My Crazy, Busy but Blessed Life

I got home from Mexico on June 3rd. That was 25 days ago. But it feels like months. Since that day, I have kept quite busy and thought that I would share snip-its of what I’ve been up to with a list and some pictures. So far in the month of June I have:

– attended birthday parties for two friends (both with amazingly delicious, home-cooked meat!)

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– driven through LA to Turlock, CA to spend time with my boyfriend’s family and explore the town where he grew up

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– gone on walks, seen movies, or grabbed meals with some of my favorite people

– taken care of a pair of adorable cats for a week

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– attended my first four Spanish classes (and take my first test!)

– gone on several incredibly fun local dates with Sean

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– flown to VA/NC for my friend Paige’s bachelorette weekend

DSCN1209The list could go on and on, but I don’t want to bore y’all. I think you get the point by now that I have been loving life… even if it’s been a bit crazy 🙂 On top of all of this fun stuff, I have been working 25-30 hours a week at Halstrom Academy. For those of you that don’t remember, it’s the same company I taught and wrote curriculum for before I moved. I’m loving my group of students this semester and am really enjoying being back in the classroom.

Going forward, I will try to update some more but I will be honest with y’all… I am going to be all over the United States this summer with another trip to NC/VA, a long weekend in CO, a drive up to SF, and a flight to Iowa. All before Labor Day. But you know I love it and I wouldn’t change my wanderer lifestyle for the world, especially since all of those trips involved celebrating special people doing incredible and wonderful things (race and weddings)! For now, I’m going to stretch my legs before boarding a flight from RDU to ORD on my way home from an amazing weekend at Wrightsville Beach… more on that soon!

Hanna Flats Camping

Last weekend, thirteen of us went to a campground near Big Bear Lake. We came from various parts of southern California and stayed varying amounts of time. Some spent four days and three nights while others stayed just one day and one night. We had two campsites at Hanna Flats Campground, a place with around 100 plots but no showers. Most of our neighbors had off-road vehicles or mountain bikes, but some were in RVs as well. Of my friends, some of us hike and camp frequently while others were borrowing equipment to car camp for the first time at least in a while. We even had two dogs with us for part of the weekend!

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Last Labor Day, a similar group went to Laguna Campground in Cleveland National Forest. We had such a good time that I decided to organize another trip. We learned last time that being in the mountains makes things cooler and increases the chances of lakes having water. So I looked into the San Bernardino Forest this time around. Unfortunately, many campgrounds do not take reservations and we never want to mess with first-come, first-serve. Especially when people are coming at different times from different places. So I picked Hanna Flats because of its proximity to Big Bear Lake and its availability (I booked the last two adjoining sites back in February).

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I was part of the first group up, arriving around 5pm. We set up several tents, unpacked our gear, and went into Big Bear City for dinner. The place we chose, Thelma’s Family Restaurant and Bakery, had home-cooked comfort food. It was decent food, but the pastries and pies looked amazing! We resisted, knowing our weekend would be full of food and snacks. Our group had decided to divide up meals, making each person responsible for one and a pair of us coordinating dinners. This kept supplies simple and divided the responsibility of shopping for and preparing the food. It seemed to work well and I enjoyed not knowing what we were having each day. It also saved me the hassle of guessing portions and items for everyone for the whole trip!

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Twelve of us trickled into camp that night and quickly put on every layer of clothes we brought. Temperatures dropped into the mid-30s and the firewood we had wasn’t burning very hot. That night was cold and restless for many of us, as our sleeping bags and blankets failed to protect us from the temperatures. But the sun came out Saturday morning and spirits rose with the temperature. A delicious and warm breakfast of eggs and bacon helped too! Our plan was to hike Castle Rock trail, a short but steep two-mile trek near the lake that promised amazing views and a rock scramble. Everyone made it up without a problem and we enjoyed running around on the rocks for a while, talking to fellow hikers and enjoying the scenery.

