Thanks to Sarah Lavendar Smith’s 2016 Gift Guide for Trail Runners post, I bought Nowhere Near First: Ultramarathon Adventures From the Back of the Pack by Cory Reese. I laughed. I cried. I read the book when I couldn’t sleep at night.
Reese is not a pro, not a Killian Jornet. He runs closer to the cutoff time than the record time. He understands what it’s like to finish DFL (Dead F*****g Last or Deserving Full Lionization, ahem) and to DNF (Did Not Finish). And yet, persist. He’s run multiple 100 milers. Because he loves trail running and being able to run.
Reese writes serious things rolled like Twinkies (he also hosted a Twinkie party) inside of funny things. Here the briefest example:
6. If you start hallucinating that your running partners on the course are Care Bears, leprechauns, or unicorns, don’t talk to them. Just keep moving.
7. It is always darkest before the dawn. Just like in life, it can get a little ugly out on the trail. It’s not always smooth sailing. But don’t give up. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Be patient enough to let things turn around. I have had so many experiences where I was really struggling and didn’t have think it would get better…and yet it did. But you have to stick with it long eough for things to turn around.
On the serious side, his father’s severe diabetes and suicide when Reese was very young, gives Reese gratitude for being healthy and out there participating. He wrote that getting a DNF is not failure. Because you had the courage to risk registering. Because no matter how far you did or didn’t make it you are blessed to be able to run. Because you showed up at the start line and dared greatly. Because you learn a lot from not finishing about how to finish better. And you can use it to motivate your next race.
I may keep this book as I plan out my trail races for next year. Reese has some good advice that I’ll probably need. And a hilarious way of delivering it.