Sunday, 21 February 2010


Earlier this week, with an abundance of caution, I laced up my Beasts and reintroduced them to the pavement. It's been five weeks since I hurt myself and found myself in Recoveryland. It is not a fun land. I did three miles that day, around Oakland's Lake Merritt, and another three miles on the treadmill on another day. It was after those little jaunts that I decided I was probably ready to kick things up a bit, especially since I have the Los Angeles Marathon in four (arrgh???) weeks. Today I slipped into the Beasts again and headed into San Francisco, with the goal of starting a ten miler right outside my jacuzzi-equipped gym and then ending it there, hopefully, without pain.

Immediately, upon stepping outside my door, I started realizing the things I've missed not running the past month or so.

I was not raining but it was threatening to. I wondered, as I do many pre-dawn mornings, whether I am over- or under-dressed for the conditions. I decided I had called it just right, and headed to the closest Starbucks for an additional boost. I'd already had two cups of Blue Bottle Three Africans. As I parked, between two of the five cop cars in the lot, I saw all five officers sitting at a table inside. It was the start of their days, too. They had no idea what sort of action they'd be facing in the hours ahead. That's what's brilliant about running while almost everyone else is still in bed. As I walked by I overheard one of them mention something about some trouble he was having with his "washer and dryer". See, cops are people, too!

Along with my coffee I also had a chocolate croissant. The cheery Starbucks lass heated it up for me just a tad, making it just that more likely that some chocolate would drip out and onto my jacket. That would have been tragic. It didn't happen!

Among the many, many rarities in the city of San Francisco is free parking...right where you want it to be. I snagged such a spot across from my gym this day. Result. Happy with that, I put my earbuds in my ears and switched on my little radio. Fail. I had forgotten to check the batteries, and these had given up the ghost. I was apparently going to be left with nothing but my own thoughts for the next couple of hours. Fortunately, I had my Blackberry, so I turned the whole event into a picture-taking journey.

I started things off with a potty stop in the Ferry Building Plaza. It is usually a teeming mass of tourists and local go-getter business types. When the stalls are open you can find almost anything good to eat or drink here...and pay about twice as much as you should! However, this morning, as I started my Garmin, this is what it looked like inside...

My route of choice took me south on the Embarcadero, toward ATT Park, the home of our baseball Giants. I made one little detour, out to the end of this fishing pier. Note to self and everyone else...don't eat anything you know came from this Bay. Serious.

Having run very little in the past few weeks, it was a little tough getting into the grove. I still had not fully warmed to the challenge by the time I got to the ballpark, a little over a mile from the start. Took a moment to check my previously-injured foot here, and to snap a snap of the big mitt on display on the outfield wall.

From the stadium I turned north, heading up 3rd Street, then west to 4th, and an area called China Basin. It used to be butt-ugly. It ain't no more. Despite the current economic climate, there's big bucks being spent and made here.

Next I ran across a "street" I'd never heard of before. I'm thinking most of us would feel pretty cool if a street was named for us. I'm wondering, though, what Helen Macintosh thinks. You are looking at her namesake Lane...all of it!

Around the corner from HM Lane, I found this intersection. Again, I've never heard of these streets before today. This is one of the joys of running. The tasty discoveries you make along the way.

In order to make it to Market Street, I had to weave my way through throngs of out-of-towners, obviously on their way to a convention at Moscone Center. I gave up at one point and went into the street. Why is it that tourists leave their brains in their hotel rooms when they venture out, if they brought them from home at all?

Crossing Market I climbed up Stockton Street. This is the tunnel at the top of the hill. I didn't go through here, as I was afraid I'd loose my Garmin's connection with the heavens.

Turned right here and then left on Grant, the entrance to Chinatown. I wanted to pay homage to the herbal concoction I am sure sped my recovery up. What was disconcerting, a bit, but fun, a lot, what that most of the streets were vacant, having been shut down for some event. Never did figure out what it was.

North Beach is just north of Chinatown...and home to some amazing Italian restaurants and cafes.

I will admit to being tempted. But, I had a job to do.

I also found a Belgian restaurant I didn't know existed. Snapped a pic of the menu for my friend, Laura. She's all hot for anything Belgian. Serious.

At the top (or is it the bottom?) of Columbus Avenue, I turned west again, heading toward Fort Mason and the Marina Green. Decided the Marina would be where I turned back toward the Financial District, my car and the jacuzzi. Hit mile 8 right about here...with no pain.

