After running down The Embarcadero twice during my vacation, I decided to hit up a different area of the city the day following my longest run. It was a rainy Thursday morning, and there were not many people out on the sidewalks. This made running a lot easier ... except for the hills.
Lower Haight/Buena Vista Park/Haight-Ashbury
Starting at Market and Gough, I ran up Haight Street toward the popular tourist area. I used to live in the Haight, and I seriously don't remember it being a straight uphill toward Golden Gate Park. Perhaps it's because I always took the bus on that part of my route instead.
The Haight Street hill from Steiner to about Divisidero heading west was killer. The topography of my route says I had just a 250 foot incline, but I think all those 250 feet happened in a city block. And then at the top of the hill, between Baker Street and Buena Vista Park, there's another looooong ever-so-slight uphill in the Haight-Ashbury area that makes you want to die:
By the time I got to the actual intersection of Haight and Ashbury (1.5 miles from where I started), I was so beat that I turned around and headed back. I can also blame it on not eating breakfast, not bringing water with me, and also partially the weather, but I know in the back of my mind it was the hills. I was hoping to make it all the way through the Upper Haight into Golden Gate Park, but that plan was destroyed.
The good thing about running 1.5 miles of a straight incline is running a 1.5 mile downhill. But in true masochistic fashion, I decided to kick my own ass a little more and sprint the Buena Vista Park steps.
The steps leading up to Buena Vista Park are shaped like a Y. The first flight is 21 steps, then it splits to the right (20 more steps), or the left (22 steps.) I took the first flight one step at a time, then split to the right-hand side doing that flight every-other step. Then I'd descend the right-hand flight, and go up the left-side flight every-other step. I repeated that 5 times for a total of 315 steps uphill and 315 steps downhill. Yowch.
One of the greatest things about the Lower Haight is that it's very artistically centered. There are many great graffiti artists who have established themselves as important artists here (Andy Howell, Jeremy Fish, and Sam Flores, namely), and a lot of times there are murals painted directly on the houses and storefronts. It's always neat to look at some mutants in the midst of a concrete jungle. Overall, running the Haight is definitely not the best place to run in the city -- I've seen this area when it's crowded, and it's not pleasant -- but it was good for doing some stair sprints and killer uphills. Then again, where in San Francisco can you not find killer uphills?
3mi splits: 9:56, 10:06 (stairs), 9:41
Air Temp: 53F