Stay off the trails, but Stanley Park is open

It’s been a while since I’ve addressed the actual condition of Stanley Park, and a recent commenter on my last post regarding this issue has prompted me to make another report on what I’ve been seeing.

IMG_0042 Rebecca and I have made some small treks into the park, aside from the video podcast we did a few weeks ago. At that point, and in those locations, we knew that we were not supposed to be in that area. Besides having to climb over the trees laying everywhere, it’s the trees that are leaning in the loose soil that you really have to be mindful of. Luckily, there wasn’t any wind on that day. If there was, I wouldn’t have even thought about heading near the trees, and that’s a mindset I have while running through the area as well.

Does it look like a war zone? Absolutely. There is not a better way to describe it. And when they talk about “restoring Stanley Park” in the news, that’s what is called journalistic and/or political rhetoric. There is no such thing as a short term solution. The clean up will take time. The recovery of all the trees that have been destroyed or damaged will take a few lifetimes.

IMG_0040 Today, I made a running route that followed the Seawall out of Coal Harbour with the intention of seeing how far I could go on that side of the park. As I assumed, the path is still restricted at the 4.5 km mark, just prior to the point where the Seawall goes under Lions Gate Bridge. From there, I was able to cut across Park Drive and head up Pipeline Road. There’s various piles of debris and fallen tree parts along the road, but the sidewalk is reasonably accessible.

Now these are the areas of the park that are “officially” open. I say that because just after crossing the wooden bridge on Pipeline Road, which would have taken me past the Rose Garden and out of the park, I turned right to follow a trail that would take me to Beaver Lake. When we explored this area over the weekend, I knew that I could take the South Creek trail on the other side of the lake to make my path towards home.

Where the trails of Beaver Lake and South Creek meet, there was a green and white parks’ truck, a black Honda CR-V, and a huge backhoe, all blocking access to the trail I wanted to take. About six people were just standing around, apparently having some sort of conversation, essentially not doing anything.

IMG_0039 I approached and politely asked if there was no way to get through. One guy looked at me like I was speaking in tongues, didn’t even give me a response. Then a lady turned around and said, “Actually, sir, all of the trails are closed. You are to use your discretion for your own safety if you plan on being on any of the trails.”

Great. I’m one of those people now. I thanked them for the information and continued all the way around Beaver Lake without any problem, then took the Tisdall Walk to cut back out to Pipeline Road, and followed the road all the way out of the park.

Oddly enough, I recall the news reporting a matter of weeks ago that Stanley Park was open again. This mainly applies to the majority of the tourist spots that are accessible by vehicle, but all of the trails are excluded from this. However, I wasn’t the only person roaming or running around the trails this morning.

For those curious, it’s not known as to the time line for the trails to open up, and the Seawall is just as questionable. That’s not to say that you can’t bike or inline on the portions of the Seawall that are open. You just can’t go all the way around. The other side of the park only goes as far as Siwash Rock, and let’s hope that changes by this summer. The trails are going to take a little more time due to tree removal and repair from root systems pulling up the gravel as trees toppled.

Every time we venture in there, I’m still amazed by what I see. Some trees just fell right over. Others look like a tank shell went right through the middle of it. Yes, it is as bad as they say it is. You just don’t get the impact of it until you see it for yourself.

Uggs for dogs

I should have seen it coming, and it was the sound that caught me before the sight. On my run this morning, it was below freezing once again. I understand the care people give their dogs. I’m not completely against the little boots that some owners throw onto the paws of their four legged friends.

It was that swishing sound that you often hear when kids where those gum or moon boots, and then they don’t pick up their feet enough as they walk. There was more of it though, and I only saw this one person walking their dog. That’s when I noticed the ugg boots[wiki] on the medium sized canine, fuzzy lining and all. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but there is truth in seeing is believing.

The status of being sterile

IMG_7652 I made my way into Yaletown[wiki] on my running route today, and this was my first extension into the neighborhood in all the time that I have lived in Vancouver. I’ve been down in the area numerous times during this period, but any runner call tell you that you tend to notice different things when you are pounding the pavement.

It could have been the fact that I approached the area from a different angle, but as soon as I passed underneath Granville Bridge, everything changed. This wasn’t a very good change either. In fact, it didn’t even feel like a neighborhood at that point. Luxury cars, people walking around in suits, and overly sculpted landscaping. I couldn’t help that this area looks pretty on the outside, but when you get up close, not so much.

There’s nothing friendly about the area when you are running through there, at least to my senses. Just tall buildings that decry a social status that few will ever be able to obtain. I had a brief thought that people were looking down at me from their windows above in disgust of the mis-matching running gear I was wearing, not to mention the off-brand workout pants I bought from Target some years ago. Sacrilege.

There are condos in those buildings that insanely priced for the amount of square feet that you can become the owner of, and the amount of people who can own them become less and less everyday. I’ve never had the extreme urge to become one of them, and that hasn’t changed much today.

