Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Little Jog thru San Francisco

It's kind of nice to have a mother who lives in Marin County.

After driving down to spend Spring Break there, I decided to knock another line off my bucket list: run across the Golden Gate Bridge.

There's a nice parking area and viewpoint on the north side of the bridge. Good place to drop the car and stretch while getting a look at the city.

If you ever do this run, bring long sleeves. It's cold up there. And windy. And the bridge is not remotely close to flat. So you're working pretty hard right out of the box.

Once you're halfway over, you get to coast awhile.

Then a sharp left, down a serious hill, and I'm on the beach. The wind died down, and it's really pleasant. Just chugging along. Then it's past Fort Mason, Ghirardelli Square, and more.

But now the fun begins.

The destination is the top of Lombard. As in up Hyde Street. As in a hill that is almost physically impossible to traverse without rapelling gear.

Yes, it's steep. A 20% grade for this stretch.

And of course, there's a streetcar coming. So I have to make it respectable. Lean forward, pump the arms, and get after it.

Can't remember if I won or if the streetcar did, but I wouldn't have bet against the streetcar.

Jeez, this is a ridiculous run.

Finally to the top of Lombard, the crooked-est street in America. Let me show my age: Bill Cosby did a hilarious bit about Lombard on one of his early 1970s comedy albums. You know, vinyl records?

Lots of tourists hanging out at the top of the street, taking pictures. Not too many idiots running up the hill.

Old comedy routine:
First guy: "There's always an idiot in every crowd."
Second guy: "I don't see any."

Not sure, but going downhill might be even harder. I can feel the sole rubber on my sneakers burning away. Knees are making a lot of noise, they are not happy about this.

Back to the waterfront, and I notice something odd. I'm pretty sure I'm going toward the Bridge, but it sure seems like it's getting farther away.

Okay, just about there. Nice thing about the waterfront is the view. Lousy thing about the waterfront is that it's a lot lower than the bridge itself. Murderous, murderous climb up Long and Lincoln. Pace dropped to a survival shuffle.

Finally, back on the Bridge. Crap, I forgot; even this is uphill.

The other side finally arrives, 1:45 after I began. Pretty whipped; this was my longest run since Penn State Cross Country Camp in, what, 1981? Didn't think to bring any water, and that was a bit too long to go without any liquids.

Post-script: for the rest of 2009, I had nagging knee problems that began after this run, most likely due to dehydration and cramping. Think hard before bypassing water and fluids; either carry some or bring a couple of dollars. It's worth it.

But just a great run.