At 9:15 a.m. on Sunday morning, I was swinging my bike around into a light headwind on Highway 1. Despite a fog of condensation across my time trial helmet’s visor, I sighted the next woman in my age group and shifted up a gear, accelerating south along the dramatic Pacific coastline. I was on the second leg of Ironman Santa Cruz 70.3 and having the race of my life.
Fewer than twelve hours later, I was sitting upright in a middle airplane seat, sandwiched between two broad passengers on the way to New York City. The trip would lead me to the Publishers Weekly Star Watch reception on Wednesday, where I got to hear Mira Jacob’s viral BuzzFeed speech, and also learned that five hours and nineteen minutes of sustained athletic activity is nearly painless when compared with a short walk in the five-inch Stella McCartney heels I’d bought to wear with this dress.
I’ve been so busy with editing work that I don’t have time to write a good race report AND give the New York trip the run-down it deserves; and I suspect that the two very different audiences for each will be bored with one (or both) of these efforts. So let’s just jam them into a Procrustean chart.
[Incidentally, I’m finishing this post six weeks after I started it. Lame.]
IMSC: Santa Cruz Pier, California. Also, less than two miles from the Cement Boat, where many 18-foot great white sharks were spotted in the unusually warm water. That’ll make you swim fast.
NY: Midtown Manhattan, smack in the middle of giant-scale buildings, 99-cent-pizza shops, the Museum of Sex, and not much else.
IMSC: 5 hours, 18 minutes, 58 seconds elapsed between a wild gadarene into the surf, and a soft-sand finishing chute. Let me just say that running a quarter mile through sandcastles, broken crab shells, and ankle-deep dry sand was harder than the foregoing 70.05 miles.
NY: A day longer than my scheduled return flight on JetBlue, thanks to some poor planning. The banquet was originally scheduled on Rosh Hashanah–oops–and was moved a day later, so I shelled out the $150 to change my flight.
IMSC: To cap off a summer of hard training. I exercise so I can eat. And evidently, I also like to spend money, because no matter how frugal I try to be, triathlon is a ridiculously expensive addiction; albeit a healthier one than drugs, probably.
NY: To continue my wild spending streak. I found a $35 Helmut Lang dress, and proceeded to spend $300 in accessories. This was all worth it because I was supporting my good friend Laura Stanfill of Forest Avenue Press, who was nominated for a Star Watch Award. And being the ace planner she is, she spun the trip into a whirlwind of meet-and-greets with agents, distributors at Perseus, authors, and booksellers. I also visited some clients I’d been eager to meet in person. This insider’s view of the publishing industry blew my mind.
Special gear needed:
IMSC: Rubber suit, funny helmet, metal-cleated shoes, carbon wheels, and running shoes (oh! you mean the ones I forgot at home? Sigh. I had to bust out the credit card to buy a new pair). Also, 270g of carbohydrates strategically distributed across four water bottles.
NY: Aforementioned nice outfit for the party, plus two nice suits. And a laundromat, because I’ve never visited New York on business in 85-degree weather. I sweated more on a twenty-minute trip from the Flatiron Building to Times Square than I did during the whole race. New Yorkers must spend a fortune in dry cleaning. Might I suggest making every day a casual Friday? (Says the person who lives in California . . .)
IMSC: Eighth place in my age group. I was excited to share the course with my super-fast friends Patricia and Christina, who both qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Australia. The championship is my wife Erin’s dream, too, and I fully expect it’ll happen for her next year. As for me, I have no big triathlon dreams, and my goal was–as ever–just to feel strong and happy during the race. Success.
NY: Also successful. Laura made a ton of great contacts for the press, and gave me some much-appreciated mentoring in the nitty-gritty details of publishing a book. I am happy to say that I will be helping out Forest Avenue Press in an editorial capacity starting next year, and as we both agreed, this intense trip also gave our writer-selves a new perspective on the work of getting a deal. There are so many middlemen between writing and reading; but judging from the good people we met, those middlemen are passionate readers, too, and are part of the economy like anyone else. Still, Mira Jacob’s speech resonates with me, and I am clearer than ever on the need to write as and for the part of the story-loving segment of readers whose identity is different, and difficult to pin down, and part of a wide and diverse spectrum of others who–in some way or other–owe their lives to books.