Men’s Health Urbanathlon – San Francisco

Having enjoyed myself with the MHU – Chicago experience, I decided that it would be a lot of fun to plan and complete their entire domestic series. This left Nellie and I to chose between San Francisco and New York. Our choice was an easy one given the factors motivating us. We selected to visit Cali and then in 2013 we will round out the races in NYC!

I think we were both excited to visit the west coast and see what all the hype was about. During the planning of our trip we decided that the race would be the primary motivator, but really this trip was about sight seeing and enjoying time with each other. All things considered, after a bit of research and asking around, I knew all the places and attractions that I wanted to see. From this the details and itinerary began to fall into place. Here is the story as it unfolded chronologically.

The planning of all my vacations and trips thus far has consistently been done on a budget, and this would hold true. Luckily, the two of us were able to use some free round-trip flight vouchers (from our Atlanta / engagement trip) to get us out there and back; that was a burden lifted, cause flying can get expensive. I remember that we booked an early morning flight which usually means I am dragging unless I get my coffee.  Here is us on our way out there!

We took an early morning flight to L.A., where we would soon meet up with YoYo.

We took an early morning flight to L.A., we walked around downtown for a while to do some site seeing.

Nellie wanted to visit her girlfriend Yolanda while we were out that way, so we decided to fly into Los Angeles and checkin and see how she was doing. It was also pretty cool because she was able to show us around a little and enjoy a nice dinner with us at the Lobster in Santa Monica. I remember the great conversation, food and walk on the pier from that night. I felt so calm and really let myself enjoy the moment.

Dinner @ The Lobster in Santa Monica with our good friend Yolanda. Amazing night, great food and even better company!

Dinner @ The Lobster in Santa Monica with our good friend Yolanda. Amazing night, great food and even better company!

Afterwards we went cruising Hollywood Blvd. before we called it a night. Neither of us were that impressed.  Perhaps it would have been better to visit during the daytime. We got back to YoYo’s place and she put us up for the night, which was very kind of her and easy on our budget.

The next day was a beautiful friday. We got up fairly early and kindly YoYo dropped us off at the car rental before 9AM. We said our goodbyes and in a flash she was off to work and we were picking out our rental car. Lol, funny how Nell and I can be so indecisive at times. She wanted the Chrysler 300 and I wanted the Nissan Maxima, well eventually after going back and forth we tore out of the place in the little Maxima. We would spend the next several hours driving through the California countryside. I was really surprised to see all the agriculture fields along the way. The red sandy roads were a new site to see and I really just enjoyed driving.  It was an added bonus that the car was fast and torquey.

When we finally arrived in San Fran, it was important that we swing in and get my race packet so that I was ready to go come Sunday morning. After getting the packet we quickly dropped off the rental and jumped a taxi to our hotel. The really nice thing about staying at the Marriott we booked via Priceline was that it was just a couple blocks from Navy Pier.  I booked a hotel in that vicinity specifically because it was near all the action and we could essentially walk out the front door and be at the starting point of the race in five minutes, perfection.

After the travel day and driving 5+ hours, Nell and I decided to have a chill evening and went for a walk along the Pier.  We were pretty hungry but the selection was kinda slim picking because it was pretty late.  We stumbled along a pizza place and caught a slice and some wings.  Satisfied with our evening we walked back to the hotel and got some rest.  We knew the next day would be a busy one.


I decided to let my love sleep in while I laced up my running shoes and stepped to the streets.  It was a bit nippy out, so I started off at a Starbucks nearby and had coffee.  I warmed up, got a good stretch in and made tracks.  I ran about four miles along Navy Pier and took in the sites and smells.  There was so much going on!  An open market for people to purchase fresh fruits of the sea, other tourists taking photos, and there I was getting my sweat on as I jogged on by.  On my return back to my love I made sure to stop in and get another coffee and to grab her a croissant filled with chocolate and a vanilla steamer, her favorite.

She was happy to see me return and we got cleaned up for our day.  We then took a nice stroll along the Pier and took some pictures.  They had their huge Christmas tree already up for the holidays which was pretty cool.  We also had to take the opportunity to ride on the trolly which was pretty cool.   Eventually we mad our way downtown to do some window shopping.  Big momma got a bit salty with me as she wanted to shop but I kept reminding her that we couldn’t.  She saw a Louis Vuitton store and it would be in my ear the rest of the day. This is the woman I would be soon marrying, lol, that’s my diva.

Walking the Pier, enjoying the sights and each other's company!

Walking the Pier, enjoying the sights and each other’s company!

