I’m still reading Roger Robinson’s When Running Made History and it seems sort of fitting that I finish it and write about it next week. I haven’t read much this week but I did pick up a read a pretty great Haruki Murakami short story called “The Wind Cave” in the September 3 issue of the New Yorker and you can read it too here if you haven’t already used up your free articles this month however many that is (five?) but it’s also October tomorrow so new month! or you could clear your cache and browser history or you know get a VPN or something. Or get a subscription and then randomly pick up an issue from a few issues ago from your coffee table one night when the power has gone out and you’re sitting in your darkened apartment with a few bottles of slowly warming ginger beer and a Petzl headlamp. Or just read it online.
I’m tapering and by tapering I also mean trying to rehab a knee enough to convince it to work for just 194 minutes, give or take, next weekend. In spite of that, it was a busy week. I bought a new bicycle, one with more than one gear, which is nice. I decided to try out the indoor pool in my new-to-me building for a few laps of pool jogging and pool jogging sucks but it felt good so I’ll probably do it again (a lot again). And today I ran the North Van Run 10K and it was really great. This week has been a mental drag as I second guess myself on whether or not I’m going to meet my goals in the Victoria Marathon next weekend. Recap: Goal 1) run a BQ which means 3:14:59 or faster Goal 2) set a new PB which means 3:34:40 r faster Goal 3) don’t die. More on Goal 1 later. My plan for today was to run the first 5 KM at goal marathon pace and then run the second 5 KM faster. And it worked beautifully and was a lot of fun. At 5 KM I was right on 4:37/KM average pace and then I followed that with my third fastest 5 KM for a chip finish 43:46 good enough for 28 overall and 8 in my age group (my age group winner was the overall winner at who finished just over ten minutes before me). The weather was awful but I don’t mind running in the rain. The finish on this course, though, is ace. The last 1,500 metres are a nice downhill onto the straightway to the end of Burrard Dry Dock Pier looking out across the harbour to downtown Vancouver. I think it’s the best finish line I’ve run through.
I’m especially happy with my result today because of how everything felt at the start and throughout. Lately I’ve had to fight through pain for the first couple kilometres before everything loosened up but today I felt great through warm up and from the gun. It wasn’t easy to hold back and stick to my race plan; the NVR course is slopey but fast and I’m sure I could have set a new PB out there today. But I definitely didn’t want to blow a tyre a week before chasing a BQ in Victoria. I definitely got a confidence boost from today, but 3:14 is still very ambitious. Then the news this week: BQ times for 2019 are minus 4:52, and they’ve dropped the standard across the board by five minutes for 2020. I’m not interested in running Boston 2019 or 2020. But I want to run that BQ time. But I’m not running 3:09 in Victoria next weekend. But I want to end this somewhat positively so I’ll say that I’m still looking forward to crushing my first marathon time.
I read this book quite a while ago and I had a problem with it and I wanted to ask Taylor about it but then I didn’t and then I forgot about it and then I realized that I’d forgotten about it so I hadn’t added it here so now here I am adding it here, but without getting around to asking the author about it. Anyway, I really liked Taylor’s earlier book Stanley Park and apparently Taylor did too because Rule of Stephens feels very Stanley Park. The formula at least: struggling and flawed but likeable protagonist who is exceptional at this one very niche thing who ends up courting a wealthy investor only to find that they’ve made a deal with the devil. Within the first few pages I’ve grown an affinity for the protagonist Catherine Bach and I have this growing feeling of dread waiting to read what Taylor is going to do to them. It’s a good book and of course its fans will say that there’s so much more to it than the cursory glossing over (wait is that redundant? Hmmm…) that I’ve given here and that’s maybe true. But still.
