It Takes a Village
You hear that term all the time and it is so true. Not many can do anything successfully by themselves. The same is true when it comes to writing and selling a book. In our book Running all over the world, our race against early onset Alzheimer’s is no different. This book includes experiences and stories from many of the people we have met over the last 5 plus years.
The post that I sent out last week has given me a lot of ideas on how best to handle the next part of this endeavor. I have sent this query letter off to 100 different agents out of a list of 1500 and I am starting to get some rejection replies but as I always say you only need one. It would be nice to have a few fight over this project but one is plenty for me. If all else fails I will just pay someone to publish this masterpiece.
When my partner Catherine and I were in our 50s, we found out in short order that I needed a heart valve replacement and she had early onset Alzheimer’s. We both have a history as endurance athletes, so our reaction to this news was to sell our home, retire from our jobs, and become nomads, running marathons and half-marathons all over the world.
My book Running All Over the World, adapted from a blog I wrote during our travels, is a nonfiction account of our 5+ years of flying, running, walking, sailing, and sightseeing from Atlanta to Antarctica and back again. Part travelogue and part medical memoir, it transports readers to exotic places like Madagascar, Bhutan, and the Great Wall of China, while at the same time offering a day-to-day look at what it means to have nothing but what’s in your suitcase.
It’s also an offbeat love story, recounting the trials and tribulations of an ex-pilot with a passion for vistas and logistics and a woman so tough she walks a half-marathon in the Australian Outback mere weeks after breaking her ankle. During our years as nomads, we pushed our physical and mental limitations as often as we could—and we finished every race we ran hand-in-hand.
If you know anyone that might be interested in something like this in any way shape or form please let me know. I will talk to anyone since I am very passionate about our book
Catherine and I are still traveling, only in the US and when the book hits the streets you can all read about our adventures around the time Covid hit the world. We are also still training for her last two marathons with Maine being on August 31st. We have to get a negative Covid test to get into Maine but as always I have a plan for that. If all goes well she will get state number 50 in Providence RI on Oct. 11th.
Well I am going to keep this one short and sweet but with a catch. Please comment with your email address and I will send you info on how you can get the book either presale or after it is all done for !0% off. Our plans are to donate half of our profits to the Alzheimer’s Association. Since you did come here to see what we are up to I have included the first chapter for you reading enjoyment.
Chapter One: Refusing to Act Normal
“You don’t stop running because you’re old. You get old because you stop running.”
This is the story of our five-year journey to run all over the world after my open-heart surgery and my life partner Catherine’s diagnosis of early-onset dementia. We refused to act normal under these circumstances. We both retired, we sold our home, and we began a journey to create memories that would last a lifetime—since neither knew how long that would be.
I was a commercial management pilot at UPS and Catherine was working for the Transportation Security Administration, (TSA), when a routine exam discovered that I had a leaky aortic valve. I was running marathons at the time and thought my pace was getting slower because I was getting older. Two years later, the fall race season was in full swing when my surgeon and I picked a date between two races on my schedule. My surgeon, who was also a triathlete, and I felt it was best to put in an artificial valve, something that could handle my level of exercise.
The decision to give up our careers and travel the world wasn’t etched in stone until we learned about Catherine’s reason for her forgetfulness at the age of 53. I had noticed something was wrong the year prior, but it wasn’t until her job performance started to suffer that we had to find out what the problem was before she was fired.
Exhaustive testing confirmed our fears with a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s. We managed to get her six months severance and have her put on disability with both the government and Social Security.
I struggled with the thought of retirement, but the decision was made for us. In December 2014, I was informed that my 17th different job at UPS would be one that I had done before for 5 years. I really wasn’t looking forward to doing it again, so I made the decision to simply retire at the age of 59.
At the same time, our condo in Indiana was on the market. I got a call from my realtor saying that she had an offer, but there was a catch. A sweet lady who had just lost her husband needed something smaller. She had cash from the sale of their home and wanted to close in two weeks. The price was right, so we sold the condo—and I gave my boss my resignation.
We had some races on the schedule, so the thought was for us to travel for a while from race to race and see if we could find someplace to call home. We figured we could fill the time between races with side trips to places I had always wanted to visit—not as a pilot on a 8- or 16-hour layover, but as a tourist.
Off we went, right after the closing, with what we would need for the next few weeks. Since you can fly nonstop on Delta from Atlanta to just about everywhere, we sold our cars, loaded up our motor home, and made our way to Atlanta. We didn’t see ourselves living in a motor home, so we put it in storage there. Most of our household goods went into storage in our hometown of Jeffersonville, Indiana, and the rest still resides in a 5×5 storage unit near the Atlanta airport.
We didn’t know at the time that this journey was to last five years (and counting) and take us through ever-changing landscapes as we completed race after race in far-flung locations such as Madagascar, Bhutan, and Antarctica. We’ve both completed a race on all 7 continents and finished the six world major marathons: New York, Chicago, Boston, London, Tokyo, and Berlin.
Of course along the way we’ve had our share of what I call “the blue days.” I can’t say I always have the perfect solution for Catherine. Simply saying, “I love you” will not always work since, from her point of view, she can be a burden.
I recorded a voice memo for Catherine to listen to on those blue days, and have our song, “You and Me” by the Dave Matthews Band, playing in the background. Two lines in this song set the tone for us: “When we get to the ocean, going to take a boat, to the end of the world, all the way to the end of the world. You and me together, we can do anything.”