SD with the Bestie

SD with the Bestie

E has now left the country, and while I’m going to miss her company so much, I definitely wanted to spend some stress-free time with her before she left. Hence, a weekend trip to San Diego was in order.

She’d been wanting to go there for a while, so I was glad we were able to make it happen. Since I had my sister’s car until the 26th, I was able to drive us down without having to worry about public transit.

It was about a 2.5 hour drive, and we made it into the area around noon. We tried setting our sights for the Point Loma Lighthouse, but ended up just north at a veterans’ memorial.

Views from the memorial // an old-school ship with sails in the disance
Views from the memorial // an old-school ship with sails in the distance

A local who was walking around told us that the lighthouse was actually a little bit west of our current location, so we decided to get back in the car and drive closer. We ended up the entrance to the Cabrillo National Monument, but had to turn around since their credit card machiene wasn’t working and we didn’t have cash in $5, $10, or $20 denominations. The sign outside stated they accepted cash and credit so we thought it was unfair, but we moved on.

Old Townj, San Diego
Old Town, San Diego

Instead, we drove into town from the coast, and found ourselves in Old Town SD, a huge market that housed a collection of street vendors, gift shops, and restaurants. E did some souvenir and gift shopping, but eventually we both were hungry enough to sit down to a late lunch.

Old Town SD Shopping
Old Town SD Shopping

Many of the restaurants featured Mexican cuisine, so we hopped on over to Miguel’s Cocina which was at the corner of a block we were approaching.

Miguel's
Miguel’s Cocina

After informing the waitress we were vegetarians, we were advised not to have their queso dip since it was cooked with chicken broth. As a result, we munched on complimentary chips and salsa. We even got complimentary guacamole since we couldn’t have the queso…score! Haha.

Lunch Spread
Lunch Spread

Between the two of us, we had fresh fajita veggies, veggie enchiladas, beans, and rice. It was all flavorful and delicious, but also quite filling. To-go boxes were pretty much mandatory for us.

After lunch, I asked E where to next. Most of the museums and exhibits were closing soon, so maybe something in nature (and that was free) made the most sense.

We drove back to the coast, this time to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.

Sunset Cliffs
Sunset Cliffs

Our timing was impeccable, and the views were perfect as the sun was setting.

Gorgeous views
Gorgeous views

E mentioned out loud that it would be the perfect place for a guy to propose. Someone overheard this and couldn’t help but speak out in agreement.

Rocky Shores
Rocky Shores

I was feeling super tired, so we decided to call it a day after walking around and checked in at our hotel. After getting settled in, E went to town with getting my make-up done (for fun) and we tried to watch a movie without falling asleep in the middle of it. Then we talked until we were completely exhausted and fell asleep, like the typical twelve-year-olds at a sleepover we were, haha 😉

Cozy
Cozy

We took our time getting ready the next morning, and beat the crowd to the free breakfast downstairs.

At around 10am, we took off for downtown.

Downtown SD
Downtown SD

Honestly, there’s not much to see in downtown…or in SD in general. I’ll admit that I probably wouldn’t be the best person to hire to advocate for SD, as I find it a pretty boring city to begin with. It’s like a beautiful and sunny San Francisco, and yeah, maybe a good place to work, raise a family, or retire, but to me? It’s just too boring, haha 😛 !

E did some more shopping, picked up some gift bags at CVS. and then we were off to our next location—the San Diego Botanic Garden, that was actually located in Encinitas.

San Diego Botanic Garden
San Diego Botanic Garden

Again if I’m being honest, the visit was a waste for us So Cal residents. Many of the plants featured in the garden could be seen all over the southern region of Cali, and I even recognized some from our campus! Still, it was an entertaining walk, and we found intriguing items like this Alphabet Garden:

'Stop and Smell' Alphabet Garden
‘Stop and Smell’ Alphabet Garden

P was for Pomegranate and E was for Elephant’s Foot, LOL!

After that little trek, we slowly headed back north to LA. We did make a stop in Newport Beach, I guess because we didn’t have our fill of ocean views??

Newport Beach
Newport Beach

These piers start to look the same after awhile, but the ocean views never get old. We walked for a bit and then made our way back to the car. It literally felt like a warm summer day and I had to turn on the A/C when we got back in the car…and it was Christmas Eve, what even is this weather?

After I dropped E off, all I wanted to do was sleep! I was still in active recovery mode so no runs were on the schedule. I was able to turn in early for the night, and sleep for most of Christmas Day after a long morning walk. It was definitely a sweet weekend with one of my dearest friends, and—I’ll make sure of it—many more adventures to come.

What was your Christmas weekend like?

