Monday, February 2, 2015

The Race Within: A book by any other name...




My new book, The Race Within, is on store shelves now. The title was not really my choice. My original, and still favorite, idea was A Long Way to Love. I liked the juxtaposition of the idea that you can love over a distance. The sales department at the publisher thought it a little too esoteric to be marketable. I thought theirs was a little too cliche'. But they're the ones who paid the printing and shipping costs, so we compromised and went with their idea.

Whether you like cliche' or esoteric, both notions strike at the same idea-- this isn't just a book about a three-day, 320-mile triathlon around a small island in the middle of the Pacific. Let's face it, if the Superbowl was just about football, it would be boring. There's something more to it, something wrapped up inside it that's waiting to be discovered and accessed and felt deep within us. Wimbledon, Old Trafford, Yankee Stadium. Those names mean something. What? Why?

The "what" can be described in infinite ways, through language, art, film, statistics, history, music, and even science. And we have exercised all those aspects of human culture to do it throughout time. And still, no complete articulation exists. But there are two things I know for certain. First, that whatever you want to call it, it's in all sports. There's no difference between what's within Ultraman and what's within the Superbowl. Bagger Vance and Shoeless Joe might have been giving advice about different sports, but they whispered the same message-- it's about life, it's about love, it's about being human.

That's why you can't fully explain what it is within Ultraman, or any sport. You can't encapsulate them any more than you can summarize humanity. At many points along the effort to write the book I felt lost in what I was doing; as though I'd forgotten that I was even writing about swimming, cycling and running. There were things that happened and people I met along the way that seemed utterly irrelevant to the subject, yet there they were, popping up on page after page. And once I realized they were there, I could not bring myself to remove them. They had nothing to do with Ultraman, but Ultraman had something to do with them. So there they were and there they remain, little landmarks of life in a sport, watching as the race within goes by.

When the manuscript was finished I realized that I'd written a book that wasn't entirely all about Ultraman. It touches on the geographical and cultural history of Hawaii, political disputes within Ironman, a short and touching love story between a flight attendant and an airline executive, broken friendships, several unfortunate instances of bodily functions shared among friends, and much more. In other words, it's a book about life.

I'm very proud of it, and I hope you enjoy.

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