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After wandering back down along several different routes, we went back to camp for an easy lunch of chicken salad croissant sandwiches with sides of chips and fruit. Most of Saturday afternoon was spent relaxing around camp in various forms. Several people napped, a group of us played card and dice games, we gathered firewood for that evening, a group played bocce around the sites, some read books, and we were all serenaded by a guitar. The beauty of a group that large was that there always seemed to be someone else interested in what you wanted to do, and you didn’t have to feel bad for breaking off from the herd. As the sun dropped and the cold rolled in, we cranked up the fire for dinner. In true camping fashion, an assortment of sausages, hot dogs, buns, and beans was on the menu and they hit the spot! We played games and told stories by the campfire until it was time for bed.

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Sunday morning started with another big breakfast of pancakes and bacon before a group of us headed into Fawnskin, the town on our side of the lake, to explore their park and quaint shops. Then we broke into several groups, some hanging at camp and some exploring different areas right around camp. I went up into the hills to check out a rock fortress, inhabited by a few rogue middle-school boys. The views were impressive and we had fun climbing and scrambling about. Lunch on Sunday was a gourmet PB&J bar, with more types of jelly, jam, and peanut butter than you can imagine. Bananas, banana chips, regular chips, and honey were also seen making their way onto a variety of breads.

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Around 2:30pm, most of us hit the trails again to hike Cougar Crest Trail. Another 750+ feet of elevation gain, but this time spread over a four-mile round-trip trek. The summit of this trail met up with the Pacific Crest Trail and we paused to enjoy the scenery while several of us ate our packed PB&Js. We made it back down without any issues, as all of the trails were well marked and populated. After our hike, there were more games and bocce around camp until it was time for dinner. This time we were treated to beef and chicken kebabs, grilled over the fire. It’s no surprise that we devoured these along with the rest of the leftover food. After night fell and most of the group went to their tents, three of us hiked up to a group of large, flat rocks to watch the stars. The moon was almost too bright, but we were able to enjoy the peace and quiet while searching for constellations.

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Our last morning at camp started off like the rest, with pancakes and eggs to warm our bellies. The temperatures had risen throughout the course of the weekend but the highs never got out of the 50s. Several groups headed out to get back to reality while a small group hiked around camp for a bit before leaving. Sean and I decided that we wanted to get out on the lake while we were there, so we drove into Fawnskin and rented a canoe. I love being out on the water and it was good exercise to paddle against the windy and choppy conditions. We didn’t see much wildlife, but we could look up the hills at where we’d been hiking and enjoy the views along the lake. There were a number of pontoon and powerboats out, but the lake wasn’t overly crowded.

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Heading back down the mountain, we were fortunate to miss most of the holiday weekend traffic. Overall, it was a wonderful weekend away from the world and I appreciated the time spent “unplugged” with my friends. We are still trying to find the perfect camping spot that isn’t too hot or too cold and has enough water but not too much population. For now, I can just be grateful to have friends that enjoy escaping to nature like I do! Thanks to everyone that came out and for those that feel like they missed out, let’s all plan another trip soon 🙂

Tinkerbell Half Marathon 2015

I should start by saying that this was my eighth half marathon since I started running long distances in 2011. I should also comment that I went to Disney World once, when I was five, and my favorite ride was It’s a Small World. I’ve lived 1.5 hours from Disneyland for almost three years now and have never been. I’m not anti-Disney, but I’m also not a fanatic. The average pace for my previous seven half marathons has been right at two hours, but I ran the La Jolla Half two weeks ago in 2:07. The past six months have been extremely busy for me so training has not been a priority. So knowing all of that, how did I find myself standing on the streets of Anaheim at 5:30am Sunday morning? It’s simple… my friends asked me to do it 😉

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Ready for my eighth half marathon!

I say that jokingly because back in August… July? September? Sometime in 2014. My friend from high school, Claire, mentioned that she was running the Disney Princess Half at Disney World in February. Not only that, but she was considering doing a “Coast-to-Coast Challenge” and her husband would feel better if she had someone to run or at least travel with her to Disneyland in May, 2015. I’m always down for having running/race buddies, so naturally I said yes! We convinced two other high school friends living in California to join us as well and the cast was complete. Fast forward through moving away from San Diego, through traveling to Argentina, through moving into North Carolina, and finally through moving BACK to San Diego and finally race weekend was upon us. Here’s the basics of our weekend… there was a lot going on, so try to keep up!

