9. The Friend – Sigrid Nunez
week nine – 35.4
2019 to Date: 363 KM
The Friend is a first-person narrative of an unnamed woman whose life-long best friend takes his own life and leaves her to deal with the aftermath, including the forced adoption of his Great Dane named Apollo. In between a life adapting to having a large dog in a small apartment with a no-pets policy, the narrator explored aspects of suicide, grief and loss, as well as the life (her friend’s, and hers too but less successfully) of a writer and academic teaching in a higher-ed creative writing program. “Writing in the first person is a known sign of suicide risk,” the narrator says. I didn’t fact-check it. I read many short stories – two collections already this year, and too many on the to-read pile – and I was neck deep in one noticed that every single depressing story was written in first person. I’m probably forever going to think of Sigrid Nunez every time I read anything in first person again. I’m okay with that because I loved this book and I know that I say that often on here but this book really has found its way into my favourite books mental list.
It was a big weekend with two races and we’d (more coach than me) decided to pick one to run and one to fun. (And yes I wrote “coach” and yes I have been alluding to that for the past couple weeks and no I don’t want to talk about it yet.) After running the Chilly Chase 5K in 20:09 in January I opted to chase a sub 20:00 in the Saturday WestVanRun 5K and then have a fun run for the Sunday 10K. I had a plan and all everything was perfect. This week’s training was great and the weather was perfect. I planned to go out over the first 3K with the 20 minute pacer and then drain the tank over the last two kilometres. The Canadian National Railway had other plans. Or the race director didn’t check what CN’s plans were and adjust accordingly. My splits were perfect – 1K 3:54; 2K 3:59; 3K 4:01 – I was feeling great and I let loose down Bellevue Ave then a right turn over the railway tracks then another right and less than a mile down Argyle and the West Van Seawall to the finish line. Except before that last bit we had to wait for a train to cross.
I paused my watch and restarted but it didn’t really matter. The train delay added 2:30 to my time, for an official race finish time of 21:48. Because I paused my watch, Strava gave me a “moving time” of 19:18 but that’s not official at all, so my official personal best remains stuck on 20:09.
Today’s 10K was supposed to be a fun run but after the let down yesterday mixed with the frustration about how well I actually ran I decided to disobey and go for it today. I didn’t get my 2019 goal of a sub 20:00 5K yesterday, maybe I had enough left in the tank for my other 2019 goal of a sub 40:00 10K today. It was worth a shot, and I gave it a shot. I knew right away it wasn’t going to happen, but I left it all out there anyway. Yesterday’s 5K I noticed the people around me heavy breathing but my breathing was calm until I really let go after the train. For today’s 10K my breathing elevated almost immediately. My watch ticked over to 19:50 as I passed the 5K marker, and I managed to hold the pace for another kilometre but I ran out of gas. Seven and 8K were a mess but I managed to pick it back up a bit for the final two. It was all heart because I had nothing left. I crossed the finish with an official time of 40:29. It wasn’t under 40:00, but it’s a huge new personal best by a minute. Plus, technically I ran 5K under 20 minutes twice in two days. Not a bad weekend.