Girls Run Wild

By last weekend, my training run was up to ten miles.  After an annoying experience dodging tourists on my 9-miler the previous weekend, I decided to pound pavement that I knew would be a little less traveled (and perhaps, slightly cooler).  I set out to conquer both nearly the entirety of Golden Gate Park AND a good 4 mile stretch of The Great Highway.  A thick layer of fog greeted me as I parked my car at the South Western entrance to the Park at Lincoln Blvd and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.  This fog could not have been more needed for the next 10+ miles.

10 Mile GGP and Great Highway Run

Directions:

Start anywhere along the route – I chose to start at the western edge of GGP to get the uphill portion of the run out-of-the-way first.  The directions below are from my starting point.  There are several water fountains along the route – just keep your eyes open.  Many water fountains can be found next to public bathrooms.

1. Start at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive (MLK) off of Lincoln Blvd in San Francisco’s Sunset District.  Head into the park and follow MLK Dr. for the next approximately 2.5 miles. The first leg of this run is a slight uphill slant.

2. Once you’ve past the Music Concourse, take your next left onto Middle Dr. East.  This will take you along the back side of the Academy of Sciences and past Big Rec.  At the Y in the road, stay left on Middle Dr. East to John F. Kennedy Drive (JFK).

3. Make a left on JFK Dr.  I recommend cross the street first – the path is slightly wider and flatter.  Follow JFK for the next 3 miles back towards the Ocean.  Watch your feet on the path once you’ve crossed Crossover Dr.  The path itself is slightly uneven in areas and an ankle roll waiting to happen.  On Saturdays, the park is closed to cars on JFK Dr. between 8th Avenue and Crossover Drive.   On Sundays, JFK Dr. is closed from Stanyan to Crossover Dr.

4. At the intersection where JFK Dr. forks off to the right, make a left onto SS Fork Drive.  Follow this to MLK Dr. and make a right.  This will take you back to Lincoln Blvd.   If you’ve parked down here, this is a great opportunity to stop at the car for some water – you’ve got another 4 miles to go.

5. Cross Lincoln and make a right.  There will be a bike/walking/running path on your left that parallels the Great Highway.  Take this path and follow it for 2 miles to Sloat Blvd.  There is a bathroom and water fountain across the Great Highway where Sloat dead ends.

6.  Turn around and follow the path back to Lincoln.  The path itself moves in a rolling motion, but the “uphill” portions are very short in length (and not very steep).  The path has both a paved portion and dirt trail.

And…you’re done!  Enjoy a nice cool down – and head to Java Beach at Judah and La Playa for a post-run treat.

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One of the more difficult aspects of longer race training in San Francisco is plotting long distance training courses given the limitations of the city’s geography, traffic, and terrain.  Whenever I have to set out on a long run, like this past weekend’s 9 miler, I use the website walkjogrun.net to figure out the proper distance over an area of the city where I know I won’t be interacting with too many hills, cars, or people.  Finding an area that foots the bill for all three isn’t easy, but I’ll do what I can with what I’ve got.

This past weekend I scouted out a long run that meandered around Ft. Mason, the Marina, and the Embarcadero to the ball park and back.  It.was.a.long.run – and yet still 4 miles short of The Giant Race in 5 weeks.  The course was relatively flat with a steep hill around 1.25 miles and another a few blocks shy of the finish line.  My big regret is that I didn’t set out earlier for this exercise – I hit the Embarcadero around noon and found myself in a four mile battle with San Francisco’s summer tourist scene.  The Embaracadero is a wonderful place to run – it’s flat, scenic, and did I say flat?  But any time you’re trying to run and a group of 20 tourists scratching their heads appears every 10 feet, you want to scream.  I survived, though, and next week may cover some of the same asphalt for my -gasp – 10 mile run.

For anyone interested in the route I took, see my directions and map below.  I designed the route hopeful that I would be avoiding the weekend crowds around San Francisco’s waterfront.  I was overly optimistic, but I know that if I’d set out a couple of hours earlier (read: 8am-9am) my path would have been void of a lot more foot traffic.  If you try this out, don’t forget the sunscreen.  Most of the route is void of shade until the late afternoon.

9 Mile Run

 

DIRECTIONS:

1. Start in the parking lot adjacent to the Ft. Mason homes (along Bay at Octavia).

2. Head west on Bay and North on Laguna.  Follow this as it turns into Marina Blvd.  Stay on Marina until you hit Casa Way – and then turn around and head back towards Ft. Mason.

3. As Marina Blvd turns into Laguna again, take the foot/bike bath to your left (uphill) through the grassy area of Ft. Mason.  Stay to the path on the left and follow this until you hit the water at Van Ness.

4. Look for the foot path on your left that follows the water around past Ghiradelli Square.  Stay on this as it becomes Jefferson St.  Make a left on North Point.

5. Follow North Point to the Embarcadero. Cross the big boulevard and stay right on the foot path, also known as Herb Caen Way.  Stay on the Embarcadero past the Ferry Building, under the Bay Bridge, and all the way to the ball park.  Once you’re at Willie Mays Plaza, make a left and follow the path around the back side of the park.  This will connect you back up with the Embaracdero.  *Note that there is a public water fountain along the Embarcadero in between the Ferry Building and Epic Roasthouse/Waterbar.  There is another one on the backside of the ballpark just outside of the public bathrooms.

6.  Follow the Embarcadero back to Bay Street.  Make a left onto Bay and stay on this until you hit Van Ness.  Van Ness and Bay will be the 9 mile marker.  It’s another .3 miles back to the starting point.

