Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Running Up That Hill

"If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair." (Scott McKenzie)

...or in my case, sellotape some to my forehead.

With just four weeks of my US residency left, it didn't take much to persuade me to make a short trip to my favourite city in the world, San Francisco. I wasn't sure when I'd get the chance again.

At least I find flying West doesn't provide anything like the same jet lag issues as flying East, which is usually enough to leave me out of sync for several days.

It was perfectly smooth too, and with barely a cloud obscuring the view from coast to coast, it was a treat to witness again the incredible vastness of this country.

The Rocky Mountains looked particularly beautiful, dusted with the first traces of early winter snow.

As I often tend to do after arriving for a trip, my first task after checking into the hotel was to don my running shoes, and rediscover the city.

Running is not a topic I've written much about on this blog. I think its joys are something you either appreciate or you don't, and writing about it might be akin to 'dancing about architecture' as someone once described music.

However it's a very important part of my life, and the ultimate antidote to most of my ills.

Stressed and anxious? A run will clear my head. Lacking energy? Paradoxically perhaps, a run will provide a boost. Early signs of a cold? A run seems to ward it off.

I've never done a marathon, although I did admire the New York runners last weekend. The sight of the elite men bounding past like gazelles after 19 miles is truly a thing to behold.

However if there's one thing that winds me up when I tell someone I'm a runner, it's the inevitable question, "Have you ever done a marathon?" (I haven't and don't intend to).

Why is it that if you told someone you enjoyed driving for example, their follow-up question wouldn't typically be, "So have you ever done the Paris to Dakar rally then?". It doesn't need to be taken to excess to be enjoyable and rewarding.

As it happens I was fortunate enough to be able to run in Paris last week (although not Dakar), a city which richly rewards with its stunning architecture and its awe-inspiring boulevards.

Paris also virtually guarantees you will pass beautiful women at an extraordinary rate. Just in case you thought bpm only stood for 'beats per minute' in a runner's vernacular, for others like me with higher goals there's also a target 'birds per minute' to aspire to.

However Paris probably ranks no.2 in my all-time great cities to run in, just behind San Francisco and its hills.

New York would probably be no.3, although it's mainly confined to Central Park which admittedly can look pretty special on a crisp autumn day. Washington DC with its abundance of city centre greenery and iconic images of political omnipotence, would probably be a close 4th.

The thing about running in San Francisco is that however fit you thought you were, you're not. You're also guaranteed to not be able to walk for several days, ironically because of the hills you run down, rather than up.

As regular runners will know however, the thing about hills is that they offer a reward at the end, namely the view that evolves behind you as you bust your lungs.

My reward tonight as the photo shows was a cruise ship going past Alcatraz, taken from the top of the wonderfully named Nob Hill. For once there was no fog rolling in to ruin the experience.

Now where did I put the Nurofen?


At 3:56 PM, Blogger ChicagoAddick said...

Inspiring photo NYA. As you are no doubt aware having met me, I don't even run for a bus not when god invented taxi ranks, but if I was to do a walking list then your top 4 are an excellent choice.

Enjoy SF, any other plans to see parts of the country before you leave?

At 4:31 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

No this probably it for now - hope to be back in the US on a regular basis though.

At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahh yes, DOMS from running downhill. It's a killer.

At 3:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't give up this blog when you come home. I love reading your musings about stuff other than football :(

At 9:49 AM, Blogger charlton north-downs said...

Running is a great de-stresser and I have been running since my school days. Unfortunately the knees due to football injuries are a bit suspect these days so its more likely to be the treadmill which is boring compared with running in fresh air. Living on top of the North Downs surrounded by countryside with hills over 600ft it is a reward to reach the top. My son has inherited the bug and often runs 8 miles or so.
Must arrange a game of tennis Maybe an early start on a Saturday , a lunchtime beer and then a match at the Valley- That sounds like heaven to me.

At 4:56 PM, Anonymous noel said...

Lots of great runs around the Thames Blackheath Greenwich etc and further afield if you have time around a match NYA...


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