I am fortunate that my place of inhabitation and my place of employment are in such a geo-spatial relationship as to be able to declare one day a week to be (insert trumpet flourish here) “run home from work day”.
Like many things in life, the day starts with a bit of ritual and a lot of mental preparation, usually in the form of subtle comments from yours truly.
(Really smart Energy & Environment team member: So, the LED lighting will cut our energy use by 80% and pay for itself in six months. Yours truly: Well, since it’s run home from work day, I guess we’d better do it. Say, have I mentioned that I’m running home from work today?)
A few more subtle comments here, a pre-run snack there, and before I know it, it’s time to head out. My route of choice heads west along College Street, not because it’s the shortest or downhill, which it probably is, but because it offers enough variation and street life to give me the one thing I need to make my run a success: a distraction. Things get going at University where the general energy of the college kids and their passion about, well…everything, provide the perfect atmosphere to start. Pop something on the iThingie, perhaps Joel Plaskett’s “Drunk Teenagers” and off I go (Editor’s note: in the name of good ol’ fashion covering of behinds, Talkin’ Trash, nor anyone related to it, do not endorse teenagers, drunkenness or any combination thereof – but that opening riff gets us every time!)
For me, the run home is more than just exercise and a sustainable way to commute – it’s a release. By the time I hit Spadina, all the things Bill Gates had done to me personally to make my day miserable are starting to be forgotten. By the time I’m crossing Bathurst, the issues and concerns from that Busy impORtant meetING (apologies for the seemingly random capital letters – it must be ol’ Mr. Gates getting one last jab in) have all been resolved in that way the mind has of solving problems when you’re not thinking of them.
And, before I know it, I’m at that spot on College – between Grace St. and Montrose Ave, right by the Fish Store – that on one of the first patio days of the spring offers a small slice of urban perfection. There’s a jog in the road, so you can’t quite see where you’ve been or where you’re going, people are out enjoying the sun, smiling, laughing, eating and drinking…and me dutifully running by. Running by, as smells of things delicious waft from open doors, reminding me, taunting me, that my pre-run snack was a handful of almonds and some dehydrated grapes. But I run on, past Chiado which back in the day, used to represent, culinarily, socially and literally, the edge of civilization, past Dovercourt, where Julie’s Cuban Café calls to me, past The Common, where people drinking frothy espresso drinks while typing into their iGadget always look to be doing something way more interesting than I am.
But before I know it, I’m through, past Lansdowne, through Roncesvalles and onto the home stretch. Sure, it’s slightly downhill, and sure, I can almost taste the end of my journey, but my stride is strong, my cadence is steady and I’m probably feeling as close to being invincible as I can these days.
If I’m fortunate to be able to run home, I’m equally as fortunate to end my journey in one of our City’s hidden gems (Editor’s note: in an effort to make sure that this gem remains hidden, we ask that you forget the next two words as soon as you read them): High Park. Asphalt gives way to dirt and grass, the buzz of traffic fades into the chirp of birds, the heat of the City eases into the shade of forest…and the generally flat route undulates into…hills; not exactly the ending I was hoping for. Pop some Frightened Rabbit into the iMuazk (I find the juxtaposition of self-reflective lyrics with lushly arrange pop hooks to be the perfect foil for gravity), put my head down and go…arriving home a few minutes later, hungry and tired, but somehow more full and energetic than when I set out.