My job involves short trips once in a while, and easy-pace running is a great way to explore the locations, take some pics, and get in some miles while on a tight schedule. This week’s trip to San Francisco was particularly busy. I was interviewing with different potential employers holding interviews in different hotel suites spread across downtown. I ended up accumulating 93,651 steps in 4 days, and enjoying a few trips up Nob Hill.
In terms of running, I was able to squeeze in a couple of short early-morning runs, and a longer leisurely run along the bay shore and across the Golden Gate Bridge. Overall, I found San Francisco to be a wonderful and very interesting city for running:
- Some of the steepest hills I’ve encountered
- Remarkably nice running weather in early January
- Spectacular views
- Like in any big touristy city, crowded roads can be a bit of a hassle
I didn’t get to do as much exploring as I would have liked to, but I loved the parts I did explore. It was a wonderful experience and my biggest disappointment is that none of the places interviewing me are based in San Francisco. I completely recommend it!!
Is there a half-a-mile without a climb in this town?
On my first two days in town, I was busy from 8 to 8 and completely exhausted after that. So, the only time for running was early in the morning, and I had to run around my hotel near Union Square. I’m very glad that the neighbourhood is full of super-steep streets like the ones you see in movies. I am a sucker for a nice climbing workout, and I didn’t want to leave town without going up a few of its famous hills!
So, I went all the way down to the Yerba Buena Gardens at the bottom of the hill, and made my way up to California Street for a mile-long 9%-incline climb. The steepest part was on the the last two blocks before reaching the top. So, I did a few loops there for good measure. These climbs felt great. I wish we had streets like these back home.
On my second time around, it was raining and going downhill was very dangerous. I almost slipped and fell down a few times.
Also, I learned that 15 minutes can make a big difference. On the first day, I left my hotel at 5:20 AM and the roads were completely deserted. On the second day I left at 5:40, and there was already traffic and people on the sidewalks. It was light traffic, but it was enough so that I had to stop every other intersection to be safe. I’m sure there are parts of town where you can run at reasonable hours but, unless you are into dodging people and stopping every couple of blocks, downtown is not one of them.
Golden Gate run
The weather was gray and rainy for most of my stay but, on my last day (and only free day), the sky cleared up for a few hours so that I could enjoy a nice long run along the bay shore and across the Golden Gate bridge. If you ever visit San Francisco and are looking to do a 3 to 9 miles run, I strongly recommend you consider this one.
First thing I did was hop on a street car at Union Square to make my way north to the bay. Along the way I was amazed to see hill, after hill, after hill, each one longer and steeper than the last one. San Francisco runners must have some strong legs.
View this post on Instagram
On my last day on #SanFrancisco, the sky cleared up for a few hours so that I could take the streetcar to the port and run along the bay shore and across the #GoldenGateBridge 👟🏃🏻🌉☀️ — Running in San Francisco is awesome. Although the hills are insane. I ran around 10 miles with over 1,500 feet of elevation gain, despite most of the miles being flat and along the shore🗻🏔⛰🏞 — The views are also extraordinary and the weather was just perfect. I enjoyed the shoreline more than the bridge because, despite it being a Tuesday, the bridge is full of people taking pictures, so you have to do a lot of dodging. — #runexplore #runeverywhere #travelrunning #hellobetter #beatyesterday #nocal #nevernotrunning #marathontraining #thetrilife #runnerspace #instarunner #runbrunorun #fitfam #goldengatebridgeview #longrun #oceanrun #californiarunners #runusa #ASSA2016 #runchat #garminrunning #newtonrunning #goldenstate
I wanted to start my run at Lombard Street, but there were too many tourists walking on it and taking pictures. Maybe I’ll try to get there at 5:30 AM next time I’m in town. Instead, I decided to start from a small beach park right behind Ghirardelli Square.
From there, there is a 5k bike path along the beach that goes to the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can see the bridge all the time, so there is no getting lost, just run towards it. Parts of the road are made of sand and crushed gravel and I had to take some small detours to avoid flooded areas. However, the wonderful view and perfect weather made up for it, pretty awesome run!
Getting on the actual bridge requires going up a tough hill. Apart from the barbaric incline, you have to share the road both with those who rented a bicycle to see the bridge, and with an army of selfie-takers enjoying the majestic views.
The bridge itself is a little over one mile long. It is mostly flat and not as windy as I thought it would be (maybe I got lucky on this regard). I didn’t enjoy this part as much, partly because the road was very crowded but, mostly, because of the noise from the cars and the structure of the bridge doesn’t really let you enjoy the surroundings while running. Don’t get me wrong, it is a wonderful road and, if you stop to catch you breath or see the city you’ll get a wonderful view of the bay, but I liked the road leading to bridge much more than the bridge itself.
I originally wanted to do a 9 miles out and back heading back to Ghiraldelli’s square, but I was a bit tight on time. So, once I made my way back to the beginning of the bridge I stopped my Garmin at 6.3 miles. A taxi based at the visitor’s centre took me back to my hotel.