Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Running in San Francisco, Part III

The weather was cool and rainy nearly the entire time I was in San Francisco, so I took it upon myself to run through another normally busy part of town while others decided to hibernate for the day:

Mission Dolores/Castro/Mission/Upper Market
Starting at Market and Dolores, I ran up the Dolores Street hill, which is notoriously steep. The topographic map above doesn't do the elevation any justice, but one of the best views of the city is from the top of Mission Dolores Park. To give you an idea of the incline, getting to the top of the park is one city block. It was pretty dreary that morning, but here's a vague view of the city.
After running up Dolores Street, I headed back down on Church Street for a steep, steep downhill, and headed west into the Castro.

I happen to love the Castro. This is (yes, I am saying this in the P.C. way) the gayest part of town. The street lamps are decorated with rainbow flags, the roads are well-kept, the sidewalks are clear of most trash, I haven't run into a lot of bums there, people clean up after their dogs, and the houses are pretty much immaculate. There's something about gay men congregating largely in one area of town -- it's so clean there!

The Castro part of my run was the quickest part of my run because it was relatively flat and people actually know how to use the sidewalks. In other parts of the City, people forget that bikes belong on the road and walkers stay on the right. I ended up running far up against buildings (or in the street) to not plow into the backs of people along The Embarcadero. In the Castro, they seem to understand that sidewalks function like pedestrian roads: slower walkers stay to the far right, runners go in the middle. Granted there weren't many people out that rainy morning, but of those I did see, they made it a smooth jaunt.

After running through the Castro, I headed back up to Mission Dolores to cascade the huge Dolores Park hill again. I admired the view one last time, then ran into the Mission/Upper Market area for the remainder of my run.

The side streets to San Francisco, although overpopulated, are generally pretty nice. I ran into some plush overgrown grasses and trees. While I think it's sad that there's so little natural wildlife, I do love the City and can appreciate where green grass and trees are finding a way to survive.

Here's one of the downhills in the Mission:
A rainbow flag leading into the Castro... check out the low rain cloud!
Looking down Dolores Street -- the center of this picture, where you can no longer see the street on the hill, is the vantage point known as Mission Dolores Park.
My original idea for writing about running in San Francisco was to either support or refute the Runner's World article claiming San Francisco was the best city for running. Since I didn't get to experience any of the running clubs, races, tracks, or even many parts of town, I definitely can't stand by the author's die-hard life-long dedication to running the City, nor can I debunk it. But, I was able to gather a few thoughts.

  • Rain or no rain, there are so many fun characters in San Francisco to entertain even the shortest of runs. Aside from the people, there is also great artwork, constant weather changes (raining one minute, sunny the next), no ungodly hot weather at any point in the year, and lots of opportunities to switch up your routine. Plus, I always find cute shops and great smelling restaurants to take note of to visit later.

  • From long, rolling hills to sharp, steep inclines, there is no way to get a slouch of a run in. The hills are omnipresent and even if you were to try to avoid a hill, you'd run into another one. This is great not only for your glutes and legs, it's awesome for your lungs.

  • The buses are emission-free, which is an overlooked bonus. When I run in Minneapolis, I cover my face/mouth when a bus passes me, otherwise I inhale some pretty nasty fumes. There are plenty of carbon issues in the City thanks to all of the cars, but at least when buses pass, you can breathe a breath of fresh air.

  • There are very few changes in terrain for running in the City. Most runners are forced to stick to sidewalks and pavement, which, as we all know too well, can be very taxing on the joints. Running Chrissy Field, Marina Green, Dolores Park, Golden Gate Park, or some other grassy field is probably the best option for saving your body in the long term.

  • People. Are. Everywhere. Especially when it's nice out. For others like me who want to shove stupid people out of the way so we can go, this can become aggravating.

  • Like any major city, there are definitely times and places ladies should not run alone. Even though the City is unnaturally well-lit, neighborhoods are still sketchy, bums are still rampant, and cat-calls are still abundant. Except if you're running in the Castro, which may just be my favorite place for running. None of the guys even noticed me there. :)

  • It's a city. It's very dirty. Be prepared to scrape dog and human feces alike off the bottom of your shoes. Oh, and those puddles you're running in? They are more than likely not water.
4.2mi splits: 9:14, 9:07, 9:25, 9:17, 1:50
Air Temp: 57F

1 comment:

  1. So many reasons why we love trails and avoid urban running...

    But, SF is quite a nice city for one that is as huge as it is. Awesome scenery out in that area.