A few weeks ago, I posted a photo here, and asked readers to guess what it was (see, Guess the Photo- Win a Go-Go Internet Pass). The correct answer won the prize of a free Go-Go Internet pass. Weean, from Flyertalk, said “That’s a headrest-less economy seat. Ouch.” He was right – the headrest on my KLM flight from AMS-JFK was separated from the seat. The flight purser fixed it without too much difficulty.
Weean, who is British, is not only a seasoned traveler, but also a devoted and fast runner. He was kind enough to write this post about a 10K road race he recently ran while on a business trip to San Francisco – Thank You, Weean! (p.s. what’s a “chitty”?)
|Weean from Flyertalk (photo www.WillRunForMiles.com)|
Hi, I’m Weean, and I was one of the lucky winners of the in-flight WiFi vouchers that Kathy gave away recently. I’m the geek who could recognise an airplane seat with a missing headrest. When I told Kathy that flying and running were two of my favourite things, she suggested a guest post. I thought there could be no better use of my free in-flight Go-Go WiFi than to finish writing (I’m drafting in Google Drive) and deliver it from on-board, so here we go:
Based in Bristol, England, I fly a reasonable amount for work. I make bottom-tier elite every other year or so. Not enough to get me the good perks, but enough to give me a taste for it. This week I had to be in San Francisco for a meeting. I flew over on a KLM MD-11, one of only seven regular passenger models left flying in the world today (possibly fewer by the time you read this: they’re actively retiring them and they’ll all be gone by the end of 2013). this was a real treat for an aviation geek, but if you want to read all about it you’ll have to head over to Flyertalk. You’ll also have to be patient as I still haven’t finished my trip report on the 787 from Halloween week, which is first in the queue. It’s a miracle I’ve managed to get this written in time.
I arrived on Saturday and had my Sunday free. A bit of Googling for things to do ahead of travelling revealed a 10k race in Golden Gate park, which sounded ideal, and at $5 a bit of a steal. Okay, so there was no custom designed medal (no medal at all in fact, although we did get a lovely green ribbon that I hope you can see in the accompanying photo), but what else was I going to do with my Sunday morning? Not only was there no medal, there was no race number. either as I discovered when I arrived at registration. Runners are given a chitty to write their name on, and they hand it over as they cross the line. It’s not a system I’ve come across before, but it seems pretty effective.
I arrived as registration opened with a handful of others, including a couple who were vacationing from Orlando, who were feeling the cold as the registration area was in shadow. As time progressed the morning started to get warmer, and a real cosmopolitan crowd of runners began to appear. There were people with dogs and people with strollers. There were runners in their seventies and runners of nine (doing a 10k? I’m impressed!), and all with a friendly vibe. We were called up to the start just before 9am, and at the briefing it became apparent that as well as several out-of-staters, I was far from alone as an international runner.
The course began on a nice wide road that was closed to motorised traffic because it was Sunday, and this lent a nice ‘big race feel’ to proceedings despite a field of only 355. The course was a kind of figure-eight, although the last leg didn’t join up the second loop completely. I’d call the course undulating – the hills were fine to me as someone who lives in one of the hilly parts of Somerset, and would have presented no problems to native San Franciscans, although if you came from Kansas or Cambridgeshire you would notice. The only negative aspect I could find about the course was the way it switched from closed to open roads and back again, and I heard at least one driver alerting an errant runner to his presence. At 9am on a Sunday it wasn’t too busy, though, and there were marshalls stationed at larger intersections helping alert traffic.
Route directions were spray painted onto the road, but as a mid-pack runner I just followed everyone else. Although the pack thinned out considerably in the last couple of miles and there were also non-race runners in the park, there was a runner with fluorescent pink compression socks that was ahead of me for pretty much the entire race until the last hundred yards that made it very easy for me to find my way. There were also mile markers on the road, although I didn’t see any until mile four as I’d been looking at the lamp-posts. D’oh!
I absolutely smashed my PB with a 46:07 (10k isn’t really ‘my’ distance, and the 10k I last ran was my local New Year’s Day “Hangover 10k”. I took half of that title very seriously). It was a short walk from the finish line back to the registration area, which was set up with water, fruit, pretzels, tortilla chips and even someone’s homemade brownies! Obviously, I’m going to enjoy any race that gives me a new personal best, but I think I would have enjoyed this one anyway. It’s organised by the Dolphin South End Running Club (dserunners.com), who organise races of various distances most weekend in the San Francisco area, and seem a friendly bunch. You should check out their schedule if you’re going to be in the area. I’m going to be back for business in January 2014, and I know I’ll be checking their site again ahead of that.
Once the race was finished I had time for a leisurely stroll through the park, arriving at the Beach Chalet restaurant just in time for lunch. I had a good morning.
Thanks again to Kathy for the gogo voucher and, if she humours me, for putting this up on her blog. (from seat 19A of a Delta MD-90).