Two Random Running Routes: Kensington-Cedar Cottage and Kerrisdale

The first try was an unmitigated disaster.

I plotted a running route in Vancouver's Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighbourhood using an online tool. I accounted for the part of the route that crosses a busy street at an uncontrolled intersection and instead had it take the crosswalk near King Ed. A test run, which is to say, a test walk with the Co-Rider app to make sure turn-by-turn directions with a previously-defined route was successful. I made the mistake of updating the app the night before. And it started to snow just as I started my run.

Arriving at my hand-picked start and end point on February 22nd in the alleyway at E. 28th and Ross and Fraser area, I encountered a critical bug introduced into the version I updated to the previous night. The app itself would start but I could not press "play" for the turn-by-turn directions. I followed the route by looking down at my phone at every turn to see where I'd go next.

Apple recommends that one operate an iPhone 5 in between the temperatures of -20º and 45º Celcius. At the end of the run, with about 20% battery left, at an outside temperature below or just at freezing, the phone turned off on its own accord. Miraculously, the Couch-to-5k app had already logged it (twice, somehow), so I can count Feburary 22nd, 2014, against Week 7 Day 2 of the program.

This was the first run where I let a website randomly generate a running route which started and ended at the same point. As a way of seeing as much of Vancouver as possible, I didn't want to decide what direction to go it to see it. RouteLoops can randomly generate a map suitable for different modes (walking, running, cycling). You set the distance and it calculates the route, ending you where you started.

Things were decidedly different for my run in Kerrisdale. A week after my first run, on March 1st, instead of hand-picking a starting point, I used the Random Point Generator. It chose a spot on W. 47th Ave. between Yew St. and West Boulevard. The route, randomly generated by RouteLoops, had me turn right on West Boulevard, skip over to the parallel East Boulevard using 49th Ave and then run down East Boulevard to 50th Ave. With its lack of sidewalks, I had to run on the street. Turning right on Angus Dr., I found these pleasant little stop signs.

The second-longest leg of the run, Angus Dr. took me to W. 57th for a block, then turning left back on to West Boulevard where I saw a trolley pass by.

Hanging a right on W. 60th took me past Dr. R.E. McKechnie Elementary School, around Arbutus Park (by taking Arbutus St. and 59th Ave.) to SW Marine Drive.

Suspecting that SW Marine Drive lacked sidewalks, before the run, I looked it up on Google Street View. Arriving at the scene I got my final confirmation:

I ran against traffic, which was a little harrowing. At least one car cut the white line separating traffic from the shoulder, right in front of me no less. I know better than to run on any street like that again.

My 5K program for the "week" ended about 2/3 on SW Marine Drive. I was determined to finish the rest of the route and saw some construction on the 45th Ave. bike route.

  • construction on the bike path
  • Ryerson church.

All the while I had the Fog of World app track my movements. How do I describe Fog of World? I remember playing Warcraft II, and any movements into unkwown territory would reveal the map. As you left, the map would stay but you couldn't see any of the activity there. Fog of World operates in the same way: you visit a place you've never been to, and it "unlocks" that area.

The app runs in the background and when tracking is turned on, shows you the places you haven't been to yet. (It's possible you've been to that place before, just not with Fog of World turned on.) My FoW data suggested that I had already been on a portion of 45th, and it wasn't until I came upon the Ryerson United Church that I remembered how that was possible: at some point a few years ago, it seems I had been going in the wrong direction biking from Kerrisdale and must have turned around. (This was captured by RunKeeper, the data of which I imported into Fog of World.) I took a quick photo of the church and I was back to finishing my randomly generated route.

Kerrisdale doesn't loom large in my image of Vancouver, so I'm grateful that a computer chose for me to go there. Without randomly selecting a starting point and randomly generating a route, I'd have to rely on the invitation of others or know about its significance. This way of exploring a city leads to little surprises, like the mansion surrounded by trees, (barely) seeing unusual architecture, and a little exercise along the way.