Girls Run Wild

Run of the Week

Check back here weekly for run and hike/walk suggestions around the Bay Area.  Forget the treadmill – tie up your kicks and enjoy the outdoors! 

Run of the Week: 9 Mile Training Run!

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.

Run of the Week: July 17-23 – Phoenix Lake

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.

Run of the Week: 7.75 Golden Gate Park Loop

The Giant Race is approaching quickly so this week’s Run of the Week is a little bit longer to help get that mileage up.

Golden Gate Park was founded in the latter half of the 19th century as San Francisco began to feel the need for a large urban public park like that of Central Park in New York City.  Today, the park covers over one thousand acres and is host to some of the City’s most visited attractions: The De Young Museum, The Academy of Sciences, and The Japanese Tea Garden, to name a few.  The park also boasts mile after mile of relatively flat running (or walking) paths, generally cool temperatures, and a scenic atmosphere.  And, what better way to see the park than to run through it?

7.75 Mile Loop Around Golden Gate Park

7.75 Mile Golden Gate Park Run

Starting Point: Choose your own.  The map above starts at the intersection of 6th Avenue and the Park.  Parking is available throughout the park but can be difficult to find on weekends and on really nice summer days.  The route below is outlined as if one is starting at 6th Avenue and the Park.

1. From 6th Avenue enter the Park and run through the roller skating area to John F. Kennedy Jr., Drive (JFK Dr.).  Make a left onto JFK and follow the path past the Conservatory of Flowers to Stanyan Street (this comes in perpendicular to the park).

2. Turn around at Stanyan and follow JFK Dr. back towards the Conservatory.  Make a left at Middle Drive and follow this past the Tennis Courts.

3. Just past the tennis courts you will come to a Y in the road – veer left towards Bowling Green Drive.  If you find yourself passing the back of the Academy of Sciences you’ve made the wrong turn.

4. Stay on Bowling Green Dr., which will turn into Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive.  Follow this road around Big Rec Playground.  When you come to  a T intersection, stay right on MLK Dr.

5. Continue on MLK Dr. for another couple of miles.  This road will end at the Great Highway.  Make a right at the Great Highway and follow the running path past the Beach Chalet.

6.  Make a right onto JFK Dr.  When you come to a Y intersection, stay right and continue on JFK Dr.

7.  Stay on JFK Dr. all the way back to the starting point at 6th Avenue.

Run of the Week: 8 Miler Ft. Mason to AT&T Park

The countdown to The Giant Race continues…just over 60 days left to kick that training regime into gear.  One important aspect of half marathon (or any distance) training is running part of the actual race route at some point during your weeks leading up to race day.  Once your feet get a chance to test part – if not all – of the route, you can better anticipate the twists, turns, and vertical changes come race day.  Knowing what to expect too can also help you adjust your training regime.  Hill running is always a good addition to your training schedule – even if your race is completely flat.  However, in San Francisco, hills can jump up on you, even on race day.  The first time I ran a half marathon I knew that I would have a pretty long, albeit gradual climb, about one-third of the way into the race.  However, I did not realize that around 12.5 miles I would have another hill to battle.  I made it, but I was not prepared.

This week’s run introduces you to part of The Giant Race’s half-marathon route.  It also includes a hill around mile 7.  During the actual race, this hill pops up at mile 4…and then there’s another, much less steep climb at mile 9.  I have adapted this week’s run to just 8 miles – and I have purposefully avoided running along Pier 39 and Fisherman’s wharf (unlike the actual race).  Why?  Well, it’s hard enough to walk along Jefferson St. let alone run it unless you’re out at 6am or into the night hours.

This week’s 8 mile run will take you from Fort Mason (chosen because it has free parking) to the ballpark and back.  Much of the run is along the Embarcadero, which is an excellent path for uninterrupted (read: no intersections – just a few driveways to be careful of) running.  If you do head out in the direction of the ballpark, check the Giant’s schedule first.  Running around the stadium on a game day might not be as fun as it sounds.

1. Start in the parking lot next to Bay and Laguna Streets.  Head east through Ft. Mason to Van Ness and Bay.  Follow Bay until it dead ends at the Embarcadero.

2. Head across the street and make a right on the Embarcadero.  Follow this until you get just past the ballpark.  Make a left before the intersection and follow the ballpark around back to the water.

3. Head back towards the Embarcadero.  Continue on the same route from which you just came until you hit Van Ness.

4. On the Fort Mason side of Van Ness turn right and head towards the water.  Just before the entrance to the pier, look to your left and you’ll see a road heading up-hill.  Take this street.  At the top of the hill you will come to a grassy area – almost a clearing.  Follow the foot path to bathrooms up ahead.  Just beyond this building is the parking lot (and your starting point).

