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!

 

PC Nutcracker

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S (the best dancer at one of the schools I go to… or went to, before the car accident) took me to Ballet BC & Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s last Nutcracker (on tour) of the season.

There’s lots to like about the production:

  1. RWB is a little different each year. This year’s Nutcracker takes place in 1910s Canada and includes hockey, people falling on icy sidewalks, and polar bears. So Canadian;
  2. Soft colours and fine painted details make lovely, realistic costumes and storybook backdrops;
  3. Makeup & costumes look good on the non-white dancers, too, and the “multicultural” bits are more balletic and less racist than most! (Incidentally, the Arabian costumes should’ve been First Nations);
  4. No more bear baiting or obvious favouritism among the kids. A bear comes into the house for food. So, so Canadian.

Conversely:

  1. S feels the 1930s opening is pointless if the Kingdom of Sweets is just business as usual;
  2. Smallest mice look like clones of Disney’s Goofy (same face and colour and all) while the Mouse King looks like a dog-headed man;
  3. Chinese/tea dancer still has double buns, arms forming permanent Ls, and hands fused in gesturing “1”s. At this point she may as well be using those fingers to push up the corners of her eyes, she’s such a stereotype;
  4. All the angels are blonde!… you want me to say. Actually, the wigs are so metallic gold I don’t give a damn.

No one was spectacularly good or bad, which perhaps makes for better holiday viewing than placing awesome virtuoso dancers alongside people who fall out of jumps. The choreography was too safe, though, wasn’t it?

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Photo from RWB, since my curtain call photo failed

On a side note, we sat dead centre in the lower balcony (as mentioned before, S has high standards for everything ballet). The view would’ve been perfect if the mother and child in front and two women another row down didn’t lean forward the entire time. Behind them, to S’s left, a man with a wedge-shaped head started playing with his little phone in the middle of Act I. After I asked him to turn it off, he squirmed and rustled wrappers for over an hour. S says she was afraid he was going to attack me, but he merely threw a fit from a safe distance at the end before running away.

If you think not being racist is being too PC, you wouldn’t like this production. Otherwise, you can still catch the RWB Nutcracker in Winnipeg later in December.

Opera and Hallowe’en

I like chamber music.

I like opera.

Ughn. Apple pen. Chamber opera.

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This Hallowe’en (technically Oct. 30) was my first City Opera Vancouver event and first chamber opera, even though I do like both chamber music and opera and it makes sense to like this, too. I guess it’s a little off-putting that they hold their events at churches… But how often do you get the chance to hear Mozart’s “lost” or unfinished operas? I didn’t realise any existed! So B-cat and I headed downtown to the varnish fume-filled Christ Church Cathedral for his month-early birthday.

It’s likely all artists have half-finished work somewhere, but according to the essay [that I just realised was written by my old opera prof!] in the programme, Mozart was fairly happy with the music he had in these fragments — i.e. it wasn’t like sitting down to read someone’s first draft. Like you’re doing now. I’m so sorry. The music is distinctively Mozart, and while the second act’s Zaide (first performed on what would’ve been the composer’s 110th birthday) is the most complete and therefore most absorbing, the story Maria Reva wrote to weave three operas into one is excellent. The company seems to do clever things with a small wardrobe as well, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s conductor Bramwell Tovey, whom I thought was there in a cameo, is fun to see in the main non-singing role.

Good music, good voice, good acting. City Opera Vancouver’s next production runs from November 1 to 11, unless you have money to blow on the ferry to Victoria.

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Female Riddler (with a free book from the tour)

I figured that was it for Hallowe’en, but on the 31st, B-cat took me on the “Lost Souls of Gastown” walking tour… despite being on double crutches himself. We were lucky it wasn’t raining, because the lovely maple and ginkgo leaves everywhere did make the ground slippery.

Like the COV opera, this tour links a multitude of pieces — here, BC history — with a skillfully written frame story. It is not at all cheesy: the struggles and sorrows of Vancouverites past are what will haunt you.

Another Cosmic Night

B-cat and I went to our nth Cosmic Night at H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, this time with his science pals. The theme was the science of science fiction, with “science fiction” being the earliest examples of the genre and… Star Wars.

Someone commented after the event that there was too much Star Wars and not enough Star Trek. My interest in sci-fi doesn’t extend far beyond what I grew up on, i.e. late-1800s to mid-1960s fiction and Laputa, so I didn’t know what an X-Wing was and could’ve used less of either Star.

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(Me, A., B-cat, and R.) I’d obscure faces, but this turned out to be a nice shot of them all. Don’t sue.

We made origami X-Wings and played beer-less pong, in which A. was the only one uninterested and the only one who won (prize: H.R. Macmillan-logo asteroid stress ball). Then we caught three presentations/shows:

  • Half an hour on aliens and exoplanets, in the small theatre
  • Over an hour on the early days of science & sci-fi, in the large hall
  • An hour on other worlds in the universe, in the planetarium

The first was just a lot of fun; the host joked about “the type of people [conspiracy theorists and kooks] who’d come to an event like this” and the audience laughed knowingly, confident they weren’t the weirdos described…

The organisers would’ve been pleased with B-cat and A. (a computer scientist), though, for chatting up other guests about moon rocks and radio signals like well-adjusted adults. R. (who’d worked for Microsoft) and I, uncomfortable speaking to/bothering strangers, snuck into the cheese and meat instead.

We skipped the trivia contest to hear UBC’s Dr. Jaymie Matthews, who wore a large plastic banana around his neck and prepared more material than time allowed. Fascinating stuff, lots of Orwell. The planetarium show was narrated live this time and thus not as organised or artistic as Black Holes.

At the end, B-cat piled leftovers on a plate and then passed it to me because of his injuries/crutches. I was standing there with my hands full of stolen cheese when A. drew over a staff member (who, to be clear, said we could take as much as we wanted). Now you know whom not to recruit for a heist.

See the Seven Wonders show, with a lecture by a UBC archaeology prof, at the Space Centre on October 21.

Picasso in the VAG

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My favourite painting there

Earlier tonight, B-cat and I took three buses downtown to catch Picasso: The Artist and His Muses at the Vancouver Art Gallery. B-cat was in pain and on crutches, some idiots stepped on my ankle and bumped my head, the #19 reeked of vinegar, and still I would say the correct response to hearing about a “medical emergency” (Vancouverites know what that means) at the skytrain stations is not “I feel so sorry for you and anyone who couldn’t take the skytrain”, but rather “I feel so sorry for anyone related to the person who’s now a ‘medical emergency’ on the tracks”.

 

Well then.

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My favourite piece there

Pablo Picasso apparently had a lot of [(increasingly) younger] women over his 92 years, and the 60+ pieces at the VAG cover the six women who most inspired him. One of the first things you see in the exhibit is a life-sized photo of Picasso’s first, a ballerina with the Ballet Russes:

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Fernande Olivier

And the last thing you see is a room of works by women, alongside a scholarly yet clear explanation that Picasso’s “muses” were subjected to the male gaze and that, while it’s important to understand a master artist’s work, it’s also important to understand he worked in a time when (among other issues) no one would’ve considered any woman an artistic genius. Feminism isn’t that difficult.

Tomorrow (Oct. 2) is the last day of the Picasso exhibit. The gallery will be open ’til 9 pm.

Yes, the title is a pun.