san francisco

47 Hills – Sutro Heights Hill 45

I started my run on a clear, breezy morning. I hadn’t realized that it was the same morning as the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, a short, yet punishing tri that starts on Alcatraz with a swim to the Marina Green, then an 18-mile cycling course, finishing with an 8-mile run that returns at Marina Green. And throughout both the bike and running courses, there are hills, lots of hills.

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The original Sutro Mansion

What this meant for me, was that a lot of the area I was planning on running was going to either be cut off or a bit more difficult to get to, so I rerouted my run and enjoyed watching a bit of the tri along the way.

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The view from the top

Adolph Heinrich Joseph Sutro was born in Germany in 1830 but served as mayor of San Francisco from 1895 until 1897. He made his fortune in the Comstock Lode in Nevada and built not only a huge mansion at the top of a hill overlooking Ocean Beach, but also the well-loved Sutro Baths. The remains of the baths still exist and can be explored on foot.

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Sutro Heights grounds

Sutro Heights checks in at 200 feet. It watches over the Pacific Ocean quietly and if you happen to drive past, enjoying the ocean view, you’d probably miss its tranquil setting. Adolph’s gigantic mansion is long gone, but the site remains and it is worth a visit. The hill is one of my favorites; you can run in a circle and then continue down to the beach, or go across the street to the Land’s End path. There’s plenty to see and it’s usually pretty quiet. The backside of the hill also has a fun and very sandy way to get down if you want something a little more adventurous.

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I decided on the sandy back route to avoid the cyclists and ended my run watching some of the race at the end of Golden Gate Park. This hill is one of my favorites in the city. I hope you can enjoy it sometime too!

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Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

Note: All the hill elevations and listings were taken from another website http://www.47hills.com and used for a personal challenge so bear that in mind if there are any discrepancies.

Keep Moving Forward!

47 Hills Part 2 – #46 Mint Hill

The Bay Area is known for being bone dry from mid-May until Mid-October. So today, when it rained, just a little, we were a little surprised. It wasn’t cold, just the usual low 60s, the same it would be if it was foggy and windy, but rain!!

Mint Hill is 150 feet. It is where the US Mint – San Francisco is located, hence the name. This is the second Mint in SF, the first is at 5th Street near Mission. It is open to the public and presents many exhibits throughout the year. The working mint at Mint Hill is closed as produces coins. For more information on the Mint, you can check out the government’s website: www.usmint.gov

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Mint Hill and the active US Mint Building

Since the hill isn’t very big, it only takes about a block’s uphill walking to get to the top, it is at the bottom of the list of SF hills. But the best part about Mint Hill is the neighborhood. If you walk up Buchanan Street from Market Street, check out Hermann, Webster and Waller Streets. It’s a lovely neighborhood for walking, running or just to look at pretty houses. The streets aren’t clogged with cars either. It’s a nice neighborhood.

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Victorian treasure in the neighborhood

Now that I’ve found it, this won’t be my last run here.

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Waller Street Steps

As I work up the list, the hills will get bigger! Keep an eye out for Hill #45 and check out my first post on the SF Hills, Hill #47 – Rincon Hill.

Keep moving forward!

47 HILLS – THE 47th HILL

I’ve lacked inspiration and motivation lately. In the past, just running and looking forward to races was enough, but after my last injury it seems to not be any longer. Maybe it’s because I’m not doing as many races now or it could be something else, but I decided to look for a unique and fun challenge; one that I could also share on my blog. And I found it!

San Francisco is a city of hills. There are tons of them here. There are 47 known ones, according to this website I discovered: www.47hills.com

So after scoping all these hills, I’m going to run up every one of them. This will take at least 47 weeks, maybe sooner if I get through them at a quicker pace. But it’s not about speed. It’s about enjoying the hills, the scenery if there is any, and looking up any history that goes along with it.

Disclaimer:  All my information about each hill’s height, etc, comes from the aforementioned website. So, if an error is made, take it up with them.

This is merely for fun, not for any historical significance or discoveries.

So, without further waiting, I give you:

#47: Rincon Hill

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map of the Rincon Hill area

At a mere 100 feet, Rincon is barely worth mentioning height-wise, but it’s pretty important in the history of San Francisco. Rincon means inside corner in Spanish and before the 1906 earthquake, it was a very important neighborhood. In the 1805s, rich settlers built their homes here. The views were unparalleled. But with the quick development of the city, many hills with flattened, larger buildings were built and the views disappeared. The mansions were sold, torn down and the rich settled elsewhere.