 

8 Mile Fort Mason to Ballpark Run

Run of the Week: 4.5 Mile Loop Around Lake Merced

When training for a longer race in San Francisco, it can be difficult to find a route that covers a good distance and doesn’t make you challenge a ton of car traffic.  On the south-western edge of The City lies Lake Merced, a fresh water lake that is home to practice space for high school rowers, is right next to the SFPD’s shooting range, and is bordered by three separate golf courses (Harding Park, The Olympic Club, and The San Francisco Golf Club).  The proximity of the lake to Ocean Beach provides cooler weather patterns, which can be perfect for running.  A foot path borders the lake completely, covering approximately 4.5 miles.  Parking is available both within parking lots at the lake and in the neighborhoods bordering it (Lakeshore and Parkside).  The distance around the lake is perfect for a low mileage day – or double it to up your miles as race day becomes closer.

 

Lake Merced Run

Directions:

Lake Merced is located on Lake Merced Blvd (Sunset Blvd turns into this).  One parking lot is located at the point at which Sunset becomes Lake Merced Blvd.  Another is located at the southern tip along Lake Merced Blvd.  You can also generally find parking on Sloat Blvd as well.

The goal is to start and end at one point along the lake.  Pick your direction and start running.  You should be able to see the lake for your entire run EXCEPT for about .75 miles on the eastern edge of the lake.  At this point you will be running past Harding Park.

Happy Running!

7.5 Mile Run from Fort Mason to the Golden Gate Bridge

This week kicks off the real countdown to The Giant Race Half Marathon on August 27, 2011.  In 87 days hopefully some of you will be joining me on this 13.1 mile run.  Haven’t started training yet?  Now’s the time to start. Didn’t sign up for the race yet?  Well, you’re kind of SOL – check out how to still run this sold out race here.

I ran this route last Friday when it was actually sunny out.  It’s mostly flat with a steady climb just before the 3 mile mark that leads you to the footpath entrance to the Golden Gate Bridge.  The run, as given, is about 7.5 miles.  If you’re not quite up for that, feel free to cut the run short by starting at a different point along the route.  If you want to go even further, try running on the bridge (though now you will have to share the path with both pedestrians and bicyclists.  You’ve been warned).  On blustery days you might find yourself running straight into a headwind.  Think of this as extra resistance.  This area in general is great to run in the evening hours as the sun is setting to the west.  However, be aware that there are very few street lamps along the road once you enter the Presidio (at the beginning of Crissy Field), so running in this area in the dark is inadvisable.

7.5 Mile Run to the GGB

1. Starting line is around the entrance to Ft. Mason at Bay and Franklin Streets.  Street parking can be found here – or enter Ft. Mason, make a left at the first stop sign, and follow the road to the left into a parking lot where there are spots are designated 2 hour public parking.

2. Head west along Bay and turn right at Laguna.  Laguna will dead-end at a parking lot – stay on the foot path to your left and follow the road as it becomes Marina Blvd.

3. Stay on Marina Blvd (there will be a row of homes on your left and a grassy area then a harbor on your right).  Once you hit Baker Street (look for the Palace of Fine Arts to your left), continue straight into the Presidio and stay on the foot path that borders Crissy Field (this is called Mason Street).

4. Follow Mason Street until it merges with a dirt path that parallels the water.  Follow the dirt path – the water will be on your right and a grassy area with BBQ pits on your left.

5. The first building on your left is The Warming Hut.  Run past this and make a left right after the building.  Cross the road – a parking lot entrance will be on your left.  Look up ahead for Long Ave.  It will be marked as “bike route.” Make a left onto this street and your uphill portion of the run commences.

6.  Follow the bike route – though be careful.  Long Ave has a few blind curves with both cars and bicyclists trying to control the road.  Take your ear buds out so you can be more aware of what is around you.  At the top of the road make a right onto Lincoln Blvd.  Hug the bike trail and continue to follow it and the signs pointing you to the Golden Gate Bridge.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge

7. Head back down the bike path and then back down Long Ave.  Once you’re back at Crissy Field, make a left and follow Marine Drive to Fort Point.  Once you hit the Fort, turn around and continue back on the same path from which you came.  Follow Mason Street back to Marina Blvd, turn right at Laguna, and left at Bay.

