Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Running on Vacay in Cali


The Transamerica Pyramid


I have been a runner for quite some time (going on 11 years), but truth be told, I have not done much running while on vacation. I have dreamed about doing so, though.

I don't really have any special reasons why. Maybe it's the shoes? I am tall, which translates to having big feet. I wear a 9-1/2 "regular" shoe, so my running shoes are usually 10-1/2 (sometimes 11). Yeah, clown shoes. Even though the running shoes are light weight, they take up a lot of prime real estate in a suitcase. And, sorry, the "running shoes with street clothes" is a fashion look I do not embrace, so into the carry-on they go.

Anyways, in the past, I have (more often than not) just bailed on running while on vacation. Although I am serious about running, it does not dictate my every waking minute of existence. Besides, I have been lacing up for a long time....a few days (or even an entire week) will not jeopardize all that I have gained in building my endurance base.

That said, my recent week in California (for the Rose Bowl) was a unique situation. I had an entire week remaining to finish out the Runner's World Holiday Streak (link to my Streaking Recap  HERE), and  I would be in a scenic place. It would be a total wasted opportunity if I didn't take advantage of it.

So, here's how I made it happen:

We landed in San Francisco mid-day on Saturday, December 26th. We got situated with our rental van, and grabbed lunch. We decided to checkout the Golden Gate Bridge, since we couldn't check-in to our hotel for a few hours. The journey to the bridge took awhile (traffic was crazy!), and the actual drive across it was bumper-to-bumper slow as well.

As we were turning around, to make the return trip back across the bay to San Fran, my husband suggested letting me out so I could run across the bridge. Seriously?? The thought had crossed my mind, and I had been contemplating where (and when) I'd do my daily streak run....this would be perfect! We had all of our luggage, so I changed clothes (awkwardly) and he dropped me off at a parking lot near the approach to the bridge.
Golden Gate Bridge!

All I can say is, "WOW!" It was totally a surreal experience. It was windy, but the sun was reflecting across the water in the bay...and I was, indeed, humbled again by the gift of running and the places it has taken me. I didn't have my GPS watch with me, but I estimated my total distance was probably close to two miles from where I started and where I met back up with the family on the other side.

The next day (Sunday, December 27th), after waiting for some daylight to appear, I headed out to see the sights. Our hotel was on the edge of Chinatown, right near downtown. Holy (steep) Hills, Batman! The streets of San Francisco are great for hill training!

Chinatown in the wee hours of morning

The following morning (Monday, December 28th), I went out in the opposite direction - towards downtown San Fran. I had hills (again), but also had some amazing architecture all round me, in every direction. I also found a trolley station (so I knew where I'd take the family later).

Downtown San Fran


We left San Francisco, and headed down the coast on Historic Highway 1, and stayed at a naval base in Monterey on Monday night. Tuesday morning, the husband "rised-and-shined" with me and we ran a lap around the base at the break of dawn.

Ahhh...my first time in the pacific Ocean


We traveled further south, and stayed at Lindenberg AFB that evening. Wednesday morning, we explored a trail near our lodging accommodations.


Later, we made it to Los Angeles, and did some sight-seeing before checking into our hotel in Redondo Beach.



When we decided to travel to California for the Rose Bowl, I did a little searching for races happening while we'd be there. I found an event, A Better World Running NYE, that was taking place on Thursday, New Year's Eve. Keep in mind, this was a Thursday morning...kind of a non-traditional day and time for a race, so it seemed like it was meant to be. This event featured a choice of 5K, 10K, 15K, or a half marathon distance. Originally, I had registered for the half marathon, but in the interest of time I elected to do the 15K instead.
Traditional selfie with Barb....we'd never run in Cali before!

Apparently, there were a lot of other Iowans (Rose Bowl attendees) who had the same idea. Not only my friend (and runner pal extraordinaire), Barb, was there...but also an additional 20 or so Hawkeye fans as well. Of course, we did a group picture (and posted it, profusely,on social media). We also did some cheers and high-5'd each other throughout the morning.