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The foot of Rincon Hill on Harrison near 3rd St

Once again it’s home to wealthy transplants, buying highrise condos among the weaving freeways. I love running in this area on weekends. Clogged with traffic during the week, it’s calm and quiet on weekend mornings. The construction is growing so fast I see something new every time I pass by.

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The top of Rincon Hill is on the property of an expensive highrise condo

The hill isn’t hard to tackle either walking or running from either side and it’s a nice addition for any distance.

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Historic plaque

Keep moving forward!

PEACE OF MIND

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My view of the ocean from my run

I was listening to some country song during my run this morning, I don’t remember which one and it really doesn’t matter, but the song said that he found peace in a glass, or something similar. As I ran around the Marina Green, enjoying the beautiful sunshine, I thought how wrong the songwriter was.

And it brought me back many, many years…. more people than you think suffer from alcoholism. Believe this. It was my life for a long time.

Never once did I ever find peace in a glass.

For the better part of the remainder of my run, I mulled over this. Peace, drinking myself into oblivion? Yeah, right. Try the opposite. I drank because I hated myself. I drank because I hated my life, how on earth would getting smashed make anything peaceful?

We all have problems we’re dealing with in our lives. But there are better and healthier ways of dealing with them than with destroying ourselves.

For me, running is my outlet. When I couldn’t run because of my injury, it was really frustrating. Our lives are not easy and we cannot get by just working, eating and sleeping and expect to be happy. There has to be more.

Having a healthy hobby won’t cure all of our problems, but it gives us at least a short break away from them. And it gives us something else. It gives us a look a little distance away from them. Once I’m out on the road far from my apartment and my not-so-great neighborhood, what was bothering doesn’t seem so immediate or troublesome.

And if running doesn’t do it for you, then maybe a nice walk or hike will, or a bike ride, or lifting or yoga. The whole point is to give yourself a gift of a healthy hour or even a 30-minute vacation away from all the negativity dragging you down. That is what I call Peace of Mind.

Keep Moving!

Just For Fun

For two months I didn’t run. I attempted to heal or cure or whatever, my IT band issues, but it instead of going away completely, it remains. It is better than it was, this is true, but I had hoped that by stretching and resting it for eight weeks, it would feel better running again.

Nope. It still gets a little sore. Granted, I am going a little slower and shorter distances. I’m taking it easy.

The time off wasn’t in vain, however. I consider it to be a useful time of reflection and it did help me put things into a much healthier perspective.

I do believe I was trying too hard to be better. Self-improvement is a good thing, but when we push ourselves physically too hard, too soon, we’re asking for injuries. I wanted (OK, still want to) to be fast. I’ve had a great desire to be a better running, run faster than I did. And in actuality, I am 30 seconds faster right now than I was a year and a half ago.

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The beginning of the trail in Golden Gate Park

But where I live there are just not many slow runners. Or so it seems. Most people here in San Francisco are speed demons. Someone told me they were slow at 10 minute miles. I would have killed to run that fast at one time! I can do that pace really pushing myself, sprinting, but comfortably? No way.

I’d love to start a group of slow runners and I still may. But I’m no longer going to push myself to injury to fit in to any of the established running groups. Some of them say “all paces”, but how fun is it to be the only one slower than everyone else at every run? Unless you are that one person, you don’t know what that’s like. It’s stressful and not all that enjoyable.

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So green!!!

I ran twice this week. My first run was a simple run from home down to the Bay along Market Street and the Embarcadero. My IT band was sore the first mile, but felt better as I ran. This is progress. I told myself.

Tonight’s run was pure joy. Because of eight non-running weeks, I’m a little out of shape, so my trail running isn’t what it used to be. It will take some time to get back to where it was. Work was slow at the end of the week and the big boss was out, so we were let go after a half day. Who wouldn’t be in a good mood after that? I zipped home, changed clothes and took the bus to Golden Gate Park to run my favorite trail.

I know it well, even though I hadn’t run it since last November. It had been a while. But just starting my run I smiled and everything was okay. The weather was in the high 60s, a cool breeze whistled gently and the sun was bright. The trail was empty, except for a couple hiking. Even the disc golf course I passed was quiet.

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The Redwood Grove

We’ve had so much rain, the park was bright green and lush, with flowers popping up everywhere. My pace was slow, but not terrible. I found myself more out of breath than I would have liked, but that will improve. And my IT band? Not bad at all.

I’ll take it easy and see if combined with strength training it gets better. I have a huge deductible in my medical insurance and no money right now, so it’s not like I could see someone even if I wanted to and taking time off isn’t an option anymore. I’ll just enjoy that I can run, even a little and see what comes.

