Sunday, November 11, 2007

Marathon Slide Show!

Sorry for the delay. There was the trip home, the physical recovery, and then we did leave two teen boys "home alone" for 5 days, so there was definite recovery from that!

Plus, I'm no Web design wizard, so it took me a little while to put the slide show together, but it's now up and working on the ETRTR home page. It's a brief overview of our time in New York City, including a visit to Random House, the men's Olympic trials in Central Park, and "race day" on November 4th. Our camera stopped working around Mile 20, but we were able to recover the pictures and have ended the slide show with an After Run Party shot that was sent to us.

FAIR WARNING: Some images of your illustrious running-for-reading author are shocking. Frightening. (At least to me!) These slides are rated U (for Ugly). Marathon running ain't no beauty pageant, baby. It's gritty.

Click here for a shortcut to slide show. And please come back soon for news on this year's prize winners and next year's school program, which will run again due to popular demand.)

Enjoy the show!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Hi. Mark here. I’m catching this up to date because we just arrived home and Wendelin is having a little “recovery nap”. (And this post is a day late because—as you’ll see—we arrived home a day late!)

I know Wendelin’s already mentioned this, but the support from our friends (both old and new) was really wonderful, and helped make this entire adventure something we will both remember for the rest of our lives. And of course the marathon itself also contributed to that feeling. I’ve heard for years that the NYC marathon was unlike any other, and now I know what they mean. (Example: when was the last time you saw blind people running down the street? And I mean running. The Achilles Track Club has volunteers that help disabled athletes compete in the event, and we encountered more than one sightless runner trucking along, tethered to a sighted runner giving them guidance. Kind of makes you feel silly for complaining about a sore hamstring.)

The support of the spectators of New York was something else. (Actually, the word ‘spectator’ doesn’t do them justice, because these folks were seriously involved!) There were people out in force along almost the entire route, and many of them were there for hours, cheering on the runners. When we came off the relative quiet of the Queensboro Bridge and finally entered Manhattan sometime after mile 16, the sonic impact of the crowd lining 1st Ave. was amazing. I turned to Wendelin with a big grin on my face and yelled “This is the reason people run this, right here…!”

(As for the results, we were especially stoked that Paula Radcliffe was the women’s marathon winner, as she was coming off having a baby earlier this year. Not that we actually saw her or anything, as we were slogging along in the middle of the pack while she and the other elites were flying along a couple of hours ahead of us, but hey – we were in the same race!)

The post-marathon revelry was really nice. A small group of us met at “Harry’s Bar” (gotta love that name) right after we finished. We’d planned to go up to our room and shower/change before joining them, but we ended up attending in all our sweaty glory. (We just popped in on our way up but I could tell that Wendelin really needed to eat, so we sat down ‘just for a minute’, which turned into two or three hours…) Following this we did the ‘shower-change-eat (again!)-sleep’ routine, then got up Monday morning and had a great breakfast at Sarabeth’s. Did a little window shopping, then headed out to the airport so that we could be home Monday night… we thought. To sum up a long boring story, from the time we arrived at JFK until we finally landed back home it was almost 24 hours (due to a series of airline misadventures that would have been almost comic if we hadn’t been so tired).

But here we are, happy to be home but also thrilled to have had such an amazing, uplifting time as your faithful ETRTR correspondents. Wendelin will touch base soon with an update on the program.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

New York City:Day 3 (NYC Marathon!)

We got up at 4:00 this morning to catch a cab to the buses (which were parked, appropriately, outside the NY Public Library). The buses took us to Staten Island, where we shivered until the sun came up, and waited in our corral area until 10:00. The gun went off at 10:10, but there were 40,000 runners (unbelievable) corralled and waiting to start, so it took us 15 minutes to be processed to the starting line. But then we were off! It was an amazing experience because the people of New York made it so. They lined the streets the whole 26 miles, cheering, encouraging, some offering candy or water. The run goes through the five NYC boroughs, starting in Staten Island (a short leg of the journey), then moving into Brooklyn (a really long leg, with interesting changes in culture through the neighborhoods -- we loved Brooklyn). The route then took us through Queens, and then the Bronx (where we were greeted by a big rapper shouting "Welcome to da Bronx!" -- it was classic!). The final borough was Manhatten, and by then I was doing the shuffle-of-pain. I started slowing down around mile 18, and was greatly relieved to see the Mile 20 marker because after that I could handle just checking off the remaining miles -- the toughest 6 miles, but still manageable in my mind if I'm checking them down one at a time.

Mark made the whole thing look easy, jetting off to take pictures (lots of awful ones of me, but running a marathon ain't a fashion show), and some outstanding ones of the contrasting neighborhoods and crowds.

