I ran in the San Francisco Examiner Bay To Breakers for my birthday. I was only in the race because of my big mouth.

My fiancee and I were walking along the Embarcadero and I noticed a newspaper box with an advertisement for the race on the side. I also noticed that it was being run this year on my birthday, May 21.

I pointed this out, and Jennifer shouted, "Oh! That's terrific! You're going to run in the Bay To Breakers!"

I, with a puzzled look on my face, replied that I was only pointing out that the race happened to be on my birthday this year. However, once Jen got her teeth into the idea, there was no wrestling it away from her to give it the decent burial it deserved.

So we come to race day, and Jennifer drops me off a few blocks away from the starting line. On my way over, I begin talking with a couple of other guys who are participating in the 7.5 mile event, but aren't running. They are strictly there to see the sights.

Some participants, while well aware of being in a footrace, are known more for their unusual dress than for their fleetness of foot. In addition to the centipedes, this being San Francisco, there are a fair share of drag queens, dykes on bikes (well, not on bikes since it is a foot race), naked men and women, a tiki bar, and the occasional keg in a wheelbarrow.

I was there to run.

We arrive in the starting chute, which is Spear Street near Howard. Spear is wall to wall with people from Folsom to Mission. Howard is packed from Beale to Main, where the 'elite' and seeded runners start at the front of the pack.

We talk until the start time approached, spectating and being pelted with flying tortillas. The crowd started counting down: ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two... one... GO!

We continue standing right where we are for several moments. Finally, after about thirty seconds, we start to move towards Howard street. After another minute, we turn onto Howard and actually move towards the starting line. At four and a half minutes into the race, I finally cross the starting line and have enough room to start jogging. I wave back at my companions and head out.

It's rather awesome to see one of the businer San Francisco thoroughfares carpeted with people.

The race proceeds through the miles and eventually comes to the bottom of the Hayes Street Hill. I used to live in this neighborhood, and would be awakened once a year by the sound of news helicopters. They would be out early on the Sunday morning of the race