in the presence of more competitive racers. And yet, I’ve been gratified over the years to enjoy a reciprocal admiration from the BQ-ers in my circle. I’ve appreciated being recognized for spending enough time on my feet to have pulled a respectable waitressing shift, for committing a half a day to my twenty-mile training run, for crossing the finish line with a smile because I made a new friend on the course, and for being able to get up early on the following Sunday to run another marathon.
For me, the mutual respect among runners of every ilk is exactly what makes marathoning such a booming popular sport–and the best thing (next to my marriage, of course) I’ve ever committed myself to. Whether you’re Boston bound in 2012 or poking along with me at the back of the pack, may you have a joyful year of running and sharing the mutual admiration and respect of your fellow racers.
Cami’s publisher has offered to send a copy of Second Wind to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment to enter! Winner will be announced Friday, March 2nd.