I had the great opportunity to review another running book.
Finish Line Feeling, by Liz Ferro.
Finish Line Feeling is an incredible memoir by the founder of Girls With Sole, an organization that uses fitness and running to empower young woman, many of who are in residential treatment or other services. The author herself was in the foster-care system at the age of 2, was in 4 different foster homes, moved around until her adoption, and ultimately found strength and empowerment through sports.
The memoir is the story of an amazing athlete, who is very humble about her accomplishments. She has completed at least 4 iron distance triathlons and many marathons. Yes, I said Iron-distance races; a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. The ultimate endurance test.
The book tells her story of trauma, abuse, lingering adoption issues, and resulting roller-coaster relationship drama as an adult. It is told in a very engaging, conversational style. There is a bravery, honesty, and bluntness that highlights the strength of the author.
You can tell the author has an inner-strength as she faces these challenges, and that she just needs a few breaks, but needs to fight to learn to make life-affirming choices. As the author discusses relationship and family distress, and some poor choices along the way, you want to reach out and help her. Through it all, she falls back on training for strength and gains the subsequent insight that comes with choices, mistakes, and lessons learned.
There is also an isolation she faces with lack of affirmation from her family, and my guess in writing this book and founding her organization, she was taking back some power in her life and spreading it to others. This is a story of perseverance which I believe will especially resonate strong with woman runners, and anybody who has been in training to bring the best out of themselves.
At times I wanted more running in the book, but Ironically I am reminded of comments about my novel "The Jade Rabbit" where ‘running readers’ wanted more running, while those who weren't’ runners felt it was too much.
And I also fully believe that when we are in our training 'beast mode', our life is our running and our running is our life, and the two can’t be separated. In "Finish Line Feeling," this is very true, as the author's relationships are integrated into her running life.
How to handle, for example, a boyfriend who basically ‘cheats’ and finishes a triathlon without completing the swim, and then lies about it? (Yes, he's eventually dumped) But later on, the author meets her eventual husband during a running of the Cleveland Marathon, which just goes to show that truth is stranger than fiction.
With all the trials and tribulations the author goes through, she finds that “The running drugs are capable of bringing feelings of clarity, control, power and pain relief and they are completely natural, healthy, and legal. Running alone in the woods gave me a chance to take care of mental housecleaning and it was an organic way for me to feel strong and purposeful. “
It isn’t therapy that brings her back to strength. She felt that she could have seen a ‘thousand therapists,” but running and competing gave her something this didn’t, since “You quickly learn as a survivor of trauma and as an athlete that nothing is impossible and if you believe it you can achieve it. If you have ever completed a race (of any distance or type), and put your heart and soul into training and achieving your goal , then you know the feeling of electrifying empowering excitement at the finish line.”
As she says, that “That finish line feeling is something we just can’t bottle”
The message of the story is solid, and is reflected in the novel as well as the mission of the organization Girls With Sole. From dire circumstances come great achievements.
The Organization: “Girls With Sole”