Miguel's Cocina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Race Recap – 30th Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon

Race Recap – 30th Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon

On June 4th, just a few days after returning from our Europe trip, I ran my fourth marathon in San Diego. I was breaking my “just running LA” streak with this race, and it was also just about two months after I ran LA this year.

I woke up around 4am and had enough time to put on my race gear, and call for an Uber right outside where my sister and I were staying for our Airbnb. Since I called for one early enough, there wasn’t any issue with traffic so it was an easy drive to the race start at Balboa Park.

From where I was dropped off, I followed other runners to the exact location of bag check, restrooms, and the starting line. At that moment, I realized I made the mistake of forgetting my race belt…so I had to improvise 😛

Sometimes you have to improvise...
Sometimes you have to improvise…

I literally pinned a ziploc bag to the side of my shirt and stuffed my Clif Shot Bloks and some freebie bars from the expo into it, and it actually managed to hold up for the entire race, haha!

The race start was at 6am, so I had some time to kill. I took my stretching, and after checking in my bag, found my spot at the start line. I was shooting for a 3:40 (around 8:23/mi pace) based on how my training the past two months had fared, and after talking with my coach the day before, we thought it was a reasonable and good goal to shoot for. Luckily they had pacers, and I made sure to stay glued to mine.

The first few miles leaving Balboa Park and through North Park seemed to be alright. I felt like the pace was sustainable, I felt properly fueled, and I tried to only drink to thirst. As we made our way through Normal Heights, I felt like I was transported back to the Silver Lake/Hollywood portion of the LA Marathon. There was a good crowd turn-out throughout this section of the race, but I managed to stay focused and stay within a few steps behind my pacer, so I mostly tuned out what was occurring in my surroundings.

I started fueling with one shot blok around mile 5, and the plan was to refuel every 5 miles. Miles 10-13 felt slightly harder to push through since I started to have an unsettling feeling in my stomach. Just after approaching Old Town, I had to stop and use the first porta-potty that I saw. I never had to stop mid-race (at least for a half or full marathon) to use the restroom, so I was slightly anxious about how it would cut into my time. Unfortunately, I knew a 3:40 would not be possible this time around since my group was already way ahead by the time I was back on the course. I did try to speed up around mile 15 as we made our way to Mission Bay, but it didn’t help much.

It was disappointing knowing that I wouldn’t make my goal time for this race, as well as having to finish without external support. And honestly from that point on, it seemed like the course got much more difficult. There were hills, less crowds, and a mundane, mind-numbing stretch of the last portion of the race on Highway 163. I was certainly having my doubts about making sure I was sub 4:00 at this point, let alone finishing. I began feeling an intense sense of fatigue around mile 18 that pressed on until about mile 24.

I managed to recover and pick up my pace once we were back on city streets, and wrapping around Balboa Park again. It was kind of funny because the last few yards of the finish made me remember of a weekend trip my sister and I took to San Diego a little under two years ago. On the way back to where my sister was picking me up, I even passed the hotel we stayed at!

After passing under the finish line arch, we were handed water bottles and our finisher medals. I was disappointed by the fact that no mylar blankets were being handed out, and I honestly felt like I needed one. I felt slightly cold, shaky, mild nausea, and every step I took felt like I was carrying a 1,000 pound load on my back and my muscles were taking the beating. It was my first time feeling such intense fatigue after a race…my past races usually brought on powerful soreness the day after, but I usually felt okay immediately after a race.

Fancy-looking medal but what's the point if you're shivering?
Fancy-looking medal but what’s the point if you’re shivering?

They did give free jackets to the marathon runners though. Many of the half marathoners were confused/upset as to why they couldn’t get one, and while I could see that they felt left out, I would have been perfectly content is they gave everyone mylar blankets at the end. That should be a mandatory requirement at marathons!

I wanted to sit down but every part of my body ached. Ugh, probably the worst I've ever felt after a race...
I wanted to sit down but every part of my body ached. Ugh, probably the worst I’ve ever felt after a race…

After making my way over to where my sister was parked, we planned to get lunch somewhere in SD, but since the race closures were still active, it was hard to navigate without coming across a roadblock. So we ended up driving north to Santa Ana, after I thought about some possible restaurants I’ve been wanting to visit in the OC. GD Bro Burger was one of them, it was open, and crowds were not to be seen.

GD Bro Burger
GD Bro Burger

The wall decor and signage was very interesting—very much in tune with current pop culture and popular slang. And you can’t have burgers without sports playing on a TV hanging from the wall, so that was obviously there as well, haha.

