San Diego: Weekend Review

The perk of destination races is being able to make a vacation out of them and exploring God’s unbelievably, amazing creation.  Motivation lies behind the sightseeing tour on the course or maybe it’s simply the thought of devouring into some great food and experiencing the adventures around the city or town!  Don’t get me wrong, vacations are for relaxing, too.  But I’m learning a lot about myself along this journey to accomplish goals such as 13 half-marathons in 13 states. 

I have always been an outdoorsy girl with an adventurous soul and what a better way to motivate myself by varying the 13.1 courses.  I asked myself, “why do the same one twice?”  I find that once I achieve something like skydiving, I don’t feel the need to do it again.  Unless, of course, I want to aim for a serious personal best, but I’m doing just that despite the challenging courses I choose along the way.  It’s hard to beat your own record if there are serious hills, if it’s HOT, have injuries, or if you’re having GI complications.  Well, last weekend I met a hellacious hill at nearly 300 feet in elevation, which brought about my annoying IT band flair up, and suffered major consequences from Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (or possibly the Mexican meal I sacrificed just for my husband – he LOVES Mexican!) 2 nights before.  I was on this trip to have fun or rather a BLAST…with my husband and racing this half-marathon as part of my training in beautiful San Diego. 

Sometimes, we don't plan to rent a convertible on our trips...
but when hitting the coast or any never fails, we buy into the temptation of the coastal lifestyle. 
On to the reviews and keeping it simple and visual…

For the endurance junkies: San Diego Half-Marathon Course

The race was well-organized with a start and finish within a block of each other at the Gaslamp Quarters.  We stayed at the Marriott Gaslamp, it was perfectly located in between the start and finish so my husband could go back and relax while waiting for me to finish.  The downside is that the hotel does not include breakfast but they do have daily happy hour on the rooftop overlooking the bay and the Petco ballpark.  The San Diego Half Marathon website provided great details for participants and spectators.  They even provided a visual tour of the course.  However, do NOT let the pictures deceive you at mile 9…where I met the torturous hill that seemed never-ending.  I’m not sure what was worst, the hill in Iroquois Park of the old Kentucky Derby Mini-Marathon course or this one!  In addition, I kept looking for the glorious downhill after that but it wasn’t until mile 11!  The course is pretty quiet but BEAUTIFUL!  I was perfectly content with the views of the bay, marina, and running through the military appreciation mile without a lot of noise.   There was a girl I was pacing with and around mile 11, she says, “girl, you are strong, I’ve been eyeing you.”  Wow, she sent chills down my spine.  What made me feel even more confident was finding out later that she’s ran 7 marathons!!  It was pretty cool to have a chat with a stranger, a girl I was pacing with in the race and finish together.  In fact, I gave her high fives in the photos and she hugged me after the finish.  That’s what good sportsmanship is all about!
At the start...
My husband usually follows me until I cross the start...
this is my typical, high-energy behavior. 
Again, pictures do not do it justice...
the start of the 300ft in elevation at mile 9...
keep going...
you think you're almost at the top until you turn the corner...

That ramp on the left...around the turn it finally levels off...
In the end, it felt pretty special to be medalled by their soldiers who stood in a line at the finish rewarding us all even though it’s not even close to the battle they’ve been through.  As usual, there are always amazing and inspirational stories to each race.  As we were grabbing a bite to eat at a restaurant at the finish, we heard a roar of cheers and saw a victory line…we just witnessed the last person crossing the finish line in tears.  A lady who crossed for the first time and was awarded with a stuffed panda and a card!  I got goose bumps!

My husband spots my joy on the megatron (in neon to the left of the middle guy)...
the joy like I just finished at personal best.
For the adventurous souls and traveling gurus: San Diego’s Perks

My husband pretty much planned this trip and took advantage of his weekend off to explore the picturesque city.  This was his first time to San Diego and my second.  I have to admit, it’s always hard for me to let go and let him take control of the trip plans.  After all, he always exceeds my expectations.  Needless to say, Trip Advisor has always been our traveling tool for planning since members will post pictures and provide great depth of reviews.  Our thought process for ‘things to do’ in the city, was to experience things we would not anywhere else in the U.S.  Well, we did just that! I think pictures will do most of the reviews for this one (click on the links or the names for further info on the following organizations' websites)…

Balboa Park

When going to Balboa Park, make it a day event and purchase a full day pass.  We figured the math and felt you get more out of the full day pass than any other combo.  Therefore, we hit almost all the bring walking shoes!

