Autumn has always been my all-time favorite running season. I complain about winter and snow and cold, but in order to have autumn’s colors, crisp days and cooler temperatures, you have to have all four seasons. And it is so worth it. I’ve been (trying to) get up at 5:30 most mornings so I can squeeze in more miles while not being super-rushed for work, so I can enjoy my oatmeal with an episode of West Wing or something. It means more layers, but it also can mean stars on a clear morning. I’ve stopped more than one run, pausing my Garmin and shutting off my podcast or music to check out the view, headlamp clicked off for a moment. On occasion, at least pre-end-of-Daylight-Savings-Time, I saved my run until after work. Last week, the last couple days before DST ended, I’d run on Wednesday and Thursday morning, slept in on Friday and went for a run after work on a supremely gorgeous day. The trees are at peak color right now, and it’s a precious, lovely time that is very, very fleeting.
I headed up to Highland Park, under two miles away, and did both loops inside: the large loop on road and trail, and the inner, reservoir loop. There were dozens of runners, walkers and a few cyclists whipping around the big loop.The colors were magnificent: mostly bright yellows and a few blazing reds. It was Friday evening just before sundown, and I considered it my celebration of the coming of Shabbat.
Sunday, NB and I forced ourselves out of bed and ran to Schenley Park, doing a loop inside and then running back. We knew the distance would be odd (it was about 8.6 miles) and I hadn’t run Schenley in a WHILE, and honestly should have brought a gel since the hills are intense, but it was so gorgeous, climbing up through the forest and then winding back down past the golf course.
This week NB and I traveled to Vancouver. He’s giving a talk at a conference here (for which he is mega-nervous. These are mostly industry/corporate types and he’s a second-year Ph.D. student. But he’s going to do AWESOME and I am so, so proud. Plus either way these are all Huge Nerds here, so he fits right in), and I’m tagging along as a mini-vacation. We got up at 4:30 yesterday and got here at 1 p.m. local, staying up until what was 1 a.m. for us to try to get on local time. I think it worked: when we woke up at 7 local, it felt like morning, and the first thing we did was go for a run. [ed. Disregard the elevation chart. At one point our Garmins were flipping out about our pace, I think because of the mountains, so my elevation got totally messed up. It was pretty flat]
Thanks to this conference, we’re staying at the SUPER swank Westin, and they even have little mini-maps of a couple tracks on nearby Stanley Park, designed by what else?–Runner’s World. It dawned in the high-40s, so we layered up, leaving our iPods in the room and bringing our Garmins (just to track distance) and a camera. Fortunately the fuel belt I got for free from the PGH Marathon station at the Great Race expo fit the camera perfectly, and we took some great shots. We did 6.75 miles at an easy-ish pace, all the way around Stanley Park on the seawall course. It was really stunning. You start along a harbor, and in the background the entire way are huge mountains with clouds cresting over them like waves.
The wildlife was awesome: we saw so many birds. There were of course tons of seagulls and Canada Geese (including one of each that appeared to have an injured foot, and the seagull actually was missing a foot, limping along on the leg. We called him Peg-Leg Steve. Or I did. I felt bad for him, but he was fat so I think he’s doing well for himself). There were plenty of ducks, including some species I wasn’t familiar with (though we snapped a photo of a sign that had some pictures and names of these species, which I will post when I upload those photos), and some kind of species of crane on this random, very tall, rocky little island thing, just about 10 feet from the path, which edged the water.
Every time the path curved, we were greeted by another stunning view: an enormous bridge; a white-capped mountain, cargo ships on the English Bay. We of course saw tons of runners and several cyclists. We plan on renting bikes – weather permitting – on Saturday and going as far along the Seawall path as we can manage.
In the meantime, I want to run here as much as possible. We haven’t done any trails inside the park, but looking in fromt he outside it looked gorgeous. I’m kicking myself for not bringing my Brooks Cascadias (I brought only two pairs of shoes: black pumps for dress-up evenings and my Brooks Ghosts, which I’m wearing for everything else). We’d originally planned on packing only one suitcase but I changed my mind at like 4:45 am yesterday, and didn’t think: well, now I have more room for shoes! Oh well. Hindsight is twenty-twenty.
We’re inside a lot of today for conference stuff, and his presentation is this evening at 5 pm local, but then we’re free to do whatever: attend sessions NB is interested in, and just relax and enjoy ourselves. This city is absolutely gorgeous, and we can’t way to explore it even more.