Run 455: A difference of degrees (16 of them, to be precise)

Run 455
Average pace: 5:28/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Distance: 10:03 km
Time: 54:57
Weather: Overcast
Temp: 17-18ºC
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 165
Stride: n/a
Weight: 158.9 pounds
Total distance to date: 3640 km
Devices/apps: Apple Watch and iPhone 6

Today was my first post-vacation 10K, coming nine days after the last one, when it was 30ºC. It was also my first run since this Thursday when it was even hotter at 33ºC. The weather has changed and I’m reasonably confident the last hot days of summer are over. With the sky overcast and the temperature a mere 17ºC (which is, in fact, almost ideal for summer running and is perfectly fine even if you’re strolling out and aboot), I set out this morning to find out just how much of a difference 16ºC could make.

As it turns out, a lot!

My pace last Friday was a molasses-like 6:01/km, one of the few times I’ve slipped past the six minute mark. I was not impressed. I was sad. I felt old. And slow. And sweaty. I remember struggling to pull my shirt off I was so sweaty, like the start of some porn scene gone horribly wrong.

Today I decided to start exactly at the 0 km marker and run the exact, official Burnaby Lake Loop, to see how well the markers matched the GPS. When I strode past the 10 km marker the watch showed me at 9.88 km–pretty close, really.

And when I passed that 10 km marker I was not bathed in sweat. I actually only sweated a little, mostly in my favorite spot, which is around the sides of my temple. Why these spots generate so much sweat I do not know. Maybe my brain is mentally jogging at the same time. My pace turned out to be 5:28/km, not only handily eclipsing the previous 10K but also besting my fastest 10K post-injury, which was 5:41/km.

The only downside is the right hip area started to feel a little sore when I applied thrusters. Moderating my pace corrected this, though it still feels a little sore tonight and I suspect it may be a bit stiff tomorrow. I’m not overly concerned as it feels sore rather than hurt.

Given the cooler conditions there weren’t as many people out but still more than I expected. There were a lot of runners, including more cute young male runners than I am used to seeing. I only point this out because almost all runners I see, male or female, tend to be in their 30s or older. I didn’t recognize most of these runners (I see a few regulars most days) and one of the young guys was absolutely drenched with sweat, as if he was in a bubble where it was still 33ºC.

Other than the small degree of soreness in my right leg, the run went very well. For the first time in a long time I actually felt a second wind on the back half and my pace picked up after the usual midway drop. It was nice.

Tuesday’s forecast is currently calling for around 21º about the time I am running, which is warmer but still much cooler and the rest of the week looks like poop from a summer weather perspective, with a chance of rain and highs in the upper teens. I’m liking the temperatures but could do without the rain. I’ll take the rain (to quote R.E.M.) over more 30ºC+ temperatures, though.

Things I wish I could do

In no particular order:

  • play a musical instrument without causing people to scream or cry
  • experience genuine passion for something
  • run without falling (again)
  • try out VR
  • jump ahead 100 years to see what it’s like
  • go back and fix three random screw-ups from when I was a kid
  • find the work best-suited for me
  • never have stuffed up sinuses
  • sing, sing a song
  • uninvent dubstep
  • fly, because it would be cool

Book review: The Songs of Distant Earth

The Songs Of Distant EarthThe Songs Of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Songs of Distant Earth uses “terabyte” as if it’s a near-impossibly huge amount of storage space, but other than being a bit dated tech-wise (it was published in 1986 and the genesis of the story began as a piece originally written in 1958), this short, brisk novel details events surrounding the improbable chance of two separate colony ships sent hundreds of years apart encountering each other light years away from Earth.

To be more precise, the first colony ship has already landed on the water world of Thalassa, its crew having settled there hundreds of years earlier, populating the three islands that form the entirety of land on the planet. One of the last ships to leave the doomed Earth centuries later stops by on its way to its own destination, the hostile but tameable world of Sagan Two. Choosing Thalassa in order to use its water to reconstitute a massive ice shield on the bow of their colony ship, the crew of the Magellan is surprised to find the planet inhabited (after losing contact due to a broken antenna on Thalassa, it was assumed its colony ship had never completed its journey), thus beginning a clash of cultures, ideas and philosophy, pitting the laidback Thalassans and their seeming Utopia against the crew of the Magellan, who still face a massive amount of work to make their chosen planet livable (an edict passed in the dying days of Earth forbids colony ships from colonizing worlds with any notable life, sort of a variant on Star Trek’s Prime Directive).

