week eighteen — 58.7
To date: 1,033 km
I didn’t read anything this week. I spent a lot of time listening to music and white noise and visualizing what I was going to be doing on Sunday. Some things helped more than others. Largest tax return in my life was good. Pretty much anything to do with vocational / local / provincial / federal / international politics was not so much. Trusting the training plan was very difficult as well. I’d never tapered before, which doesn’t mean much when I’ve never run a marathon before either, I suppose. In the lead up to Sunday I ran just 15 km over three days.
Why does everyone post their gear before a race? Not one to feel left out I posted this pic along with the BMO Live Results link. I decided to wear this particular shirt from Joe Fresh that I bought it at the Superstore on Grandview Highway when I thought I might give this running thing a try. I’ve come a long way, but I haven’t forgotten how I got here. Like most of them do, the idea came to me while out running. I wasn’t even sure I had the shirt anymore.
Sunday was beautiful and clear. I was up at 5:30 a.m. and didn’t need an alarm. Excited and nervous but feeling at least mentally confident I went for a walk around the West End to try to settle my mind and stomach before a casual jog down to the Canada Line to catch the Skytrain up to Queen Elizabeth Park. The start was a blur. At 5 km I was just under my pace and by 9 km that had grown to 2 minutes. I felt good. I’d trained for that 9 – 11 km hill. At 21 km I was still under pace and feeling fine. That 1 km stretch of hill from Spanish Banks up to West 4th is cruel and unnecessary. Bastards! At 29 km just coming up onto Burrard Bridge the 3:30 pacer caught me. The bridge got awfully crowded and my elbow connected at least once with someone trying to pass on the right. Accident I swear. As I passed the West End around 32 Stephanie was there with a home-made sign. I needed that because I was starting to fade. I knew I wanted to get to 36 km by 3 hours. As I rounded Prospect Point I checked my watch: 3:00:48. I was starting to hurt and had just crossed into the farthest I’ve ever ran. But I’ve ran this route I don’t know how many times. That helped a lot. The last 6 km was all in my head and my head was a lot of back and forth between “you can walk it’s fine” and “fuck you”. If Strava and my iPhone are to be believed, I somehow managed my last kilometre at 5:05. Stephanie was there waiting for me as I crossed the line for a chip time of 3:34:41.
I’m reflecting on the experience now, as I have been for the past 36 hours or so. I expected to be more emotional at the finish line. Or maybe differently emotional. I was pretty euphoric and very lightheaded. The one thing that’s really bothered me in these hours since crossing that finish line is that for all the book launches and art openings and readings and events that I’ve supported not one of my friends came out to support me. Except my love, best friend (and coach whether I wanted coaching or not) who was there when I needed her and was there at the finish line.
Final thoughts. It’s the economy, stupid. I have trouble trusting devices. I turned on my Garmin watch and my Strava iPhone app at the same time. Garmin recorded 42.8 km and Strava 43.2 km. So that’s annoying. The times, however, are both pretty close to the finish line clock (I was a bit preoccupied and initially forgot to turn them off), which means that over the course of a 42.2 kilometre course I ran an extra 500 to 1,000 metres by not choosing the most economical line. That’s a lot. I wanted to run 3:29:00 and I really don’t have any particular reason why I chose that time except that it seemed like a good number. I also wanted to run an average 5:00/km pace. If you’re even okay at math you know those don’t work out, especially with the economy issue I just mentioned. Strava says I ran 4:59/km for a marathon +1. Yeah I don’t trust it, but I’ll take it. I wrote earlier about my taper and I really don’t know about it. I don’t think I ran enough the week of the race but I have nothing to compare it too since this was my first time running an effing marathon. I ran a marathon. Forty-two kilometres for my 42nd year alive. I still think that’s crazy.
In February of this year, when I was chasing Sasquatch in the snow around Harrison Hot Springs still feeling sorry for myself for the First Half getting canceled due to weather, I was still saying that I couldn’t imagine ever being interested in running a marathon, and sitting here typing this I can’t imagine never running another one. I’m thinking of a BQ for BMO 2018. It could happen.
14. The Mercy Journals — Claudia Casper
15. The Hatred of Poetry — Ben Lerner
week sixteen — 57.1
week seventeen — 43.9
To date: 974 km
I left the house for something other than running and ended up at the Paper Hound bookstore for a poetry reading hosted by Amy De’ath featuring Jeff Derksen, Danielle LaFrance, Juliane Okot Bitek and Tim Atkins, and along with Anne Carson’s behemoth chapbook collection Float and some really fantastic bits and pieces Tim brought from Crater Press I also picked up a cheap copy of The Hatred of Poetry because it was a poetry reading after all. It was also a part of the too short farewell tour for Amy and her partner Sean O’Brien as both prepared to evacuate Vancouver at the end of April. I regret not getting to know both of them better. I knew [of] Amy from publishing her work in The Capilano Review, but I actually met Sean first. He and Amy hosted a lit gathering of sorts one September evening. I remember it well as Colin Smith had just approved the final typesetting and design I’d done for Multiple Bippies and gave to go ahead to send to press. Donato Mancini, CUE Books’ guest editor for the collection, suggested we go celebrate at a friend’s place nearby mine in the West End. Sean answered the door. Donato did his best tidsoptimist impression. A couple years later, and Vancouver’s loss. Such is life.
