Monday, April 12, 2010

Mood Running

What a good weekend. Friday night was catching up on Caprica and being generally thrilled by existential television with complex and persuasive arguments about the meaning of sentience and humanity, all the while curled up on the sofa stuffing our faces with the Marks and Spencers chocolate covered cornflakes that we'd got because Jonathan had vouchers. I think the writers of Caprica missed a trick there with not quite realising that we already understood morality and humanity and it was crunchy and sweet and good.

Saturday was an attack on Forbidden Planet, which I rarely visit these days, but every now and again I remember that they really do have more graphic novels for sale than less weird places, so I picked up Kick-Ass, Johnny Boo: Twinkle Power (only £3 in the sale shelves!), Fables: The Dark Ages and Faker by Carey and Jock, which was another bargain bin punt.

Jonathan and I then loafed around in Soho Square with some of the many people who seemed to be in town for the sunshine and Johnny Boo's Twinkle Power got a reading; it's really probably not exactly meant for a tattooed, politically-engaged and academically erudite man in his mid thirties who just got back from monstrous sex parties in Berlin, but maybe I'm a bit of a pushover when it comes to cuteness in comics. It's probably meant for someone aged three, but it was just what I wanted.

Kick-Ass was an on-the-tube read, solid story, well-told, no great surprises in it, though, you can spot the twists and traitors a mile off and because most of the dialogue is throwaway the plot hooks kind of clang, but again, it's forgivable because it's just a big old silly sentimental story about growing up and learning that you have to wear a gimp suit and hit strangers with batons sometimes while a little girl beheads people all around you if you're to stand any hope of being a man in this crazy world. Not sure I'll rush to see the film.

X-Men Second Coming looks like yet another regurgitation of tired, tired, tired storylines to force you to buy fifty comics that go nowhere just to find out a few tiny bits of metaplot. I wish they'd stop with this; it's what ruined Young Avengers for me; it's what stopped me reading X-Factor and it's what stopped me buying Uncanny X-Men and Astonishing X-Men.

Stories, by definition, have a beginning, a middle and an ending, but these just sprawl in knots of stupid continuity and assumptions that you'll know who some robot is or some man with a pink hand is because of something that happened in a different title four years ago. Who probably died anyway. A million times already.

I wonder if now that Disney own Marvel any of this will change? I did have quite a long talk with Jonathan about how the iPad might change comics, too. Death of the two-page spread. Alas!

On Saturday evening, Jonathan and I went down to see Adrian Lourie, who did some photos with us, and they came through very flatteringly (like the one above) and we had another lazy night in because I had to get up at half past five on Sunday morning and not to go to some after-hours sex party or anything, but to get to Kingston for a 16 mile race!

The Kingston Breakfast Run is the last big race I'm doing before the marathon in a fortnight and, after the Finchley 20 mile road race a fortnight ago, is all part of winding down so I'm rested and reassured that I'm fit and prepared for the marathon itself. The race was a bit weird, in Finchley, everyone was really perky and happy and would chat while we ran but for this everyone seemed to just have their heads down and ignored each other or, worse, were quite abrupt with slower runners - I got told off when I had to step aside to get a stone out of my shoe.

That kind of thing really breaks your spirit, I think, and even though I did far better than I'd expected and finished in 2h21, I felt like I'd run a much worse race than at Finchley just because I enjoyed the second lap so little. After about 9 miles, I just kind of lost my nerve and started feeling like it was a bit pointless and I was desperately looking around for things to enjoy about the experience. I wasn't tired, I wasn't in too much pain, but by mile 11, I had exhausted my repertoire of amusing games and couldn't even pretend I was running the Middle-Earth Marathon any more and imagine myself bouncing past people, hissing, "Stupid fat hobbitses!" at them, so I kind of slowed and let people pass me and instead just looked at the sky and my feet and got a bit bored and disheartened all the way until I was back in Kingston and close to the end and there were finally some people cheering runners on and a little bit more of a buzz.

I overheard someone say to someone else in one of the few rare moments of conversation:

"You're a mood runner, I can see that; your pace is all over the place."

Firstly, it seemed like quite a spiteful bit of feedback to give someone in the middle of a race when it wasn't solicited but I also realised it applied to me; I've not really found my ideal pace for long-distance running and if I feel like I'm enjoying myself, I keep up with everyone, otherwise, I trail back and sort of give up.

I did think this made me a rubbish person but I realise that a rubbish sportsperson isn't a rubbish person, I'm not in it to compete, I'm in it to enjoy myself, so if it's no fun, there's no point in my book. I was just so very glad that one of the waiters from Balans ran with me a lot of the way on the first loop and that made a huge difference, as did him waiting around at the end to see me cross the finish line and say well done. Without that familiar face, it'd have been quite an alienating and lonely experience, I think.

Jonathan met me in Kingston just after then; I'd finished in less time than I'd expected so he just missed me finishing because public transport is rubbish, but I was so glad to be able to snooze on his shoulder on the bus home. We had lunch with my Dad and Vicky and then spent the evening watching Clash of the Titans in Hammersmith (not as bad as I'd feared) and the BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs at home (aah) and I think I had a pretty damned near perfect day.

It's strange, I looked up the race results this morning and did the maths and realised that 16 miles in 2h20 is a lot faster than 20 miles in 3h14 but Finchley was a better race for me just because it was more fun. I'm an idiot for beating myself up for losing my spirit in the second half of the run yesterday, I was faster than I've been, so if I was trying to measure myself in some crude performance terms, I did well and that's the end of it; no matter that a lot of the other runners - most, in fact, did better - I did well for myself and so that's fine.

Now, I've got to get ready for my mid-point review tomorrow. Fear!

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