Stanley Park storm damage – day 12

IMG_9670 Being that the park is one of my favorite places to tread through, I thought I would give a periodical report on the things that I am noticing as the clean up grinds along from the storm that damaged thousands of trees in Stanley Park on December 15, 2006.

One thing that bothers me to no end is the fact that I cannot run on the trails through the park right now. The furthest I have been able to get into the park, aside from our picture taking expedition[flickr], is the trail that goes around Lost Lagoon. That’s not to say that there isn’t a fair amount of damage to that area alone.

Talking to some friends who live on the north shore last night, the damage is not just inside Stanley Park. I’m not sure many people understand how badly the area was hit because they seemed to be surprised at what we were telling them. Our pal Preston did hit the nail on the head when we were trying to describe it to him. Indeed, it does look like the Iron Giant[imdb] took a nice stroll through the park.

The other day, I came across the point where the Tatlow comes out at Lost Lagoon. Of course, there are barricades preventing you from taking the trail into the heart of the park. I have to question why. Directly on the other side of the orange and white gate, there is a mess of trees lying crisscrossed over the trail. You couldn’t get too far if you tried.

The whole route around the lagoon took a hit as well. There are numerous points where a fallen tree has been sliced through the middle at the width of the pathway it blocked off. Sawdust is all over the ground in some areas, but the trail is easily accessible without having to crawl over or duck under anything. The forest of the entire park is noticeably not as dense as it was when you peer into the now forbidden zone. There are a bunch of branches and trunks resting at various angles as well.

I’ll do my best to relay other things that I notice as things progress. It’s taking some time for the clean up to really take shape, but the park is massive in scale. Access by vehicle is one thing, but without the trails being open, what’s the point? I think that’s going to take the most time to recover from.

Think before you run

I ventured out on a route this morning that, in hindsight, I should have thought out a little bit more. The massive amounts of wind that played with the trees outside of the apartment yesterday had me concerned about the roots holding. Windows rattled and the whole place rumbled. These are the types of weather systems that start here and end up dumping loads of winter goodness in the lands of the Midwest where I used to call home.

IMG_9296 The seawall was pretty clear, but there were bits of trees laying on the ground that I took care to step around and over. When I got to the part where I anticipated heading into the park, I only got about a hundred meters when I ran into the first tree on the path. Took some careful steps, but I got around it alright. A little further, I came to a Y-intersection. One way took me to Beaver Lake, and there was no way I could get around or through.

The tree covered access to both of these trails, but a slight amount of space let me crawl under it to the other trail option, just enough so that I was drenched by the water trapped in the pine needles. On the other side, I found another tree laying in the path. Luckily, this wasn’t of the same variety, so some careful dancing and ducking got me through to the other side. I got to the top of the path and took the road back out to the seawall.

The weatherman said a couple more systems are to come yet this week. Lots of rain, lots of wind. I’ll keep that in mind before I try running through the park anytime soon. Made for a longer route than I wanted today.

The iPod is making running pretty neat

This is the kinda of stuff that I dig. Make the joy of running even more geeky and you can count me as happy. As if the Nike+iPod wasn’t good enough, Amp+ puts the controls on your wrist with real time feedback about your route. That’s slick.

Nike is adding a new product to the Nike+ iPod line, according to Men’s Health. The Amp+ is a Bluetooth remote bracelet that not only lets users control playback without touching their iPod, it displays relevant information from a player (such as running statistics) in real-time. The data is projected through an LED readout tucked under the black matte surface of the bracelet. The Amp+ should be released sometime in 2007 for the price of $80. [electronista]

Exercise helps decrease your risk of getting colds

I knew the miles upon kilometers of pavement and trails weren’t all for nothing. Now that science says it’s true, then you have to believe it.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A long-term moderate exercise program can reduce the risk of colds among older women, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

In the first randomized clinical trial to investigate the impact of moderate physical activity on the common cold, researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that post-menopausal women who worked out regularly had about half the risk of colds as those who did not exercise. […]

The researchers found that the ability of moderate exercise to ward off colds seemed to increase over time. In the last three months of the study, the group of women who were only stretching were three times as likely to catch a cold as those who were exercising regularly. […]

“With regards to preventing colds, it seems you really have to stick with exercise long term,” Ulrich said.

The results were seen as important in understanding the health benefits of exercise, Ulrich said.

“It may apply also to other age groups, it may apply to men,” she said. “In the past, immune studies have been quite consistent among men and women. I wouldn’t expect that to be different.” [reuters]

In the seven years that I’ve been running and working out, I find this to be pretty true. College is a petri dish of illnesses, and it seemed like it would be a yearly event that I would go through the various, air born whatever-it-was that was going around. My days prior to that were constant illnesses, some of them linked to a condition that I have called Gilbert’s syndrome[wiki]. It seemed that the “thing that’s going around” would always hit me about a week before it reached the masses.

