My First Race Report

“How many kids do you have?”

“None.”

“Oh. Why were you at the Easter fun run then?”

This past Sunday, I ran my first 5k race/fun run as planned. Hosted by Running Tours at Stanley Park, the event was surprisingly well managed, with an enthusiastic bunny MC/warm-up leader, friendly staff and volunteers, a nice race kit, and a freebie-filled water stop courtesy of Z95.3.

The organisers also donated a significant portion of proceeds — possibly 75%, judging by entry fees — to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, which is more than admirable.

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The one that says “Here, have some wings” does not seem to be a coupon/voucher at all

The cookie and tea vouchers are 10/10, the running magazines are interesting if ad-heavy, and the pepperoni stick I ate as soon as I left the Running Tours office, two days before the race.

The day before the race, B-cat and I did no more exercise than walking around the cherry blossom event at Queen Elizabeth Park. We shared a maccha-cherry blossom milkshake and woke up 2 pounds heavier the next day.

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The morning of the race, downtown Vancouver was one giant traffic jam. We got off the skytrain at Granville, walked down to Burrard station, and watched the next #19 bus clank by with “Sorry, bus full” displayed.

The longest distance I had ever run was 5 km, and I was on my way to a 5k race. The logical thing to do then, according to B-cat, was to run 3 km to the race.

Because time was running out (I hate puns), we ran, passing four more #19s and two unrelated buses along the way. At least I was no longer cold by the time we reached Lumberman’s Arch…

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Free bunny ears from the race kit

Running is fun when you run your own way, at your own pace. For me, that also means running in the rain or on cool evenings.

Not only was it sunny that afternoon, but after the first km, I found myself running just before or just behind an athletic couple pushing a stroller and decided to follow them the rest of the way. Their pace was challenging; I started feeling lightheaded the last 2 km.

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I choose to think this woman let me pass her at the very end out of the kindness of her heart

But I had fun and was happy with my results. Not only did I beat my personal record for the only two other times I’d ever run 5km, I was 1st in my age group — 32 minutes and 5 seconds for this 32-year-old. Don’t tell me the serious runners took it easy because it was a fun run!!

We ran back to the Z95.3 booth to pick up the vanilla lipbalm I missed while spilling water into an entire sleeve (like a real runner!…) after visiting the sponsor tents, where we entered a Sun Life Insurance prize draw.

Today, as I was basking in the euphoria of having another story accepted by a literary magazine — more on that in a few weeks — one of the Sun Life representatives called to say that I didn’t win, but that he had time to meet up to discuss insurance plans.

When he asked why I went to the Easter fun run despite not having kids, I said I’d gotten hit by a car last year and wanted to get into running now that I could use my legs again.

His response: “Oh.”

Am I creepy for entering a fun run without kids, or is Sun Life just terrible??

Either way, I don’t regret this run: it was a blast from start to finish. I expect Running Tour’s Big Elf Run in December to be enormously fun and smoothly planned as well. Sign up if you’re in town!

 

So Apparently Running isn’t the Worst Thing in the World

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Lovely view during a lovely run

In early March, I had another nightmare about the car accident and again realised how lucky I was to have legs that still work. With approval from the physiotherapist, I started running.

First attempt: I can’t run 200 metres without stopping.

Third attempt: I can’t run 200 metres without stopping.

Sixth attempt: I aim for 500 metres. Now my throat tastes like blood.

You’d think I could run at least 1 km, since that’s how much we had to run in elementary (after-school run) and high school (milk run, Terry Fox run), but hey I’m full of surprises.

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That squirrel ate the tofu out of my pad thai

What was more surprising than me (haha) was how quickly running stopped sucking and became fun. Two weeks later, I signed up for a 5k as something to work towards and installed Strava to track my progress. Since I had 0 Strava friends at the time, I was happy logging the most inane “runs” like the above.

One rainy morning, I went to a Hoka One One event and ran an almost-5k alone around Burnaby Lake.

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Sample pair of Hoka Clifton 3s — so squishy and light

I didn’t end up buying the test shoes, because I’m a terrible person [who needs more arch support], but B-cat convinced me to invest in runners actually made for running… even if they’re not as cute as $20 canvas shoes.

These homely Stinson 3s were the ones I ended up with:

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So much arch support

Now, after one solid month, I can finally run 5 km without stopping and my body fat percentage is down to 17% (vs. 11% to 13% in the early 2010s and 25% after I started dating B-cat).

Running is great. No wonder Murakami is into it.

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Streets in Vancouver smell like magnolia and cherry blossoms

Lest any of this sounds like bragging, I should point out that not only is my 5k personal record abnormally slow, but B-cat had completed a 5k before in jeans and totally wrong shoes and took only half the time.

He also looked gorgeous doing it.

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“I wasn’t expecting to run,” he says.

Quick Lit Fest Recap

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Room held their first lit fest ever two weeks ago, at various locations in Vancouver. I attended the readings at Cartems Donuterie — marks off for spelling “doughnut” the wrong (US) way — where I shared a stump stool with B-cat. It was that packed.

Room is a Canadian, feminist literary magazine that is worth reading even though they keep rejecting my submissions (haha); their recently published anthology was out of my price range, so I only bought a hipster doughnut. The weird parmesan type was the only one left. Like the tea and works read, though, it was surprisingly good. B-cat got about 10 raffle tickets, more to support the cause than to win a prize, so of course he didn’t win. ;’)

Last night I attended a thing hosted by The Tyee and talked to some interesting people. Other than that, my life hasn’t been terribly cerebral lately… so here’s a picture of B-cat with his cat for your enjoyment.