Walking around all day really gave us a big appetite, but we had to avoid snacking because we had dinner plans.  Prior to the trip, I had made plans with my good friend Susan and her husband Michael. They had moved out there a few years ago and it was finally my opportunity to connect with them both.  We met up at a really great asian-centric restaurant.  We arrived a bit early and got a beverage.  I was super excited to see them and knew that things were going to be changing for both of them soon.  They were just a few short months away from becoming parents.

Dinner with Susan and Michael in San Francisco! YUM!

Dinner with Susan and Michael in San Francisco! YUM!

When they arrived we took a moment to get a few pictures and say our  hellos.  It had been a couple years but they looked exactly the same They were happy as they always were.  Having known them for a while and even being a part of their wedding day, I could tell that they were happy! Next, we reviewed the menu and decided to order a few different plates and then just pass the food around, which was awesome!  My big race day was in the morning so we chatted a while and said our goodbyes to head back and get some rest.


Race Day! We woke up early and got ready for the big race.  Luckily we were already close to the starting line and had plenty of time.  We left the hotel and were quickly surrounded by hundreds of runners getting ready to start their race.  I was in the 7th corral and therefore wouldn’t start for another half hour while the spread out the participants.  When it was my turn to begin my MHU adventure, I lace my shoes up tight and pealed off my tank.  It was go time.

The starting line of the MHU - San Francisco!

The starting line of the MHU – San Francisco!

The weather was a little bit cool which would make for a great run. Immediately out of the race shoot I took it up a notch and passed many of the folks in my wave.  I would be finding my comfort zone for the next mile and catching my breath as I found my runner’s stride.  It is important to find a good pace and hit your equilibrium so that you can perform thoughout the race.  It is important to mentally focus knowing that you have another 10 miles ahead of you packed full of obstacles, oh and don’t forget the crazy hills throughout the city.

About two miles into the race I realized that something wasn’t quite right.  Quickly a cop on a motorcycle zooms past us to the guy leading us and rerouted us.  Apparently we got off the race path and lost about a mile of running until we reunited with the rest of the racers.  Seriously annoyed, I just had to do my best knowing that my finish time was going to be off about seven minutes.  I don’t blame the guys that got off track because the course was not as clearly defined as the MHU-Chicago.  In fact, I thought that this one was much less organized overall. The upside of the race was sweet challenges presented every few miles.  I remember just championing my way through each of them.  I darted though the monkey bars, army crawls, stadium stairs, hurdles and anything else that came at me.

Obstacles have met their match... MarathonJake @ MHU - San Francisco!

Obstacles have met their match… MarathonJake @ MHU – San Francisco!

In fact, after doing a bit of searching I found the official 2012 MHU – San Francisco video posted out on YouTube.  Guess who would play a quick cameo at 1min 19seconds, yours truly! In all the race was a ton of fun and I gave it my best.  At the finish line I met up with my #1 cheerleader.  Kisses from my Nellie, which are always amazing!  My overall results were eventually posted and read as such:

MHU - San Francisco Race Results; I did well overall and had a great time doing it!

MHU – San Francisco Race Results; I did well overall and had a great time doing it!

We stayed and enjoyed the Urbanathlon celebration for a while, and at about 9:30AM we left to make the most of our last day in San Francisco.  It was still early and we wanted to do accomplish a bit of fun site-seeing.  We found a cool place close by to rent us bikes and with the Golden-Gate Bridge off in the distance we mounted our loaners and were off to start an adventure. It took us a while to get close to the base of the bridge, but it was cool to see that there were some surfers out there catching some waves.  Btw, surfing is totally on my bucket list!

We took the bikes over the bridge and on the way back Nellie had a bit of an ‘incident’. She basically ran some guy over, lol talk about a scary bike collision.  No one was hurt, but it was definately a scare. We captured some really cool memories, check out below!

Nellie & Jake riding around sight seeing at the Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, CA.

Nellie & Jake riding around sight seeing at the Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, CA.

After our riding around we made our way back to the hotel so that we could get all cleaned-up for our final day in the city.  We jumped in our street clothes, checked out of the Marriott and started our final round of sight seeing before our flight later that evening. We had enough time to go to Lombard Street (notorious for its many zig-zags because of how steep the street is) and do some walking around.  Later we had a nice dinner and I was able to finally enjoy some fresh crab from the bay, seriously yummy! Overall we had an amazing trip and did as much sight-seeing as we could with the time we had.

Checking out Lombard Street and enjoying our last beautiful day in San Francisco!

Checking out Lombard Street and enjoying our last beautiful day in San Francisco!

We rounded out the trip loving each other and creating lasting memories, mission accomplished! More to come as our final leg of the domestic MHU races will be sending us to New York!


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