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Picking up my bib at the expo

Claire – She arrived from Philly on Wednesday night, ran the Neverland 5k Friday, then completed the Pixie Dust Challenge by completing both the Tink 10K on Saturday and the Tinkerbell Half Marathon on Sunday. She’s a mother of two adorable boys and only started running distance races six months ago. Tink was her third of four half marathons in a month. Crazy, right?! As previously mentioned, Claire was the one that got us all involved and her love for everything runDisney was very apparent as she cleaned out the merchandise tent;) But her enthusiasm was contagious all weekend!

Karen – I arrived from North County, San Diego on Thursday night, got up early and supported the others in their running of the Tink 10k on Saturday and then raced the Tinkerbell Half on Sunday. In spite of not being in conditioned shape, I really wanted to RACE and see what happened. I tend to get complacent during events and I knew stopping and starting (even for Disney character pictures) would kill my legs, which were still recovering from my last race. My “I’ll be happy” goal was to beat 2:07 and my “I’ll be ecstatic” goal  was to break two hours. I also agree to wings and tutus… but only if the other girls picked them out for me.

Kelly – She arrived on Friday night from San Diego, sported her fairy wings and tutu like a champ while completing the Pixie Dust Challenge as well. She also ran La Jolla two weeks ago and is in great shape from aerial yoga and TRX training. Sadly, this was our last race together for a while because at the end of the month she’s moving back to the East Coast where we all grew up. Kelly served as our massage therapist for the weekend and (thankfully) offered to compress, stretch, and de-knot our tired muscles.

Jenny – She arrived later Friday night from Santa Monica from a Flash Mob with her Dancing Classrooms students. She has been battling tendonitis and leg pain for almost two months, but completed all 19.3 miles of the Pixie Dust Challenge with a smile. With the possible exception of Claire, Jenny was the most excited about everything Disney and rocked her custom-made Mickey and Minnie TOMS in between races. She took running guru Jeff Galloway’s advice to alternate running and walking to get her through only her second half marathon ever!

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Jenny (in Minnie ears), Claire (in orange), and Kelly (in blue) finishing the Tink 10K!

Now that you know all about the girls, let’s talk about the actual race and how it went for me. I tried a new strategy this race, just to see what happened. I typically start conservatively and then pick up the pace the last few miles as I gain confidence in my ability to finish. I know I should be past that now, especially after finishing the SF Marathon last July, but it’s still hard for me to really think of myself as a runner. I also tend to “trust my training” but I didn’t really train so much for this race. Before La Jolla I only got up to 6.68 miles and then two weeks ago I had that race as a “training run” for Tinkerbell. So I wanted to go out with 9:00 miles to begin and try to hold those through the park, which we excited around mile six. Then I figured even if I slowed to my usual pace around 9:30/mile, I would still beat 2:07. La Jolla runs up and over Torrey Pines, which is a considerable hill, and I knew Anaheim would be a much flatter setting which should help my legs survive.

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I was happy to be a proud spectator on Saturday… congrats girls!

From the time Tinkerbell said “Go!”, I felt only okay. I thoroughly enjoyed running through the different neighborhoods of Disneyland, even if I didn’t stop for character photos. Once I break stride in a race, it’s all over. But I spent most of this first hour checking out the scenery, the rides, and the cast members along the course. I was so distracted by my surroundings that I surprised myself by coming through the 10k marker in 55:13, which was 8:54/mile pace! However, I knew that this was when the real race would begin for me. My muscles weren’t used to long distances, I didn’t have cool stuff to look at on the streets of Anaheim, and the people on the sidelines were going to thin out. I ate the first half of my Shot Blocks and reminded myself that I was almost halfway through and that if I needed to slow down, I could.

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Kelly, Jenny, Claire and I before the half marathon 🙂

Miles seven to nine felt SLOW to me. The sun came out, we went through the “quiet please” neighborhood, and my legs were starting to hurt. But each time I passed a mile marker and heard my MapMyRun update my pace, I was still maintaining fairly well! At the 15k (9.3 mile) point, my time was 1:23 which was 8:59 pace. This was when my mind switched gears. I did the math and felt confident for the first time during the race that I would actually beat my 2:07 goal. But now was the question of whether or not I could pull out a sub-2:00 performance. I was definitely not convinced. But I am also fiercely competitive with myself and knew I had to try. So I ate the second half of Shot Blocks around mile ten and kept on plugging. My right hip flexor and the top bones in my right foot were starting to hurt but I tried to focus on not altering my stride for fear of causing pain elsewhere. Luckily, I was trailing two very nice ladies who were in the same running group but didn’t really know each other, so I could eavesdrop on them while distracting myself. I also told myself that if they could hold this pace while talking normally, I could do it while staying silent.

