week thirty three – 53.6
2019 to date: 1,559 KM
I first encountered Melissa Bull a couple years ago when she was in town to read poetry for an Anvil Press event at the Railway Club downtown and then read her translation of Nelly Arcan’s Burqa of Skin and then her poetry collection Rue that maybe contained something from her Railway Club reading but I honestly cannot recall for certain. Anyway I picked up Knockoff at the East Van Publishers Christmas party and finally got around to picking through it. It’s Bull’s first collection of short stories and it’s good in that contemporary style of abrupt vignettes presented as stories, like flipping through weeknight primetime television and pausing on a program for a minute or two before moving on to the next one, back when television wasn’t all on-demand. I’ve written a few times here previously my finding short story collections a bit weird for various reasons and weird isn’t really the correct word. What would happen, for instance, if you took Bull’s collection and just smashed it all together (or is it altogether)? Well, something a lot like Speedboat. Adler’s first novel was the second ever recipient of the PEN/Hemingway Award back in 1977. The novel, if you can really call it that, follows journalist Jen Fain in first-person as she navigates contemporary upper-middle class American life. It takes a bit to get used to, but once you find your flow Speedboat is an exceptional novel that I am sure every editor working today would have chopped up into two dozen or more short stories.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about easing into fall marathon training and not racing in August and thereby forgoing my goal to race every month in 2019 but justifying it with the fact that I’ve already race 13 times this year and I have registered for seven more (actually eight but who’s counting…) and that I had won the entry lottery for Seawheeze but had declined it and now you’re all caught up. So Friday evening my youngest brother was in town because his partner and her sister and father were running Seawheeze and I said I planned to maybe try to take some photos along the route and then he asked where’s a good spot to watch and oh Gordon’s hurt and cannot run do you want his bib? So about eight hours before gun I decided to run Seawheeze. Fortunately I had earlier decided against shawarma for dinner, but I hadn’t exactly fuelled and rested properly, and if I’d had any inkling that I’d be racing I definitely wouldn’t have hammered my Wednesday workout with the Mile2Marathon crew.
I went out fast at the start to get ahead of the crowd but nothing ridiculous. I had zero game plan except to run how I felt and have a good time, and I felt great for the first few kilometres. And then the next few too. At halfway I was still on sub 90 minute pace. But over and back on Burrard Bridge took a lot out of me and my started to slip. By 18 KM I was running on fumes and then faced the little hill at Lumberman’s Arch that took the remainder out of me. I gave one last shove from the top of the slope only to find that instead of turning left to the flat of the Seawall the course veered right and another slope up and over the pedestrian bridge over Stanley Park Drive. The Seawall wind through Coal Harbour was a bit of a death march but I managed to dig out a decent sprint along Harbour Green Park to cross the finish line in 1:31:43 – good enough for an eight second personal best and 122nd overall. So while it wasn’t a great performance (top 100 might have crossed my mind over the first 5K) it was still the fastest half marathon I’ve ever run, and I’m very please with my fitness level at the start of a new marathon build. Plus it was a whole lot of fun. Maybe next year I won’t decline the entry if my name’s drawn again.