Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pacifica

It was the kind of weekend that just kept getting better. After the 50K race we went out for a celebratory sushi dinner, at this nondescript yet fantastic Japanese place in Mountain View. I'm not a foodie and more often than not feel bewildered about why people make such a big deal out of particular types of food (meanwhile, I just like food ... lots of it ... preferably sugar.) But every so often I eat a meal that truly blows me away, and this was one of them. The kind of beautifully rendered, perfectly nuanced, savory and satisfying meal that you take pictures of, so you can post them on Facebook, so all your friends can wonder what the big deal is anyway.

Then, on Sunday, I woke up and I wasn't sore. I really wasn't. A little stiff in the calves maybe, but no blisters, no shredded quads, nothing. Six hours on my feet — like some of my medium-length hikes in Juneau — used to take a lot more out of me, at a lower level of overall effort. So I took it as a good sign that I am improving my running fitness. Beat and I enjoyed a lazy morning with several cups of cappuccino, complete with latte art, then made our way over to the coast to go hiking.

The more time I spend in the Bay area, the more I realize how beautiful and varied it is despite the urbanization (and although I also don't consider myself a "city person," I admit that San Francisco is quite beautiful and varied as an urban setting, as well.) Pacifica is nestled against the Pacific Ocean and the northern ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It's within 10 miles of the heart of San Francisco, but wending through the towns small streets, you'd never suspect that. We climbed into the hills toward a mountain called North Peak. From the summit, we could see the city skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge. But to the east, a rolling topography of green mountains all but hid the massive human footprint of the East Bay. To the west, there was only an expanse of blue water sparkling in the sunlight.

From the peak we decided to make our way over to an adjacent peak, which — gasp — had no developed trail en route. We followed the faint footprint of an old jeep road, trudged up a loose rocky slope and had to bushwhack the last hundred yards or so. "Who says you can't find adventure in California," Beat proclaimed as we fought all manner of thorny bushes and jagged rocks, and probably brushed up against poison oak, too. A stiff wind blew along the ridgeline, with windchill that dropped the 40-degree air to something that felt decidedly below freezing.

Nine miles and three hours worth of sunshine later, we returned for more tasty dinner (Japanese noodle soup) and a session in the sauna that was more exhausting than the race, but did clear up the last of my racing/hiking soreness. The only flaw in the entire weekend was the plane ride home, complete with the usual air travel headaches. This always-on-the-go lifestyle and relationship has been hard on both of us, but it's more than worth it.