San Francisco and the Nike Women’s Marathon

Last weekend my wife competed in the half marathon in the Nike Women’s Marathon. Some regular readers might recall the fundraising links I posted and some of my readers actually donated (yay!). I thought I’d provide a bit of a trip report.

It was a great trip. My first visit to CA. Not my wife’s, though. Being a military kid, she spent some time in Monterrey growing up. San Francisco is a pretty cool city. In spite of all the recycling bins, though, there was an inordinate amount of trash which was a bit disappointing. But still, the bike culture there is just awesome. Bikes everywhere, even guys in business suits were riding around the city. Plus, more bike rental options than I expected.

Being there with the Team in Training, most of our dinners were planned for us, so that cut down on some of the opportunities I had to sample some local food. At least our first night’s planned dinner was in Chinatown. We went to Hunan Home’s and had a delicious meal. I ordered based on reviews from Yelp, and they were spot on. Not sure if it was the best Chinese or not, but it was infinitely better than the Chinese I’m accustomed to eating. It’s going to be hard going back to eating the stuff available to me at home.

cool light over the bay

Saturday was mostly a free day. We went to Muir Woods and Sausalito. I wish I could have spent more time in Muir Woods, as it was easily the highlight of the trip for me. I had a lot of fun with my camera there. These are only some of my favorites.

After lunch in Sausalito, we took the ferry back to San Francisco and passed by Alcatraz, getting all sorts of photo angles on the old prison, the Golden Gate Bridge, and downtown.


more "occupy" San Francisco protest
We checked out Pier 1 and all of the vendors outside before we started to make our way back to the hotel for the Inspiration Dinner from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We saw a small “Occupy” protest going on in front of the Federal Reserve Bank on our way back. It was amusing to me because all the people looked homeless and the messages on the protest signs were all about different things. The only thing in common was that they were unhappy, and a lot of them were cranky about money. I’d say that none of the rest of the “99%” are happy about money right now, either, but most of the rest of us are too busy actually working. Anyway.

The Inspiration Dinner event was pretty cool. The speakers were trying to pump up the runners, and the meal was a big pasta dinner for carb loading. My wife found out that she was actually the #2 fundraiser for her team (woohoo again!) at that event, and was presented with some schwag as congrats. After dinner, we went to 21st Amendment Brewery in hopes of getting a glass of their gold medal-winning brew from the Great American Beer Festival. Alas, they had none on tap…they were brewing a new batch at the time, so I had to choose something else. Everything I tasted was good. We ended up leaving early so the runners could get to bed.

before the race.  no coffee.
I think my wife actually slept that night, which must be the exception rather than the norm. Coaches and speakers were all talking about how little sleep the runners would get being anxious (especially the ones doing it for the first time). She was at least a little bit loopy that morning. The race was awesome. More than 24,000 people doing either distance, and the starting line was complete chaos. I was a bit disappointed with the spectator shuttles, but I’ve told that story enough.

My wife ran an awesome race. Her goal time was 3:00:00, and she pretty well smashed it. Even though she still had to walk up the bigger hills. The major factor in that, I think, was that she trained in the Texas summer. It was a really rough summer here, and she trained all through it, opting to run in the mornings most of the time, where the humidity was 99% and the temps would go from 75 or 80 up to 90 or so by the end of her run. With the weather on Sunday (50’s, breeze off the bay, overcast, and slightly humid), she was flying because she’s adapted to much hotter conditions.

I missed her crossing the finish line (more spectator shuttle troubles), but I eventually found her.

finish pose!

With that smile and the amount of energy she had left, I think she could have finished the race a bit faster still. She’d never run that fast, though, so I can’t blame her for not turning herself inside out since she didn’t know how much she could take.

Look for her on the left side at 2:57-26 through 2:57-32 with her arms up giving the fireman in a suit a high-five.

After the race, I took her for a pretty significant walk. After cleaning up in the hotel, we hiked all the way over to REI and back because I Had a coupon to use. She complained about the walk, but it probably helped her avoid much worse soreness later. Funny thing about the REI in SoMa, it’s across the street from a GIANT strip club. As we walked back to our hotel, we were searching pretty intently for some decent food. We passed some fast food, but who wants to eat at Subway when you’re someplace new? Not this guy. Unfortunately, a lot of places just weren’t open. We ended up finding a bar that was open around the corner from the hotel, and it wasn’t bad. It hit the spot, and helped prep us for the final organized dinner for the trip, which only had hors d’ouvres.

Monday morning, we did some of the tourist thing again, mostly by foot. We walked from our hotel along the Embarcadero to Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Ghirardelli Square. At Pier 1 we got breakfast at the milk/cheese place. IMO, easily the best food we had. Not to mention, I was really appreciating the glass of milk. It’s often very difficult to get milk when you’re traveling. At Pier 39, we didn’t spend much time at the shops, although we did appreciate the tea and spice store (and bought some stuff from there). I mostly took pictures of the California sea lions. They were my first wild pinnipeds, and I got some pretty good photos.

Of course we got a big bag of chocolate at Ghirardelli Square. We were given a sample of an absolutely delectable pumpkin spice chocolate square. Holy cow I need to find more of those! We had lunch at a wine place there (mostly for the included glass of wine) and the food was only okay. Part of the problem with food there is that there are SO MANY restaurants that you have no idea what to choose.

We ended up hopping on a cable car to go back towards our hotel. I wanted to find some geocaches on our trip, though. I was only 2 finds away from 100, and I wanted my 100th to be in SF. So, we hopped off the cable car at Lombard Street and found the cache hidden there (with many containers). The gardens there are very pretty, but having people walking so close to your front door must be irritating for the people who live there. We got back on the cable car and made our way back towards our hotel, and we found our 100th cache at Yerba Buena Gardens. It was a neat little virtual of a statue. In spite of high numbers of favorite points on each cache, I don’t think either one was all that amazing. Not disappointing, but not worth using any of my own favorite points on either one. I really would have wished to do one of the Earthcaches in the area, but they can be time consuming and that was something I just didn’t have a lot of.

After that, it was time to pick up our stuff and get ready to head back to the airport. We left after 5, but did not get home until after 3am. That really sucks when you have to be up for work in the morning. You’re not sleepy when you get on the plane, but by the time you get off the plane at midnight and still have another couple hours to go before you get home, you definitely get tired.

It took me just about the whole week to recover. I’ll leave you with a slideshow of the whole trip. A lot of pics are included above, but there are some photos in here not covered earlier.

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