Ivy and Rachel run another 5K

Ivy and I ran her first 5K together in November. I wrote about it for Athleta.

In June I went back to Chicago and we ran another one, a real race, a grownup race, that happened during Pride Week. This is the video her dad made of our run.

This is why I run.



Quote Roundup: On the Road to Find Out by Rachel Toor

July 16, 2014 | Comments: None Yet - Post a Comment

On the Road to Find Out by Rachel Toor came out on 6/10/14! Are you planning on picking up a copy? We’re certain the words from the book will convince you to read it.
Share these quotes on social media with #OnTheRoadToFindOut, get On the Road to Find Out today, and let us know which quotes are your favorite!
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From the Huffington Post

10 Super Fun Teen Summer Novels That Adults Will Love Too

Posted: Updated: 
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Originally posted on Kirkus:
We’ve combed through the many, many teen novels being published in time for summer reading to highlight a few stories you’ll find difficult to put down (whether you’re an adult or an actual teen!).
For more from Kirkus, click here!
Teen Summer Books
10 of 11


My book the movie

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rachel Toor's "On the Road to Find Out"

Rachel Toor is currently associate professor of Creative Writing at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers in Spokane, the graduate writing program of Eastern Washington University. She lives with her dog, Helen, who raced in her first half marathon in February.

Here Toor dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, On the Road to Find Out:
This is a huge problem. A ginormous problem.

Plenty of great actors could play most of the characters. A younger undiscovered Ellen Page or Jennifer Lawrence would be great for my main character, Alice. I wouldn’t want her to look too much like a runner; she’s just a normal girl who decides to take up running.

If he could get himself a little paunchy, Tom Hanks would be perfect for Walter-the-Man, the family friend who treats Alice like a friend and speaks honestly and bluntly to her when she needs to get out of her college-rejection funk. Mary-Louise Parker is one of my favorite actors because she comes across as smart—I’d love to see her play Alice’s dermatologist mom.

I have no idea if she can act, but Olympian Deena Kastor as Joan, the former elite runner who mentors Alice, would be totally cool for the running geeks. And Miles, the teen love interest—a tall skinny dude with floppy hair who loves to read and watches old movies with his grandma—no problem. Plenty of guys like that around. Casting all of the parts but one would be a breeze.

The big problem would be who could play Walter, perhaps the best and most loveable character in the novel. Walter is smart, funny, wise, athletic, and a total hottie.

He’s also a rat.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t plenty of rats who could play him. Great rodent actors would leap at the opportunity—there aren’t that many sympathetic roles for vermin. No, there’s a bigger issue. Balls. Rat balls. They’re ginormous. Pornographic. Like if a man had cantaloupes between his legs. It might be off-putting to a movie audience unaccustomed to seeing colossal testicles on screen.

I based Walter on my rat, Iris. But for the novel I wanted the rat character to be male. The boys are more chill; women rats are busy all the time and I needed someone who would be able to provide a certain amount of calm for Alice during a turbulent time. Alice does mention that the size of Walter’s balls freaks some people out, but it’s not something she spends a lot of time thinking about.

If a male rat were cast in the Walter roll, everyone would come out of the movie saying “Rat balls!” and not pay attention to the story. But if they cast a female, the rat people would know that Walter was being played by a chick. They might feel the moviemakers weren’t knowledgeable about rats, a bad thing for a work that argues that bigotry and prejudice rely on ignorance to thrive.

The bottom line is that I think the book won’t be made into a movie. Unless, maybe, possibly, they wrote in a scene about neutering Walter. That might work. But the male audiences who will silently admire Walter’s nuts might get a little queasy. Right. Probably not movie material.


