Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Siren Freedom Five 5K 2017 (Off the Deep End)

 
 
Siren Freedom Five 5K (3.15 miles)
41:04 *PW - woot!
Average Pace 13:13/mile


So, it's official.  I'm off the deep end with my race day costuming ...

 


Yep, you guessed it.  It's 4th of July season and here I am again - recapping the Siren Freedom Five.  I guess after 5 years of running this race, what's another repeat, right?  I first participated in this race back in 2011, then began recapping it in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 (with a brief hiatus of non-running in 2012 due to basically just being a cheap ass).

For 2017, since I am in no kind of shape, I decided to make the most of my "run" by theming my costume to the max.  As you can see above, the night before I inflated about two dozen Lady Liberty torches (purchased at Oriental Trading Company).  I figured ... WTH.  I'm already dressing up like a doofus, and I know I'll have a stroller on race day to carry the torches ... so why not just toss out crap to spectators - right?!?  Right.

I think my brain is broken.

Anyway!  As per years previous, on the day prior to the race I marched into Siren's school near their downtown area and did packet pickup.  This race is always very well organized, so like every year, pickup was a quick in and out.  And even with two packets, it was still just as quick.

Whaaattt?

Yep.  TWO packets.  I finally talked my husband into race day shenanigans on 4th of July.  And I even got him to agree to this:




I know, I can't believe it either.  And obviously, you can see my husband was a HUGE fan of this ... can't you just see the joy oozing out of him in the above photo?  Heh.

I suppose posting these photos basically jumped me right into race day recapping, so I'm just going to go with it. 

On race morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see a forecast of mid 60s and slightly cloudy skies.  Since in years past, this race has been a humid cooker of a race that has left me wishing for a second water stop along the course, the cooler weather was a welcome relief. Even more so with my little boy along for the ride.

Since we did packet pickup the night before, our only worry for the morning was to arrive just before the 8am gun time, so we did just that.  With about 10 minutes left before we were to start, my husband and I rolled up to the start line ... and proceeded to twiddle our thumbs.  Apparently, unlike years past where there was a fairly entertaining announcer and music to help pass the time, in 2017 there was either very little announcing being done - OR - the sound system was turned down quite a bit.  And I know I wasn't crazy (at least on this particular point), because even my husband commented that he couldn't hear a thing.

Eh, no big loss.  The only thing that really mattered was when it came time to sing the national anthem, the crowd caught on and quieted quickly, and before you knew it ... it was time to go. 

BANG!

Since we were running this race with a stroller, my husband and I opted to line up about halfway back in the crowd.  I was a little nervous about this, since Freedom Five participants aren't always very good about self seeding, and often walkers toe the line just behind elite runners.  But somehow, this year we were in luck as not a single walker blocked our way for the first portion of the race.  Hooray!

Like years past, our first half mile or so wound around the downtown neighborhoods of Siren, Wisconsin, with various spectators watching in town as we went.  Armed with my multitude of torches, I tried to spot kiddy spectators as I went, which helped pass the time as I sucked wind.

While I did kid patrol and tossed out torches, my husband passed his time by watching a couple running just ahead of us with a boston terrier on a leash.  I missed it, but apparently the dog (who ran at a fairly good clip for being so small, might I add) would run and run and run ... until he found a spot of shade in the grass, where he would then promptly belly flop down and force his owners to stop their run.

Watching this couple gave my husband a good chuckle.  I was kind of bummed to have missed the dog's antics.

The cool weather and the various things keeping us entertained really helped the course cruise by.  Before I knew it, we were well into mile two, and the halfway water stop was within line of site.  I told my husband the gig about where the water stop was, and we both agreed it might be good timing to just stop, take a walk break, get some water, and check on the kid.
 
In the map that follows, you can see, we held pretty true to that plan, slowing down just around the halfway point.




You can also see in this map, though, that our speed basically is all down hill after that stop. 

At first, it seemed like our brief water stop walk was going to be our only pause on the entire course.  We picked right back up and took off ... only to have our little boy start whining not even a quarter of a mile down the road.

Thinking he was thirsty, we offered him some water from his sippy cup and picked right back up to running ... only to have him start whining again.  Drat.

Hoping he'd get over it, we tried to keep running.  Then tried to stop and offer more water and keep running again.  No luck.

