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I Left My Heart and My Running Shoes in San Francisco

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I was out for a run along the Bay Trail. I looked up into the blue sky. A Turkey Vulture with black silent wings was floating close to me on the wind. I looked below my running feet next to the green San Francisco sea. A Bat Ray emerged. The tips of his giant floaty wings barely breaking the water’s surface. It was just the three of us. The Turkey Vulture, The Bat Ray and Myself. We were flying through space together at the same pace for more than a fleeting moment. I was euphoric.

Bat Ray @mollusc_man

The Runner’s “high” is real. Running produces “Endocannabinoids”, which work on the same brain receptors as THC, the active compound in cannabis. Euphoria is one of the outcomes.

And can you believe this “high” is free? (But don’t tell Big Pharma, they are making way too much money selling anti-depressants). The Runners high is also addictive. But not to worry. You will not be alone. I can hook you up with a friendly group of Users right here in San Francisco. You’ll always have company on your trip.

The now vintage ad I designed in 2003

The San Francisco Road Runners Club (SFRRC) has more than 500 members. It’s been around since 2001. Joining can be a life changing experience mentally and physically. Membership dues are $150 a year, and scholarships are offered as well.

So you are not a Runner? and you are not in shape? Does not matter…you can become one, and you will get in shape. Did you know that we live in the number one ranked city in the nation for running? That’s right. According to Runners World Magazine (3/2/2023) San Francisco is #1.

So are you ready for a change in your life? I know many of us have been laid off, and in general it has been a real rough couple of years (to put it mildly) here in the Emerald City.

Guess what? SFRRC is having their biannual Big Summer Kickoff at Sports Basement in the Presidio this Saturday July 15th at 8am. Go! It doesn’t matter if you are hungover, as long as you can put one foot in front of the other. And you’ll get a free donut!

Here are the details:

But not to worry if you can’t make it, you can take a test run with SFRRC any Saturday, but beware… it might take a couple runs, but you may develop a habit. It’s a good habit. I can attest to that…read on.

Remember when SF had a Dot com boom? It crashed badly in 2001. The Dot com I had just joined was now Dot gone. I decided I needed to do something with my new found time besides… work.

I did what people do when they want to learn something new. I jumped on that “Information Highway” and found “Yes! You can run a Marathon in only 12 …count ‘em 12 weeks!”. I followed the 12 week schedule (3-4 weekday short runs, with one long run increasing every weekend). A Marathon is 26.2 miles fyi.

I made it to the 18 mile long run. It was tough running alone with no one to complain to. I hopped back on the “Information Highway” and typed in “HELP ME”! I found help. San Francisco Road Runners Club was having their first ever Kick-off run. The club was just forming. I had no idea what to expect, but made it over to the Marina Green by 7:45 that Saturday morning. I’m glad I did.That was 22 years ago. And that day did change my life.

I trained for my first Marathon (the San Francisco Marathon) with SFRRC in 2002. I learned about supination, pronation, electrolytes, fartleks, pasta, gu, bonking, LSD (long slow distance), vaseline, roadkill, double layer sox, Camelbaks, swag, tapering, where the best toilets and bushes are in SF and… Martinis. Didn’t matter how fast or slow you were, you would find someone that ran (or walked) your pace. Most pace groups ran at a “conversational” pace. I had “conversations” while running with so many interesting people (or I could tune them out as well). And sharing the agony and ecstasy of completing a Marathon with previous strangers? You can’t help but develop a strong bond.I made lifelong friends.

My first Marathon (with one of my daughters) and my most recent Marathon (same daughter)

I really liked that chocolate Gu energy gel. I wanted to work at Gu. I sent them this self portrait…but never heard back.

And yes we are “Runners”. Don’t make the mistake of calling us “Joggers”. Runners have a different mindset than Joggers. Running is a lifestyle and a passion. We don’t consider running to be exercise. We do it because we love it. And once a Runner always a Runner. There’s a lot of really old in shape runners in town if you haven’t noticed.

Lucky for me SFRRC was holding a logo contest for their new identity in 2001. My design entry was chosen and in return I was given a Lifetime Membership. I’ll be running up that Stairway to Heaven.

And what a way to see our beautiful city. On foot. I so looked forward to meeting my newfound friends at the Marina Green on Saturdays for the “long runs” our talented SFRRC coaches carefully mapped out… all over the City. One such 24 mile run took us across the Golden Gate Bridge to Tiburon. Club members volunteered at aid stations along the way stocked with m&m’s, oranges, water, and electrolytes . There’s nothing like running across the Golden Gate Bridge early in the morning or on a rainy, stormy, windy, foggy day.

I’ll take ‘Golden’ over ‘Pearly’ (in regards to “Gates”…)

I like running because it’s simple, free and brings me back to the basics. Urban running or Country running. It’s all good. I enjoy running at night, by the water, under a full moon just like our ancestors did. It feels primitive compared to all the high tech activities today. Often times I run without music and just listen to my breath and the rhythm of my feet. And you don’t need to spend money on fancy shoes or clothes.The Tarahumara Indians, the best long-distance Runners in the world, run in sandals. And of course there are the barefoot Runners. Read about them both in this fascinating book: “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall.

Need more inspiration? Look no further than San Francisco’s own Ultra Runner star Dean Karnazes (who orders pizzas while running 350 miles). “Ultra Marathon Man” by Dean Karnazes.

Running 26.2 miles boosts your confidence and cockiness. Walking 12 miles to pick up my car at the Mechanic? no problem. I don’t need Uber. I can walk or run most anywhere in the Bay Area.

Here is a small sampling of what SFRRC offers for $12.50 a month. Visit the website for more details:

Social events
Saturday morning group runs
Sunday trail runs in Marin
Tuesday coached runs at Kezar Track
Wednesday fun runs (with hills!) in the Presidio
Thursday group tempo runs from the Ferry Building
Training programs for half and full marathons
Guest Speakers

What you will gain is priceless.

Vintage Flyer from 2002

We liked the word and color Puce. It became our pace group.

They chose another design, but I still like this one…

And SFRRC supports the places they run. They have donated more than $60,000 to local organizations such as San Francisco Recreation & Park Department, The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and Back on My Feet (which combats homelessness through the power of fitness).

Donut & photo courtesy of

And hey! the San Francisco Marathon is coming our way July 23rd.

People come from all over the world to watch and participate. I hear there may be 30,000 Runners. Get out there and cheer them on! You might be one of those Runners one day. It feels good to have strangers wishing you well. More info here:

I have a lot of Marathon ephemera

I hope I’ve peaked your interest in running (and running in SF). Sure, it’s a thrill to cross that finish line, but it’s the journey that really counts …plus you can eat a lot of Donuts.


And if you feel that you can’t go on. And your will’s sinkin’ low. Just believe, and you can’t go wrong. In the light you will find the road. You will find the road – Led Zeppelin


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Schatzie Frisch

Schatzie Frisch

‘Schatzie the Renegade Deli Heiress’ is a Bay Area native and a lover of San Francisco. Much of her humorous art and writing are a direct result of having been in close (a bit too close) proximity with the cold cut, *Headcheese, at her beloved parent’s Delicatessen (RIP). Schatzie is a Vegetarian, and the creator of the only “Headcheese" Art Gallery in the world.

When Schatzie is not making fun of Headcheese, she has fun swing dancin', pumpkin carvin', pirate chasin', donut eatin' and uke playin' in ‘Schatzie’s Tropical Snoball Lounge’.

*Headcheese /ˈhed.tʃiːz : A cold cut that originated in Europe. Headcheese is not a dairy cheese. There is no cheese involved.