Headed downtown this morning to view the Veterans Day Parade here in San Francisco. I had never seen the parade before, and I wanted to take it in before they stop having one. With the sparse crowd lining the route at the head of the parade, it was hard to believe thousands of people used to line the sidewalks to watch this event.
After almost two decades of living in San Francisco, I decided finally to take part in one of its signature outdoor events–the annual running of the Bay To Breakers. Billed as the largest continuously held footrace in the world, the 99th edition was marked by the usual mix of elite and casual runners, outlandishly costumed runners and centipede groups, along with way too many runners who decided to run in the altogether.
I lined up in Corral B and spent the wait for the starting gun alternately tossing and trying to avoid being hit by tortilla shells. I’m not sure how the tortilla-tossing tradition started, but leave it to San Francisco to pioneer the use of biodegradable frisbees. With over 60,000 registered participants I expected a long wait before crossing the start line. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to find our group moved swiftly across the line and onto the course. That’s where a major drawback of the size of the field became apparent as the first mile of the route was jammed with runners (and too many walkers). I knew the route would become easier to navigate as the field started to slow down on the Hayes Street Hill, but I didn’t want to lose too much time before that point of the race. So, I quickly moved to the left edge of the street and occasionally jumped onto the sidewalk where it was clear of spectators. Pre-hill splits of 7:35 and 7:34 vindicated my dodging and weaving strategy.
Although I had never before tackled the infamous Hayes Street Hill, all of the hill running I’ve done here in the City paid off, as I quickly motored up the race’s steepest terrain. The rest of the course is forgiving after that point–relatively flat for two miles as you enter Golden Gate Park followed by a gentle two mile downhill run to the finish. Exiting the park and turning onto the Great Highway I was flanked to my right by the eponymous Breakers while ahead of me lay the finish line. A bit of a finishing kick and I crossed in 54:32. Certainly not fast enough to compete with the elites and seeded runners, but enough to place me at number 612. A PR for me at the 12K distance which isn’t saying a lot since this was my first 12K race. But now I’ve got mark to beat for next year.
And while on the course I took some time to shoot some video which I whipped into a short video below.
Beautiful day in the City today. Headed down to the Ferry Building to walk around the Farmers’ Market and pick up some first day of spring asparagus. A bite to eat, and then a little perambulating around town to work it off. I took a little video and tested out the editing software which comes with it. Not as full-featured as I’m used to, but it gets the job done.
The day was too nice to sit around inside doing housework, though, so I made sure to get out and put in a nice bit of mileage.
Big sports weekend what with the MLB playoffs heating up, lots of great college bowl games, and a full slate of NFL action. But all of that pales in comparison to the big event which took place right here in San Francisco. I’m talking about the 2009 running of the Nike Women’s Marathon. 20,000 half and full marathoners took to the streets of our fair city to tackle a course which offered breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, a loop through lovely Golden Gate Park, and an out and back along Ocean Beach. The course also featured a fair amount of the hills San Francisco is know for.
Although there were a couple of gents sprinkled into the field here and there, I wasn’t participating in the race. Instead the honey and I along with a group of our close friends were cheering on another friend of ours participating in her first marathon. So to her and all the other folks who made the NWM such a special event, congratulations, and I hope to see you out there next year.
We spent most of today traveling around the city engaged in a Flat Stanley-style project taking pictures of a paper cutout version of our niece visiting various landmarks. Now we have shots of “Paper Molly” visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, the Painted Ladies in Hayes Valley, Chinatown, and City Lights Bookstore in North Beach. We took a few moments to poke around the bookstore and ended up in the second floor Poetry Room. A window in that room looks out over some rooftops in Chinatown, and it was there I came across the above tableau. I was struck by the sight of a single black shirt hanging there amid a garbage-strewn rooftop. Somebody had obviously gone to a lot of trouble to hang that shirt out there to dry, and now it looks forlorn and forgotten surrounded by a bustling city.
The pants look lonely, too.
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This year’s Red Bull Soap Box Derby was certainly worth the price of admission, which was free. Great weather, and the chance to see an intrepid group of hapless individuals make fools of themselves brought out an enormous crowd to Dolores Park. It wasn’t Obama in St. Louis numbers, but the place was sure packed.
It’s Memorial Day Weekend, and in San Francisco’s Mission District, and that means Carnivale. For a few hours crowds line Mission Street to watch as hundreds of dancers representing dozens of groups strut down the street in colorful native costumes and levels of dress (or undress as the case may be). The sun shone down on stilt walkers, drum lines, local politicians, and the occasional low-rider; quite a change from last year’s overcast and windy affair.
More photos are available here.