Race Report: Bay to Breakers 2015

Cloudy, drizzly day to run a 12k across the city–and yet, what fun! I enjoyed myself a great deal, despite relearning a lesson I really should have learned years ago: fitness does not fully translate across sports, and all the swimming and biking in the world does not prepare one for a run. My right knee gave in at Mile 5, and I continued the race with a shuffle. Finished, albeit slowly, and was happy to see all the costumes around me.

The best costume, in my opinion, was worn by this group of people, reminding me again of the wit, creativity, and talent for capturing the zeitgeist in my city. #dressgate

Screenshot 2015-05-17 16.16.49

Here’s hoping I can cycle tomorrow, and get a nice 3k in the Balboa Pool with no unpleasant kicking at all.


Ed Lee Doesn’t Want You to Swim This Summer

In putting together my swim schedule, I’m swimming in various San Francisco locations, including the community pools run by Parks and Recreation. The price per adult for a single entrance is now $6, which seems a bit steep. But what’s wrong here, even more than the price, is the mechanism by which it gets paid.

The cashier at the community pool, frequently the lifeguard doubling as a cashier, only takes exact change–no change offered at the window. Want to save yourself the need to stash a pile of $5 and $1 bills? You can buy a booklet of tickets (“scrip”), but those are not sold at the pool. You have to either buy them online and wait for them to arrive, or go physically to City Hall or Golden Gate Park. At the City Hall location, the cashier does not take credit cards.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that Ed Lee does not want San Franciscans to swim this summer. Which is extremely disturbing, if you recall this incident from a few months ago:

Apparently, Parks and Rec was more than willing to set up a convenient online way to book the Mission Soccer Field, for a fee, contrary to neighborhood custom of playing pick-up soccer together. Public furor made that go away.

Pools differ from soccer fields, in that wealthy newcomers to the city can afford to get subscriptions to expensive gyms. And since typically they won’t be customers of community pools, there is no incentive to renovate them or make payment convenient and cheap. It also means that lap swimmers have to share meager opening hours with children, age-group swim teams, seniors, and aqua aerobics, a problem that could easily be solved with more efficient use of the pool. But the city is not interested in the welfare of old-time neighborhood residents; convenient apps and perks are on offer only for a particular demographic, and that’s shameful and infuriating.

Senior Confusion!

I went to the Balboa Pool again to swim this morning and picked the middle lane. This time, the two people sharing the lane with me were fairly slow, but they were lovely and we all got along just fine. After about 15 minutes, the lifeguard called me and said, “what gave you the idea of coming in this morning?”

Taken a bit aback, I said, “well, I had a free hour, lap swim was listed on the website, and I wanted to swim.”

The lifeguard said, “sorry about the confusion, but it’s Senior Swim hour.”

Then I noticed that everyone around me was fairly slow. I apologized, explained I had no idea, and since the lifeguard saw I was watching out for the other folks he let me stay.

What resulted was a 2.5k reminiscent of open water, because I had to constantly lift my eyes and sight for, well, marine life. 🙂 But it all went fine, and they handed me an updated schedule.

The first thing I thought was that many of the fastest, most accomplished swimmers I know could be counted as “seniors”, so age, especially in swimming, is not a great idea as a big divider. But devoting an hour to slow swimmers and allowing them to calmly do their workout without a lot of passes and splashing strikes me as a marvelous idea. It’s exactly what a community pool should do! So, no more late-morning swims for me. Instead, I’ll go in the afternoon, and work out at the Mission Pool when I want morning workouts.

As an aside, the way the community pools are managed almost suggests that the City of San Francisco doesn’t want us to swim. You have to have exact change going in–$6–and, if you want to buy a booklet with ten entrances, you’ll have to pay cash or check at City Hall. It’s a ridiculous way of doing things, and I wonder with whom I should speak to change it.

I swam today!!!

After a long hiatus, I swam today!

I went to our local pool, the Balboa pool, and put in a modest but industrious 3k. It’s an odd set, because the pool length is odd–33.3 yards:

600 warmup with focus points

400 (6×33) broken IM

9×200, build within each 200

200 cooldown

I talked to the lifeguard, and he was super nice to me. It was a funny interaction: “wow, you’ve been swimming for a long time!” “this is nothing for me; I used to swim marathons.” “Are you retired from the sport?” “sort of; not exactly; I’m still registered for Kingdom Swim.”

Our conversation made me realize that I actually am capable of completing Kingdom Swim–if I get serious about this and train until July. I’ve come back from periods of slacking before–my Sea of Galilee swim was the result of two months of concentrated training–and I can do it again.

While I’ve lost my appetite for swimming in the bay, I can swim in Tilden Park, at the Quarry Lake, and at Crown Beach on weekends if I want to. It’ll be fine!