Working out helps all of these things, not to mention the lack of colds. If and when I have colds now, it’s either very subtle or horribly painful. When something is able to break through your immune system and get you, chances are, you’re going to go down pretty hard. I probably make more effort to get sleep now compared to my high school and college days. That always helps.

Knock on wood, but it’s been nearly a year since I had a run in with a case of strep throat, the flu, and a sinus infection. Oddly enough, that was all a short time after I moved to Vancouver. I chalk that all up to being exposed to new surroundings and getting my initiation to the lower mainland. What a way to welcome me to my new home.

WILT: PodRunner

If you like podcasts and are someone who enjoys a nice, sweaty workout like myself, then you should subscribe to this. PodRunner is a weekly podcast that is music for your workouts. DJ steveboy sends this out for those who are into running, spinning, or however you workout, and the mixes are all of his own creation.

Here’s the description that pops up on his RSS feed in iTunes.

Like to run or workout to fast, energetic music? Check out PODRUNNER: nonstop, steady-bpm, one-hour mixes from L.A.’s own dj steveboy. A new mix every week to help you groove while you move, whenever, wherever, and however you work out. iTunes reviews are appreciated, and suggestions and comments are always welcome at

If you’d like to be notified whenever new mixes are online, visit the “Mixes” page at

I’ve done a few running routes while listening to his stuff, and they are a really great change from the mix of music and podcasts that I usually stick on my iPod mini when I venture out. 170 BPM(beats per minute) is a little fast to set a constant pace to, and I found myself keeping up with the beat more than a few times this morning. That can get tiring if you’re not careful.

Still, this makes your environment pass by with a slightly different perspective, and I do get into the electronic side of music. I don’t know much about who is who, but I dig it. This is great to set your breathing rate to and get a nice pace on your route. You can also use it to tell how long you’ve been running if you press play at the very start of your run and measure by how much time has elapsed in the podcast.

Every episode that is released usually has a name and a short intro of him talking about the mix at the beginning. In addition, every podcast has the BPM in the title. My next trial will be something in the 135 BPM range.

Compression is not in the NPR dictionary

Dear National Public Radio,

I really enjoy listening to your podcasts. Being someone who used to work in the network, I understand the content that you guys offer with your podcasts. The new is incredibly informative and a great addition to my playlists when I go running. The five minute updates clue me into news happening around the world that I’ll usually look into future among my many RSS feeds.

I also like the other content that you guys offer. The Whad’Ya Know stuff is great. I’ve been listening to Mr. Feldman for as long as I can remember. Although it’s just a small portion of the weekly program, his satire is quite humourus.

What I was to know is… why do I always have to crank up the volume when I listen to your podcasts? It’s annoying. I get that there is a certain “style” to the way NPR does things. I have also run into a number of arguments in the broadcast engineering world to know about the dislike for compression among public radio enthusiasts. To each their own, but this is podcasting we’re talking about.

When I’m in the shower, CNN podcasts are perfect. Once your news update hits, I get nothing but some mumbling. And if I decide to switch my playlist up when I go running, my ear drums get blasted when music follows said news update because I have to turn up your stuff just to understand the content. Listening to Feldman on the podcast produces some of the same mumbling followed by laughter from the audience. I completely miss what was funny and shouldn’t have to rewind to catch it.

And for the love of god, shorten up the intro and outros. That beginning music is one thing, but you can be way more brief in telling me thanks for downloading your five minute news summary. Perhaps it’s the ads that drive me even more nuts. The non-commercial rule of thumb doesn’t apply so much to podcasts, and I doubt the FCC is going to or can regulate that.

Just give me the news, and let me be able to hear it without having to crank the volume all the way up.

Sponsor us in the Run for the Cure 2006

CIBC Run for the CureOn Sunday, October 1st, I’ll be participating in the CIBC Run for the Cure 2006 in Vancouver. The run is held in various communities across Canada helps to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research. It will be a heck of a way to finish out my first year in Vancouver, the next day being my one year anniversary since moving here.

Technically, you are unable sponsor me directly if you would like to make a donation online. With there being two of us, it makes more sense to donate to one of us rather than deciding which person you like more, me or Rebecca. I also have a sneaking thought that she’d win in that debate.

What we have decided to do for the event is have all donations go to her, as she needs to raise at least $150. Of course, we would love to raise more than that.

To make a donation, go to the “Support a Participant” area of the CIBC Run for the Cure website, put “Rebecca Bollwitt” into the corresponding fields, our location is “Vancouver”, and follow the rest of the instructions to donate online. Credit cards seem to be the only way you can make your contributions via the web, and you also get a tax receipt for doing so.

The last 5k run that I did, I finished around 22 minutes. I’m not sure that I can do this one as well as the last, but if there were a challenge made in terms of a donation, you’re welcome to entertain the possibility. I’ll step up the training these next couple of weeks in anticipation.