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San Francisco

Arriving in San Francisco signalled the end of the road trip and time to say goodbye to the car. We took it to the depot and realised we hadn’t taken the airbed out the boot, but as luck would have it the woman working there was going camping that weekend and still needed an airbed, it was meant to be! We walked back to our hotel over the very hilly San Fran streets, it’s a small miracle they managed to build a city on those hills, some of the roads are near vertical! Our hotel was in Nob Hill opposite our new favourite shop; Trader Joe’s (lots of free food samples in there). The hotel was rather odd, it was predominantly filled up with permanent residents with a few hotel guests thrown in the empty rooms. Not going to lie it was pretty terrible, there were bugs in the bedroom, wild cats running the corridors and the whole place stunk of weed. Oh and every night at 3am someone would run up the corridors banging on the walls, every single night! The only redeeming feature was the location which was quite central. The first couple of days we did a bit of exploring, the waterfront area is back to back piers, Pier 39 is the main attraction, it’s got loads of restaurants and shops on it, not forgetting the donut and churro stands, felt like a classy Blackpool. Crabbing season had only restarted the day we arrived, something about poisonous algae delayed it for 4 months, so the fresh crab were coming in and everyone was very excited about that. I tried a little bit of Rob’s crab cocktail but can’t say I was impressed.

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Don’t think we could have visited San Francisco without seeing Alcatraz! We took a tour that showed us round the cell blocks, and told us about the prisoners and the history of Alcatraz, really interesting actually. There was also a really cool exhibition on called Prisoners of Ages, documenting stories of older prisoners across America. It was fascinating to read, I definitely don’t think America’s strictness on no parole is a good thing though, some of the prisoners in the exhibition had served their whole lives in prison for something they’d done as kids. Others sweared they’d been framed, which seems a common theme if anyone’s watched making a murderer!

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We took it pretty easy on the Friday, I’d signed us up for a marathon on the Saturday! We took a stroll through the park, got some ice cream and then did our washing (exciting). I can count the amount of times on one hand that Rob has done his own washing, he still thinks the machine turns all his socks and clothes inside out and not him when he takes them off. Going back to how mad our hotel is though, a parrot actually flew out of someone’s room and into Rob’s face when he went to collect the washing, absolute mad house honestly. We got all our running gear lined up for the next morning, we were doing the Headlands Golden Gate trail Marathon. I did not realise how hilly San Francisco was when I registered and I was definitely starting to have regrets. We arrived at the event (after our 40 quid taxi!) in the hilly countryside of Marin, we got our numbers, there were different colours depending on which event you were doing, 400 people had registered and only 50 of them were mad enough to do the marathon. Everyone in marathon colours looked a different level of fitness to us, but anyway after a quick sing song of the National anthem we lined up and set off first. The course was two 13 mile laps which essentially consisted of running up and over 2 mountains. Oh god was it hard, the hills are unlike anything I’ve ever run up before, even after a couple of miles my legs were burning and I was considering stopping at the half way point. We were rewarded with some pretty sweet views for our efforts though, you could look down and see the Golden Gate Bridge with the San Francisco Bay in the background. The aid stations were also an incentive to carry on, we had pretzels filled with peanut butter! Rob had caught up with me by this point so I convinced myself we could manage another lap together. The cruel part though was we had to run off the course and down to the finish line were all the half marathon runners were finishing to register our progress, everyone was stretching off and eating cake whilst they asked us would we like to do another lap, not really anymore! I think 15 people dropped out at that point but we reluctantly ran off to start the second lap, the hills definitely felt bigger this time round! First lap I’d managed to do a fair bit of running up the hills but this was 13 miles later and I could just about manage a fast walk up them. I had a little wobble around 17 miles and maybe lost a rogue tear, the heat was getting to me and the hills were never ending, I mean we thought the Lake District Marathon was hilly last year and this was 3 times as hilly as that! I had to have a little word with myself and then got going again, there was no going back at this point anyway! We hit the second mountain in relatively good stead, there was a few marathon runners who’d bunched up at this point so we encouraged each other up, nothing like making marathon friends! After an eternity we reached the top and the 23 mile mark, my legs were gone by this point and at one point I forgot how to lift them over a stone which meant I fell and ripped my favourite leggings, also managed to cut my bum, not sure how seen as I fell forward, but still, not happy about the loss of my Nike leggings! We could sense the finish line by this point, only 5k away so we got our heads down and cracked on, there was a small hill to climb before we descended down to the finish line, hand in hand (well not quite but you get the idea) finally! We’re now international marathon runners!! At 5 and a half hours it’s definitely my slowest marathon but it still felt as good as the others to finish! 4,800ft of elevation which is bigger than Ben Nevis, so we earned our medals for sure! Managed to bag a lift home off one of the race directors which is just as well seen as we spent all our money on the taxi to get there! Running a marathon is enough excitement for one day and we’ve got to pack, 6am megabus down to LA tomorrow. Not sure an 8 hour bus journey is ideal for post marathon recovery, but hey ho we’re going to Hollywood!

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