Running Away From Home: Vancouver, BC

Running has infiltrated my life to an alarming degree. A great deal of effort is put forth to schedule my weekly miles, even when I’m not training for a race. And when I don’t find the time to run I often feel as though I’m falling behind.

Where as in the past I had to come up with a good reason to run, I now have to come up with a good reason to not run. That’s not to say I don’t sometimes find excuses to not run, it’s just now those excuses have to be far more genuine.

Case in point… this past weekend I was in Vancouver spending a long weekend with some friends from college. I brought my gear with every intention of running at least once, maybe twice if the conditions were right. However, as the weekend wore on it was clear there were plenty of reasons for me to not run. For one, the toe I injured playing soccer last week wasn’t totally healed and all the city walking we were doing was taking its toll. Mix in late nights, a fair amount of food and booze and no one wold blame me if I’d decided to take the weekend off.

And yet, when Sunday morning arrived, I kind of wanted to run. I wrestled with the issue for some time, but as I was lying there in bed, I was having a hard time justifying not running. I didn’t feel great, but I’d certainly gotten myself moving under worse circumstances. So I threw on my gear and out I went. Despite being on vacation, despite having a pained and tormented big right toe, despite the presence of a low grade hangover, I ran.

The real question is why.

Since running is now such a big part of my life, I’ve gotten into the habit of running when I’m traveling. (I blame my wife.) It allows me to visit parts of a town or city I might not otherwise get to see and it allows me to rationalize the dietary missteps that are inevitable any time I hit the road.

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No better place to run than on a flat pathway next to the water.

The morning was nicely overcast, and the temperature was in the low 60’s — or whatever the hell that converts to in Celsius. Since the apartment my friends and I were renting in Chinatown was a short walk from the eastern end of False Creek, I decided to head there. I set my course for the southern waterfront, running past Science World through the Olympic Village and eventually to Charleson Park.

Traffic in this area was robust with people out early, walking their dogs, biking, and, of course, running. This route provided me with panoramic views of downtown Vancouver and plenty of sailboats that were already out on the water. I witnessed a waterfront yoga class, rowers gearing up for lessons, and a group of toddlers playing some loosely organized soccer.

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Imagine how many boats would’ve been in the water if it were sunny?

Once I reached the end of Charleson Park, I realized it was probably time to turnaround. I mixed it up on the way back, veering from the paved waterfront and wandering through the park. I ran across the grass and along a tree-lined path. Eventually I found myself making my way through blocks of condo and apartment complexes, both new and old, and getting a feel for what life might be like if I were a moderately affluent Vancouverite. I finished up my 3.5 miles and returned to the rental ready to start the day.

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Ran through Charleson Park… then found this path in between some expensive real estate.

Forcing myself to run on Sunday morning was certainly not a life-changing experience and I doubt it even went very far in undoing the caloric damage done by a weekend spent gorging on poutine, Tim Horton’s donuts and pint after pint of British Columbian beer. But I’m still glad I dragged by butt out of bed. If I hadn’t, I’d have missed a chance to see a little bit more of Vancouver.

Perhaps someday I’ll revert to the younger, more sloth-like version of myself that tended to to sleep in more and run less. In the meantime, if I really want to avoid running while on vacation, I’m going to have to make more of a commitment to hangovers.

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