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
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.
week thirteen — 80.5
week fourteen — 60.2
To date: 788 km
I didn’t want to double up weeks and yet here I am doubling up weeks and I blame my reading or lack there of. I read a story, then put the book down for who knows how long and get distracted, usually by obsessively playing The Division on Xbox. I’m an addict. It’s not my only addiction. I was reading about history of The North Face and Patagonia clothing brands in an article I cannot remember where and somehow, I don’t remember how, Dean Karnazes came up and I thought that he was sort of interesting so I got a copy of his book and read the first half in which he writes about running the Western States ultramarathon. There were bits of his biography that were close to home. For instance, I ran track in high school and then didn’t run again for nearly 20 years. Ran track is not entirely accurate. I attended a small religious private school against my will and in my senior year I decided to “make the most of it” and I signed up for just about everything. Including the basketball team. I was quick, but shot bricks. In no real school would I have had the hopes of making the team, but at ol’ KCS there were barely enough boys in grades 11 and 12 to floor a team, let alone get choosy about who gets to play and who just doesn’t have the skilz. One spring day coach says hey you’re fast do you want to run track? And I say sure and he says well the district finals are tomorrow and if you place top three you can go to provincials. So I went. No coaching or training. I didn’t have a school track suit (there wasn’t one) so I wore my basketball jersey and shorts. Sometimes when I’m out for a run I wonder how much different my life would be if I’d attended a real school with a decent track program. With any track program. I ran the 400 Metre and placed last, and I ran the 200 Metre and placed well enough to make the finals, where I placed fourth.
So I didn’t win. But I am still a winner, as for the second year in a row Air France is covering my entry fee for the BMO Marathon. I like to travel and I get the Air France / KLM / Flying Blue propaganda in my inbox and I’ve grown suspicious that not very many people read through to the bottom of that one Air France email that shows up in March in which they talk about being a sponsor of the BMO Marathon and then somewhere near the bottom there’s a click here to enter to win your entry. Sure, I’d rather a flight to just about anywhere, but I think that a lot more people enter those draws. So I’ve four weeks to go until BMO. My head thinks it’s ready but it’s not so sure about my body. My last LSD is on Easter Sunday (which, if not for Halloween, would be my favourite zombie-related holiday). I’ve mapped out a 36 kilometre route that happens to match the last half of the BMO. Zombie Sunday indeed.
So I didn’t read anything this week. Well, I read some bits of some stuff and a couple New Yorker articles. And I signed up for the architecture course through Harvard online called The Architectural Imagination and I think I’m going to like it a lot so I’ll probably be talking about that for the next ten or so weeks. Maybe I’ll read some stuff too. Hey, it could happen. Stranger things have happened. For instance, did you notice this post isn’t covering multiple weeks?
I got this lamebrained idea I’m not quite sure when exactly, but I’m pretty sure that it was while I was running, that I should run 42 kilometres on or around my 42nd birthday and then in the midst of the run I spent entirely too much time trying to figure out when I turn 42. So that’s embarrassing. But I’ll write about it, publicly, so now it’s comedy. Anyway, once I figured out that I turn 42 this June it did seem really lamebrain. I’ve said, out loud, that I have no interest in running a marathon and that I probably never will. But lately. Lately…. I ran 12-and-a-bit kilometres today, and/but my past three runs have been over 20 kilometres each and I’m well aware that 20 km isn’t exactly 42 km but the BMO Vancouver Marathon is nine weeks away and although I signed up for the half-marathon back in June of 2016 or whenever the super good deal was for past participants after spending the past 24 hours or so looking around for eight-week marathon training plans today I changed my BMO Vancouver registration from a half marathon to a full marathon and put down the $70 difference plus the $10 change fee plus Justin Trudeau’s share (I’ve decided to just imagine that all taxes go directly to him) so I guess I’m going to run 42 kilometres a little less than a month before I turn 42 years old. And just think, after that I’ll never have to do it again!