I left my heart in San Francisco – Bay to Breakers 12k, Part 1

I’d always wanted to go to San Francisco, so when I heard about the Bay to Breakers 12k foot race, I filed it away as something to do one day. I happened to check the website one day and found out that 2011 would be the 100th running of the Bay to Breakers and that for the first time ever they were giving out finishers medals. Running, travel and a medal? I was sold. After checking my calendar I convinced Dan that we must go to San Francisco. At this point we had already committed to our first half marathon (Disney World Half Marathon in January 2012) and I said this would be a good warm up. It would also get us started on our training.

We arrived in San Francisco on May 13, 2011. After checking into our hotel, we had the rest of the day to explore the city. We stayed in Hotel Griffon, which was conveniently located by the Embarcadero waterfront. I picked the hotel by pure fluke because we waited too late to make reservations for the race host hotel. When that hotel sold out, I randomly googled hotels and picked this one based on its proximity to the start line. We found out later that Alia stayed here when she was in San Francisco. I don’t know why I didn’t ask her. I asked her about other things. Anyway, it all worked out for the best.

Hotel Griffon

Hotel Griffon. I’d stay here again.

Breakfast at Perry's

One of the first things we did after checking in was ask about a place to eat breakfast. Naturally the hotel recommended the hotel restaurant Perry’s. It was actually pretty good and became our go to place when we were too hungry to make decisions.

After breakfast, we took a stroll along the waterfront.

View from Pier 1

The view from Pier 1.

Coit Tower

Me with the iconic Coit Tower in the background.

We also explored the Ferry Building and tried some food. It was delicious. I was a big fan of the cheese and I got an amazing green garlic sandwich. I can almost still taste it (and it’s been almost 2 years since I ate it!).

Ferry building

The Ferry building.

sandwiches from Acme Bread

We enjoyed sandwiches from Acme Bread. They were fresh and sell out quickly. Dan had a cheese sandwich and I had the green garlic sandwich. nom nom.

After this snack we took a walk up to Pier 39. One of my ears was still stuffed from the plane so I was having trouble hearing and had a bit of a headache/earache. It didn’t matter though because we were in San Francisco!

sea lions at Pier 39

The Sea Lions at Pier 39 were sun bathing and making lots of noise (especially this guy). Really entertaining. Apparently they’ve been showing up at the pier since after the San Francisco earthquake.

For once, I actually planned ahead of time and was smart enough to buy tickets for Alcatraz in advance. I was really proud of myself for this one (instead of what usually happens, we don’t get tickets in advance and find out they’re sold out for the rest of our trip).


Approaching Alcatraz. Dan made a face when I said “Welcome to the Rock!”

San Francisco skyline from Alcatraz

View of San Francisco from Alcatraz. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be so close to the city yet so far away.

We did an audio tour on the island and learned about what life was like for prisoners on Alcatraz, and even what life was like for the people who worked in the prisons and their families. I also never knew about the time period when First Nations took control of the island (long after it was a prison) or about how it’s now home to a wide variety of plants and bird species.


Birds and wildlife are protected on Alcatraz.


Exploring Alcatraz.


Inside the buildings on Alcatraz.


Us behind bars in Alcatraz.

That evening, we met up with Dan’s friends Jeff and Lacey, who also happened to be in San Francisco (Dan has a lot of friends named Jeff, so there will probably be a lot of Jeffs mentioned on this blog). We joked about how we couldn’t find time to get together at home but we could find time in San Francisco. We had dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant, at the recommendation of one of Dan’s coworkers. Dan had the swordfish, I had the waterfront ciopinno with San Francisco Classic Dungeness crab, manila clams, wild gulf prawns and rich tomato broth. Ciopinno is a dish that originated in San Francisco. It was delicious! We also had a poached pear for dessert. yum.

Dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant

Our dinner. I’m hungry just looking at the picture.

So that was our first day in San Francisco (one down, two to go). Stay tuned for our second day of exploring, and the third day when we finally got to run in the 100th annual Bay to Breakers roadrace!

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