Vancouver, B.C. is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited; even more so, run a marathon. Lindsey and one of my best friends’ brothers, Ryan Hise joined me on the trip. We all flew separately, landed at different times and I was the only one to have the pleasure of flying through Salt Lake City. I cannot think of another time that I enjoyed such spectacular vies from a plane. Instead of bore you with a play-by-play analysis of the trip, I thought I could share some of the more memorable moments. I will try to keep it under a thousand words.
Ryan and I watched the Stanley Cup Playoff match-up between the Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose Sharks. The bar, Cactus Club Cafe, had a similar atmosphere to an NFL game in the States or an EPL game in England. We really got into the game; found our emotions rising and falling with the home team Canucks. Though they made it an exciting match, the Sharks scored in the last minute of the game to force overtime, where they eventually won. I asked the waitress for some recommendations for places with great poutine.
I started, “So we’re obviously not from around here, given the fact that we aren’t decked out in our Canuck jerseys – ”
“and the you are tan.” she concurred in a well duh!! sort of way.
We laughed and then discussed poutine. Lindsey would join us later that night, a pale Canadian herself, doubly appreciated the retelling of this story. Basically, poutine can be found there in many shapes and sizes and with as many different toppings as we may throw on the conventional hot dog or bowl of ice cream.
Saturday, we began our day with another Canadian staple, Tim Horton’s or Timmy Ho’s as the locals say. We then walked around (in and out of shops) the Gastown district of town, had a pretty damn good Porchetta sandwich at Meat & Bread, and stopped by one the many beaches (but this one, hidden on the east side, was filled with more locals). Back at our well-located hotel the Pan Pacific, while my travel companions rested, I took in some breathtaking views from the hotel pool deck. That night, we enjoyed dinner at one of the Guu restaurants: Salmon sashimi, grilled Cod and the Guu Udon bowl topped the list. I would have been able to enjoy it more had I not had the marathon the following morning.
O, Canada! replaced my typical (far too often taken for granted) Star Spangled Banner and 42.2 KM is the distance of a marathon in Canada. While the 26.2 mile markers were also present, the km markers seemed move the race along. It was warm, which seemed weird to complain about since I am from Texas, but when I say warm I mean too warm to run for more than three hours. The first 10k of the race featured some heavy up and downs which I would later learn hurt me and destroyed many others. I ran up to Lindsey around mile 7 with my shirt saying “It’s too warm… it’s too warm” she thought I was dropping out but the rest of plea was “too warm to PR, so give me a kiss.” Within the next mile or two we entered the Pacific Spirit Park with its towering trees; providing ample shade and cooler temps, only fitting now that I have no shirt. Winding our way through this park we were blessed with an occasional peak of the water backdropped by snowcapped mountains. Then the final 16 miles took us close enough to the water to make for sensory, or at least visually so, overload. We wrapped around the University of British Columbia, past numerous beaches and onto the highly-acclaimed Stanley Park Seawall. We finished downtown. My take on the race in a single phrase: Too warm to PR but so beautiful that it did not matter. I ran a 3:23:29, my second best time.
I spent the afternoon celebrating here and there, Lindsey and I enjoyed some oysters and cocktails at Joe Forte’s, including their signature Joe’s Gold (from Reed Island). We found our poutine and pate at Boneta and a very good Pinot Noir: Joseph Cromy, Tasmania. Ryan left Monday morning but not before our obligatory hockey photo. Lindsey and I took a run around the bay out to the seawall; it was our first actual run together – couldn’t think of a better venue. Our late breakfast at Medina was Lindsey’s favorite of the trip. We both ordered waffles, hers topped with chocolate and mine salted caramel (and some of her chocolate). She ordered the special Salmon dish, while I had the Fricasse (Short Rib and Egg skillet). Finally, I ordered a side of bacon which was so good it was almost pork belly; it almost makes me rethink bacon altogether. We then took a ferry to North Vancouver to explore Lynn Canyon Park. A friend of mine from college gave us a ride to the park and took some pictures of us while we were on the suspension bridge.
Lindsey and I hiked around some old stumps, walked in the glacial water, took in some views of some falls and way too many steps for someone who ran a marathon the day before.
Rodney’s Oyster House, where we tried an assortment of oysters (Royal Miagi was our favorite), enjoyed the Red Rooster Pinot Blanc from B.C. and shared a very well prepared potato encrusted Halibut. We finished off the night and our trip with a cocktail at the Granville Room. For Lindsey a fitting Final Word and I had an Alberta whisky Dark Horse. We took a cab back to the hotel, which gracefully completed our public transportation dance card.
Vancouver was a place I had visited many years ago before embarking on a cruise with family. Then I knew it was a place I would like to revisit; after experiencing it again, I still long for more.