Some of these guest blog post are fun to write; some are just plain hard

Dear Teen Me from author Rachel Toor

Teen Rachel on piggyback!
Teen Rachel on piggyback!
Dear Teen Me:
When the crystal says you will get into Yale you don’t believe it, don’t believe her, think she’s only trying to make you feel better because she can see—anyone can see—your frantic need not to be rejected.
Your mother’s flower-child brother has come to visit and has brought his girlfriend, Abby. Her armpits are fuzzy and when she speaks she sculpts the air with her fingers. The two of them offer to do a “healing” on you. You are skeptical, to say the least.
Religion, you learned, is the opiate of the people. Your father’s brand of Judaism is to be on guard against anti-Semitism. He will not buy German products, at least until he finds a good deal on a VW bug. You learn to be embarrassedly ethnic. You long for a Christmas tree, an Easter basket.
Worse than mainstream religion is the woo-woo spirituality these hippies bring. We don’t tolerate that kind of thing. But you like Abby, this girl-woman a half-generation older, who confides in you like a peer and doesn’t cower in the presence of your father. You let her and your uncle do the healing, their hands hovering above you. You don’t feel anything, except maybe love.
When Abby pulls out a crystal and asks if you want to know what which colleges will admit you, you think, Nut-job! You surprise yourself by agreeing. She seems to know things. She is calm. The weather in your house is squally, unpredictable.
The crystal says Yale will say yes and you feel a little less feverish. But you don’t believe it, not for a minute. You also don’t believe Abby when she tries to make you hear that it’s not you. Your father is an angry and hurt man and it’s not you. It’s not you. It’s not you.
Your teenage rage and frustration manifests in a refusal to conform. When it comes to offering forceful opinions and harsh judgments, you are generous, relentless. You attract the attention of boys, even though you are clearly unattractive. You work too hard on being interesting.
A handsome black-haired senior who drives a car the same blue as his eyes becomes devoted to you freshman year. You kiss him for hours in the front seat. He writes earnest ungrammatical love letters that make you cringe. When he doesn’t go to college you dump him. You have learned to demand much of yourself and others.
You join a few random clubs for the sake of your college application. You show up for track practice but decline to run; you pretend to throw a shot put and pass time lying on the high jump mat. You refuse to wear a uniform. If you allowed yourself to run, fury would make you fast.
Your father quotes, “No ideas but in things.” You earn material markers of his regard: books in exchange for high grades, a coveted dress for mastering a piano piece. He edits your poetry and when he pays attention to you, even though the work is never praised, you are grateful as a beaten dog.
He will never love you in a way that feels right. His affection will always be conditional, dependent on whether you bend to his will, say what he wants to hear. You will always be afraid of him.
Junior year you and your mother drive four hours to Greenwich Village to visit her gentle goofy father, a photographer who dances every morning in his boxer shorts and takes you to museums and galleries.
Adult Rachel!
Adult Rachel!
Before you enter the apartment, standing in the long hallway of doors and strange food smells, you tell your mother you don’t understand why she stays married.
She says, For you kids.
You say, How can I respect you?
This is the most terrible thing you will ever say to anyone and you will regret it forever. She will forgive you, but maybe not herself.
She stays until your younger brother goes to college, two years after you’ve left for Yale.
When she falls in love with an artist who wears pink sweatpants to fancy restaurants you dub him Hon Fat, Honorary Father. He calls you his Hon Dot.
You will love many men and with a few mistaken exceptions, they will be nothing like your father. They will be affectionate and confiding and will prize your fierceness, your independence. You will have to work on your critical nature, a project no more difficult than clearing a rainforest with a spoon.
Your father will become King Lear, a foolish old man who believes himself more sinned against than sinning who rejected a loving daughter because she would not diminish herself to feed his vanity. He will disinherit you.
You will be fine. You will be better than fine.


Last essay about running for The Chronicle of Higher Education

Apparently I've made reference to running too many times and so I've been warned off doing it again. Here's my last one. (I think it's really only my second one, in about fifteen years, but oh well.)

When people ask me what running and writing have in common, I tend to look at the ground and say it might have something to do with discipline: You do both of those things when you don’t feel like it, and make them part of your regular routine. You know some days will be harder than others, and on some you won’t hit your mark and will want to quit. But you don’t. You force yourself into a practice, the practice becomes habit and then simply part of your identity. A surprising amount of success, as Woody Allen once said, comes from just showing up.
Or perhaps I’ll mutter something about sought-after outcomes: You want to nail it; you want, if nothing else, to beat yourself, to beat your best self. You want something to show for the effort. You want the applause that comes when you’ve finished, and finished well. You want the markers of achievement—you’d like to think you are just doing it for you, but most of us are not that self-realized. The material rewards mean something.
When I think harder about it, what I believe running and writing have most in common, at least for me, is the state of vulnerability they leave you in. Both require bravery, audacity, a belief in one’s own abilities, and a willingness to live the clich├ęs: to put it on the line, to dig deep, to go for it. You have to believe in the "it," and have to believe, too, that you are worthy.
That is hard because the results always seem impossible. At the beginning of every track practice, when the coach gives us a workout, I think: I can’t do that. No one could ever do that. When I line up at the start of a marathon, I imagine driving from Hopkinton to Boston or from Staten Island to Central Park and I tell myself that’s too far to run. At longer races, when I know the unimaginable elevation of the peaks I’ll have to climb and descend in 30 or 50 miles of tough trail, I wonder what’s wrong with me to believe I could do something so challenging. It’s too hard, I think. I can’t do that.


Bob Welch

After I met Bob Welch, after I'd been told he'd won a Cy Young Award and then asked him what position he'd played, I wrote an essay about him. I knew he wouldn't like this, and so I never published what I wrote. I just wanted to record a special time, to be able to remember what it felt like to spend time with him.

As I prepared for my book launch Tuesday night, I saw on the Facebook trending news that Bob had died. It was shocking. He was five years older than me, and fit, very fit.

I searched on my computer for what I'd written years before, read it over quickly, and sent it to Glenn Stout, an editor at SB Nation I love working with and who I trusted to know if there was anything there. He's a truth-teller, Glenn, and I needed to hear the truth.

Then I went to do my first reading from the novel, shaken, uncertain, propped up by a glass of wine and a good friend.

Glenn and I worked on the piece about Bob for the next 36 hours.

Today it was published.

Bob Welch died on my publication day.

This is my tribute to him.