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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars well-written and easy to read.
Rachel Toor is one of those over-achievers that the rest of us have a hard time relating to sometimes. This seems to be a common theme in the many personal narratives that are so popular now. Sometimes it gets difficult to read yet again about how some one takes up running, and after a few months of training, they win their first short race and then go on to qualify in...
Published on December 24, 2008 by Julie Balamut

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21 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Narcissus in track shoes
If you want to read an unapologetic paean of self love, have I got just the book for you. This isn't about a love affair with running, this is about an author so special that one runner in the NYC Marathon "told her husband that she had imagined that an angel had come down from heaven to run the last 6 miles with her." The blessed runner's husband corrected her with...
Published on March 5, 2010 by J. Buckner


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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars well-written and easy to read., December 24, 2008
By 
Julie Balamut (St. Paul, MN United States) - See all my reviews
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Rachel Toor is one of those over-achievers that the rest of us have a hard time relating to sometimes. This seems to be a common theme in the many personal narratives that are so popular now. Sometimes it gets difficult to read yet again about how some one takes up running, and after a few months of training, they win their first short race and then go on to qualify in their first marathon for Boston and win the most difficult ultramarathon. Don't get me wrong; Toor is a beautiful writer. Her work in the Chronicle is top-notch. I guess I wanted running to be more difficult for her. But I would certainly recommend this book to a seasoned runner who can relate but not for a beginner. Instead read works by John Bingham, whose experiences as a runner are much more common.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a training guide, but..., October 12, 2008
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... A very good, often funny, fast-paced read. I picked this book up partially because of Rachel's work in Running Times. This book will not give you any insight on how to train better, eat better, or race better. However, all that said, it reads very quickly and gives the reader a lot of insight into many of Rachel's vast experiences. Rachel is very well respected in the running community and it's comforting to know that a lot of what goes thru her mind about running - and about life pass through my mind as well. It's nice knowing I'm not the only one out there he is a little freaky about lacing up the shoes! The book is only 165 pages and perfect for a flight if you want something light, yet somewhat introspectful, and of course entertaining! Lastly, one very interesting thing I took away from this book was about the thing that really gives her satisifaction at the end of the day. I won't tell you what it is, but it's really nice to know it gives here such honest joy!
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21 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Narcissus in track shoes, March 5, 2010
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If you want to read an unapologetic paean of self love, have I got just the book for you. This isn't about a love affair with running, this is about an author so special that one runner in the NYC Marathon "told her husband that she had imagined that an angel had come down from heaven to run the last 6 miles with her." The blessed runner's husband corrected her with photographic evidence that although Ms. Toor might be an angel, only the two of them could see the wings , a rebuttal that perhaps the author found a bit unnecessary.

Pick a random page, say p. 137, and count the number of I's you see, in this case no less than sixteen on a single page. From the cover, which shows just a few of the dozens of medals she's won, to the author's picture in which she's --nope, I'm not making this up -- giving herself a hug, our Rachel easily and quickly moves to the front of the pack. Not a mere jogger, she, but a serious runner. She's a "type A cliché" who wanted to be good. Not only that, she quickly became enough of an expert to write about running. And the best part of writing about running for her is when she goes to a race and someone recognizes her -- "That never gets old."

In her very first marathon at Camp Lejeune, she's afraid to tell her pals her time. But why be afraid if one is stacked to the max with talent and speed? She placed in her age group and qualified for Boston, a goal that many (most?) serious runners never do. As the Angel Toor wrote, who qualifies for Boston? "The fast and the old." She ain't old, but she's fast! In the Ride and Tie, she's done six championships. She's taken showers under stands of redwoods, eaten pounds of abalone, and shaken her booty to free it from lactic acid. This is a woman who has crapped in the woods. She's a "snob who values excellence" (but one who evidently doesn't too often turn her eyes inward lest the result be something less than deserving of a medal).

