I have taken the run commute to an extreme. I have three times now hiked from my home in the Forest Hill neighborhood to the Glen Park BART Station in San Francisco, before catching a flight departing from SFO airport. Although the distance is only 2.8 miles, I have brought luggage. The experiment is at the limit of what I regard as reasonable. The point is to work out before sitting on a plane, because that cramped sedentary situation is not beneficial to the body. My prelude is more of a saunter to the subway than a run commute. I offer this account nonetheless.

Before I clambered out of bed, I hesitated for a moment with characteristic laziness, thinking I could sleep another hour if I resorted to hailing a ride. I had awakened too early as happens due to anxiety. I reminded myself of my responsibility to report on this journey, however, and forced my body to rise.

Once out of warmth and familiarity, you may as well proceed, because there is not likely any return to rest in tranquility in anticipation of the alarm. The dog was no more eager to be taken outside to do her business. She is akin to a miniature furry human being in this regard among others.

Thanks to run commuting, I plan life — or it might be that a propensity to plan life encourages run commuting. I showered and shaved the night before, as I often do. That is another change which is positive. It eases the rush of getting out the door. My face recovers better from the razor with the emollience of lotion that has overnight to take effect. So it’s a brisk rinse with the neti pot, the flossing and brushing of teeth, and once with a comb through the hair, and in three minutes I’m ready. Routines deserve respect.

After I was underway at 5am to catch the BART at 6am, which seemed to be the earliest available, I was pleased to be pursuing my crazy project. If you enjoy solitude at all, and even if you don’t, the perfect period in the morning is before anybody else is awake, since it feels as if you own the universe. You can be exhilarated by the possibilities latent in the world without being disturbed by anyone else. The calm of the environment is a bonus to expecting the break of day. Birds chirping but invisible are not cliche. I may be expressing innate synchronicity with the circadian rhythm. The animals around me probably are happy to be starting on their busy schedules too.

I passed only one other individual who was out and about, as he was exiting his house to catch his ride in a black car. Perhaps he was headed to the same destination by conventional means. He seemed harried though. Perhaps I am imagining it as in contradistinction to the trek I was setting off on.

Once in motion, it is easy to stay in motion. From my house, there is a single hill, gentle but lengthy, up to Juvenile Hall. The arts magnet high school is across an intersection which is heavily trafficked. Beyond that, the road curves back and forth as it descends about 300 feet of elevation. It is the most stimulating of routes nearby to ride on a motorcycle. The sidewalk is broad enough for comfort. The cars speeding along are separated by a guardrail.

Run commuting improves attentiveness to the environment. In the middle of the city is a canyon. Some residents are unaware of it; most never descend into it; drivers glimpse a fraction of the experience. The area was the site of the first factory for manufacturing dynamite. The surrounding neighborhood of Diamond Heights, featuring houses on stilts perched over the ravine, was the last to be developed within the urban core. I have explored the gorge with out-of-town guests, ranking it among my top ten tourist attractions. The signs warning of coyotes prowling there worry me enough though that I don’t bring the pup anymore. That early, you can’t see much detail within it due to the heavy fog. The mist will burn off after the sun has been out a bit.

As I approached the subway station and dawn, the traffic increased. The Glen Park stop is architecturally notable. It is among a handful of Brutalist structures in the Bay Area. The style, which emerged from modernism with the Francophone designation béton brut, is defined by monumental masses of what in English translates as concrete rough/gross, and the misery imposed on unenthusiastic occupants. Although the souls who must occupy these buildings should inspire sympathy, photographers on social media have popularized images of these edifices as if they are abstract art and guide maps are available for the curious. With its inverted skylight forming a shallow “V” above striations of material so solid as to be spiritual, this specific space invites the public that pays no attention to the design. It succeeds while other Brutalist venues, such as the Embarcadero Center downtown, is dystopian at best. Any architecture buff should visit.

The remainder of my expedition covered greater distance by several orders of magnitude but warrants less description for being pedestrian in the figurative sense. I took the train to the airport, the people mover to the terminal, then the jet to SoCal. There was a trivial mishap. My BART card was short fifty cents, but lack of cash necessitated a $2.50 credit card charge to meet the minimum. I could have sworn I read the placard listing fares correctly, and I will remember to confirm that on my next excursion.

For this quick jaunt, there and back in a day, I wore my new Ultimate Direction FastPack 15. On other occasions, I have brought luggage. I am a fan of RedOxx, a company that makes over-engineered gear that is so burly I feel more masculine for carrying their products. With a bag over each shoulder, I am balanced. At twenty pounds per, it is real exercise though — my family calls these “anvil bags,” because they are convinced I have stashed something very weighty inside. I am satisfied to have accomplished something when I arrive, which cannot be said of being a passenger in a vehicle.

The next extension of the endeavor is to try a different route farther out. Making it to the airport on foot is likely impossible; these facilities are not intended to allow access by such means. From LAX, for example, I have more than once attempted to exit on my own locomotion, only to be thwarted by the lack of sidewalks. Cursory research suggests it is not user error, and there is no safe path through the thicket of highways, at least none that is obvious.