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Daisy and Minnie cheering on the Tink 10k finishers!

Mile twelve saw the second time through an underpass, which served as the only real hill on the course. I love hills and really took advantage of the chance to alter my stride for a short time. My mile split that mile was 8:20… oops? Mile thirteen I was pretty spent. I did appreciate the bands, color guards, dance teams, and cheerleaders that lined the second half of this course and never as much as that last mile. I knew from the mile marker clocks that I had eleven minutes to run the last 1.1 miles and I knew I would do it… but I also knew that I would not be running a PR. This hadn’t even really crossed my mind until that point, as it’s a 1:57:09, and I was totally fine with that. I tried to really enjoy the last straight-away of the race and even remembered to cross over and hi-five Mickey Mouse just before the finish line. My official time was 1:58:55, my fourth fastest half marathon time to date, and I was super pleased. After the race I did get ice from the medical tent and made several trips to the port-o-john’s while waiting for my fellow fairies. Seems like my stomach needs the long training runs more than my legs do, lol.

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Map of the course, according to MapMyRun

I was able to track the other girls the rest of the way in and watched them finish, which was just as fun as crossing the line myself! Overall, I really enjoyed the weekend with these lovely ladies and I was happy with my performance, especially given my training. The race was very well supported from what I saw, with tons of course marshals, spectators, aid stations, and entertainment. While I’m not sure I would sign up for the whole Disney experience on my own, it was nice to have a race where I could start in the first corral and not even have elite runners in front of me. The medal we got with the spinning Tinkerbell was pretty great too! Of course it goes without saying that my favorite part was spending 3+ days hanging out with old friends while being active and achieving our goals. I’m so proud of them and the rest of the women (and few men) that raced this past weekend. Now it’s time for a few weeks of active rest for me before my summer race season kicks off!

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Claire, Kelly, myself and Jenny at the finish… WE DID IT!!

Lovely Ladies in my Life

I should start this post by saying that I grew up with TONS of guy friends. I have never been a “girly girl” or a “princess” or stayed up late braiding hair and painting nails… okay, maybe once or twice in college. In college, my friend circle shifted from 80% male to 50/50 male/female. Since college, I have found myself surrounded by amazing ladies and I love it! My core contacts from the east coast are women that I’ve known for 10+ years and I find myself constantly calling, texting and snapchatting them. They are the council members of my life and I couldn’t make it without them. That being said, I have been developing a growing network of girls here in California that I love SO much. Most of us are in a book club together and all of them are amazingly beautiful women, inside and out. Some I’ve actually known from back in Virginia while others became friends through church, kickball, or other friends.

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This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with them! A while back, we bought a Groupon to go wine tasting at Miramonte Winery in Temecula. This is wine country for southern California and I’ve only been to one vineyard once, for a wedding last year. We were excited to taste some delicious wines, get a tour of the grounds, and learn a bit about wine identification. But really just tasting the delicious wines. Our tour director was pretty good, used his canned jokes while he explained the history of the place, and stuck to his automatic pourer for portions. Boo. Luckily most of us had preferences on which wines we liked so we shared the extras around our circle. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the scenery could not have been prettier! We also got to peek into the wine cellar where wine was being aged in $5,000 barrels. Insane!

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After our walking tour with the white wines, we moved inside the tasting room for a lesson on pairings and identification. It was interesting to learn about color circles and legs and clarity in red wines, even though they aren’t my favorite to drink. In theory, I can now tell you how old and from which part of the world they come from! In theory… But we also got hummus and chocolate and cheese plates to go with our wines. I’ll be totally honest though, I never tasted much difference in the wine when paired with the food. But I was glad for the snacks! I enjoyed this tour and mini-lesson, as well as the wines, but to be honest I didn’t think it was anything exceptional. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by wine tastings when I know the barista, but I’d rather just buy a bottle and relax on the patio while drinking it.

