Those days are past.
I already don’t remember anything of my Labour Day Weekend bike ride to Saskatchewan (which is to say: the most recent entry in this blog) save for those images and stories that actually occur in said blog entry (and other emails, etc. that I’ve written). Whatever other posts I had planned over the summer (about running (?) and holidays (?) and Ramadhan (?)) are no longer possible: their provisional content sublimated into the mists of nothingness.
Which makes it particularly important that I get on this now. Because I had an excellent holiday in PEI last month! And with my memories of it already fuzzing around the edges I want to preserve whatever I can of it before it’s gone.
TL/DR: PEI! And the excellent, amazing holiday!
The excellent, amazing holiday that was all of two (and change) days long. Because of course I’m a workaholic, and had to be at work on Friday morning. And had to be back at work the following Monday morning. And in between the two had a marathon to run in Prince Edward Island. (Having skipped the Drumheller marathon, I wasn’t about to miss this one!)
So Friday afternoon: off I run (er... bike) to the airport. One transfer through Montréal (filled with questionable transit-lounge sushi – why, Sean?) later, I arrive in Charlottetown just before midnight. It has recently stopped raining and the evening is crisp, fresh, cool-but-not-cold.
Charlottetown isn’t what you’d call big. The walk from the airport to my downtown hotel takes no more than an hour, and I get there at about 1AM.
Along the way I get stone-cold asked by a gaggle of more-than-slightly-tipsy strangers if I want to make out.
Friday nights in Charlottetown, apparently! (Charlottetown is... friendly?)
Needless to say, that was a pretty easy “no” to give.
My aforementioned hotel is a cute B&B chosen (partly) for its virtue of being only a couple of blocks from the marathon’s finish line. As with pretty much everything in Charlottetown, it’s very touristy and very pricy, even in the shoulder season. (I could have stayed for several hundred fewer dollars in a motel out on the highway, but... no. Money, in this case, very well spent.) The proprietor is friendly, perhaps a little on the chatty side but *shrug*, and keeps a stand supplied with decent coffee 24h. A+ would stay again.
On Saturday I wake up to take advantage of the “&B” aspect of my accommodation (cue “a little on the chatty side”) then head out to pick up my race package. Getting said package takes all of maybe 10 minutes (the race isn’t a particularly big one) and I’m done by about 10:30, giving me the rest of the day to be a tourist. Saturday is sunny and pleasantly warm (though being mid-October, is definitely not hot) and is pretty much perfect for wandering around and sightseeing.
My wandering is largely aimless (as is my general wont), planned only insofar as to take in a bit of the waterfront, a bit of the downtown commercial district, and an assortment of side streets.
In the harbour is moored a large European cruise ship (the Eurodam) that looks like it could more-than-double the population of the city without breaking a sweat. (Ok, on looking up the numbers: no, not even close. But it sure seemed that way.) And the downtown waterfront area is full of equally-aimlessly-wandering discharges. I mingle with them long enough to pick up gifts for friends & coworkers from the souvenir shops in the area.
Shop #1: full of lobster. Yes, but... too expensive and WAY to voluminous to bring back enough for everyone.
Shop #2: full of “I got tipsy in PEI” shot glasses and the like. Ehhh... a little generic and meh.
Shop #3: full of t-shirts with crude drawings. No. Just... no.
Shop #4: full of Anne of Green Gables. Maybe, but probably too limited in its appeal.
Shop #5: full of local spice mixes and homemade catnip-filled cat toys. Perfect!
(Shop #6: full of ice cream. Om nom nom.)
This task thusly dispatched, I turn my
I don’t know why a pizza place. I don’t have pizza in mind. Heck, I’m not even much of a pizza fan. Ever since my erstwhile room-mate worked as a pizza deliverer for a semester and brought the rejects back from the restaurant for us to eat pretty much every night, I’ve been rather tepid about the dish. But ambling past the Piatto Pizzeria + Enoteca, something about it just calls out to me. Indeed it is a classic, almost cartoon-like double take. I walk past, glance at it, keep walking, then suddenly stop in my tracks. Look back at it for a second, and think: “WANT.”
What. A. Great. Decision.
It was... fate? I have to say that what I have is among the best pizza I can remember eating in my life. I had some pretty amazing pizza one time in Argentina, but that’s the only thing that comes to mind as even being in the same league. I start with a caprese salad (and I am a sucker for caprese salads) and it is the freshest, most fragrant almost-perfect salad I’ve ever had. I joke to my server that she can hold my pizza and I’d be happy with just another salad.
I’m glad she doesn’t take me up on the offer, because when my pizza arrives, it is completely amazing; if anything almost better than the salad. The cheese is great, the prosciutto is lovely, savoury and perfectly crispy... *sigh* The place has instantly become my favourite pizza restaurant — certainly in Canada, if not the entire world. Who’da’ thunk?
Now I spend the rest of the afternoon and evening continuing to wander and take photos. The architecture is neat (to someone from the other end of the country, where the architecture is very different.) I get a tip from someone to check out the boardwalk, so I do. It hugs the shoreline, through a park that offers various viewpoints of interest. I spend a couple of hours hanging out in public squares, people-watching. I am delighted to note that (once the cruise ship leaves) almost everyone left downtown is carrying around a PEI Marathon bag. In a city this small, the race is a pretty major event.
Eventually the sun goes down. I deposit my backpack full of gifts and race materials in my hotel room, catch up on work emails and other sundry, then go to grab some dinner.
