I’m going to see/hear Sedaris at the Vogue tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes. Probably not. Tickets came up and it made me realize that I haven’t really read anything of his (other than the odd New Yorker piece) since When You Are Engulfed in Flames a bit after it came out in 2008. So it’d been a while. Explore Diabetes is a collection of narrative essays, and it was fine. There’s that thing where you don’t necessarily feel like reading each and every essay but you don’t know which ones are the good ones and which are the skippables and you don’t want to miss the good ones so you end up reading every single ones of them anyway, which just leaves you somewhat resentful at the end of the collection. It happens a lot with short story collections too. Modest Bestiary is a collection of short stories as if the Grimm brothers had the internet. It’s a bit dark; I found it entertaining. Tonight should be entertaining.
I’m still riding a bit of a high from the BMO Half Marathon last weekend and in the midst of a deep spring clean of my studio and packing to fly off to Helsinki to run their namesake half marathon I signed up and paid money to run the Victoria Marathon in October. So no backing out now unless I want to essentially light $98 on fire, which is what probably more than a few people think I just did anyway. Anyway, my goal is to run a Boston Qualifier, which for me means sub 3:15:00. I realize that that won’t actually qualify me for Boston–to run 2018 the BQ times were minus 3:23, which dashed many a dream. I try not to dream. My goal is a BQ; actually running Boston, well, I’ve been sort of toying with the idea of the 125th Edition. For me to run a BQ I need an average pace of 4:37 per kilometre for an estimated finish time of 3:14:48. Yesterday I went out and ran 10 miles and aimed to run 4:37 and somehow, miraculously, finished 10 miles with an average pace of 4:37. There was a lot of watch watching. Next Saturday in Helsinki I want to run a 4:37 half marathon, for a finish time of 1:37:24, which is off my PB by a bit, but will be my second best. I also just want to have fun and not be dead afterward. Hey maybe a post-half-marathon sauna. I hear Finland has saunas.
I’m a fan of The Oatmeal so it makes sense that I liked The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances. I used to like The Simpsons. I thought How to Lose a Marathon was meh. Inman’s book is good because in the midst of all its Oatmeal stuff there’s some decent thought put into the stuff that got me hooked on running in the first place: the mental stuff. You can read a version of it online (for free) here. Before I read How to Lose a Marathon I couldn’t identify a Cohen-written Simpsons episode if my life depended on it. Now I could at least make an educated guess that if the episode tries really really hard to be funny but just isn’t all that funny and actually gets pretty annoying what with how hard it’s trying (and failing) to be funny then there are decent odds said episode is written by Cohen. I think that when I was first starting out running I would have liked Cohen’s book if it was funny. I just didn’t think it was funny.
This morning I woke up at 4:45 AM and made coffee and prepared to race 21.1 KM and checked Facebook On-This-Day because I’m a masochist who likes coffee. Sometimes there’s a gem. This would be my second run of the BMO Half Marathon, the first being 2016, which was also my first half marathon. I remember not really knowing what I was doing. If only I’d read a book…. Back then I wanted to run 5 min/KM for a nice round 1:45 and then worry about the last 100 metres later. Stephanie was kind enough to have explained to me what a pace bunny is (and tapering, which I recall thinking seemed ridiculous). So with around 7 KM to go the 1:45 pacer passed me, which was demoralizing at the time. I hung on for a bit before finishing 1:46:00. Fast forward to this morning. I really wanted to set a new personal best; I aimed for 4:37/KM— that would get me a new PB with a minute to spare and is my Boston Qualifying marathon goal pace. Then I saw the 1:35 pacer in the start corral, and thought, sure, what the hell. The course starts out fast with nearly 100 metres of descent over the first 4 KM. I passed 5 KM over a minute and a half ahead of goal pace. By 10 KM I’d stopped checking splits, but there’s a timing mat and gun-time clock. It read 43-something*** and I knew I was still well ahead of my goal, but wasn’t sure where the 1:35 pacer was. We entered Stanley Park and passed Lost Lagoon and started the climb up Pipeline Road and he passed me. Pipeline peaks at 15 KM then descends to Stanley Park Drive. I checked my time at 15 KM. My personal best I was chasing I’d split 15 KM at 1:10:00. My watch read 1:06. The seconds didn’t register the math did. I could run the last 6 KM at 5:00/KM and set a new personal best. And let the pacer beat me. Again. So I passed him back and held on with all I had left. Just before the lighthouse at Brockton point, with just over 3 KM to go, he passed me again. I fought to keep him in reach as we exited the park, up Denman, east onto Georgia, a slight left onto Pender and the gentle, cruel uphill slope to the finish. I watch that stupid hat with the stupid ears bounce away in front of me and then I saw the finish line and the clock at it read 1:34 and the seconds ticked up as I ran by.
I finished with an official time 1:34:52 for a new personal best by 3:35 and 11:08 faster than my first half marathon. This is the second time in as many races that the pacer I’ve chased has been ahead of pace. I’ll take that over the alternative any day. Right up until the start at 7 this morning I was a bit bummed not to be running the full marathon. Not anymore.