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After wine tasting we all went our separate ways for a few hours, before four of us reconvened down in Mission Valley at In Cahoots, a country line-dancing bar. We picked up a few friends and some of the boys along the way, but it still all about the girls and the fun we were having out on the dance floor. I enjoy organized dancing, but it’s so hard to pick up the moves in just one short song! I’ll have to keep practicing and see if I can get any better, lol. All in all though, it was just fun to hang out with some of the girls and catch up on our hectic lives. We all have tons of plans in May, luckily some of them are together, and one of us is moving back to the east coast soon, so I don’t know when the next time we will all be together. I definitely went to bed Saturday night feeling blessed to have such a great group of friends and thankful for the time we got this past weekend!

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P.S. Sunday afternoon saw three of us girls dressing up for Cinco de Mayo while playing in our last regular season kickball game with the guys. So I guess some things will never really change 😉

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La Jolla Half Marathon 2015

I will be the first to admit that I was not at all prepared for this race. I decided to run about a month ago since I had been training for my Tinkerbell Half Marathon anyway. This race is the second of the triple crown series of half marathons in San Diego, which I completed in 2013. Carlsbad in the January race, then La Jolla in April, and America’s Finest City in August. So I’ve run the course before and I knew what to expect… lots and lots of hills! The run starts in the Del Mar racetrack and follows the coast up and over the hills of Torrey Pines before ending in La Jolla Cove. It’s brutal. But it’s also beautiful!

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Sunday morning, Sean and I drove down to La Jolla to stash our car by the finish before hopping on the shuttle with Kelly. My goal here was to NOT rip my contact while getting off the bus (click the La Jolla link above to read that story). I was successful and we spent the hour or so before the start stretching, staying warm, and discussing our race strategies. Even though Sean and I had done many of our training runs together, we concluded that to avoid injury it would probably be best if we ran our own races and started in our own corrals. I was wave three and he was wave four. Kelly decided to jump up to wave four with Sean to get started earlier. Our friends Vanessa and Dahlia found us in the parking lot and were both in wave three with me (pre-race photo below).

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Starting off, my plan was to run comfortably and stay at whatever pace felt fairly easy. This ended up being about 9:30 pace, which was right at what I expected. I didn’t want to push too hard for the first five miles because of the big hill into Torrey Pines around mile six. It was perfect weather for the race and the sun came out just as we started, which made it a little warmer but also quite pleasant. The wind coming off the ocean wasn’t too strong, so I felt good turning up the hill (see first photo). Historically, I run hills well and I wasn’t expecting Sunday to be any different. I drove my arms and passed a TON of people of this section of the course. The photo below is a screenshot of an official photo so excuse the watermarks, but look past me at the rest of the runners and you’ll see what I mean. I got up without much problem and my legs were still feeling strong(ish).

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The next three miles are my least favorite because they are rolling hills through the top of Torrey Pines. It’s when I knew my legs would start to tire from lack of training and when I couldn’t see the finish line yet. I was expecting Sean to pass me at some point during this stretch so that gave me something to think about. He did end up passing me just before mile ten and our huge downhill. That gave me a bit of a boost because he said his shin and legs were feeling good as he passed me (he’s on the right in the photo below). I won’t lie, it was a bit humbling for me to be passed but I knew he was the more prepared runner between us. I was also really excited because I knew time-wise he was on pace to run a PR and possibly even break two hours!

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After the big downhill, the top of my right foot started to tighten up and my left knee was a bit wonky. Both of these were things I expected with the lack of hill and distance training I’d put in. I was enjoying the race though and got to take in the scenery around me while I ran. Nothing was too painful to continue so I kept on cruising. The part of the course that winds through La Jolla Village was kind of annoying due to construction and the sun was starting to feel hotter. But I knew there was just one more section of hills before the downhill turn to the finish line. I did a quick assessment and confirmed that I couldn’t go any faster, so I just enjoyed the run as much as I could. I tried to encourage the runners around me who were starting to really struggle and who were less familiar with the course. Ultimately, I made it to the finish line without too much difficulty!