A big buttery lobster dinner, with mussels and seafood chowder, and little golden potatoes: this breaks pretty much every. Single. Pre-race food rule. I have.
Normally, I’m actually super-fastidious about what I eat the day before a race. I plan out exactly what to eat (same things every time) and exactly when and I admit few deviations. It’s almost ritualistic. And none of it involves lobster.
But hey, I’m only in PEI once, right?
So I chow down. And it’s good. But honestly? Nowhere near as good as that pizza place.
In the midst of my meal, hsifyppah tweets a crack, to wit: “Oh CARB loading, I thought it was supposed be to CRAB loading!”
She breaks me. I am broken. I am sitting there at a sidewalk terrace, with half a lobster in front of me, cackling my damfool head off. Pedestrians are giving me a wide berth. Somehow it seems the perfect end to a really great day. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Yes. I am strange. You have met me, no?
- Charlottetown. This place was actually nominally a shawarma shop. Yup.
- Side-street architecture.
- The aforementioned Eurodam.
- 150 years.
- The also-aforementioned super awesome pizzeria.
- Before I die.... I particularly like the one (far right, 7 from top) that reads, “Run a marathon in every province.” Seems appropriate. I wasn’t the one who wrote it! But it is a goal of mine too (this trip marked my fifth province: 38% of the way there...).
- On seeing the “Square Closed” sign, my brain instantly leapt to closed intervals. Oh the hazards of having a math background.
- Sun dog!
- Looking back at Charlottetown from the boardwalk.
- Lobster dinner. Breaking ALL the rules.
Sunday was an early morning.
Prince Edward Island, I must tangent to note, is — as with its capital city of Charlottetown — not very big. A 42.2km race takes you from one side of the island to the other (and not even in a straight line, at that). I suppose they could have made the course a big loop, but instead they bussed us across the island to start the race on the Brackley Point beach of PEI National Park. Then we ran in a big looping arc back to the city and the downtown finish line.
So anyway, the buses were scheduled to leave at 7:00 so I wanted to be up at 6:00 and my brain was still on Alberta time so... 3AM.
I didn’t get too much sleep.
Nevertheless stumbled out into a dewy and crisp early morning, clambered onto the bus and rode through the pre-dawn darkness to Brackley Point. Between the dark and the condensation on the windows I didn’t see much. The guy on the bus next to me was also from Calgary (small world! ...tho’ we mighta’ been the only two?) but he was pretty interested in chatting to the girl across the aisle and I was pretty it’s-way-too-early-to-be-awake-and-I-hav
Got to the beach with half an hour to stomp around and warm up before the race started.
The sun rose over a cute fishing village about 5km in.
About an hour (10km) in we left the beach and turned inland to head back toward town. It started clouding over.
Actually, the weather was pretty much PERFECT for running. A bit of sun early in the day right when one would want it to warm up. Then once having done so, it became overcast and for the rest of the race stayed cool but not cold, and just this side of starting to rain. Like I said: perfect.
Except for a headwind. Ah well, can’t have everything.
We had a really cool 4:00 pace bunny. Appropriately goofy, chatty. Pointed out various sights (and sites) of interest as we ran by. We were totally on pace (or actually a couple of minutes ahead) at the halfway point where we turned off the road and started running along the Confederation Trail (part of the Trans Canada Trail) back toward town.
At 30km we were still a bit ahead of pace and I was feeling good. I can do it! I got this! I’m finally gonna beat that 4h time I’ve been gunning for!
At 33km last night’s buttery lobster came knocking at the door.
At 34km last night’s buttery lobster forced the door open and I had to make a very sudden detour off the trail and into the bushes.
C’est la vie.
After a quick regurgitation I was ready to go again, got back on the trail and continued running, a bit worse for wear. A slight nausea hung around for most of the rest of the race and I ran the last 8km pretty slowly, stopping every now and then to take deep breaths and heave a bit (although nothing ever came of it).
Crossed the finish line around 4:22. Not the under-4h I was hoping for. But then again, by far not my worst time either. And not too many years ago I probably would have been satisfied with that time. So, eh, whatever. I’ll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!
By 4:30 I was in my hotel room and clambering into a long hot bath. Like I wrote above, money well spent!
(I actually don’t have a bathtub at home, only a shower stall – so a bath is an unusual luxury at the best of times, doubly so right after a marathon! I... spent a while in there.)
More emailing and texting and whatnot followed. By mid-late afternoon I was feeling recovered enough to slowly wander around town some more, but Charlottetown is pretty dead on a Sunday afternoon (PEI provincial laws still prohibit many businesses from being open on Sunday). And the light wasn’t all that great for taking photos.
So mostly I just ended up going back to the pizza place for dinner (just as good as the prevous time. Yas!) then retired to the hotel. Checked out in preparation for the following morning.
On Monday I had to be back at work by noon.
This meant taking the first (5AM) flight out of town. Which with the hour walk to the airport, etc. meant leaving the hotel just past 3. Or uh, midnight, Calgary time.
I got up, threw some clothes on, went out the door and into the pouring rain. Yep: pretty much as good a time as any to be getting out of Dodge. Thanks for co-operating, weather!
8 hours later I landed in Calgary to the brilliant sunshine of a 20-degree mid-October Chinook. A quick zip on the bike and I was back in my office less than 70 hours (and about $2700 *gulp!*) after I’d left. A very fast, but very fun weekend.
I’d totally go back some day.
But not to run the marathon again (fun though it was). I still have 5 provinces and 3 territories to go...