This book showed up on both the Globe and Mail‘s and CBC’s “anticipated books of the first half of 2018,” which I don’t recall seeing from either of them for any other year or portion thereof but it could just be that I missed all the other ones though if indeed it is the first such list for both what layers of coincidence. I managed to wrangle myself a advanced/review copy (thanks Simon & Schuster!), which is a first for this blog…now in its third year…send me your books and I’ll maybe read and write some nonsense about them…. This is Nathan Ripley’s debut novel, whose real name is Naben Ruthnum and is certainly not his debut. Doppelganger debut. Anticipated though? I think this was originally titled Scrapbook and if that’s the case then I guess waiting since at least 2013 around when Ruthnum won the Journey Prize makes it anticipated. Anyway, Ripley creates this character Martin whom is so unlikeable that in the moments of suspense, or at least what I thought were meant to be suspenseful, I found myself hoping that the implied terrible things about to happen to Martin happened. The story is rather unique and I cannot write much about it here without giving stuff away, but there are some fantastic elements that even for one (like me) who is comfortable and capable of suspending reality may find rather far-fetched. The dialogue between Martin and his partner Ellen is at times pretty unbelievable. It’s nearly as bad as Martin’s internal monologue. Maybe because it’s in (Martin) first person? The book oscillates between Martin’s PoV and third-person narrative and it’s these the third-person parts that are the best of the book, especially the work and personal relationship between the two detectives Sandra and Chris. They’re so much more interesting than Martin. I could really go for more Sandra and Chris. The novel is fine. It’s a pretty quick and entertaining read. If there’s a sequel, I really hope its focus is Sandra and Chris.
One week until First Half half marathon and the forecast today calls for rain and maybe snow, but surely not snow like last year. I’ve contented myself with the fact that it’s going to be a long slow day next Sunday; I’m okay with that. But 12 weeks from the BMO Marathon does weigh a bit on my mind. I have started looking at alternative opportunities outside the Lower Mainland in the fall to achieve my 2018 goals. On the Seawall this morning I came upon a Sun Run training group and I got to wondering why trainers don’t bother to start with a little running etiquette 101 that includes stay to the right, pass on the left, and don’t run more than two abreast. That’s not so hard is it?
My stated goal was to read 95 books or at least 61 books to beat last year. I ended up with 34 and during compiling the list below I notices that I am not good at counting. I can blame it on the fact that the book that messed up the count is not yet published and therefore in not a Goodreads yet, which I used for tracking my reading for the first time this year.
Books Read: 34
About Running: 2
By Not Straight White Dudes: 18
1. Mister Pip — Lloyd Jones
2. The Princess Diarist — Carrie Fisher
3. The Long Tomorrow — Leigh Brackett
4. Nutshell — Ian McEwan
5. Inside of a Dog — Alexandra Horowitz
6. On Bullshit — Harry Frankfurt
7. The Last Gang in Town — Aaron Chapman
8. How Proust Can Change Your Life — Alain de Botton
9. In Persuasion Nation — George Saunders
10. The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil — George Saunders
11. Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse — Ed. John Joseph Adams
12. Everything is Awful and You’re a Terrible Person — Daniel Zomparelli
13. Ultramarathon Man — Dean Karnazes
14. The Mercy Journals — Claudia Casper
15. The Hatred of Poetry — Ben Lerner
16. 10:04 — Ben Lerner
17. White Noise — Don Delilo
18. 3 Summers — Lisa Robertson
19. The Disappearing Spoon — Sam Kean
20. Same Diff — Donato Mancini
21. Bad Feminist — Roxane Gay
22. The Mood Embosser — Louis Cabri
23. Why I am not a Feminist — Jessa Crispin
24. The Year of the Flood — Margaret Atwood
25. Hysteric — Nelly Arcan
26. Chinese Blue — Weyman Chan
27. On the Line (Review Copy) — Rod Mickleburgh
28. Get Me Out of Here — Sachiko Murakami
29. From the Poplars — Cecily Nicholson
30. Human Resources — Rachel Zolf
31. Rue — Melissa Bull
32. Don’t Tell Me What to Do — Dina Del Bucchia
33. Homage to Catalonia — George Orwell
34. Running: A Love Story — Jen A. Miller
35. Notes from a Feminist Killjoy — Erin Wunker
*The 2017 First Half was canceled due to weather; this time represents the Forerunners First Half social race-replacement run.