The Museum of Man...Mayan Culture
The Japanese Garden 
Rain or shine...we have a BLAST!
The Car Museum...this car was pretty fascinating.

Japanese Garden

Bumble Bee at the Airspace museum!

 Point Loma Overlook:

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

The view of the overlook...

The sunset behind the lighthouse...
Soldiers memorial site...

 San Diego Safari Park:

When going to the Safari Park, wear comfortable clothes, tennis shoes and enjoy the ride!  The tour guides are amazing and give great details about the history of this enormous and acres of Safari from South African to the Asian animal wildlife.  The views (like most of San Diego) are phenomenal with much education from the animal behavior experts!

Snack break at the top...

I think giraffes are my new favorite animals (before it was monkeys)!

An experience we'll never forget! 

Yes you're see us feeding and petting a specific species of Asian rhino!

Sail the Pacific Ocean with Sail San Diego

This was our first sailing experience and so much fun!  This was a 3-hour tour of the pacific that came with an experienced Captain and lots of education about the sailing culture.  In addition, they know much about sea animals as well.  If you want to see whales like we did, it's best to call ahead and ask.  Whale watching lasts up to April however, the whales were already in the current south and our 3-hour excursion wasn't long enough to go out far in order to take a chance on seeing whales.  You do get to see lots of cute seals and dolphins! 

Torrey Pines definitely requires hiking or jogging shoes!  The views were SPECTACULAR and this place is a MUST when in San Diego however, be prepared for the descents and climbs...and rattlesnakes!  Otherwise, just grab a bench or a cool overlook spot and soak in the beauty God created for you to see.

My husband was brave enough to stand at the top...but me...
I preferred to sit and open my arms to the world...

Finally made it to the rock on the beach...
next was the long hike back up to the top! 

Places to eat:

Prados at Balboa Park (Cohn Restaurant Group)

This pomegranate, Italian soda tasted very
Prados in Balboa Park
My husband enjoyed this delicious Fajita lunch

This place is on 5th Avenue and was within walking distance of the hotel.  They use all fresh ingredients so the food was scrumptious!! Sorry no pictures for this one but worth trying it out if around the Gaslamp Quarters in San Diego!

Great post run lunch, chowing down on a bucket of seafood.  I actually taught my husband how to eat crab legs...he was so excited he could eat them without shredding them to pieces.  He loved this place because you get complimentary chips and choose from a variety of salsa dips at the salsa bar!

Cody’s La Jolla 

When out traveling, we suggest to upload the Trip Advisor or Yelp app.  It was very helpful when my husband couldn't remember the name of this place.  Great for spontaneous planning!  The reviews raved about this place!

The view for lunch!
After our long hike...I was ready to devour in some protein...YUMMY omlet! 
Freshly made blackberry sage spritzer...perfect after the morning workout! 
They do have fabulous burgers...the reviews can be found on Trip Advisor.
Island Prime C Level (Cohn Restaurant Group) 

This place was on my husband's agenda for after sailing.  Prime was literally down the street from the Sail San Diego marina.  I've never enjoyed salmon until I went to Alaska in 2008...then I tried it again in the lower 48, way! Needless to say, I haven't given salmon a chance again until this past weekend.  DELISH! It was just right and didn't taste fishy!  I knew California food was fresh and yummy so I was willing to take the risk.  Fresh fish off the coast has always tasted much better than the inlands! 

These "Zero Proof" drinks were so good we got 2!
(Desert Oasis and Ginger Garden)

The view from Prime C
Last night, happy hour on the rooftop from Latitude Lounge watching the sunset...

Quote of the day:  Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting.  ~ Charles Kingsley

Bible verse of the day:  "He has made everything beautiful in His time."  ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11


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