Thursday, 25 April 2013

Bright mornings, fast trains and some poking around

I haven't had much time to be out taking images of trains lately.  There is a bridge under repair that connects my local area of Taylor Creek with Sunnybrook and it's throughly fenced in until the workers have completed their tasks.  If you're familiar with the area, it's the bailey bridge that crosses the CN Bala tracks near Don Mills Road.  The area has been undergoing renovations to replace the aging footbridge under Don Mills.  That work is completed and now they are doing the decking on the bailey bridge.  Before the bridge closure you could still navigate across Don Mills but a deckless bridge isn't very useful.  Most people are just going around the fencing and cross the tracks but I have this inate refusal to tresspass on the Metrolinx right of way so I'm staying away from the area until the work is done.

Bala below Doncaster sees not a lot of CN action these days.  VIA's Canadian #2 still uses it and Richmond Hill GO service on weekdays, but I haven't seen freight action there in months.  CP's Belleville and North Toronto subs are my freight train sources these days.  The bridge work at Don Mills makes this less accessible for the time being.  I can still get around through the area near Cottonwood Flats if I have time for longer runs.  The level CP crossing at Wicksteed needs only 25 minutes for me to get there with the bridge open, but over an hour with the bridge out.  Summerhill is more accessible right now and Summerhill has better viewing, albeit not at track level.  I did try a few longer shots of the Leaside yard area from Cottonwood Flats but there are just too many trees in the way.

The reliable Kingston sub is always nearby.  6:30AM and on that is one busy line.  Mutliple GO trains an hour, plenty of VIA trains coming in and going out.  Being wakey wakey with the ever earlier sun shining in through the window and the window opened a crack for air, the Lakeshore line gets mighty noisy.  This morning I headed down Woodbine Avenue to the crossing north of Gerard Street just in time to catch VIA combo 50/52 heading to Ottawa and Montreal with it's unique two train tandem.

Blink and you'll miss it:

They don't have the high-speed train warning signs posted everywhere on that line for nothing.

While scoping out some other locations on the streets nearby I'm glad I had the camera rolling here for this GO eastbound unit:

Not the best location, it was over a fence at the base of Westlake Avenue just south of the Danforth, but it was a unique catch.  This double-ender had two of GOs refurbished F59PH units, #564 up front and #563 tacked onto the rear.  These 59s have to double up to meet the performance demands of 10 car passenger service as they lack the oomph of the MP40PH 4000HP powerhouses on most of GOs trains.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Marathon

I have run the Boston Marathon.  I unexpectedly qualified by running 3:27:30 at the Mississauga Marathon one fine spring day.  The next April, my family and I drove down to beantown and stayed in a hotel in Brookline right on the marathon route and about 2 miles away from the finish line on Boylston.

We had perfect marathon weather that Patriot's Day, with cloudy skies, temperatures in mid 50's, light west breeze, it couldn't have been better running conditions and far removed from the blistering temperatures that prevailed that day a year earlier.

When are are one of the runners in Boston on marathon day, you are treated like royalty.  People high five you, they nod as you pass, despite the thousands that will toe the line that day they find it amazing that you are there to run it.  The day before, during and after, if you are a Boston Marathon runner it really is all about you, or so they make you feel.

The crowds persist over the entire 26.2 mile route.  They never seem thinner than 3 rows deep anywhere.  The screaming wall of women at Wellesley College can be heard a mile out and is the perfert mid-race pick-me-up.  You do have to reign it in a tad to make sure you don't overcook at, since the college sits nearly right on the 13.1 mile marker.

You battle the hills in Newton and your quads seem cooked by 20 miles.  I could only discern the infamous Heartbreak Hill by the signs in the area, as the whole region at this point seems like you're either climbing up or scampering down.  As you make your way into Boston proper, you see the Citco sign looming into view, the crowds thicken and it gets impossibly louder.  If the marathoners are tireless in their pursuit of the finish line, the crowds that scream every number and every name along the way must be twice so, because they start when the first wheelchair athlete passes by and don't stop until the last straggler has is through.

This year, somebody, or some group, decided to take advantage of the openess of the venue, and attack the spectators, the runners, the volunteers, the passers-by, the curious, the media, children, adults, unselective, unforgiving, inhuman.  The projectiles that were blasted out of some hidden devices arbitrarily tore through one victim and another, and another, with deadly force, set with utter disregard for the who, all within an instant and without warning.

I don't even understand what this was an attack on.  An 8 year old boy?  29 year old woman?  Athletes from around the world?  Just, people?

Runners will run.  People will watch and cheer.  This won't change.  I haven't run a marathon since 2006 Boston.  Maybe that part will change.