There is a lot of debate about what makes life worth living, with a fairly heavy hand directed against the alleged scourge of religion–the Thalassans are non-religious and live in a democratic society where procrastination and non-monogamous relationships are the norm. Clarke has characters from both the planet and the Magellan intermingle–on projects in and out of bed–to help illustrate the risk of “contamination” between the two groups. Complicating things further, the paradise-like nature of Thalassa leads a small number of Magellan’s crew to attempt mutiny.

The tension Clarke creates as these two peoples work and play together for the months it takes to rebuild the Magellan’s ice shield is low and never really threatens to boil over, but the discussions the characters have are filled with insights, dry humor and observations about humanity that feel authentic, if somewhat studied.

The Songs of Distant Earth sometimes feels a bit thin compared to denser works of science fiction, but Clarke does not so much skimp on detail as focus precisely on what he feels is most important to the story. In the end, the novel offers hope that humanity will mature and flourish among the stars, albeit not without some bumps along the way.

View all my reviews

Run 454: Ludicrously hot

Run 454
Average pace: 5:23/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Distance: 5:04 km
Time: 27:12
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 33ºC
Wind: light
BPM: 157
Stride: n/a
Weight: 157.7 pounds
Total distance to date: 3630 km
Devices/apps: Apple Watch and iPhone 6

Let me illustrate the temperature for tonight’s run with an actual illustration (technically a screenshot from my Apple Watch of the Weather Underground app):

IMG_0847

In the evening I usually head out at 6 p.m. Tonight I headed out about 45 minutes later, hoping it might cool a bit. 33ºC is not exactly cool.

I dutifully headed off on my 5K run, choosing to use the built-in fitness app instead of the Nike Run Club app because it was too hot to fiddle with anything I couldn’t use Siri with. Siri is nice when you’re lazy and she’s feeling cooperative.

I was grateful for most of the run being in the shade. I still sweated copiously.

Though my pace was much slower than Tuesday, it was still a respectable 5:23/km and in an unusual twist, my pace actually picked up in the latter half (the temperature dipped slightly, which may have helped a little).

Considering the heat, I’m fairly pleased with how the run went, especially given how strongly tempted I was to loaf at home instead. Sunday is promising to be much cooler and I ain’t complaining.

I have a good butt

Today I learned what the acronym FIT means.

My doctor referred to a recent test I took as “poop on a stick” and that is literally what it is–you apply a small bit of your poop to a stick, seal it in a container and the medical lab people examine it for nefarious and unwanted things. My doctor advised me when I got the results to not be alarmed if they were positive, as the test apparently generates a lot of false positives.

Today I got a letter from the medical lab regarding my Fecal Imunochemical Test and I quote:

The result of your recent Fecal Imunochemical Test (FIT) was normal.
NEXT STEPS: No further action is required at this time.

I am pleased that my butt is normal.

That is all.

Run 453: The return of the narrated run

Run 453
Average pace: 5:13/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Distance: 5:08 km
Time: 26:30
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 25ºC
Wind: moderate
BPM: 158.3
Stride: n/a
Weight: 158.4 pounds
Total distance to date: 3625 km
Devices/apps: Nike Run Club app, Apple Watch and iPhone 6

The Nike+ running app got a major overhaul yesterday, emerging with a new look and name, the Nike Run Club. Unsurprisingly, the social network aspects of it have been ramped up. More importantly, though, the app finally supports the heart rate monitor of the Apple Watch, as it now access all of the Apple Health info if you let it. And so for the first time since I got the watch, I used the Nike app (let’s call it NRC because it’s shorter and looks so totally cool). Setting my preferences and starting the run was simple and sure enough, there was my BPM in the stats at the end. I will dig more into the app later but I did manage to end the run without knowing how by guessing it would use the same method as Apple’s Fitness app, which proved correct.

It was nice to hear that confident voice telling me how many km I’d completed. My only mistake was starting an open run instead of setting it to a fixed distance, so I didn’t get a notification halfway or a countdown at the end. I’ll figure that out for next time.

