Until last Sunday, rather astonishingly, the last time I had run any serious distance outside the UK was over Christmas 2009 in France when I started to get back into running after 3 months with my feet up. However, since I landed in Seattle six days ago, for the book tour of The Lure of Long Distances, (the US edition of Why We Run), I’ve been trying to make up for that as much as possible.
Arriving at the hotel down on the waterfront I dug out my Serpie top – the only bit of clothing that didn’t look like it had been ironed by a three-year-old – and headed out into a very stiff Alaskan wind. Alaska! I promise never to complain about a breeze up the Thames ever again. It wasn’t a long run, just enough to get the legs going again as the main event was to come the following night with the Seattle Running Club.
We met at the Fleet Feet Running Store on Capitol Hill and Adam, Sarah, Danielle and I wove a course through the afluent suburbs of Seattle before convening to talk about all things running. It was only then that I found out that these streets and this shop, when it was the Seattle Running Company, was where Scott Jurek’s story had begun. This was what Americans call ‘a significant moment’ for me. Next stop was San Francisco. What, I wondered, could better the fun had in Seattle?
I was in SF for two bookstore events, and the first was at Book Passage, a rainswept car journey across Golden Gate Bridge. I knew that this was Karnazes country, and I had my patter ready about having one up on the great man since he had never taken on the Spartathlon. (He had just run across America). Five minutes into the talk and someone coughed, ‘you do know that he lives up the road?’ This was said as a statement of fact, rather than a threat, but it was an amusing way of being put back in my place.
My next engagement was not until the following evening and, not really having adapted to the new time zone I was waking up at 4am every morning. After an hour of reading Crime and Punishment my legs began to twitch. If you ever pass through San Francisco then run out to Golden Gate Bridge and watch the sun come up over Alcatraz. I won’t even attempt here to do justice to the experience, but I will upload some photos when my iPhone starts working again.
Now it’s time for New York. I’ve only just arrived so need to get my bearings, but the map suggests that Central Park is just on my doorstep. Then it’s on to Dayton, Ohio and then home where the news is that the boy has been swimming for the first time and building sandcastles on the beach. It’s been a fanastic trip, but I’d be lying if I said I can’t wait to get home to see him and Mrs H.