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Indoor Adventure Ironman legend Scott Tinley examines the feelings of loss and depression many athletes experience when they retire


Racing the Sunset
by Scott Tinley
The Lyons Press
326 pages, $23

Scott Tinley, the two-time Ironman winner and lanky blond
embodiment of San Diego's fitness culture, has a brain to match
his extraordinary aerobic engine. Tinley teaches creative writing
at San Diego State and is about to earn a second master's degree
since he stopped shaving his legs. It's no surprise that he chose
to deal with the trauma of his journey from pro athlete to ex-pro
athlete by writing a book about it.

S.T., as he is known, won close to 100 races in his 25-year
career. The compulsiveness that drove him to train like a madman
was poured into researching, in his words, "one of the most
exhaustive qualitative research projects on [retired athletes] to
date." Alas, his determination to refer to every author he has
ever read or taught--Goethe, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Thoreau,
Twain, the list goes on--makes his book, at times, as exhausting
as a double Ironman.

That quibble aside, Racing the Sunset is a helpful handrail not
just for retiring athletes but also for anyone facing a difficult
crossroads. While Tinley spoke with an impressive number of
ex-athletes--Joe Montana, Herschel Walker, Bill Walton and Rick
Sutcliffe, to name a few--the strongest passages here are his own
vignettes. He is searingly honest about the funk into which he
fell upon exiting the pro ranks. He writes about running into a
local TV reporter, a longtime acquaintance, in his therapist's
waiting room, and hiding his face beneath his cap because he was
too embarrassed to be seen. He recounts the misery of being
ignored by the patrons of the coffee shop where, seeking the
adulation that had once been his as an athlete, he sat on a stool
with his guitar and sang a love song he'd written. This stuff is
better than the author's too frequent mentions of, say, T.S.
Eliot. Tinley has written a solid book, but one that could do
with less T.S. and more S.T. --Austin Murphy