Hiiii! It’s been a while. It’s actually been WAY too long. These past few weeks have been jam-packed with traveling and bopping around from city to city. I have wanted to write a blog post SO MANY times but always had school work to do first. I’m finally somewhat caught up and the first thing I want to share about is a recap about my long weekend in San Diego, California!
If you follow me on Instagram, I experimented with documenting the whole San Diego experience on my IG stories. I got a lot of positive feedback from this so most likely will try to do this with trips in the future as well. However, most of you probably didn’t get the play-by-play of the trip which is why I’m excited you’re reading this post. So, let’s get to it!
Why did I go to San Diego? To be completely honest, the decision to take the trip was very much an impulse decision. When Alan and I were back in St. Louis for Christmas, one of his dear cousins, Amanda, asked if I would ever run a half marathon with her because she knew I was a runner. I thought she just meant hypothetically would I run a half marathon with her, which I totally would, but she actually already had one picked out close to where she lived in California, which was The Encinitas Half Marathon. I think it took her maybe five minutes tops to convince me to run with her because she sold me with only a few things:
- Free housing for the trip (because we could stay in her apartment)
- $1 fish tacos (need I say more?)
- A half marathon on the beach (think about the views!)
- Warm California weather compared to the freezing cold of the Midwest (no explanation needed)
- Celebrating Amanda’s birthday (it was her birthday week when we visited!)
- $150 round-trip plane tickets (actually affordable plane tickets!)
- I hear of people all the time finding really cheap tickets on flights but have never had any lunch. Amanda used SkyScanner and within minutes we had found flights (with only 2 seats left!) round-trip from St. Louis to San Diego for $150.
Like I said, within an hour of Amanda bringing up the idea of us going to San Diego for the half marathon we had bought plane tickets for the trip and were HYPED. If in your head you’re thinking, “wow that is irresponsible for you guys to spend so money so fast” or whatever kind of thought like that, here’s the deal. Alan and I know our values. We value adventures, challenges, time together, time with our family and friends, good food, being somewhat spontaneous, and living our best lives. When we considered our values and considered this trip, it seemed like a no brainer that we should go. (Sidenote: if you have someone you do life with, talk about your values so making decisions gets easier!) Also, if you read my 24 things in 24 hours on my 24th birthday post, one of my goals for my 24th year of life was to run a destination half marathon, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to accomplish one of my goals!
When we bought the plane tickets it seemed like a long time away, but December through March flew by! I think work and grad school had a lot to do with it, but before we knew, it was time to pack our bags and head to the airport!
Fast forward to Friday, March 2nd when we began our journey to San Diego. Alan and I both have class Friday morning (I actually had a big exam that morning), so I went to class at 7:30 a.m. and Alan went at 8:30 a.m. I went on a short and slow 3 mile run at Truman’s Rec to get my legs moving and ready for the weekend since I knew we would be sitting in cars and airplanes most of the day. We were on the road to St. Louis by 9:30 a.m. that day! Since we were traveling from Kirksville, we got our plane tickets from St. Louis, so we leg one of our journey was the 3.5 hour car ride from Kirksville to St. Louis. When we got to St. Louis, we drove straight to Alan’s house so his dad could drop us off at the airport in time for our flight. The airport process was pretty chill since we were just traveling with backpacks and got right through. However I did get my bag checked because of all the snacks I packed! I asked the security worker why my snack bag had to be scanned and he said it was because of the density (like I said, I packed a lot of snacks….) and he said this is more common these days. They didn’t take away anything, but it basically means that they take an extra look at all of the snacks I bring. Other than the extra scan, we got through security and the travel process was chill. I worked on homework at the airport and all the way through the flight.
I won’t bore you with more airplane details, but many hours later we finally arrived in San Diego! With the time change we ended up getting there at 6 p.m. San Diego time, which was 8 p.m. in Kirksville time, so we were super hungry. Luckily, Amanda and Leah (surprise! our great pal, Leah Dieker, joined us for the half and San Diego getaway as well!) picked us up from the airport with food! Amanda stopped by Lucha Libre Taco Shop on the way to the airport and picked up a shrimp and steak burrito, rolled tacos, and chips and salsa. We called these our appetizers and they were so freakin’ tasty. I love mexican food but fresh mexican seafood right after you get off a plane hits the spot more than usual!
