Running Toronto’s Waterfront

My wife Lis says that my ideas fall into two DSC00288broad categories: (i) brilliant or (ii) brainless, with few in between. I was up in Toronto for the weekend to visit my parents and needed to do a long run. Rather than do my normal out and back I decided to do a long run down to and along Toronto’s waterfront and then grab a taxi back home.  The run turned out to be one of the rarities: both brilliant and brainless … Kind of like my decision to run the Athens marathon in two weeks with only four weeks of training.

It was 3 degrees when I left at 09:15, with the prospect of a beautiful sunny day. I ran down to Edwards gardens where there was a bike path. It was lovely and fresh, with the autumn colours in all their glory. I passed several photographers taking photos of the trees in the early morning light. They must have been good.

The path followed the Don River south towards Lake Ontario. I reflected that I had been biking and running on this path since around 1970—and not a lot has changed. The biggest exception is the demolition of the old Domtar Paper factory near Pottery Road. The area has regenerated really well – last year Lis and I saw a muskrat or beaver in the Don River which was amazing! It is hard to believe when you are running along the river that you are in the middle of a city of some 2.5 million (or 5.5 million if you consider the Greater Toronto Area).

The map below shows the route I ran.


The path ended near Cherry Street so I crossed Lakeshore Blvd. and ran west along the waterfront. I was pleased to find around Mile 10 a supermarket so I popped in and grabbed a Gatorade. I never drink Gatorade – with good reason. It was vile, but I needed fluids. From there I headed west along the waterfront, enjoying visiting all the different quays and looking at the shops and ships.

I was surprised to see the “Matthew Flinder” docked, all the way from Australia. There was also the “Mariposa Belle” which was where the McMaster University engineers had their party cruise during my third year of university.  I managed to hit my head during the cruise but due to the effects of alcohol didn’t realize it. Several stitches were required to close the wound and St. Michael’s Emergency would not operate until the effects of my cruise had worn off. Bother. They could have saved on anaesthetic. When I lose more of my hair Lis is in for a not very pretty sight.

The waterfront has really developed in the last few years, with condos and fancy restaurants all over the place. It would be a great place to live – except in winter. Already the wind off the lake was bitingly cold, and come February it would be brutal.

There were a lot of runners out and the route I was on turned out to be the same one that the Toronto Marathon is using tomorrow. I had toyed with the idea of doing my long run by just joining the marathon but their web site said NO NUMBER – NO RUNNING. Although it is hard – and seldom – enforced, I decided to respect their position.

By mile 17 I was getting tired. I had decided to run 20 miles to make sure that I would survive the Athens Marathon. This is part of a very unscientific training program: how to do a marathon in four weeks.  I did a 10 mile run two weeks ago, a 16 mile run a week ago, and 20 miles today. I’ll now taper with a 10 mile run next week and race the following week.  I don’t have as much residual fitness from Ironman Louisville at the end of August as I would like, and my legs are not that used to the pounding as they need to be. Although I managed to do the run in 3 hours (8:53 pace) I think I will do well to score a 4:15 in Athens where there are lot more hills.

I continued west along the waterfront. They have built many nice condos and with the bike path it would be my choice for a place to live. Eventually I reached Etobicoke which had older buildings and is definitely more downmarket: I could smell curry on the street and there was a ‘tiredness’ to a lot of the buildings which contrasted with the flash condos a relatively short distance away.

I began to get worried about catching a taxi home as there simply were none. I was going along Lakeshore Blvd. which is a main street and did not see a single taxi. I turned around at mile 19 to run back a bit in the hope of finding one but no luck. At mile 20 I stopped running and walked back towards downtown but still no taxis. I was cooling down since it was only 8 degrees, and in many places the sun was blocked by the condos making it feel even colder.

After about 1.5 miles of walking I saw a restaurant sign. I popped in and asked if they would be so kind as to call me a taxi which they did. It was great to warm up but I was unable to get any food since my money had fallen out at some point in the run! What a hassle. So when the taxi came and drove me home I offered my cell phone as surety while I popped inside and borrowed some money from my father to pay the cab. Some things never change – kids always hit their parents up for money.

So I arrived home cold and stiff, and ravenously hungry. I warned my father not to get his hands near me as they may get consumed in the eating frenzy.  My plan was brilliant but the execution was lacking due to the assumption that I could run as long as I wanted and grab a taxi. Still, it was worth doing as I really enjoyed seeing the waterfront. And it showed me that I can do Athens in two weeks—even though it will not be pretty.


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