Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nothin but Wind

Coach Neil and a member of his half-ironman team, enjoying the weather.

"You are an idgit Rick Gaston" the inner pie hole barked with a grin as I hung on to the vertical slats of the Golden Gate Bridge guard rail, hanging on from being swept down the remaining quarter of the bridge as the wind gust hit at full force. The wind at my back was moving north on the bridge, same direction I was going, the white caps in the water below confirmed the wind direction but I truly believed at that moment that the wind was capable of hitting harder and possibly push me over the railing. I just never know with wind. So there I was hanging on thinking "I must look really stupid right now trying not to get blown away on the bridge". The second thought was "what am I doing here?". I had just passed the second supporting tower, 3/4 of the way across. For most of the crossing the wind was a pleasant but strong push on my back, running felt easy like going downhill. As I passed the last tower that was when I got caught by a strong gust that sent me flying forward. It was like someone running had put their hands on my back and proceeded to push me across. I was running by the railing as a precaution and when I shot forward I instinctively grabbed one of the vertical slats and held on.

Standing there, this time with both arms on the railing, I debated whether to return to the last tower for shelter against more wind gusts or just continue hand over hand on the railing until the wind died down or I made it across. I opted for the latter and moved cautiously until the gust which threatened to up my pace to the 5 minute mile finally died down. Another 50 feet and I was already in the shelter of Marin's hills and safe. In retrospect, had I been more courageous, I could have ridden that wind like a wave. It wasn't trying to throw me off the bridge it was trying to move me down it. However not being in control was an unpleasant feeling, like sliding or slipping and self preservation won out. This whole time I've been typing I've been laughing but believe me I was scared at the time and I don't mind admitting it.

So my newest running injury is a blood blistered and scratched right hand, and a strained forearm and bicep. Opening jars was a bit painful for a few days:)

That moment and the ensuing run in the Headlands was one of the highlights of last Sunday. The storm forecasted didn't hit as hard as it should have in San Francisco, the the worst of it landed North of us. They prepared us for the worst but and the least came, a perfect scenario. Nevertheless it was gloom and rain when I got up in the morning. Ran into Coach Neil's half-ironman training group doing hill repeats by the bridge but for the most part it was quiet out there.

After getting off the bridge I met up with my good friend Jason A. who was running part of my route with me. Jason doesn't like running across the bridge because it's all concrete. I don't blame him. I hate running across the bridge on a normal day. The first thing I told him was "I almost got blown off the bridge (an exaggeration) and that we are going to get blown off the ridge we planned to run", the second was "can I get a ride back to SF later?". To the first he said "no way, I didn't drive her for nothing" and to the second he quipped "you are a wuss". He meant the first and joked about the latter or maybe he meant both. I'll have to box his ears next time. I'll have to wait until he's tying his shoes since he's over 6 feet tall. The run went well and the wind brought out some strange sounds I've never heard before. It would be dead quiet in the valleys and furiously loud at the top of the hills and ridges. Once while zipping along at a fine speed, the wind pushed me enough that I nailed a rock with my foot and was sent scrambling on the side of the trail to keep myself from going down. Those of you who have caught yourselves from slipping know that it can be a painful experience, muscles tighten, incredible sudden strain on the back and legs; however, the section was rocky and I'm sure it would have hurt more sprawled on top of it. I just had to laugh. Such is life sometimes no? A carefully laid out plan disrupted by something beyond our control. Nevertheless we do what we can, sometimes with the grace of a dancer with two left feet but we keep on moving forward.

And so it goes.

DSCN3557.JPGDSCN3558.JPGJason A. Lots of wind through the trees and the ridges.


  1. That is some crazy wind!! I am glad you made it off ok and it does sound scary!

  2. What tha!!! That's cra-zay dude!

  3. It's amazing how easy it is to go into freak out mode on that bridge when the wind gets high. I remember walking two of my kids across it when they were younger (7 and 4), and clenching their hands for dear life because I was convinced they'd get blown over the side. I can't fault you for being extra cautious.

  4. ahhh Mother Nature she is a wild one and doesn't care that we are just training and please leave us be :-)

    Careful of those winds!!

    98 friggin' Days to GO til Kettle Time, haha ...Come on ADD the Countdown timer on ur blog and STRESS with me my friend !!!

  5. When I run in the wind it always makes me think about running on the golden gate :) Glad you stayed safe and didn't let that wind push you around too much

  6. Aw, I can't imagine running over there. Did you ever try running with a parachute---just in case? :) I tried walking over there with a 6-month old baby in my tummy and I tell you it was difficult. I don't recommend you try it :)

  7. I have this irrational fear of running over bridges,and the wind would not make me feel at ease at all. I felt the fear, but it was my own as I read your re-cap of the situation. I am a big baby!

  8. Ackk! I hate wind! That would freak me out too, especially since I'm a bit scared of heights as well. Glad you didn't get blown over! : )

  9. Yes YOU ARE AN IDGIT Rick,you should have worn weight belts that day or a parachute! Anyho be careful out there.

  10. Wow, does that first picture in your post look ominous! Glad you didn't get blown off the bridge!

    The description of your run is awesome. I can't imagine what that is like to go from the calm valleys to the windy ridges like that. What a contrast.

    Great post!

  11. Rick! My goodness! No running across the bridge when it's like that!

    I know how you felt! While I was cycling home from work on Friday, I came around the corner of the last tower and was BLOWN off my bike. So scary.

  12. You know if you get blown away, who am I going to see on my trips to SF? Please hang on tight! And Jas running? That is way cool!!!

  13. That would scare the begeezzus out of me...yikes!!

    Glad you made it back home safe and sound