san francisco, 0630: my old-timey alarm clock brayed at me to get out of the factory just as my sister and brother-in-law's sang them a futuristic awakening song in the next room. we pulled on an assortment of synthetic fabrics, took turns making coffee with their single-cup dripper, and set out across the bay bridge for a trail race down in alameda county. none of us had heard of the race before i found it on a california roundup calendar, and it was my first trail run; i imagined something like the mudder they'd done a year ago. in practice it was more civilized than my last half marathon had been: no more than a hundred runners at our distance, and they spread out over the first couple of miles. it felt a bit like we three were alone. we followed trail flags along a creek to the mouth of a shallow canyon, executing a little curlicue at the end. my hands sweltered in my skeleton gloves, so i passed them to my sister. a vulture hunched on a fence post around mile 4; a snow-white pelican paddled around down in the creek around mile 5. volunteers beneath a pavilion at the finish line covered picnic tables with paper plates of trail mix, torn peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, haphazard piles of pumpkin pie. a little bluetooth speaker played mid-'90s cure singles, and the late-morning sun burned away the fog.