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Paula: My Story So Far Paperback – 3 Oct 2005
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From the Inside Flap
Paula Radcliffe has been hailed as one of the finest female distance runners of all time. Her amazing run of record-breaking victories in 2002 and 2003, including smashing the womens world marathon record in Chicago and then again in London, showed an athlete at the peak of her powers and her popularity. Such was her dominance that a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens seemed almost a formality. But as the world watched, and a nation held its breath, that historic race ended for her on a dusty kerbside instead of the podium.
Athens showed in heartbreaking and dramatic fashion that, for Paula, success has been hard-won. She was the underdog for so long narrowly missing out on medals at the 1999 World Championships and the 2000 Sydney Olympics and fans longed to see her win. But Paulas eternally rosy manner and palpable decency hide a tough resolve to succeed, and she has never allowed high-profile losses to dent her confidence. With the support and guidance of her husband, the former 1,500-metre runner Gary Lough, and coach Alex Stanton, she remodelled her training schedule and emerged triumphant, winning gold medals at both the Commonwealth and European championships and grabbing headlines which have brought Britains focus back to athletics.
Paulas bravery is not limited to the track, however. She has won many admirers for her work for asthma research inspired by her own conquering of the condition and has also been an outspoken campaigner against drug cheats in her sport, wearing a red ribbon symbolising her readiness to be tested for banned substances at any time.
What has driven this quintessential girl next door to achieve so much, and how does she deal with the weight of expectation that now accompanies her? And what really happened that hot Athens afternoon? Paula Radcliffe reveals the true story behind the triumphs and trials in the most eagerly anticipated sports autobiography of the year. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Paula is one those people who found early no what her passion in life is early on. Running. She also had the ability, means, and ambition to follow it. She worked very hard not only to get as good as she did in running but also to give herself options for life after running, or if she could not follow running as career.
The negitive I have about the book as I said is the writing style. Most chapters are about a year in review. She start with the main point of that year, usually the important race of that year or improvements of that year. She takes us almost up to the starting line, but then backtracks to earlier in the year, or fast forwards to the lessons she learned from this race or experience. I kept thinking I must have missed something till I kept reading and reailised this was just the way the book was written. This going back and forward and looping of the chapters I just found infuriating and harder to read.
The positives messages in the book do outweigh the negatives. The book is honest to a fault, in some cases even giving too much information. An example is in some chapters we even know the colour of her stools, and what to do if you need to go in the middle of a race. I completely agree with Paula's stance on bring more attention to the issue of drug cheats, and dopers. Though her moral high ground on playing dirty does not stretch to competing against her brother. One of the messages Paula gets across is the that athletes are not machine they are as prone, or because of the high intensity of their training, even more prone to injuries than the rest of us. For athletes there is an important message about the thin line between ignoring the voices telling you to stop and keep going, and recognising the voices of knowing something is wrong and stopping before doing permanent damage to yourself. Also how you deal things that have gone wrong. How you carry on and learn from these is what is the difference an athlete, an elite athlete and a champion.
She gives her side of the story of Athens 2004. For anyone who has never done a marathon before they are 26.2 miles. The reason for this is a roman soldier ran that distance from his base to Rome to warn them of an attack. He delivered his message then droped dead from exertion. To honour him this the marathon was created. Running the distance is one thing dealing with the after effects is another. This does not even take into account countless miles one needs to run to be fit enough to do this distance. I think this needs to be remembered when reading this particular chapter. Then imagine attempting something like this at a professional pace at much less that 100%.
Great stroy, great person, great athlete, the book is just let down slightly by the writing.
I found it great to read about her childhood and her background as a runner - she really was the underdog for quite some time! Getting a (tiny) glimpse into her training schedule also interested me (for obvious reasons), and also the ice-baths, nutrition, etc. But she clearly adores running.
She seems to have suffered countless injuries. This is probably common in elite athletes, but reading about how often they get them makes you wonder how fit these people really are! I mean, these professional runners are plagued with injuries, while the average overweight middle-aged person manages just fine!
Paula also, obviously, talks in detail about Athens and how it all went wrong. It's pretty upsetting to read - but it was upsetting to watch, too.
She also has a great, not-too-detailing writing style.
I liked it.
This book, though, came as a real disappointment. She's clearly no writer and doesn't seem to have got much help from David Walsh in that department. Once her childhood is out of the way, the book degenerates into nothing much more than a diary of training and races, you get precious few insights into Paula as a person, you get no idea what makes her "tick", you really don't learn anything about her. I had to give up reading it about 3/4 of the way through, which is rare for me, but reading this book became about as interesting as doing hill reps in my running days - just a case of get your head down, stick with it and hope you don't throw up at the end!
Paula - you deserve better than this. Much better.
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