That's the St. Francis Yacht Club back there. Chances are it will be hosting the next America's Cup. Don't know if you heard, but Oracle's big guy, Larry Ellison just won that little trinket. He gets to choose the next venue for the competition.

These are the Ft. Mason steps. I did run up them. I stopped to breathe again at the top...then headed down the hill towards Fisherman's Wharf. These folks will welcome just about anybody to the City...from anywhere...even pirates!

The third flag from the right is a Jolly Roger! Aye!

After the wharf, where I inhaled the smells of steamed crab and fresh baked sourdough bread (and did NOT exhale!), it was all about the last mile back down the Embarcadero, from whence I came.

At mile 8 my Garmin indicated I had been doing 12:40 miles. I was not happy with that time, even though this run was meant to test the mettle of my right foot, and not for any sort of record pace. Decided to kick things up a bit for the last two, as the foot was fine. Whittled that down to 12:09 average pace by the end. Happy with that.

Also happy with the outdoor, but covered, jacuzzi at my 24 Hour Fitness place. This, people, was what it was all about.

Having not trained much for over a month I was not certain how much gas there would be in the tank today. Apparently I have some core stuff left from last year's madness. Happy for that. Let's do us some LA, huh?

Gotta run!

Monday, 8 February 2010


It would appear I am back in the game.

After months of being unable to actually pull the trigger on signing up for Trieste and Prague marathons in May, and three weeks of injury-caused non-running and recovery, "Mr. Mo" is back on my side as of the just-concluded weekend.

I committed to doing the marathons in Italy and the Czech Republic last fall, based on the assumption that I'd have enough credit card miles to earn another free ticket to London on Virgin Atlantic. This is how I work my travelling magic. I was a few thousand points short until VA so kindly sent me an email on February 1st alerting me to the fact they'd reduced the required number by 5K. Hallelujah! Tickets to LHR acquired this morning, along with tickets on Ryan Air from London to Venice. I then perused my hostel options in London and gleefully discovered my favourite YHA Hostel, St. Pancras, is only 20 quid a night. Now that's booked! Yahoo. Since wrapping up the 12/12 last December in Santa Barbara, I have needed to lock this stuff down for my own daily version of sanity. Done. Dusted.

I have not been utterly goal-less since December, however. I have paid my big bucks to run the new Los Angeles Marathon course on my birthday weekend (3/21). I am looking very much forward to doing that one and staying in the YHA Hostel in Santa Monica. This puppy's just a couple of blocks from the beach-end of the course, a few more blocks from a big 24 Hour Fitness Club that has whirlpool and saunas, and only costs about $25 a night.

I got a fright 3 weeks ago, though, when I suffered my first ever running injury while attempting 8 miles in my VFF's. Stress fractured my 3rd metatarsyl in my right foot. I was seriously concerned that recovery would not happen fast enough for me to see LA through. However, thanks to friends' suggestions that I try a Chinese herb concoction they had found to be effective, I have now been pain free for 3 days. Did a treadmill test run of 3 miles yesterday and officially declared the foot good to go. So, it looks like LA is on.

I have also been seriously considering signing up for the inaugural Oakland Marathon, just down the road a piece, the week after LA. Sadly, I am leaning now toward pulling out of that one in an effort to be kind to my foot, with races in Europe in mind. Also, the Oakland event entrance fee is over $100 now, and I'm thinking I would do better having that cash on hand, again, for Europe. Also, since Oakland is my hometown area, I can run these streets anytime I want to...for free. I know some folks will be dissappointed that I am not going to partake in all that Oakland has to offer (some serious hill work!!), but I plan on being on the sidelines and the finish for them that day. I will be springing for some congratulatory brews at Quinn's Lighthouse, people.

All in all, I'm thinking things are looking up. I am feeling good feeling good. Ready to kick up the training again (slowly but surely). Hoping to get back up to at least a 15-16 mile long run before LA...and then fully train for the back-to-backs across the Pond. Big thanks to everyone on Twitter, Daily Mile, Just Finish, and Facebook who sent me encouragement and support during the healing process. Your kind thoughts were little treasures. A special thanks also goes out to my wife. She put up with 3 weeks of "whining", she claims. Hmm. Really? Serious?

Oh, by the way. In case you missed it. By way of tooting my horn, which I am not fond of doing, a delightful article was written about my 12/12 and posted on Here's the link to that. Check it out a couple of times, if you could. The writer gets paid based on hits (I think). Thanks, Mira, for your nice work. Check her other stuff out here.

Gotta run!