“The real challenge is not simply to survive. Hell, anyone can do that. It’s to survive as yourself, undiminished.” – Elia Kazan
For most of my life I had considered myself a runner who writes, but that has changed. Age, experience and events have made me realize that I am a writer who runs. Nothing has driven this point home harder than publishing my memoir Twenty-four Years to Boston.
All the years I spent living my story, I was completely unprepared for the day after the book was published. I guess I figured people would just go on Amazon or to their independent bookstore and buy my book, right? Well, many did, yet I find myself unsettled. I mean, I didn’t write a running book, I wrote a story about my life.
I needed to tell a story about a blue-collar guy from Philly who worked on the waterfront, drank in squalid pubs, rode a Harley, met a girl and got married, raised four kids, worked unimaginable hours, went back to school at night to get a degree, traveled frequently on business, and during this wild, hectic life he ran, and the older he got the better he ran. After a twenty-year hiatus from the marathon, he decided to run a second marathon, and that propelled him to the best running years of his life and he went on to qualify for the Boston Marathon. No, Twenty-four Years to Boston isn’t a running book—it’s story about life.
So now I’m driven by this outlandish notion that my story might inspire people to look at their own lives and make changes, to take a chance. Maybe they’ll decide to learn a trade, start a garden, register for a music class, pick up a pen, or lace up a pair of running shoes. What they decide to do isn’t as important as choosing a course of action and taking that first step.
I’ve always told people to find something they are passionate about, something they care deeply about, and take that first step. So it’s time for me to practice what I preach. I’ve decided to go down to the Philadelphia Marathon Expo on Friday and hawk my story. It was too late to get a spot at the expo because my book wasn’t published until last month; nevertheless, no excuses. And the race director of the Bucks County Marathon invited me to sell my book at the Bucks County Half-marathon on Saturday, and I’ll be back at it on Sunday before and after I run the marathon along the Delaware Canal.
The time has come to get my story out there. I believe readers will relate to my story, because after all, I’m just a guy, no different than they are except, in the words of the great Frank McCourt, I wrote it down.
This published author thing is an entire new world to me. I’m learning as I go, in real time. Things have happened to me the past several weeks that I never imagined. I’ve spoken with bookstore owners, magazine editors, running store managers, and people have asked me to sign my book for them (it is exceedingly difficult for me to grasp someone wanting my signature.) I feel as though I woke up one day in Wonderland.
I have no publicist, no agent, no media corps. I’m armed only with my story, and I’m sticking with it—in real time.