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Friday Favorites: Places I Run

Posted Feb 22 2013 2:26pm

My favorite running views!

2 blog posts in 2 days?!?!?!  I know, it’s a miracle!  Well, today is the the 3rd day in a row I’ve been stuck at home with my sick daughter- poor little thing! So, I figure, now is a great time to write more about my favorite topic in an effort to get a break from The Fresh Beat Band that my daughter seems to want to watch incessantly.

It’s Friday- YAY- and of course I am already thinking about where I want to log my 10-12 miles this weekend. There are so many awesome places to run here in the San Francisco Bay Area , here are just a few of my favorites… Lake Merritt, Oakland
At last count, I’ve run Lake Merritt about a trillion times over the past 6 years, nevertheless, it still holds a very special place in my heart. I’m born and raised in Oakland and even as a child growing up here, always looked at Lake Merritt as this amazing place, truly the beating heart of my city by the bay.

It is approximately 3 miles around the lake but depending on what construction is going on and depending on if you take the inside path or the sidewalks on the outside, it can vary up to 3.5 or so if you try hard enough. Over the years, the paths have been re-paved and are very easy to run along, except watch out for those non-runners and get very used to saying, “On your left!” It’s a very popular spot and can get a tad crowded with runners, walkers, strollers, and your token crazy homeless person, even at 6am!

Lake Chabot, Castro Valley
What can I say, I really like a good lake! Lake Chabot is a short drive from Oakland and oh so very worth it. With lots of nice and challenging rolling hills, over 300 acres of land, and the beauty of the lake and wildlife, I could run here for hours but usually one hour is good enough as those inclines can be serious butt-kickers.

Lake Chabot isn’t as busy of a lake as Lake Merritt probably because it’s so much larger, people are just spread out better, and the paths are nice and wide so you can really find a sense of peacefulness and isolation if that’s the sort of thing you go for when you run. I also really like that it is part paved and part trail so you can get the best of both worlds in just one run at Lake Chabot.

Redwood Park, Oakland
Another sentimental spot for me because when I was in high school, my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I would cut class and go to Redwood Park to make out. Good times. Not to mention the countless BBQs and picnics and play dates here over the years; however, I never really appreciated Redwood Park’s beauty until I started running it.

Trails, trails, and more trails. Usually muddy. Sometimes fell trees that you have to climb over-under-over to get through, lots of dogs off-leash. Often, I won’t see a single other soul out there so it can get a tad eerie in all that extreme silence. My phone loses service up there too so I guess I have to admit it really isn’t the safest place to run alone.

When I was training for my first marathon with Team in Training , we ran a 14 miler at Redwood and Coach Al said, “If you can run 14 miles at Redwood, then you can definitely run a marathon.” It was, to date, the MOST challenging training run I have ever done but that sense of accomplishment when I finished was undeniable and for that, I’ll keep going back (WITH a friend though!).

Berkeley_-_Marina_-_César_Chávez_Park_-_Bay_view_02_-_thumb Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley
This is, currently, my go to for a run. Ample parking, clean porta potties, gorgeous scenery and all along the water! On the clearest of days at Cesar Chavez Park , you can see all 3 of our local bridges, including the infamous Golden Gate Bridge .

I’ll start at the entrance, make my way all the way around the park (few good rolling hills included) and can then chose to proceed on the paved path either towards the Emeryville marina, or into the Berkeley marina, or past Golden Gate Fields and all the way to Richmond if I want!  (Saving that effort for those 20 mile training runs, of course!)

Cesar Chavez happens to connect with the San Francisco Bay Trail that is a continuous 300 mile path (500 miles when completed!) of biking/hiking/running/walking trails. It connects the shorelines of all nine Bay Area counties and will cross all the major toll bridges in the region. I CANNOT WAIT when the Bay Trail is finally completed and I’m able to run directly from Oakland to San Francisco- how cool is that?!

So that’s where I’m running right now yet there are so many other fantastic running spots here in the Bay Area- Lafayette Reservoir , Tilden Park , Moraga Commons , Quarry Lake , Iron Horse trail , Heather Farms , and I haven’t even mentioned any of the fantastic spots in San Francisco!!!- I could go on and on and on…  but I won’t, I’ll save it for another post!

How about you, where are your favorite places to run, here in the Bay Area or otherwise?


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