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.
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.
When number forty-five was elected president I believed (hoped, maybe?) that the west coast states would secede. Or at least break out into civil war. It still could happen. I’m not so sure about British Columbia joining Cascadia but whatever. But now with this ridiculous trade war over wine and oil that B.C. is caught up in with the petulant, spoilt child that is Alberta, who knows. American War imagines America has finally caught up with reality and sees no future in fossil fuels but the South loses its mind being told it has to drive solar cars and so there’s a civil war. Sounds familiar, except wine. Or maybe sounds ominous. The book follows the life of Sarat Chestnut, not a northerner and not quite a southerner either. I really liked this book — a post-apocalyptic hellscape sans the nuclear winter. The scenario actually seems more plausible than the impending radioactive mass extinction that we’re currently potentially facing. For better or for worse (as far as reading is concerned, for worse) American War drew me back into playing Fallout 4. As if I needed another excuse. I thought this book was great, especially for being El Akkad’s first novel. His depiction of the war-torn South is vivid and the characters are very well developed. Plus a strong female protagonist that I cared about in spite of disagreeing with her. This is a good read.
I took the week off running after the knee twist and shout at the First Half last week. A trip to physio and for some ultrasound and electroshock therapy helped a bit. Dr. Physio and I had an honest and frank discussion. I have three races on the horizon: West Van 10K is one I’m not happy to but willing to burn. My eye is still on the BMO in May, but I’m starting to think half instead of full, and then a full in Kelowna or Victoria in the fall. Then Helsinki is towards the end of May and I really, really don’t want to be traipsing around Skandinavia on a reruined knee.
Good news is that Dr. Physio ruled out ACL or any tearing, but clearly my meniscus is not so happy. She said I can swim, but I hate swimming, and she said I can ride my bicycle. I don’t mind riding my bicycle so I did a fair amount of that. But I also went for a tour of the YWCA Health + Fitness Centre down on Hornby — the one I walk past going to and from physio. It seems nice, and SC has been going steady there longer than with me. She seems to like it, and it’s nearly half the cost of the Robert Lee YM on Burrard. So I’m considering forcing myself to go swim once or twice a week, hate it or not, and it will be nice to have access to bikes for those rainy days, even if those bikes go nowhere.
Sapiens seemed fitting to follow Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (except for the hurry part), not to mention that they both go by three names. Astrophysics talks about how we got here, and then Sapiens talks about what we’ve done since we got here. Which is basically just ruin everything. It’s not a happy book, in spite of the (rather failed) attempt to inject a happiness principle into the work in the second last chapter while at the same time attempting an argument that history should be concerned with happiness. I was not convinced. This book started great and then went steadily downhill. I appreciate that he labels capitalism a religion, less so his praise of it. The author’s abject cynicism builds throughout the book, culminating with his trepidation around genetic engineering and AI. I get that humans are awful but I don’t think I needed the last three-quarters of this book’s (rarely substantiated) opinion to get me to awfuller.
Pacific Road Runners First Half half marathon week. It started out pretty great. Physiotherapist suggested I stick to the trails for a bit. I opted for some hill work on the Avison Trail, and on Wednesday in the rain at the trail peak where it crosses the Causeway I found a $100 bill dropped no doubt by some poor well-heeled (oxymorons ftw) tourist. Friday and a 13.5 KM round-trip to Forerunners on Main to pick up my race package. My legs felt great. Saturday morning, my cold still above neck I went for a short shake out. My recovering right knee and left shin both felt great. Race morning I jogged down to the start line at the Roundhouse in Yaletown, checked my bag and made my way to the start corral with 10 minutes until gun. The corral was crowded as to be expected, when dude next to me pulls his shorts to the side and takes a piss on the ground then casually moves a few feet forward. Gross dude. Humans are awful. Guy behind me says, “Been racing for 40 years I’ve never seen that before.” (Waiting for race photos to be posted; if I can find him and I’m sure it’s him some shaming may ensue.)
My training has been weak with these two injuries and I was expecting this to be a slow race. I really wanted to be around 1:45 but was prepared to be close to 1:50. What I hadn’t considered, and really should have known considering the hours and KMs I’ve put on the segments, is that this is a very fast course, and the weather was perfect for a race. I’d written on my arm some somewhat ambitious distance times and was pretty happy to reach 10 KM about 30 second ahead of pace. Then disaster. Into 14 KM just past Siwash Rock, I still don’t know what happened but I had a little stumble. It felt like the inside of my knee gave out, or I twisted it, or I don’t know what. But it hurt a lot. I kept going. I don’t know if I would have if it had been just another day on the Seawall; I wanted to finish the race. I fought through the pain and kept going the last 7 KM with a sprint to the finish and crossed the line at 1:43:04 chip time.
Within minutes of finishing I could barely walk. Now 24 hours later and it’s still pretty bad. The pain kept me up all night and no amount of ice pack, heat pack, Advil, or Voltaren seems to do much. My physiotherapist said no running this week after the race. That’s fine because I can’t. I’m signed up for the West Van 10 KM in three weeks, and now 12 weeks out from the BMO Marathon. I think both are in serious jeopardy.