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Title: Just Finish!: Don’t Think You Can; Know You Can
Author: Sean Kachmarski
Genre: Running and Jogging Books, Autobiographies, True Story
Publication Date: January 29, 2020
Formats: eBook, Paperback
5 Out of 5 Stars
Just Finish is the autobiographical journey of Sean Kachmarski’s transformation from couch-potato to Ultramarathoner. I received a PDF copy for a sponsored blog review. This has not influenced my opinion of the book in any way and all opinions expressed in this review are my own.
The tale begins with Sean describing his couch-potato self in gloriously humorous detail. Sean introduces the medical crisis that motivates him to get up and run then takes a trip back in time to tell us how he met his wife. His story continues on through years of training, his racing goals, and how he continued to keep himself motivated for his health despite the fact that he doesn’t actually like running just for the sake of running. (What? Yes, I put that big fat spoiler in there.)
Sean Kachmarski is just an average Joe…erm…Sean. He has a degree in Physical Education, so it is a bit surprising that he had gotten to the point he is at when his story starts. But other than that, he could have been any paper-pusher in any desk job, who consumed more calories than his sedentary work has him expend. Even his decision to follow through with his decision to get healthy isn’t terribly unique (though few people become Ultramarathoners). And I think that is what makes this story inspiring. Because if he can do it…
I love running but I’ve never gotten to participate in a race, and it was amazing reading about these (for me) almost fairytale experiences. The descriptions of cheering crowds, encouraging volunteers, and all of the other amazing race-day experiences left me wistful and wishing I lived in an area where I could participate myself. (I even started looking up Ultramarathons and discovered that there was an annual one not far from where I live.)
Sean’s sense of humor and his honesty about himself and his shortcomings is part of what makes this story so inspirational and him so easy to identify with. He is a quirky person and that makes his story a bit more fun to read than the average autobiography. My favorite part of the book is the descriptions of the little eccentric things that he and his family do. His wife is my hero because of her “countdown”. From naming his race-day outfit to naming his hemorrhoid Sean navigates the challenges of his life with wit and comedy that made me frequently laugh out loud as my son gave me stone-faced eyebrow-raises from across the living room because my outbursts interrupted his studies. Oops.
Sean’s wife is a saint. I know from personal experience how time-consuming a running hobby is, and the fact that she was okay with the amount of time Sean spent away from home outside of work is pretty amazing and tolerant for a family with young children. Yet, she seems to have been continuously supportive and for that, I am both impressed and glad for them both. The story might have been more dramatic if it had been otherwise, but it is so much more heartwarming because of Wendy’s steadfastness.
There was one aspect of the story that was difficult for me and may be difficult for others like me to appreciate. Sean runs for health; he does not run for the love of running. And he reiterates that point throughout the book. For someone like me who loves running for the sake of running but has spent a significant part of my life in long slow painful recoveries from injury and illness, Sean’s relatively easy journey is upsetting (okay, I’m jealous). I’m NOT saying that what he did was easy, it was not. Yet, throughout his running quest he describes one injury which was easily recovered from, and one medical issue (besides the ones that started him running) which didn’t actually stop him from running. So, every time Sean mentions in this book that he didn’t like running for the sake of running I would stop reading for a bit until I could go back to it.
Whenever the author wrote about the time he spent away from his family while running or how supportive his family was, I would wonder why they weren’t running as a family. It boggled my mind that there was only one instance of the author describing his kids participating in running activities and not just supporting him. Don’t get me wrong, it was so inspiring that his family was so supportive, yet I could not imagine spending that much time away from my child even for the running that I love. I was surprised when I reached the end of the book and didn’t read about either of his children joining Sean in his running.
I actually loved everyone in this book. Sean’s friends, family, and running partners are a joy to read about. You can feel their love and patience in Sean’s words. Rene, the marathon angel, will be adored by readers. And I was really glad to see that Sean is so aware of how lucky he is. Praise for his support network and the people who helped him make his goals happen are frequent throughout his book. It is something I appreciated.
I’m rating Just Finish a 5 out of 5 stars and DDD for Definitely Delights Delilah. I don’t often give out 5 star reviews and it’s a testament to Sean’s narration. Sean’s story is a refreshing autobiography that shows what can happen when almost everything goes right in a person’s goal. There are a few setbacks, but nothing traumatizing to the reader. There are no huge family dramas, no devastating obstacles to overcome, no horrific injuries that cause hot razors down his legs, no long painful physical therapy, or other dramatic recovery. His achievement is more a story about the innate beauty of people supporting and encouraging someone to achieve their goals. I think that this is a wonderful, lighthearted read which many people will find inspirational.
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