The seawall around Stanley Park in Vancouver has got to be one of the most spectacular runs in the world.
When I lived in downtown in the West End about a decade or so ago, I have to admit that I used to prefer to run the Stanley Park trails.
There were no people on the trails and the seawall was seemingly crowded with people, cyclists and in-line skaters, especially at the weekends and all through the summer months.
Now that I live in the suburbs, going down to my old stomping grounds and running around the seawall is a really special treat, and that’s exactly what I needed given the tragic events in Boston over the past week.
I headed out around 10:30AM so as to avoid the morning rush hour, which I did. The journey from here in Coquitlam is only about 30 minutes when the traffic is light.
After a brief search for a street parking meter, I decided to park in the lot under the Burrard Bridge, next to the Aquatic Centre.
I set my Strava Run app, then selected Bach’s Goldberg Variations on my iPhone for my listening pleasure, and headed up the path towards Stanley Park.
I estimated that it was about a 3K run from the bridge to Stanley Park and the seawall. Since the seawall is 10K, that would give me a solid long run of 16K while enjoying an infinite number of exquisite views along the way. Perfect!
In was an especially grey morning and there was a light drizzle coming down as I headed my way up the path, past Sunset Beach and into English Bay.
There was hardly anyone on the path actually, just a few extra keen runners, like myself.
My mind went back to a time when this area used to be my back yard and I would come down to English Bay, just for a short walk and to get a breath of fresh sea air.
Although I look back fondly on my 5 years of peaceful, independent bliss, living down in the West End, I have to say that I have now moved on to a different time and place in my life, both literally and metaphorically.
However, I still enjoy coming back to visit my old neighbourhood very much. It’s therapeutic and relaxing for me. It helps my head actually.
Stanley Park – Rhododendron Gardens
I reached the park and decided to go in the opposite direction around the seawall than I did the last time that I ran it in February.
Variety is after all the spice of life!
As I headed up by Lost Lagoon, I took a small detour from the main path and followed the trail through the rhododendron gardens to see if they were in bloom yet.
My wife Marjory and I used to wheel our son through these gardens often, in his Bob stroller, when we were living here. He loved to smell the blooms in the garden, especially if they were swarming with bees. We had to watch him carefully around the blooms!
To my delight, there were quite a few blooms out that morning, and they looked exquisite. In about two to three weeks they will look beautiful, I said to myself. We should try and get back down here, maybe after my half marathon race on May 5th.
Stanley Park – Coal Harbour
The drizzle had e stopped, but it was still quite wet and humid as I continued on my way around the seawall. I past the Vancouver Rowing Club looking out over Coal Harbour. What a beautiful spot to row, I thought.
Before long I was around the point, and along the bay to Lumberman’s Arch, where I stopped to drink from the water fountain.
The Strava Run app had been telling me that my pace was very respectable so far; around 6:30 minutes per kilometre. It was not quite the blistering pace that I set on my PoCo trail 10K last Wednesday, but still fast, never the less. Pretty good though, I thought.
Lions Gate Bridge
Soon enough, the Lions Gate Bridge was looking down at me.
Once under the bridge, it was on towards Siwash Rock and then to my favourite spot – 3rd beach.
The weather was fast improving, and I noticed a good-sized patch of blue sky on the horizon. It was a welcomed site.
In keeping with the weather, I changed the music to something more upbeat. Off went Bach and on went Rod Stewart’s iconic album for the 70’s, Gasoline Alley. It’s one of my favourite albums and it helps me maintain a good, steady pace.
Siwash Rock came and went, and then I rounded the corner and before me was an intriguing scene. The sun had broken through and the blue sky was abundant.
Stanley Park – 3rd Beach
The warmth of the sun on the wet beach had caused a foggy mist to rise up. The sea breeze coming off the bay was blowing the mist gently over the beach and the seawall where I was about to pass.
Running slowly through the foggy mist, I was reminded of a story recently published in The Sunday Province marathon section.
Appropriately entitled “Running through the Fog’, the story is about my accident, injury and running rehabilitation over the past 2 years. It’s written by written by renowned sports writer Kimiya Shokoohi,
Thank you Kim for writing such a kind, caring, sensitive and accurate story. If you are interested, it can be found in The Province on-line at:
Burrard Bridge from Sunset Beach
As my Strava Run app told me that I had completed 15K, I was feeling good. I had managed to maintain a good pace throughout my long run.
As I was passing by Sunset Beach and approaching the Burrard Bridge, I began to experience a slight pain in my left groin area.
It felt the same as the pain that I had felt on my long run last week out at Sasamat Lake that also happened around the 15K point in my run.
I also noticed some chaffing that had occurred around the left groin area and realized why it had happened. I had put on a pair of shorts that I had not worn before. The seam was roughly stitched and that had caused the chaffing.
That was a silly thing to do, I said to myself.
I ran on slowly for a while, but I decided to finish my run early, just short of the car.
This was was partly to ease the groin and chaffing pain, but it was primarily to take one last view of the magnificent Burrard Bridge.
As i stood there admiring this art deco masterpiece, a small water taxi came chugging out from under the bridge. It was headed towards the dock at the waters edge. Two seagulls came flying out from under the bridge, screeching and squawking away at each other. Noisy things!
I walked over to my car and stretched but for a longer time than usual. I made a conscious effort to stretch out my groin, especially on my left side.
Stanley Park – Seawall
Although the groin pain went away as soon as I stopped running, I knew that I would have to take good care of this leading up to my BMO Vancouver Half Marathon race on May 5th.
As for the chaffing, I knew that I need to apply some antibiotic cream over the weekend and lots of Vaseline for next week’s runs.
At this point in my training, I am not going to worry too much about the possibility of a groin problem during my run.
I have decided to simply enjoy my last two weeks of training before the race and to make sure that I stretch out well before and after my training runs.
Stanley Park – Seawall
My four 15K+ long runs are now done and I have 5 scheduled training runs to go before race day.
Additionally, my stress levels are down and my concussion headaches and tinnitus symptoms are not being adversely impacted by my training runs, which is very encouraging!
Although I do have a few aches and pains, there are no major issues.
So at this time, I am pleased to report that all is well and I am very much looking forward to simply enjoying the next two weeks of easier training and then the race day itself.
Inuksuk at English bay
It’s been a long, hard but enjoyable 4 months of training and I am enjoying the experience and feeling the rehabilitation benefits. It’s satisfying!
My wife Marjory and our two young children are getting excited now too. I printed a copy of the route map for them last night, and I am going to mark down my arrival times at various viewing spots where my family will try to get to on the race day.
My 10 year-old son ran up to me with the route map in his hand this evening, asking me if he could come and watch me. Of course, I said.
He is SO excited!