Tuesday, May 24, 2016

San Francisco April 2016

Off we go to visit Daniel and I will also be running the Rock n Roll San Francisco Half Marathon on Sunday. I'm both excited about this race, and apprehensive. I want to see how much my new coaching plan is helping my racing abilities. But this is San Francisco and I know this is a very hilly race. 

Thursday we land and have a couple hours before Dan gets off work. First we go to Target and buy ourselves an air mattress to sleep on at Daniels. He has a futon with a foam pad but the pad is bigger than the futon and Lee feels like he might slide off at any moment. Then we find a nearby Philz to get some coffee and hang out until Daniel can get off work. We end up in the Glen Canyon neighborhood, high above the city. It's very pretty and that Philz coffee is good! We still have time to kill so we go ahead and park by Daniel’s apartment and walk up 18th street. A Peruvian Restaurant is having happy hour with $1 oysters but the oysters are already sold out. Oh well, we have cocktails and cerveche instead. 

Once Daniel gets off work we decide to walk to a nearby Japanese place for dinner. It's good, we've been there before, but it's pretty crowded and we end up sitting on the patio. Good thing they have heaters. San Francisco is chilly, and windy too. 

Friday Daniel has to work but we don't have a problem entertaining ourselves. First we go out for breakfast at Sally's. I have a waffle with dates, very good. We meet Daniel for lunch at a little French place around the corner from his office. My tuna sandwich and onion soup are great! Then we drive to the ocean and go for a walk along the beach. The weather is still chilly and windy but the sun is brilliant. The wind has made for huge waves, and has spilled loads of sand dollars all over the beach. Lee ends up with quite a collection.

Then we drive up to Lands End and go for a hike. We hike the entire trail, all the way to Eagle’s Point. Because of the recent rains the wildflowers so are wonderful. I take lots of iPhone pictures.

Dinner Friday is at a New Orleans French pub/bistro. The food is good but something upsets my stomach. That part is not so good. Was it the clam stuffed beignet? Who knows... 

Saturday we get to play with our son. We decide to try one of the offbeat things on a list I made of unusual things to do in SF. We go to the Beat Museum, all about Jack Kerouac and his friends. It's a funky little place with a beautiful 48 Hudson just like the one Neil Cassady drove in On the Road.

Then we head over to Crissy Field and admire the bay. It's a beautiful day but cold so before too long we decide to walk over to the Palace of Fine Arts. Very beautiful especially against the brilliantly blue sky.

After that Daniel says "hey would you like to see Twin Peaks?" I actually have no idea what Twin Peaks IS, all I can think of is the David Lynch TV show from the 90s, but we say sure! And off we go. Twin Peaks turns out to be the tallest hill(s) in San Francisco, the ones off in the distance with the radio towers on them. Wow what an incredible view! It's sunny and bright and we can see for miles and miles. It's also cold and windy so before too long it's time to head back down.

Dinner Saturday is my pre-race dinner. I want carbs, but not too much so I've asked for ramen. Daniel takes us to a place in the Mission called Kensen. It was the hot new ramen place a couple of years ago but we are eating early and the foodies have moved on so we have no trouble getting a table. Daniel Tse, our Dan's roommate, and his best friend from preschool days, joins us. It's great to see him, it's been several years.

Sunday I have to get up early, 3 am! The race starts at 6:30 am and I need to eat something and have time to drive to where the shuttle buses are waiting to take me to the start at Ocean Beach. I know this is a very hilly race, but with the hill repeats and other exercises my new couch has been putting me through I'm hoping I'm ready.

The start is cold; I wait until the last possible minute to take off my extra clothes. I know I will be warm enough as soon as I start running, but I just hate being cold at beginning of a race.

The first half mile is flat, but I know the first big hill is around the corner, and sure enough there it is. Steady as she goes, up I go. I'm following my coach's instructions and running by feel. The first 6 miles are supposed to feel like 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. This first long hill ends up being the slowest part of the race for me, but that makes sense since I'm still warming up.