Keep moving forward!

YMCA CHINESE NEW YEAR RUN and a little more….

Despite a sore quad muscle, I ran the Chinatown YMCA’s annual 5K Chinese New Year’s Eve run. My leg felt good until the last mile, but by then, I had kept up a decent pace and was determined to keep running. I had told myself that if it hurt too much, I would walk, but I didn’t have to walk any part of the race. Because it hurt, however, I knew that I wouldn’t be running again for at least a couple more weeks.

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Grant St before the start of the race

My birthday is this week. My stepmom, Eleanor, lives in North Florida and is one of the few family members I have left. She planned to make the trip to see me this year instead of me flying out there as I usually do. I’ve been looking forward to it a while, so I took the week off. The race was a nice start to my vacation. Monday was President’s Day, so it was great turning a long weekend even longer as well.

And then, Monday morning as I was having breakfast, I suddenly felt a hard object in my mouth. One of my back molars had chipped! This was not unexpected. My dentist had told me that because it had had a very large filling years ago, it was bound to break and in turn will probably need a root canal and crown. Ouch! As happens in life, the timing sometimes sucks.

So, this morning, I spent the day at the dentist. This afternoon, I met up with Eleanor, which cheered me up. The good news is I haven’t felt any pain since. The bad news is that even with dental insurance, I’ll still have to pay the majority of the costs.

But, I’m not going to let it get me down. Tomorrow is my birthday and Eleanor and I are going to have a great day!

Keep Moving!

 

DO WHAT YOU FEAR

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SF Runs

Think of something that you are afraid to do. I don’t mean something that’s super scary, such as bungie jumping or hang gliding, but something more every day, like speaking in public, or eating solo in a restaurant. Now, go do it. That’s what experts say we’re supposed to do: face our fears.

And that’s what I did this week. I ran in a group.

Mind you, this isn’t the first time I’ve participated in a group run, or even the first time I joined in this group run. But, by letting go of my past misgivings, I had a great time.

Usually in group runs, I’m one of the last to finish. I’m not a fast runner in a city where nearly EVERYONE runs fast. Even slow runners will tell me “I’m really slow” and WOOSH!!! They’re off at a 9-minute mile pace. My normal pace hovers in between 11:00 and 11:30 minutes per mile, which is actually 30 seconds faster than last year. I am hoping to decrease that time even more this year, but until then I will consistently be a slow runner in the Bay Area.

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Not a bad time!

Let me say that my fears and anxiety were all self-induced. The running group SF Runs, is nothing but terrific. They are truly good people, with a great leader, Leonard Adler, whose passion for running knows no boundaries. The free group runs are welcoming and warm, even if the weather is cold out, there are always friendly faces smiling at newcomers.

After my first time with the group, it was okay enough. But I was so far behind everyone that I felt everyone had to wait and wait for me at the end. Leonard ran the whole three miles with me. I wished and wished I could run faster and keep up with them. I wondered if I was up to this whole group run thing. I know I shouldn’t have been so doubtful, but it didn’t help my self-esteem much.

I left that first run wanting to do more, but not wanting to be so slow, so OLD so SLOW…..

But I did. I gathered my fears, threw them out, swallowed my pride and joined in this Tuesday. I kept up with a small group for most of the three miles and I was just a little slower that last mile. I ran nearly a mile faster than my normal pace.

I conquered my fear!

I can’t do anything about being older, but I can certainly change my attitude, cease my fears and enjoy how I am lucky to have wonderful people in a city where good people are getting harder to find.

Have great runs this week, conquer your fears!

Cheers!

 

 

Chocolate in the Rain

This is the fourth year the RAM Hot Chocolate race series has been in San Francisco. I’ve always enjoyed this race series. Every year it’s run with professionalism and grace, something that doesn’t always happen with these big races. But this one has always done a great job.

Some things are beyond anyone’s control .Like weather. All week long I’ve been checking the forecast for today and it said nothing but pouring rain with winds. And that’s exactly was it was most of the morning, with the hardest rain coming down just as I left the house around 6:30am.

It was a miserable morning to prepare for a race! I wouldn’t have blamed anyone for deciding to have their medal shipped to them and doing the distance on their own. But, that’s just not me, so I braved the wind and rain and took MUNI off to Golden Gate Park.

The ONLY saving grace was that is wasn’t cold. The temperatures hovered around 59 degrees so I was VERY happy it wasn’t freezing when I was soggy wet!