My little boy wanted out of the stroller. RIGHT NOW.

You can about imagine how much fun that was.  With around 0.6 of a mile left, my husband carried my 14 month old son, who now weighs over 30 pounds and wears 3T clothing btw, by hand. 

This basically explains our last full mile split:




Yeah.  Not exactly a speed optimizer, carrying a 30 pound kid.  No surprise there.

Funny enough, as we were about 1/3 of a mile away from the finish line, our favorite little dog and his running crew came up from behind us.  Apparently, we had passed them at some point in the race and had gotten a sizeable lead.  But as we slowed to walk with our son, we failed to keep the lead and they advanced ahead of us.

However, they failed to keep their lead ... because yet again, a shady and grassy area caught the dog's attention.  And this time, I guess doggy found the best shady spot on course because he had absolutely NO desire to get back up again. 


*re-enactment


Well, well, well.  A doggy temper tantrum put my kid's whining fit in perspective.  Who'da thunk it?!

Not long after passing our doggy friend once again, the finisher's chute came into view.  At this point, for whatever reason, my husband took off ... still hand carrying our son.  I didn't quite realize what he had decided to do until I heard my son squealing with glee. 

Refusing to be left behind, I picked up the pace too, pushing the stroller as I went.  With the clock just flicking over to 41:00, we pulled up to the mat and I official tromped out my own personal worst on this course.  Huzzah!  I guess if you're going to make some sort of record at the course, may as well make it a memorably bad one, right?!

In the finisher's chute, we were handed a bottle of water while volunteers clipped our timing chips off our shoe.  Upon exiting the chute, the three of us wandered over to the snack table to have a look at the goods.  There, my husband and I had our second bottle of water, and I snagged a mini blueberry muffin and a banana to share with my son.  Though my husband chose not to eat, when realized there was orange juice, he went over for that instead.

With some basic refreshments down the gullet, my final mission post race was to hand out what was left of my torches.  Taking a meandering exit from the park, I was mostly successful in doing so, as I only had 4 left in the stroller once we got back to the car. 

Dang ... had I only found 4 more kids, I wouldn't be stuck storing these dumb things until next year.  Oh well.

After a brief ride home, and a quick shower, I proudly donned this year's shirt and called it a day.




A pretty sweet design this year, don't you think?!


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And that's the story of how race bib #80 joined my collection - and even though I have no idea when the next one will be ... here's to another race soon!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Rainbow Run 5K 2017 (7 Year Itch)

 
 
Rainbow Run 5K (3.15 miles) *short course, time below per chip
32:42
Average Pace 10:32/mile


Every year at the beginning of the Rainbow Run race recap I say this, so might as well repeat it again and officially make it a tradition: you may recall that I'm a founding racer for the Minneapolis Rainbow Run 5K.  Since the very first year it existed, I have run this race.

 
 
 

After participating in the Rainbow Run from 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and up through 2016 ... my sister and I are finally on lucky #7, AKA the 7 year itch.  Maybe that's why I thought this year's race was so uneventful?

Yeah, sorry to break it to you, but this is going to be a pretty lame race recap.  To make things better, at least I got a cool pre-race shot:




If you didn't know, the above photo is actually in downtown Minneapolis.  There is a super cool trail and bridge that leads into Boom Island Park.  I know I sing the praises of this trail every year but ... seriously, if you haven't been to this park, go check it out some time.

Anyway, on to race day.

For 2017, my sister and I broke tradition for this race and decided to park at the ABC ramps in downtown Minneapolis.  Typically, in year's past, we would park in a ramp at the end of the race course and then try to drive away from the parade route after the race.  But also typically, in years past, metro transit didn't close down Hennepin bus service pre-parade until closer to 9am. 

For some reason in 2017, Metro Transit decided to close Hennepin bus service at 8am.  Boo.  That meant for 2017, instead getting downtown butt early, or instead of walking almost 2 miles from our preferred parking ramp to the race start, my sister and I decided to split the difference by parking mid course at the ABC ramps.  This change required about 1 mile of walking to the race start, and then about 1 mile of walking post race back to the car.  The extra walking was no big deal either way, but we figured having 1 mile beats having 2 miles to travel pre-race when you're on a tight schedule and don't want to miss gun time.

