For some reason I decided to read this book because trainwreck / caraccident / apartmentfire and for some reason I thought that it being written by Bob Woodward would somehow make it different that the one I read earlier this year by that “hack” Michael Wolff but I think that if Sam Smith owes Tom Petty money then Wolff has a case against Woodward but of course it doesn’t work that way so I read about how Trump if utterly incompetent and insecure and corrupt and blah blah blah and that was a waste of my time. And nothing against Woodward. But I spent entirely too long reading this book while consciously, actively pondering my real time confirmation bias. So, moving on.
At the beginning of the week I faced the dilemma of whether or not to taper for a 10K race what with four weeks to go until the big race — the Victoria Marathon. So I solicited advice and received some really great perspectives and then was out for a 16 KM run on Wednesday and my left knee said just fucking nope around 13 and I hobbled home into a forced taper for a 10K. My goal for the Eastside 10K was to run my first sub-40 minute 10K. On Wednesday I postponed that goal, which means probably postponed until 2019. I’m okay with that. So I took Thursday and Friday off and then got up early Saturday and jogged the two and a half kilometres to the start line at SFU Woodwards. The weather was typical Eastside 10K wet. (Apparently last year it was a beauty day, but I wouldn’t know because I was in Denmark running the Copenhagen Half Marathon, which got all of the Eastside 10K’s share of rainstorm times ten, and I spent much of this week waxing nostalgic about it online and IRL.) After a ten minute delay, the race started. I got a good start and ran 3:57 / 4:04 / 3:54 over the first three kilometres. This was my first run on the new ES10K course, which traded a start/finish on the Dunsmuir Viaduct for a nightmare of a hill at 5KM up Templeton and around Pandora Park. I’d been warned that this was a tough course, so when I hit 5 KM in a new personal best time I didn’t expect much after that. The hill was hell but I survived without giving up too much pace and I still had a bit of kick left for the finish. I crossed in 41:23, which is not only a 1:02 improvement on my personal best, but my watch said 41:25 so my button pressing was on point too.
Stephanie met me at the finish with a change of shirt and shoes so I could take the long way home with a long slow jog around Stanley Park. I stayed up late to watch the Berlin Marathon and made it all the way until Eliud Kipchoge got to 30KM then fell asleep. So I missed him run a new World Record in under 2:02 and I also missed the Canadian women kick serious ass in Berlin with Rachel Cliff running 2:28:53 in her marathon debut, just 53 seconds off Lanni Marchant’s current Canadian marathon record. Lyndsay Tessier ran 2:30.47 for a new W40 marathon record, and Catherine Watkins ran 2:40:11 setting a new W45 record. After catching up on what I’d slept through I went out for an 18 KM loop around Crab Park and Stanley Park taking me past my 2018 goal of running 2,018 KM three and a half months early. Maybe I should go for 2,018 miles after all…. But for now, all focus on getting healthy. Three weeks until Victoria Marathon.
Last week I blathered on about some running book that I didn’t think was very good and then I noticed that there was another book that I think is pretty great and for some reason I haven’t written here about it yet, so time to solve that mishap. Hutchinson is an athlete and journalist and has a PhD in physics and is a regular contributor to Outside, and has written for Runner’s World, The New Yorker, the Globe and Mail, and elsewhere. Malcolm Gladwell thinks “This book is AMAZING!” which is nice, I guess, if you like Gladwell. The first thing I read about Gladwell and running, he made some asinine statement that running with music is “soft.” I don’t run with music, but that doesn’t make me “hard.” Also given that women are twice as likely to run with headphones* as men, Gladwell’s statement comes off a tad misogynistic. Anyway, enough about Gladwell, because while I do not agree on headphones (and some other stuff) we at least agree on Hutchinson’s book. There is a ton of information in this book and I’ve started trying a few in training and races, with good results. I’ve revisited bits of this book numerous times. I believe it’s a must-have in any athletics books library.
