Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Golden Gate Run To The Pacific!

What a beautiful day it was shaping out to be.  Here I was driving around San Fran like I owned the place.  Going up and down those crazy hills, without a care to the world.  Destination?

The Pandhandle, Golden Gate Park and the Pacific Ocean.

It’s a long cigarette shaped park sitting precisely east of Golden Gate Park.  My mission?  To run along the north end of Pandhandle (Park), and then continue to run West and on the north side of Golden Gate Park, along John F. Kennedy drive until the park would be replaced by the Great Parkway, and the majestic Pacific Ocean. 

This out-and-back with a shoot up north on the Great Parkway past the Cliff House and to Point Lobos, would give me another 10 miles for the day.

The one amazing thing about my body these days, is not my speed, or even the miles that I put in, but my ability to regenerate so quickly after a run. I was even more fresh and excited to do this run, than the race I had only finished up an hour ago. 

However, this was not going to be a kick-ass-run-only effort.  I needed to take it easy, so I made sure that my iPhone 5 was 100% charged for a potential onslaught of photos that it would be taking for me along my adventure.  Facebook and friends were eagerly awaiting my posts, and I would comply this time.

I found parking barely 50 yards from my own private starting line which was at the northeast corner of the Panhandle on Fell Street.

The first thing I saw was a large statue of William McKinley.  I looked at it, and I swore it said “Run Your Ass Off, And Have A Great Workout, Alex!” 

The Panhandle wasn’t without it’s share of intersecting streets, like the one at Masonic, where I jogged in place for a little while.  

Reaching the end of the Panhandle Area after Masonic Blvd.

After less than a mile, I was ready to breach the Eastern end of Golden Gate Park. I could already see a lot of runners and cyclists ahead of me. 

Almost instantly, I started drawing comparisons to Central Park.  And when you do that, you know you’re in a really, really nice place.

Golden Gate Park is a little longer than Central Park is, but a little narrower too.  Narrow in overall width, not in the road, as you can see below ((0831))

It is very wide, and perhaps that’s why the Bay-To-Breakers Run in May commands so many runners (over 40k strong!!)

Just like Central Park, Golden Gate Park is LOADED with attractions.  I saw sign posts for the SF Botanical Garden, the National AIDS Museum, the Japanes Tea Garden, the Academy of Sciences, the Stow Lake de Young Museum…and that was all within the FIRST mile!

The architecture was also very similarly done like Central Park.  Something tells me that those that constructed both parks may have been one and the same?  Take a look below at this nice stone railing as my run took us over another route underneath me…

While I ran, signs of Karen were everywhere.. First was the Rose Garden..

As I was running and taking it all in, and how extremely breaktaking, might I add, I saw something that just stopped me cold.

A waterfall right in the park.  It must have been at least a good 25 feet high   and if that wasn’t enough, the water ran off to a stream that led to another smaller fall, and finally into a lake.  How beautiful.
A meadow for marxists???

Everywhere I ran, I saw something else amazing.  Beautiful lakes, curvy areas to run in.  Trees, Meadows, Flowers.  Wow.

People were sailing their small mechanical powered boats in the lake.  It was very relaxing just watching these boats sail around.  
Another reference to the Rose family.....

Here I am pointing to both the water fountain in front, and the bathroom up ahead.  In the winter you don't see working water fountains in Central Park (probably because they'd freeze).
And not only was the park relaxing, but relieving as well.  I saw a lot of bathrooms and water fountains along the way.   They were all operational.  

A friend of mine from the running club, Lori Diamond, had seen my visual posts on Facebook, and asked me to say hello to the Bison for her.  I really didn’t know what she was talking about, until about a half-mile later or so when I saw …. Bison!  

That wasn’t the only animal (besides me, of course), that I was made aware of.  Apparently, there were coyotes in the midst.  How funny that this sign was posted just yards away from the Bison paddock?  I guess the Coyotes were in town and looking for a tasty treat…

I was finally closing in towards the end of the Park but still didn’t see any signs of a big ocean.  Golden Gate Park keeps you guessing until the very end, it seems.