My sister got herself their vegan burger, but it didn’t come with their classic hot red-colored bun. Rather, it was a stiff gluten-free bun that my sister had to resist from spitting out. She did like her two crispy mozzarella sticks though.

herd
“A not-so-delicious veggie burger”

I got the pizza fries sans pepperoni, and man, did they not skimp on the cheese.

_pizza_fries
All the cheese, some marinara, and very skinny fries.

I reached my dairy quota for the month from that tray alone.

When we got back home, my sister and I quickly got into couch potato mode. I slept earlier because the next day would be my first day back to work after two weeks of vacation. Surprisingly, I felt minimal fatigue and soreness the next day…it was as if I never ran the day before! It was very bizarre cause I thought I would be limping around with DOMS, but I was walking just fine. I guess the training I had in the past two months really impacted my endurance and muscle recovery.

I think I’ll be passing on this race in the future though. The course wasn’t as exciting as LA’s, and the experiences I had during the race didn’t leave me feeling my best. BUT, I did still maintain a sub-4:00 pace, and I came out injury-free! That’s something worth celebrating 🙂

Have you ever had to do anything physically strenuous right after traveling/when you were feeling jet-lagged?

GD Bro Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Coming Home

Coming Home

We had quite the adventure coming home…

We left Paris on a quiet, warm Friday morning and braced ourselves for the journey back to Gare du Nord. Of course, we encountered a large mob of people entering our train car when we got to the station right before, but we didn’t have any incidents like the one at the beginning of our trip, fortunately.

Getting through security and border patrol was a pain, only because the people managing the queues were completely unorganized. We would have missed our train back to London for sure if it had not been for a kind woman allowing us to cut in front of her.

The train ride back was uneventful, and the extra time we planned to have in London leisurely getting to the airport was chopped away since our train was delayed by 30 minutes…

We managed to make our flight, but by the time we reached our gate, we were all pretty snappy with each other and hanger was all too real. We flew with Norwegian Air back to LA, and were surprised by how cool and overcast the weather was in LA. Compared to the sunny, hot weather we had experienced over the past two weeks, it was a great change.

Before heading back to my place, we all went out for dinner. Urban Plates in Marina del Rey was close enough to the airport and sounded appetizing enough for our weary, hungry traveling bodies.

♥

The menu and set-up was pretty confusing I must admit. It was like they offered so many sides that you could literally ask for a plate of sides and that “meal” was on the menu. The salads seemed the least intimidating, but also pretty descriptive and delicious-sounding.

♥

I went with the Local Beet Salad, which came with a colorful spread of beets, and a mized salad topped with soft cheese and a slice of crusty bread.

♥

My Dad and sister split a veggie sandwich that came with chips, and got asparagus and mac and cheese as sides.

♥

I sampled some of the chips, but honestly, the salad was flavorful and filling enough. My only wish was that there had been more beets…especially the yellow ones!

After dinner, we all got back to my place, unpacked, and went to bed soon after. My Dad was leaving back fro Oklahoma in the morning while my sister and I were heading to San Diego for my marathon there. The three of us shared a bagel breakfast at Panera before departing ways, and from there, my sister and I were off to the SD Convention Center.

♥

It’s interesting how I was not too enthusiastic about sticking around after getting my bib this time around. The set-up of the race expo just seemed repetitive to me, and I found myself quickly getting bored. We didn’t leave without getting whatever samples we could though.

Honey Stinger and Daiya had awesome set-ups!
Honey Stinger and Daiya had awesome set-ups!

What I did manage to gather wasn’t too bad, but I’ve done way better at gathering larger collections previous races.

♥

My sister and I were still jet-lagged (and I wasn’t sure how bad it would affect me in regards to the race…) so we mostly napped for the rest of the afternoon before heading out to an early dinner at the Native Foods location of Balboa Park!

Native Foods, Balboa Park
Native Foods, Balboa Park

I had a chat with my running coach in the parking lot before we went inside. Once we were at the counter, I ordered my tried-and-true favorite Native Nachos. My sister got her classic favorite, the Soul Bowl.

♥

We were too tired to talk, but hungry enough to eat. I demolished my plate of nachos, and possibly even felt too full. I didn’t regret my choice though, since I consider this dish the epitome of fast casual vegan cooking.

♥

We retreated back to our Airbnb right after, and caught up on the SNL episodes we missed while we were away. I easily fell asleep around 8pm, which was perfect since I planned to catch an Uber around 4:30am to take me to the race start. It seemed like so many things were happening at once—returning from a two-week trip, only to run a marathon right after—but I couldn’t imagine it being any other way. I was mentally ready to run, but physically? I would see soon enough…

Urban Plates Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Balboa & Burgers

Balboa & Burgers

My sister and I took our time getting ready on Sunday morning. We had such a good night’s rest (at least I did…), and so we didn’t feel rushed when it came time to leave. We stopped by the breakfast buffet to see if there was anything good, but the crowds and the mess already created was a turn-off, so we decided to just leave and save our appetites for lunch. 

