According to native Torontonians, this winter is particularly unforgiving. “It isn’t normally this bad, I’m so sorry you have to go through this,” is what many people have said to me since I got here almost six weeks ago. As a sidenote, I find it really nice how apologetic Torontonians are for things that they have absolutely no control over, like the weather or the most recent antics of their mayor, but I digress. Like most cities during winter, the streets can be downright dangerous for winter running. About a week or so ago I was running home from the gym and I literally slid like 3 feet down a hill on my heels before catching myself. Training for a half marathon this coming May becomes extra tricky when you’re slowed down by fresh snow covering the sidewalks. But hey, call it resistance training.
Living in the east end means that I’m close to some great trails and parks that are unfortunately a little bit too icy for my liking. I really loved a few weeks ago when I was able to get right down to the beach and have a perfect view of Lake Ontario, however I tried the route again on Saturday and found myself stranded in the middle of what was essentially a skating rink and wondering why I thought trail running after a warm spell followed by a deep freeze of -25 temps would be a good idea.
Despite the occasional downfalls of finding yourself in an iced over area with no easy way out and the actual falls that come with those downfalls, running in Toronto has been my favourite way to discover this city. You see all the things you would miss when you’re on a bus or a streetcar where the bodies of others aren’t blocking your view and explore places you wouldn’t think to go walking on your own in the frigid temperatures when your only goal is to get from point A to point B as fast as and as warm as possible. You see weird things that are only weird when you really look at them, like this public art installation series of ascending letter T’s that somehow feel menacing and intimidating. Up close there are black and white photos on each one of them of historic scenes of the city. It’s a forced effort to make an industrial zone that just so happens to have a biking/walking trail running through it feel a little bit more humanized, but somehow it just ends up feeling overpowering and straight-up scary.
Other times while running I’ve seen some just plain weird stuff that actually makes me stop dead in my tracks and I couldn’t even really hazard a guess at explaining. Like this yurt on Queen Street East in Leslieville. Like, what is it doing there? It actually seems like a house because of the mailbox, but how do you get municipal approval to live in a yurt on Queen Street? I feel like there would be a lot of red tape there. I first noticed this yurt about a week ago when I was running through the area and I later told my roommates about it and they reacted as if I had told them I had seen an alien spaceship rather than a yurt. They said they believed me but then told me to take a picture and so here it is.
Toronto is quirky and funny and sometimes makes you go, “wtf is going on here?” but you won’t get bored running through these streets. Getting up early on a weekend morning for a long run has become one of my highlights of the week and definitely something that I know I’ll miss when I eventually leave this great city.