28. Win at All Costs — Matt Hart
since week thirty one — 69.8
2020 to date: 2,002 KM
since week thirty one — 325.8*
2020 to date: 2,163 KM**
Matt Hart is a freelance journalist whose writing about endurance sports, sports science, and performance-enhancing drugs has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Outside and elsewhere. I first heard about this book exploring the shady side of Nike, Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project back in the spring, looked for a copy and saw that it wasn’t being published until the fall, and then forgot about it. Then in mid September Alex Hutchinson posted on Outside his Fall Book List and included it. I re-exhausted my usual review copy channels and forgot about it again. But this isn’t about my memory issues (or is it…). Staring down Thanksgiving long weekend on an island away from my Appalachian adventures on XBoxOne I looked for a book to get me through four days of tryptophania, and remembered I hate Nike. I read this in about a day. I could not put it down. I’ve made no secret of my dislike for Nike for quite some time so this did feel a bit like literary disaster tourism, but I felt special anguish for how Nike treated Adam and Kara Goucher. Especially tough for me is what to do with the NOP jacket and hoodie I own – burn them? But they’re so damn nice. I mean, put a stylish skull on just about anything and you’ll probably have my attention. (Except you, UA. You haven’t got a chance.) NOP is the main target of Hart’s book, but the whole of Nike culture is in his crosshairs including, albeit making just barely a cameo appearance, the shoes that changed (ruined) everything. You should definitely read it.
Back at the beginning of July I signed up for the 5 Peaks run / bike Great Canadian Crossing – 365 days to run and bike 4,800 KM “across Canada.” It seemed like a fun idea and I figured that barring some *disaster* averaging a little over 13 KM per day for a year would be pretty easy. After all, on July 1, I was on pace to run over 3,300 KM in 2020, and this was a run + bike challenge. Piece of cake!
On August 3 I was hit by a dumb fuck in a truck (DFIAT) while cycling on the Sea to Sky Highway. I remember lying on the asphalt in agony and asking someone at the scene to stop my watch, thereby adding another 70 KM to my Great Canadian Crossing challenge, which put me at 960 KM of running and cycling after 34 days; 513 KM ahead of pace. For the next couple months I’d watch my lead slowly evaporate 13 KM per day. At the beginning of September my physio- and concussion therapists gave me permission to get back on my bike, on my CycleOps trainer. The rules were I had to be able to get on and off without putting my still ragged body in danger, no weight bearing with my right arm, beginning with 5 minutes and adding one minute per day as long as concussion and physiology allowed. I immediately discovered that bike’s speed sensor did not survive the crash, which meant that my indoor bike rides to nowhere were indeed to nowhere. After each activity, first 5 minutes, then six, then seven, I would get an automated notification from the Great Canadian Crossing challenge congratulating me on my 0.00 KM bike ride and showing dwindling lead on pace, culminating in finally falling into the red on my ninth ride nowhere.
Two days later my replacement speed sensor arrived in the mail, and my eleventh ride on the training earned me 6.82 fake kilometres towards my fake trek across Canada. I would continue on adding a minute each day until I reach 30 minutes and then I thought I’d give my head a shake.
So on September 30 I took my bike outside for a couple loops of Stanley Park just to see what would happen because I was genuinely curious to see what would happen. A couple days before I was overthinking about it and got to thinking that maybe I think it’s going to be tough to get back on my bike because I think that I’m supposed to think it’s going to be tough to get back on my bike. And I wanted to find out what would happen in my head. I was mad, that’s what happened. I had a bit of concussion symptoms come on during SPLoop two but other than headache and nausea and ragey-rage it was “fine.” I mean “fine” as in I expected to be really nervous; I was not. I’ve (still) not yet been on the highway so who knows what will happen there then, but for now I’m just mad at DFIAT. And my head hurts. And my shoulder hurts. And my ribs and back and arm hurt. But otherwise….
I used to be pretty good about posting on here weekly but I haven’t written here or much elsewhere – especially about my recovery – because my lawyer warned me that ICBC trolls will be trolling for any excuse to limit my claim. But he works on commission, so…. Anyway, hi ICBC trolls! GFY! Running is what I really love and miss the most and DFIAT took that away and I’m still pretty mad about it, in case you didn’t notice. And so the orthopaedic surgeon and my GP and my physiotherapist and my concussion therapist all set up these hurdles for me to clear before I was allowed to run again and I proceeded to smash them so they all finally acquiesced. I mean, that’s the story I’m going with. Like the 5 minutes plus-a-minute on the bike, they allowed me to run a pretty strict (read: embarrassing) run/walk program. I set them all PRIVATE on Strava. (Curiously, they all still counted towards my Cross Canada total.) Then on Thanksgiving Saturday I took a break from reading about the dumpster fire that is Nike (see review above) and went for a proper run.
For the past two years I’ve woken up on the Saturday of Thanksgiving long weekend in Oak Bay and gone for a 5-and-a-bit kilometre shake out run before the Victoria Marathon (2018) and Victoria Half Marathon (2019) the following Sunday. I’d been run-walking and hating it a half dozen times and decided to see if I could string together 5 Kontinuous. So I did. It hurt a lot. Recovery from my encounter with DFIAT is proving to be, like this blog post, frustratingly long. I have spent a lot of time thinking about recover and what that really means. I mean, there’s the tangible stuff like, will this scarring on my face, hands, shoulder, side knees, ever go away? Will my ribs and clavicle ever stop looking like they’re desperately trying to escape my torso? Probably not. I haven’t quite accepted yet that I might never get full mobility back in my right arm. I haven’t talked about realizing I’m addicted to pain medication when I started trying to ween myself off. (My GP isn’t concerned, implies it’s normal given the circumstances.) It makes me really mad. A couple days before I met DFIAT I went for a pretty casual 21.1 KM run in 1:36 just for the Strava HM badge. Last weekend I ran 5K in 28 minutes and very nearly died. (Different kind of nearly died.) Part of recovery means getting back to being able to go for a casual 100 KM bike ride after a casual 96 minute half marathon. I am recovering. Some things I might never recover. Others are still a very long way off.
Today a thing happened that should have happened months ago and although it’s Monday and I typically write these by the week ending Sunday I thought I’d squeeze it in because who knows when I’m going to write again. Blame lawyer. No, blame ICBC. Today I went for a run out to Siwash Rock and back. It was an otherwise insignificant run except that I was alive and (ahem, mostly) able to do so but somewhat significantly it was my 1,000 run of all time on Strava and the run in which I passed 2,000 KM running in 2020. I should have passed those milestones months ago. I should be proud of them but they mostly just make me angry.
*As I wrote above, for 10 days I rode the trainer with 0.00 KM credited due to a busted speed sensor. Which begs the question, if I’m counting my kilometres since my encounter with DFIAT, do kilometres on a cycle trainer count? (I think they do.) But what if there’s nothing to measure them? If a concussed cripple cycles 95 minutes on a trainer and there’s no speed sensor to track the fake distance…you see where I’m going with this.
**Following along from * above, beginning with 5 minutes, and adding one minute per day for 10 days, equals 95 minutes at an average 27 km/h (roughly, guessing based on trainer spins #11 through #24) or approx. (you think I planned this but I did not) one marathon. So, since DFIAT my totals are closer to 368 KM, and 2,205 so far this year. But Strava says zero and we all know if it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen.