36. Nightwood — Djuna Barnes
37. The Book of Repulsive Women — Djuna Barnes
(Links to free PDF from Green Integer Press.)
week twenty nine — 45.8
To date: 1,460 KM
Back in June the Lit Hub Daily newsletter reminded me that 126 years ago Djuna Barnes was born, and of course I’m using reminded loosely, and I was reminded that I should probably get around to finally reading Nightwood and why not follow that up with some Repulsive Women. Nightwood is a rather dense peice of metafiction that primarily follows Robin Vote around Continental Europe during the years between the two World Wars. I made the mistake of underestimating its under 200 pages. I found this book to be a lot of work, but worth it in the end. At the polar opposite of the spectrum, and Barnes’ career for the matter (one if not her first book) is The Book of Repulsive Women, which is comprised of eight poems accompanied by five ink drawings. This you can read in a single coffee. The imagery and themes in the pages of Repulsive are fully fleshed out years later in Nightwood.
This morning I woke at 4:30 a.m. to prepare for a short drive from downtown Kamloops over to the North Shore and MacArthur Island Park for the 6 a.m. start of the Kamloops Marathon half marathon because Kamloops is hot at the end of July and I happened to be in town and I was born and lived there for over 30 years so I thought it would be fun to run a race there. So let’s unpack that ramble. The race started at 6 a.m. because on a normal July weekend it would be nearly or over 30 degrees by noon. I assume they were aiming for a cool morning start. At 6 a.m. there are also fewest monster trucks on the road that the race shares. It was a perfect morning, clear, calm and about 14 degrees. Kamloops sits in the Thompson River valley and the mountains were still shading much of the course. The course loops out of MacArthur Island Park, through North Kamloops out-and-back along Westsyde Drive and along the shore of the North Thompson River to where it meets the Thompson and back into MacArthur Island Park. It’s a very scenic course, not to mention flat and fast. Well mostly flat. There’s one hill at 5 KM and I wouldn’t characterize the City’s infrastructure “well maintained.” There was some pothole dodging.
I set a goal this year to run a sub 90 minute half marathon and after having to adjust and realign I decided to chase that in Kamloops today. It started well and I was having a good time and making good time for the first half or so and then things started to fall apart a bit. I’m not making excuses, because I’m chalking these up to learning experience. Two things: fuelling, and O2. Fuelling: This is my third race not at home. My previous two I’ve rented suites with a kitchen. This time around, I stayed in a hotel and I did not eat properly Friday and Saturday. I paid the price when I started to bonk. I set out to run 4:16/KM splits, and ran 4:33 at 12 KM. I tried to recover but my tank was mostly fumes. O2: I train at 0-50 metres elevation. Kamloops is around 350 metres. I thought it might be a factor, but I didn’t really think it would be a factor. Then at around 15 KM I started to feel like as asthmatic. I couldn’t catch my breath and by 17/18 KM I had a bit of a wheeze on my inhale. It was a really strange experience. I can fix the fuelling, but other than acclimatizing I’m not sure how to handle the O2 piece. If that’s even what it really was. Who knows?
So I didn’t run sub 90 minutes. But I had a great time on a great course and in the midst of not doing what I had set out to do I did a some other firsts. I ran a new personal best, shaving a hair thin four seconds off my previous best time, and in the process I was first in my age category (my first award finish) and I finished 11th overall. I make fun of Kamloops, but this was a really great race. It’s very well organized and the course is pretty great. It’s a hidden gem. I will definitely run it again. Especially since I have both a title to defend and some unfinished business.