2018 week twenty six

Book Read:
33. Blown — Mark Haskell Smith

Kilometres Ran:
week twenty six — 56.2

To date: 1,288 KM

I picked up Blown because, well, I received a review copy from Grove Press, which happens a lot and I don’t mind at all. I liked this book a lot. It’s a fun, easy read, with a, captivating, entertaining story and likeable, interesting characters, most of whom I’m rooting for, in spite of knowing that it’s not going to end well for everyone, or potentially anyone. There’s decent suspense, and I’m not going to give anything away. The book opens and we meet Neil and Chlöe on a boat, and a lot of money, which Chlöe is very interested in knowing how Neil came about the cash. So begins Neil’s story. Is Smith a Conrad fan? Who knows? It doesn’t matter. The story of embezzlement and sex and high seas highjinx was, for me, a fine long weekend read. Experimental lit this is not. Trashy? Maybe. But good characters, great story, really well written kind of trash. Enough that it’s made me curious to check out more Haskell Smith work. Thanks to Grove Press for the copy.

Wouldn’t be a trip to Oak Bay without running into one of the local landscapers.

It was a busy week that included my first Grouse Grind, which I’ll probably revisit soon, when I revisit it soon. Initially I figured it would be a one-and-done, but I want to do it again so I’ll write about it then. I spent the long weekend in Victoria, lounging in Oak Bay, watching world cup, drinking spicy ginger beer, and doing reconnaissance missions on the Victoria Marathon route. Saturday the weather was rainy, so I stayed close to home and ran the middle bits through Oak Bay. Happily, there were no surprises or concerns. Heading north on Hampshire the route turns left onto Granite at about the course 14 KM mark a short but not so subtle hill that will get noticed on race day. I was a bit more worried about the hill heading north along Beach just past the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, but then realized I’d gone a quarter kilometre too far; the route turns back south at Loon Bay Park.
See you in fourteen weeks.

Sunday, Canada Day, I took course’s last 10 KM along Crescent Drive, then Dallas Road and around the Inner Harbour to the “finish line” on Menzies Street next to the Provincial Legislature buildings. There’s a bit of a hill coming up Dallas (fittingly) near the Ross Bay Cemetery to Clover Point, but then it’s pretty much downhill for the last 4.5 KM to the finish. After finishing, I traced the first 14 KM or so from “start line” at the Legislature, up Government Street onto Wharf, right onto Johnson until Cook, then down into Beacon Hill Park and a loop around Circle Drive (clever name…). I finished the scouting mission back on Dallas, onto Crescent, and back into Oak Bay. I think I ran about 95 per cent of the course, and I feel really good about it. It’s not going to be easy, and I have a lot of training to do between now and Thanksgiving. But I definitely have the mental angle nailed down. Confident but not overly, with fourteen weeks until race day.

2018 week twenty two

Books Read:
28. Hunger — Roxane Gay
29. Ayiti — Roxane Gay

Kilometres Ran:
week twenty two — 67

To date: 1,065 KM

I received an advanced copy of Ayiti from Grove Press. It came out in 2011 but now Roxane Gay is a pretty big deal so Grove is rereleasing it with two additional stories, which begs the question whether it’s an advanced copy or not. Regardless it seemed as good a time as any to finally read Hunger. I’ve wanted and not wanted to read it since it came out, so it has just sat and stared at me as I pick up other books. I didn’t find it difficult to read but I do find it difficult to write about. It’s probably too cliché to quote Atticus Finch but I do feel like I took a jog in Roxane Gay’s point of view. The memoir explores her relationship with food as the result a way to deal with trauma from rape. It’s a heavy book, no pun intended. In early 2014 I went through my own trauma when my partner of a decade decided she’d rather be with another person, then a bit later told me. I can see how I could have eaten through it. Instead I drank through it. And started running through it. Hindsight is a funny thing. A question arose in my mind while reading Hunger, which was to wonder its fate if it had not been written by Roxane Gay. Perhaps another way to look at it is that Ayiti makes way for Hunger. Ayiti is Roxanne Gay’s debut short story collection featuring fifteen pieces, opening with “Motherfuckers” and never lost my attention. The writing is excellent, the stories humorous and tragic. This is an excellent debut that is worthy of reissue. I really like this collection and recommend it. Thanks to Grove Press for the advance copy.

Stockholm City Hall,  and me repping the old Eastside 10K tee, before the UA sell out.

Last week I wrote about travel running but I didn’t write about public toilets. Probably the first thing I learned about running, before “no, shoes are not all the same” and “don’t wear cotton” was that running can lead to needing to find a washroom. I flew home from Sweden yesterday after running nearly 130 KM (plus a 21.1 KM race) around Helsinki, Finland, Tallinn Estonia, and Stockholm, and one thing that I noticed is a dearth of public washrooms. Sometimes just noticing that there are ample facilities along the route is reassuring, whether they’re needed or not. On that note Helsinki was not so bad. Tallinn was not great. In Stockholm though, and this surprised me, the only public WC I saw was 200 metres from the flat I’d let. (Stockholm is also, incidentally, the only place I ended up having to, ahem, cut a run short.) This morning I ran just over 18 KM over a couple bridges and around Stanley Park and I passed eight washrooms (one twice). In fact, on the various routes that I run there are around 35 public washrooms. So I created a map in Google Maps and mapped them. I’m going to embed it on this blog somewhere, but in the meantime you can view/copy/share it here: Vancouver Washrooms.

2018 week eight

Books Read:
8. Freshwater — Akwaeke Emezi

Kilometres Ran:
week eight — 22.5

To date: 272 KM

A pretty great debut work of experimental fiction that strikes rather of creative nonfiction. I found it difficult to get lost in the book because I found the writing style a lot of work, especially in the first third of the book. I can’t say if I got used to the style, or if there is a shift; Ada’s teen years forward until the story’s conclusion I found easier to read, harder to put down, and, for its content, difficult to enjoy. But I found the story compelling and the writing ambitious and exceptional. This novel found its way onto many “most anticipated” lists and for that it doesn’t disappoint. I expect it will end up on a few 2018 best ofs and award nominations, too. Thanks to Grove Press for the review copy.

Strides over Burrard in the snowshine.

Easing back into it after the knee twist, I ran three times this week, with subtle increases each session and surprisingly pleasant results. Speed is way down, but I hardly care about that right now. Knee has been cooperative, and optimistically, it has felt better-than-okay the evening and day after. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high. On Wednesday I will discuss with my physiotherapist and determine what I’m going to do about the West Van 10K next weekend. I feel pretty good about running it, but I don’t want to push anything too early and have another set back. Today I was looking back at my 2017 training log; I ran the first LSD of my BMO Full plan 50 weeks ago, which makes me think that I still have a bit of time to decide what I’m going to do with race day May 6. But for now I just need to focus on getting healthy first, and working on getting some speed back.