If You’re Going to San Francisco, Bring Your Running Shoes

I may never come home.

I have fallen completely in love with the city of San Francisco. It’s got everything. Ocean and mountains, check. Dog and runner friendly, check. Amazing food and beer, check. Everyone here is so active. Since I’ve been here, I’ve walked everywhere, gone cycling, played golf twice, hiked along the Pacific, and run, of course.

Even though I was on vacation, I made plans to continue my marathon training while in this amazing city. Here’s how it went:

Trail Running

Day one we got up nice and early and drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, through Sausalito to Muir Woods for a hike. It was breathtaking.

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I couldn’t help myself from turning the hike into a trail run. Lush green hills hanging above the Pacific Ocean. What an experience.

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Being My Own Tour Guide

With plans to head up to Napa Valley on Sunday afternoon, I got up early to get in a long run and tour the city. Our apartment was pretty central in the city. I started by running north, straight up Russian Hill, one of the many steep and intense hills in the city. As I got over the hill, I caught a spectacular view of Alcatraz out in the Bay.

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Once I got down to the water, I headed west along the bay passing through Fort Mason, Chrissy Field and towards the Presidio, a large park at the norther tip of the city and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The whole run offers amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Another intense hill brought me up through some gorgeous protected land and to the start of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The run across the bridge was just shy of 3km, but offered some spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean off one side, and a stunning look at the San Francisco city skyline, Sausalito, and Alcatraz over the Bay on the other side.

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Once I crossed, I took a moment to let it all set it. I was there, running in one of the most beautiful cities in North America.

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I went back across the bridge and continued back along the San Francisco Bay Trail towards the city. Instead of cutting back into the city where I came out, I continued along the water through the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf which brought me to the Embarcadero, a waterfront roadway that hugs the eastern edge of the city along all of the major piers. I cut west back into the city, just before reaching the Bay Bridge, which brings you over to Oakland. The final few kms of my run through downtown was tough, going straight up Nob Hill.

All in all my run was about 28kms. What an experience.

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Hill Training

San Francisco is an extremely hilly city. You really can’t go a few blocks without having to go up or down a significant hill. Since we’ve been walking pretty much everywhere this week, we’ve gotten in our fair share of hills.

After a few days of golf and cycling, I got back into my running on Friday morning with a true running hill workout. My plan was to go up and down 3 of the 7 major hills in the city; Nob Hill, Russian Hill and Telegraph Hill. Up and down, over and over. Some hills were 3 or 4 blocks long, and much steeper than what I was used to. Some hills were so steep that instead of sidewalks, they have stairs. I even got to run up (and down) the famous section of Lombard Street.

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I ended up running about 11 km in total - definitely one of the toughest hill runs I’ve done so far.

Well, that’s it. Back to Ottawa. San Fran, it’s been a slice. I’ll be back soon, I promise.