San Francisco Meetup - May 14th 2010
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I had signed up for my second Bay To Breakers race way back in February. My only other time in San Francisco was the 2007 B2B. As it was my first time, I came down a couple of days early to tour around and see the city, on foot. I did some google map tracking and determined that during the 2 days prior to the race, I walked at least 30 miles. Needless to say, I saw a lot of the city but was also quite sore on race day.
This year I decided to come in early again but wanted a more leisurely ramp up to race day.
As my co-runners weren’t arriving until Saturday afternoon, I had Friday night all to myself. That is until I remembered Travel Buddy. I put out a feeler on the meet up forums about getting together with other B2B runners/walkers/watchers to see if there were any others travel buddies in a similar situation. Almost immediately I got a note from Wonder_Girl (Phyllis) in Atlanta expressing interest in a meetup.
And so the ball started rolling, slowly at first, then a couple others signing on, then off even before I had picked a venue.
As I had only been in town once before, my lack of knowledge of good meetup venues was eclipsed on my limited knowledge of the safe neighborhoods to scout them out in. Venue size, parking, public transportation, cost, menu, fall back options, etc.
After a month of internet research, I remembered the area between the financial district and North Beach, along Columbus Ave was a Little Italy (Not sure if the locals consider it to be L.I.). But there are lots of people out and about, cafes, restaurants, and bars. Well lit and lots of activity.
Somehow I came across the website for O’Reilly’s Pub and restaurant and just felt like it was the right place. I updated the invite and waited for the confirmed list to grow with eager travel buddies looking for something to do before the race.
I waited quite a while once the confirmed list hit 4 then back to 3 when one of the runners had to pull out of the trip due to a bad heat stroke during a run.
I know how travelers are though. Not wanting to commit to plans in far off places until they have their full itinerary planned out. I waited until early May to send out emails to TB’ers who had indicated that they were going to be in town on May 14th for whatever reason. Probably 20 people but didn’t get much response let alone interest. I did have help with the invite, Wonder_Girl was quietly watching the travel boards from her home in Atlanta and dropping personal invites to people that looked like they might be in the area. Still not many new confirms. I ultimately bit the bullet and sent out about 100 invites to local folks who might be interested.
As the date came closer the list of confirmed and maybes started to grow, mostly locals.
I realized about a week before that I wasn’t even sure how big of a venue O’Reilly’s was and how many people they could accommodate. I sent an email through their website and almost immediately got a note back from the owner himself, Myles O’Reilly, saying that they were eager to have us and that he was an avid runner himself in his younger days. He added that O’Reilly’s was a popular hangout for San Francisco’s Team in Training (Not exactly sure what they were training for but sign me up).
Finally Friday afternoon arrived. Checked into my hotel, picked up my race packet and walked from my hotel near Union Sq up over telegraph hill (Ugh) and then to Green and Columbus. Taking a seat at the bar and waited for the fun to begin.
O’Reilly’s is a real Irish Pub (Not to be confused with O’Reilly’s Holy Grail Pub which I don’t know anything about). Dark, lots of wood and plenty of locals. Sunny sidewalk seating but it was chilly so I stayed inside.
This was my first meetup and didn’t know anyone beyond their profile pictures and various travel photos. I didn’t make a sign or wear anything that would cal me out to anyone so I learned my lesson there. Instead I just watched the door for anyone that looked tentative about entering and tied to catch their eye once they adjusted to the dark bar. First in was sf_zen_giirlie (Linda). We greeted, got a drink at the bar and continued watching for more people, Next up was wmcpat (Bill). With three of us now, we headed for a table on the restaurant side. Soon after we sat down, Wonder_ Girl and her sister, Hajihao(Leona) came in. Leona brought her 20 year old daughter so the restaurant side was a perfect solution to allow us all to sit together when one couldn’t drink. It was a nice chat all around. As expected, travel stories flowed like cheap happy hour beer. Just as we were winding down,
Mattyd78(Matthew) came up to the table and introduced himself. The new blood added some energy to the meetup and we decided to move to a new place. Linda suggested a little café across the street, the name of which escapes me at the moment. As we were putting in our order, Tampopo (Shizue) showed up with a great big smile. Happy I think to have finally gotten through S.F. Traffic and meetup with us.
We stayed for another hour or so before it was time to head back to our respective homes for the evening.
Thanks to everyone that showed up.
Looking forward to next year already.