Oh, and I can actually see a map of my route again. Yay. Apple is apparently adding maps to their Fitness app in iOS 10 but I believe it will still lack voice notifications. The weak taps the watch uses to signal milestones (kmstones?) is something I almost never notice.

Curiously, while the watch and phone apps both show the BPM, the NRC website doesn’t. Not sure why it doesn’t transfer over but it’s not a big deal, as the notes feature lets you add it in.

And the actual run itself went quite well. It was warm but not uncomfortable, with the start of the cooling of the evening. There was one brief stretch where the sun was directly aiming into my eyes but most of the run was in shade. I started out fast–almost too fast–and forced myself to slow down (my second km was, in fact, significantly slower than the others). Overall, though, I felt fine pushing a little more than usual given the 5K length and managed a spiffy pace of 5:13/km, a veritable lightning bolt after Friday morning’s sweat-soaked slog.

The predicted high on Thursday, my next run day, is 31ºc, which could mean a swift return to sweat-soaked slog. But we shall see.

For tonight, I am pleased.

And so endeth Vacation 2016 (and mostly good riddance)

This vacation has been weird. Because my partner just started working a new job last month, we were unable to plan any kind of trip/camping together so I was largely left to devise my own set of fun vacation-type activities.

I failed.

Not only did I not plan any fun vacation-type activities, I did the opposite–I planned things like annual checkups, getting my ID renewed, and giving samples of urine and blood for science.

The first day I went for a run it rained. The last day I ran it was 30ºC at 9:30 in the morning. But at least I completed all nine runs, as I’d set out to do. Last year I ended run #1 with horrible pain in my right leg and didn’t run again until the new year. So there is that.

Of course, run #6 was highlighted by the infamous tree root incident, in which I snagged my left foot and went down hard on the gravel (the bruise on my hip is still spectacular-looking nine days later). I walked the Conifer and Spruce Loop trails again today to survey just how potentially hazardous they are if I decide to start running on them again (runs 7-9 were done sans optional side trails). What I discovered was one super large tree root that spans the entire width of the trail and is in a clear area. The only way to trip on this root would be to approach it with your eyes closed and maybe with your shoes tied together, too. The only other tree root was…the one I tripped on. If I run counter-clockwise it’s on the other side and out of the way. This means that the Conifer and Spruce Loop trails are actually a lot safer than the Cottonwood trail, a 2+ km stretch that is unavoidable and rife–rife, I say,–with all kinds of roots and wooden planks sticking out of the earth from when the area was a logging operation.

What else happened on this curiously unfun vacation?

On my run route I saw a python and a bobcat/lynx. A man approached me at the end of a run to say he’d just seen a bear up ahead, the way I was heading (I did not see the bear). If this was Australia I’d probably have been bitten by several poisonous things by now.

I lost my wallet. Granted, it was recovered about 15 minutes after I realized it was gone, but now I’m paranoid it’s going to again leap from my pocket as if it were both sentient and capricious.

Today–the last day of vacation–I witnessed a car accident. It was only a fender bender, fortunately. From my perspective it looked like a silver car was heading east down Government Street in Burnaby and a black car was turning left onto the street from the nearby Costco parking lot, filled with 10 gallon jars of mayonnaise. The black car went wide into the lane occupied by the silver car and physics asserted itself, with much scraping following and at least one piece of something or other popping off (a side mirror, I think). I walked down the block, crossed over to the other side and made my way to the cars, now pulled over with hazard lights blinking.

The man in the black car asked for my name and number. I provided them. The driver of the other car, an irascible older man, approached and asked what I saw. I told him. He responded, crankily, “So you’re saying I’m at fault?” I told him, no, I wasn’t saying who was at fault, I was only reporting what I saw, which was the black car hitting the silver car. He grumbled and went to confer with his wife. The driver of the silver car told me he tried to get out of the way. I shrugged. I couldn’t tell. I went home. I haven’t heard from anyone. I hope I don’t.

What else happened?

On the plus side, I did not get sick. This kind of amazes me, as it was a natural given the way things went. I could still wake up with a head cold tomorrow.

My weight remained pretty much the same, despite numerous runs and long walks and reduced snacking.

