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The Golden Gate (almost) Half Marathon

7 July 2011 One Comment
The Golden Gate (almost) Half Marathon

More GoRuck training folks! Bruce Willis in Die Hard 1 says “fists with your toes” is a great way to get rid of that airplane feeling. Well I have another way: running across the Golden Gate Bridge! Last week I flew to San Francisco. I got in around 3PM PST so with a few hours to kill I decided to take a jog over to the Golden Gate bridge, it turned out to be quite the adventure.

If you’re interested I mapped the run here [LINK].

I was staying at the Fairmont which sits on top of “Nob” Hill (this type of name could only exist in America). This is one of the steeper hills in San Fran, something I would realize later.

I dropped the bags, ate a Cliff Bar and set off with my cell phone in hand, $20 in my shoe in case of emergency and my RoadID on my wrist. The hotel desk clerk said it was 3 miles to the bridge and she’d have towels and water ready when I got back. I told her I’d be back in an hour.

The plan was to run across the bridge if I could, but I couldn’t tell if I’d be able to get up on the actual bridge or not. I figured I’d find out one way or the other. I turned right out of the hotel and am immediately hit with a view of Alcatraz off in the distance, how cool is that. I ran down towards the touristy part of SF, streets are straight but the pavement is busted up quite badly from roots and the steep incline. The incline is no-joke about 40-45 degrees on Nob Hill, pretty unbelievable in parts.

I’m jogging along, images of Steve McQueen, Dirty Harry, Bullitt, fastback Mustangs dancing through my head. It’s awesome.

I’ve gone about 2 miles and am down in the Marina, it’s nice, really sunny, I’m feeling good. I see the bridge off in the distance and ask someone if I’m on the right track. They say “yeah but it’s a bit of a ways, about 3 miles”. I’m thinking OK, we can at least get to the base of the bridge but maybe not up onto it. I’m down low at this point and the bridge looks completely unattainable.

So I run on and cross into Crissy field which is next to the bridge and all of a sudden I realize why no one’s running here, there’s a 20 mile an hour head wind blowing sheets of sand and gravel into my face. There are some foolish people walking but they are going the opposite direction and are all wearing hooded sweatshirts. I should’ve stayed on the road that runs parallel to the park. I’m convinced they all think I’m mad.

I stop and ask a couple of ladies wheeling prams (away from the wind) how to get up to the bridge and they direct me to a bike path that leads up to it. Now I’m sorted. With knowledge that the bridge is attainable I settle down into a rhythm.

I get up on the bridge and find it’s littered with tourists, all miserable. It’s freezing up here. The weather so far has been sunny but once you get up on to the bridge you’re in the clouds and the wind is blowing a gale. The tops of the bridge supports are not visible due to the fog/clouds. It’s fairly dizzying. I run into the center of the bridge and the wind has got to be 20-30mph in the middle. The bridge itself is 1.7 miles across and almost 750 feet above the water. The railings are not that high, you could EASILY vault over and drop to your death. I can see parasail surfers far below and they look like tiny dots. I’m not that bad with heights but this is making me dizzy. There are less folks in the middle and for good reason, most folks turn back before getting there.

I make it all the way to the Marin County border which is the base of the 2nd tower (the north side) then head back. At this point I’m ready to get off the bridge. It’s just too cold and windy. I head back and narrowly miss some cyclists who haven’t been on a bike in a while. Once I get back to the marina I start to warm up again. I jog through San Fran and eventually turn up Mason street which I now realize is a near-vertical climb all the way back to the hotel. Feck it. Head-down and a few mins later I’m home. 1hour 52mins 12.6 miles on a Cliff bar and some airline food.

If you get the chance I highly recommend this run, don’t be a tourist and hire a bike. It’ll be easier but you’ll miss a lot of the sights and experience. Jogging in this case is the way to go.

Separate topic: This Independence day I completed my 2nd run w/bricks. Read about the first here [LINK]. This time around was a LOT easier on my shoulders. I have been working on those. I did still end up with some fairly deep cuts into my collar bones where the ruck straps run but not as bad as first time around. I think mentally the fear/intimidation of running with bricks is still greater than the difficulty. It’s effing difficult, there’s no doubt. It feels like you are being pulled to the ground with every step. Like there’s a small child trying to pull you to the ground. But I think it’s an even worse mental game, especially leading up to the run itself. That’s something I aim to change.

In 1994 or ’95 couldn’t run 1km. Fast forward 16 years I can run a half marathon without dying and enjoy spectacular scenery from one of the world’s iconic locations. Enjoy the pics:

One Comment »

  • Sudeep said:

    Cool Run.. Wish I had half your enthusiasm to stay fit. Hope the Jackson made it till the end of the run.:)

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