San Francisco Duathlon…. Warren style..

Where is the real Kathryn and what have you done with her?  

Running?  On holiday? Well, as one of the run directors of the new Maesteg parkrun, when I realised we would be in San Francisco on a Saturday – I wondered if there was a parkrun here…. A quick check of the US parkrun website, sure enough – San Francisco has a parkrun at Chrissy Fields down on the waterfront.

The fact that I haven't yet run my home parkrun, and that I'm still only half way through a Couch to 5K plan wasn't going to stop me. Armed with our new 'his and hers' parkrun armbands, we jumped in a taxi to the course at Chrissy Field.

Now, I love Maesteg, I really do…. but running along the pacific coast with views of the Golden Gate Bridge would be pretty hard to beat…… except the mornings in SF are eerily similar to a wet weekend in Maesteg. We stood at the start line shivering in the cold mist, unable to see anything of the iconic bridge that supposedly was out there in front of us.

We set off in to the mist, and I soon warmed up, although Paul ran the entire 5k in his fleece! There were no marshalls on the course, so we did take a bit of an accidental detour, adding on at least another 0.5k to the run. I ran almost all the way, stopping to walk for about two minutes, so was quite pleased with that and it felt brilliant to cross the line of my very first parkrun.

We joined other runners and the organisers at a coffee kiosk in the park, where we ate the best donuts I've ever tried.

A quick dash back to the hotel to shower, then it was time for the second leg of our Duathlon. We hired bikes from Union Square, then cycled right through the city to Golden Gate Park. From here we headed to the Golden Gate Bridge. Cycling across the bridge is on the bucket list of many. I don't really have a bucket list, but if I did, this would now have been on it. It was a fantastic experience, if not slightly scary at times. On weekends they keep all the cyclists to one side of the bridge, so you have cyclists coming in both directions on a narrow path. This is fine until you get to the really narrow parts around the base of the famous arches. There was also a couple of times when the wind gusted so strongly we were almost blown in to the railings. The wind, noise and spray whipping across your face makes for an exhilarating experience. That said, I was relieved to make it to the other side in one piece. The clouds and mist were starting to clear, the sun began to shine, and we finally had some beautiful views of the bridge against a blue sky. Opened in 1937, it was the world's longest suspension bridge at the time and remains an incredible feat of engineering. One of the towers was sunk 30 meters below the surface in open waters 345 metres off shore.

After catching our breath, it was a downhill ride to the fishing town of Sausalito. We were headed for a restaurant that I'd come across online – Fish. I'd drooled over the menu, which as indicated by the name – was 95% fish and seafood. I'd also been impressed with its sustainability credentials – they work to support local fishermen and protect wild fish populations, winning awards for their leadership in this area. It was also very popular, with the queue out of the door. We enjoyed the sunshine while waiting for our lunch – which was as good as I'd hoped. Fish tacos for me and a squid salad bowl for Paul.

After lunch, we followed the coast further round to Tiburon. By this time, it was actually quite hot, and the route slightly more undulating. We made the ferry with minutes to spare, and enjoyed the evening sunshine and great views on the short voyage back to San Francisco. After another few miles, we dropped off the bikes. Exhausted, we headed straight to Chinatown for dinner.

5k run plus a 25+ mile cycle. Duathlon – Warren style.

One of the best days of my life.

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