The nice thing about this change is that we could delay our arrival time to downtown Minneapolis by about 30-45 minutes.  So we "slept in" (BAH!  6:30 on a Sunday morning -we are lush!), got dressed for the race, and arrived at check in with about 15 minutes to spare pre-gun.

Perfect timing.  We had just enough time to utilize the on site, flushing facilities ... grab our bibs ... and do a wee bit of people watching prior to the gun.

By the way, it seems like each year this check in process gets worse rather than better.  They never hang a sign at check in tables indicating which line is pre-registered and which is day of registration, and runners end up milling around in confusion debating which line to queue up in for check-in.  It kind of annoys me, since Pride uses Anderson Races to organize this event, and you'd think Anderson Races would have a little more sense on how to do these kinds of things.  (I do have to say, generally speaking, I'm not really impressed with Anderson Races.  Not that they're bad, but ... they aren't exactly top quality when it comes to race hosting.  In particular, I get a general feeling at the Rainbow Run that it's somewhat of a low priority, slightly unorganized mess each year.  And there is very little promotion from one year to the next that this race even exists, which is Anderson Races' job to do ... so ... I just dunno what to say.  Obviously it's not bad enough to make me stop coming to the event.  But I do think it's bad enough that the event won't ever grow beyond what it is now, which is a field of maybe 150 or so runners).

Regardless of the event organizer's quality of work ...

Thanks to the general confusion at check in, many runners were still milling around bib-less near to gun time.  That means come and go 9:30, we are still not even being directed to line up at the start. 

Slowly, just after 9:30, people begin to creep over to the start line.  Maybe an announcement was made to line up, but if it was, I couldn't hear the announcer from where I stood.

9:35 ... social media people are filming us with iPads to put up on Anderson Race's Facebook page.  Well, they are organized to promote POST event ... smh.

Waiting ...

Waiting ...

Per my watch, it looks like they finally staged us to get ready to start at 9:38.  Ok, only 8-10 minutes late ... I guess.  But considering the small field of runners and the literally 20' feet from check in to race start, there is really no reason for that.  Good thing my sister and I weren't worried about clearing the course within the time limit.

Bang - we run.

For 2017, we followed the same route as 2016, which has been generally the same route for the last three years (2014-2016):

 


Overall, the course is fairly flat and fast.  And typically, it's also ungodly hot.  Thankfully in 2017, the weather gods smiled on us and it was slightly overcast and cool.  (You'll notice, btw, that I finally got to wear my capris of choice for this race ... I ordered those rainbow lizard printed capris with this race in mind, not thinking about how smoking hot this course always is, and I never got to use them until this year!)
 
Though we ran the majority of the course, my sister's stress fracture ghost pains were rising from the dead just around the 1.75-2 mile mark, so we did take a brief walk break - as you can see in our splits:




What you may also notice, aside from our splits, is that my watch measured this course short once again this year.  While in years past this hasn't really bugged me, since this has always been billed as a "fun run", this year I did take some issue in the shortage.  That's because Anderson Races offered chip timing, which obviously leads to false time results since this is not a true 5K route (my previous GPS watch measured 2.9 in 2016 and my iWatch measured 2.8 in 2017).

I mean, compare my watch stats above (average 11:32 per mile) to the official chip results per Anderson Races (10:32 per mile).  While yes, it makes me feel good to "feel" faster ... it's not reality unfortunately:

 


Oh well.  Not that I'm exactly in tip-top shape this year anyway.  Imagine that, one year post childbirth and trying to take care of a soon to be toddler.  I'm not in shape.  How could that be?  (*sarcasm*)

In a tangent to that comment, I would like to say that overall I am pleased with my result on this year's course because, regardless of Anderson Races' chip time or my watch time, I was significantly faster than last year's pace.  Which yeah ... that isn't saying much being that I was barely 6-8 weeks post partum last race, but then again I haven't followed a running training plan in over a year either, so ... hey, I'm faster, I'll take it!

Of course, my sister is likely much less thrilled with our finish time, being that I drill sergeant-ed the hell out of her the last quarter of a mile.  But I mean ... when your original goal was to finish sub 35, and you can see the race clock is just barely 31 ... might as well get a 32 and change on your results, right?!