7.5 miles never felt so good, right?  If you feel like you need a cool down, there is a Starbucks on Buchanan between North Point and Beach for that much deserved post-run pick me up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 23-29, 2011: 4-5+ Mile Run Along Ocean Beach

Along the western edge of San Francisco lies the City’s largest and widest expanse of sand and water: Ocean Beach.  Complementing the natural dunes and cliffs of the 3.5 mile stretch from the Cliff House to Fort Funston is an approximately 2 mile paved foot and bike path that parallels the Great Highway.  Unfortunately, the weather is not entirely cooperative along this coast – summer appears in about September and says goodbye by October, but the natural air conditioning of the fog and sea air make for a pleasantly cool running area.  No need to worry about overheating here.  Free parking is available across from Golden Gate Park between Fulton and Lincoln Streets and along the Lower Great Highway.  The run below can be cut short or added to – as posted it’s about 5.3 miles.

4-5+ Mile Run Along Ocean Beach

1. Starting from the Ocean Beach parking lot across from the Beach Chalet Restaurant, head south along the foot path adjacent to the parking lot.

2. Once you hit Lincoln, make a left at the second light (you will run for a few feet on the sand and head across the street to the northern edge of the foot path.  BE CAREFUL – cars here don’t always know when their right of way is.  I almost got run over once by a motorcycle running a red light).

3.  Make a right onto the foot path and follow it to Sloat Blvd.  Watch out for bicyclists – it’s best to stay to your right in either direction.

4.  Once you hit Sloat you can take  a breather and enjoy the view by crossing the Great Highway.  There is a water fountain and restroom here as well.  If you’d rather keep going, turn around and head back to Lincoln.

5. Once at Lincoln either head straight back to the parking lot (your run will be just over 4 miles) or extend the run for another mile by crossing Lincoln and heading east into Golden Gate Park on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive

6. (For the longer run) Once on MLK Drive you will come to a fork in the road.  Make a left onto S. Fork Drive.  This will become JFK Drive in about 400 feet.  Stay left onto JFK.

7.  Follow JFK Drive to the Great Highway.  You will pass the Dutch Windmill (on your right).

8. Once you hit the Great Highway cross the street (carefully!) and head back to the parking lot.  Congrats!  You’ve just finished your run!

Looking for a post-run refueling?  Head over to Judah and La Playa and treat yourself to a cup of coffee at Java Beach.  Their sandwiches are pretty damn good too.

May 16-22, 2011: Golden Gate Park Easy 3 Miler

In honor of this past weekend’s Bay to Breakers, I thought I would pay homage to the race by posting a nice ~3 mile loop around the eastern half of Golden Gate Park.  Today marks the beginning of Half Marathon training, and if you are so inclined to join me on this training trek, consider this route for your “long” run this weekend.  If you’re new to San Francisco or haven’t spent much time exploring the park, this run will take you around the highlights.  Feel free to stop into one of the many attractions – just wait until after your run is over.

Golden Gate Park Easy 3 Mile Run

1. Start where you want along the route.  I’ve chosen the starting and ending points of 6th & Fulton.  Enter the park through here – you will pass through a popular roller skating area.

2. Turn left onto JFK Dr.  Follow the road just past the Conservatory of Flowers.  You will make a right onto Middle Drive East (the Golden Gate Park Tennis Club will be on your left).

3. Stay left at the Y in the road and veer onto Bowling Green Dr.  The National AIDS Memorial Grove will be on your right.

4.  Pass the San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club and then the parking lot that leads to Sharon Meadow, Children’s Playground, and the Sharon Art Studio.

5. Merge onto Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.  Continue straight and you will pass Big Rec on your right.

6. Stay right (and continue onto) MLK Jr. Dr.  The Hall of Flowers will be across the street and you will soon see one entrance to the Arboretum (if it’s open, you can run through the Arboretum – just follow the signs to your right to the other entrance/exit).

7. Continue on MLK – you will soon pass the Shakespeare Garden and the back of the Academy of Sciences.  Up next?  The Music Concourse, the de Young Museum, and the Japanese Tea Garden.

8.  Look for a little road (it will be slightly uphill) called Stow Lake Drive.  Make a right here and stay right on the road.  If you’ve wound up at Mothers Meadow or 19th Avenue, you’ve gone too far.

9.  Follow the road around Stow Lake.  Once you come to the Boathouse, make a right and follow the road down to JFK Drive.  Make a right here and continue east back to the starting point.

Put a fork in it – you are DONE!

May 9 – 15, 2011: 4 to 5 Mile Marina Green to Ft. Point Run

The Marina Green/Crissy Field area is a wonderful place to run, walk, bike, and even roller blade.  The area is nearly flat, scenic, and can be very calming (depending on the time of day and force of wind, of course).  Although the area can get very crowded on weekend days, I’m a big fan of running along here in the evening hours.  The wind can be very strong at times, giving you that added resistance (or push, depending on your direction) you need to make you run a little bit harder.  Running along here too has many options for extending your distance – you can easily add an extra mile or two in each direction.

