To date: 2,161 KM
Kilometres Bicycled: 127.3 +
Not a lot of reading this week. By not a lot of reading I mean I’ve read most of a book that I was going to write about tonight but I didn’t quite get it finished so I’ll write about it next week. I also have a couple poetry books that I read a few weeks ago but haven’t written about them yet. Those will come when I’ve finished sorting out how I want to write about them. So, some week in the next eleven weeks those will show up too.
Not a lot of running this week either. The week has been spent not really being able to walk for a couple days after the Victoria Marathon last Sunday and since then a lot of time on the bike. After Victoria we went to the Island’s west coast and stayed a couple nights at the Black Rock Resort in Uclulet (highly recommend, maybe not for the service in the restaurants, but otherwise pretty great). On Tuesday morning I rode a stationary bike to nowhere for a while and then had my first elliptical experience. Otherwise, zero running. My physiotherapist encourages the bike for my particular knee issues. The weather has been spectacular, and looks to be for the coming week as well, so I’ve been taking advantage. Garmin has been having some trouble keeping up, it seems. I’m missing almost 12 KM from Friday’s ride home from the office. Today I took a long loop over the Second Narrows Bridge, through North Van and West Van out almost to Lighthouse Park and then back over the Lions Gate to home, and Garmin shows me teleporting around 6 KM. I’m not sure what’s causing these missing kilometres. I’m anxious to get back to running but I don’t want to push it either. Cycling is keeping me mostly sane, but I also have lingering in the back of my mind that each passing day, even with the pedals and the pool jogging, I’m losing a little bit of my endurance. The Fall Classic is just three weeks away, and with it my last chance in 2018 to break 90 minutes in the half marathon. I’m pretty well resigned to the fact that not going to happen. I’m not even sure it’s the course to do it on, let alone what my conditioning will be come November 4.
16. Steal It Back — Sandra Simonds
17. Further Problems with Pleasure — Sandra Simonds
18. Ariel — Sylvia Plath
19. My Ariel — Sina Queyras
week fifteen — 66.0
To date: 630 KM
It’s National Poetry Month. Why April, you may ask? I did. Seems it was started when in 1996 some members of the Academy of American Poets gave away copies of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land outside of a New York post office. Canada NPMed two years later, making this the 20th annual celebration of April cruelty. I’ve celebrated by reading less poetry than I have since I started keeping track of my annual failure to read 95 Books in one year. I’ve followed Sandra Simonds on social media for a while. The other day she suggested to me on Goodreads that I might like her new collection Orlando and I thought that maybe I should read some of her already published stuff so I picked up Steal it Back and Further Problems with Pleasure, both of which, I should add, come with five-star reviews on Goodreads from Simonds herself. Who am I to argue? As it happens, I like both very much. Last fall one of my favourite people I’ve never actually met Sina Queyras AKA Lemon Hound released My Ariel, which Coach House described as “a poem-by-poem engagement with Sylvia Plath’s Ariel” so I decided that I should revisit Plath (whom I haven’t read since undergrad a lifetime ago) and also decided (since no one could have possibly thought of this before me) that I would read Plath and then the corresponding Queyras, which lasted all of three poems since Coach House are liars. Not to take anything away from Queyras; these poems are pretty great. These aren’t happy poems, but neither are the referral materials.
Don’t call it a resolution but this year I wanted to at least try to once in a while be a bit social and over a quarter into 2018 I haven’t done a very well so I decided this week that I would join the Vancouver Running Co. Thursday night Flight Crew run which sets out at a very reasonable 6:15 p.m. from 1886 West 1st Avenue (which is a very reasonable 2.5 KM jog from my place), for a very reasonable 10 KM weekday evening run. Except that I got Translinked on Thursday and didn’t get home until 6:10 so I missed out. Except that I should have remembered from the two or three other times that I’ve ever joined a social run that social runs never start when they say that they are going to, as Strava let me know later Thursday evening that the Flight Crew took off closer to 6:30. So maybe next week. This week’s long run I did some reconnaissance on the second half of the BMO half and finished feeling very confident that I will new or near my PR on May 6. Less encouraging is that Garmin dropped for the second time in as many weeks. I believe in second chances, which is why I believe it may be time for a replacement.
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.