Thursday, April 10, 2014

San Francisco After Dark

I don't run at night much these days. Sure, every once in a while Maura and I will head out after dark for a moonlit jaunt up Bernal Hill, or I'll skip around Potrero for a quick evening run. But the last real run I went on at night, and it wasn't exactly under the most normal of circumstances, was looking for Abra at last year's Ironman Lake Tahoe.

For whatever reason today, I got the urge to run at night. There wasn't really anything that spurred it. No major decision at work looms where I need crisp fresh air and the sounds of the city to flush out the answer, and I have no pressing dramas at home that would require the quiet contemplation one can only find sailing along alone in the dark. I just knew I wanted to run tonight.

I even sent Maura an email this afternoon saying, "I am in the mood to go on a long run tonight after we get home from the show. Nothing is wrong, but I started thinking about it and its been a while since I ran at night for anything more than a few miles. I may end up changing my mind when we get home, but I wanted to give you the heads up so you don't think I am being weird ;)"

The evening played out as planned, dinner at AirBnB, City Arts and Lectures for a fantastic conversation between Michael Lewis and his wife Tabitha Soren, then a drink with our friends Matthew and Jenn. We didn't get home until almost 11, but at no point did I waver. I would run tonight.

Maura was admittedly a bit miffed. Even though I had mentioned it she figured a couple drinks and an 11pm arrival would knock some sense into me. It did not.

Earlier today I had a mind to run all 25 miles of my city loop. And had I gotten an earlier start I probably would have done it. But I'm going to be in bed after 2am as it is and I'm just not as young as I used to be.

I set off against the hum of the my freeway. Living so close to 101 has forged a close bond between myself and hospital curve, despite the fact that I avoid that terrible stretch of highway at all cost. My legs felt strong, loose, brimming with energy after Sunday's Rock N Roll Half Marathon. The race shot me full of confidence, a perfect dose for the North Face 50k at Bear Mountain in a few weeks.

As I looped out around 3rd Street and Terry Francois, past DogPatch and my aspirational industrial purchases, I plotted a course in my mind. I'd never run all the way up Market, and veering off at 17th would send me into the fog that I had seen rolling into the city hours earlier. Spring, and the fog, have arrived.

I think I know I'm becoming a real runner now that it takes me like four miles to get warmed up. In fact, this evening it took me almost six as I didn't feel great until about Hayes as the gradual incline into the Castro loomed.

The trip up Market is fascinating, particularly since I don't see that part of the city very often these days, The sheer quantity of empty office buildings, most of them under construction, is mind blowing. If this thing goes, its going to get ugly.

I started feeling strong as the incline steepened, past the Gay-Way and up to 17th. I'd never run up to Twin Peaks this way, and looked forward to the steep straight climb. I charged up it, a steady GAP my typical goal.

Looping up towards the top, it was so foggy I couldn't see the signs to Twin Peaks and had to make the turns by reverse memory.

The houses dropped away and I was alone on the unlit road, a drizzle dripping down out of the thick fog. I hustled to the top not wanting to stick around for cars to maybe catch a glimpse of me as they ran me down. I bent around the lookout area the wrong way, past a good half dozen cars, mostly teenagers parking ... ah the good old days when I never did that.

It was real dark and real foggy looping around the peaks. One car come by and I am pretty sure he never saw me.

On the way back down, I high tailed it knowing cars wouldn't see me until it was too late, and there was a halfway decent chance I wouldn't see them either. I kept my ears wide open.

Long, long way looping down O'Shaughnessy, my usual climb slipped away with a steady cruise. I worked not on speed, per se, but efficiency of movement and minimal impact on my tiring legs. We'll see tomorrow whether my legs thing I did a decent job, since I just can't take it easy these days. And I love it.

I hopped over San Jose and into Mission Terrace before cruising down Mission, past Latin trannies outside Club Malibu and hipsters outside the Knockout. I blew by three of our properties, our little La Luenga. Cesar Chavez was over in a flash and I zipped under the freeway since I knew for sure cars wouldn't see me down there. A quick left turn and I was home, 15 miles later.

I need to get some running lights, since that was definitely not my last edition of San Francisco After Dark.

No comments:

Post a Comment