 


Heh.

As per the last few years, once at the finish line we were greeted with water, assorted snacks and finisher's Ts.  The last two years I have passed on everything food wise, aside from water, knowing that we were headed to Brit's.  But this year I saw bacon chips and said ... wth?  Why not?




The finisher's T this year was a nice fabric, though I wasn't really a fan of the overall design ... I guess it's a little too retro for my taste maybe?  That and, I just keep secretly wishing they'd do more with the name of this race and hand out some sort of super sweet rainbow design.

Actual shirt (ignore my 5- head ... sheesh it looks huge in that photo for some reason):




My dream shirt (AKA super rainbow fun time happy spectacular, which I'd gladly pay a higher registration fee for if it meant I would get it):



 
Oh - not shown in the above, we also got a free pair of socks again this year.  They were a less than attractive grey and blaze orange color combo.  Good thing no one can see the socks inside your shoes, eh?

After chowing (the less than delicious) bacon chips and slamming two bottles of water, my sister and I continued on to another race day tradition:




And after a few scotch eggs and some chicken pot pie, we happily headed back to the ABC ramps and took off for home.


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That's the story of how race bib #79 joined my collection - wow, I'm getting mighty close to 100 races!  (Though I doubt I'll hit 100 this year given my reduced training capacity after spending my days chasing a 1 year old around the house).  Regardless, here's to another race soon ... which will be reported on shortly, as I've already completed it, lol! 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Year of the Swim - Update #3

As I've mentioned a few times this year on the blog, I'm trying something new for 2017 and attempting the 100 Mile Swim Challenge. 

Since I signed up late for that program, as it was basically already 3+ weeks in when I saw it  was offered at my new gym, I definitely started this challenge with an uphill climb.  And it is even more so a challenge for me since I'm not exactly a professional swimmer, and hitting 100 miles would force me to over double (if not triple) my weekly swim efforts.

So, where do I stand?

Well - let's start with where I SHOULD be.  It's now July, which means I'm half way through the year and should also be half way through my miles (AKA 50 complete). 

In reality, my life right now is ...




Yeah.  So I closed out June with about 35 miles done.  Not terrible given my late start, but also not great.

And I'm not kidding on the Taco Bell, by the way.  I've been eating (and living) like a pig as of late, and my scale reflects it.  *sad clown whistle*

The good news is, I've only gained a couple of pounds.  The bad news is, it's all fat, and my beer gut shows it.  Blech. 

The other good news is, all this extra swimming is making me fast.  The other bad news is, I'm not nearly as fast as I thought I was.




So, that's where I stand.  I got some swimmin' to do, y'all.  Good thing I stocked up on clarifying shampoo.  Now if only I could find a good body wash to get rid of the chlorine smell from my skin, too ...




Thursday, June 1, 2017

Do a Good Deed

As you know, a few weeks back I touched on the fact that I was ramping down on my breastfeeding.

While I thought the hardest part of this process would be getting my son to adapt to the change, I was woefully wrong.  Since he's such a good eater - both solids and liquids - he could have cared less about moving to cow's milk. 

The real hard part was the physical piece for me. 




Thankfully, I have finally gotten over the hump of my body accepting I am not breastfeeding anymore.   For the most part, I feel "normal" again ... whatever that means for a postpartum body.  Heh.

But despite not needing breast milk anymore, until yesterday morning I had a chest freezer in the basement full of it.  Good thing I had followed this Facebook page ages ago:




For my good deed of the week, I donated somewhere between 350 to 400 ounces of frozen breast milk to a recently adopted little boy.  I saw him when I went to drop off the milk ... 11 days old .. adorable!  Hard to believe my "about to outgrow 2T clothing" one year old boy was ever that small!

If you're a new mom who might need milk, or has an over supply that you might want to share, please - check out this page (or search for one located in your state ... since this one is Minnesota specific).  Such a great community for those in need.

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What was your good deed of the week?  I want to know!  Share below.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Touring San Fransisco

In addition to running Bay to Breakers, while in San Francisco the other weekend, we did a lot of fun things.  Below is a summary of how our general schedule shook out.  Enjoy!


