What’s been keeping me busy: training my cousin for his first full marathon (+ Runtastic)

In a few short weeks, my whole life will change.

Okay, I exaggerate but I’m really comfortable in the current swing of things. I’m “training” my cousin for his first marathon (where I’m registered for the half-marathon) which takes place on September 21 in Carnation, WA. We get together to run outdoors once a week and increase our endurance with mind-blowing distances that exceed what I need to do for my own race. I cannot deny having fun putting together routes and introducing him to all corners of Vancouver. (He moved to Vancouver from Toronto three years ago.)

After seeing my friend Lionel posting his cycling outings to Facebook from Runtastic, I’m converted to using that app to track my runs. So this post is a “picture post” of some of our most impressive routes and outings and my commentary.

July 17 – 21.11km Home to Stanley Park

In our of our earliest runs, I took my cousin down the new-ish Carrall Street bikeway and he introduced me to Crab Park where the hipsters hang out and we ran through the “belly” of the Vancouver Convention Centre West. My cousin groaned to hear we were going all around Stanley Park because it just keeps going and going and you want to see the next landmark around the next turn but you don’t. It has to be done, just once. It was the first time he went beyond the half-marathon distance, and just barely.

July 24 – 11.66km Kits-Yaletown Seawall run

We are also so tired of the Seawall! Unless we turn to the city streets, it’s just right there next to our apartments in Olympic Village to hop on and get started. We did some running on sand (it’s so difficult!) when I missed a turn off before Kits and I introduced him to enviable Point Grey Road and we ran by Lululemon’s Chip Wilson’s house.

August 8 – 23.73km UBC run

From our homes in Olympic Village, we ran by all of the beaches – Kits, Jericho, Locarno and Spanish Banks. We were running by just as the KitsFest was wrapping up and there were streams of white balloons still waving in the wind strung off volleyball net posts giving a dreamy quality to the area. I think he had biked up the UBC hill before so running up it was new and we didn’t make it to the top (because I forgot where it leveled off and we breaked too early). We head back mostly on 8th Avenue where I could show him my favourite vistas of the city.

August 23 – 29.72km Three Bridges Run

I kept my cousin guessing during this run as we head east on Adanac. “Where are we going? Burnaby? Coquitlam? New West? Surrey? … South Surrey?” No…! North Vancouver! We ran across east Vancouver and across Second Narrows Bridge to North Vancouver. We thought we’d hug the shore but came across private land and started to cut across train tracks and climb between stationary train cars! Then we decided to stick to main roads but there wasn’t always a sidewalk and at one point my cousin ran into a thorny hedge and pushed it out of the way only to have it hit me! More injuries to my left arm to add to those accumulated the week before! We finally made it to Lions Gate Bridge and cut straight through Stanley Park – no more Seawall for us! The third bridge we crossed was Cambie Street Bridge to get home.

Elevation maps are so fun. It was hilly in east Vancouver and the second and third hills correspond to Second Narrows and Lions Gate Bridges.

August 29 – 13.15km Mini Bootcamp run

I introduced my cousin to Angus Drive which was introduced to me by the Broadway/Fir Running Room that I trained with so long ago – it’s a beautiful north-south running westside street that takes us from Broadway south to our hills. I showed my cousin the Trifecta of Hills we would do repeats on: King Ed at Arbutus, Nasty Nanton, and 29th Avenue. He tackles hills with far more relish than I do.

September 1 – 23.25km Vancouver to Richmond run

It has been so great to be challenged to create different (non-Seawall routes) so I was truly excited once I mapped out this run to Richmond. I pulled up the Vancouver and Richmond cycling maps and cobbled this one together. We ran down Ontario to 37th and turned west and climbed that massive hill at QE Park to Heather. From Heather down to Marine, it was downhill and I could point out SIL’s condo under development as we were running through a really stinky area. (Hopefully that landfill moves soon!)

The last time I did a Vancouver-Richmond run was back in 2008 (maybe) and we ran over Oak Street Bridge. I was excited to take my cousin over the Canada Line Bridge where runners and cyclists are on a dedicated level below the train tracks. In Richmond, we turned west onto River Road which connected to No. 3 at some points but we found our way to the Dyke Trail and passed UBC Boathouse and the impressively large Richmond Oval (site of the 2010 Olympic speed skating events). As we head towards the northwestern-most point in Richmond, he asked me if we were going to Steveston – in fact, everyone asked me that afterwards! No, just to the northwestern-most point in Richmond – which had a good payoff arriving at Terra Nova Park and running along marshland and through an intriguing community garden. We turned east again at Westminster Way and “admired” the houses that we could tell from outward appearances belong to (Mainland) Chinese people. Our end point was the Canada Line Brighouse Station and we could raid Kam Do for bakery items before heading back to Vancouver via rapid transit.

The elevation map is hilarious for this one with a steep and fast climb to QE Park then downhill to the bridge and Richmond is flat as a pancake.

Next up? He keeps asking about some lake (Trout? Deer?) so I think it will be Burnaby-New West.

It’s so Vancouver of me to want to show all the  “natural beauty” of Vancouver I can show my cousin (via running which I seem to be passionate about) and give him an intimate look and crash course in Vancouver. Too bad it can’t be the driving factor to keep in Vancouver. So I just try to enjoy these great opportunities to hang out with my cousin, create memories and take advantage of living in the same neighbourhood.

On this day..