I think I’m still coming down from the high that was last weekend. It was about as close to a real vacation as I seem to get (too many trips home for holidays and weddings and everything to be able to afford or have the time off for a real vacation!) and I had THE BEST TIME. Even if it did include running a REALLY hard half marathon.
Let’s backup for a minute though. Last fall one of my best friends, Margaret, got married to my now-good-friend Patrick. Just before their wedding Patrick accepted a job at Google out in California (near San Francisco) and just after their honeymoon they drove across the country to start quite the little adventure! Also right about that time I decided this was the PERFECT opportunity for me to finally visit a state west of Colorado/see the west coast/see the pacific ocean from the American side/see my bestest friend and her husband!
My roommate (and fellow high-school friend of mine and Margaret’s), Jacqueline, and I decided to look into half marathons near San Francisco. Because why go on a regular, relaxing vacation when you can get up at 4 am and run 13 miles during your vacation!? We found one that sounded awesome (running by the ocean AND over the golden gate bridge!) in April and we all signed ourselves right up, bought some flights and got our excited pants on!
Those exited pants were quickly replaced by all of our we-hate-traning-for-half-marathons pants. But Jacqueline and I were still so excited to travel to a whole new place and see our friends! But little did I know how much I would fall in love with San Francisco or how much I would HATE it while running it’s hills. We did survive though, and I’m already planning my next trip to visit!
So. We flew from Denver to San Francisco late Thursday night. We basically couldn’t even tell we were in another state and we pretty much went right to sleep. When we woke up the next day though it was pretty clear (given the palm trees out the window and ALL the greenery) we were in Cali! We started our trip with a guided tour of the Google campus, thanks to the awesome Patrick. And IT. WAS. AWESOME. There are a ton of different buildings on the campus so they provided these colorful Google bikes for employees to use as they need. And it was so green my still-in-winter-mode mind was blown!
Google bathrooms? Oh yeah, they have things like hair driers and heated toiled seats. They also have coffee and juice bars everywhere. Which we obviously had to test out. Also. Not pictured is the awesome lunch we had. They have amazing “cafeterias” at Google that are gourmet and basically buffet style. I had the best margarita pizza and pesto chicken wrap and black-eyed-pea soup and sushi. Yes, all of that. And that was like only 20% of what they offered. SO AWESOME.
Patrick got us Google guest passes and took a few liberties with our names. ;) He also, hilariously, googled how to jump a car battery WHILE on the google campus. And yes, the car battery died like 2 hours into our weekend of driving alllllll over haha. Don’t worry though, we fixed it up just right!
The Google android building has all these big dessert food structures outside, one for each of the generations of Android so far, and they were lots of fun to take pictures with! :)
The Google maps building! Which is surprisingly hard to find :)
After Patrick had to get back to work, our fearless leader, Margaret, drove us up the coast to Half-moon Bay. We took the scenic route and it was SO pretty driving through forests full of HUGE trees. It was too hard/we were going too fast/I was too car sick to take any good pictures in there. But this was our view when we came out on the other side! Pretty farm land! Although, as Jacqueline pointed out, these cows didn’t look happier than Wisconsin cows. Contrary to what certain commercials say!
Finally we came up a hill and saw the OCEAN!
Spring had sprung in Cali!
Little friends and the BIG ocean!
Both of us had never been to California. Both of us had never seen the Pacific ocean form the American coast, only from the Australian coast. It was just as pretty and exciting from this side!
Just a gal on the beach!
I found a Jaq!
Beach selfies? Yes!
About to take the adventurous way up!
The view from up top!
Such a gorgeous views these homes have!
After the beach, we went home and met Patrick for a yummy pizza dinner before heading to bed. Jacqueline and I wanted to get up and run a short shake-out run in the morning before our busy day. I’m so glad we did because this was our sunrise view:
We decided to make a day of San Francisco on Saturday, starting with the beach front farmer’s market. I love a good farmer’s market so I was excited, and it did not disappoint! Plus, it had an amazing view of the water AND city:
Cheese and cracker spreads? Yummm!
Honey and olive oil!
The Farmer’s market had an outdoor AND indoor section! So cool!
After the farmer’s market? Brunch! How adorable are our hosts for the weekend!?
After brunch we hit up the race expo to pick up our race-day packets!