I have had difficulty sleeping at times. My mind whirs like that top in Inception. I have often gotten up and gone for a walk because of this restlessness, this weird inability to sit still and just relax (note: I do not get up and go for walks after going to bed, I just flop around like a fish but smell much better).

I’ve cooked and cleaned a lot. More than I normally would. I broke the Swiffer mop and had to buy a replacement.

I saw the new Star Trek movie. It was better than the previews made it look, but it was still just good, not great.

I intended to start reading a book or two. I did not. I bought several, though, and I’ll try starting again tonight. So much free time to read and all I managed was a few magazines and some websites.

I tried to write. I am not too far off one-post-per-day on the blog, though a large part of that is due to those nine runs. I have not written any fiction. Writer’s block? It feels more like paralysis right now. I sit at the keyboard and my mind freezes. I know all the tricks, I know I should free write or try a prompt. Instead I push away from the desk and pace about or go for another walk.

I am an expert at walking.

I don’t really want to go to work tomorrow. I feel like I still haven’t unwound yet. I need a holiday from my vacation. At least the Labor Day weekend is only a few weeks away.

The last seven paragraphs have started with “I.” I am talking about myself a lot.

I am sorry (ho ho).

Anyway, that’s about it. Next vacation I’m going to actually plan things out. I may go away somewhere. Somewhere nice, without bobcats or tree roots or car accidents. I’d like that.

Run 452: Slower, safer and Africa hot

Run 452
Average pace: 6:01/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW) – no side trails taken
Distance: 10:03 km
Time: 60:34
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 30ºC
Wind: light
BPM: 158
Stride: n/a
Weight: 157.8 pounds
Total distance to date: 3620 km
Device used: Apple Watch and iPhone 6

I slept in a wee bit this morning–only by about 15 minutes–but it immediately put the kibosh on my plan to run earlier than normal to beat the heat. It wouldn’t have mattered, anyway. The day started hot and has only gotten a little bit hotter still since then.

When I headed off counter-clockwise at the lake the temperature was 30ºC and stayed there (I’ve made it red above to indicate that yes, it was pretty warm). The first km, through a relatively breezy section of trail, was actually fairly zippy, but after that my pace dropped off steeply. It was really quite warm. The lack of any appreciable breeze did not help, either. At times the air felt thick and hot and then a mysteriously cool breeze would blast in from somewhere off the trail, only to vanish a moment later.

Weather is weird.

Despite having a “people working” sign up today, I saw no sign of the re-surfacing crew on the Southshore trail. It looks pretty much done to me.

Around the halfway mark I entertained the idea of ending the run early, but pressed on. By the 7 km mark–my slowest by a fair bit–I was giving this much more serious thought but I kept on and once I reached the 8K mark my pace actually improved and I managed to pant my way to a full 10K. My pace was terrible, of course. I think I’ve broken 6:00/km once before. Regardless, 6:01/km is definitely one of my slowest runs ever. To be fair, I haven’t run often when it’s this hot, either. Nor would I want to ever again. It was yucky.

Compounding things, I wore my replacement pair of Hokas, which ironically have an even worse case of color bleeding than my original pair. I wore them because a shoelace snapped on the originals. My left foot, perhaps not used to this crazy, color-staining new shoe, was a bit sore for stretches of the run and that may have ticked my pace down even more. Other than the foot and oppressive heat, I didn’t experience any other issues. My BPM was similar to Wednesday because while I had to work harder with the heat, I was slow enough that it kind of balanced out.

I did get through without seeing any pythons, bobcats or giraffes, so there’s that.

I return to my usual run schedule next week and haven’t decided whether to start Sunday and miss my usual two-day break or wait till Tuesday and get a three day rest bonus. If it’s still 30ºC on Sunday that may make the decision a little easier.

The cat in the lake

Today I decided to go for a nice walk around Burnaby Lake because it was really hot and I’m kind of dumb. But it did allow me to see that the resurfacing of the Southshore trail is pretty much complete, so my nemesis the excavator will probably not be there to try to run me down tomorrow.

Probably.

In the meantime, as I walked and sweated on my clockwise jaunt, I crossed the 4 km mark, ventured over the rowing pavilion parking lot and entered a stretch of the trail that is characterized by tall grass on the lake-side, giving the area a kind of everglade feel to it. At least it’s what I think an everglade would feel like. I confess I haven’t been to one, not even a fake one like they probably have at Disney World.