Of the 120 or so race participants, more than 20 of them were sporting Iowa Hawkeye gear!

It turns out the 15K was the perfect distance for me that morning. The race was a 5K-looped course, and by the third loop it got challenging (physically and mentally). The course was flat (and scenic along the beach), but my sleep schedule was messed up (due to the 2-hour time difference from Iowa) and I had not trained for going any further (this is my of-season, after all). I could have gritted it out and ran 13.1 miles...but I would have had to run it slowly, especially the final four (or more) miles, cutting into even more family time. And, I probably would have put myself at risk for injury due to my lack of "off-season" training.

I found some sidewalk chalk and left some Hawkeye artwork

The next morning, New Year's Day, started with a 4:30AM wake-up, and we were out the door an hour or so later, en route to the Tournament of Roses parade. We did a lot of walking, stair-climbing (we scored a parking spot on the top level of a 5-story parking ramp), standing, more walking (a mile or so from the parade route) to the game, more standing at the tailgate party, (some) sitting/(more) standing at the game itself, and finally, another mile-long hike (this time uphill) back to the parking garage. To say that we were all tired would be an under statement. I was hoping to do a short one-mile streak run, but decided I had been active enough with all the game day activities.
Shameless selfie with the University of Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band....
Back at the hotel, we decided to stay in and watch some of the other bowl games on television. Besides, I had another race in the morning, and I wanted a little rest for my exhausted feet, legs, and mind.

Ready to roll on Huntington Beach!

Saturday (January 2nd) found me on Huntington Beach, ready for the Run in the New Year 5K/10K! I was not only excited to do another California run, but also to meet Kristina, a gal I have known for awhile via social media. Kristina (and her friend, Stephanie) arrived about an hour before the race, so we had plenty of time to chat and huddle in the car (it was cold, by California standards...temps in the mid-50's with wind).

Kristina and myself with our newest hardware

I have said it before, this running thing is great in and of itself....but it's the fabulous friends you meet along the way that really make it worthwhile. Such was the case with meeting Kristina and Stephanie. We hung out prior to the race start, ran together, chatted, and laughed afterwards. It felt like we'd known each other much longer than those few hours on the beach. And, all of us received age group awards! How's that for a festive start to the 2016 running year?!

Showing off our AG coffee cups

Altogether, I ran almost 20 miles in those eight days in California, and it was fabulous! I got to see some of the sights on my own, with my husband (and family), with my "regular" running buddy, and also with two "new" running friends. None of that would have happened on a treadmill in a fitness center. I'd say my first experience with vacation-running was a success, and I look forward to my next adventure.






Do you take your running shoes along when you go on vacation? If so, do you run outside and see the sights first-hand? Have you ever ran the streets of San Fran?

I'm linking up with Patty , Erika  and  Marcia  for Tuesdays on the Run.  Head on over and check out some great reads from fellow bloggers!











27 comments:

  1. I love running on vacation & I don't think I've ever taken a vacation since I became a runner without running. It's a great way to see new places!

    I am short, but I still wear a size 9-9 1/2 running shoes. Yes, I have freakishly big feet for my height (5'1").

    I have never run in SF, although I've been a few times -- but I have run outside of Seattle, which has similar hills (although not quite as bad) & I ran in Monterey a couple of years ago -- that's a great place to run!

    So cool that you had friends at both of your races.

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    1. This was an epic adventure for me. It's been a several years since we've taken a trip of this magnitude....the kids are old enough now that we could leave them in the hotel for a few hours (for the races) and they didn't need Mom around for getting up & dressed on the other mornings. My oldest daughter has freakishly small feet for her height (5'11), she wears an 8-1/2 in street shoes!

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  2. I always take my running shoes on vacation! That's a reward for me--running in a new place is so fun!

    So exciting that you got to meet Kristina! I cannot wait to run with her this spring. She looks as tall as you!

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    1. It was great getting out and running....I can't imagine going to places such as these and hibernating inside on a treadmill!