Today was the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. I’ve run it twice before and both were disappointments. Last year I was coming off my first full marathon, healthy and in excellent condition and wanted to break 1:40. It was a sweltering day and I finished 1:40:26. My first crack at the Scotiabank course was 2016. I had just run my first ever half marathon — the BMO Vancouver — and finished 1:46 flat. I was sure I could break 1:45 but was disappointed with a 1:46:31 result. Not only was I drinking way to much then, I was also smoking semi-casually (or -regularly, depending on your point of view…). A cigarette or two on race day served dual purpose, calming pre-race nerves, and, well, nicotine is well known for its laxative qualities. First Scotia Half would also be my last tar-loading. Smoke free and sober, I really wanted to beat myself.
But going into this morning I didn’t have a lot of confidence. I’m coming off a very near 1:40 in Helsinki a few weeks ago; I cut down a bit to try to heal up a blackened big toe and nagging shin splint, and to top it off I picked a fight with a stomach bug on Friday. Plus this course kicked my ass twice already. So I decided it would be a training run. I’d go out and run 4:37/KMs and nail a very respectable 1:37:24 and be happy with that. I had zero intention of chasing the PR I set at the BMO Half at the beginning of May. I went out with cumulative split times for 5, 10 and 15 KM and just ran. At 5 KM I was a bit quicker than planned, and I felt great. I missed the 10 KM split but my per-KMs were coming really fast and still felt great. When I hit 15 KM I checked my watch and I really surprised to find I was a few seconds ahead of PR time. That’s when I decided to just go for it. As I came up Beach Avenue into Stanley Park I saw the finish and the clock and all that registered was 32 and I put my head down and sprinted for the line.I finished 1:32:37, shaving over two minutes off my personal best, and nearly eight minutes off my best on this course, and I could not be happier. I watched and cheered on the other finishers for a bit then walked home, full on running high. Along the way I passed someone lingering in front of their apartment. “Can you spare a cigarette?” they asked. I smiled and replied, “Nope.”
*Sure it’s not a scientifically rigorous poll, but neither is arbitrarily equating earbuds with escapism.
19. The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements — Sam Kean
week twenty four — 61.2
week twenty five — 56
To date: 1,399 km
And so continues the ongoing debate I have with myself regarding when reading non-linear non-fiction or essay collections what does read really mean. Such is the case with The Disappearing Spoon, which I did not read cover to cover (which raises another question since I read it on my iPad…). Anyway, I “read” it and enjoyed most of it. I liked Kean’s ability to dumb down hard science without it feeling dumbed down or condescending. From what I can tell there’s some chronology going on in the book with regards to periodic elements’ discovery and I really enjoyed stuff from about 1912 until about 1950 mostly due to my fascination with the science around mechanized warfare. Cheerful, I know. But I like what I like.
What I don’t much like is racing a half-marathon in mid 20 degree weather. But it turned out okay. I recall 2016’s Scotiabank Half Marathon being warm, but 2017’s was a scorcher. My goal was to run sub 1:40, which I was sure was possible but a bit ambitious. Last year’s Scotia Half I ran 1:46:46. Sunday morning was pretty typical pre-run routine except for the near hour long bus ride out to UBC at 6:15 a.m. I considered Car2Go but was worried about finding parking. I arrive and the start area was already full and the line ups for the entirely way too few port-o-lets were absurd. I opted for dehydration rather than excretion. The corral was full when I squeezed into the back at 7:25 to wait for the gun, and then we were off. I turned my Garmin on to indoors since it hasn’t managed to find a GPS signal in a few weeks (and I haven’t gotten around to contacting support). Just before 3 km I passed the 1:45 and 1:40 pacers who where running side-by-side. I don’t know either. I wanted to reach the 10 km marker in 47:30 or quicker, and when I crossed my stopwatch read 47:00*. I was right where I wanted to be, but knew from all my training on this route the next 8 km are the worst. (The hill just past 12 km up to West 4th is the worst-worst.)
I was just under 5 min/km at 17 and 18 but picked it back up going onto Burrard Bridge and then really turned it on just before 20. I crossed the finish at 1:40:26. I gave it everything I had. I think I could have broken 1:40 if the temperature had been cooler, but I’m pretty satisfied with my results: a new personal best, negative split, and 27/229 in my category. I was 397/4253 overall at 10 km and I finished 290 overall. I’ll take it.
*Sportstats says I crossed 10 km at 48:26. I understand GPS discrepancies, but I was using a stopwatch and it read 47:00. If anyone reading this can explain that to me I’d be happy to read your explanation. Otherwise ¯\_(ツ)_/¯