Today I went to meet the folks of the South End Rowing Club. These guys and gals are hardcore. They row and swim in the waters of the harbour. I was introduced to someone who had just swum the English Channel. I felt like a right wimp in comparison.
I was given a tour of their historic boathouse, right next to Fisherman's Wharf, a mere dolphin's spit away from the Golden Gate Bridge.
After a slap-up breakfast at a local Irish pub, I wandered down to the waterfront to contemplate the bridge. The fog was hanging low over the top of the pylons, and a strong onshore wind was stopping a skein of birds in their tracks. But the chill I felt wasn't just from the weather.
This time next year, this is where it will all start from. Knowing what I now know about how tough it can be out there, it's a daunting prospect. And it will be all the harder because of the great friends I will be leaving behind.
Not a lot of people know this, but if the world's discarded printer cartridges from one year were stacked end-to-end, they would circle the earth over 3 times.
Not a lot of people know this either - that a printer cartridge thrown into a landfull can take up to 450 years to decompose. To put that in context, 450 years ago Mary Tudor was Queen of England, before we'd even had Elizabeth I, let alone Elizabeth II. As for America, it had only just been discovered...
I became aware of these startling facts when I went to Cartridge World to replace my iP90 cartridge, and found to my delight that they offer a refill service, which is not only more environmentally friendly, but also financially friendly, costing about half the price of a new cartridge.
While they were topping up my ink, I popped over the road to Whole Foods Market for some environmentally friendly grocery shopping. (When I say 'popped' over the road, it took a while. The lights changed in favour of the cars about 100 times more often than in favour of pedestrians. The price you pay for a clear environmental conscience...)
So all in all, my environmental halo was shining. This is the delicious irony of California - there are so many planet-friendly options, while this state is also the most consumerist society in the world. The ultimate expression of free will.
I hadn't been to Haight-Ashbury since 1994, when I was here with my then-boyfriend, later husband, now ex-husband but still good friend.
In 1994 we stayed with a friend's cousin in an apartment just a few yards from the historic crossroads, an apartment where Janis Joplin used to live. The hoboes on the street claimed to remember where they'd left her stash. But surely, if you can remember the 60's, you weren't really there?
I went back there last Friday with Pireeni, a friend from my Oxford days, and now a successful poet living on Castro Street. I've been to see her a couple of times since I got here, and both times have arrived at her place a quivering wreck after negotiating the streets of San Francisco.
You're driving up a street so steep that all you can see is the car bonnet and blue sky, and you're just praying that the lights don't change to red. If they do... I haven't sweated a hill start so much since I passed my driving test 20 years ago.
(To be said in a Hollywood movie trailer dramatic voice) Once in a decade, there comes a piece of software that can change your life...
Ever wonder where the day went? (Or even worse, where the year went?) You get to the end of the day and although you feel like you've been crazy-busy, you don't seem any nearer to achieving your goals than you were at the start?
This was happening to me. A lot. And with a number of immoveable deadlines I felt the need to find out where my time was going.
Yesterday I was talking on the phone with Todd (soon to be officially confirmed as my manager, with particular responsibility for sponsorship), and he put me onto WorkTimer, a cute little Mac tool from Norway that he uses to track his time. 'So I can tell you we've been on this phone call for 56 minutes,' he said. (56 minutes?! Well, we did have a lot to discuss.)
I duly downloaded (it's free), so I can tell you that it is now 12 minutes since I started writing this blog.
At the end of the day, or the week, you can copy and paste the individual time items into a spreadsheet, and find out just where your time went.
I thought I'd left time-reporting behind when I left management consultancy, but I guess it does have its uses, even if these days I don't get to charge anybody for my time. It may at least stop me indulging my email-addiction under the happy illusion that I am working.
After all, as Carl Sandburg said, 'Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.'
I see Gersh has got an app called 3Athlete as well. Must check that one out for tracking my marathon training.