The 15k course was shortened to a 9k course, due to the Great Highway along the Pacific Ocean becoming part of the ocean. That happens due to high tides and winds. Sand doesn’t like to stay in place and during winter, the highway does close occasionally. I didn’t mind at all running a shorter distance, my feet were soaked before the race already. I chose to wear my race running jacket for the race, which turned out to be a really good decision. I was a little warm, but inside my jacket, I wasn’t soaked and that was a good feeling.

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The rain is coming down while we wait for the start….

My time wasn’t bad; I placed in the top half of the women in my age group and even though I would have run faster had it not been as rainy and slick, I’m still pleased with how I did.

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Here I am, trying to stay dry!!! 

Had the RAM organization not been so organized and great at communicating the course changes and weather conditions, this could have been a disaster, but as it turned out, things went through smoothly. They did a great job.

Now I need to get serious about losing this weight. I’ve been slacking and not really focusing on it as I should. That ends and my focus will be on losing 20 pounds and being a faster runner.

Cheers!

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The medal and chocolate (!!) make it worthwhile! 

 

 

FIT, FIERCE & FRUGAL – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I fell asleep at 10:30 last night. New Year’s Eve isn’t my deal. I don’t drink and the thought of being around a club or bar filled with people partaking doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe if there was a band in town that I’d like to see I’d go out, but it seems like the best time to cuddle up under the covers, get some rest and wake up early on New Year’s Day.

What I DO love is running early New Year’s Day. Even though it’s really cold out, I love it!

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Conservatory of Flowers

So, I forced myself into the cold, dark morning street air. All was quiet as I walked to the bus stop. Surprisingly, there were quite a few people on the MUNI 5, making their way or to work or to wherever they were going.

I started my run on the Panhandle, trying to stretch out the distance on the park as much as I could, for I knew that Ocean Beach would be colder and windier. Very few people were out. There were a couple other runners, dog walkers and cyclists, but really, Golden Gate Park was near empty. And that’s exactly why I went out early. The weather was, in spite of being cold, beautiful. There was hardly a breeze until I got to the beach.

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Empty park streets

I noticed the clues of the high surf on the beach. Small pools of water remained close to the sidewalk, far away from the ocean. I don’t think I’d ever seen the surf that high before, so when the weather warning says “Dangerous High Surf”, it’s probably a good idea to pay attention.

I finished out my run on the Great Highway. By then, there were a few runners and walkers out and I had finally gotten warm. I’ll be running the Hot Chocolate 15K next week right here and it was worth nothing how the weather was this morning.

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Ocean Beach – windy & cold

During my run, I thought of the year passed and the one ahead of me. I probably set my goals too high last year, as I didn’t reach half of them. I am running faster, I got my personal trainer’s certificate, I did finish the San Francisco Marathon and I finished running 1,000 miles, but I didn’t run all the races I wanted to, I haven’t found the job I’m looking for and I have yet to lose the weight I would like. So, there are things I need to work on this year.

And I will work my hardest to get them done. In essence, what I want to accomplish this year, can be said in three words: Fit, Fierce, Frugal

I need to keep running, keep sticking to healthy eating, stay on track at the gym. I must not be afraid by self-imposed fears of inferiority, instead I need to jump in and take chances and go for what I want. I also have to keep track of my finances. Things are going to be tight, moneywise in 2017. I will not have the choices to do many of the fun things I did in 2016, so I have to take stock in priorities and never lose track of the prize.

May you All have great 2017s, and may you run many miles and do great things!

Cheers!

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PONDERINGS IN A CONGESTED FOG….

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So, I’ve had a cold for a few days. I don’t feel too bad any longer. I did make it to work today. It felt great to leave the house and be in contact with other people. I contemplated going for a run tonight, but decided against it, figuring I will go out tomorrow night instead. I’ll rest one more evening and be more than ready for an easy run Thursday night.

During my down time, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking (and eating unfortunately). I thought about starting another website to promote health and fitness for folks 50 and over, but then I reminded myself that even though that sounded like a great idea, one is enough for me and I can combine whatever I want to do within here.

Eventually, I will add more to this site. There will be more in 2017. I will add more recipes, more health info and a lot more content, especially for those of us who are no longer on the shy side of 40. I will be adding interviews with inspirational and professional people I think readers will enjoy. I’m excited about the improvements and additions I’ll be including and I really can’t wait for 2016 to end. I will write more about how the year was for me, but it’s not making an easy ending for me, I’ll say for now.

Until my Holiday post, I hope you don’t drink too much egg nog (there’s like a thousand calories in that stuff), keep working out, be kind to those around you, (we’re all stressed out) and take a little time out to appreciate what’s really important ( the material things aren’t it).

Cheers!

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View from the top of Kearny Steps