I noticed a not-quite-small brown dog sort of shimmying into the tall grass, perhaps to get out of the sun. It was an odd kind of move and looking at the trail up ahead I could not see any kind of owner for said dog. Also odd.

But it was not a dog. It was this:

Big kitty at lake
I think this is a lynx, a bobcat or more likely a lynx/bobcat hybrid. A boblynx.

I apologize for the less-than-stellar quality of the shot. The cat was in the shade and I was reluctant to call it out into the sun, since it was a wild animal and could have ripped my throat open if so inclined.

My first thought was a lynx. I later looked at lynx photos and it appears to have characteristics of both a lynx and a bobcat and hybrids are possible, so I think this was the possibly rare boblynx.

It seemed a bit skittish and unsure and wasn’t acting at all aggressive. I remained calm, trying to remember what I’d seen on one of those TV shows, Survive or DIE! or something like that. They were talking about what to do when you encounter a mountain lion but maybe the advice would translate on a scaled-down wild cat. As I recalled, you are supposed to make noise, stand your ground and if American, shoot it repeatedly with the assault rifle you’re probably carrying. Also something about throwing rocks to prove you’re the alpha. I didn’t have any rocks and throwing them at a non-aggressive animal literally less than two meters away from me did not seem like a good idea.

I clapped my hands and told it to shoo, to scoot. It stood there and seemed embarrassed for me. I don’t blame it, really. I then took a few pictures while it just hung around, undecided on what to do.

At this point I had three choices:

  1. Turn around and head back
  2. Proceed forward, giving the cat as wide a berth as possible
  3. Stand there until one of us got bored and left

Option #1 seemed unwise. Turning your back on a wild animal is never a good idea. Turning your back on a domestic animal is never a good idea. I don’t trust bobcats or cows.

Option #3 seemed problematic as I have a high threshold for boredom and it’s possible the cat had no concept of boredom and would wait until it got hungry instead, at which point I would be the most convenient food source.

I opted for #2 and as soon as I took one step forward, the cat majestically leaped into the grass and disappeared. I mean, that sucker cleared about a meter from a standing position. It was scary and impressive.

I continued my walk, keeping an eye behind me until I was safely out of the immediate area.

I expect to see a giraffe the next time I’m at the lake.

Run 451: Slower, safer and warmer

Run 451
Average pace: 5:54/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW) – no side trails taken
Distance: 10:07 km
Time: 59:34
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 25ºC
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 157
Stride: n/a
Weight: 157.8 pounds
Total distance to date: 3610 km
Device used: Apple Watch and iPhone 6

It was a bit warmer today and I started out a little slower, then stayed a little slower for the entire run, with the splits otherwise following the usual pattern: faster first half, slower back half and a bit of a boost in the last km. I ran clockwise, again skipped the optional trails and found my pace a fair bit slower than last week. I’m not sure if it’s the changed route, the consistently warmer weather or general caution of going splat again but since I felt pretty good for most of the run, I’m not exactly disappointed with the pace. Well, maybe a little. Taking almost an hour to run 10K is not exactly where I expected to be with a bunch of them under my belt (and let me tell you, they barely fit in there).

There were multiple groups of walkers again, especially at the end where they seemed to be clumping up. At this point I’ve resigned myself to them–the weather is gorgeous, it’s summer, people are going to be out. I just wish they weren’t so damned oblivious. Several times today I even called out, “On your left” as I approached from behind, which elicited exactly zero reaction most of the time. It’s weird and annoying.

No real issues with the run, otherwise, just slower. I felt decent through long stretches, so perhaps the combination of the warm weather and fear of tree roots may be see how a more jogging-like pace could be nice, almost relaxing. Other than the Cottonwood trail, there really aren’t many places left on the loop around the lake with prominent roots or other obstacles in the path.

The trail resurfacing continues and it probably won’t be much longer before they’ve finished the entire Southshore trail. The excavator was idling at the side as I passed by, though I swear the driver keyed the ignition when he saw me.

Overall, an unspectacular effort but I’m good with that. Friday is expected to be hotter so I’m not expecting my pace to improve. It may even get slower if it is truly Africa hot (it looks to be 26-27ºC during my usual run time, which shouldn’t result in a pace much different than today.