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My official time was 2:07:03, which was about seven minutes slower than when I ran this course in 2013. But I felt VERY happy with those results given my preparation. Sean finished in an impressive 2:00:25, but was a bit frustrated at being so close to that two-hour barrier. He shaved about five minutes off his time from Carlsbad, which is a much easier course, so I was proud of him! Kelly, Vanessa, and Dahlia all finished within fifteen minutes of us, so we were able to meet up at the finish line. It was really fun seeing people I knew all day, either on the course or at the start and finish lines. I love the little group of runners I’ve come to know here and I think most of us are planning to run AFC in August as well. My goal for that race is to properly train and make a push to break the two-hour barrier again, if not PR. I’m quite confident that Sean will and you know I can’t be left behind!

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The Great Taco Quest 2014

This will be the last of my blog posts about my 30 Before 30 goals… even though I have another week before my birthday! I have already blogged about 24 of the items, so be sure to check them out through links on the above post. This post will be all about item number 24 from my original list, Ten Best SD Fish Taco Places. This item was really a ten-part item since I followed the article’s suggestions for fish tacos based on surfers’ suggestions. Before my 30 Before 30 project, I had already been to four of the listed restaurants. This left six new fish taco places to find and enjoy in San Diego County! I’ll start with a quick ranking for those of you who want the cliff notes. In parenthesis I’ll include the article rankings (I don’t agree with them completely).

1. Blue Water Seafood Market in Mission Hills (1)

2. Oscar’s Mexican Seafood in Pacific Beach (4)

3. South Beach Bar & Grill in Ocean Beach (2)

4. PB Fish Shop in Pacific Beach/Encinitas (4)

5. Rubio’s in… Everywhere (8)

6. Kotija’s Jr. Taco Shop in Leucadia (8)

7. Mitch’s Seafood in Point Loma (8)

8. El Zarape Restaurant in University Heights (4)

9. Brigantine in Del Mar (2)

10. Mariscos German in South Park (7)

My first issue with the article and rankings was that out of ten fish shops, they listed eight as being “in a tie”. Really? Your ranking system is flawed. But I digress. The biggest disagreement was with Brigantine in Del Mar. They raved about this place and its fish tacos. I don’t agree with either. In my opinion, it is an overpriced restaurant that has an excellent location but rests on its laurels. None of the food is that incredible and the fish tacos are definitely not the best thing on the menu. They come in a unique stand, but that’s it. So why isn’t Brigantine #10 on my list?

Because I really didn’t like Mariscos German. It’s a food truck, which is unique. But I got the Baja Trio as recommended and didn’t love any of the three tacos. The shrimp and fish were both fried in a thick dough that didn’t have enough crunch. The marlin was tossed with veggies in a stew-like concoction… no thank you. Obviously, these rankings are based on my personal preference and I didn’t love it. My dining buddies had meals that looked… okay? I guess? It was cool to sit in a parking lot with a stool as a table!

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Rubio’s ended up higher on my list than the article’s because I love Rubio’s. It’s fast food, I get that. But they claim to be the original fish tacos and I love them. I get the shrimp verde tacos which have an amazing green sauce on them and cabbage and no cheese. Cheese is actually a negative in my book for fish tacos. They also have a really good mahi mahi fish taco that is grilled with corn and a delicious white sauce. I’ve taste tested it before, check it out! Rubio’s also has churros for dessert… and if you get a kid’s meal, it comes with a mini churro. Bonus!

So why do I like Blue Water Seafood the best? Because the fish is FRESH. Like FOTB (fresh off the boat) fresh. And it’s a big honking slab of fish. SO good! And there are tons of choices of fish, not just one. And they come grilled. And the sauce is good but not too much. And there isn’t cheese. And it’s delicious, did I mention that?! Oscar’s Seafood was a close second because it also has healthy portions without cheese (they sub avocado!). I had the surf and turf taco and a spicy grilled shrimp taco. I’m not a spicy girl, so this was just enough kick without making it unpleasant. It might have also helped that we took the tacos to the beach to eat them!

