Fei’s The Invisibility Cloak


 

The Invisibility Cloak

Ge Fei

Short novel set in contemporary China, ostensibly about love and high-end audio equipment. Really about a country grappling with mass hyper-urbanization, corruption, and huge wealth disparities. It plays out at first as a sort of surreal comedy, but quickly (the whole book is less than 200 pages) into a dark spiral of betrayal and loss.

I’m not much for the sardonic novel, but this one quickly takes its tongue out of its cheek and plunges into the tragically comedic, and then just the tragic. I know little about modern China, and can’t really say whether this is an accurate portrayal of the country or not, but I can say its captivating, and creates a surreal, yet resonate sense of place. Glad I took the risk.

Recommended.

 

Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

Zami: A New Spelling of the Name
Audre Lorde

The autobiography of one of the most important poets of the twentieth century. The story of a first-generation immigrant, a visually impaired girl, who dreamt of things far beyond what her mother could imagine. The story of a woman who read, and wrote, and worked the factory floor. Who discovered her sexuality in a time where that had to be done in secret for fear of physical violence.

A book written with an authentic, though at times almost detached, voice. A story of coming to terms with who you are as a writer, as a lesbian, as a feminist, in a New York City that was changing rapidly, but still very unwelcoming.

A window into a world I would never otherwise see.

A must read.

How John Kitchen Qualified for Boston

Name: John Kitchen

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 48

Height (at the time of first BQ):  6’1″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 175

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? RnR DC

Tell us a little about the race. Sprained ankle 2 weeks before race. Had one week of peak mileage of 42 miles. Unsure of capable pace, I used HR as metric. Went out to fast and crashed and burned last 6 miles. Took me approx 60 minutes to walk/ jog last 10k

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 3 years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? Uknown

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? Unkown

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 2

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? no

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? Yes

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Yes, could run less and simulate feelings of running on tired legs. Helped build cumulative fatigue without the pounding

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Tempo work yes
Speed work not so much

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? You have to put in the time and effort either with straight running or cross training

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

How Eric Wheeler Qualified for Boston

Name: Eric Wheeler

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 39

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’8″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 152 lbs

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Providence

Tell us a little about the race. Spring Marathon in New England, cool, rolling terrain, little wind

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 5 years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 4,000

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1,000

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 5

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? No, triathlon training with emphasis on run; 1 recovery run per week, 1 speed workout or tempo run, 1 easy run and long run with 2 tempo intervals; 3 bike rides per week & 2 swims per week

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? see above regarding swim/bike

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? yes, increased top end speed

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? go and get it.

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

Lorde’s Coal

Coal
Audre Lorde

Audre Lord would go on to be one of the cornerstones of the contemporary poetry, a woman referenced by anyone who cares about the art form. An activist who taught a generation that “”Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference – those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older – know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.”

But when she wrote Coal, she wasn’t famous yet. She was already a powerful writer, shaping language to address the political through the lens of the human, writing about social justice, yes, but also love. This is a slim volume by a relatively young woman finding her voice and better scholars than I might say the work is not yet mature, but I found it deeply compelling, human, and real. A strong introduction to a powerful voice.

Recommended.

Melissa’s Story of Qualifying for the Boston Marathon

Name: Melissa

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ):  26

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’2″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 103

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Glass City

Tell us a little about the race. Prior to Glass City, I had only competed in fall marathons. After a couple of lazy months last fall, I decided to sign up for a spring race to get myself moving over the winter. Glass City appealed to me based on location and it’s timing in late April.

I trained injury and illness free until about 2 weeks before the race, when I strained my calf. My doctor gave me the “okay” to run but that it would probably be unpleasant. My strategy for the race was to go out fast and hang on for the last few miles, hoping that I could hobble in on one leg if necessary. The weather was perfect (around 40 degrees at the start, warming to about 55 during the race) with very little wind. There were only a few thousand marathoners so not a lot of weaving around people, although also a bit lonely in the later miles. The course was pretty flat with no steep inclines or descents.

I went out at a faster-than-qualifying pace, hitting mile 16 in just over 2 hours. I slowed considerably in the last 6 miles, due to calf pain, tired quads, and mental fatigue. I starting running from mile marker to mile marker and giving myself a short walk break at each (a strategy I used at Ironman to break the run into shorter, manageable chunks). While it didn’t feel or look pretty, I made it to the finish in 3:27 for my first BQ.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 6 years

Did you run in college or high school?        No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? I don’t closely track mileage unless I am training to an event, but I would estimate lifetime mileage at around 5000.

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? Not many. In the year leading up to the race I was focused on training for Ironman Wisconsin, and for me that meant cutting way back on running in order to become a stronger swimmer and biker. During Ironman training, my weekly mileage was around 20 miles per week. Then after Ironman I took several months off from running before getting back into things to train for Glass City, at which point I was following a plan that had me running around 35 miles per week.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 1 running race and 2 long course triathlons

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? Yes, Run Less Run Faster. I think the Run Less method has lots of critics who feel that mileage isn’t high enough to lead to a successful marathon. I really liked the plan because it allowed me to continue with hard bike and swim workouts on the days I wasn’t running. Since every workout in the plan is “hard,” I approached each one ready to work and didn’t allow myself to give less than my all.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? I followed the Run Less Run Faster plan which requires 2 to 3 days of hard cross training workouts (either swimming, biking, or rowing) on days where there is no run workout. As a triathlete I found this to be the perfect way to blend marathon training with the other sports I was accustomed to doing. My cross training workouts were high intensity and generally lasted 45 minutes to an hour. I would swim once or twice a week and bike twice a week.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? In the Run Less Run Faster plan, there are two workouts a week dedicated to speed. The first is traditional track workouts with a mix of 400s, 800s, 1200s, and 1600s. The second are tempo runs ran at race pace or faster. I attribute the speed workouts to my significant gains during this training cycle.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Find a plan that works for your schedule and lifestyle and stick to it!

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

Hanh’s the Miracle of Mindfulness

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
Thich Nhat Hanh

A beautiful and practical book on starting and sustaining a meditation practice by Thich Nhat Hanh. If you’re reading this review you probably know Hanh is one of the most important Buddhist practitioners alive today. His writings, courses, and political activism are legion, and the community that surrounds him broad and incredibly active. I’ve been an admirer from afar from many years (indeed, I have done legal work for his organization) but I haven’t really delved into his work until now.

This is a great place to start, accessible, clear, and gorgeous in its simplicity, it’s a perfect introduction to Hanh. Generally, I find myself drawn to the more scientific end of writings on mindfulness, but the sincerity and pureness of intention here drew me in and captivated me. I read the whole thing in two days.

If you’re looking to dip you toes into a mindfulness practice, you could do worse than starting here.

Recommended for the enthusiast.