That whole luck/hard work matrix and other springtime updates

Hi and happy spring!!!! What are you doing to avoid Coronavirus on this gorgeous bluebird day? Today I did not touch my face during bootcamp at the rec center one single time. I had to laugh when the instructor asked us to face the wall and then gave us firm instructions not to lick it.

Writing/ The story behind the stories
Why Altra Signing Two Pregnant Runners is a Big Deal (Outside)
You never know where you’re going to find a story, but I got the idea for this one from Instagram when Alysia Montaño posted about it in her feed. (Social media is not a total waste of time!) Since I’m a self-proclaimed Alysia Montañologist—this marks the fourth time I’ve written about her since May—I knew I had to pitch a story about this exciting turn of events and because it was news-y I had to do it fast.

Within hours I got a response from an editor at Outside, who told me they were interested in covering this and were glad I reached out. Which led me to wonder, why in the world had they not assigned this story in-house, or to a freelancer they’d worked with before? Simple. Because I’m the Montañologist who happened to pitch them at just the right time. It’s that whole luck/hard work matrix I know you’ve already heard about.

I had to stay up late to complete the draft I’d promised to turn in the following day but I also got to talk to Montaño and Tina Muir, who are using their voices to do amazing things for women in sports. It reminded me of how I used to save my term papers for the last minute in college and grad school and made me so happy I never do that anymore when it comes to work. Also, the experience found me in (more) awe of reporters who work on crazy tight deadlines every single day.

Sara Vaughn on Babies, Body Image, and Chasing Big 2020 Goals (Women’s Running)
I don’t really remember a time when I was not fangirling over Sara Vaughn, but I think I first became acquainted with her at the gym about three or four years ago. Two of our kids are roughly the same age so I’d see her on the way to and from childcare and also in my Instagram feed, where she’s always super real about the challenges (and the joys) of semi-pro running while managing the demands of her full-time job and her four children.

With some encouragement from a writer friend, I proposed an interview, not sure if I’d be able to place a story on her but feeling hopeful. One hard truth about the writing life is that just because you think a story is fascinating doesn’t mean editors will too, but I’ve been developing a better sense of what would be interesting to people besides myself.

What Every Cyclist Needs to Know About Iliac Artery Endofibrosis (Bicycling)
This was another story that required a bit of a leap of faith; I had a really nice long phone call with a triathlete, Janine, who had iliac artery endofibrosis, not knowing if anyone would care about it other than myself. I thought the story would be about how after multiple surgeries and lots of support from friends, she raced an Ironman symptom-free.  But when I pitched it, no one was really interested until I changed the angle to focus on the diagnosis itself and what other athletes could learn from her experience.

Boxing Boosts Fitness and Confidence. Read this Primer Before You Lace on Some Gloves. (The Washington Post)
They say to write what you know, but some say you should write what you don’t know and this story definitely fell into the latter category. The first thing I did to prepare to write this story was to try a couple of boxing classes, which is something I’ve been saying I want to try for at least a year. Nothing like a deadline to get you into a boxing gym. (I tried a traditional boxing gym and Muay Thuy kickboxing, if you were wondering.)

One thing you realize when you start to dig into a sport you know almost nothing about for the express purpose of illuminating the basics for a general audience is how little you actually know about it. This is why I interviewed four different experts and ran a draft by two friends who love to box.

Last month my bookshelf was all health and wellness, this month it was a novel about a haunted car. I know. I just like some variety in my life. I really enjoyed Christine (my third Stephen King book to date) but I also had a hard time sleeping while I was reading it. I don’t know maybe a story about a murderous car isn’t soothing bedtime reading?

After that, I needed something light and I picked a winner, y’all. (And even though I left Chapel Hill in 2007 I’ve been inclined to say “ya’ll” since I read Wordslut this summer.) Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes is a light, sweet story with realistic characters and seriously realistic dialogue. Evvie Drake is insanely lovable, I can just see her picturesque Maine town in my mind, and the writing is just so sharp and funny. I would love to see this book as a screenplay.

I posted this one to Instagram on Valentine’s Day because how could I not. When I opened Dan’s card I initially became very confused, wondering if I was somehow opening the card I meant to give him. But when I saw his terrible handwriting on the inside I realized what happened and I waited until he opened his card to die laughing.

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So, this happened.😂😂😂 #happyvalentinesday

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Fun fact: When Dan and I had been dating for a few months we were sitting in my futon bed with our laptops, both of us on the Boulder Public Library website, searching for books. When he went to request a hold on one of his titles, I noticed he knew his library card number BY HEART and dear reader my heart was aflutter. I remember thinking, “He doesn’t know it yet but I am going to make him MINE ALL MINE.”

5 thoughts on “That whole luck/hard work matrix and other springtime updates

  1. emilys72016 says:

    So much good here and many kudos on your various stories, but even more heartwarming to me: the library card number and the matching Valentine’s Day cards got my heart all a-flutter! You have certainly found your person(s), both of you. <3

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