Weeks 4 and 5: Getting Lost

On more than one occasion, I've observed how much I love exploring a new destination through a run.

On my work trips, I've picked up running route maps from my hotel, pointed myself in a new direction, and explored the city.  A year ago, while in Europe, Rob and Ijogged along the La Seine  in Paris and later in the same trip, I had the pleasure of joining the London Frontrunners club for laps of the majestic Hyde Park.

You see a city faster than you do by walking, but in a way that's still more intimate than by car.  Toronto is no different and I strive to try out new routes and neighbourhoods.

For my Saturday long run in week 4, I set out just after dusk, tucking Rob's Metropass into my pocket, figuring I would get my distance and then take the TTC home, rather than trying to figure out a loop or out and back.

Fast forward 45 minutes and the landscape became very unfamiliar.  Not once did I feel unsafe, as I was running on a fairly busy artery, but I was completely disoriented.  To make matters worse, the sidewalks were becoming more unkempt, meaning I was struggling to hit my interval pace - a runner's nightmare!

After my final interval, I pulled out my iPhone to check my location, only to realize I was so disoriented, I could barely make sense of it.  While I thought I had been heading south, I was in fact moving north east.  My intuition was so strong - and wrong - that I had to cross an intersection to confirm which direction my GPS indicator would move.  I was near the border of East York and Scarborough.

Home is south west of here!

Briefly considering asking a bus driver for directions and now shivering, I heeded my iPhone and moved west (which felt east), until miraculously, a Loblaws Superstore appeared on the horizon.  I quickly ventured inside to warm up and buy energy bars.

This is the first time in recent memory I've been lost on foot in Toronto.  It gave me new perspective on the concept of losing yourself on a run!  There's a difference between exploration and total disorientation - I couldn't even find the CN Tower on the horizon that evening.

That being said, I'm also a firm believer that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.  Inside the Superstore, I found a whites sale and picked up two new bed pillows for a great price.

Later, as I boarded a bus heading south, my fellow Torontonians stared openly as I found a seat, still flushed and sniffling from the cold, clad in a neon orange jacket and black tights, dragging the pillows in tow.

Perhaps it was an unknown premonition that prompted me to take Rob's Metropass this me that evening, but I am abundantly thankful I did.  And next time, I will be more carefully planning my route.

For tips on winter and nighttime running safety, read this post from Runners World.