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First Marathons: Personal Encounters With the 26.2-Mile Monster Paperback – September 15, 1999


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Frequently Bought Together

First Marathons: Personal Encounters With the 26.2-Mile Monster + The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer + Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide: Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half and Full Marathons
Price for all three: $31.64

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Breakaway Books (September 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891369113
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891369117
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There's probably no more democratic image in sports than the sight of thousands of athletes and dreamers lined up in places like New York or Boston or Los Angeles or wherever they're about to test themselves against, in the end, themselves over 26 miles of running hell. The only thing the marathon discriminates against is the unprepared: age, sex, nationality, race, even physical disability all peel away when the mix of athletes, from the elite Olympian to the neighbor next door, responds to the report of the starter's pistol. This smart, agreeable compilation of oral histories recalls the first encounters of 37 marathoners, and the stories they tell are marvelous, inspiring, despairing, filled with hope, and wracked with aches and pain. The great Bill Rogers remembers not finishing his first attack of the Boston, and the equally great Greta Weitz recounts what it was like to smash the record in New York her first time out. But it is the voice of the common runner--some nationally famous, like writer Erich Segal, others only known to their loved ones--that consistently gives First Marathons its second wind as it details the drives and dreams that link all dedicated runners. Kislevitz, a marathoner herself, displays endurance by completing the book with a final section offering useful advice from top coaches, a comprehensive glossary of terms, and, to help maintain a steady rhythm, the favorite songs marathoners sing to themselves. Some of the more fitting: "Born to Run," "Groovin'" and, particularly appropriate for getting through the wall, "Running on Empty." --Jeff Silverman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Contrary to the subtitle, the marathon experiences shared in these pages represent anything but a monster. Rather, this life-changing journey becomes a path toward self-discovery for 37 men and women of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds. Famous runners, such as Bill Rogers and Kenyan elite racer Paul Mbugua, share their experiences, but it's the coverage of such everyday, average, and back-of-the-pack runners as the painter, the Episcopal minister, and the teacher (who was fired because she wanted the day off to run the 100th Boston Marathon!) that makes this book so memorable. Thomas King, who at one time weighed more than 300 pounds, run-walked the second half of his first marathon with tears streaming down his face. Funny stories include a runner so hungry that at mile 20 he cut to the front of a Dairy Queen line to beg a lady to buy him a cone. The book concludes with sage advise from noted coaches, such as Jeff Galloway and Don Kardong. Brenda Barrera --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

She portrays that in her style of writing.
thomask@timberlinedodge.com
I highly recommend this book to anyone contemplating running a marathon, or even a 10k.
K. Ranabargar
Read one story at night before bed and you're sure to get up and run in the morning.
Roberta Garvin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By J. Burcham on December 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
I want to buy this book for everyone I know because I firmly believe, after reading this book and having run my first marathon, that ANYONE can do it. I became so involved in the stories of these people, I couldn't put the book down and when I reached the end, I wanted more. So I ran my own marathon. I opened the book again, after I'd run the 26.2 mile monster, and randomly picked one of the stories...I started to cry because it suddenly meant so much to me. If you read this book, not only will you want to run a marathon, you'll believe you can make it happen.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Oren Mason on August 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
First Marathons is simply the accounts of many different folks from elite (i.e. professional) runners to talented amateurs to ordinary folks. It seems at first that it would be interesting primarily to serious runners who have or will soon run a marathon. It is that, but surprisingly, it is so much more. This is a book for anyone who wishes to be inspired by quiet heroes and unsung heroics.
Why would anyone want to run 26 miles? Here are many answers from many different people. They are moving to read, not because the author is a gifted story-teller, but because the courage, humility, and conviction of her subjects is so clear that it shines through even when the retelling lacks those qualities in itself. Some people set out to run the marathon to change themselves. More don't understand their reasons for embarking on the journey but find that in the training and completion of this epic that they are forever changed.
Approximately 1 million Americans have run a marathon. I've run two. It's difficult to explain in a few words why those two painful, arduous days are two of the happiest days of my life. After you read this book, you will begin to understand why. If you are one of the lucky ones who has "been there, done that" the recollections should renew the wonder and pride you felt at your first finish line. If you are one of the people who has ever wondered that you might someday do this crazy thing, beware! This book is more likely to set you off on the training road than all the running "how-to" books you could buy at Amazon.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Patricia A. Johnson on February 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
While certainly not a "how to" book, (in fact in some cases it's a "how NOT to" book) this book made it possible for me to complete my first marathon. It provided the motivation every time the training became really hard. Gail Waesche did an excellent job providing a broad cross section of first marathon experiences. For some strange reason though, it was always the stories of runners who really suffered through their first marathons that I read again and again. These were the people I thought I could really relate to!
A marathon IS a 26.2 mile monster. And because it's such an awesome accomplishment, it is often a lifechanging experience. That's what Ms. Waesche gets across, and that's exactly what is was like for me.
Everyone who has run a marathon, or more importantly, has even the hint of desire to run a marathon, has to read this book. It makes a very difficult and wonderful experience seem humanly possible.
Thank you Gail for writing this book. And please PLEASE come out with a volume II.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ingrid M. Miller on September 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
On the plus side, this book is a must of you are planning to run a marathon. It offers interesting perspectives on the race and those that run it. On the down side, it is full of "typical" stories about people overcoming hardships. It gets sappy after awhile. Most of the stories are about people who decided to do the race on a whim and did it mostly unprepared. After reading this you think you can just go out an run one yourself...prepared or not.
I wish there were more stories about the challenge and difficulty of the training process.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "nordicgirl" on July 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
While I enjoyed most of the writing in this book, it took me a couple of chapters to wrap my mind around the prose. Nonetheless, I enjoyed 25 of the 26 stories chronicled, and found moments of inspiration, humor, and wisdom. The book embraced the likes of Marathon legends as well as the first time runner ("adult onset athletes" as penned by John Bingham:) All in all, a great read, and certainly a huge reason why I believe I can succeed at running my first marathon targeted for this September.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roberta Garvin on February 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
I can only read one story every few days or else I start entertaining thoughts of running a marathon! Read one story at night before bed and you're sure to get up and run in the morning. It reminds you of all the good things about running- clearing your head, planning your day, getting away. It temps you with the pride and success you feel when you've accomplished something great- a marathon a hill or a problem in life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 22, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Many of the miles I've run to train for my first marathon have been spent thinking about the people written about in this book. The individual's stories in this book are not only extremely motivational but also touching and sometimes funny. I would recommend this book for all first time marathoners as well as people looking for that extra inspiration in reaching that goal that you're not quite sure you can make.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Shepherd on November 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is a must for anyone who wants to run a marathon. It is a collection of essays written by runners from all levels, including world class runners to a Portland, Oregon nurse who details her first marathon. All these stories are short enough to be read in a single sitting, some leave you thrilled by the run, others leave you with tears in your eyes.
I purchased this book before I ran my first marathon hopeing to gain insite into what I would encounter. I also bought several other copies as gifts to friends who needed some encouragement to run their first marathon. It certainly is an exceptionally nice gift for any runner or runner-to-be.
Just can't wait too see volumn 2 of First Marathons!
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