As I passed the Golf Course (below), and the windmills, I started smelling an ocean-mist in the air.  Good sign.

Alas, I had finally gotten to what I had been running for.  A look at, and a chance to run alongside the great Pacific 
See the white house all the way as the road winds up and to the left?  That's the Cliff House. I would head that way.

This goes hand in hand with the story about people who use 

I decided to head north along the Great Parkway to get to Point Lobos,   To do this would be to run up the hill that my friend Chris has run up.

Will this be me walking through here one day late in life???
It was pretty amazing to see how quick an ascent it was up to the Cliff House but none better than when I turned around to snap up this photo. 

Noticing that my battery was draining on my phone,  I ran up another half a mile to the top of the hill (tough!) to Point Lobos, then I came down and entered the Cliff House. 
Inside I sat at the bar, ordered French fries and a diet coke, and got the bartender to do me a solid by charging my iPhone.  Yep.  I even ran with the iPhone power adapter as well.  

So back down the hill I went, back along the beach, and back into GGP.

Along the way, I saw a segway stand (hmmm. That would have made my run a lot easier now wouldn’t it)

Going back one goes on John Kennedy Blvd for a little while until you can fork right onto Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.  to take the southern route. 

Unlike the northern section of the park, there were autos in the southern section, but it might have just been a time of day thing. 

I still felt like I was nowhere near a big city, let alone in one.
Cool Trees!

However, I started to see more and more tourists milling about, which is when I realized I was very near to the entrance to the SF botanical gardens.  Now it REALLY felt like I was running through Central Park!!
I'm sure there is a registered Republican out there who just ran to the bathroom to barf after seeing this photo above. LOL!!!
Big ball fields just like in Central Park.
Karen & I could use this for the kids!!!
Coming close towards the southeastern end, I came across Kezar stadium.  I had never heard of it before, but a friend of mine Heinz, mentioned that he had seen some bands play there, I believe.
What darkness lurks in the feets of men?  The shadow runs!

Amazingly, if I hadn’t seen enough already with all that the park had to offer, I noticed an amazing track and field area.  Was this Kezar stadium??? 

Alas, all good things must come to an end.  I had felt one with the big welcoming part, but I was exiting now, and about to re-enter Panhandle again for one last encore..

As I made my way across traffic and back into Panhandle, I found myself having to maneuver around some serious muddy areas to get to the southern section.  No sooner, than I was in Panhandle, was I finished and looking for the car keys in my pocket.  A little over 10 miles done.

I wrapped up the days’ events by meeting up with Christopher, Karen and their lovely daughter Sydney.  I changed at one of the private bathrooms at the Fairmont Hotel and after picking up Karen (Chris’ Karen) and Sydney at the MoMa, we headed over to the Soma for good eats.  Of course, there was a little more sightseeing along the way, which was awesome.  We got to see Coit Tower, and drove past the Transamerica Building too.

All in all, what a great weekend, to build the buffer needed for those ever challenging go-live Mondays….

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Off-Topic: Back To San Fran!

After not having been here since 2006, I finally got back to a city for which I loved, with an added bonus.  A friend of mine, Christopher White, who had gone to the same Catholic Elementary school as me, had been living out here since 1980. 

Not having seen him since 1978, he almost insisted that I contact him when I got to San Fran so that he can show me around.  I didn't realize just how much of the city he would show me, but within the first hour, I knew I was in for a pretty amazing tour.

Having taken hundreds of photos, I cant post them all here.  I may not even post all of the best shots either, but I will definitely post those with significance and talk slightly about them?  Ready to be transported to the West Coast?  Good.  Here we go...

The Virgin Has Landed!

Sushi On The West Coast Is Usually Better Than On The East.  A Place Called Tokie's @ 1058 Shell Blvd in Foster City.  The amazing food was only toppedby their amazing and friendly service.

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Fisherman's Wharf Under Construction.  This, to accomodate the
Americas Cup.
What would San Fran be without it's trolley cars?


Once I was in Fisherman's Wharf, I did a short run, and when I was done, I threw on some sweats and a jacket and began walking thru town.

A full-wide angle view of Pier 39.