What I Think About When I Am Running

The weather has shifted in the Bay Area: we had several decent bouts of rain, and now the skies are clear and the temperature is in the seventies. The wind has dropped, leaving a rare sense of peace and stillness in this generally windy city.
My life has been quite full recently, with some lovely things happening, and others that were less welcome. In the midst of it all I have noticed myself not feeling motivated to write about goings-on in the way that I sometimes do on here…
My vicarious marathon training has come to an end. After the twelve-mile run at Wilbur, the following weekends saw fourteen and sixteen miles covered (last weekend I let my friend do the eighteen-mile run unaccompanied). The fourteen mile run took in the trail to and onto the Bay Bridge, which I had never done before, but which I had assumed I would discover by bike sometime. The path is wider and less vertiginous for me than being on the Golden Gate Bridge, and there was a rare treat in store as well: whales were breaching right underneath us, to the delight of everyone on the path.
For the sixteen mile run, we traversed many parts of San Fransisco, from the Panhandle, to the Presidio, Mountain Lake, Lobos Creek, the Land’s End trail, the Cliff House and Ocean Beach, returning via Golden Gate Park, all under spectacular clouds and luckily no rain. It was like covering several roams at once, and the route felt very familiar to me. My friend, who had never run that far before, was having a fair amount of pain, and with it, motivation problems. It has been a few years since I ran that kind of distance (perhaps ten years ago, attempting a twenty-mile run around the mountains at Tassajara, which was pretty brutal), but I was doing okay plodding along. I was wondering if the long-term body memories of being able to cope with that kind of distance (and the three marathons I ran many years ago) helped, or if it was perhaps due to the more recent experience of sitting through sesshins where I would rather have been doing anything else than continuing to sit on a cushion, but nonetheless I persevered in following the schedule. Either way, I have in my body a sense of equanimity about sticking things out, which helps when life is throwing less pleasant things at me.
Last weekend, with a roam scheduled, I took the streetcar up to West Portal to run the course I had planned, up to Golden Gate Heights, the Moraga Street Stairs, and Grand View Park. I even made a detour to check out the steep dune that is Hawk Hill, before deciding again that it was not suitable to include on a roam. As I headed south and reached an uphill block of 10th Ave, I remembered how tired people had been at that part of the roam, having already got over several significant climbs. For myself, since I had only covered a few miles compared to the previous weekends, once I had crested that climb, I continued home via Twin Peaks, and still did not feel so worn out at the end.
I did resolve to re-plot the route of the roam though, to minimise the climbing, so we ended up doing the planned route almost backwards. A highlight was sitting on a south-facing rock in little-used Golden Gate Heights Park, out of the bracing north-westerly wind which subsequently made Grand View a bit of a challenge.
We also had a real bonus at the end; having come down the beautifully tiled Moraga Street steps, which are increasingly crowded and photographed these days, one of our number requested that we head towards the N Judah rather than back to West Portal. I had a memory of running down a set of steps that connected with Judah a year or so ago, and was happy that we found them. What I had not realised on that run was that they were also beautifully tiled on the vertical part of the step, with an earth theme to Moraga’s marine theme. And not one single person was there with a camera. We all had a chuckle at the way such trends can emerge.

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