Muscleman of musclemen, horse-hung seducer of broads and boys alike, you are the god (well, half) who bridges metrosexuals and mixed-martial arts. Heracles, your 12 labors—from throttling the Nemean lion to bitch-slapping three-headed Cerberus—are testament to the miracles of masculinity and, millennia later, San Diego's sweat-soaked amateur athletes still attempt to match your physique. Good-natured Argonaut, we hope you see fit to bequest your bulked-up blessings to these venues of vigor.
Best place to run on concrete
Although I like running in Balboa Park, navigating the gauntlet of humanity there can sometimes throw off my rhythm, and running alongside automobiles in operation is never my optimal choice. I can just feel all that particulate matter setting up permanent shop in my lungs. The best time and place to run in San Diego is Wednesday evening at Mission Bay Park. I say Wednesday because that's when the San Diego Running Meetup group does a five-mile jaunt that starts where Clairemont Drive meets the bay and then heads south past Fiesta Island, nearly to SeaWorld and then all the way back. Sure, there are lots of people around at the beginning and at the end, but many of them are doing the same thing you're doing: getting exercise and generally heading in either the same or directly opposite direction. It's pretty orderly. But the best part is when you break out of the more populated area to the north and the path widens as you turn west toward SeaWorld. If you can hit that leg of the run as the sun is setting, it's pure San Diego bliss.
Best troupe of burly men to get your Greco-Roman on with
“Exposed Back,” “Asian Mist” and “Facebuster.” No, they're not posting titles found on craigslist's Casual eEcounters section but, rather, wrestling moves you can familiarize yourself with on Thursdays and Sundays at The Center in Hillcrest, thanks to San Diego Bulldogs Wrestling, the city's only year-round open / veterans-division wrestling club. Head coach Greg Lines says it's a combination of “determination, hard work, willingness to sweat and not being afraid of taking a tumble” that makes for a good wrestler. The club is open to all skill levels and currently has members ranging in age from 19 to 77. Leave your high-school technique at the door because freestyle is the wresting-style du jour. That means arms and legs may be used to defend against attacks and execute holds, assuring what Sdwrestling.org describes as “explosive non-stop action.” Up next for them are the Vegas Nationals and a “non-exploitational reality documentary” that's currently being pitched to several TV networks. Bring your singlet, and remember: No poking, gouging or blows below the belt.
Best place to ride your bike and maybe collect some golf balls
Hands down, for combining beautiful views, wide bike lanes, an ocean breeze, lots of places to buy Diet Coke and a chance to fill your pockets with golf balls, the cake is handily taken by the stretch along North Torrey Pines Road, up through UCSD and then past the hospital, along Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course up to the driving range. Sure, there are probably prettier bike rides. And there are other driving ranges that have overshot-golf-ball-collecting opportunities, but this route combines them all. Grind up the grueling Genesee hill (even better if you've got a single-speed), say hi to some earnest engineering students working on a Sunday, breathe in the azure Pacific and then grab a dozen golf balls from the curb, the gutter, the center divider and the surrounding bushes of the highway. Head down the hill to Torrey Pines State Beach, make a long marble-maze chute in the wet sand and send your golf balls down it one by one by one, rolling into the sea. But don't let them actually enter the sea, because golf balls don't float, and that would be polluting.
Best workout with a purpose
The brainchild of AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America)-certified trainer Brian Bischof, Charity Workouts (www.charityworkouts.org) is the city's only donation-based boot-camp-style workout program. Sessions are held every weekend on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Redwood Street in Bankers Hill, and 100 percent of the $5 suggested contribution goes to San Diego charities. “It's hard for people to afford a personal fitness session given the current state of the economy, but harder still for local charities to stay afloat,” the push-ups philanthropist says of his motivation. So far, for example, Bischof's endeavor has raised more than $4,000 for Outdoor Outreach, a coalition helping at-risk youth.
Best place to get cured of MRSA by a kindly old gentleman with great bedside manner
If you're going to get Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in your armpit (which I can't say I recommend), then you might as well get it treated by Dr. John A. Berger in Hillcrest (205 Walnut Ave.). He's a sweet, white-haired grampa-type who talked me through an incredibly painful lancing procedure by quizzing me about my favorite Cormac McCarthy novels. You can tell the guy's old-school—Civil War-reenactment magazines in the waiting room instead of Us Weekly, rad watercolors of locomotives and horses on the walls and, best of all, he made my highly contagious, antibiotics-defying bacterial infection go away (huge selling point). I was super-embarrassed and grossed out by myself, and he made me feel better, too, by telling a story about a woman who left her tampon in for too long, despite Nurse Lorraine's appeals for better taste. But if somebody is staring at a golf-ball-sized cyst in your sweat gland, being told that some other clown is nastier than you are can be a huge plus. So, thank you, Dr. Berger and Lorraine, you made me feel ungross again.
Best group of folks to learn how to defeat a Minotaur with
So what if it lands you on PETA's shit list? Founded almost 50 years ago, as an “organization dedicated to the appreciation, advancement, understanding, and promotion of the bullfight,” Club Taurino de Chula Vista (www.ctcv.org) is San Diego's lone alliance of bullfighting aficionados—not to mention the only one in the country with its own clubhouse boasting an array of memorabilia, several trophies (tails and ears) and its own bar. “It surely is considered controversial; some of our members don't talk about it outside [the taurine] community,” says club VP Bill Clark, adding that “people outside the fiesta brava only talk about the killing of the bull; we look at it as a unique art form and value its cultural tradition.” Not everything is death and gore; the club has a warm and fuzzy side. It has funded the adoption of canyon in Tijuana and supported a Tecate orphanage for boys. Current activities include TJ excursions and social gatherings.
Best way to escape the city and be back for happy hour
An hour's drive on roads that become gradually narrower leads you to the Cuyamaca Mountains, a mecca for San Diego hikers. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is one of California's largest, with more than 100 miles of trails through forests that will make you wonder if you somehow beamed to Vermont—they're green in the summer, changing to fiery golds, reds and maroons in the fall and blanketed by snow in the winter. For a scenic, comprehensive hike, check out the East Mesa Loop (10.5 miles), or for a mellower stroll and a chance to see some Native American artifacts, Azalea Glen Trail (three miles) is a great choice. Ask at the ranger station for details (www.cuyamaca.us). Either way, to completely fulfill your country fix, stop by a farm stand in neighboring Julian for road snacks and maybe even spring for a romantic night at a cabin at Lake Cuyamaca, which runs about $50 a night.
Best non-restaurant to satisfy the hunger of even the most discerning athlete
Situated by a restroom station and with a walkway flanked by two towering semi-truck-container-style mobile storage units, the Morley Field Disc Golf Pro Shop has been serving up the good stuff since 1978. Dating back to 708 B.C. as one of the ancient pentathlon events of the early Olympiad, the discus throw has long been a popular competitive event, and its marriage to golf was the best pairing since mac met cheese. Completing the course is sure to leave you longing for a quick nosh. Along with a variety of more than 110 different discs, the shop sells a seemingly infinite selection of snacks, including turkey jerky and Tiger's Milk bars. It also offers a vast selection of microwavable delights ranging from White Castle sliders to barbecued pork sandwiches. Best part is nothing on the menu costs more than three bucks. “Snickers bars and water are our all-time best-sellers. Funny thing is, they've also been priced pretty much the same all this time,” says grounds manager Snapper Pierson, who is also a course pro and Disc Golf Hall of Fame member. “A bottle of water would cost you a dollar 32 years ago, and it still does today.”