San Francisco: Pacific Heights to the Marina to the Presidio and back home.
No matter the month, or time of day, I find the run down to the Marina from our two bedroom Victorian apartment in Pacific Heights refreshing, fast and stimulating. The first six blocks down Franklin Avenue past Broadway, Vallejo, Green, Union, Filbert and Greenwich are easy. I’m flying down a steep decline, my gate wide, my pace quick. Slowing to a standing jog at the red light on Lombard and maneuvering around a mom with her double-wide baby stroller cause momentary breaks in my otherwise tempo run.
Once I reach Bay Street, the path takes a 45 degree left turn toward the Golden Gate Bridge. The marine layer thickens as I pass Fort Mason on my right and multi-million dollar Victorians on my left.
My father warned me that San Francisco’s marine layer can feel oppressive and depressing over time; however, I find its smoke-shaped tendrils refreshing and alluring. The brisk headwind clears my own mind-fog, like when I press a cool washcloth to my face, sweeping the morning sleep from my eyes.
People on bikes pass me as they commute to work or cycle toward the Marin Headlands across the bay. Older residents walk their perfectly groomed dogs on the wide concrete paths.
Kites snap violently in the skies above Marina Green Park. A few 20 somethings play two-versus-two grass volleyball, and a bearded man layered in wool coats sits on the wooden bench. I settle into my cruising pace on the flattest section of my five mile run.
Ahead, seagulls bark sharply and swoop down to the parking lot, chasing a wrapper filled with the remains of a sandwich, near Crissy Field.
I weave my way to East Beach near the Presidio. The trail that runs along the brown sand is less populated than the walkway near Highway 101. White foamy waves wash up on shore and the two Golden Gate Bridge towers peak through the cotton batting layering the bay.
The wooden pier near the base of the bridge marks the halfway point of my out and back route. I turn and check my watch. I’m on track to hit an 8:30 mile pace. I crank up Counting Crows, “Round Here,” on my walkman, grateful for the beauty and the people and the strength of my legs to carry me home.