The morning before I flew to Copenhagen for the September half marathon I injured my knee. I ran anyway. And in the craziest race (experience?) of my life, ran a new personal best at 21.1 KM. Then I came home and, while knee still hurt all the time except when running I raced the Thanksgiving 10 KM and ran a new personal best and landed my first top-ten category finish. I wanted to run 2,600 KM in 2017, and I was on pace to run over 3,000 but then after some gentle prodding I swallowed my pride and went to physiotherapy. I took a break, took some X-Rays, took some bike rides, and fell behind. I’m not healed, but I’m better. And in spite of not meeting my goal, I accomplished a lot that I’ve rather proud of. Running my first marathon. Running the Copenhagen Half Marathon. Writing about running Copenhagen for Canadian Running.
Kilometres Ran in 2017: 2,538
Some 2017 stats according to Strava:
Running time: 203 HRS
Elevation gained: 30,935 M
Average distance/run: 13.3 KM
Runs 20 KM or farther: 31
I made a few resolutions last year and didn’t do very well, so I’ve adjusted some expectations for this year. In 2017 (and 2016 for that matter) I found that if I hadn’t read anything I was less likely to write anything here. With that in mind, for 2018 I want to read a book a week and write here once a week and keep running as much as my aging body allows. And faster and farther than last year.
Goals for 2018:
Read 52 books
Write 52 posts
Run 2018 KM
Also run 2018 miles (¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
Run 10 KM in 39:59 or faster
Run 21.1 KM in 1:29:59 or faster
Run 42.2 KM in 3:14:59 or faster
Oh and there’s still that needlepoint ambition from 2017….
I haven’t written anything here in a month and a half and I wanted to get one more post in before my end of the year review that will probably come out on January 1 or 2, or whenever I motivate myself to review this year that was. I thought that Miller’s memoir was light and entertaining, though some reviews online were less than please with the amount of attention spent on her multiple failed relationships. The two of you that have been reading this blog since its inception will know about my own correlation between a toxic relationship demise and transforming from casual jogger into runner, and then the subsequent self-admission much later on. I don’t recall focusing on it much and I will not regale here. Suffice it to say I found Miller’s memoir hit close to home on some points but not in a PTSD sort of way. I wanted to read the Wunker and then won a copy at the season wrap of the Real Vancouver Writers Series. People complained in reviews that Notes is, well, notes. I liked it. I found it very pithy and wise with a Nietzsche-Gay-Science-esque quality of style. I was less attracted to the third part about feminist parenting because I have no interest in parenting. At all.
I ran the Fall Classic 10 KM and completed the RunVan Hat Trick, and while my time I cannot call disappointing I did run several minutes slower that the Turkey Trot 10 KM just a few weeks earlier. It is equally amazing and amazingly frustrating how quickly my stamina has diminished since cutting then quitting running while trying to nurse my knee back to not-hurting-all-the-time-except-when-running. If losing my endurance is the most frustrating, the annoyance that my knee hurt all the time since mid September except when I’m running, is a very close second most. I ran twice after the Fall Classic and then went to physio and ended up back at square one and I think my physiotherapist was as frustrated as me. So I took the rest of the month off. I’m slowly easing myself back into it. Slowly as in way to slow for my head, but a bit more quickly than my physiotherapist would like. I’m trying to find the balance of the two. That means that I’m not going to meet my goal of 2,600 KM in 2017, but I’m okay with that. I’m not great with that, but I’m already looking forward to 2018. The Vancouver First Half is just eight weeks away, and then the BMO Marathon is 12 weeks after that. Time to get my legs and lungs back.
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.