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South Beach Bar & Grill was the first fish taco place I tried in San Diego County, and I still love it. There’s an awesome view overlooking Ocean Beach from the top floor and tons of tacos to choose from. My favorites are the mahi mahi and the wahoo. They are fairly small tacos, but cheap! And they come with a white sauce and cabbage and a salsa that I don’t get. The other places that I mentioned were exactly how the article described them… all were good and some were cheap and all were eaten. I will say that this list was fairly comprehensive for fish taco places in the county… I can’t think of too many places that were left off, but can any of you?!

Hiking, Biking, Boarding, and… Brewing?

Here’s a long overdue update about my 30 Before 30 project. I’m getting down to the wire as my actual birthday is less than two weeks away and I roll out of SD this Sunday… yikes! But I’ve been fitting in lots of sports related things in the last few weeks. Enjoy!

1. Go to a Chargers Football Game

A few weeks ago, right after my Esprit de She Triathlon, we went to a Chargers game! Now, when I say right after… I mean Brian drove from Mission Bay to a 24-hour fitness so I could shower and then we drove to the stadium to tailgate. My race had been at 7am and we were settling in to festivities at Qualcomm by 10am. It wasn’t just Brian and I standing around in a parking lot though, I had sent a message out to a larger group asking who was interested in a game. My restrictions were that I would be purchasing nose-bleed seats that were as cheap as possible. And I had three possible dates I could go. We voted on the game versus the Kansas City Chiefs and I bought the tickets! It ended being thirteen adults and one adorable baby that converged on the tailgate. The guys did not mess around with the meat selection, see below, and everyone else brought an assortment of snacks and beverages. Enough for a feast!

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Unfortunately, my stomach wasn’t feeling too great after my race and I barely got down a sausage with my Gatorade and water regiment. But everyone else seemed to enjoy themselves and the food! Come game time, we all headed into the stadium and began the long, long walk up the ramps and then the steps to our seats. I’d gotten tickets in two rows so we weren’t all strung out in one big line. This helped us communicate and interact more throughout the game. The best part for me was seeing how all of these friends got along. They didn’t all necessarily know each other before the game, or didn’t know each other very well. But everyone swapped seats, talked to everyone, and seemed to have a good time 🙂

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As far as the actual football game went, the Chargers played well at the beginning but were overcome in the dwindling minutes of the game. It was a disappointment but I was just glad to have had an interesting game with turnovers, scoring, and excitement! After the game we hung out in the parking lot again to let a good deal of the traffic clear before I drove Brian and I home, unpacked my gear from that morning, and took a nap!

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2. Hike Cowles Mountain

Last Friday, I woke up full of energy and with a long laundry list of items to complete. I knew I’d be sitting most of the day working on my laptop so I made the last second decision to get in my car, drive to Mission Trails Park, and hike Cowles Mountain. I knew from research that this was a three-mile, up and back trail that was extremely popular with San Diegans. I have been having a decent amount of knee pain from running, so a good hike seemed just the ticket! It took about 35 minutes to drive down in minimal traffic around 8:30am and I was on the trail by 9am. This hike is uphill the entire way. It gains 933 feet of elevation in 1.5 miles, which isn’t flat by any standards! A few nice things about this trail are that the dirt is hard-packed and there are mileage signs every 1/4 mile. A lot of people were using these to gauge their workouts, either running between some or walking further than before.

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I wasn’t sure what my pace would be, but I set off up the hill at a pretty good clip. I had my iPhone tracking my hike and music playing through my headphones. It was quite nice to power walk and not feel too winded. I stopped occasionally to drink some water and enjoy the scenery but kept moving for the most part. The views of the surrounding area were absolutely stunning. You could see all the way into downtown and all the way over to the ocean. There was a light cloud cover, which was keeping the morning cool, a nice change from the hot temperatures of the previous week. I made it up to the top in 28 minutes, which was faster than I’d anticipated! After walking around the check out the views and observe my fellow hikers, I turned around and headed back down the trail. I was trying to be really cautious about going too fast on the way down. One, I didn’t want my knee to flare up. Two, I didn’t want to mis-step on the rocky sections and twist and ankle. Three, I wanted to enjoy it!

