Friday, May 11, 2012

Tour of San Diego Bay

As I mentioned in my last post, a night run in San Diego takes some consideration as does going for a long run. I no longer have the luxury of impromptu runs like I used to. After playing fetch with our dog on the beach at sunset I got bite by the run bug which drastically changed my plans for that evening. The night air was warm, there was barely a detectable breeze, and the moon was out. I asked my almost-ex-husband what he thought of me going for a long run that night. With three little words I had the green light to go for it. “I don’t care.” This was followed up shortly by, “You’re going to make dinner first though, right?”

The sunlight was losing its last grasp on the horizon as I fried up some lean hamburgers for dinner. I only ate half of one not sure how my stomach would like it on the run. I vividly remember a run some years back when I, on a similar whim, did a 10 or 12 mile night run after dinner on a Saturday night. The combination of hamburger, fries, and bubbly coke did not settle at all and made its return several times during the run. So after eating half a hamburger I decided to grab something else that might settle better and reached for some bread and peanut butter. I started slapping together a sandwich and my husband poked a little fun at me for having to use Skippy since I was out of natural peanut butter. I was desperate to get going on this run before anything made me back out. And I was really hungry.

I frantically searched and wondered where the heck I stashed all of my gear. I nursed Milla one last time, cradling her in one arm while grabbing for gear with my free hand. It probably would have been more efficient to have nursed then went on my gear hunt but she wanted mama time and was making a fuss about it. Only 45 minutes later I gave one last hug to Milla who nibbled my nose in her cute attention-grabbing way and off I went. And then I returned—forgot my camera. Off again, this time making it out of the gate and to the path only to turn right around—forgot my knuckle light. Even though the Supermoon was practically upon us and blazing the trail I felt safer with a backup light source just in case.

One last hug
I finally started the run around 9:15 p.m. from Fiddler’s Cove off Highway 75 (Silver Strand Highway). I took a right onto Silver Strand Bikeway and headed to Coronado. It had been so long since I ran by moonlight. I knew I had missed night running but not this much. I was on a small time crunch for the ferry to get across San Diego Bay. The schedule said I had until 10:17 for the Convention Center ferry and 10:30 for the Broadway Pier ferry. I had never run past the fishing pier before so I wasn’t sure how much further the ferry pier was. But Coronado is a small island so I figured it couldn't be too much further. Still, I pushed myself slightly faster than preferred for the start of a long run to ensure I made the 10:17 ferry. I wasn’t particularly interested in running from Broadway to the Convention Center on a Friday night if I could help it.

I love going through Coronado at night. Hotel del Coronado is all lit up, and there is a casual ambiance on the island. I zipped down Pomona Avenue instead of skirting along the golf course. Once I got to 6th Street I ran to Glorietta Bay Boulevard and then crossed to the bike path. From there I ran the path around the golf course and proceeded under the curvy Coronado Bridge.

Under Coronado Bridge
I followed the nice wide path, laughed as I ducked under the water sprinklers that were misting the air and then made my way to the piers. There were a few fishermen out and I wished them lucked as I passed who flashed big grins in return. Apparently with the Supermoon approaching the fishing was going well. I came upon a large “THANK YOU FOR VISITING THE CORONADO FERRY LANDING” sign which made a clear impression that I found the right pier. I waited my turn at the automated ticket generator and paid $4.25 for my way across. I had 10 minutes to soak in the ocean air and gaze across the sparkling bay before stepping onto the ferry, which ended up being a water taxi and therefore made for a cold ride. It was cold enough to make me wish I had brought a light jacket but short enough to not need one.

As soon as they docked I wanted to bolt but couldn’t until the captain unlocked the gate. I waited impatiently wishing I could get going so I could get warmed up. I had a bit of fun playing on some lighted stairs, marveled at the Petco Stadium cheers then made my way to the sidewalk to get to Harbor Drive. The sidewalk did not last for very long, and I soon found myself running alongside the road. I used my knuckle light to hopefully bring attention to the drivers that I was running there.  At this point I got quite bored. Harbor Drive from here south is prime industrial territory and not much fun to run on. It got a little interesting between 28th street and 32nd street due to construction, but it was short-lived. Soon after running through the construction zone I became starved for conversation and really wished I had a partner to run with. I munched on some date nut raisin bread and kept at it.

At Civic Center Drive I turned right and the crooked Bay Shore Bikeway sign reassured me that I was on the right path. As soon as I rounded the corner onto Tidelands Avenue a stinkin’ cat crouched in the gutter scaring the crap out of me. I started feeling pretty silly to have gotten spooked over something so fluffy but soon was completely bored with the run again. There were lots of people in their rundown trailers and vans parked on both sides of the road and several had dogs with them inside. The dogs spoke up fiercely when I passed. A small gentleman stood next to a rather large gentleman who was sitting on his tailgate, and they were passing something back and forth. They spotted me so in a friendly tone I said, “Good evening!” Mr. Skinny said nothing and just let his jaw drop. Mr. Husky spoke robustly and said, “Good evening to you, I mean…good evening beautiful.” That was enough small talk for me and I strode past without another word. Shortly after that I spooked a man who was sorting something in the back of his cargo truck. I felt bad but didn’t see him at first until I was right there. I thought to myself what was he thinking being out and about so late at night.

