25 July 2011

The Semi-Urban Athlete

Lately there have been some athlete blogs showcasing gorgeous scenery... mountains, trees, beachfront settings, sunsets... all inspiring vistas. Often, when I take pictures during my workouts I, too, generally focus on the pretty things (except when it is a pivotal bathroom or monumental dungheap). I tend to look one way and not the other.

I am definitely sequestered from reality, here all cozy in my little gated community. This hit me hard on Saturday morning. My husband was listening to the radio. "Did you know there was another homicide?" Another? I have been hiding my head in the sand... He went on..."There have been 8 homicides in (our city) this month!"

It is just over one mile from our house to the pre-ghetto... the edge of the Iron Triangle. Fortunately, between our house and the pre-ghetto are: The Gate, police headquarters and 6 lanes of freeway. When we moved to this city we were moving from the nation's #5 ranked crime city to #6... a step in the right direction :P but The Gate really makes all the difference when it comes to feeling safe.

Last night, I went for a ride. I decided to look that other way. Not the pretty way. I didn't head into Crime Central on my bike, though I do drive through it nearly every day. It doesn't really scare me, but perhaps it should. I guess I tend to not really think about it. It's there. I need to go through it to get where I am going. Just do it.

I headed, as usual, over to the water. For a change, instead of looking out over the water at this...

or noticing the lovely marshlands and all the interesting waterfowl or Mt. Tamalpais in the distance, I looked the other way.

About a mile of the ride is alongside a huge postal transfer center...

The razor wire lets you know you shouldn't hop the fence.

This mile goes by fairly quickly when biking but much more slowly when running.

Next door to the postal transfer center is ...

Home of $9.99 pizzas that are soooo bad for you.

Right near the Costco is a great little getaway spot...

Coffee Cup Beach

The pathway down to Coffee Cup Beach...
I thought I would find a litter-mess of coffee cups down there.
Nope... just a rainbow of colorful, used condoms.

A little further down the trail is this...

I know what you're thinking...
prison guard watchtower!

It has something to do with horse-racing...
the track grandstand is in the distance.

And here are the bales of straw and horse-trailers in the parking lot.

One of the exciting parts of the trail is where it parallels the freeway. Just a flimsy cyclone fence and 4-foot retaining wall between you and fast cars...

It's kind of hard to shoot video with a cellphone while biking down a trail, 
so a little slack in the professionalism department and a lot of appreciation for the risks I took :P

So that's the less-gentle side of my 'hood. I am working up the guts (or stupidity) to do a photo/video study of the harsh side.

Are you ever afraid where you work out? Of what?

Do you get to run or cycle in a lovely environment?


  1. did someone say COSTCO?!?!!?

  2. We have some beautiful places to run and ride near us, though our suburb has the WORST pavement, not so great for cycling.

  3. Thank you for not sharing the condom rainbow with us.

    Sometimes I look at the pictures other people are posting on their blogs and just sigh. We have a lot of corn around here. Not that much else. On the other hand, we have beautiful, very smooth, relatively safe bike paths and a fairly bike-friendly town.

    I tend to assume nothing bad is going to happen and go with that, though I take my dog with me when possible (right now it's too hot for him to go more than a couple of miles).

  4. Umm-no loveliness here as you know. Gravel pit mountains and ditch trail but SAFE! Other than loose dogs and the occasional mountain lion I have no fears.

    How I would love to see a Costgo on my run! That is just BEAUTIFUL scenery to me!

    A rainbow of condoms. They come in different colors. I wouldn't know.

  5. What's up with Kovas' picture? I'd assume that was his senior class photo if it wasn't for the fact he looks a little bit older. Note my choice of words. Not "Old" per se, but "Older" looking than your average HS senior. Unless he's on the 30 year plan or something. Which is cool because that means he's probably been the starting defensive end on the Varsity football team for awhile now and gets a whole new crop of cheerleaders to choose from every 4 years.

    But to my point. It's up to you to make your training environment lovely. Sure, you can't always polish a turd and you don't want to take unneeded risks, but you can always make the best of where you are.

    Before the last couple years kicked in and I transformed in to the elite world class athlete that I am (in my own mind). I'd been and on and off again runner for 20 years. I've been lucky to have spent time in some cool places and in fact have blogged about runs in Boston, Vancouver and London. But just because I have not mentioned time spent in Jersey City (pre-gentrification), Atlanta (too hot) and Somerville MA (simply not a great place to run) I still remember those places with some fondness because there was always one stretch of road or landmark or funny incident that has stayed with me in a positive way.

    A challenge to your readers - invite me to your favorite running spot and I'll make it even better. Invite me to some sh*t-hole of a loop you have to run right now an I'll make sure we find the only flower garden in the area.

    Because together anything is possible.

  6. So is that Detroit? ; )

    I naively feel that I am pretty safe out there. The only time I get the willies is if I go really early before dark by myself, which isn't often.

    As to beauty--I've got a mix here. Pretty darn suburban but we've got a great set of trails through the woods here, plus a state park not far away. I do wish I lived somewhere out west to trail run there!

  7. wow that's a pretty badass place to work out!

  8. we have beautiful places to run around here too - but none that i'd really want to run alone other than in and out of neighborhoods.

    Sad that the world is coming to this :(

  9. If I ran (and I'm not suggesting I EVER will), I'm not sure I'd be able to get past the Costco. I'd say that after Wal*Mart they are my favorite retailer out there, because Target is just too trendy now. Can you say double chocolate chip cookies in bulk? I sure as hell can.

  10. I think I recognize that. Is that right by the 580? I used to drive that when my Dad lived in Lafayette and I lived in Marin.

    I like seeing shots of local runs. I think you should start a new Tagger Award whereby people have to post pics of their normal runs.

    The only thing I get scared off during my beachfront setting runs is if I put on enough sunscreen.

    I'm with Patrick...what is up with Kovas' profile pic.


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