SAN FRANCISCO – I ran to the Pacific Ocean this morning.
I ran under a canopy of stars, from the east end of the Golden Gate Park to the west, along Martin Luther King Drive for four miles, under giant pine trees, under a majestic dead pine with 20 crows in its crown silhouetted against a blue-black sky, past ponds of families of silent ducks and geese, past a fat-ass windmill, over the empty Great Highway, and onto the gray sand of Ocean Beach.
It felt good to stand still and to feel a slight breeze on my forehead. I thought about jumping in. I thought about running back after jumping in. I thought about time. I thought about distance. I stopped thinking and turned back. The Pacific would wait.
Running in the dark is a combination of peace and dread. Peace because of the comfort of being in the dark with no one around, no distractions, miles passing by with no markers. Dread because I could trip over a root or stumble in a pothole, and dread too because one of those running-free dogs that appeared every mile or so might run after me. I ran with my head down until I saw a running dog.
Eight straight days of running is this. I am in full push-back mode, trying to recapture my strength, my endurance, my waist of old. I don’t know how many days I will run consecutively, but it will be more than eight. I’m winded far too easily, I’m slower, I’m too fat.
Three days of San Francisco, a work trip, a getaway in the mornings when I run. Walking is almost as much fun. I stayed in a hotel east of the park, across from the famous Kezar Stadium, next to the Kezar Pub, which has big-screen TVs, basketball on all night, two vegetarian dishes, 12 beers on tap, two local, one dark porter Death & Taxes, which is damn good and damn good it didn’t keep me from running to the Pacific Ocean.