We drove over to Cornado Island and ate our appetizers and watched the sunset, which was beautiful. After bopping around the island for a bit, our tummies decided it was time for dinner so we went to Liberty Public Market! Liberty Public Market is a local marketplace that has food, shops, and more. We all got to pick the food that sounded best, so I went with a shrimp salad. I felt like I couldn’t pass up the shrimp being so close to the ocean!
A shrimp salad with all the goods like greens, avocado, red onion, and avocado!
After dinner we hung out at Stone Brewery, another restaurant at the Public Market! There was outdoor seating so we got to sit under the stars, but next to one of those outdoor heaters because it was still chilly outside even though we were in California! We talked until it was almost midnight our time, which you know is way past my bedtime. We wrapped it up and headed back to Amanda’s so we could get a good nights sleep to explore the next day!
We all slept in on Saturday, and by slept in I mean we are all used to waking up by 6 a.m. so we were awake by 7:30 a.m., and were feeling super ready to go explore San Diego! Amanda was our AMAZING tour guide and took us to all of the cool places!
We started out the morning with our favorite thing… BRUNCH. We ate brunch at Swami’s Cafe and eating outside in the sunshine was so good! I ordered the green omelette (asparagus, spinach, avocado, green onions, bell peppers, and zucchini) with a fruit cup and sourdough bread. It was very filling and fantastic. We paired this with a ton of water because we had to prep for race day!
After brunch we headed to the Encinitas Half Marathon Race Expo to pick up our t-shirts, race bibs, and get all the free samples. My favorite free samples of the day were from Rebbl, Larabar, and Honey Stinger. I think the excitement of the half marathon finally kicked in when we picked up our race bibs! I was so giddy with excitement that I was for sure jumping up and down, smiling so big, and let’s be real, I was yelling.
After stopping at the race expo, Amanda drove the race route so we had somewhat of an idea where we would be running the next day. For those of you who don’t know where Encinitas is, it is RIGHT BY THE OCEAN. The course was over 7 miles of oceanfront running along Highway 101. So imagine running on a closed highway and you look over and see beaches plus a big ocean. Yeah, I imagined that in my head back in December which is why I signed up for the race!
Driving the race route took approximately 10 minutes so we decided to stop by some tide pools and walk along the beach for awhile! The views were incredible.
We also decided to be those tourists (P.S. I am never ashamed of doing the tourist things!) and go to La Jolla! La Jolla is this pretty boujee area, but there was this beach with so many seals. It was the most seals I’ve ever seen in my entire life. You could walk up and be about 3 feet from a seal. It was like being at the St. Louis Zoo LIVE. It smelt pretty bad so we only stayed for a bit. Of course when it started to get later in the afternoon and we were feeling tired from walking around so much, we went to an amazing coffee shop, Sugar and Scribe. If you’ve never heard of it, which I don’t blame you if you’re from the midwest, Sugar and Scribe is a coffee shop/bakery/restaurant. It has received a ton of awards and we found out why…
I ordered a cappuccino with almond milk (I usually order fancy when I’m trying new places) and Alan and I split double thick chocolate chip cookies. Yes you read that write, DOUBLE THICK CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. It was the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
After enjoying our drinks and sweet treats, we tried to get free pizza. We got coupons in our race bags earlier that day for free slices of pizza so we went to Napizza, a pizza place in Little Italy. We tried to use them but ended up going to the wrong location and they wouldn’t let us use them (lame for you, Napizza). However, since we were there and we were getting tired, we ended up getting dinner any way. Leah, Al, and Amanda all got pizza but I’m pretty picky about “night before race” meals so I ordered something I knew wouldn’t mess with my tummy. I got the Superfood Salmon Salad, which was super tasty. It also gave me inspiration to make a salad like that sometime soon in the future!
After dinner, we were all so exhausted. I think the sunshine, all the walking, and staying up late made our bodies so tired so we all went to bed by 8:30 p.m. to get ready for the big day! If I’m being honest we didn’t actually go to bed at 8:30 p.m. because Leah and I stayed up talking, but we were still laying down and ready to sleep at any moment. When you’re with good friends, that’s just what happens, and it’s great.