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  3. I usually plan a race and then make it into a vacation.

    If I do take a vacation, I would definitely run.

    Unfortunately, I traveled more for work BEFORE I became a runner.

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    1. This is the first time it dawned on me to try to run while traveling. Other trips had us getting up early every morning, and the (3) kids were younger and needed a little help with all the details of getting up & moving LOL This certainly will not be the last time I go running while traveling!

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  4. I keep my vacations separate from running. I rarely get breaks, so when I do, I soak up every minute. Your trip DOES look amazing tho!!!! How cool you got to meet Kristina!!! <3

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    1. Most of the other trips (of this magnitude) we've taken just wouldn't have been conducive for me to run, at least as much as I did in Cali. Now that the kids are older, it worked out great ;-)

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  5. I have never been to San Francisco. Running over the bridge sounds amazing :) I bet the hills were tough!
    I love to run on vacation, that is one of my favorite parts...sleeping in and running lol
    Sounds like a great trip to me!

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    1. San Fran was amazing!!!! I want to go back and do the San Fran marathon (or maybe the half). ;-)

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  6. You definitely made the most of your time in CA! Love that selfie of you and the Hawkeye band. My running shoes always go with me and I've run in amazing places. Last time I was in San Fran I got up most mornings and ran to Fisherman's Wharf and back. Lovely so early. I'll be back there for spring break! Thanks for linking up!

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    1. I totally LOVED San Fran.....the hills were awesome ;-) Beautiful architecture and and lots of neat stuff to see and do.

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  7. I love running on vacation. It's such a great way to explore the places you visit. Glad you had such a positive experience.

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    1. It was a neat adventure....I can't wait to go back (or at least do it again somewhere else)!

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  8. That absolutely sounds like my kind of runcation! Very cool experience for you!

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    1. It was pretty amazing! I'm lucky all the suns, moons and planets lined up perfectly ;-)

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  9. What a fabulous running vacation ! And to run with friends in another part of the country must have been so much fun. I travel a lot for work and always take my sneakers with me ! I am not too adventurous outside by myself but will always hit up the treadmill. Sneakers come before a second pair of shoes !

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    1. I love your "sneakers come before another pair of shoes" quote LOL I definitely spend much more on my running shoes than my street shoes....and they were in my carry-on bag, NOT in the checked luggage for our trip ;-)

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  10. I love running on vacation, and I'm so glad that you convinced yourself to pack your big a$$ shoes and do it! :D When I fly, I just wear my running shoes, for the most part. One thing I will say about running on the West Coast--holy hills!

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    1. I'm pretty knowledgeable about geography...but Holy Hills is right! I totally didn't expect it to be that extreme. I thought about wearing my running shoes, but also wanted to wear "bulky" clothes (so I wouldn't have to pack them) and the running shoes would have looked total dorky #fashionbeforefunction ;-)

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  11. What an awesome trip!! I'm not great about running on vacation, mostly because of the little ones. When they are older and I have a bit more freedom I'll be all over that. San Fran is an awesome place to run. I did a race that went over the Golden Gate bridge years ago and it was the most surreal experience EVER!! Would love to do that again!

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    1. I loved San Fran! I definitely want to go back and do the marathon (or maybe just the half...it's pretty hilly there) ;-)

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  12. Way to go! Running on vacation is one of my favorite things; I love exploring new places that way! I have yet to run in San Fran, but going across that bridge must be amazing!

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    1. I cannot lie, the bridge was pretty cool ;-)

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  13. Yes, I always take my shoes so I can run on vacation. My favorite thing was in Washington DC where you could take a RUNNING tour with a park ranger and run around to all the monuments. It was a total distance of about 5K and at a pace of about 10:00/mi.

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  14. I enjoyed reading your blog and looking at your sporty photos. I also enjoy running and think that it's a great idea to continue running whilst on vacation. It will help to keep your fitness level up as well as allowing you to see parts of the country that you might otherwise not have seen. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

    Danielle Richardson @ The Hoste

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