Saturday, September 11, 2010

McCoolis.



Though I am sure my proud Torontarian disposition is convincing, I will now admit that I am in fact a purebred – and starkly opposite - west coast Coolis, born and raised in beautiful Vancouver, BC. I do not go back to Vancouver 1/365th as much as I would like to, so I am happy to report that I spent the last two weeks visiting (and running in) my hometown. BLISS.

Perhaps not surprisingly, my first week back in Vancouver was an 85.5 mile week. I spent my mornings (and several evenings) running along Jericho beach, through the University of British Columbia’s endowment lands, along the stunning seawall through False Creek and around Stanley Park. I was out the door almost every morning before 7AM, allowing me to indulge in beautiful, pristine sun rises framed by still water and majestic mountain chains. Considering the high proportion of obsessive exercisers in Vancouver, I was shocked to see that I was one of few runners who took to the beaches and trails in the early morning. This only increased my morning run bliss, however, as I escaped the usual belt-line bustle of Toronto and enjoyed my newfound peace and quiet along the shorelines. That being said, my evening runs were a different story, with joggers littering every main road and sidestreet from 5PM onwards, clearly indicating that Vancouverites are the after-work type of runner. Nevertheless, I enjoyed all of my runs in this beautiful city and left vowing to come back and run the Vancouver marathon in the next three years.

I did a few workouts at a tempo effort, one 6x5min w/1min rest, another random fartlek in which I basically ended the intervals whenever I pleased (I very much enjoyed doing this and I think it ended up being something like 2min/5min/3min/4min/2min/5min/3min/2min/1min)and a 45min long tempo from Jericho all the way up to South West Marine Drive and down to McDonald that ended up in a 13-14 mile total effort for the day. My second week was less agressive than the first, only because I had two days off: I maintained high volume runs and covered 62.5 miles in 5 days. On the Friday of that week, I ran a stunning 12 mile loop, starting from Jericho beach, connecting to Kits beach and Granville Island, around False Creek, over the Cambie Street bridge and back along the Seawall to Stanley Park. At some arbitrary point I turned around and went back over the Burrard Street bridge into Kitsilano and back home. I felt like I was floating along the pavement with virtually no effort and almost gasped in awe when I saw the sun rise behind the sparling ocean as I was running toward the bridge from False Creek. The view was absolutely breathtaking. I ended my run at Cuppa Joe’s for (you guessed it) an extra large cuppa, where I was greeted by a cheerful employee who immediately exclaimed what an especially beautiful day it was. I couldn’t resist telling them how right they were, since it also happened to be my wedding day.

As if my special day could not have begun in a more dream-like fashion, it continued on with a free coffee, two free cinnamon buns and a hot, soapy bath on my return home. I thought wedding days were supposed to be stressful and anxiety-ridden? Apparently not – and I began to think that this would be a nice way for the day to continue to unfold. I will not go into the details of the rest of the day and evening, but suffice to say that it maintained the same blissful tone, and that it was the most beautiful, joyous and memorable day of my life.

My husband and I (huh?) spent the weekend at a swanky hotel downtown and enjoyed the action on Robson street for the following two days. As perhaps a testament to the amount of fun I had at the wedding, I was a *little* sick on Saturday, hence came the second of my two days off running that week (unless you count the number of times I sprinted to the washroom as some kind of interval training?). In the late afternoon we wandered down Robson and found a funky store where you can make custom-made t-shirts: and thus the infamous MCCOOLIS t-shirt was born. Seeing as I decided not to change my name to McCabe, Jeff and I found this to be a suitable compromise in McCoolis, and in my hungover daze I was utterly convinced that getting a t-shirt to announce this fact was the BEST idea I had ever come up with. Twenty minutes later we walked out with McCoolis printed on my chest in hot pink block letters and a massive smile plastered on my face.

The next day I felt fifty times better and went for a 14 mile run around Stanley park, to Science World and back. It was one of the best runs I have ever had! I am unsure of whether the two runs surrounding the wedding were made better by my sheer endorphin rush or if in fact I am actually getting fit! I would like to believe that it is the latter...or I might have to arrange vow renewals around my races each month...

After my 14 mile gallavant around Vancouver, Jeff and I drove up to Cypress for a 2-hour hike. We debated going up to Grouse Mountain to do the Grouse Grind, but figured it would be ridiculously packed on the long weekend and were more in the mood for a secluded trek through the woods. After hearing that Jeff’s sisters had gone up for the day and had to stop for a couple of ‘sick breaks,’ I was somewhat relieved we decided against joining them! Cypress was a beautiful hike that at one point got surprisingly challenging, until we realized that we had gone off course and were actually hiking straight up the mountain side. Apart from this diversion, it was relatively easy and a nice, relaxing way to conclude our whirlwind trip to Vancouver.

A hike through Cypress!


Sneaking a peak at the view


Although it is nice to be back in Toronto, it feels strange that the wedding craze is all over and we are abruptly hit with the reality of work and school. However, I am looking forward to getting back into a routine and working out with the group again. My next focus is the Toronto Half-Marathon on October 17th, where I hope to run a PB (I won’t beat around the bush on that one). Other than that and the possibility of a few cross-country races, my main goals are to build a good base and get fit this fall, with the probability of another spring marathon buildup beginning in late December.

The best running shoes I have ever owned: Pink sequens?


Runaway bride [bachelorette party]

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