On Sunday our alarms went off at 5:45 a.m. IT WAS RACE DAY!!! It took me a few minutes to wake up, but I jumped off the air mattress, which also forced Alan up because he was on the same air mattress, and was feeling HYPED. I ate my usual pre long-run meal, a toasted bagel with almond butter and a sliced banana, drank some coffee, and hydrated with some water. After eating, I got my race gear on which consisted of my trustee Under Armor long spandex, long sleeve tech shirt, running socks, Mizuno running shoes, and Buff head band. After getting prepped, I got my pre-race poo in (all my fellow runners know how important that is!), grabbed my head phones, water bottle, and phone. I was officially race ready.
We drove to Encinitas and Alan dropped us off close to the starting line. It was so funny to me because the weather that early in the morning was low 50’s and there were people wearing long leggings with sweatshirts, beanies, gloves, and all of the winter gear. If you’re from the Midwest, you’ll know we had a BRUTAL winter, so I was used to training outside in single digit temperatures with negative windchill. When I saw the weather during the race was going to be upper 50’s and low 60’s, I was ready for it to feel like summer!
Alan dropped us off about 20 minutes early, which gave us just enough time to get a pre-race pee in. As much as I love getting to places early, I actually don’t like getting to races early because it makes me super anxious. I like to get there right on time to pee and then go to the starting line. A super cool thing was that while I was waiting in line for the port-o-potties, I spotted someone with a pair of Truman shorts, and it happened to be two Truman alumni! They moved out to California after they graduated in 2007, and they couldn’t figure out why I was in California to run this race when I lived in Kirksville still. Go Dogs, am I right?
THE RACE. The Encinitas Half Marathon. This post would not be complete if I didn’t tell you about my experience and show you some of the pictures I took!
THE STARTING LINE
The sky from the starting line was beautiful. Crowded, but beautiful. I won’t go into too many details about the race, but basically it was two things: really hard but really awesome. It was hard because sometime during the first two miles of running, I convinced myself I was going to run sub 2, meaning I wanted to try to run the race in less than two hours. I trained running about a 9:15-9:30ish pace, which meant I had to kick it into gear and run faster than I trained if I wanted to accomplish that goal.
The race was awesome because you were always around people but there weren’t so many runners that you felt like you were about to be trampled (before the start of a race I always picture that scene in the Lion King and am worried that will happen to someone!) The highway was next to the ocean, the sun was shining, music was playing, and we were running. It was so fun. If you’re a runner, maybe you can relate to the feelings of excitement and accomplishment as you’re running along thinking about how all your training was worth it. It’s incredible and I love it!
Like I said, while it was really fun, it was also really hard. The reason it was so hard was because I ran way faster than I trained. I somehow got it in my mind during those first two miles I was going to run sub 2 so I had to book it, and I did. I ran 8:30- 8:45 miles the entire race, finishing at 1:56! Leah was super encouraging and we pushed each other the entire time. The last 3 miles were HARD and mentally it was super challenging. I knew I was getting tired in those last miles because the first 10 miles of the race, Leah and I would wave at every camera person we ran by, but then the last 3 I didn’t smile or wave at them one single time. However, I did throw my hands up in victory when I crossed the finish line!
Post-race was also so good. You guys know how much I love treats. Well, in the little chute you walk through after the race, I got the race medal, race mug, Rxbars (my fav!), bananas, gluten-free muffins, chocolate milk, and larabars. It was great post-race treats!
After some serious stretching, we took some obligatory post-race pictures! We also went to the post-race party hosted for all the runners because we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a free drink! We didn’t stay long because we wanted to celebrate our accomplishments with tacos!
The weekend in California made me realize my love for mexican seafood. I knew I loved mexican food, but I love it so much more when it’s combined with seafood! We went to Oscar’s Mexican Seafood and stocked up on shrimp tacos, smoked fish tacos, and tortas. So. Yummy.
For dinner, we went to Poki One N Half, which is a poke restaurant! Poke is essentially deconstructed sushi. I had never tried it before that day, but LOVED it. I got a bowl with tortilla chips, brown rice, green onions, cilantro, cucumbers, salmon, avocado, garlic crumbs, and the special sauce. Again, I LOVED IT. While we were eating I looked on my phone to see if there were any near Kirksville, and there’s one in St. Louis that I’ll be trying some time when we visit our families!
After dinner we dropped Leah off at the airport since she had to teach her little middle school kiddos the next morning! After dropping her off, we went to Pappalecco to get gelato to celebrate Amanda’s upcoming birthday! I got coffee and dark chocolate gelato, my two favorite things ever, and it was the perfect night cap.
