That stands for all hills except a few, one of them being Strawberry Hill in the middle of Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. It's a massive uphill that corkscrews to the top and then winds back down, all totaling a really terrible mile. Add a mile around Stow Lake, and you have a good place to do torturous hill and mile repeats.
And, apparently, the DSE run club's Christmas Blind Date Relay run.
Renee was also staying in San Francisco for Christmas this year, and we decided to make a "Friendsmas" out of the day, starting with the Blind Date Relay. You basically show up and get paired with a complete stranger. They try to pair males to females, but with more females showing up for this fun run, there were a couple same-sex teams. No attention is paid to age or speed or anything else that would normally matter. It seems like a pretty fair playing field, and it's cool to know you have a teammate on such a short and miserable run. ;)
I knew I was in luck when I drew the name of a man who went by "Tower" out of a hat. He was a tall, young man with a stride that went on for a mile in itself. Claiming he wasn't very fast coming out of racing CIM, I could tell he was sandbagging. I couldn't wait to see how fast he really was.
Each team member runs a 2-mile loop -- one mile up and down Strawberry Hill, and then one mile around Stow Lake -- before handing off to their teammate who does the same loop. The pseudo starting gun went off for the women, and after a quick jaunt up Stow Lake Dr., I found myself as the first female. I held that lead until the top of Strawberry Hill (that hill is a bitch), and then a couple ladies caught me on the way back down.
Mile 1: 7:45
I finished my lap around Stow Lake and tried to catch up to the ladies in front of me, but I was coughing up a lung. I guess I had a bit of a cold the last week or so, and the cold air this morning partnered with panting up a hill made everything come up. It was quite liberating and disgusting at the same time.
Mile 2: 7:05
I gave Tower a high-5 as he took off for his leg of the race. He yelled some congratulatory words as I approached him, then shot off like a bat out of hell. In a flash, his mile-long legs were gone.
On the uphill to Stow Lake, Tower passed the first man ahead of him, and on the way down from Strawberry Hill he caught up to the other. Holding a sub-6:30 average pace, Tower came charging in as the first man to cross the finish line.
Which meant, as a team, we finished first?!
Overall team time: 28:17 (7:04 average pace)
I have a number of "I Participated" DSE ribbons, and even a 4th place ribbon from a race earlier this year. But never before have I received a blue ribbon -- this will probably be my first and last one!
I participated -- and won!
Overall, this fun run was everything it was described to be. I love the DSE run club because of the diversity of the crowd that shows up to every event. There are some competitive folks, some middle-of-the-pack folks, and some people who are really out just to say hi to their friends. But they are all there to have fun, and everyone is equally as pleasant.
And I can't imagine spending part of this holiday around people much cooler than that.