I call it Un-Vacation

How is my vacation progressing? Let me provide an update!

At 8:30 this morning I went to a nearby medical lab (one of the perks of living near a hospital, these things are more omnipresent than Starbucks) and submitted myself to the tests my doctor wanted. This involved collecting urine, blood and poop (ew). The urine was the ol’ “pee in a jar” routine, though it was actually a small bottle. I’m still surprised at how easy it is to pee on demand, as if our ancient ancestors needed the ability for survival and we still carry the trait today.

The blood was a bit of a concern. The last time I had blood taken a few years ago I fasted a lot longer than necessary. They recommend 8-10 hours and I fasted something like 16-18 because I went later in the morning. The net result was partway through the blood collection I went very pale and felt like my blood was being literally drained away–which it was, but it felt more like all my blood was being drained away, not just a sample of it. The person taking the sample asked if I wanted to lie down. I did, but not there, as it seemed too much like admitting defeat to a simple medical procedure to lie down right there in the lab. Plus my place is only two blocks away, I could crawl back if I had to. I felt weird and gross for a few hours after. Tip: don’t fast for hours more than you need to before giving blood.

This time I had fasted appropriately and the whole thing finished quickly and without incident.

The poop needs to be applied to a small stick. They give you paper to poop on and a sheet of instructions on how to poop (I’m not sure if you can also poop on the instructions, but it wouldn’t surprise me). Pooping on demand is harder than peeing. I felt weirdly self-conscious even though I was alone (you poop at home, not at the lab). When I was done, I put the stick in the provided container and the Biohazard-labeled baggie. Could my poop kill someone? Maybe, I’m no expert. As instructed, the sample is in the fridge until I take it to the lab tomorrow. I’m pretty sure this is the only time I will have my poop in the fridge.

After donating nearly every form of liquid and solid my body can produce to science, I thought, “What else would be fun to do on vacation?” and it came to me: sweeping and mopping. Yay! Here’s a typical vacation list as proof:

Things to Do on Vacation
Swim
Surf
Relax in the sun or shade
Sip lemonade
Play games
Sweep
Mop

See?

I swept the kitchen and then got out the Swiffer WetJet®™ to mop. After a few majestic strokes, the floor was looking cleaner, but I heard a distressing crack from the handle of the Swiffer. Just as I was finishing the top of the handle broke off. This made the last bit of mopping–or swiffing, if you prefer–rather tricky. I was bummed, partly because I’d have to spend money on a replacement, but mostly because it meant I’d have to go out and actually get the replacement.

In checking the price online for said replacement, I noticed in some customer reviews that the handle breaking is apparently a common issue. I guess I should feel lucky ours lasted as long as it did. Maybe some duct tape will fix it? I could get duct tape instead. It’s cheaper than a new mop and more versatile, to boot.

Now you’re thinking, you donated blood, urine, poop, swept and, with some effort, mopped. Surely this vacation day is done.

But no, there was more!

I thought a nice walk around Central Park would be nice (the logic is infallible), followed by a trip to Metrotown for some window-shopping (not actually shopping for windows, more like books and stuff). I took the SkyTrain to Patterson station, tapped out like a good little Compass card tapping-person, and sauntered off into Central Park, where I zigzagged through the many trails, utterly failing to navigate the “Terry Fox 5K walk”, despite numerous signs pointing the way. I swear the signs have arrows actually pointing at each other.

After about 45 minutes of quiet contemplation (well, except for the regular rumble of the nearby SkyTrain) I headed over to Metrotown. I scoped out Indigo and spotted the book Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson. I’d heard some good things about it so I pulled out my phone to note the title in my OneNote app (I have a section for books). It was when I put the phone back in my pocket that I noticed something was wrong.

To be more precise, something was missing.

To be even more precise, my wallet was missing.

Little alarms went off in my head.

I had not taken my wallet out since tapping out at Patterson so I was puzzled as to how it escaped. I keep it in a front pocket so if someone tried to pick the pocket there’s a decent chance I’d see or feel something (“Is your hand in my pocket or are you just happy to see me?”) but perhaps pickpockets have stepped up their game. More likely I failed to put the wallet all the way back in the admittedly shallow pocket and it shimmied up and out as I strolled about.