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I got down with no problems in 22 minutes, which logged me right at 50 minutes for the 3.17 mile hike. Not too bad! I was not the fastest person on the hill but I wasn’t the slowest either. This hike reminded me that I can find alternate ways to workout while enjoying nature and feeling comfortable with my surroundings. It would be a great hike for any level of athlete because you can easily make the trail easier or harder for yourself. After a quick stop in the restroom after finishing my Nalgene, I hopped back in the car to drive home. Traffic was a little lighter this way and it only took me 30 minutes to cruise home. After a quick shower, I was ready to start my day by 10:45am. Not too bad for an unplanned adventure on a Friday!

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9. Bike Camp Pendleton to San Clemente

Okay, so this one I am going to cheat on a little bit. But let me explain! When I added this to my list, I wanted to bike from the gate of Camp Pendleton, through base, and up into San Clemente to enjoy a reward of Pizza Port before heading back south. Back in September, X and I set off to just bike the base and see what happened. I wasn’t used to longer distances on my road bike yet, so we decided to play it by ear. We parked at the gate of base, showed our IDs and biked on through. It was really nice biking along the abandoned roads in base, there were very few cars and wide open spaces to enjoy (see below). We made it all the way out the other side and went under the highway then continued on another access road of sorts.

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I was starting to get sore and tired, and both of us were hot and thirsty. So we paused at San Onofre State Beach for bathrooms, water, and a snack. After resting for quite some time, we made the decision not to push on into the town of San Clemente this time, but to use this as a training ride for the long haul. We’d be just over 13 miles and had another 6-7 to go. So we turned around and headed back the way we came, over the hills and around the curves of Camp Pendleton. I knew about halfway back that this had been the right decision because my legs were starting to protest as well as my butt. We made it back with no problems though, and I really enjoyed the ride! Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out with our busy schedules for X and I to go all the way into town. But, I decided that since riding through base was the main goal and because San Onofre is technically part of San Clemente, that I could check this item off of my list anyway 🙂

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12. (Night) Paddle Board in Mission Bay

This item again has an adjustment to it, but this time it was out of my control. I originally planned to paddle board in Mission Bay at night, because I had a Groupon that advertised that as an option. However, after adding this to my list I learned that night rentals are only available in the summer months. Bummer. Regardless, my friend Kelly had reached out to me about joining me on the adventure since she’d never been before. Perfect! We met up on Monday morning this week, rented our boards and headed out. I let Kelly decide how long we wanted to stay out since she’d run a half marathon the day before. We ended up circling almost the entire section of the bay, going over a mile!

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My core, arms, and legs were starting to ache by the end of our two-hour tour, but it was worth it. Since it was fall and a Monday, the bay was fairly quiet so we could paddle uninterrupted. This allowed us time to talk and catch up on each other’s lives while getting a light workout in too. Paddling back was mostly upstream, which meant that the end of our workout was more intense than the beginning. But we had no problems and even managed to stay on our boards the whole time. Paddle boarding is something I will absolutely miss about San Diego and I may have to find a lake near me in Raleigh to keep this hobby alive. We didn’t take any valuables on the boards with us in case we tipped, but the photo above shows the bay where we went!

23. Alpine Brewing Company

Finally, I crossed this item off my list this past Sunday for lunch. If you read my last post, I had been in Mexico with Sean and Xavier for the weekend. We decided to travel inland to cross the border at a less popular spot, which put us near this restaurant in the Inland Empire of San Diego. Why was this place even on my list since I don’t love beer? It’s simply really, I’d heard them talk so much about it over the years as an amazing place to refuel after long hikes they’d been on in the desert. This place is fairly small but welcoming and known for their beans and their beer. I was craving carbs and went for a grilled cheese (with two kinds of cheese!) with a side of beer-battered fries. That was as close as I could come to ordering a beer, lol. The boys had drinks and both ordered some kind of BBQ meat… I think one had beef brisket and the other had chicken. I won’t embarrass them by using names, but I will say that one got a side of fried pickles while the other got two sides of beans.

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As you can see, my meal was extremely cheesy and delicious! I crushed this meal and was glad that I’d ordered what I did. You can see one of the servings of beans in the top left corner, just to give you a feel for those. Anyway, I do recommend this place if you’re out near Alpine and I did enjoy my WARM meal on a chilly(ish) fall day in San Diego. Well, that’s all of the items I’ve crossed off for now. I’m up to 24/30 items complete, with 9/10 taco shops visited. That’s not too bad! Happy Thursday 🙂

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