Saturday, October 25, 2008

Vancouver running

We're still enjoying crisp sunny days, blue skies and colourful leaves here on the West Coast. I've had some lovely runs this weekend although I hobbled myself a bit by including 700 stairs in Friday's run (10 consecutive sets of 70, up and down, up and down, up and down). I cut my usual long Saturday run in half and then ran another half today, all on our little island which offers the comforts of dirt roads and the often-welcome interruptions of chats with passing friends and neighbours.

Much as I love running on the island where my knees don't have to contend with pavement, it gets a bit tedious (and sometimes a bit embarrassing) doing four circuits for my longer runs. In Vancouver, of course, I have all kinds of choices when I want to stretch out. Generally, I opt to run down to, and around, the Stanley Park Seawall, which offers some stunning vistas along with the many diversions of its countless visitors. Often, I wish I had my camera with me when I run so that I could show you what I see as I count out the kilometres. So last weekend, when Pater and I headed out on a walk, I packed the little PowerShot and snapped some pics for you. We didn't cover the English Bay side, but started East of the Lions Gate Bridge.

These colourful industrial structures, blight on a natural landscape 'tho they undoubtedly are, always catch my eye, reminding me of an Edward Burtynsky photograph (or Jeff Wall or Stan Douglas). I feel the same way about the eerily-cheery yellow sulphur mountains juxtaposed to the industrial blue.While their presence right at the tidal zone should (and at an intellectual level, of course, does) disturb me, their Meccano-set references to childhood often catch me smiling as I run.But now that I've embarrassingly waxed nostalgic about the comforts of industry and its garish and surely-polluting raw materials, shall I continue guiding you on my run? Here's another familiar sight, this one perhaps more pleasing to a wider audience: Girl in Westsuit by sculptor Elek Imredy has been perched on this rock since 1972.As I'm passing her, I'm often having to take care to avoid tripping over fishermen, generally of Asian heritage, Vietnamese, I suspect, with their lines out for perch and their buckets of supplies nearby. Here's one, crouched in the shade just ahead.

And here he is, with Ms. Wetsuit lolling on the rock behind him. Having past him, I'm gently turning south where Coal Harbour swivels into view bringing with it the highrised backdrop of downtown Vancouver.

I have to admit that while I was initially very skeptical about the Conference Centre being built at Coal Harbour (by a government whose politics I'm not very keen on), I'm very much liking what it's doing for the waterfront and skyline here -- it creates a very generous foreground with a gorgeous swooping horizontal line and the extensive Green roof will incorporate some natural texture into a city that appreciates those elements. I apologize for the quality of the photo below, but I do think you can sense the generosity of that horizontal line which echoes the water's waves and, oddly, grounds by unsettling the verticality of the highrises. Also note the seaplane landing just right of centre at the water surface -- another bit of free entertainment that keeps me from noticing my tightening quads.From here on, as the run circles back toward the park's centre and the downtown's spine (at Georgia Street), tourist traffic increases and it's hard to grumble about sore feet when happy families, friends out for a weekly walk-and-chat, owners and pets, roller bladers, cyclists, are moving past, fuelled by endorphins and fresh air. And if they're not energetic to move under their own steam, I get to see scenes like this.
Still, I'm pleased when I pass this statue of Harry Jerome
'cause next up is Although I know the point is named for the Salvation Army's historic practice of singing here, with its Hallelujahs ringing across the water, I nonetheless like to think it's a marker of my own Hallelujahs at getting close to the end of my run (although I still have another 3 or 4 kilometres before I'm home).

Really, though, my course is nothing like what these guys go through to get home, right?

Do you have a favourite route for running, walking, or cycling? Do the sights or distractions offered by the route make your workout go faster? Or do they encourage you to amble or dawdle?


  1. Thanks for the lovely tour! I'm afraid that when I go walking it's usually with a group of people and last time I realized that I rarely take in the view as we're too busy talking! (Although we are also usually in dense forest, so no real 'view' until we get to the top of the hill.) Mostly my eyes are on the ground, making sure I don't trip. Patricia

  2. The photos in this post and the previous are just lovely and I love the contrast and juxtapositions of industry, city skyline, and natural beauty. What a lucky and lovely confluence of inputs. I have always found the industrial to be oddly beautiful despite its tendencies toward destruction, and perhaps that is part of its attraction, the necessity and the balancing act that is required.

    I am afraid my walks are mostly through the trees, still with some of their leaves at most, and not nearly so spectacular. I will try to remember to take a camera.

  3. Un très joli parcours, mater, je vous envie. Merçi de nous inviter a partager toutes ces belles images. Mon circuit est beaucoup plus modeste, en forêt tout près de chez moi,d'environ 1KLM et accessible à l'année longue, je peux y faire du ski de randonnée en hiver. La course et le ski me calment et m'aident remettre les choses en place. Rien besoin de plus vraiment!


  4. I have not walked outdoors much in the last six months and I so miss it. There are so many lovely lake near streets in the North Shore suburbs of Chicago that I dearly miss. I understand there are walking trails in Valencia but as it is still 97 degrees I haven't gotten out to try them. I can assure you, even without ever trying them,that they are not as beautiful as your trails.

  5. Patricia: Lucky you! I haven't had that kind of walk for a long time -- walking and visiting at the same time is great. And if you're not paying much attention to what can be seen in the forest, you'll be breathing in that great air, all the forest smells. Mmmmm!
    Mardel: I think you might be right about the odd attraction of the industrial -- nicely put.
    Walking through the trees, as does Patricia, you might not get the view but you have all the other benefits of trees -- the sense of enclosure, the smells, the sounds, etc.,
    Orane: Vous êtes bien chançeuses d'avoir un forêt si proche pour vos randonnées! (excuse my errors en français, s'il vous plaît) Pater would be especially envious of the x-country skiing so nearby.
    LBR: I can't think what 97F translates to in Celsius, but I know it's way too hot for running and I'd probably only walk there in the evenings. Whew! It wouldn't matter how beautiful the trails are, I would not be on them in that heat! (We've already had frost a few nights).

  6. Wow, that's some running course, alright!


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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