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Friday

Our flight out of MSP was at 11 am Friday morning, with an estimated flight time of about 4 hours.  Since we were fortunate to fly faster than anticipated, the local time in San Francisco was just after 1 pm when we landed.

Wanting to save money, and very likely time too given traffic in California, we opted to take the BART from the airport.  Our hotel was the Hampton Inn on Mission Street, which meant our stop in downtown was Powell, and our ride cost $9 per person.  If we had planned our travel sooner rather than later, we could have purchased a Clipper card and saved some additional money on the cost of the train ride, but we didn't figure that out until it was already too late for our trip.  Oh well, my loss is your gain, right?

After exiting the BART at Powell, it was a short (yet somewhat dicey) walk to the Hampton Inn.  I say dicey because there are a lot of vagrants and other shady looking characters roaming around downtown San Francisco.  Unfortunately, we did see the worst of this too, as someone had tried to mug a young man a few days into our stay ... right outside of our hotel ... and we saw him laying on the ground, bleeding from the head and surrounded by police, just after it happened.  I was only thankful to have seen that towards the end of my trip, so as not to have it place fear into my visit prior.

The above mugging and bums aside, overall my sister and I were just fine navigating the area.  So it's not that it was TERRIBLY dangerous.  But at the same time ... it's not exactly a glamorous area ... so you may want to research other hotels up by the pier or in nicer areas of the city instead of downtown.

Upon settling into the Hampton Inn, my sister and I activated our 3 day Muni pass (the public transit service for downtown San Francisco), and rode a tram out to pier 35 to do packet pickup.




You have to admit the public transit options in San Francisco are pretty cool, especially when you factor in the cable cars and the like.  Plus, when you consider a single ride on a cable car is $7, a 3 day Muni pass for $32 is pretty much a steal.

After a long day of travel and the adjustment of arriving in San Francisco, we were all pretty pooped.  To keep things simple, we decided to have dinner at 54 Mint, which was right out the back door of our hotel.  The menu had a lot of appetizer type options and only a few main dishes, so we went for kind of a tapas style meal with dessert at the end.  It was very good.





With full bellies and tired eyes, our first day in San Francisco came to a close.


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Saturday

Since the time change made our bodies feel like it was 7 am at 5, my little boy served as a natural alarm clock at about 5:15 am on day two of our trip.  Thankfully, we had gone to bed fairly early the night before.

Overall, the early wake up wasn't a big deal, as the hotel started serving a free breakfast at 6 am, and we had an Alcatraz tour booked for 9:30.  After everyone in our group had a chance to shower, we ate a leisurely breakfast and then hopped on a street car to pier 39 ... because nothing says (smells?) good morning like a heard of seals.




At least there were other nice views there as well to make up for the stink, LOL!




I actually highly recommend going to pier 39 so early in the morning, as there are zero crowds to fight, and you get fabulous views of the ocean (without a bunch of dumb tourists blocking your way).  The only down side is that the shops are all still closed, so you can't do any gift shopping ... but you could always come back for that later.

The walk from pier 39 to where we needed to board our Alcatraz ferry was only a short distance, so after getting our fill of the seals we hoofed it down to pier 33.  I had booked our Alcatraz tickets months in advance, anticipating things would be busy due to Bay to Breakers weekend, so all we had to do was basically show up with our printed tickets in hand and get in line.  That was nice. 

What wasn't so nice was the $6.50 bottles of water at the gift shop outside.  Pro tip: buy yourself water once you get to Alcatraz.  When we were there, they were selling standard size bottles for $1.50 each.

One other pro tip - if you think you'll use the Muni and go to Alcatraz, look into the CityPass.  In addition to giving you a 3 day Muni pass and an Alcatraz tour, it also includes a ticket to the California Academy of Sciences, entry into the Aquarium of the Bay, and your choice of visit to either the Exploratorium or the de Young Museum.  To put costs into perspective: during our visit, an adult CityPass was $89, whereas a 3 day Muni pass was $32 and an Alcatraz ticket was $37.  So for a $20 add on, you can do three other attractions (assuming they are up your alley).

Anyway, back to Alcatraz. Let's get on that ferry and get to the island, shall we?


 

 
 
There are several options available for touring Alcatraz.  Knowing that I had a baby with us that would have a somewhat short attention span, I opted to sign us up for the standard day tour without the Angel Island add on.  I had heard great things about the Alcatraz night tour, but ... that's just not an option with a one year old, let's face it.