This showed up in my in-box this morning.  For those of you training for The Giant Race on August 27, August 6 is a good day to spend doing a long 10 miler.  Participants get a complimentary post run breakfast and access to Club One for the day!  And if you missed out on signing up for the race, RSVP to the August 6 run (and attend it, of course), and you might just win two race registrations.

GIANT RACE FAQ & CLUB ONE TRAINING RUN

When: Saturday, August 6th – 8am-10am*
Where: Club One at Embarcadero Center »

Join Race Director JT Service at Club One for a Giant Race Q&A Session, followed by your choice of a 4 or 10 mile training run. We’ll end back at Club One for stretching, breakfast treats and complimentary day use of the club, locker rooms, and amenities.

Added perk – we’re giving away TWO Giant Race registrations on 8/6! Just RSVP and attend for your chance to win.*

Please email rsvp@clubone.com by August 2nd with names of yourself and your guests.

With less than 2 weeks to the San Francisco Marathon (which includes 2 half-marathon routes as well as a 5K race), there’s little time to start training.  However, regardless of your running goals, the 5K option is a great way to get you out of bed and running on a Sunday morning.  And for those of you who don’t do metric, 5 kilometers is only about 3.2 miles.

According to the race organizers, the 5K race is almost sold out.  Registration fees are only $30 The race is flat and easy and starts/ends right near the Ferry Building.  The 5K race starts at 7:45am and you have 1 hour to complete the course (which equals about a 20 minute mile).  If you’ve never run a race before, this is a great chance to start!

I log most of my outside running mileage within the City limits.  However, every so often I am reminded that vast areas of pure nature exist when you pass the City’s limits.  Marin County is an excellent destination for outdoor running – especially on trails.  If you’re new to the area and aren’t very familiar with our neighbors to the North (or you grew up in the City and really only know how to get to Stinson Beach) head on over the GGB this weekend and check out a new running trail.

Phoenix Lake, located on the outskirts of the town of Kentfield, is managed by the Marin Municipal Water District.  A series of trails follow around the lake and cover about 2.7 miles.  The route has a good amount of shade.  However, there are a good number of trails that veer off from the actual lake and provide a more challenging and longer distance for running.  Bay Area Hiker.com has a great description of a 4.7 mile hike that can easily turned up a notch as a run.

Directions: From 101, take the San Anselmo/Sir Francis Drake Blvd Exit.  Follow Sir Francis Drake for about 3.5 miles and make a left onto Lagunitas Rd (right by the Marin Art & Garden Center).  The parking lot is about a mile up this road.  The parking lot is small, however, and fills up quickly on the weekends.  For more parking options, try parking in the town of Kentfield near Ross Common Park.  Run along Lagunitas Rd. to get to the Phoenix Lake trail head.

For a 2.7 mile run around the lake, hike uphill to the lake and then combine Bill Williams Trail, Gertrude Orr Trail, and Phoenix Lake Trail.  Study a map before hand (there are no paper maps available at the trail head) or print out the directions from Bay Area Hiker.com.  Yes, it’s annoying to run with a map.  However, it’s probably less annoying than running 5 miles longer than you expected to because you got lost…

Once you’re done with your hike, check out Kentfield on your way home.  Woodland’s Market is a great place to refuel or try M&G’s in Larkspur for a quick and easy burger.

I know you all have an extra set of Dungeons and Dragons dice lying around…

Check out what this guy decided to do with his.

Crissy Field is a runner’s paradise.  Flat, scenic, and expansive, not only does it serve as the gateway to the Pacific Ocean, but also provides a plethora of training options for runners, bikers, and even swimmers alike.  Although the paths around Crissy Field (and the Marina Green) are surprisingly flat for San Francisco, the area is bordered by cliffs and hills that will bring you up to greater heights – and greater views – of the north-western tip of the City.  At the edge of Crissy Field as one snakes past the Warming Hut and nears the road entrance to Fort Point lies a set of stairs.  Climb to the top and you’re at the Golden Gate Bridge.  What better way to experience the bridge than to get some exercise running to it!

This area remains one of my favorite places in the city to go for a long run.  I’ve blogged about it a couple of times, giving a 7.5 mile course idea in addition to a shorter 4-5 miler.  Whatever your distance goal, spending some time jogging around the area first and THEN running up the Crissy Field stairs will give your workout that extra umph.  Parking is generally easy enough to find in the evening hours during the week.  I’ve found that this is the best time to run in this area – during weekends you’re competing with tourists (especially on bikes) and events for space.  Depending on the desired length of your run, park a good distance away from the stairs, run there, and (try to) run back.  I usually park at Ft. Mason, which has a lot with 2 hour free parking (the lot is on the western edge of the Fort and is bordered by Bay and Octavia Streets).  Check out Walkjogrun.net to figure out a good distance before you set out on your run.

Crissy Field Stairs Entrance

The stairs are located past the Warming Hut where Marine Dr. and Long Ave meet.  Look for the stairs on your left just past the parking lot.  If you find yourself at Ft. Point you’ve gone too far.  Head up the stairs and it’s about 0.4 miles to the top.  If you don’t want to take the stairs back down, follow the bike trail instead (though be careful of cars!).  Also, don’t worry – the stairs themselves are not 0.4 miles long…at some point you will hit a walking/biking trail which will take you up to the Bridge.  If you want to challenge yourself, try running the stairs a few times before heading up to the Bridge itself!

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