SMH Half Marathon Weeks 6-7: I took my running shoes on holiday and actually got them out of my suitcase – Part 1
I’ve been away for a few weeks, spending Easter in the States, a week or so in Japan, and what must have added up to almost a whole day in total in Auckland Airport, passing through four times in the space of three and a bit weeks.
The Bay Area has a great climate, generally sunny but dry and not humid. The temperature in the Californian spring was similar to the New South Wales autumn, but about 2,000% lower humidity, which made it perfect running weather.
Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs describes what was then the semi-rural Santa Clara valley when Jobs was growing up in the mid twentieth century, before it became Silicon Valley. There aren’t any orange groves left in the valley these days, taken over by freeways, strip malls, and lots and lots of offices housing all the famous names of the internet. From Apple to Zygna (remember those Facebook games?) via Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn, they’re all in the Bay Area or SF itself. Despite the sprawl, it’s quite easy to get away from it all. My brother-in-law cycles up in the mountains (the ones you have a view of from Mountain View!), but mountains and running don’t mix in my view (although more on that in a later post).
Instead I followed Stevens Creek Trail which goes almost directly north to the salt marshes of San Francisco Bay. One morning I ran for 5km south from Mountain View towards Sunnyvale which wasn’t particularly exciting but was a good stand-in for the track session I missed. On Easter Saturday I ran north to the Bay where there’s a lot more to look at. Hangar One at Moffett Field is one of the world’s largest freestanding structures, originally built as a naval airship hangar for USS Macon in the 1930’s and subsequently used by the NASA Ames Research Center for many years before being leased by Google recently who are restoring it.
Shortly past Moffett Field you reach the wetlands which have the distinctive salty muddy smell that reminded me of walking in the marshes at Stifkey in North Norfolk on childhood holidays. I didn’t notice any dead seals that the dog would have enjoyed rolling in though, so perhaps not the quite the same smell! There’s a whole network of paths and tracks that go around the bottom of the Bay to Shoreline and there were quite a few runners and cyclists but it wasn’t too busy. Thankfully it was early enough in the morning to beat the small-children-on-scooters rush hour.
Lots of my fellow runners use running gels for energy on the longer runs. I’m not a big fan as I find that they’re either sickly sweet or they pass straight through which is rather awkward when you’re running. I’ve always managed to get by with a handful of jelly beans in my pocket, and have a few at about 10km and 15km, and the rest end up in a sticky mess in the washing machine. I think I will need something a bit more serious for the New York Marathon when we do 30km runs as training runs, and so I discovered the answer – Professional Sport Jelly Beans! Only in America! They’re larger than normal jelly beans, with the sweetness offset by a curious saltiness – the lime ones taste like tequila. Anyway they’re similar to gels with the required electrolytes and carbohydrates, but less offensive on the stomach, so I sneaked a couple of boxes back into Australia.
Next stop Tokyo. Via 36 hours in Sydney and 36 minutes in Auckland.