After the race expo we spent the afternoon adventuring all over the city! It is SUCH an awesome city for like 20 different reasons. And I really fell hard in love with it. Which is impressive for me, because I generally don’t like new places (I’m a bit of a homebody I think), but I just couldn’t find anything not to love about the city. And it had so, so much character, which is my favorite!
And the hills. OH the hills. So pretty and exciting when you’re driving in a car. NOT SO MUCH when you’re on mile 11 of a half marathon.
On one of the really steep hilled streets the residents decided to make a bunch of hairpin turns instead of having the grade go straight down. It’s not known as crooked street and it’s equal parts terrifying to drive down, awesome like an amusement ride, and gives you a killer view!
After crooked street? The painted ladies. Which TECHNICALLY don’t include the actual “Full House” house (we drove past the real one later), but WAS part of the opening credits/song thing. Also, it’s just really cool to see!
Trolleys! The line to actually ride them was CRAZY so we just pretended.
After a quick stop in Ghirardelli Square for ice cream, we walked down to the Fisherman’s Wharf. Which is VERY touristy, but VERY pretty! And reminds me a lot of the east coast!
That’s Alcatraz over there on the left!
After our busy San Fran day we headed home to make a big old pasta dinner (actually, just Margaret made it!) to carb load for the race. And to watch the Wisconsin Badgers play their Final 4 game. Which ended horribly. Ugh. Then it was off to early bed to get some sleep before our 4am wake up call!
Sunday morning we got our butts up earllllyyy and headed into the city to park near the finish line and take a shuttle to the starting line of the race. It was still pitch black out when we got there, but as we waited for go-time the sun started to rise and it revealed an awesome ocean view! Here we our ready to runnnn! Also us Wisconsin kids definitely like to share our team pride with the world :)
nervous/excited! And sponsored by Wixon ;)
The long line to the start!
And we were off! Nice and flat to start. And with an ocean sunrise view! We got to enjoy this all of mayyyybe a quarter mile before the 3.5 miles of hills started.
Gorgeous sunrise. Devil hills.
A brief downhill!
AMAZING homes we ran by! Also this was the last bit of down hill before we turned a corner and saw a sign that said “time to earn your views” and had the lonnnngest uphill ever on our way to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Getting to the top of the hill and this was the view behind us from where we had come.
And THIS was the view ahead of us… Golden Gate here we commme!
About to do miles 4-8 over the bridge!
Just running on the Golden Gate Bridge…
Marge and Patrick running like pros! Side note though. While it was SO cool to run on this bridge we were all ready to punch people/ourselves because there was just nowhere to go and you couldn’t really run and your own pace without almost tripping on other people or having someone stop right in front of you to take a picture or walk for a bit. SO frustrating.
But still fun! :)
Annnnd turned around to head back over the bridge!
After the bridge I felt SO FREE to just run in all the wide open space that I took off and probably ran too fast. If it had been a flat 8-13 last miles I would have been good. But it was not. And I almost died.
But for a while it was flat and ocean-side and lovely.
After that I spent the next 4 miles attempting not to die while we ran up basically every hill in the freaking city. It was brutal. And I almost cried. No joke. It was so hard on tired legs to be running up the steepest hills at mile 11. But mile 12 was all downhill and then we were done!! YAY!
After the race we hurried home to shower and get ready so fast so we could go to Napa and drink all the well-earned wine! And on the way to wine? Jacqueline and I had our first (but I assure you it wont be our last) In-N-Out burger! SO SO GOOD. Especially after 13.1 miles of running.
Bye-bye San Francisco! Time to head to wine country!
First stop? Artesa. For amazing wine and the best view of the valley!
Wine wine wine wine!
I really like all these people! And wine! Well, champagne in this photo!
Two of my favorite ladies!
Next we headed to Alpha Omega for LOTS of wine. Also. It was near 80 and sunny and SO nice to be outside drinking wine.
Alpha Omega winery had an awesome, but totally different view!
Wine. Before and after :)
After thoroughly enjoying Napa we headed back to the city and crossed the Bay Bridge at sunset, which was gorgeous!
We had a yummy dinner in the city and over all it was just a perfect way to end the night and trip!
It’s been back to reality for almost a week now, but I’m still day dreaming all the time about Cali! I’m positive I will be back!! -Katie