Rave Run: San Francisco
Living in Chicago has turned me into a tourist-hater. Stopping randomly on the street to snap photos of every asinine thing, looking skyward at tall buildings and stumbling into strangers, walking slowly and obliviously. They make me want to scream.
For that reason, I’ve become a running tourist. Taking to the streets early, phone in-hand, pausing for photo ops or to ogle my surroundings. I’m quick, I’m efficient, I’m not in anyone’s way, and I can go exactly where I want to.
Case in point: San Francisco. I was there recently for a work convention, so my time to see the sights was quite limited. Enter the running tourist.
I ventured on two early-morning runs on the San Francisco Bay State Trail (the two-hour time change was working in my favor). The first day, I took Market Street down through the financial district to the bay and headed toward AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. And baby, did I fly down that not-too-steep hill. Foggy and cool, nary a person around, it was pure heaven. The 6-mile route was relatively flat, and I covered it with ease.
The trail wound underneath the Bay Bridge. There in the morning fog, it was breathtaking. I took my time around the stadium, reading plaques on the Giants Wall of Fame and the milestone performances preserved for posterity in the sidewalk. Then, I reluctantly made my way back to the hotel.
For my next run, I decided to tackle the infamous San Francisco hills en route to Pier 39 a.k.a. Fisherman’s Wharf. The first quarter-mile was all uphill. And I mean up. hill. I wussed out and turned down toward the bay much earlier than planned. I passed pier after pier until I reached the Wharf. Aside from a handful of runners and people fishing off the dock, it was just me and the Pier 39 sea lions. I listened to their barks echo through the bay and could not stop grinning. (They’re just so damn cute!) I ran to the end of the pier and looked out at Alcatraz Island. With a blanket of fog, it was downright spooky. (I may have gotten a chill. Don’t judge.)
And, for anyone who’s been to Fisherman’s Wharf on a Saturday afternoon — which I have — you can appreciate just how amazing it was to be there without a crowd.
I began the run back and was set on taking another path through the relatively flat financial district when the adventurer in me kicked in. I can’t leave San Francisco without running these hills! And so it came to pass that I ran nearly a mile uphill through Chinatown. When I reached the summit, I was rewarded with an incredibly gorgeous cathedral and a tranquil park with dozens of people doing tai chi. You could not wipe the smile off my face.
Of course, there was still the matter of going back downhill, which, in many ways, was more difficult than the uphill. I was one misstep from disaster in the form of a face-first tumble down a 25 percent grade incline. Thankfully, I made it back to the hotel without injury and with just enough time to shower before my conference began.
All told, I ran about 13 miles on the streets, piers and trails of San Francisco. Considering the city only occupies about 47 square miles, I’d say that’s pretty good. — Mags