The NYC marathon is known for people running for causes, and it was interesting to see the varying shirts. Besides our Exercise the Right to Read campaign, people were running "for" everything from curing childhood leukemia to blasting bowel disease (seriously!).

Seeing friends along the way meant a lot to me. We stopped to hug and thank, and I will never forget the ones who cheered us on. It really does help to have people to look for; people who believe in you.

Mark's doing great, but I am sore! I'm glad we took our time running and didn't worry about our marathon time -- it was an amazing experience and I'm proud to be part of a movement to help kids and libraries.

Tomorrow is a travel day, but I'll be putting together a little slide show of our trip on the ETRTR website -- subjects I think will interest people. From the impressive Random House lobby to shots from the marathon. So tune in again soon!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

New York City:Day 2

We got to see the Olympic trials for the men's marathon (for the 2008 Olympics in China). The runners looped Central Park (about 5 times) to complete the 26.2 mile course, starting at 7:30 this morning. Runners and running fans from all over were out in the early COLD to watch, and it was well worth it. Amazing athletes. We were hoping Brian Sell--a dark horse and really hardworking "middle class American"--would be among the top three representing American in Beijing, so we were delighted when he pulled up from the second chase pack to come in third.

The winner, Ryan Hall, put on an amazing performance. He made it look easy! The last mile or two he pumped his arm at the crowd and got them cheering him on. He's only 25 and this was only his second marathon. It was just awesome to watch him run and soak in the win.

We're off to have dinner with a reading specialist who's come from New Hampshire to cheer us on tomorrow. Pasta time! I doubt I'll have time to update any more before we run tomorrow, as we have to leave the hotel at 4:30 in the morning!

Wish us luck!

Friday, November 2, 2007

New York City: Day 1

We have done so much in the last 24 hours! We're in NYC, staying in a hotel right across from the south side of Central Park. You can see the horse-drawn carriage waiting for riders, bumper-to-bumper taxis on Park Avenue South, and the beautiful towering trees of Central Park. Manhattan is, as everyone always says, so alive.

We arrived around midnight last night, then got up early to catch a shuttle to the Javitz Center where registered runners pick up their "race packets". A race packet has your race bib, your "chip" (a device the size of a fat quarter that you tie to your shoe that keeps track of your race time and what check points you've crossed), and some goodies (like your official participant shirt, coupons, samples, etc.). There was also a bright yellow Spongebob Bikini Bottom Track Club hat. Don't ask me.

After we got our race packets and talked to officials about the best way to get to the start point (something we'll post about later), we "hopped in a cab" and went to visit the agency that represents my books. (Fortunately, it did not cost $900 to get there.) I met with the literary agent (who has also become my friend over the years), the foreign rights agent (a dear man who's behind my translations contracts with dozens of foreign publishers), and the film agent (whom I'd not met in person before). Interesting conversations, and fun too!

After that, we ate lunch at a funky New York diner -- it was fabulous. I had pancakes and eggs (yes, lunch, but I was jonesing for pancakes and over-easy eggs) and Mark had the weirdest, most delicious veggie burger.

We walked up Broadway quite a ways, then took another cab the rest of the way to Random House, where I met with my editor and all the members of the wonderful book-making team. (There are a lot of people involved in the publication of a book--a lot more than you'd imagine. It's taken me 20 books at RH to really understand what it takes.) I got to see my Reno 9-1-1 buddies (see previous post) and personally thank the woman who okayed the $900 cab fare.

My editor put together a wine and cheese reception (we loaded up on her delicious spice cake and the available crackers and bread -- no wine, very little cheese) at Random House, then took us out to a lovely sushi dinner (ate lots of rice!). Mark snapped the above picture of us at dinner. From left to right: a RH sales rep who is one of my favorite people.(We 'bonded' years ago durning another transportation adventure when I was on a book tour -- we call it Lillian's Wild Ride.) My lovely editor, and the school-and-library division director (and my pal), and me. Mark was a real sport (as always) as we cackled through dinner.

That's it for today -- oh! Except for tracking down warmer clothes for Mark -- it's COLD here (by our standards, anyway), and if we have to be on our way to the starting line at 4:30 in the morning, he was way under packed.

Thanks for checking in -- I got several nice e-mails from schools today wishing us well -- one signed off "we're running and reading with you!" which made me feel really good. I like that image. It'll help me get over the finish line.

More tomorrow!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

And We're Off (to New York)!

This appropriate drawing courtesy of cool(and very funny) author / illustrator Kevin O'Malley. Slow and steady, that's how I'm going to do this 26.2 miles. (Now, if Kevin had drawn one for Mark, there'd be a hare. Oh, wait, no. The hare didn't fare too well, did he. It'd be more like a mountain goat--Mark's amazing on hills.) Regardless, I appreciate the drawing and the sentiment. Thanks Kevin!