We turn the corner, go down a hill, and at mile 3 the very long hill through the Presidio begins. At this point I start to realize just how beautiful this race really is. As we begin to climb higher the Golden Gate bridge comes into view. And along the road are service men and women, holding flags, high fiving us up this mountainous road. They are very energizing. I know this hill should feel exhausting but I am sticking with effort=5 so it's more fun than pain.

Then it's down a bit to the long slow climb that is the Golden Gate bridge. It fun to run across the bridge. It's foggy so there aren't a lot of views, but halfway across the bridge becomes a long slow downhill instead, and that's a nice break. Of course I lose a few seconds here and there to take a selfie or two but that's to be expected.

We turn around at the viewing place on the the other side of the bridge, so we actually run it twice. By now I'm in the second part of the race where effort should equal 7. After a huge downhill on the other side of the bridge we start to run along Crissy Field, the flattest portion of the race. I'm going faster but I'm holding back a bit, worried about needing to save something for the last big hill at the finish. I also need to pee, but I'm not going to stop, I don't care if I wet myself. Grrr!

Out of Crissy Field and up through downtown, the last big hill before a long downhill to the finish line. I push it little by little, more and more. I never feel completely spent and I do give it all I have on that final downhill.

My time is 2:29:22, three minutes slower than my PR. Much better than the very hilly New England Half that I ran last fall, but I'm still a little disappointed. I feel so good after the race that I can't help thinking that I could have run that final hill faster. But I'm 18 out of 49 women 60-64 in a big city race and my coach, and Lee both assure that is a good time. I don't know why I'm being so hard on myself!

After the race I'm looking forward to Dim Sum at Hong Kong Lounge. A quick shower and back in the car to go pick up Sherry Ott. Sherry is a travel writer and photographer and is never in one place for very long. It feels very lucky that we are actually in the same town at the same time!

Ah Hong Kong Lounge....we keep saying we are going to try the dim sum in Oakland, which is supposed to be even better, but HKL is so very good....everyone knows I'm starving so they hand the order sheet over to me, and I try very hard not to over order...BBQ pork buns, Shanghai dumplings, veggie dumpling, shrimp dumplings, rice wrapped in a lotus leaf, and egg tarts for dessert. Yum yum YUM!

Afterwards, well I'm tired. We go back to Dan's apartment and I even take a bit of a nap. That evening we go to a place called Hog and Rocks. The hog is proscuto, the rocks are oysters. We have the oysters of course but nobody goes for the ham. I do remember some fancy French fries with egg yolk on them, but otherwise I can't remember anything else we ate. This might have been a case of foodie overload!

On Monday its time to go home. We kiss Daniel goodbye. I feel a little blue; he has travel plans, it might be thanksgiving before I get to see my boy again. When we get to the airport we find out our flight is delayed due to the weather in Boston. Resignedly we settle down to wait. We're a little concerned that they will decide to cancel, but after a 3 hour delay we’re finally on board. I watch the movie Philomena in flight. Judy Dench does a wonderful job but it's so depressing, such a sad, infuriating story. Those nuns are a perfect example of the banality of evil. I did like when she said that she forgave them at the end. The journalist she was working with said "I don't know how you could do that," and she said "it's hard, I've had to work at it. But I don't want to live with that kind of hate in my heart" I just think it's such a perfect explanation of why forgiveness is a worthy goal. But I'm more like the journalist than Philomena. I don't think I could forgive them either.

It was very late when our airplane approached Boston Logan. The pilot came on the loud speaker to apologize and tell us there would be an additional delay so that they could plow the runway one more time before we landed. The passengers gave a collective sigh but I thought I'd much prefer they plow it than not!

It was another great trip to San Fran. It was wonderful seeing Daniel, and that was a great race. The weather was gorgeous, and we saw a few things we had never seen before on our trips to the left coast. Now I'm sitting in my kitchen back in New Hampshire. It's still pretty brown here, but there are finches at the feeder and Canadian geese flying over the lake. It's even getting warmer....highs in the 50s are predicted for all of this week. Before we know it spring will be here.

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