Our first stop that morning was Balboa Park, and we found a place to park at the Veteran’s Memorial Museum. From there, we walked north to where a cluster of other museums were, and took in the beautiful building sights before checking out one of the history museums. 

 Lovely architecture.
Lovely architecture.

We were intrigued by the Dr. Seuss exhibit at the museum. Apparently San Diego was his home for many years, and the exhibit displayed works that differed from his kid’s author/illustrator reputation. It was interesting, to say the least!

 Dr. Seuss exhibit.
Dr. Seuss exhibit.

The walrus in the above picture was a part of a taxidermy piece! Taxidermy of Dr. Seuss-esque characters, that is!

After about an hour in the museum, we walked back to where we parked, but not before taking a pit stop near some worldly murals.

 We also spotted a shady-looking shack and a lost moccasin?
We also spotted a shady-looking shack and a lost moccasin?

Once in the car, we only had to drive a short while to get to lunch at Evolution Fast Food.

 The small shack of Evolution Fast Food---all-vegan!
The small shack of Evolution Fast Food—all-vegan!

The eatery itself was quite small, and parking, while available, was a tight squeeze! There was a small room with a counter/kitchen in the back, and a large board menu hung from the ceiling.

 To-go items, daily specials, and desserts!
To-go items, daily specials, and desserts!

I was incredibly thirsty, so after placing my order, I requested a small cup of water. I was also given ice, and had to document these ice cubes since I had never seen anything like it before!

 That ice looks pretty interesting, amiright?
That ice looks pretty interesting, amiright?

Even though the ordering area was in a tight space, there was ample seating in the patio area.

 The nice and quiet patio area.
The nice and quiet patio area.

Since I found a table for us, my sister stayed back and eventually came with two brown bags containing our orders. She got the fish filet sandwich with a chocolate shake in the side.

 Fish filet sandwich - crispy battered fish with tartar sauce, shredded cabbage, tomato
Fish filet sandwich – crispy battered fish with tartar sauce, shredded cabbage, tomato

I got the chimichurri “carne” sandwich, which was full on flavor and zero on meat.

 Chimichurri carne sandwich - argentine marinated "steak" strips, lettuce, tomato, onion
Chimichurri carne sandwich – argentine marinated “steak” strips, lettuce, tomato, onion

The strips were marinated in spices and packed with flavor, but one of the buns was lathered with a spicy pesto sauce that only added to that flavor!

 So green, and so flavorful!
So green, and so flavorful!

It was just enough food to get us through the afternoon and drive home to LA. We did plan one more food-related stop before truly heading home though…

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The Beach Day We Wanted

The Beach Day We Wanted

A little power nap was all we needed, but my sis and I ended up taking a long 45 minute afternoon nap when we checked in to our hotel room for the night in San Diego.

 Rest!
Rest!

But when we woke up around 3, it was still bright and gorgeous outside! We still had time for a beach adventure 🙂

 Hello, downtown San Diego!
Hello, downtown San Diego!

We had trouble getting out of the parking garage (a Zipcar Honda vs. a bunch of SUVs/Hummers/Trucks is not exactly an easy battle to win…), but fortunately we made it out without a scratch.

Our destination was Coronado Beach—which also took a while to get to due to traffic, ending up at the wrong side of the beach due to GPS issues, and having to park in a far off residential area once we found the beach. But, when we found it, it was about relaxation!

 To the beach!
To the beach!

Once at the beach, my sis and I laid out our towels and proceeded to sun bathe for the next hour and a half…only because our 45 minute nap wasn’t enough 😉

 Time to relax...
Time to relax…

It was so peaceful though. Sure, there were crowds, but it was a beautiful California summer day, and we were finally able to say we were experiencing a real beach day.

Before heading back for dinner, we took pictures by the water and took our time getting to the car. The crowds had died down by then, and there was no traffic on our drive back to the hotel.

Before leaving for our weekend trip, I learned that Cafe Gratitude had opened a new location in San Diego—and it coincidentally happened to be in Little Italy, within walking distance from our hotel! Obviously this was our prime choice for dinner 🙂

 Sunny skies and lofts in SD.
Sunny skies and lofts in SD.

Our stroll through downtown was a fun preamble to dinner, but when we saw the swanky CG location, we were more than ready to eat!

