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!


naomi said...

I fully enjoyed your tour of our city! Glad your foot is getting better and you can get back on track for LA! BTW - Where is that 24-hr? I thought the whirpool at my 24-hr was nice - that one looks even better!

Michael B said...

naomi - it's on sacramento across from embarcadero two. it's 24 hour m-f and shorter hours on sat-sun. cheers. thanks for the good wishes!

Laura said...

I'd start with the frites (with mayo) and then dive into the Boudain Blanc (of course, I'm vegetarian now, but that wouldn't stop me)

YOU are right - LOVE MY BELGIANS!!!

John said...

that's a great test for the foot. i'd say you're looking good for LA. i'm gotta drag my butt out into the rain soon for a long run.

TokyoRacer said...

Glad to know you're up and out and running again, Michael.

Anonymous said...

Such a great city!!! Thanks for the tour and I'm glad that your run was a successful one for your toe.

Marathon Maritza said...

Awesome run post, I love all the pictures! I'm going to have to do this run at some point, especially with the hot tub b/c I belong to 24H as well!

Glad you felt good and are back in the running saddle!

Kim said...

Sounds like a great run. I, too, have found myself injured and have only run 2 half marathons this year. I think running 12 marathons last year, broke my body down a bit. I'm hoping my coach will release me to run in March.

Take care of yourself!

Michael B said...

@kim so...are you running athens?? if so, me too! good luck with your return to the road! cheers

Rachel said...

I have to applaud you for being so diligent with your recovery and now it looks like it paid off! Sounds like you had a great run and are back in the game : ) Can't wait for LA!!

Margot's Musings & Misadventures said...

I'm going overseas (US & Canada) in about 10 days, for a month and although am looking forward to it, am dreading what it's going to do to my training.. and hope it won't take too long to get back to where I'm at right now!!
I'm currently running 50-60kms a week and have never done that in my life..
I'm also hoping to do my first marathon next year and just hope this o/s trip doesn't kill my plans!!!

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