Liralen's Reviews > A Life Without Limits: A World Champion's Journey

A Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington
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's review
Mar 01, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction, run-baby-run, fame-first-book-second, z-2015, ed-etc, reviewed

Wellington burst onto the triathlon scene in 2007, winning the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. She was something of an accidental athlete, having stumbled upon triathlons in her twenties and discovering a latent talent. Prior to that, she had worked in development; her memoir takes her from childhood through development work and on to her athletic career.

As far as writing's not great. She had a ghostwriter, but that often (in general, not in this book specifically) seems to mean that the writing is competent but kind of...flat. My rating is more because of the very entertaining sense of 'oops, I fell into triathlons and can't get up' that pervades the book.

I do wish there'd been more about individual races, and about training, though the heavy focus on her earlier years seems kind of fitting to her experience -- that it hasn't always been about athletics. And some of it's dead relevant, as when she talks about putting in time doing grunt work in her previous work and that paying off when there were opportunities to step up. But, yeah. Could've used some trimming there. I enjoyed the book quite a bit, but ultimately I suspect it would have been a rather stronger book with a tighter focus on triathlons.

I think it must be difficult, sometimes, as an athlete (or actress or other generally well-known person), to write about all the good and bad that goes along with the career, knowing that doing so may impact your career options later on. (I'm reminded of Jenifer Ringer, who seemed very careful not to speak poorly of anyone in her ballet memoir -- presumably both for politeness and for politics.) Wellington's generally pretty positive about her first coach, who sounds downright abusive to me, and although she talks about her teammates not accepting her initially, she's pretty vague, and they seem to grow on each other. (There's actually quite a nice moment on 133 when one of her teammates -- who Wellington is ahead of -- screams out some encouragement during Wellington's first Ironman.)

An aside: Wellington comes across as pretty adamantly against steroid use. The book was published in 2012, and it must've been a blow when Lance Armstrong -- who wrote the foreword -- was caught doping later that year and subsequently banned from professional cycling. (To be honest, I found the foreword pretty douche-y to begin with, given its 'she's good enough that she sometimes even beats men!' message. As though that's the highest compliment he could pay...)

But I don't want to end on that note. Issues aside, I got an unexpected amount of pleasure from reading this, and -- while I think I will not be entering a triathlon anytime soon -- the book's given me a number of things (and people) to look up, investigate further...find more books about.

A few more ruminations on the book here.

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01/05/2015 marked as: read

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