Stupid wallet.

Thinking there was a chance I had accidentally pulled the wallet out along with my phone in the bookstore, I scanned the immediate area. No sign of it. I had a staff member check to see if some Good Samaritan had already turned it in. Nope. I left, retracing my steps.

About fifteen minutes in I get a phone call from an unknown number.

“Is this Stan James?”
“It is.”
“Did you recently lose a wallet?”
“In fact, I did.”
“Were you in Central Park?”
“About twenty minutes ago.”
“Your wallet has been turned in here at the community police office [gives directions].”
*excited noise*
“I’ll be there in five minutes.” I was literally two blocks away from the office when the staffer called.

I didn’t find out who turned my wallet in, other than it was a pair of women the community police office staffer thought were “GVRD workers” based on their dress. Anyway, I can’t thank them in person but I can thank them here so thank you, nice ladies!

The wallet was untouched, including the $10 in relatively worthless Canadian money stuffed in it. Ironically I started putting bills back in my wallet after I was pretty sure I’d lost a $10 bill from the same pair of shorts with the same shallow pockets. I shall now call them Devil Shorts, for that is what they are. Tomorrow I may go looking for cargo shorts or anything with a zipper on it. Maybe a chastity belt than can also hold ID and some keys. Something.

Finally, my partner came home, complained about how the long commute to and from his new workplace is, claiming it leaves him no time in the evening to do anything except go to bed and start the whole thing over, like some kind of Groundhog Day thing. This apparently renders life as not worth living, though he loves the actual new job. He then went to bed two hours earlier than he needed to as an ironic twist. People are weird.

And that was my vacation day today. Technically there’s still time for a mongoose to attack me, so I’m staying on my guard until I go to bed. Hopefully there is no mongoose in the bed.

Run 450: No tripping, just kind-of-slow running with bonus exotic snake

Run 450
Average pace: 5:50/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW) – no side trails taken
Distance: 10:03 km
Time: 58:38
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 23ºC
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 155
Stride: n/a
Weight: 158.8 pounds
Total distance to date: 3600 km
Device used: Apple Watch and iPhone 6

My big fear today, of course, was coming across another evil tree root. Or more specifically, tripping across another evil tree root. To reduce the risk I chose to skip all three side trails (Piper Mill, Spruce and Conifer Loops) and chanted direction. This had the side effect of giving me more of that smoove resurfaced, uh, surface to run on and also meant that if I did trip again, I’d at least fall in a new direction and in a new spot.

I did not trip.

The first half of the run I was surprisingly brisk but the second half saw me slow a fair bit, partly due to the Monday effect, partly due to burning too much gas in the first 5K and maybe partly due to being cautious, though most of the exposed roots were on the Cottonwood trail, during the first half of the run. While the pace of 5:50/km is nothing special, my BPM was also down at 155 and the weather, though warm, was an entirely tolerable 23ºC throughout.

The various lacerations and bruises didn’t have any effect I could tell, though the hip bruise became less mysterious when I noted that the shorts pocket that holds my keys perfectly matched up with it. Now I know what it feels like to slam onto gravel into your own set of keys. I don’t recommend doing this.

The resurfacing continued sans detour, with only a single worker out raking dirt. The construction zone was fairly small and strangely I missed the excavator entirely. I can only guess it had broken down or been defeated in a similar manner to the killdozer.

A few walking groups were out but were more on top of things than usual, so I was able to consistently slip by without incident.

The most interesting thing happened on the walk back along the Brunette River trail. Shortly after I crossed the bridge there I saw a snake. Now, I’ve seen several snakes this summer, of the small, slithery black and yellow garter variety. Observe below that this is not a small garter snake:

pythons in Burnaby
This is a python. It is a long way from home.

As mentioned in the caption, this is a python, about a meter long. It was very chill, as the kids say, and just laid there while I and a guy passing by on a bike took pictures. It eventually moved very casually off into the vegetation. As you might guess, pythons are not local to Burnaby or most of this continent, so it was either an escapee or an unwanted pet. Poor guy. Or girl. I’m not sure how you tell with a snake, really.

Looking back, maybe I should have contacted animal control or something, though the snake would have been long gone into the bush by the time they arrived. Still, I’d feel bad if it ate someone’s little moppet or something.