I’m on the taper according to the schedule and it seems from the people that I follow on Strava that seem to be gearing up for the same event that I am I am the only one. It’s become difficult to trust the training plan but I’m doing my best. And I’ve been trying something new: yoga. Not really yoga. Stretching. I don’t ever stretch but I’ve started so now don’t ever is a lie. I did a Google search for yoga for runners and I found this article 5 Yoga Poses You Should Do After Every Run in Women’s Running and I’m pretty fine with gender neutrality plus I don’t think Utthan Pristhasana knows or cares if between my left and right hip flexors there is lady or dude stuff. Anyway, I like it. It hurts and I am the least flexible but it sure feels good afterwards. I ended my run today near the corner of West Pender and Bute near what will in one week be the finish line of the BMO Marathon. It also feels good. I think I’m ready.
14. The Mercy Journals — Claudia Casper
week fifteen — 84.8
To date: 873 km
I was looking at my bookshelf and I have no idea how this book got there or where it came from or who it came from. Actually now that I think about it I think that Elee gave it to me when she returned some books that I’d lent her and this was not one of them but it ended up with me anyway so if you’re reading this and you are missing your copy of The Mercy Journals and you want it back I might have it. But I need to finish reading it before you can have it. Oh, and wouldn’t you know it, the book is dystopian, post-apocalyptic speculative fiction. I wasn’t even trying. So far it’s okay.
I ran 36.5 kilometres on Sunday and I didn’t die, though I also got a bit bored at the end and ended up running the last couple at a slightly sub 5 minute/kilometre, which is not exactly the goal of an LSD day. I still don’t quite understand the LSD but I’m still trying to follow it. Regardless, at the end of my Easter Sunday LSD I was pretty confident that I could easily do another 6 kilometres and being that according to this schedule I’m following it was my last long run before the marathon May 7 I’m pretty happy with my mental confidence and my physical level. I’m not sure that I’m going to meet my rather lofty goal of finishing in under 210 minutes. I’m okay with that. I think. We’ll see what happens race day.
11. Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse — Ed. John Joseph Adams (in progress)
12. Everything is Awful and You’re a Terrible Person — Daniel Zomparelli (in progress)
week twelve — 71.6
To date: 646 km
So continuing on with the theme of reading collections of short stories, but breaking away ever so slightly from George Saunders, I stumble upon the apocalypse, and the gay male dating apocalypse. First impressions of course, because as you can see above both are still in the works. And that’s really the beauty of short stories. For my short attention span. Daniel launched his book last night at a fancy hipster donut shop in East Van that ran out of donuts. Before I arrived. Which makes it read as though I would have contributed to the selling out, which if you would have believed, you would be wrong. Consequently, I was under no peer pressure to consume deep fried dough. Just as well. Daniel read an entertaining story that involved a Bill Murray looking dude in a Hawaiian shirt but in the story it was a “tropical” shirt because, I assume, “Hawaiian” is trademarked or something. Probably by that old Global BC weather guy. I’m cognizant of the possibility that I wasn’t entirely fair earlier when I wrote “gay male dating apocalypse” but I’m a couple stories in and, well, maybe. It’s not quite cooking and eating dog or some near future neo-luddite theocracy.
I forced my cough to get back into running. It’s still lingering, but I don’t feel like it’s hindering. I went to Forerunners because I had a coupon and gawd knows I love a deal and it expired at the end of March and I wanted to have a conversation with someone about gels because I do not know anything about that sort of stuff and I’d rather have someone talk at me than Google. Most of the time. And I still have trouble wrapping my head around this because maybe I read too much about the apocalypse or dating or maybe having lived both in some form or another but the people at Forerunners are really nice and helpful. I learned a trick to put a gel into my Fuel Belt bottle and that worked out pretty well. Except that I have to actually wear my Fuel Belt. This week was supposed to be a milder week but I modified since I basically missed all of last week. So I did 30 kilometres today and it was awful. It was cold and it rained and by the time I hit 15 km right around the concession at Sunset Beach I had to use the washroom to thaw out my (soaking wet, gloved) hands under the hand dryer. I think it might be the most miserable run that I’ve ever done, that I can recall. But I did it. Onto the next one.