Below are directions for a great 4 to 5 mile run along the Marina Green and Crissy Field to Fort Point and back.  Parking can be difficult on weekends but relatively easy at the starting point during the week.  Watch out for bikers who don’t know where they’re going – this path is very popular amongst the tourist crowd.  The run starts at Marina Green Dr. between Webster and Fillmore Streets.  A jungle gym of sorts (chin up bars, dip benches, etc) is the most prominent marker here. If you do decide to run at night, be aware that there are no street lamps once you are inside the Presidio (past Baker along Chrissy Field), so this is not the safest run past sundown.  On clear days, this run does provide a magnificent view of the sun setting into the west between the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge.

1. Head west along the foot/bike path next to the Marina Green.  If you’re worried about pounding pavement, run along the grassy area.  Stay on this path as you cross Baker Street (the Palace of Fine Arts will be on your left).

2. Follow the road (Mason Street) until you get to the water.  To your left will be a bunch of picnic areas, to your right will be a dirt trail that follows the water back from where you came.  If you want to extend your run to 5 miles, stay left along the trail and follow it past the Warming Hut (on your left) until you get to a road called Marine Drive.  Stay on Marine Drive (be careful of the cars) and run to the Fort ahead of you.  Turn around and follow the dirt path back.

3.  If you have chosen to stick with the 4 mile run (or have completed the turn around from Ft. Point), head back towards your car, but stay alongside the water.  At the end of East Beach you will come to a line of very tall trees and another road – about 200 feet before the St. Francis Yacht Club make a right along the water back to Marina Blvd.

4. Make a left on the footpath along Marina Blvd. and head back to the starting point.  The “jungle gym” here is perfect for a stretching.

The map below details the route.

Marina Green/Chrissy Field Run

May 1-7, 2011: 3.25 Mile Run around The Presidio Golf Course in San Francisco

I used to live in the Inner Richmond.  Running through my neighborhood’s streets meant playing dodge pedestrian.  However, I was lucky enough to live only a couple of blocks from the Presidio of San Francisco, which opened my running world up to dozens of trails.  I got lost often trying to feel my way through the turns of this area and was always mindful that even though I was still in the city’s limits, mother nature was all around me (and those watch out for coyote signs?  They’re no joke).  A run I discovered and did often took me from the hustle and bustle of 6th and Geary to the calm of the parklands of the Presidio.  This run is mapped as if starting from my old apartment.  You can park within the Presidio or along Lake Street and have very easy access to the route.

1. Head north on 6th Avenue towards Lake Street and take a left on Lake.

2. Turn right on 8th Avenue.  The street dead ends very quickly at Mountain Lake Park.  Head up the stairs and make a right.  Watch out for the dogs.  Follow the trail until you get to the lake.

3. At the lake (you’ll have to look for it through the shrubs – you’ll be just past the basketball hoop, which will be on your right), make a sharp right.  This trail will merge with another tail in about 20 feet – make a sharp left onto the merging trail.  The lake will be on your right at this point.  Follow the trail under the Park Presidio overpass.

4.  Your running trail will merge with a road.  Make a right and follow the road up through the Presidio Golf Course.  Watch out for flying golf balls too!  PLEASE NOTE:  There is limited access to this road once the golf course closes, especially late in the day on Sundays.  You might be able to make a right and head up the hill but once you get to the top there’s a chance you’ll be locked in and have to turn around.  I’ve had to squeeze through the gate at the top of the hill a couple of times – it’s not pretty.

5. Follow the road to the edge of the golf course and you will find yourself on Washington Blvd.  Make a right and follow the sidewalk around the housing development.

6. The sidewalk will end in about .5 miles – you will have to run on the road for about 20 feet (watch out for bicyclists and cars – I usually take my ear buds out at this point so I can pay better attention to my surroundings).  You will see another road coming into Washington Blvd on your right – just past this is a dirt trail.  Follow the trail through the cypress trees.  The golf course will be on your right – stay left on the trail.

7.  Look for a Y in the trail – to your left will be a big clearing with a giant tee-pee like structure in the middle.  Follow this trail and you will find yourself on Arguello Blvd.  Cross the road – CAREFULLY (they finally put speed bumps in here but cars do not generally pay attention to pedestrians) and make a right on the trail.

8. You will come to another road – if you make a left you will be parallel to Julius Kahn Playground on your left and Pacific Avenue on your right.  To add an extra mile to your run, follow this path until it dead ends at the Presidio Gates and turn back around.  If you aren’t up for the challenge, follow the trail to the Arguello Gates and stay on Arguello to Lake Street.

9.  Make a right on Lake Street and follow this back to 6th Avenue.  Left on 6th and you are DONE!

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