The SF Chronicles: Tackling Lombard
After a brief hiatus for my previously posted relay race report, I’m back with the final installment of my San Francisco chronicles. Things have been a bit more hectic than normal around the house in the past week with the addition of a new four-legged running partner, but more to come on that later!
Now, utilizing my running shoes as a vehicle to see the city was definitely a major impetus for the mileage I piled up in San Francisco, but I also made sure I wasn’t losing sight of my training. I’ve mentioned before how different the landscape in San Francisco is, and there is no hill more famous than Lombard St. I knew before I hopped on the plane that I wanted to make sure I paid this area a visit and tackled all the hills the city had to offer. Although I had a sense that I wasn’t quite ready, that proved to be quite the painful and satisfying understatement!
I headed east from the hotel down toward the Embarcadero, and to AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. Although I’m a life-long Minnesota Twins fan, I wanted to make sure I had a chance to take a peak at the stadium while I was in town. This gave me a chance to run along the Embarcadero again and take in the views from the various piers as I headed north. When I had gotten far enough north, I turned back west towards Hyde St.
My initial plan was actually to run past Hyde and go further west towards Golden Gate Park, and I even passed Hyde by initially. Then I turned around to look up the hill. I had never seen a hill this steep and this long in all my life. It might as well have been a mountain, and I couldn’t fathom trying to punish my transmission going up the hill, let alone running up it. However, the self-competitor in me kicked in when I saw a few other runners, and I knew I would regret not running up this urban mountain.
After the first 50 yards, the 12.4% grade announced itself pretty clearly to my legs. My legs had never felt so strained on a run, and for such a sustained period of time, and I loved it! I made my way to the intersection at Lombard St., which is about 2/3 of the way up the Hyde St. hill, and paused for the requisite photo opportunities.
Lombard truly is just as beautiful and winding as the pictures had let on, and the sign warning pedestrians to stay the road wasn’t going to deter me from this amazing running opportunity. I wormed my way down to the bottom of the hill, and looked back up to see the beautifully landscaped path I had followed. Although the houses lining the street were beautiful, I can’t imagine living there with the constant parade of tourists. I put in my time living in a bubble when I worked as a residence hall director, and I had no need to return to the spotlight in that way.
After experiencing Lombard to my satisfaction, I continued up Hyde St., and was amazed when I made it to the top. The views of the bay were magnificent and I couldn’t help but think about how different my training would be if I lived in this beautiful city. Although the run up the hills was tough, the stress of the descent was probably worse, and my legs had certainly reached a new limit by the time I returned to the hotel.
In addition to being incredibly rewarding professionally, my San Francisco adventure provided the backdrop for some wonderful running memories as well!