A few months ago, my friend Liz Ferro offered to send me a copy of her book, Finish Line Feeling, if I would talk about it on my site. I of course accepted as I was already planning to buy a copy. Liz actually is a friend of mine, she founded Girls with Sole, a local non-profit which just received the CLASSY award for best new charity! In the past I wrote about Girls with Sole as my favorite non-profit for a fundraising contest.
Finish Line Feeling is the story of Liz’s life. From her early memories of being adopted and establishing her “I’ll leave you before you leave me attitude”, through days of family vacations at the beach, terrifying moments of abuse and assault, international adventures, emotional turmoil and for the romantic in us all, a happy ending.
The official dish on Liz is as follows:
Liz Ferro graduated from Miami University. To date Liz has completed sixteen marathons (two of them 50K Ultras), four Iron-distance triathlons and countless road races and triathlons. The empowerment gained from sports led her to found the non-profit organization Girls With Sole. She is the recipient of both the 2011 Classic Woman Award from Traditional Home Magazine and the American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland Hero Award. Girls With Sole has been featured in Ohio Magazine, Runner’s World Magazine, and CBC Magazine. Liz is a mom, wife, motivational speaker and author.
When I read a book I try not to talk too much about the content, since anyone can use Google or read the cover of a book. Giving away more details than that is often considered a spoiler, so instead I want to discuss my reactions to reading Liz’s story.
Beginning in her childhood, she writes about being adopted and how the agency apparently had very little faith in her lasting impression on a family. Her father declared she was not some animal and returning her was not an option. From reading this book I began to feel a bond with the character of her father. To watch him go from this strong booming figure to working through complications with his diabetes and general health. In a way I saw my own family and my own awareness of life. Looking back I can recall seeing my grandparents as these perfect older people. They were beautiful and they were funny. As I got older, somehow they did too. As did my mother. I see it in their hands, which is such an odd thing for me to notice aging. Often I find myself staring at my own hands, wondering if I show my age this way too?
Liz’s description of her childhood sexual abuse is what took me the longest to read through, not because it was too vividly written or because I have a weak stomach, but it brought back memories of my own abuse. She wasn’t raped, but she was violated. Most of my life people have told me since I wasn’t raped it wasn’t a big deal. Liz’s story shows it doesn’t have to be rape to have a lasting impression, and so many of her thoughts, feelings and behaviors mirrored my own over the years.
In fact reading about her 20s and into her 30s produced a high level on anxiety for me. All my life I’ve dealt with aspects of depression and low(er) self esteem. Reading through her varied relationships, jobs and locations I saw so much of my inner voice and while things worked out for her in the end, all I could do was plead with myself not to go through the same lessons myself. Her story touched me so deeply I even asked my doctor about the possibility of medication, but that’s a story for another day. All I can say is reading her book, changed my life and 100% for the better.
My favorite aspects were the times she wrote about swimming. Early on she found herself in a situation in a lake demanding dedication and ability. She decided then and there she would one day be an Ironman. Knowing she achieved this childhood dream is one of the most amazing aspects of this woman. At various times in her life swimming has been her salvation. Swimming helped her with life, school, love and self. Identifying as an athlete kept her from falling off the edge of reality and safety numerous times.
In the book little mantra’s come up like “This ain’t shit”. And apparently if you complete a race of 140.6 miles with swimming, cycling and running, other aspects of life pale in comparison.
One theme I took away from her book is that as athletes we’re capable of hard things, we’re capable of surviving and thriving and often times doing this on our own. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Physical activity and identifying as an athlete may provide a sense of accomplishment, pride and satisfaction, but it can also bring a sense of peace, love and community. These concepts are similar to what drove Liz to establish Girls with Sole, and obviously they work and were well received as the organization is flourishing beyond estimation.
Oh and if you’re sucker for a happy ending the story of how she meets her current husband gives me butterflies every time I think about it. A classic tale one may be inclined to think was fabricated, both in the initial context and background. It’s a story I would love to mimic one day though, and as a fellow long distance runner I know the truth of the matter is, what happened that day happens countless times in a runner’s life, but it takes a special person to react the way her husband reacted.
I saw this image posted over on PostSecret this past Sunday.
At first my reaction was sorrow. I related to the person who created the image and felt sorry for myself for all the times I came across the end only to be greeted by my own reactions or fellow runners. Then I realized there is nothing wrong with my situation. I recalled Liz’s book and what it means to embrace the Finish Line Feeling. Crossing the ending line is a moment no one else gave you, and is never easily accomplished. Standing with friends at the end or even by yourself does not make the journey any less special. My running community both live and virtual support me in ways I could never have asked for and I would never discount their love by pointing out the one or two people who were not standing there…and let’s be honest, what I’m talking about is having a boyfriend to sweep me off my tired and sore feet.
If you’re looking for a tale of perseverance and reality, take a chance on Liz’s book. While there are struggles in her life story, there are also countless moments of happiness and beauty, friendship and laughter. When I put the book down I always felt better about life and the future of the world.
If you want to see the official press release you can visit here.
If you’d like to get the book as an e-book via Amazon check it out here. Note if you’re an Amazon Prime member, currently you can borrow the book for free!