Speaking of kids, Alcatraz was extremely easy to navigate with a running stroller.  There is one tricky part, as getting in for the cell block tour takes a little bit of trial and error to find elevators and such, but the staff was incredibly helpful and it ended up being a minor set back in the grand scheme of things. 



Aside from the expected cell block tour, I was amazed by the beautiful views on Alcatraz - both of the island itself, and of the San Francisco harbor.






Without rushing, but also without dawdling, we ended up spending an entire morning touring Alcatraz.  Just after noon some time, we lined up for the ferry to leave the island ... but not before getting a stamp in my son's national parks passport first (read more about that here).

After taking the ferry back to "mainland", we decided to walk down to the Fisherman's Warf area.  Had I realized how far that actually was, I probably would have hopped a street car instead.  Regardless ... we survived. 

Overall, Fisherman's Warf was equally touristy and packed like pier 39 was, so it wasn't really my bag.  The only reason I wanted to go there was this:




Yep.  Double cheese, animal style, with fresh cut fries.  It was worth it.

After gorging ourselves on lunch, we took the baby back the hotel for a nap.  Once he was settled in (and my husband as well - LOL) my sister and I returned to Pier 39 for some tourist trinket shopping. 

Since the afternoon got away from all of us, and having had a heavy lunch, we opted to eat a light dinner at a nearby pub called Urban Tavern.  It's name looked more appealing than it's actual offering, so ... not one of my recommends.  The service was fantastic, but there weren't many menu choices, especially considering the name was Urban Tavern and there were maybe 5 beers on tap.  But it filled the need for the night, and the ramen I ordered wasn't half bad once I mixed in the miso (which I didn't realize was served on the side until I was halfway through my bowl).

With another day of high activity and lots of eating, we threw in the towel around 9 pm.


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Sunday

Since you likely already read my race report about Bay to Breakers, I won't repeat that except for to add ... if you're in San Francisco, seriously consider going to the Golden Gate Park.  It's SO BEAUTIFUL!  Much like Alcatraz, I think anyone could easily spend a morning there enjoying the sites.

Here's a few gratuitous photos of the park before I move on.





Since my sister and I had eaten a light breakfast pre race, and we had certainly worked up a 7+ mile appetite, we opted to eat a slightly late but large lunch at Scoma's after Bay to Breakers.  Well ... after showering ... after Bay to Breakers, that is.





Scoma's is located on Fisherman's Warf, so back out that way we went.  It's a little off the beaten path, hidden back behind the touristy shops, so you have to hunt for it a bit.  But with it's fresh boat to table fish, the extra trek is worth it.  Literally - there are boats pulling in and unloading their catch into the "Scoma fish processing house" as you are entering the restaurant on the other side of the dock.  That's how you know it's fresh!

Admittedly, I'm not a huge seafood fan, so I shared some crab cake with everyone as an appetizer and kept my main meal simple with an order of fish & chips.  My sister, however, went for the gold along with my husband (although he had a mixed grilled fish platter, which didn't look quite as good as what my sister ordered below).




While the meal was a little expensive, given the fact that it was all fresh caught fish, I think it was worth it.  And obviously we all HATED it, given we practically had to roll ourselves out of there.  Heh.

With full bellies, and a son who had taken a nap during our Bay to Breakers run, we decided it was now worth an adventure out to the beach to check out the ocean.  From Fisherman's Warf, we hopped the Muni towards Crissy Beach East.  The bus ride was maybe 20 minutes, and required a bit of walking from exiting the bus until arriving at the beach, but it wasn't anything too terrible.

Once at Crissy Beach, my sister stripped of her shoes and touched into the ocean for her first time, with the Golden Gate Bridge bearing witness to the event.




Since the water was expectedly frigid, and I have been to the ocean before, I opted not to get wet.  Call me a party pooper if you want, but you deal with hand carrying a baby, a diaper bag, wet feet inside shoes - all after having run a 7+ mile race.  Then pass judgment.

Once we wrapped up at the park, quite by accident (since we were looking for Muni transit back), we stumbled upon the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.  This is another awesome gem, in my opinion, of San Francisco.  If you're heading to Crissy Beach anyway, may as well swing by there and check it out before heading to your next stop.







