Chris here, guest-blogging again.
I like to run. Not fast. More jog than sprint. More wander than race.
I’ve been doing this, on average, twice a week since 2003. Sometimes longer distances or times, sometimes inside on the treadmill when its hot, cold, dark, or wet.
It has become my favorite “me” thing to do on vacation. I like to explore new places on my feet.
Why run? Because walking takes too long.
And I would look silly walking in the dri-fit, headbanded, tank-topped, spandexed clothes that are actually comfortable to sweat in.
I get out and explore beaches, cities, towns, whatever is available when we travel, and I absolutely love it. I have this crazy idea that I get to know a place intimately when I run through it. I feel the ground under my feet, I hear the nature, I see the people going about their everyday lives. I exchange simple greetings and (polite) gestures with locals. You get the idea.
Also, in an ironic twist, while the famous touristy places are often packed and pricey, you can be very much alone running in free public places.
So last weekend, I ran through San Diego. I had never been to California before, and the sunny August climate in the breezy 70’s was the perfect background for what has to be the best 12 miles I have run in these 8 running years.
So here is my route:
And here is a taste of the adventure, minus the gentle ocean breezes, crashing waves, etc.
This is SeaWorld, where I started after a $2.25 trolley ride (Note: popular, packed, and pricey.)
I headed west along the San Diego River,
(Note: unpopular, unpacked, and free. Although, if I had been with my kids, I’m sure I would have ponied up the $70 per adult admission price and watched Shamu with my wide-eyed progeny)
picked up the Ocean Beach Bike Path,
passed some dedicated bird watchers,
and then turned south down Ocean Beach.
It was relatively uncrowded for a beach in the summertime,
with experienced surfers,
and not-so-experienced surfers.
San Diego has what must be the longest pier I’ve ever seen,
which makes for great postcard-vista “set-as-desktop-background” photos.
At this point the path became a little more challenging, consisting entirely of rock,
(but very scenic rock)
sometimes with a path,
and dotted with small enclaves of beach.
The big rocks turned into small ones,
and then precarious narrow dirt paths,
and sometimes a stretch of flat, man-made, hand railed sidewalk, but always with a beautiful awe-inspiring Creator-thanking Pacific view.
All good things must come to a sharply inclined end,
but heights do make for good pictures too.
I followed Sunset Cliffs Boulevard along the coast,
then turned inland, up the side of a mountain, at first on the road and then along dirt paths leading up to Point Loma Nazarene University, 350 feet above the beach (did you see the little altitude meter on my route map?).
The reward for the climb is definitely, again, the view.
I liked the irony of ultra-water-conservative plants looking longingly at an infinite water supply…
When you pass through the college and head down the mountain, you catch a glimpse of your destination, which is reassuring that you might actually make it back without grabbing a 20 out of your Nike fanny pack and hailing a cab.
After a brief tour of the small commercial center of Point Loma, I picked up North Harbor Drive, which follows the long side of San Diego Bay behind the airport.
This long stretch included an equally long park dotted with water fountains with uncomfortably low water pressure, where you consciously try not touch the hardware with your lips, and consciously try not to wonder whether the thirsty hordes before you drank consciously or not.
I drank from them all.
Eventually I made it back downtown, and dodged the tourists along the boardwalk being lavished with opportunities to tour pirate ships and ride pedicabs.
I whittled 150 pictures down to what you see here, but trust me as much as you can. I feel like I saw an endless stream of scenic San Diego landmarks, all for a $2.25 trolley ride.
So that’s one reason I run, but there are others, such as following an epic run with an epic culinary experience like this one, enjoyed at Luigi’s in Mission Beach, with no Lose It guilt whatsoever.