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Monthly Archives: September 2013

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Parc National du Mont-Saint-Bruno
330, rang des 25 E.
Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Québec J3V 4P6
1-800-665-6527
www.sepaq.com/pq/msb/

There is so much to explore in my city of Montréal but I also love trips outside the island to discover the rest of the province. A friend had been harping about hiking at one of the mountains outside of the city forever so we finally planned a day to visit the national park at Mont-Saint-Bruno (the trails and not the ski hill), which is so close to Montréal and makes a fun day time excursion.

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The different trails were marked by signs with various route distances

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This morning was the 23rd Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis Montreal Marathon, which started at 8:30 am at Jacques-Cartier Bridge for the half-marathon and full marathon races. I took part in the half-marathon (21 kilometres or 13 miles), and the event drew a record number of runners — 32,000 in total for all races, with 14,000 registered in the half-marathon, and 7,000 for the full-marathon. When we waited in our corrals on the bridge, the runners were getting excited and jumping up and down, and we could feel the bridge shake from the weight of participants! A tad scary, if you ask me. Like other races, the run had staggered starts so by the time our corral was brought to the starting line it was about 8:50 am. The morning called for a 40% chance of precipitation and it was spitting by the time we started the race, but it ended up raining heavily for the first seven kilometres. Rain doesn’t faze me so much as the huge puddles and overflowing streets, but most of the run ended up dry but very cloudy.

I started off great and felt good about the pace I was initially keeping, which was about three minutes slower than my 10K time. However, by the 14th kilometre I slowed down severely — at snail’s pace or about 10% of my previous running speed. I injured my right knee, a new injury, and though I don’t remember what exactly happened and how, I could no longer bend the knee anymore or put much weight on it. It felt sort of like a very old affliction I had in my teens when my right hip became slightly dislocated; my knee was making a similar popping sound as that hip injury, but the pain wasn’t too bad — it just made me slow. So I kept this awfully slow pace for the last 7 kilometres through a very awkward limp-run and by placing most of my weight on my left leg. While the race for me was definitely doable on a cardiovascular and leg work level, I couldn’t run at my limits due to this annoying grievance. At the end it was all about mental gymnastics as I had to talk myself into continuing on with the race and getting through the last third of the run on a limp. Disappointingly but as expected, my race time was actually slower than last year’s run by four minutes. Whatever, I have next year to look forward to!

After crossing the finish line, my friend and I grabbed our checked-in bag and walked home and we passed through the full marathon race continuing through the neighbourhood. When we came home we could actually hear the cheers from the spectators. Because we live in the Plateau we were lucky that we could stagger back home without a car which would have been a nightmare as many of the roads were closed around the city. We showered, replenished ourselves with food and fluids, and were surprised that we weren’t as wiped out as I was last year. I definitely trained better this time around and I’m used to the long distance runs and hill work, but I guess I’ll have to look into what caused my knee injury and probably do some strength work in that area once I give it time to heal.

I guess I made some mistakes with this second half-marathon that resulted in my injury, but I also made a lot of good choices in preparing for this race.

Here’s what I did right this time around:

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Chihuly: Utterly Breathtaking
Exhibition at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal
1380 Sherbrooke St. W.
Montréal, Québec H3G 1J5
(514) 285-2000
www.mmfa.qc.ca

My talents in art never lay with sculpture. I am not very good at creating anything in the three dimension, and I have been much more drawn to the use of vivid colours and curved lines on traditional surfaces as canvas or paper. So the works of Dale Chihuly — he who looks like your favourite pirate neighbour — intrigue me. His medium is sculpture and his talent is beyond being just a master glass blower, producing creations far from the kinds of art works I am usually drawn to. But Chihuly’s brightly hued shapes and installations are so unique they are compelling to just about every viewer: myself, other art lovers and the general public.

