Friday, May 29, 2009

Bay to Breakers Part 1 - We Arrive

I always enjoy San Francisco. I have mostly visited on business trips. But this time it was all pleasure! The Bay to Breakers run was on Sunday. So Kris and I drove up leisurely on Saturday. It was nice to roll out of bed slowly, have coffee then get on the road without a sense of urgency.

The drive up was surprisingly easy. It only took us four hours and the traffic wasn’t bad the whole way. I’ll admit, I’m afraid to drive in San Francisco. It’s stupid. I have driven in metro areas before. But there’s something about driving in San Francisco that freaks me out. Maybe it’s the one way streets, crazy hills, pedestrians that ignore crossing signals, congestion of autos, trolly cars, huge buses and cable cars all zooming around on top of each other. Yeah, that’s probably it.

So the hotel we had reservations at advertised “self or valet parking”. My previous experience with San Francisco hotels has been that the parking is on site (usually under) the hotel. Well we found the hotel but no parking garage. Odd. Kris had never been to San Francisco before. So I was the ‘expert’ in the group. God help us!

“Try driving around the block again. We must have missed the sign for the hotel parking.” I suggested.

But we couldn’t just drive around the block because of the one way streets. We had to drive up TWO blocks. Then drive up this impossibly steep hill. Of course the light was red when we reached the corner. So we had to stop at the top. This hill was so steep that our car was almost pointed straight up. I felt like an astronaut strapped into a rocket set on a launch pad. Scary. I prayed the car behind us would leave us enough room to accommodate the back slide the car would have to do when Kris took his foot of the brake before it would have enough momentum to pull itself up and onto the cross street.

Then when we made our way around the next corner we had to drive DOWN the hill that matched the hill we drove UP two blocks ago. That’s not so bad except the light turned red, again. And when Kris hit the brakes, the car had to fight a lot more gravity than usual to stop. And there was a car in front of us. And our car kept sliding down the hill. I shut my eyes. The car stopped. Phew! You know, it was then I realized I’m tense! I really needed a vacation!

We found out during check in that the parking lot was two blocks away. In fact, we had passed it while we were circling the block. It was a public lot that the hotel contracts with. I learn something new every time I visit San Francisco.

Our first order of business after check in was to get to the Bay to Breakers expo to pick up our race packets and check out the vendors. It was a couple miles away. But I like to walk in San Francisco. So off we went.

We were signed up to run with a team called Organic Athletes. (They are a group of vegans and vegetarian athletes). The organizer was going to pick up everyone’s race packets at the expo and bring them to the meeting spot the next day. I don’t like not knowing for sure that I have my race packet. So I e-mailed the organizer a week before to let him know Kris and I would pick up our own packets.

I am my father’s daughter. I don’t like to leave things to chance. How do I know for sure the organizer will get our packets? What if they get lost? What if there is a mistake in my registration info? The organizer wouldn’t know or even be able to fix it. Besides, I wanted to put the chip on my shoe and my numbers on my jersey the night before so I wouldn’t have to fuss with anything at the start line.

So I was a bit disappointed when we hiked two miles to the expo and found out our packets had already been picked up. Ugh! I was afraid I would toss and turn all night worrying about my packet getting to me the next morning. Logically I know it’s stupid. The organizer is perfectly capable of picking up packets and getting them to the meeting point. I really should be able to let it go. Yet I still felt uneasy as I walked away from the pick up table.

I asked myself what is the worse that could happen? The answer was that my packet gets lost and I don’t have numbers or a chip. Oh well. I’m not fast enough to care about being “chipped”. (I know I’m going to be in the lower half of the racers). Besides, I wear two different tracking devices that both record my time/distance/pace which is what the chip does. I have my registration confirmation e-mail which should get me into the post race festival. The worse that would happen is that I wouldn’t have chipped time and I’d have to take my e-mail confirmation to the race with me. Big deal!

I stopped worrying and Kris and I went to check out the vendors.

I had been to Bay to Breakers in 2000 as a spectator and I remember the expo being HUGE!!! Row after row after row of booths and lots of stuff to look at and sample. This year, it was a fraction of the size. The major players like Nike, Rebook and Polar were there. But other than that, there were only about 20 or so other smaller vendors. I managed to find a decent running hat which I needed. So at least I didn’t leave empty handed. J

We made it back to the hotel and it was time for dinner. There was a 50s diner on the corner by the hotel. So we decided to try that for a quick dinner before getting ready for the race the next day and then bedtime.

I thought it’d be easy to find veggie options in San Francisco since it’s large and liberal. It was more than easy! There were several veggie options on the menu and I mean without having to make substitutions or special requests. And when we ordered veggie items, the server asked about cheese as if they are conscientious about vegans. So cool!!! And the food was delicious!!!!! It was so nice to go out to eat and have so many choices without having to stand on our heads. And our food experience on our trip was only going to get better!!!

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