2018 week twenty five

Book Read:
32. Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance — Alex Hutchinson

Kilometres Ran:
week twenty five — 52.3

To date: 1,232 KM

Last week I blathered on about some running book that I didn’t think was very good and then I noticed that there was another book that I think is pretty great and for some reason I haven’t written here about it yet, so time to solve that mishap. Hutchinson is an athlete and journalist and has a PhD in physics and is a regular contributor to Outside, and has written for Runner’s World, The New Yorker, the Globe and Mail, and elsewhere. Malcolm Gladwell thinks “This book is AMAZING!” which is nice, I guess, if you like Gladwell. The first thing I read about Gladwell and running, he made some asinine statement that running with music is “soft.” I don’t run with music, but that doesn’t make me “hard.” Also given that women are twice as likely to run with headphones* as men, Gladwell’s statement comes off a tad misogynistic. Anyway, enough about Gladwell, because while I do not agree on headphones (and some other stuff) we at least agree on Hutchinson’s book. There is a ton of information in this book and I’ve started trying a few in training and races, with good results. I’ve revisited bits of this book numerous times. I believe it’s a must-have in any athletics books library.

Endurance Tap & Neuenergy & Adidas Adios

Today was the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. I’ve run it twice before and both were disappointments. Last year I was coming off my first full marathon, healthy and in excellent condition and wanted to break 1:40. It was a sweltering day and I finished 1:40:26. My first crack at the Scotiabank course was 2016. I had just run my first ever half marathon — the BMO Vancouver — and finished 1:46 flat. I was sure I could break 1:45 but was disappointed with a 1:46:31 result. Not only was I drinking way to much then, I was also smoking semi-casually (or -regularly, depending on your point of view…). A cigarette or two on race day served dual purpose, calming pre-race nerves, and, well, nicotine is well known for its laxative qualities. First Scotia Half would also be my last tar-loading. Smoke free and sober, I really wanted to beat myself.
“Soft” at the starting line.

But going into this morning I didn’t have a lot of confidence. I’m coming off a very near 1:40 in Helsinki a few weeks ago; I cut down a bit to try to heal up a blackened big toe and nagging shin splint, and to top it off I picked a fight with a stomach bug on Friday. Plus this course kicked my ass twice already. So I decided it would be a training run. I’d go out and run 4:37/KMs and nail a very respectable 1:37:24 and be happy with that. I had zero intention of chasing the PR I set at the BMO Half at the beginning of May. I went out with cumulative split times for 5, 10 and 15 KM and just ran. At 5 KM I was a bit quicker than planned, and I felt great. I missed the 10 KM split but my per-KMs were coming really fast and still felt great. When I hit 15 KM I checked my watch and I really surprised to find I was a few seconds ahead of PR time. That’s when I decided to just go for it. As I came up Beach Avenue into Stanley Park I saw the finish and the clock and all that registered was 32 and I put my head down and sprinted for the line.I finished 1:32:37, shaving over two minutes off my personal best, and nearly eight minutes off my best on this course, and I could not be happier. I watched and cheered on the other finishers for a bit then walked home, full on running high. Along the way I passed someone lingering in front of their apartment. “Can you spare a cigarette?” they asked. I smiled and replied, “Nope.”

*Sure it’s not a scientifically rigorous poll, but neither is arbitrarily equating earbuds with escapism.

2018 week thirteen

Books Read:
13. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life — Mark Manson
14. From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death — Caitlin Doughty

Kilometres Ran:
week thirteen — 50.3

To date: 493 KM

At the risk of jinxing myself, not just because it is week thirteen, I decided to gasp admit to reading two books this week. Which, if you’re following me on Goodreads you’ll know is not the case at all. I’m considerably ahead of pace to read 52 books in 52 weeks, so I’ve decided (and here’s the jinx) I’ll double up here and there. So here we are. A book that encourages you to give no (or few, he contradicts himself a few times) fucks, and a book that seems to argue that, in America at least, too many fucks are given about what we do with our bodies after we die. So they’re sort of similar. A lot of people found the Manson book rather meh, or thought that it started well and then went downhill. I too found it meh overall, but I started out really disliking it and found that it got better later when Manson dropped (or forgot to so fervently continue) with the crass too cool dude thing. I did have a couple personal a-ha moments in the book, I’ll admit without getting into details. But I also picked this up during the height of my newfound no-fucks-given sobriety, and I still believe that if you really want to learn to give no fucks then try giving up drinking. I picked up the Doughty book and do not know why I decided to read it before her earlier Smoke Gets in Your Eyes that was also on my to-read list. I say was because I’m no longer sure. From Here to Eternity was an easy, entertaining read but I went into it wanting more substance, à la Mary Roach’s Stiff, which, admittedly, I read quite some time ago and may over-romanticize. I wanted Eternity to have more meat on its bones. It was good, but I think could have been better. Worth reading though.

My (fingers crossed) final physiotherapy appointment came and went on Wednesday. We talked about the tools I now have to take better care of myself and about my missing Alex Hutchinson’s talk at Forerunners and his new book Endure, which is now on my to-read pile, and the lab-tested notion that smiling makes you run faster. And I’ve thought about that a lot, especially that my favourite races, the races that I remember having the most fun running, turned into personal bests. I spent the Easter long weekend in Oak Bay on Vancouver Island running into hills and headwinds and in my head not worrying about my meniscus. Not exactly smiling, but staying in the moment and enjoying running for running’s sake. Maybe the smiling will come.