As I mentioned, I recently traveled to San Francisco to attend a professional conference with 14,000 other educators from around the world. The sheer size of the conference was a bit overwhelming, and the choice of sessions was incredible. My days were completely packed, and my mind was left racing with ideas for future research and new ways to analyze and interpret my current work. I even had the opportunity to hear from Claudio Sanchez, NPR’s education correspondent, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The NPR nerd in me was pleased beyond belief!
Despite the packed schedule, I still found time for several amazing runs around the city. Running in a city is by far my favorite way to explore a new place, and San Francisco did not let me down! I arrived on Friday, and had most of the afternoon and evening free, so I took the opportunity for a longer run down to Golden Gate Park. My hotel was only a few miles southeast of the bridge, so navigating my way there was relatively easy (even for the directionally challenged individual that I am!).
I headed generally north and found my way to Fisherman’s Wharf before heading west towards Golden Gate Park. By the time I had reached open water, I was already reminded of the fact that Iowa is a very flat place, and there happen to be quite a few hills in San Francisco! I’ve said repeatedly that I need to incorporate more hill work into my workouts, and I was left thinking about how much stronger I’d be if I had to train in San Francisco on a regular basis!
I made my way down to the beach, and ran down along Crissy Field on the wonderful trail system, heading towards the Golden Gate Bridge. I, of course, stopped plenty to take pictures, and it was incredibly refreshing to be running in a new area with new sights. The air was certainly cool and windy down by the water, but I was so enthralled by everything around me that I didn’t mind in the least. As I got closer, it was great to see all the other runners out, enjoying the day, as well as the windsurfers out on the water. I followed the winding road past piers, and ended up at an abandoned factory near the base of the bridge. The sign I found made it clear that this was a frequented running route for locals!
I slapped the sign, and then turned back around to head up an amazingly steep set of stairs to another trail that led to the entrance to the bridge. There were plenty of observation points along the way, which provided breathtaking views of the bay and the bridge, as well as Alcatraz in the distance. I made my way to the top, and paused to take a few pictures. Just then, a young man noticed my Chicago Marathon shirt, and we started chatting. He had just recently gotten back from the Boston Marathon, and had finished a mere 10 minutes before the bombs went off. It was an incredible reminder of the close-knit community of runners that exists throughout the country, and how it brings everyone together in times of struggle. We are a hardy bunch not to be trifled with, as if the fact that we voluntarily run for 26.2 miles (or more) wasn’t already a good indication!
I ran to the middle of the bridge, and then turned around and headed back. The sun was about to set, and I wasn’t quite comfortable enough with this new city to go running around at night. I made my way back via some new trails, and now some even steeper hills as I worked my way to the other side of Crissy Field. There was a beautifully wide running path, along with an excellent bike bath as well, and I found my way back to Fisherman’s Wharf, and retraced my path back to the hotel. In the end, I had logged around 12 miles, and it felt like I had been going up hill the entire way! My quads were certainly burning, but it was a satisfied burn after an amazing first run in San Francisco.