Gravel crunches beneath my feet as my shoes leave the asphalt for the dirt path.
Rays of morning sunlight creep through the dissipating fog on my run. The cool San Francisco air fills my lungs as I breathe deeply and evenly, in rhythm with my steps.
I pass the five-mile mark. My legs no longer resist the motion of my body; they continue turning effortlessly, carrying me toward the Golden Gate Bridge, growing closer on the horizon.
I glide past the rustic, white Presidio buildings, framed by palms standing serenely in the still morning air; past the Warming Hut, just opening to serve throngs of tourists coffee and pastries; past the early morning fishermen, casting their lines in the fish-filled shadow of the Golden Gate.
I turn left, cross a small street and head uphill on a dirt path. I pick up the pace. My legs feel strong, propelling me up the sandy trail, the end of my journey just around the next bend.
I sprint the last hundred feet and then let my legs slow and halt. I can ear my heart pounding in my ears, feel the blood pumping through my body, pulsing in my fingertips. I’m standing at the entrance to the walking path that leads across the Golden Gate Bridge. I look back in the direction I came from; out across Crissy Field, over the Palace of Fine Arts, past the colorful Marina buildings, the sun just beginning to reflect off of their many apartment windows, all the way to the Financial District crouching in the distance and Coit Tower, standing like a golden victor’s trophy in the blooming sunlight.
It’s the start to a perfect San Francisco day.
San Francisco is a runner’s paradise. The air is usually just the right temperature to make a run feel exhilarating and empowering and the city is full of parks, trails and beaches to keep you off of the concrete sidewalks that are so hard on the joints.
There are countless fantastic routes to follow, many of which take you through interesting neighborhoods and past beautiful sites, however the route outlined below is my personal favorite. It leads you through historic North Beach, the charming, old Italian neighborhood, to the peak of Coit tower where you can catch breathtaking views of the entire Bay Area. You then progress along the Embarcadero, in front of Ghiradelli Square, through the Marina and across Crissy Field and Crissy Field Marsh, a gorgeous beach area with a gravel path running along the bay and through the Presidio. During most of the run you have a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge, an awe-inspiring site that provides motivation as you come into the last mile of the run!
The best time of day for this run is early morning, before too many tourists flock to Coit Tower and the Embarcadero and before the characteristic San Francisco wind picks up.
After the run, head to the Coffee Roastery in the Marina for your morning coffee! They import and roast the beans themselves right in the shop.