Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Making the Most of a Runless Runcation

When Woody and I plan a vacation, running is typically an integral part of that process and things were no different when we were planning our trip to Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia - where we were last week. Without labeling them as such, we've been taking runcations for years. 

With Stanley Park - a large, gorgeous park in downtown Vancouver - less than two miles from our hotel and the seawall running path along the outer edge of the city, I expected we'd spend a good amount of our time in the city in running gear. 

That was before I was plagued by an overuse injury that I tried to ignore. My right leg has been bothering me since BolderBOULDER and have tried a knee brace, icing, rolling, and not running in hopes that it would improve in time for our trip. 

Sunday morning, our first morning in Vancouver, I laced up and headed out for a run with Woody thinking that if I was going to be able to do it, it would be best to try before we started walking a lot. 

I was wrong. Dead wrong.

A little over three miles into the run and not all that far into Stanley Park, I couldn't go a step farther. After nearly breaking down in tears along the outer path with runners, bikers, rollerbladers, and countless others passing us by, I sent Woody off to enjoy the loop and promised to meet him at a beach on the other side. Let's just say that Sunday morning was the low point of our trip. I was pretty devastated. 

My week was not pain free (don't worry mom, I have a doctor's appointment scheduled) and I probably should have spent more time off my feet, but there was no way I was going to sit in the hotel and let our week go by. I decided I had to make it work, because Vancouver and Whistler are pretty amazing.

Here are a few ways we made my runless runcation a success:

On Monday we rented bikes from Spokes Bicycle Rentals on Denman Street and spent three hours riding through Stanley Park - the trail around the edge along the edge with beautiful water and mountain views as well as several of the gravel bike paths that criss cross the park - and had a picnic with a view of Lions Gate Bridge. It turned out to be a pretty wonderful way to spend a few hours and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the city.
Taking it to the trails

The view from our lunch spot
The Westin Grand Vancouver has an excellent and fully equipped gym plus a heated saltwater pool and whirlpool (not pictured below) so once I realized running was out of the picture for me, while Woody went out for morning runs, I'd head to the gym for some time on the bike, strength training, and a nice session in the whirlpool which not only made my leg feel better but helped me relax and refocus on what's important. It might sound crazy, but that whirlpool definitely helped me enjoy the week. 
Photo Credit: The Westin Grand, Vancouver

Photo Credit: The Westin Grand, Vancouver




Then we headed out of town for Whistler and it wasn't until we got there that we learned we were a bit too early to hike Whistler or Blackcomb Mountains. While the trails were open for mountain bikers, they weren't yet ready for hikers (they typically open in late June apparently). However we did find a few good hikes in the valley and there were a lot of others that could have been explored if we had more time.

The first one we tried was pretty easy - more of a ramble than a hike - but a nice option just steps from the condo we rented in Whistler Village through Airbnb. Lost Lake Park has several trails to choose from of the easy to moderate variety and welcomes foot and bike traffic. Lost Lake is the big attraction here and there's a nice park and beach, along with several docks and rafts around the lake. It was a nice afternoon ramble for us after we had done the Peak 2 Peak Gondola ride in the morning.

The condo also had a whirlpool, which we definitely took advantage of. The first night our neighbor even provided the entertainment - she had friends over to enjoy her whirlpool with drinks and uncensored conversation!
By Lost Lake

On our way out of Whistler we drove north a few kilometers to check out the Ancient Cedars trail. Let's just say we were pretty thrilled and relieved when our little Ford Focus rental car made it down the dirt, pothole ridden road to the trailhead and back without any issues. This trail was just over 5k but took a good two hours as it's a rocky climb the entire way out, plus I wasn't moving as quickly as usual. There's a turnoff from the trail that goes out to Showh Lakes, which we probably would have taken if we had more time to explore but we wanted to get make a few stops along our way back to Vancouver. Still, this was a nice trail that required some good effort and took us through a beautiful lush forest to see the towering and impressive ancient cedars. 
The view from Cougar Mountain

Taking in the trees 
Woody in the trees







I wasn't able to run like I wanted to and my injury was literally a pain in the butt (and calf, and knee) but over the 9 days we were on vacation I managed an average of almost 23,000 steps a day (according to FitBit). We spent a lot of time just walking around the city exploring different neighborhoods, block by block. 

After my initial frustration as I broke down on the run, I had to quickly decide to adjust my expectations, focus on what I could do, and enjoy our trip because who knows when we'll have the opportunity to get back to Vancouver and Whistler again. It really was a fantastic trip that I'm not done telling you about yet - more to come in my next post! 

How you had to deal with injury on vacation? How did you adjust your plans? * What are your favorite fitness activities when traveling?

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