***I saw the 10 KM clock. It said 43:something. I remember because my second fastest 10 KM race time is 44:06. My official time at 10 KM today is 44:19 but I swear to dog that clock said sub-44. This isn’t the first time this has happened. I do not understand.
I going back to visit Stockholm in a couple weeks, and honestly one the the things I’m most looking forward to is running a complete loop of Södermalm. It’s about 10 KM. I normally wouldn’t consider Lost in Stockholm AKA Stockholm: Lost in City Guide AKA Lost In, Issue No. 10 a book insomuch as it counts towards an effort to read a particular number of books; however, (1) it is listed on Goodreads, (2) it has an ISBN, and (3) while only 68 pages, it has many more words than some (most?) of the poetry books I/we/they count as books. So it counts, I guess. It’s a very nice design, as one would expect for a periodical from Germany about Sweden. It gets me excited about going back. Following on the short reads, I picked up By Night in Chile. It reminded me of studying Beckett in undergrad. In a lecture on Molloy, the prof. Dr. Peter Murphy (!) suggest he read the first paragraph to the class and that I read the second. The similarities between Beckett and Bolaño extend beyond style, and I think that I should have liked By Night more than I did, or did not. It is one that I think I need to revisit, and it’s short enough that it wouldn’t feel like a waste my reading time (always a hazard). Plus I want to go to Chile one day.
One week until the BMO Half. Three weeks until Helsinki Half. All is coming together as well as I could have hoped. The weather for BMO Sunday looks ideal–sun with some cloud and morning temperature around 12 degrees (assuming today’s prediction holds). The BMO Half in 2016 was my first half marathon; I finished 1:46:00. I expect to crush that time next weekend. A great race and I could have a new PB, which will be bitter-sweet. I like that my current best is in Copenhagen last fall, and in the adventure that was less than ideal conditions. I have a chance to set personal bests twice in May. I’ve grown confident that it’ll happen next weekend. I think it’ll take an exceptional run in Helsinki on May 19. But anything could happen on race day.
I judged a book by its cover but I felt like reading some fluff and the cover caught my eye, appealing to some of my more crepuscular inclinations. I don’t read much horror. Come to think of it, the last horror novel I read was Robert Bloch’s Psycho a quarter century or so ago. So I’m not the best judge of the genre, but after a look at the reviews on Goodreads it almost seems like Andreas is a shoo-in for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Except that it’s a novella and not really a novel so it doesn’t technically qualify. (Not that that novel/novella caveat really matters…isn’t that right Ian.) The Goodreads rating system raises an issue that I think about a lot when it comes to just about any ratings aggregate drawn from the general public. Maybe the 17 people that gave Angel of the Underground an average GR rating of 4.24/5 tend to really enjoy mediocre books with first-person female leads written with all the insight that comes with being a 30-something white dude. Only slightly unrelated, I was trying to find a decent place to stay in Palm Springs and kept happening upon 2-star lodging with glowing reviews from people that I assume were used to dorm-style hosteling. “Like, no bedbugs dude! Five stars!” Reviews are only as good as the people doing the reviewing. Duh. Which is also why I’ve never given stars on Goodreads. I do sometimes say something/one is worth reading on here, though, but I figure the three of you that keep coming back here maybe share my reading preferences and proclivities. But who knows? All that to say this book was okay and served its purpose, which was to be a fluffy break from reading other stuff. And I read the whole thing, which I can’t say for some “important” books (I’m looking at you, Tolstoy). So there’s that.
And so week sixteen was another week of Garmin fails, with two in a row first on Tuesday evening and then again on Wednesday afternoon. Then on Friday my new Garmin Forerunner 235 arrived and I took it out for a test run on Saturday and guess what? It was a a bit of a mess. I knew something was up when I neared home and then had to take a few detours to get the watch up to 21.1 KM on the 23 KM route. When I checked the data there’s a GPS glitch that shows me taking a couple kilometre detour from my run to take a swim in English Bay and I’m starting to take it personally. This with both GPS and GLONASS on. This morning, I tried again, resisting the temptation to run the Strava app on my iPhone in parallel. But I also switched the tracking from Smart to Seconds, and ended up with much better results, although not without some discrepancies. I tried a somewhat analogue calibration exercise, so take it as you will. As I entered Stanley Park at the 0 KM plaque I checked my watch and it read 4.69 KM, then I checked every 2 KM plaque until the 8 KM marker at Second Beach Pool.
Park Markers / Garmin 235:
0 KM / 4.69 KM
2 KM / 6.68 KM
4 KM / 8.66 KM
6 KM / 10.64 KM
8 KM / 12.61 KM
So by my purely anecdotal exercise my new 235’s GPS is off by between 10 and 20 metres per kilometre. And I can live with that, I guess. I’m not sure that I can hope for any better, but I’m sure glad I didn’t opt to splurge on the 735XT or a Fēnix 5. Anyway, I have a gently used Garmin Vivosmart HR+ for sale. Cheap.