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Mermaids, Cats, and Pokemon Go

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Kristine Opolais as Rusalka

I guess whinging about not having done anything fun in a month worked, because in the three weeks after that, I attended an opera, painted for an art installation, and got a Twitter-length story published.

The opera:

I had gotten tickets for Dvořák’s Rusalka when I went to the Czech Republic last spring, but the opera was cancelled without notice. B-cat, being wonderful, took me to hear Met Opera’s brand new production for St. Valentine’s Day.

[Instant summary]
Rusalka is Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, with the mermaid being a water nymph, her dad being the biggest downer of a water sprite, and her wood nymph friends being nicer than her crappy sisters. No one’s happy in the end.
[/sum]

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The costumes are gorgeous — Kristine Opolais’s water nymph dress is an entire pond floating with water lilies!! The Foreign Princess resembles Monica Bellucci’s Mirror Queen in The Brothers Grimm. The wood nymphs are good dancers, and one of the main trio is East Asian and a beautiful singer. And the Prince, Brandon Jovanovich, looks just like Michael Fassbender.

I’m usually not the biggest fan of German operas, but I love every single second of this one — the music, libretto, and acting combined. Rusalka is my new favourite opera.

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Having trouble smiling because I ran out of moisturiser and lip balm

The painting:

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival put together a giant koinobori (those tube-shaped carp flags/kites) art installation for display in VanDusen Garden. “Giant” is no exaggeration when the diameter of each fish scale exceeds half my height.

B-cat and I painted our scales at Joy Kogawa House. Two strokes in, I remembered I don’t actually like painting, so I sped through the rest. Still, it’s neat to see how the painting changes with sunlight shining through the thin nylon (see above) vs. under indoor lighting, with a table underneath (see below).

The festival begins March 30, 2017.

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My cat (tentative title: “Kibble Sky”) and B-cat’s geometric shapes

The story:

Gotham Writers has posted results for its 16-word “memoir” — story summing up the year, technically — contest for 2016, and mine is one of the finalists. It’s not much of a story, but I’d say I managed to cram in a lot of information about the entire year (how 2016 is Pokemon Go?).

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To be clear, I only had Pokemon Go open at the crematorium because my entire extended family minus two members was playing it. It was a day-long funeral and I laughed and cried the entire time; don’t judge. And I only downloaded the game because, after the car accident, i.e. after being stuck on the couch in pain for two months, I really, really wanted to walk and run again. So the logical thing* to do was to install a bunch of apps that required real-life walking and running.

*It’s totally logical! I have a degree in philosophy!

The Happiest of Rothbarts

Fools always dance really well.

A few days ago I saw the broadcast of Bolshoi‘s Swan Lake, the most Rothbart-lovin’ production ever.

January was a bust, with heavy snow, B-cat’s injuries, and my cold and flu keeping us indoors. My blood pressure did return to normal (about 80/54)… soon after this phone conversation with the blood clinic:

Blood worker: Are you and B-cat planning to give blood in January?

B-cat: I’m planning to go when Monica does.

Me: Your website says I can’t donate again ’til mid-February.

Blood worker: Are you planning to donate again?

Me: Yeah, though I’ve been dizzy for more than a month and my blood pressure dropped to ##/##, so I’m not really looking forward to it.

Blood worker: Why don’t we delay yours ’til March? But is there any way to have B-cat come sooner?

Me: I could just go with him and watch.

Blood worker: That’d be great! You could even come in April, but we really need his blood type.

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Somehow this intermission photo managed to make the host, the translator, and Rothbart all look glum

It’s okay. No one needs Prince Siegfried, either.

In this production featuring Yuri Grigorovich‘s 2001 choreography, Denis Rodkin‘s Siegfried doesn’t get to dress or dance like a prince, and he knows it. He can only do so much with the boring choreo, it’s no wonder his emoti-meter is stuck at “fairly pleased”. Also, everyone in his court looks grim.

Ballet Friend S argues Svetlana Zakharova‘s Odette is as bland as her prince. I think Odette is tearful and not excessively bird-like, and Odile is lots of fun, with black swan friends who mingle with the white flock to form interesting patterns on stage. S and I bicker over the set design (I think it’s Impressionistic and cool; she thinks it’s bizarrely gothic and sloppy), but agree the costumes are lovely: goldleaf and silverleaf on romantic tutus and an all-silver pancake tutu with a silver filigree standing collar. Never mind the Fool’s cap is so tiny it makes him look like a bumblebee.

Me: “The Fool (Igor Tsvirko) dances really well!”

S: “Fools always dance really well.”

Pssht. Clearly I’m no fool.

Regardless, it’s Artemy Belyakov‘s Baron von Rothbart — here, “Evil Genius” — who’s the star in the eyes of Grigorovich and the costume designer. His choreo is more effective, his outfit more dashing. Even his pas de deux (!) with Siegfried is sexier than the prince’s dance with either swan. Of course the story ends with Belyakov getting his way. This means the audience doesn’t get the happy-ending bit of Tchaikovsky, but who can refuse such a handsome Rothbart?

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The Bolshoi will broadcast A Hero of Our Time live in cinemas on April 9.