 

After roaming the Palace, things got a little ragged, as we struggled to figure out Muni transit home.  It's a long story that basically boils down to the fact that San Francisco apparently has other bus lines in the city that aren't Muni operated, and Google maps kept trying to direct us to those instead of back to a Muni line.  Tired from a long day and lots of time on my feet, and three failed bus stops later (plus maybe a mile or more of walking between these three stops), we finally threw in the towel and booked an Uber ... only to turn around and go back out shopping with my sister upon arrival to our hotel - LOL!  She had decided to purchase a few trinkets that we first saw at pier 39, so we went back out there to end our day with shopping ... and a snack of "cake by the ocean".  Heh.

With a big seafood lunch late in the day, and it already after 6pm by the time we finished up shopping, we opted to keep it simple and order pizza delivery for dinner.  Somehow I still screwed this up because apparently Zpizza doesn't deliver to hotels.  But whatever I did to screw up the order made them deliver to us.  Whoops.  Totally unintentional, but ... ok, I'll take it!

Two pizzas later, delivered via skateboard might I add, around 8 pm we were about to eat this:





Being that my son was already out for the night, the three of us piled into our hotel bathroom, closed the door, and picnicked on the floor.  Keepin' it classy in San Francisco.  Oh well!  Regardless of location, the pizza was delicious all the same.

With a third night of tired legs and full bellies, we were off to sleep for our last night's stay in San Francisco.


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Monday

With no agenda for Monday, and a flight leaving at 3 pm, I was kind of hoping we might get to sleep in for a bit.  But, as anyone with kids knows ... you may as well forget about that.  Heh.

Around 5:45 at the latest, my son was "Ah da-da"-ing away in the hotel provided pack and play crib.  Since we weren't in any rush to eat, we all took our time showering and packing up our bags before heading down for breakfast. 

I think when we were done eating, it was about 8:30 am, which meant we still had plenty of time to kill.  So, with a few last possible "would like to dos" on our to do list, we decided to try to check them off.

First, the "Full House" houses, also known as the painted ladies.





This was a pretty short bus ride to and from the hotel, so after we had our photo op and got back to the hotel, my husband split with the baby for a bit to see if he could get in one last nap.  While he did that, my sister and I tried to queue up for a cable car ride.




What a joke that was.  After 45 minutes of waiting in line and still having roughly 50 people ahead of us, we decided to nix it and bail out of line.  It was already 10:40 at that point, and hotel check out was 11, so we figured there was no way we'd be able to even get on a car before check out time anyway.  What a waste.  Grr.

Even though our attempt was unsuccessful, it was still fun to see the conductor and gripmen (and gripwoman) operate the cars, though.  So, not all was lost.

With nothing else on the agenda after hotel check out, and hoping that our little boy who still hadn't napped for the day might get in a snooze pre-flight, we decided to call it.  With all our packs loaded back up, we strapped everything onto our backs and headed back to the BART, airport bound.  Fortunately, my little boy managed a 20-30 min nap on the train.  Plus, our flight check in and security clearance went smoothly.  With three wins in our belt, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the airport and boarded our plane.  Which of course, was delayed, because you can't have 4 wins in a row.  Figures.

Despite a 30-45 minute takeoff delay, eventually we left San Francisco behind.  And by 11 pm that night, we were finally home, tucked into bed, and sleeping it off ... only to return to work the next morning.  Blech!  Reality, huh?!  Ha!


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While I have to say it was fun to see the city, in the above I omitted a lot of commentary in regards to vagrants/bums, public urination/feces/drug use, and other situations  that I witnessed while in San Francisco that were all extremely unpleasant.  As a result of these situations, I have to admit I'm hesitant to say I would ever go back to San Francisco. 

Admittedly, we booked a hotel in the heart of downtown, which is likely why we saw so much of this activity.  So if I make any recommendation to someone going to San Francisco, it would be to research your hotel and try to pick something at least not in the financial district.

In the end, regardless of what I saw, I'm still glad that I got to have the experience.  And if the opportunity presented itself for me to run Bay to Breakers again in the future, I'd love to.  I'd just find a way to avoid downtown.