A San Francisco Run

golden_gate

Work took me to San Francisco last week, and on Thursday morning, well before sunup, I set out for a lovely 13 miler. After the winter we’ve had here in New England, a slightly clammy but not too breezy 66F felt like liberation – a shorts-and-singlet run that led me eventually to this stunning predawn view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Here are some of the milestones on the route, which I highly recommend to all you business-traveling runners.

I started at the Hotel Triton at the gates of Chinatown and ran Bush Street to Market Street, to where it runs into the Embarcadero, right at the Ferry Building. From there I headed north and then west, with the bay always there in the dark, gleaming with reflected lights, on my right shoulder, on past Pier 39, and the slumbering sea lions, and the Alcatraz ferry, and through Fisherman’s Wharf and then curling around the Aquatic Cove, beneath the great illuminated Ghirardelli sign, and then plunging into the darkness where Black Point climbs steeply into the Fort Mason park area. It was pitch black, and there were no lights, so I was grateful for the iPhone 5s’ flashlight feature. That kept me from tripping on a cracks in the pathway and from getting plowed over by another runner or a cyclist. There were plenty of both, so I felt pretty confident that I wasn’t running into too sketchy an area alone, in the dark.

At the bottom of the hill on the other side of the park you are in the Marina District and can follow the water along to the Crissy Field Marsh, where waves lap and froth on sandy stretches and runners drift along in the dark on sandy pathways and great abstract looking art installations loom against the star pricked black of the sky, and on to Fort Point, at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, where in 1769 Spain established the area’s first settlement.

I stopped there, took the picture at the top of this post, smelled the salt and listened to the waves pound the seawall for a minute, and considered how happy I was to be a runner at that moment. Not because I’d run fast or well that morning, but because a training calendar prompts one to leave one’s hotel room and roam through a great swath of history and beauty, and still be back at the hotel and be ready to start the work day just as the sun rises. Work leaves me with little time for sightseeing when I travel, but running has provided me a wonderfully intimate, sneaker-level view of some amazing places in the world. With that happy thought in mind, I headed back for a quick bite, some work, and the walk over to the convention center.

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