You may recall that after my last run, I promised myself that I would pick a nice long run that was a bit different this week. Somewhere that’s even a bit wild!
Well, there’s one run that just kept coming up again and again in my mind. So I jumped into my little red car on Sunday afternoon and headed west down Highway 1 towards Stanley Park.
No ‘ifs, ands, or buts’, it had to be done. I simply had to run the seawall!
Running on the seawall that afternoon was not for the feint of heart. When I first got out of the car after parking in the lot opposite the Fish House at 2nd Beach, the rain was beginning to come down steady. Then, by the time I ran around the seawall to the first point jutting out on the bay, I was running into a driving rain with a stiff wind coming in from English Bay.
The big ships looked mysterious out there on the bay, cloaked in mist. There were at least 20 out there.
I have to admit, I was running at quite a good pace for the first 3K. The sea air felt fresh on my face. Most importantly, I felt that I was running effortlessly and getting an abundance of oxygen into my body.
It would seem my training thus far was paying off. I felt good!
Like many of you I’m sure, 3rd Beach is my favourite park beach. So beautiful and tranquil, it’s where the forest meets the ocean. I love watching the seabirds on the water and the big ships on the bay.
It’s also just a short distance from Lovers; a beautiful walking and running trail that runs across the middle of Stanley Park, right to 3rd Beach..
I noticed that there were hardly any other runners out on the seawall that morning. That’s too bad, it’s so beautiful out here.
As I ran by the steps leading to the 3rd Beach concession, the tranquility was briefly broken up ahead of me by a dozen or so squawking crows being chased buy an eagle!
Is he chasing them just for fun, or is he hunting them for food, I mused.
Before long, I was passing by the majestic Siwash Rock. There’s a plaque on the seawall with the story of a boy that died after jumping off the rock into shallow water.
When we come here walking as a family, my 7 year old daughter reads the plaque every time. Then she warns me.. ‘Dad, you must never ever jump off the rock, because it’s too dangerous’.
Not to worry my little girl, your Dad will stick to admiring Siwash Rock from the seawall!
Not too far beyond the rock, I ran by a most memorable spot for me. It’s a memory that part of me would like to forget, but unfortunately it’s indelibly printed in my mind. It is kind of a funny moment, I guess. So I will briefly share the story with you.
I was out kayaking with my good friend Donald from Halifax and we decided to paddle from Sunset Beach, up past 2nd Beach and then around the seawall, up to the Lions Gate Bridge and back.
Donald and I had first met on an Outward Bound 21 day kayaking trip. The trip commenced at Telegraph Cove on the north east coast of Vancouver Island. We first paddled across the Johnstone Strait and then into the Broughton Archipelago.
Donald and I had kayaked side by side though some pretty rough seas on that trip, without incident. The strong currents and whirlpools in the Gulf Islands can be treacherous.
That day, we were kayaking close to the seawall. The water was a little choppy perhaps, but not rough at all. I do remember being distracted for a brief moment; I was probably smiling and waving at tourists on the seawall, when a rogue wave hit my kayak broadside!
Suddenly I tipped, then flipped, and my kayak was totally upside down with me still sealed in it!
No worries, I instantly remembered my Outward Bound training, pulled the release cord on the skirt and I was quickly out of the kayak.
The water was fairly shallow and I had not banged my head on the rocks, fortunately. However, it was more than a little embarrassing to be standing there next to my kayak, chest deep in water, looking at the smiling faces of the tourists that I was waiving to just moments before. I can still hear the roars of laughter from my friend Donald to this day!
I better ‘up the pace’ and get past this spot quickly, I thought, and I pressed on.
The Lions Gate Bridge looked so majestic ahead of me. I still can’t believe that they spent so much money upgrading that bridge and did not add an additional lane, I was soon passing under the bridge and was headed along the long stretch of the seawall towards Lumberman’s Arch and on to Brockton Point.
My Strava Run app soon told me that I was at the 7K point, and I was now looking forward to getting a well needed drink at the water tap!
Wow, was I feeling so great at this time and this was very gratifying after having completed 28 training runs in a month and a half of training.
There are so many things to see on the seawall that the time was simply flying by.
I should perhaps mention that I am no stranger to the seawall. Before my wife Marjory and I met about 12 years ago, I used to live by myself in an almost perfect, small and very affordable one bedroom apartment on Comox Street, just west of Denman Street in the West End.
Back then, I used to say to people that Stanley Park was my very own back yard. I enjoyed running in the trails mainly; they are beautiful and the terrane is much easier on the joints. However, I would once in a while run on the seawall to enjoy the splendid views and feel the fresh breeze in my face as it came off the ocean.
Those were the days, I thought. I did all of my group running under the guidance of those fine folks that work at the Running Room on Denman. What a great group of people they are. There was Steve, Noah, and Neil from the store. They’re probably still there, I bet. Super helpful guys that collectively know just about everything one might need to know about running and running gear.
Then there were my good running friends that I used to run with out of the store. There were about 20 to 30 of us all together; we used to meet every Wednesday evening and on Sunday mornings and then go running together. Of course, the Denman store is right next to the seawall and Stanley Park. What a perfect location for a running store!
For almost 5 years, we ran together, trained together, and cheered each other on at races. We also did a fair amount of ‘celebrating’ together too. Well, we had to do it, for the team and all that!
It was a magical time and one that I will never forget. I was new to the city when I first went down to the RR, and it was a wonderful way to meet new friends while keeping fit and getting to know the running trails. I will always treasure the many wonderful and often hilarious running times with my many friends at the store by the park. Thank you Running Room!
Hey, there’s Harry Jerome. What a great statue of a great runner.
Before I knew it I was going by the Vancouver Rowing Club, and then under the bridge and back into the park. Wow, cherry blossoms on the trees already, I thought, as I spotted some on the trees by the lagoon. Spring is almost here at last.
I quickly ran through the park, and along the seawall briefly before I turned off the path, and went up and over the hill to the car park and my little red car.
I did my stretches by the car. It’s good to have been back on the seawall again, I thought, and it’s wonderful to have done it again at this point in my half marathon training.
In my heart, I knew that my ears would most likely be ringing and my head would probably be aching by early evening, yet it was still so worth it. When all is said and done, the intense pleasure and deep sense of satisfaction that I feel while running far outweighs the risk of increased symptoms. That goes double if I’m running the seawall!