Lawrence Rodriguez, who earned his master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Colorado, works as a scientist for a pharmaceutical company outside of Houston, Texas. But in his free time, he penned a new novel, "Don't Hate Running" -- a fictional story about a husband and his running-fanatic wife.
Without giving too much away, what is "Don't Hate Running" really about?
It's a funny love story, and kind of an inspirational story. The wife, she's an ambitious person, but she helps her out-of-shape husband train for his first half-marathon. The story evolves over a year, and during that time the couple each find themselves going through their own mid-life crises for different reasons. They have to find out if love is enough to keep their marriage together as they go through this process of trying to get the husband in shape for his first race.
Why did you write this novel?
Part of the story deals with the main character, who's named Guss Zamdra. A lot of the story is based on his struggles with his health and his weight. Early on, it's revealed he's had some past problems. He lost his architecture business. Those issues about health and weight are reflective of my own problems I had with gaining a lot of weigh through about 2007. Then from 2007 to the end of 2008, early 2009, I started getting healthy. I lost about 85 pounds through dieting and running and things, and I felt pretty good.
About that time I realized I wanted to get back into writing a novel. I had started a few in the past, but never finished them. I wanted to write a funny story.
In 2010 when a neighbor saw my wife and I running -- we were running all the time. He said "You and your wife must love running, I see you guys out here all the time." I said, "She might love running. I don't love running." Something to that effect changed the story to be about a relationship between husband and wife, and how their lives revolve around running.
Did living in Boulder and attending CU provide any inspiration?
A lot of the characters in the stories have insecurities about different things. A lot of my insecurities are reflected in the story. That's definitely one of the things I was insecure about when I got to Boulder -- how fit everybody was. I felt out of place. I wasn't as heavy then, I was in decent shape, but living there I rode my mountain bike quite a bit. I walked. I walked or rode my bike everywhere, and then I did start picking up running again in Boulder. I was always trying to do something to stay fit, because I felt like there were a lot of healthy people here, I don't want to look out of place. It did have an impact (on the novel).
What do you hope readers get out of the book?
I think you can read it on three different levels. On one level, it's just a funny story. I still hope people think laughter is the best medicine. If you just want to pick up a good, easy read and have a good laugh, that's perfect. You don't have to like running.
On another level, there is a fitness message in the story. The more people who read it, the more feedback I'm getting from people who say, it's really made me want to get healthy or get in shape. One person I know he read it and went out and bought some running shoes. There is that bit of inspiration in there. It can get you interested in running and getting healthy. On the third level is the story of how do you keep a marriage together after several years.
What's next for you, both professionally and personally?
On the writing side, I just decided to write a sequel to "Don't Hate Running." On the personal side, I'm looking to lose some more weight and do my first full marathon within the next year. Hopefully on the running side, that will be my next big challenge.
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.