A Walk Through San Francisco – I Was Supposed to be Training!

Several months ago, I signed up for the Western Pacific Half Marathon.  In order actually walk the marathon, I had to train.  Due to many reasons, like a week-long cruise and Caitlin’s basketball tournaments, along with the standard lack of discipline, it was less than a week before the big day, and the longest walk I managed was only 5.2 miles, so I was worried.  I decided to do an 8-mile walk to see  what the results would be.  Based on that, I would decide whether to actually walk the half marathon or to drop down to the 10k. 

One thing about walking many miles… it takes an inordinate amount of time!  For this walk, I had to allow myself 3 hours, so the only time I was able to train was on a Wednesday night right after work.  However, before the big night, I had to come up with a route.  I used the website, mapmywalk.com, to help me out.  San Francisco is essentially 7 miles by 7 miles, and at no time was that more obvious than when I mapped my walk!  I started the mapping at my office in downtown San Francisco and went towards AT&T Park, but that was about two miles round trip, and I didn’t want to walk that route four times!   So I mapped the other direction towards Fisherman’s Wharf and the Marina.  By the time I got to Mile 4, I was in Chrissy Field.  That just seemed overwhelming to me because it seemed SO far away, but I was committed… or so I thought.

Most dedicated amateur athletes would remain focused on the task at hand, but alas, not me.  I started out the door around 5:20 p.m. and headed towards the Ferry Building.  By the time I got there, my achilles tendonitis started acting up, and when I got to Pier 35, the top of my feet were hurting too.  Before I left the office, a co-worker mentioned that there was a huge cruise ship in town, and I had just returned from a cruise, so I got a chance to see the Sapphire Princess up close.


Finally, I made my first turn into Bay Street.  After several blocks, I met a couple of ladies from Europe who were looking for an ATM, so I directed them to the Northpoint Center where there were several banks.  The old Northpoint Center, as I knew it, was not so swanky and trendy; it was where my father brought me to buy groceries.  He used to steer me to the Mayfair Market on a hand truck.  Inside the Mayfair, I recalled there was a Swensen Ice Cream parlor, but I don’t remember anything else.  Now it contains a 24-Hour Fitness, Radio Shack, Safeway, Walgreen’s, JP Morgan Chase, and a Wells Fargo!  Another block later, I came upon the cable car tournaround for the Powell Street line.  That’s not what’s so special about it.  It marks where the former home of my BFF used to be! 

I used to catch my school bus about a block away from there.  Yes, I’m so old that I used to be bussed to school during the desegregation period.  I continue passed the old Tower Records and head up my one hill.  When I got there, I had to take a breather.  As I turned around, I saw another hill, the one that I roller skated down when I was about 12 years old.   

Just to show how conservative I am, that was one of the craziest things I ever did as a kid… and as an adult!  I passed Ghirardelli Square, where I worked part-time for about two years while in college.  Then I passed Galileo High School, high school alma mater of said BFF, the school that separated her from me (we met in 4th grade and went to school through 8th grade and then reconnected again in college).  I finally crossed Van Ness Avenue and eventually turned right at Laguna which brought me to Fort Mason and the famous Marina Safeway, aka “meet” market.  With another turn, I was finally on Marina Boulevard!  Although born and raised in San Francisco and having driven many times on this street, I had never walked there before!  I should have walked into Chrissy Fields but ended up walking through Yacht Road passed the Beach Hut and saw the windmills.   

That was the first 4 miles, but now it was time to return to make up my 8 miles…  On my way back, the wind was blowing into my back, so I knew my time going home was going to be slightly faster.  When I got to the Laguna and Bay corner, I was so happy to see a row of portable potties, possibly there for an event the following day.  There was even a handwashing station!  As I walked down the hill I climbed earlier, I looked across the street and saw two houses with mural painted on their fronts.   

Then I passed the old Tower Records and the Northpoint Center again and came across what was formerly the Northpoint Theatre, where I watched my first American movie, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, again with said BFF.    







 I finally made it to Bay and Embarcadero and this time saw the Sapphire Princess at night fall.


By now the sun had gone down and the wind was blowing harder, so I really had to pick up speed.  I went down the Embarcadero and back to Market Street.  Instead of returning to the office, I headed down to the BART station to take my train.  By this time, it was around 8:40 p.m.  I was so happy that there was a seat on the BART train but realized that my feet were extremely sore. 

My feet were sore for several days, so on Friday night, I decided to opt for the 10k instead.  The next day, I finished the 10k right under 2 hours, which was 10-20 minutes slower than I had hoped.  I was initially disappointed in my time but then realized that walking on trail is different that walking on asphalt, and it normally does take a little longer.  And what can I really say or do?  All I can do is improve!  Onward to the next foot race!