Hit the road in the dark of the early morning, heading for San Francisco's financial district, where the City's famous Bay to Breakers run begins each year. It's the only race I've run so many times I have actually lost count. I believe it's somewhere between 5-8, but who cares, really? With 8 more marathons scheduled for this year I can't justify the expense of officially signing up for B2B this year...so I decided the 7+ mile course, out and back, would make a tasty 15 mile training run. Bingo!
For the few of you running it this year who've never done it before, I took my camera-equipped cellphone along. Thought I'd snap some shots for you, by way of a little, if not slightly askew, preview. Sadly, said cellphone is NOT an iPhone, so you'll have to bear with the crap picture quality.
My run began beneath the famous Ferry Building clock tower, just two blocks from where B2B starts beneath a shower of tortillas. Don't ask. You'll know what I mean soon enough. Suffice it to say, you may need a tortilla helmet. The official race route travels up Howard to 9th, turns right, crosses Market and turns left onto Hayes. Hayes is home to the biggest hill on the course.
Honestly, I think the Hayes Hill hype is just that. First off, it's only about 4 blocks long. Secondly, if you're anything but an elite runner or a snail, you'll find it tough to walk up the hill, let alone run it at pace, because of the crowds. I had it to myself this morning, and ran the whole way. Pat me on the back! Coming down the other side is tough on the quads. Be careful here, or you could easily take a nasty, career-threatening tumble.
Left turn onto Divisadero, home to some of the best coffee, BBQ, and ethnic eateries in the City. One block on, right turn onto Fell, the northern border of the famous Golden Gate Park panhandle, seemingly eternally-populated by earnest runners, lycra-clad cyclists, clueless crackheads, the housing-challenged, shameless Bohemians, and unsuspecting tourists. Fell runs into GGP-proper and becomes JFK Drive, beautifully devoid of car traffic on Sundays, giving skateboarders, in-line skaters, more runners, and more cyclists, unfettered access.
Once your feet start pounding away on JFK, or about half way into the race, we're pretty much talking downhill the rest of the way.
The run is what it is here...just another run in a big city park...unless you consider the chance that the buffalo, who live in their own gated community on the north side of JFK Drive, are out and frolicking about for your viewing pleasure. They usually are....out. Frolicking? Not so much.
After the bison/buffalo, you'll be wanting to watch for the windmill. It's coming up on the right. You can't miss it. But, if you're attention-challenged enough to do so, you won't miss the next big site. It's called the Pacific Ocean. It's all that's left between you and that vacation you've always wanted in our 50th state. Just before you run into the water, turn left at the Great Highway.
That's the finish line up ahead.
This is where I did a 180, and headed back the way I came.
To find out what the route's like going that direction, read all the above, backwards. Or hold it up to a mirror. That works.
My time for the westbound leg today was a tad dissappointing, somewhere in the 1:30 range. However, Bucko, going back was 1:23. Negative splits. That's what I'm talking about.
I have a 20-miler scheduled for a week from tomorrow. It'll be my last long run til SLC. I'm feeling like I'm in good shape for the marathon, and those that follow in quick succession, until my next big break in August/September.