After gelatos, we went back to Amanda’s and got to have a chill night catching up with her. One thing that made the weekend in San Diego so amazing was how amazing of a host Amanda was. She took us into her home, gave us a place to sleep, shuttled us around, showed us around her city, and bent over backwards to make sure we had a great weekend. One thing I learned from the weekend was that I aspire to host like Amanda hosts! I hope that wherever I live and whenever people visit, that I will serve and love them well.
You’d think that after waking up early, running a half marathon, and staying up late, your body would be exhausted and ready to sleep long and hard, right? Of course that makes sense but my body is weird sometimes and I woke up at 5:45 a.m. Amanda had already left for work and Alan was still sleeping so I spent the morning working on homework. No, I don’t love doing school work while I’m traveling, but because of the circumstances of working and doing school, I do what I have to do to make it work, and usually that means packing my books on adventures and working when I can.
After another chill morning, Alan and I had an early lunch at The Mission in downtown San Diego. Of course, the cuisine was mexican, and of course, we got chips and salsa. I also got a big grilled chicken salad and Al got steak and potatoes. The best part about this meal was that the gorgeous weather that allowed us to eat outside! It was in the 70’s and felt so perfect.
After lunch, we really only had about two hours before we needed to head to the airpot, so we did two more things. The first thing we did was go to to the San Diego Public Library. If you know Alan, you know he loves books, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit. The library was HUGE. We just went up to the 17th floor and sat in comfy chairs for about an hour.
The very last thing we did, which is ultimately my favorite thing to do in new cities we visit, was get ice cream! I did some research while we were at the library and found a really cool place, Salt & Straw. Salt & Straw is an ice cream shop that makes weird-flavored, homemade ice cream and has locations in San Diego, Portland, Seattle, Los Angelos, and San Francisco. With flavors like “salted, malted, chocolate chip cookie dough,” “james coffee & bourbon,” “sea salt with caramel ribbons,” “avocado & oxacan chocolate fudge,” “roasted strawberry coconut,” and “peanut butter stout with chocolate chicharron” just to name a few… we couldn’t pass it up.
The whole Salt & Straw experience was so fun because the people working actually wanted us to try everything, and each set of customers got assigned a worker to get their ice cream. It’s like they were our own personal sales assistant, helping us through the ice-cream choosing process. To me, this was a dream! Alan landed on the Pots of Gold & Rainbows flavor and I chose the Roasted Strawberry Coconut.
The trip to San Diego gets much more boring after the ice cream. Basically, we got dropped off at the airport and spent the next 11 hours traveling to St. Louis. With a long layover at LAX, Alan and I basically snacked, worked on homework, talked, and kept ourselves occupied until arriving in St. Louis at 1:30 a.m. A huge shout out to Rob, my amazing brother-in-law, for picking us up at the airpot so late/early! After getting picked up, we slept for a few hours in St. Louis, woke up and ate breakfast, and then made the trek back to Kirksville to resume work, grad school, and life in Kirksville.
If you’ve stuck with me to this point, I applaud you! My final thoughts are this:
- Travel even when you think you don’t have enough time! The fact of the matter is that you’re always going to have some excuse for not traveling. If you are in that mindset too much, you’re going to spend time waiting for the “best” opportunity, when in fact that opportunity is now. Save up your money from work, do homework in the car, work extra so you can take a day off, make arrangements, and do what you need to do to make it work. If you want to travel, you have to make it a priority. For Alan and I, every travel opportunity, even the short ones, have always been worth it!
- Be an amazing host like Amanda. No matter where you live or who visits you, offer up your home, recommend the cool places to see, and take the time to serve and love the visitors well.
- Do things that challenge you! Race hard and push yourself. Commit to things that intimidate you. Ask friends to do things alongside you.
- EAT GOOD FOOD. Try new things, go to the restaurants with good ratings, and treat yourself. Especially if you live in a city like Kirksville where you don’t have access to the best restaurants…
Wow, this was a lot. Again, I’m surprised if any of you even made it this far, but if you did and have questions, drop them in the comments below! Also, here’s what I want to know:
- Where is the next city Alan and I should visit?
- Do you know of any good races I should sign up for next?
- Do you travel as much as you want to?