What better way to do a tour of San Francisco than go running?

LP1020067Woohoo, I’m here in San Francisco for the launch of my most recent book (a collection of tales from the indigenous Yagán people of southern Patagonia, which I have translated to English). My presentation was on Friday night – so Saturday morning it was time to burn off a bit of physical energy, and go for a running tour of the city.

Running down Post Street.

Running down Post Street.

I was staying in a hotel on Post Street, in JapanTown. I’d heard about the great farmer’s market at the Ferry Building, and also that I could get a good breakfast there. So I had only a cup of coffee at the hotel, then headed out eastward along Post Street a bit before 8:30. The streets were pretty quiet at that hour, and the sidewalks weren’ t too crowded. I stopped at one of the traffic lights to tighten my laces, and when I looked up I was surprised to recognize the spot as the start line for the Nike Women’s Marathon, which I ran with the women of Project Athena in 2010.

Here I am where Post joins Market St. I turned left and headed towards the water.

Here I am where Post joins Market St. I turned left and headed towards the water.

Fueling up with a pork scrapple.

Fueling up with a pork scrapple.

I hung around the Ferry Building for a while – first checking out the farmer’s market, then ordering breakfast at the “slow-food” American Eatery. It was slow food all right – took a while to get it – but it was definitely worth the wait: getting food that has actually been cooked and prepared specifically for you. I had a pork and corn-bread “scrapple” with an egg on top, and fried heirloom cherry tomatoes on the side: a very tasty and nutritious meal that would keep me going for the next few hours. I found myself a bench overlooking the harbour where I could sit and enjoy it.

Big farmer's market!

Big farmer’s market!

Then I headed out again, first eastward along the water, and then exploring inland. Dave had told me to go run down Lombard Street – that iconic winding San Francisco street. I found it on the map, thinking that the winding part would just be a quick run up the hill frm the water. But I turned left on Lombard to find a huge cliff in front of me! No winding road up that! So, I figured, the winding part must be the downhill on the back side of that cliff. I started searching parallel streets, getting cliffed out again at the next one,

Cliffed out in the big city!

Cliffed out in the big city!

but the third one dead-ended in a stairway that got me partway up the hill. I cut back on another side-street, another steep uphill, up to Lombard. Then I ran down that part of Lombard: still no winding part! I finally found it – it was the next uphill to the west. That was a lot of hills.

Yay, I finally found Lombard Street!

Yay, I finally found Lombard Street!

Sorry Dave - I ended up walking up Lombard St. rather than running down it!

Sorry Dave – I ended up walking up Lombard St. rather than running down it!

So from there, another big downhill northward, back to the water: Ghirardelli Square, then Fisherman’s Wharf – where there was a tall ship anchored, and there were so many active people, running and cycling and swimming laps in the ocean. That was also my first view of the Golden Gate Bridge – and a formidable rocky island that I realized could only be Alcatraz. By now I was really thirsty… I hadn’t had anything to drink with my breakfast because I figured that I would find a place to buy some juice along the way. But there was nothing! It wasn’t until 10:45, over two hours into my adventure, that I finally found a water fountain and café side-by-side.

Then along the Golden Gate Promenade / Bay Trail. I didn't realize how lucky I was with the day: hot, clear and windless, until I saw the bridge shrouded in fog the very next day.

Then along the Golden Gate Promenade / Bay Trail. I didn’t realize how lucky I was with the day: hot, clear and windless, until I saw the bridge shrouded in fog the very next day.

The final climb up to the bridge was surprisingly beautiful - the city has done a lot of work to rehabilitate parts of the shoreline with native plants, and to try to create habitat to encourage native birds to return.

The final climb up to the bridge was surprisingly beautiful – the city has done a lot of work to rehabilitate parts of the shoreline with native plants, and to try to create habitat to encourage native birds to return.

And then - woohoo! - the view from the top of the bridge, looking back at all the shoreline I had run. Makes it look kinda far...

And then – woohoo! – the view from the top of the bridge, looking back at all the shoreline I had run. Makes it look kinda far…

I didn't run all the way across... just went part way up then turned around, as I had to hurry to run back to my hotel to get there before my check-out time.

I didn’t run all the way across… just went part way up then turned around, as I had to hurry to run back to my hotel to get there before my check-out time.

See, isn’t that a great thing about running? What a way to see the city… and it’s free, and it’s good for you. I had a really great day!

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