A couple of colleagues planned to run this morning leaving at 6:30am but I wasn’t entirely sure how long or how far the run would be. As both are preparing for the Run in Lyon race in October I didn’t expect it to be a single time around the block, but I still wanted to get in an hour or so today knowing that I would be losing a day of training traveling home tonight. I decided, then, to head out for a run a little before 6:30am and then return to meet the guys and see where we ended up. If it turned out to be a little longer than I imagined then so be it, but why miss out on an opportunity to explore San Francisco a little more?
I decided, again, to prioritize not getting lost over exploring the cities many side streets and trails, but I still wanted to see a little bit more of what is a pretty special place. Hence, I decided to make my way to the Castro District and get a small taste for the Golden Gate Park before returning to the apartment we are sharing here and meeting with the guys.
As it turned out, this was a good decision.
I headed out the door and pointed my way up hill towards Castro Street. Between me and my goal was a hill of a fairly significant proportion. It was steep, it was long, and I felt my breathing getting heavier as I pushed to the top. Once there, though, it was a fairly nice drop down Castro Street and I had a chance to catch my breath. The stores all along the street are beautiful and some of the names bring a smile immediately – a nail salon called Hand Job made me chuckle – and suggested that at any time other than 5:30am this would be a fun place to visit.
I continued down Castro then eventually turned onto Fell Street and made my way onto the Panhandle. This park has paths that twist and turn on the way towards the Golden Gate Park. While the path is easy to follow, there are some cracks and bumps in the pavement so I had to keep an eye on where I put my foot down. I didn’t twist an ankle but I am sure I could have if I didn’t keep my eyes open. All through the Panhandle I was running in fog and, where the fog had condensed on the leaves of the trees, it was like running through temporary and very isolated showers. I wasn’t complaining, though, as the run up and down from Castro had made me a little hot.
At the end of the Panhandle I entered Golden Gate Park. This is an immense area I would enjoy exploring more but, as I only had limited time this morning, I made a short loop near the conservatory and then came back to the other side of the Panhandle on Oak Street. I passed a few other runners around this point and then turned back onto Castro Street again for the return home.
This time, though, that long descent that I had enjoyed was a long steady ascent from the center of the Castro District. The climb probably looked worse than it actually was when I eventually got on it but I was reminded that yesterday’s effort where I managed to avoid almost all hills was definitely not the norm here in San Francisco. Mounting the top of the hill at 21st Street, I got to enjoy one final push over the top of a crest and then a long, black-toenail-inducing decent back to Valencia and to home.
As I got back at about 6:15am I checked around for my colleagues and – lo and behold – they had already left. I guess they noticed I was not there and decided to go without me. All the better I got in a run early, right?