Wednesday, June 11, 2008


With the price of regular unleaded in the SF Bay Area right around $4.50, I decided to use my ultrarunning training as a way to decrease my gas bills - I ran into the office today. My fellow Ultraholic Mark Tanaka coined this: Ultracommuting.

I started in Daly City (SF's closest neighbor south). I work in Redwood City and if I take El Camino Real - an historic California road (see the history of it here: ECR) it is roughly 18 miles. But I decided to take the El Camino Real only as far south as San Francisco Internal Airport and then head east and pick up the Bay Trail (SF Bay Trail). This would be longer (23 miles) but much prettier as the trail literally runs along most of the bay shore.

I had my blackberry, drivers license, credit card and two water bottles with me. Out the door I went. After a short time I entered Colma - the city of cemeteries. There are almost 20 cemeteries in this small SF suburb. Even Wyatt Earp is buried there.

Then I entered South San Francisco. Passing through there I stopped at a Taco Bell and used their soda dispenser to fill ice and water into my bottles. I headed back out and onto the road. Then I entered San Bruno. There I passed a station's sign that explained one main reason I was Ultracommuting:
Yes - those are the gas prices (the car wash costs more).

I could see jets taking off from SFO to my left so I knew I was close to my turn. I entered Millbrae and soon turned east. As I passed over Highway 101 I saw another great benefit of Ultracommuting - avoiding this every morning:

Once on the other side, I crossed over to the shoreline and started on the Bay Trail.

The view was much better. I could see SFO and the jets taking off and landing. Mt. Diablo was clearly visible on the other side of the bay.

I followed the trail along the water's edge through Burlingame. I came across this restored ship called The Sherman. This was first built in 1922 in North Carolina. It has served as an army transfer ship, military liaison ship, cruise ship and, now, as a restaurant.

After leaving the Sherman, I came up along Coyote Point. This is a small beach area that has seen many an open water triathlon training swim by me and my friends such as Rajeev Char, Tandy and others. I refilled my water bottles here.

Coyote Point is also a county and regional park. I started to climb a small hill overlooking the rocky coastline. Along the trail there were all these purple wildflowers in bloom.

At the top of the hill there is memorial for Merchant Marines killed during World War II.

After coming down the hill, I passed the Coyote Point Marina and continued on the Bay Trail near the shore. Soon, as I was approaching Foster City, the San Mateo bridge came into view.

It was really starting to get warm with temps approaching 90 degrees in Foster City. Good "warm up" for my Death Valley training run next week - forecasts at 111 degrees.

After passing under the bridge I continued on my run. Soon, I could see the towers at Oracle's global headquarters. My office is very near to them. The trail starts to move a bit away from the bay here but still hugs along the wetlands.

I pass by the city of Oracle and enter Redwood Shores. Then into my building. After a quick shower and change of clothes, it was back at the salt mines. I have decided to do this once or twice every week and at least once a month do the return trip after work too so as to make it about a 50 mile day. Take that gas companies!


Baldwyn said...

Sweet commute, great work, Alan! What time did you leave?! I was surprised that Taco Bell was open!

Rajeev said...


Healfth food stores and restaurants open early these days. ;)

Alan - congratulations on a beautiful run.


Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...

If you continue on the 7 mile slough loop in Redwood Shores as Thuesday folks used to do, you can make it a 50K. On coming back, you can run a mile or so to take Caltrain and probably run a few miles to your home in Daly City.

Good job on ultracommuting!


Jean Pommier said...

Great story, Alan. Indeed, Mark had reacted to my post on sustainable running last year with this concept of ultra commuting. Since we are at it, I'll coin another term then, ultra sustainability!

With that, Badwater will seem like a simple commute to Whitney Portal! ;-)

Take care,

Farther Faster

Peter Lubbers said...

Nice scenic run, Alan.
Are you running the Oracle 5K next week?

Alan said...

Baldwin- I left later than I wanted to leave. I had wanted to hit the road around 6:30, but got stuck on a conference call with my European co-workers so left a bit after 8:00. I think I was the person to run for the border that day :)

Raj - Thanks!

Chihping - that's true, I might do that. Soon I will add teh return trip on also.

Jean - can't imagine anything that I do will make Badwater easy.

Peter - Thanks, I am signed up for the 5K but looks like it conflicts with my trip to LA for business and then my Death Valley training run.

Rajeev Char said...

Too cool Alan - Its a good thing you are not running the Oracle 5K - I doubt your body can handle a 5K run! ;)

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Talking about 50 miles round trip ultracommuting (!) I'm impressed, Alan. You truly deserve your chance at Badwater. Thanks for the pics. I think I'll bring my camera to work (or rather on my run to work) someday.