Sunday, March 3, 2013

Oh the Places I Went!

Sixteen weeks of training for Grandma's Marathon officially begins tomorrow. I love marathon training and the structure that it provides in my mostly-unstructured life, and always look forward to a new season. But I know there will be weeks when I miss the freedom to run however far (or short) or hard (or easy) I want to, so figured I would make the most of this last long weekend run.

I'm just going to put it right out there and say that I think I live in the best place on earth. (And I hope you feel the same way about where you live!) San Diego is a fantastic place, and not just because of the weather. I love my beautiful and endlessly interesting neighborhood (Bankers Hill) and the other great neighborhoods that make up the mid-city. It's got just the right amount of density for me, good public transportation, and there is always something interesting going on. Not only do I have several great restaurants and Balboa Park just a few blocks away, I have a neighbor with a pony. So obviously, it is the best place ever.

I've been living - and running - here for about fifteen years, though, so in order to keep things interesting, I do frequently hop in my car (or onto the train) and run in different parts of the county on the weekends. But my "home runs" in the park or around the neighborhood are always my favorite. So this weekend, in the name of celebrating the joy of the unstructured, free-form run, I challenged myself to something different, and mapped out the boundaries of my zip code and decided to run them. When I saw it on the map, I knew that it was going to be challenging, because 92103 is a hilly place. But I also knew that it was going to be super cool.

From my house, I headed to Laurel St. (The Prado, which runs through the middle of Balboa Park) and serves as 92103's southern boundary. The corner of First Ave. & Laurel St. served as my starting point for the loop, which I thought was going to be somewhere between 8-10 miles, but turned out to be almost 13. Oh well ... unstructured, right?

This run was amazing. A fun adventure, a solid reminder to me of why I make the sacrifices I do to live here, and a reminder to be grateful for the gift of running and the many ways that it keeps me connected to my community. I stopped to enjoy the scenery and take lots of photos along the way (and also because I was tired), and I hope you'll enjoy this Tour de 92103:

Crossing the First Ave. bridge.
Maple Canyon, the harbor, and Point Loma in the distance.

Down to India Street, with the bustle of cruise ships, trains, and airplanes.

Up into the western edge of Mission Hills. These grades were outrageous! 
But the views paid me back for my efforts. 

(Well, except to take pictures.)

Back down into Old Town State Park.

East along the edge of Mission Valley. Why I didn't think to bring cash so I could 
have stopped in at Albie's for a cocktail I will NEVER know.

Back up the hill from the valley into Hillcrest. 
(The origins of the names of all of these communities, by the way, 
become crystal clear when you are running between them.) 
Crossed the 163 Hwy via the Vermont St. Bridge.

A little dose of inspiration from Eleanor Roosevelt, right when I needed it. This was about 8.5 miles in, and I was tired, hungry, and close to home. It was pretty tempting to turn around and go home!

Some further inspiration courtesy of Dr. Seuss, on the Vermont St. Bridge.
Interestingly, yesterday would have been his birthday!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.

Through University Heights, then headed south across El Cajon Blvd. 

Out to Morley Field, to the edge of Florida Canyon. 

Back across the Cabrillo Hwy, into the Bridle Trail system on the eastern edge of Balboa Park. I hike here almost every weekend, but had never seen this particular system of dirt bike trails! There were a half dozen or so boys riding on them, doing crazy jumps over piles of tree stumps.

Up into the center of Balboa Park, where lots of people were out enjoying the day.
(The tower of the Museum of Man in the background.)

West on The Prado back to my starting point.

My cheat sheet!


  1. You Go Amy, making me homesick for the 1997-2006 years!!

    1. Come back and visit any time! (Please!!) I promise I won't make you run ... unless you want to.

  2. Lovely post, lovely city! I fell in love with San Diego when I first went there, 2 years ago... it was one of the coldest March weekends in history, but it was still sunny and you could feel the warmth of the air. I wish to live there at least once in my life :)

    1. We do get less-than-perfect weather from time to time, it's true! (But mostly it's pretty great.) I've got a friend organizing running tours, so if you ever wish to preview your future home, contact me! =)

  3. What a neat idea! I never would have thought to run the zip code. I might have to keep that in mind when looking for some long running times.

    1. Awesome! If you do, I'll look forward to reading about it, and learning more about where YOU live! There's beauty and interesting stuff to be found absolutely everywhere.

  4. What a fun run!! I love San Diego (I live in Encinitas but have lived in San Diego for 11 years)! One of my favorite runs is parking my car in North PB/South La Jolla and running home (near Moonlight Beach). It's fun to feel like you are running TO somewhere.

    1. I totally agree. I love a route with a purpose! One of my favorite things to do is the "train run." I park at the Solana Beach train station, take Amtrak to Oceanside, and then run back. It's about 16 miles (but you can easily make it longer if you need to), super scenic, and you definitely won't lose your motivation to finish! =)

  5. Oh! It's my old neighborhood!
    I miss running in Mission Hills. :-)
    Thank you for the photo trip down memory lane.

    1. I love it! So glad you found and enjoyed the post. =) Mission Hills is a challenging place to run!!