The office hosted a conference at the Sheraton on 104th in Surrey which meant that I was the lucky duck that got to spend a couple nights at the Sheraton on 104th in Surrey. So I took a look at Strava Global Heatmaps for something fun to do Saturday evening. Downhill heading east on 104th approx. 5 KM from the hotel is a little ferry that carries two or three cars at a time over the Fraser River to Barnston Island, which happens to have a perfect 10 KM perimeter road. So that’s fun. The island is farmland complete with medium and large dogs behind fences that want to eat me, and medium and large dogs not behind fences that just lazily lay on the road as I run by. Free-range chicken farm. Herb farm. Cattle and sheep and donkeys. Abandoned and derelict houses. With my overactive imagination I spent the last couple kilometres expecting to run into (and then away from) the Sawyer family at any moment. A ferry ride back across Parson’s Channel to the mainland and then the long slow slog back up the 104th Avenue hill to Guildford. A nice change of scenery to usher in the beginning of my taper. Two weeks until Victoria Marathon.
Oh hey look another book about a self-destructive struggling author. I’ve never read any James Frey before. I had a copy of Million Little Pieces on my book shelf for many years, though I think it was because someone left it at my house or I picked it up from a free pile somewhere because I saw the Oprah’s Book Club sticker on the cover, obviously. Katerina is that sort of banal, masculine romance novel where the romance is mostly narcissistic. But I was entertained, so there’s that. The most interesting part for me was noticing that past me would not have been able to read this without drinking along with Jay, whereas if present me woke up with a headache it was from all the eye-rolling the night before. This book felt out of time. It felt like what Chuck Palahniuk or Irvine Welsh were writing twenty years ago. Maybe my age is showing. I felt a bit guilty liking this book. Perhaps it was the nostalgia for a more self-destructive time. Regardless, I appreciate the advanced, review copy from Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books.
I broke 80 KM in a week for the first time since April without doing an especially long run this week. My knees have been less than happy with the effort of late, which is a huge concern with just a month to go before the Victoria Marathon. So I’m trying to balance workout and rest, and trying and doing a not very good job of self care before and after running. So I bought a TENS/EMS unit to shock my knees and thighs. I don’t know if it’s helping but I like it. I do really need to stretch and use the roller more often. And now this has taken a banal turn towards confessional. Next week I run the Eastside 10K and I was hoping to sub-40 minutes and I am not terribly confident since my focus has been so dialled on 42.2. Right now I’ll be surprised to run a new personal best, but I’ve said that a couple times already this year and ended up surprising myself. So we’ll see which me shows up at the start/finish line on Saturday.
I don’t know why speculative fiction seems to never get its due respect amongst literary genres. Unless it’s Atwood or Stephen King, though I think even King is relegated to the not-so-serious pile more often than he should be. Which is ever by the way in case you were wondering. What I find the most impressive about speculative fiction is, done well, the seamless creation of fantastic realities that make sense. The book doesn’t even necessarily have to be all that great for the affect to be achieved. And, well, Autonomous is one. The book is okay. The story follows Jack, a pharmaceutical pirate, who is being hunted by Elias and his military robot Paladin. Newitz creates a world that is vivid and interesting, and explores AI morality, gender, sexuality, pharmaceutical and patent ethics but when it’s all smashed together it’s just okay. Okay is better than most, but it’s still okay.
On Wednesday I decided that on Friday I would ease into the Labour Day long weekend by running home from the office. I’ve wanted to do this run for some time but never got around to it last marathon training cycle for the stupid reason that my marathon training schedule called for my long run on Sunday and definitely not on Friday. Friday was to be rest day. And while that was my first marathon and was probably not the time to be fiddling around with training schedule on the freshman attempt, I ignored one of the most important rules of just about any sort of plan, which is to write your plan with a pencil. So I ran home on Friday, and it sucked. About 15 KM into what turned out to be a 35.5 KM run my body said okay that’s enough let’s just read a book for a bit now. So for the next 20 KM it was pure willpower. Which was a great test and I feel like I passed but I also have growing concerns about my knees cooperating come the Victoria Marathon on October 7, and my body not deciding that just over a third to the way through it is time to check out. And maybe probably possible that’s a good thing. With five weeks to go there’s still time for a little under-confidence motivation. Friday sucked. I’ll probably do it again.