A security patrol truck slowed as it passed me and turned at the next stop sign. At that same stop sign I turned left onto 32nd Street. This street was well lit I’m sure due to the marina and Pepper Park. At the end of the street I came to the next section of the bikeway which was not lit at all. This was the part I was most nervous about running at night. 

I passed three teenagers with skateboards. I was near the Gordy Shields Bridge and knew that was where they were heading. Last time I had come to this part of the bikeway I had come across at least a dozen skaters playing around. Other than the three there was no activity on the bikeway, unless you count the two dozen rabbits that skittered away from me. Although it was just as dull as running on Harbor Drive at least back there it was relatively calm and quite. Here the nearby freeway was deafening so I quickened my pace to hurry up with this parallel path. Once I passed the entrance to the Chula Vista Nature Center things immediately quieted as I started on Bay Boulevard. I thought back to the last time I had run on this stretch of the bikeway and remembered feeling a tad lost so I kept alert for any bikeway signs to keep up my reassurance. Thankfully there were a few around.

A cop car drove past me only slowing for a second. I took a right onto F Street and saw two figures walking on the path up ahead. They started flashing their light at me. I gripped my knuckle light tighter and said, “Good evening.” They were pretty stunned to see me run past and flashed one another a bewildered WTF look. One of them turned around and gingerly said, “Be careful.” Well crap…that did nothing to reassure me. A million thoughts raced through my head. What am I suppose to be careful of? Was it genuine concern? Wouldn’t the cop or security patrol stop as they passed to offer a warning if this area was sketchy? I left the thoughts alone so I could focus on my surroundings and pushed my pace over Marina Parkway until I got to the next lighted section of street.

After taking a right on G Street another security patrol vehicle drove past me. I carried on to the park up ahead without any more nonsense thoughts but held a solid focus on my surroundings. I slowed down as I entered Bayside Park so I could grab another light snack and enjoyed the stillness around me. The park was empty! I had only been to this park a handful of times during the day and once or twice at night, and it was always packed with people. It felt so peaceful that I didn’t want to rush through it and miss it so I walked the rest of the way through the park. I saw a pull-up bar and just had to crank out a couple pull-ups. Shortly after I saw a young couple snuggling together on a park bench. Although I couldn’t hear their words I thought it was pretty cute to come to a park late on a Friday night just to hang out with your sweetie.

One night shy of the Supermoon
The bikeway picked up again paralleling Bay Boulevard. I absolutely love the street tags along the wall in this part of town. The run quickly became dull again but didn’t stay that way for long as someone was attempting to follow me with their floodlight. I’ll be honest, that freaked me out a bit so I sprinted as fast as I could up the hill to Frontage Road and made my way to the path again. Now the run would be a little entertaining. No more streets! All that lay ahead was the Silver Strand Bikeway! It felt a little claustrophobic running with fences taller than my head on each side, but it was much better than running through town.

My feet finally started aching once I left Imperial Beach. I prefer running on trails so my feet were not used to running on hard surfaces. The moon became covered by a marine layer. I knew I wouldn’t regret turning around at the start to grab my knuckle light. I ran on the dashed median line and got into a groove: 2 steps yellow, 2 steps off, 2 steps yellow, 2 steps off. I was attempting to make this entire run under 4 hours but didn’t quite make it. After about 4 hours 15 minutes I came across the familiar sail boat marking the entrance to Fiddler’s Cove. I was done! I grabbed a coke from the vending machine and finished the run with a short run on the beach to our place.

Finally at home and off my feet every bone in them cursed at me. Since my daughter has mostly night weaned and I was still amped from the run I decided I should pump. It actually seemed weird pumping again after a month long pumping vacation. I sat in my kitchen and pumped away. All I collected from both breasts were a measly 2 ounces. As I tried to squeeze out a few drops more hoping for a magical letdown that I knew wasn’t coming I thought about my pumping glory days. I pumped daily for over 6 months and donated hundreds of ounces to a milk bank and through HM4HB. Then I picked up work again for awhile and pumped to keep fresh stock in the refrigerator while I was gone at work. Then I decided to donate again and became way too stressed trying to keep up demand. Now my pump sits on my kitchen shelf going unused for weeks at a time. You know what? That is quite fine by me. If by this weekend (which is the PCT50) I haven’t pumped enough for a day on the trails, I do have a small stash in the freezer. Recently though we have given Milla coconut milk and almond milk, both of which she finds enjoyable to drink. It feels so good knowing I don't have to keep up my supply if I don't want to, but I will continue until she weans on her own if I am able.

A funny thing happens when I go night running…it almost feels like it didn’t happen when I wake up in the morning. I had major guilt about lazing the rest of the weekend, but I ended up having an incredibly fun time with my family. The PCT50 is upon me, and I am so eager for the weekend to come! This was my last long run before the big five-oh, and it felt great!

Final note: If you are in San Diego, I highly recommend running (or biking) Bayshore Bikeway. If I would do it again, I would start from downtown San Diego a few hours before sunset, head south around the bay, come back up via Silver Strand (timing the start of this section, by the Dinosaur Cage, for sunset) then ending the run at Coronado’s piers so you can take the ferry across when it’s dark out and get a nice view of downtown San Diego at night. There are a lot of unique things to see on the Tour of San Diego Bay that you may miss if you run at night. Here are some things to spot while out there!

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