2018 week twenty five

Book Read:
32. Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance — Alex Hutchinson

Kilometres Ran:
week twenty five — 52.3

To date: 1,232 KM

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.

Endurance Tap & Neuenergy & Adidas Adios

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.
“Soft” at the starting line.

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.

2017 Year in Review

My stated goal was to read 95 books or at least 61 books to beat last year. I ended up with 34 and during compiling the list below I notices that I am not good at counting. I can blame it on the fact that the book that messed up the count is not yet published and therefore in not a Goodreads yet, which I used for tracking my reading for the first time this year.

Books Read: 34

About Running: 2
Poetry: 8
Non-Fiction: 14
By Not Straight White Dudes: 18

The List:
1. Mister Pip — Lloyd Jones
2. The Princess Diarist — Carrie Fisher
3. The Long Tomorrow — Leigh Brackett
4. Nutshell — Ian McEwan
5. Inside of a Dog — Alexandra Horowitz
6. On Bullshit — Harry Frankfurt
7. The Last Gang in Town — Aaron Chapman
8. How Proust Can Change Your Life — Alain de Botton
9. In Persuasion Nation — George Saunders
10. The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil — George Saunders
11. Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse — Ed. John Joseph Adams
12. Everything is Awful and You’re a Terrible Person — Daniel Zomparelli
13. Ultramarathon Man — Dean Karnazes
14. The Mercy Journals — Claudia Casper
15. The Hatred of Poetry — Ben Lerner
16. 10:04 — Ben Lerner
17. White Noise — Don Delilo
18. 3 Summers — Lisa Robertson
19. The Disappearing Spoon — Sam Kean
20. Same Diff — Donato Mancini
21. Bad Feminist — Roxane Gay
22. The Mood Embosser — Louis Cabri
23. Why I am not a Feminist — Jessa Crispin
24. The Year of the Flood — Margaret Atwood
25. Hysteric — Nelly Arcan
26. Chinese Blue — Weyman Chan
27. On the Line (Review Copy) — Rod Mickleburgh
28. Get Me Out of Here — Sachiko Murakami
29. From the Poplars — Cecily Nicholson
30. Human Resources — Rachel Zolf
31. Rue — Melissa Bull
32. Don’t Tell Me What to Do — Dina Del Bucchia
33. Homage to Catalonia — George Orwell
34. Running: A Love Story — Jen A. Miller
35. Notes from a Feminist Killjoy — Erin Wunker

Pretty Good Year

*The 2017 First Half was canceled due to weather; this time represents the Forerunners First Half social race-replacement run.

The morning before I flew to Copenhagen for the September half marathon I injured my knee. I ran anyway. And in the craziest race (experience?) of my life, ran a new personal best at 21.1 KM. Then I came home and, while knee still hurt all the time except when running I raced the Thanksgiving 10 KM and ran a new personal best and landed my first top-ten category finish. I wanted to run 2,600 KM in 2017, and I was on pace to run over 3,000 but then after some gentle prodding I swallowed my pride and went to physiotherapy. I took a break, took some X-Rays, took some bike rides, and fell behind. I’m not healed, but I’m better. And in spite of not meeting my goal, I accomplished a lot that I’ve rather proud of. Running my first marathon. Running the Copenhagen Half Marathon. Writing about running Copenhagen for Canadian Running.

Kilometres Ran in 2017: 2,538

Some 2017 stats according to Strava:
Runs: 195
Running time: 203 HRS
Elevation gained: 30,935 M
Average distance/run: 13.3 KM
Runs 20 KM or farther: 31

I made a few resolutions last year and didn’t do very well, so I’ve adjusted some expectations for this year. In 2017 (and 2016 for that matter) I found that if I hadn’t read anything I was less likely to write anything here. With that in mind, for 2018 I want to read a book a week and write here once a week and keep running as much as my aging body allows. And faster and farther than last year.

Goals for 2018:
Read 52 books
Write 52 posts
Run 2018 KM
Also run 2018 miles (¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
Run 10 KM in 39:59 or faster
Run 21.1 KM in 1:29:59 or faster
Run 42.2 KM in 3:14:59 or faster
Oh and there’s still that needlepoint ambition from 2017….

Scotiabank Scorcher

Books Read:
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

Kilometres Ran:
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)_/¯

Summer Earworm

Books Read:
17. White Noise — Don Delilo
18. 3 Summers — Lisa Robertson

Kilometres Ran:
week twenty two — 51
week twenty three — 75.7

To date: 1,281 km

I started reading White Noise once a while ago and didn’t get past the first part which is a shame because well no. I wanted to like this book. It’s okay. If you’re trying to decide if it’s okay that I wanted to like this book, or if the book is okay, or if it’s okay that I didn’t like this book, then have fun with that. I picked up 3 Summers and was holding onto it until summer finally arrived and then it got kind of nice so I read it and then it turned awful again so my bad I guess. Kind of like when my landlord turned off the heat in my building and I took that as a sign to take my air conditioner out of storage. Premature. Also, 3 Summers is not nearly as summery as the title claims. But Robertson is a gem and everyone should read everything that she writes, he writes with minimal exaggeration but weirdly in the third person.

I don’t have a photo to go with this entry.

The Scotiabank Half is in two weeks (well two weeks from the date that I’m going to tag this as posted but that’s another story) and I’ve been hitting the last bit of it a couple times which involves a bit of get to the route which involves me running over Burrard Bridge and then along Point Grey Road then up West 4th to Chancellor BLVD to North Marine Drive which is about 11 km from my home and that point is about the 8 km point of the Scotiabank route so I’m doing this and running down Marine to Spanish Banks and PS I don’t run with headphones and just as I’m passing the off leash part an Ice Cream truck meets me and so for the 10 km or so I have It’s A Small World After All It’s A Small Small World stuck in my head on repeat over and over and over and probably now you do too.