As any author will tell you, the writing life is many things. But the submittal of a book manuscript after many months of sweat and perseverance is not usually the stuff of drama.
Erin Strout, a contributing editor at Runner’s World and secretary of Team Run Flagstaff, changed that last April. Working with Bart Yasso on his swan song before he retires as RW chief running officer next month, she touched down at Logan International Airport on a Thursday, four days before the Boston Marathon.
A few days past deadline already (in my experience with book publishing, that constitutes being ahead of schedule) and knowing that a busy weekend of marathon activities would soon overwhelm them both, Strout was determined to pin down her co-author.
She immediately went hunting for Yasso, no small task for a legend in the running community on the sport’s biggest annual celebration. He ain’t called the Mayor of Running because he’s a wallflower.
Strout did find Yasso, and they put the finishing touches on their collaboration that evening, just as Strout demanded.
“I was in the hotel lobby pounding out the last few paragraphs and hit send,” she said. “It was a big relief, but the next morning I said, ‘I’m going for a run.’ It was a terrible run, but it was a great feeling.”
That manuscript became "Race Everything: How to Conquer Any Race at Any Distance In Any Environment And Have Fun Doing It," published in October by Rodale, which also publishes RW.
With Yasso stepping down after 30 years at RW, there was urgency to get the book finished -- which helps explain why two authors and a publisher intertwined with running would be foolish enough to establish a manuscript submittal date just days before the Boston Marathon.
A running journalist who has covered some of the greatest athletes and events of the 21st century, including last week’s historic New York City Marathon, Strout nonetheless found a book to be a beast all its own. Ironically, the assignment meant she didn’t get out for a run for three months -- which helps explain the exhilaration of that Boston morning jog.
“I learned why a lot of journalists take a leave from their daily grind (when they write a book), which I didn’t do,” she said.
Race Everything is part training guide and part story-telling, with Strout’s job to capture Yasso’s yarns.
“This is more his life in racing and his favorites, picking his brain about what he’s experienced and seen over 30 or 40 years,” Strout said.
Though working with Yasso was a challenge because of his travel schedule and the distance between them, Strout found they shared similar views on training, especially encouraging back-of-the-pack runners. She did visit him twice in Pennsylvania, which worked out well for the Hershey native.
“It was a lot of listening to how he speaks and how he tells a story,” she said. “Bart was so easy to work with. He’s been around the magazine for so long. He has a firm understanding of the writing process.”
Strout will sign copies of "Race Everything" from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Run Flagstaff. Snacks and drinks will be served. She will answer questions and read excerpts from the book related to the importance of community, which, she said, is appropriate for Flagstaff.