 My third time visiting Cafe Gratitude :)
My third time visiting Cafe Gratitude 🙂

Since it was brand new, I wasn’t surprised by all the eager, vegan-loving San Diegans that were present that night.

 Soooo busy.
Soooo busy.

Because it was so busy, we almost had to sit outside, even though I had called in beforehand to make a reservation.

 Kind of cozy actually...
Kind of cozy actually…

The set-up reminded me of both their Venice and Larchmont locations, so I felt like I was in familiar territory. I was excited for my sister to experience CG for herself!

After staring long and hard at the menu, we both ended up deciding against a sandwich-based entree since we had our fill of that earlier in the day, and so we both ended up ordering the exact same thing. We both got the ‘Resolved’ entree, described as being a southern soul food sampler containing red beans and quinoa, seared tempeh, smashed maple garnet yams, spiced collards, coleslaw, and a gluten-free jalapeno biscuit.

Oh, and we couldn’t forget adding BBQ sauce on the side…even if it cost $2 (!!) extra.

It took almost half an hour, but at least our plates came full and ready for us to dig in.

 Vegan southern food platter.
Vegan southern food platter.

My favorite parts of this plate were the sweet mashed yams, the tempeh when dipped into the BBQ sauce, and the jalapeno biscuit (when dipped into the BBQ sauce as well). My sis didn’t like the yams so much, but was a fan of the coleslaw.

 Top: jalapeno biscuit (gluten-free!) // bite of tempeh // a bed of quinoa
Top: jalapeno biscuit (gluten-free!) // bite of tempeh // a bed of quinoa

It was a meal that we both agreed as being satisfying and sleep-inducing. I’ll admit it now—we are grandmas, but at least we eat well 😉

When we got back to the hotel, we quickly changed into our jammies and watched TV until our eyes started to droop. It was certainly a summer Saturday well spent.

What do you like to do at the beach?

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Vacation in a Sandwich

Vacation in a Sandwich

With the summer winding down (slowly, but it is…), I was beyond ecstatic when my sister was able to find the time to visit me for a few days. She has to go back to school in a few weeks, after helping my parents with their move out-of-state, and so even though I needed a weekend getaway, she surely needed one too!

After spending Friday night at my apartment, we left around 9AM the next morning for San Diego! It was my first time driving for more than an hour since moving to LA, and my first time in a Zipcar! The ride took us a total of 3 hours (traaaaafiiiiic…), but we were able to keep ourselves occupied and in a road trippin’ mood by playing music all the way there. 

We got into San Diego around 12pm, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Both my sister and I had one thing on our minds: torpasta

 Devine Pastabilities (best sandwich shop) in San Diego.
Devine Pastabilities in San Diego.

The restaurant is actually Devine Pastabilities, but they are extremely well-known for their unique pasta-stuffed sandwiches. I actually learned about their miraculous existence while watching Mystery Diners once.

 Can't wait to order!
Can’t wait to order!

And now, my sister and I were here, sitting in a booth and beyond belief that we were starting off our mini-vacation right with a carb-o-licious lunch. Our surroundings only helped to set the mood 😛

 The fun pizza-parlor style interior.
The fun pizza-parlor style interior.

The employees wore this shirt, and photographs like these were hung all over the walls.

 We were among like-minded individuals...
We were among like-minded individuals…

My sis and I are usually quick to order, but we had to take our time when it came to picking up the right torpasta. I eventually ended up getting Dayna’s Vegan Special, and my sister got the Creamy Pesto and Sundried Tomato. We surprisingly didn’t have to wait too long for our 6″ subs to arrive at our table in vertical stands. 

Dayna's Vegan Special - meatless meatballs, sauteed garlic, spinach, bell peppers, and onions with marinara penne pasta.
Dayna’s Vegan Special – meatless meatballs, sauteed garlic, spinach, bell peppers, and onions with marinara penne pasta.

But my sister’s was a sight to behold. All that creamy goodness made me second guess my choice…

....
Pesto and sundried tomato in alfredo over bow-tie…

Compared to the pasta overflow of my sister’s torpasta, mine was perfectly stuffed. It had just enough pasta and veggies, and I counted four total meatless meatballs.

After scooping through all the pasta, eating the hollowed-out bread was the treasured final step.

 Hollowed-out bread roll.
Hollowed-out bread roll.

It was surprisingly soft and chewy, perhaps from holding in all that warm, saucy pasta.

My sister and I left with bellies full, and immediately fell into a sleepy spell from the combining effect of the long drive and carb-loaded meal! As soon as we got to our hotel for the night, we crashed for an afternoon nap before heading out to the BEACH! 🙂

Have you ever experienced the glory that is a pasta-filled sandwich?

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