I read this book a while ago and put off writing about it because I wasn’t sure what to write about it and then this week happened and I’m still not quite sure what to write about it but here it is. The book tells the short life and tragic end of Madison Holleran, an all American college athlete who seemed from all appearances to have it all going for her. This week we lost two more such people. First, fashion designer Kate Spade, then the man living everyone’s dream life, Anthony Bourdain. That one for me was pretty tough. I don’t tend to get too upset when celebrities pass, but there was something about Bourdain’s passing that really hit me. He really seemed like a normal guy that also happened to have a really great life that he loved to share with other people. He, seemingly effortlessly, made the world a better place. There’s clearly more to the story than that, but I’m not sure I want to know any more. Maybe that’s why I had trouble with Fagan’s book. The book is good, but the story sucks. And the whole time I’m reading it I already know it’s not going to end well while at the same time I’m hoping that it somehow ends well. Through access to social media and private messages, and interviews with friends and family Fagan explores in detail Holleran’s downward spiral as she adjusts to college life after high school, and the pressures of elite-level college athletics. Ultimately, Holleran decides that her only escape is to end her life. How she does it, though the exact detail strike me as speculation, if true is a heavy conclusion to a too short life. If scripted it would strike me as cliché and difficult to believe. It’s not a happy book, but I believe it’s worth reading.
While I was away in ran just about every day and then biked or walked or both and it was great but maybe it was a bit of overkill. On the last Thursday I was away I ran and my right shin felt not quite right and later on it felt as if I had kicked something and bruised the shinbone but I couldn’t remember and I figured I would remember. On the last Friday I ran and recall as I descended Västerbron I felt the pain in my shin gradually grow. It was a very weird experience. I was about halfway through a 15 KM route, which I finished and the pain continued to grow throughout the day. I’ve had a shin splint once before. When I hurt my right knee last fall I developed a shin splint on my left, which my physiotherapist suggested was probably due to overcompensation. This was much worse. I flew home on Saturday and took the day off, ran Sunday and felt awful, so I took Monday and Tuesday off. Wednesday was Global Running Day, so of course I completely overdid it. I woke and ran 24 KM and I felt really great but my shin did not. An afternoon of stretching and massaging the sole of my foot I felt okay enough to go out and join the multi-run-clubs Global Running Day social run. I opted for the shorter (not the shortest…) route from Burrard Bridge around Science World into Vanier Park. It started not so great, as I really felt alone in a huge crowd where everyone seemed to know everyone. I said hello to a couple people I knew from Strava. Some friendlier than others, social media IRL status quo. I eavesdropped on Rob Watson and at the end of the run chatted with him and he was really friendly, which was refreshing, and I talked with a few others I recognized. I feel like I made a bit of progress towards my 2018 resolution towards more social running. However, my leg by now I was thinking about amputation. So I ran home. All in it was a 36 KM day. I took Thursday-Friday-Saturday off, went for a long bike ride on Saturday and woke this morning feeling pretty good. Rest and bike ride definitely helped. My run this morning wasn’t exceptional, but it was fine. My shin started to hurt again towards the end so I cut short and went out for an afternoon pedal instead.
This is Beverley McLachlin’s first novel. She turns 75 this year. I assume she was distracted by being the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. So if you’re worried that your first novel isn’t coming along quite as quickly as you had imagined, don’t fret. There’s still time. There’s probably still time. You should worry instead about becoming a household name so that someone will publish whatever it is you decide to write just because. Or you could write a decent novel and hope that there is still a publisher out there publishing decent novels. This novel, as it turns out, is decent. I found it to be an engaging read overall, with enough drama and suspense to keep me interested in spite of a bit of a slow start. It follows Jilly Truitt, an up-and-coming criminal defense lawyer, relatively fresh with her own law firm, as she takes on the biggest case of her career so far. I expected a simple narrative and was pleasantly surprised by the nuanced story arc and character development. There’s a plot twist that is alluded to early and often that becomes somewhat predictable. My only real complaint is that the end is a bit of a sprint to tie up all the loose ends. I liked the many Vancouver references, and I feel like Truitt has enough going for her, and unresolved, that could make for a sequel or serial, assuming McLachlin has another in her. The novel is released on May 1. Thanks for Simon & Schuster for the advanced review copy.
I capped off week 12 with my first long run since the First Half back at the beginning of February after realizing that I’m quickly running out of opportunities to get a 21+ into March since I’m heading to Victoria for the long weekend, and other excuses that don’t make much sense if you pause and think about it for a sec or two. I was apprehensive about taking my on-the-recovery knee out for a Sunday LSD but I really wanted to give it a test. So I decided to run a long route with no opportunity to tap out — over Burrard and up West 4th/Chancellor then back along Marine Drive. And it turned out okay. I’m pretty sure that it is my slowest 21+ run. It is my slowest since I started tracking with Strava. Before Strava I used the WalkTracker Pro app for iPhone, which I got for free from one of those freebee cards that Starbucks used to have on their pickup counter. I loved that app. The developers, apparently, did not, as evident from the fact that it hasn’t been updated as it hasn’t been updated since 2014 and no longer works on current or recent iOS. So I linked to it for sale in the App Store for nostalgia. My point is that once it stopped working for good I deleted it, and along with it all my running history, such as it was. Something in the back of my mind tells me that I probably downloaded all the data and stored the file away somewhere that I would probably never lose it, which it turns out is also somewhere I’ll probably never find it.
Sitting in YVR waiting to board KLM to Prague by way of Amsterdam for a week and a half in the Czech Republic and I’m optimistic that I’ll finish Lerner on the plane. But I also have the new issues of Playboy and The New Yorker. So we’ll see. I’m way behind. I think at this time last year I was in the 30s for books read. Mind you I read a lot of poetry and so far this year I think that I’ve read none. I have a few on the to read pile. I think that The Hatred of Poetry is the shortest book I’ve read so far in 2017. If your reading recollection is better than my writing recollection then feel free to correct me. PS — the YVR Wifi is awful.
It still feels as though the BMO was yesterday. Feels is probably the wrong word, because I think that my body has mostly recovered. I just find it strange to think that it was ten days ago. I haven’t been running quite as intensely, or as often, or as far, but they’ve been relatively quick. Quick for me. I’m looking forward to running around Prague and maybe Brno, and then when I get back I have four weeks before the Scotiabank Half, and I’ll rather ambitiously shooting for a 1:39, which would be a full seven minutes off my race PR. If Strava is to be believed, I did 1:41 in training for the BMO, and 1:41 in the first half of the BMO. So it seems within the realm of possibilities.
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.