I can't make this up. Really, you have to read it for yourself. If you're expecting even a modicum of self criticism or modesty at the close of the book, you'll instead be greeted by her description of the "Shrine to Me." You see, she's kept all of her medals until they grew so numerous that she "needed to share [the collection] with the world." Thus the shrine to herself, which is the first thing you see when you enter her house. So numerous became the medals that she had to cull through the collection and keep "only the biggest and most rare" of which there are enough "to make a thick ornamental drape." But it's unfinished, of course, for as the author frequently gazes upon the Shrine to Me, so knows there's lots more glory ahead.

I've read of Olympians who kept their gold medals tucked away and were so quiet about their accomplishments that even their neighbors had no idea what they'd done and Super Bowl MVPs who never wore the ring. If you're expecting even a hint of modesty, you won't find it here. This is Narcissus in track shoes.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Running for Fun, December 8, 2008
I'll be honest; I don't understand people who run for fun. I guess my body just doesn't feel like it's built to do that. But Rachel Toor makes me want to be a runner.

Toor admits that she started running not to lose weight or get healthy, but so that she wouldn't be left behind. She enjoyed being part of a running club because she recognized herself in others and she was welcomed by strangers as a comrade. Through running she learned to be herself.

One of the first things Toor did when she decided to run was to get a coach. This man sounds like someone you'd like to have as a friend and mentor, who takes from people the best of what they have to give and ignores everything else. In addition, she bought a watch--a big watch with large numbers so she can see her time when she's racing. Even though it might look silly on her slight wrist, she knows it makes her look like a runner.

When Toor shows up at the starting line, she expects to race, but not to win. And then the gun goes off and she starts caring about how many women are in front of her and she picks up the pace. She likes being the first woman to finish. She has participated in many different kinds and lengths of races, even one that involved teams with two people and a horse. Toor says that runners would like to keep running for their entire mortal lives. But age is a great foe. So she's joined a Pace Team. She leads groups at marathons and answers questions about training, marathoning, nutrition, and hydration. As a volunteer, she gives her time and energy to pace at about thirty minutes slower than her typical marathon time. She knows her speedy times are behind her, but pacing sustains her as a runner.

We can all find something inspiring in this book of stories about her running experiences. What might motivate me is that you get to eat pretty much what you want and the running will take care of the calories.

by Doris Anne Roop-Benner
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
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3.0 out of 5 stars There are many better books for runners than this one, December 23, 2013
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This book was well written, but not very inspirational. I just didn't enjoy it. I'd read something by Matt Fitzgerald or Dean Karnazes if you want something more informative or inspirational. She just annoyed me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great running book!, December 1, 2013
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I really liked this book. I am a big fan of hers, and read all Rachel's Running Times articles. She is an excellent writer, and runners will get a lot out of this book. I know this is sort of superficial, but I put my race medals on a window curtain rod just like she did on the cover of this book. I don't know why I only give it 4 stars instead of 5, but I just read about problem of star inflation, and am trying to cut back.
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5.0 out of 5 stars love the writing style, October 7, 2013
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I love the way Rachel uses words and how she describes her journey through running and all the people she meets. You don't have to be a runner to enjoy this book. Her writing style is so good, the book is so fun, she is so honest.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Toor de Force, July 20, 2013
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I'm a guy and I loved this woman's writing. Toor writes about writing and life in a unique style that a veteran of foot races can only appreciate. No running library is complete without Personal Record! I have decided that my wife and I are going to find all of those medals and find a curtain rod and create a memory. I miss her column when I open Running Times and she doesn't have a piece in the issue. Rachel Toor is welcome on any of my training runs.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great!, March 12, 2013
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Linda E. Tendler (Camarillo, California United States) - See all my reviews
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Read her article in Running Times and decided to get her book!! Loved it!! I highly recommend it, a great read!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly well written, February 21, 2011
By 
Sheepla (North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running (Paperback)
I received this book as a gift and finally forced myself to sit down and read it, expecting it to be a self-indulgent slog. Instead, I found well-written, enjoyable story about running and life. I am not familiar with this author but am impressed enough by her writing to want to read more. She accurately captures the "club" of runners that non-runners often miss. A training book this is not, but still I found it inspirational.
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Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running
Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running by Rachel Toor (Paperback - September 1, 2010)
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