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Detail of Persian Ceiling from top photo

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Fall is upon us, and before the summer’s over several neighbourhoods in Montréal hold bi-annual sidewalk sales. The city has these outdoor street sales to promote retail clearance events and snacks from food vendors, which is the perfect time to get reacquainted with what is happening on the main streets. These sales mean that the roads get shut down, the people come out, and you get a reason to stroll around your block to see what’s going on.

My neighbourhood in the Plateau recently held its end of summer sale, Vente Trottoir l’Avenue Mont-Royal (Sidewalk Sale of Mont Royal Avenue), along the main street of Avenue Mont-Royal and the streets were packed with vendors, shoppers, and curious onlookers. Avenue Mont-Royal is known for being dotted with funky and independent fashion stores, trendy bars and restaurants, and cute bakeries. The Plateau is kind of the francophone equivalent to the adjacent anglophone neighbourhood of the artsy Mile End, home of Arcade Fire, Stars and other musicians. I am on a budget so no purchases were made, but it is always fun to see the people come out of their row houses to grab some snacks and stroll around the streets in the last days of summer.

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The George-Étienne Cartier Monument at the base of Mont-Royal

I love the mountain. Mont-Royal (Mount Royal) is located just north of downtown Montréal and the park is very much visited by both locals and tourists. In the warmer months, you will find cyclists, runners, and walkers climbing the trails while the Tam Tams drum and dance at the George-Étienne Cartier Monument, and a medieval battle takes hold further up in the forest. Others play frisbee, hackey sack, picnic, or just rest in the grassy hills, or take in the view of the city from the Observatory near the top of the mountain. A large crucifix illuminates at the top and faces the east side of the city, and two large cemeteries — the larger and Catholic Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, and the traditionally Protestant and English Cimetière Mont-Royal — encompass the west side of the mountain.

Montréal is a cold city, so we don’t have too many months available for seasonal activities which means that city dwellers learn to embrace the cold. Hence, even in the winter, the mountain is accessible with fresh snow fall immediately plowed and packed to the ground so that cold weather runners and cross-country skiers can whiz up the paths. I also sometimes see snow-shoers as well, though there are fewer tourists who are willing to bear the biting Montréal cold. The Montréal Police also patrol the mountain, riding on horses through the trails, so the sight of road apples is common in the park.

The temperature has been dropping in the city, so if you want to catch the Tam Tams and the Medieval Battle, or take a walk through the park is warmer weather, don’t wait too long to visit the mountain. Find out more information about Mont-Royal on their website: www.lemontroyal.qc.ca.

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Parks in Montréal are very well used

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Medieval sword-fight battle every Sunday at the mountain

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Pourquoi Pas Espresso Bar
1447 Rue Amherst (south of Maisonneuve)
Montréal, Québec H2L 3L2
(514) 419-9400
https://www.facebook.com/PQuoiPas

How is everyone’s Labour Day weekend going? Mine is actually quite boring; I have been at home doing work as I have several deadlines this month even though the new school year for me officially starts on Tuesday. Regardless, I managed to enjoy the outdoors by fitting in some long runs to the mountain here in Montréal — Mont Royal (Mount Royal for anglos) — to practise some long runs and hill work. I absolutely love the mountain, which is only about 3 kilometres from my home. I will share some photos of the mountain and park in the near future, so look out for a future post on Mont Royal.

As I mentioned, I have been working from home but about half, or perhaps more than half, of the time I like to work in cafés. There are some excellent cafés here in the city, with most providing free Wi-Fi for its customers — I know, we’re spoiled that we don’t have to pay for WiFi in cafés in Montréal unlike many cities in North America. So what usually happens is that I perch myself at a café all day which can be a nice reprieve from being holed alone in my apartment. There are so many great cafés in Montréal and I definitely have my favourites, but I also love discovering new ones. Last month, my friend and I were doing some vintage furniture shopping in The Village and we came across Pourquoi Pas Espresso Bar just north of the hustle and bustle of rue Sainte-Catherine.

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