San Francisco is known for its hills and where I live in Pacific Heights I’m right in the middle of one of the larger ones. When I go running I typically head downhill immediately, walking down Laguna street till it flattens out a bit before starting to run. Basically I always avoid the uphills. But this morning I decided that if I’m going to run 31 miles of trails with some pretty insane climbs (I’ll try to post an elevation map of the race), I should probably start liking the hills. I also typically map out my run before heading out but this morning I decided to just run and explore. No iPod shuffle, no set route, just get out there and run.
So this time I turned right out of my apartment and went up Broadway and when I got passed Fillmore I had a steep two city block uphill climb. If I’m going to run uphill I much rather do it at the start of the run than later on as it gets my running motor in high gear right away. Then when I hit a flat stretch I feel like I run faster. Before I knew it I was done with the two block uphill climb. It was not that bad. I think subconsciously part of my strategy is to mentally go somewhere else and not focus on how much more I have yet to go. Next thing you know, I’m on Divisadero and the hill is behind me.
I reached Lyon street and made my way around the early morning Crossfit crowd working out at the top of the Lyon Street stairs and headed into the Presidio. There was about half a mile of trail running right away before it gave way to paved road. There weren’t many cars at 9 a.m. and running through the windy streets of the Presidio on a clear Sunday morning is a beautiful run. After a mile or so, I circled back up Arguello blvd which is half a mile of, you guessed it, steady nonstop uphill. And it wasn’t that bad. I ran this same road seven years ago when training for another race and I recall not being able to do it without walking part way. Not sure what’s different now. I do feel more motivated with my training now than I did then and motivation plays a huge part for me with my running.
I passed Inspiration Point and then decided I should start making my back. I found a trail off the road and followed that and ran across the top of a little valley I had not seen before. The ground beneath me had become all sand while a trail winding down into the valley was covered in hay so I headed for that trail. I made my down and knew this meant I’d have to climb uphill again but I was ready for it. A little white dog barked at me from up ahead while its owner called out to me that she doesn’t bite, she just barks a lot. And the pink bowties on her ears were dead giveaways that she was all show and harmless.
The trail ended at Presido Blvd and I saw a post with a sign indicating that I was on Lover’s Lane. The path was empty which probably just means amorous runners wake up later in the day. Must have been a good night. I realized I had overshot Broadway by a block and so I stayed in the park and climbed up a steep dirt path seemingly in the backyard of some stunning homes. There was a sign indicating this was the Ecological Trail and to please remain on the path. Fair enough.
Back on Broadway, the Crossfit trainers were still doing there thing, kudos to them, and I headed back for the last mile to home. At the top of Divisadero I looked left and saw the bay on this clear morning, a few sailboats getting an early start to the day, and up ahead I saw Broadway street dip and then climb up again at Fillmore street, beckoning me to climb it one last time this morning. And so I did, and putting one foot in front of the other, slowly making my way up, I was on Fillmore street before I knew it.
I mapped out my run when I returned. It’s a 4.5 mile run with good elevation. You can see the full route here.