MLB/Olympics Trip: The Trading Deadline is Thursday so we have been a beehive of activity with deals and rumors galore. Then my attention turns to the Summer Olympics, where I will be working throughout for MLB as baseball/softball make their last stand as an Olympic sport. Major thanks to The New York Times, which came out with an Olympics edition of Taxi Cards, available at beijingtaxicards.com. Today I eagerly accepted my own set, all 1 x 2 1/2-inch flash cards on a keyring. All you have to do is show the appropriate one to a local in China -- especially good for taxi drivers, obviously -- and you're set. Flip to Forbidden City, Beijing Zoo (pandas), Great Wall (at Simatai or Badaling), Olympic venues (including Wukesong Stadium, which will be my "office" for most of August with USA Baseball Team), etc. I am also gradually learning key Mandarin useful phrases. "Thank you" is "shay shay." "Cold beer" is "bing pee-jo." "I don't understand" is "wo-ting boo-dong." This was a very good day on that front. Thursday I see a doctor for my shots. I am pretty much good to go for non-stop flight from Newark on 8/5. Opening Ceremonies are 8/8/08 (8 is lucky in Chinese custom, which is why it starts on that date), and Closing Ceremonies/Men's Marathon are 8/24. I depart Beijing 8/25. For the second time in three days, a friend or colleague who runs marathons advised me to avoid running outside there at all costs or risk Black Lung. It is apparently that bad. This time it was someone based in Colorado who runs lots of Ultras and wins lots of events. I hate the thought of dreadmilling it for three weeks. It is not going to be pretty for Olympic runners, especially the marathoners. The big difference is that this is their be-all, end-all. They "go for the gold" no matter what, then whatever consequences are their own. Me, I am following an 18-week training program and am on a track to gradually lower the times of my first three marathons from 6:08 (plantar fasciitis/NYC) to 5:21 (St. Louis this April) to 4:45 (goal).
Marathon Training: Today I proved again to myself that you can have a bottle of Merlot at night and then put up your strongest workout the next morning. I looped Central Park, including two interior loops of the Reservoir, bailed off in the grass across from The Met and blew through 70 crunches, planks and my PT stretching like it was nothing. I left 2002 Merlot sweat all over the park, felt wonderful, and mega productive afterwards. This Saturday I am in the New York City Marathon Long Training Run #1 at Central Park, treated just like a race event except that it is unscored, and the mile signs are posted for just the first 5 miles. There are four loops for those who run the full 20 proscribed miles, and it's 16 if you run 3. I will run 16 miles, and then will make a judgment call on whether to go up to 20. I did 16 in this last year and it was my last run of feeling good before a series of injuries set in and impacted my marathon debut.
Trees and Numbers: Rejected today by a literary agent who had been so interested in my book proposal that she was thinking about it during a recent road trip and asked me for the full manuscript via email. Within 24 hours she reported back that it didn't match the intrigue of the proposal and wished me the best. That's how it goes. All you can do is keep networking and present yourself. No means not yet. Walt Disney was rejected by more than 100 bankers before someone finally saw the value in his theme-park idea. Another top lit agent is interested but wants me to write a baseball book first as the logical "rollout of a future author" given my platform on MLB.com for millions of readers every day. I have a feeling that's where this is going, but I have been reluctant to start one from scratch because I spent five years on "Trees and Numbers" and want to give it everything I have with the agent search first. Ongoing ups and downs, today a down. That's when I remind myself that life is just Trees and Numbers...like the original street names in my hometown in Indiana. I thought about that again today as I passed a monolithic Sycamore near the NE corner of the Reservoir, along the East Drive run lane. I was about five miles into my run at that point. Everything in my consciousness right then is Trees and Numbers. One day there will be a book that tells all about it. Agent wanted.