What to do on a lovely Friday before a holiday weekend?
Get outdoors. And get active.
Even though I’m a fitness lover, I don’t like to run. I’ve run a half marathon, a couple of 10Ks and a handful of 5Ks, but I just don’t look forward to running.
However, since Dave had a rare weekday off of work and we wanted to do something outdoorsy, I suggested a run with some scenery. The Golden Gate Bridge was the perfect location.
For visitors and locals, running over the Golden Gate Bridge is certainly a worthy activity. In addition to the fact that it’s great exercise, the views are breathtaking.
The Golden Gate Bridge is book-ended by two vista point plazas, both of which have public restrooms, parking and water fountains. Dave and I parked down the hill from the southwest plaza on the San Francisco side in a sand parking lot, so we didn’t have to walk far before beginning our run.
It was about 11 a.m. when we took our first step onto the pathway, and the weather was absolutely ideal. Unlike Florida, where you have to run super early in the morning or at night to avoid the heat and humidity, San Francisco offers a full day of running-appropriate conditions. On Friday, there was a cool breeze, it was sunny, and it was moderate enough to take off your sweatshirt once you got moving.
Only one side of the bridge was open for bicyclists, pedestrians and runners that day, and unfortunately, it was busy. There were plenty of signs reminding cyclists to stay on one side and walkers/runners on the other, but people were not obeying. We had to dodge in, out and around slow walkers much of the time, all of who were more interested in stopping to take pictures than moving down the path. I don’t blame them.
The Golden Gate Bridge is more than 200 feet above the water and offers amazing views of the mountains of Marin County on one side, the San Francisco Bay and its islands in the middle. When you run along the path near the side-rails, it’s a little scary to look down. Once we hit our stride, I was able to look out and admire the sparkling water and yachts sailing below.
It was a little bit windy, so in order for us to keep a conversation going, we had to yell. Silence was fine with all of that scenery to enjoy.
Neither of us wore a watch or brought our phones, so I don’t know exactly how long it took us to run from end-to-end. While the bridge is 1.7 miles long, we ran from vista point-to-vista point, which meant we covered about 4.2 miles total on our route.
We didn’t see a lot of hardcore runners on the bridge, which I’m sure is because of the crowds. We kept a good pace, but had to stay completely alert to watch out for cyclists behind us, as we moved out of our lane to pass the walkers and tourists taking pictures.
There was a highlight of this particular run. I spotted a Seminole (Florida State University shirted fellow), and gave him a good “Go Gators!” as I passed him on the way there and on the way back. Even across the country, a true rivalry continues.
Dave and I rarely run with each other, so it seemed like a treat to exercise together. Dave is faster than me, so I kept a better pace with him than I would have alone. We tried to sprint to the finish, but the crowds were thick, so our last leg was not as victorious as it could have been on a different route.
Man it felt good to step off the path onto the open, sandy area with my heart pumping.
The path was crowded, and we had to sit in traffic when leaving the plaza parking lot, but I still think running the Golden Gate Bridge is a great way to see the area and be active on a sunny day.
And … you’ll never regret a workout.
So what did we do after that healthy adventure? Stopped at Safeway for some sustenance, went home, closed the blinds and watched a marathon of “Orange is the New Black” from our free month of Netflix.
Balance is key, my friends.