I haven’t read a lot this past week because, well, moving. It’s time consuming. But the other day, I got to kick off my runners and sit in a park on a blanket and sip La Croix lime and I grabbed a book of poems to read and the book I grabbed was a bunch of poems about two-stroke engines and some other stuff. I didn’t know Peter Culley but knew him. I was managing editor when The Capilano Review published a trio of poems he wrote with Elisa Ferrari in the “Languages” issue in 2014. I recall the shock to the Canlit community with his sudden passing in 2015. And I’m reminded of all of this because earlier this week (August 15) was his birthday and it’s weird to have friends of social media that are not longer alive but social media carries on as if they are. It is not an easy collection of poems, but it is great.
I ran a fair bit but not as far as I would have liked because, well, moving. It’s exhausting. I did not expect to long run this week, but I did have goals to run five-of-seven days and work on marathon pace. Check off five-of-seven days. Pacing focus was a pretty big X. Saturday morning was 10 miles at marathon pace that ended up being 17 KM too quick. It felt really great though. This evening I wanted to run for two hours at goal marathon pace, but after a week of packing and hauling, especially these past two days I am simply out of gas. I managed to get in 14 KM at marathon pace with a 1 KM warm up but I wasn’t going to keep that up any farther, so I tapped out. If there’s one silver lining it’s that hauling crates has forced me to do all the arm and core stuff that I normally avoid. Maybe in the new place I can forge a new routine. I already run in giant circles for hours. Picking stuff up and putting it back down doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch.
I received a review copy of this book back in June, which was followed by a note a bit later in a Fight Club like tone that I was not to talk about the book until a month before publication. Which is in about a month from now. More or less. Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life is one of my favourite novels. Nietzsche and Kierkegaard are two favourite philosophers. Groundhog Day is one of my favourite films. But enough about me. In 7½ Deaths Aiden Bishop is stuck in a loop he cannot escape until he solves the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. The twist is that he lives the same day seven times from seven points of view and if he cannot solve the murder then he has to start all over again, with no memory of the previous attempt. It’s a new twist on an old idea. Why 7½ deaths? It seems the half was added due to some confusion in the US around this and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo because I know how simple it is to confuse husband with death…. I liked this book’s gothic elements and its relatively fresh take on the repetition concept. Unfortunately, I just did not like Aiden Bishop very much for no particular reasons I can give without spoilers, and I found the conclusion a bit dissatisfying. That said, it a pretty great debut novel from Stuart Turton, and I will look forward to more work from him.
Yesterday was long run number three on the road to my BQ at the Victoria Marathon in October. I set out to run 32KM and decided to mix it up a bit; rather than a long, slow, slog I would run 5KM easy and then 5KM at race pace and repeat that three times, then finish with a 1KM sprint and a 1KM jog home. But by 30KM there was nothing left to sprint 1KM so the final jog ended up being a little less under a mile. Afterwards analysis and all in all it went pretty well. My goal race pace for Victoria is 4:37/KM. My first five at race pace I managed to average 4:38/KM, second at 4:31, and the third was right on 4:37. I had no idea at the time; I felt like my pacing was all over the place. And it was to a degree, but it all averaged out in the end. So that felt good, even if not much else did. I spent a few hours afterwards thinking about my long runs last year while training for my first marathon and trying to remember if at the end of them I wanted to die then, too. If that’s the case, and I’m sure [hopeful] that it is, I seem to have blocked that part out. Eight weeks to go.
Another title from my pile of shorter works that took me a bit too long to read and then I forgot to write about it so here it is. Considered Jackson’s masterpiece, it was published a couple years before her death in 1965. I was surprised to find that it’s being made into a movie. Not surprised because Hollywood is out of ideas, but because it’s been out of ideas for a while and I wonder what’s taken so long. The story is unreliably narrated by Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood, whom I thought for much of the book was a lot younger. A few years before the timeline of the book, the entire family is poisoned with only three surviving: Merricat, her sister Constance, and their uncle Julian. Constance was tied and acquitted, and the town believes she got away with murder, and generally hate them. Constance and Julian never leave the property. I liked this book quite a bit, with it’s gothic style, gloomy foreboding and curious ending. I haven’t added sugar to anything years. Don’t touch my salt.
With an extra long weekend I decided to overdo it a bit on Thursday with a bicycle commute from my office in Port Coquitlam through New West then Burnaby to the edge of Vancouver, then a sharp right turn north over the Iron Workers bridge into North Van and down to Lonsdale Quay to hop on a bus up to Grouse Mountain because I’ve done that ride up that hill once before and I’m never going to attempt that on a single speed bicycle again. Grouse Grind number three and my slowest yet, at 59 minutes and change. I could credit the 32 KM pedal to get there, but the time I actually pedalled all the way up Capilano Road and Nancy Greene Way I finished the Grind around five minutes quicker. Nine weeks to go before the Victoria Marathon and I’m having to remind myself that my first marathon I started training eight weeks out and then got sick and took all of week seven off and didn’t die. My head is further ahead than my body, or my head thinks my body is way behind. Or something. So I’m trying to trust the training plan that I made up based upon the plan I made up from the internet last time around plus some new stuff like going for long bike rides and walking up mountains. Trust is a funny thing.
This book took me too long to read and that’s probably because, as to be expected from an autobiography, there’s this whole bunch of stuff at the beginning about being a child and I don’t really like kids. I should have skipped it. It’s not as if there were any vital plot points that missing would leave me bewildered later in the book. But I trudged on through. I’ve been a fan of Izzard since a Dress to Kill DVD make the rounds of my friends sometime around the century change over. It’s funny(?) to think that in a small backwater town we didn’t even bat an eye at the notion of a transgender comedian. Izzard was very likely my first encounter and it all seemed utterly normal to me at the time, which has carried through to now to the point that I do not understand what the fuss is about. Reading this book reminded me of how many things Izzard has touched that I really like, many that he doesn’t mention in the book at all. Shadow of the Vampire is one of my favourite films and the NBC series Hannibal I will argue is one of the best TV series in ever and I generally hate network television. Maybe not generally. So anyway, it’s a good book.
Eight weeks out from the 2017 BMO Marathon I decided, yeah, I’m going to do that. As of today I’m ten weeks out from running my second. In July 2009, Eddie Izzard, decided to run around the UK. He writes, “Of course, I had no business running marathons–I wasn’t trained, I wasn’t particularly fit, and I had absolutely no experience in running anything that long, let alone running multiple marathons.” What I mean by run around the UK, I mean a marathon a day, six days a week, resting on Sundays. So with six weeks(!) until start, he decided he should maybe do some training. And he did it, running 43 marathons in 51 days and raised a few million dollars for charity. Then in February 2016 he ran 27 marathons in 27 days (including two marathons on the 27th day because he missed a day near the beginning, the loser…), all in balmy South Africa. And all I want to do is BQ at the Victoria Marathon in ten weeks. It seems so pedantic in comparison.