Archive for the ‘La Jolla Half Marathon’ Category

Yes, I know my title sounds overly dramatic, but I needed to finally finish out our weekend in La Jolla (since it was already more than a week ago!). I promised I’d post about eating in Encinitas (following up my post about eating vegan in La Jolla).

After the race, we cleaned up, checked out, then headed up the coast toward Encinitas. North County San Diego has been our hang out for a long time. I went to high school in Fallbrook, so ‘going to the beach’ meant the Leucadia/Encinitas area. Early in our relationship (which just hit the 15 year mark this month!), Alan and I would spend a couple weekends a month during the summer. We’d run, go to the beach, enjoy the cool weather, then when we started cycling, we’d bring our bikes and ride. I even have a favorite spa that I visit occasionally in Leucadia.

Because we love the area so much, we were very happy when we went vegetarian that there were many ‘veggie-friendly’ restaurants there, like the Roxy, Swami’s, and even my favorite Italian restaurant when I ate meat, Gusto’s. So, when we headed north last weekend, I had a destination in mind, the Lotus Cafe.

Although they serve meat, they are still very veggie/vegan friendly. Their menu explicitly designates what is vegetarian, what is vegan or can be made vegan, or what is vegan with the exception of containing honey. It is a very useful tool.

By the time we arrived, I was really hungry. After running the half marathon, I had nibbled on a banana, but I hadn’t felt very good, so that was all that I ate. Fortunately, I was feeling better and my appetite had returned. Unfortunately, the line (one orders at the counter, then they bring it to your table) was out the front door. We contemplated going somewhere else, but figured we’d spend the same amount of time looking for another place that might be just as busy. We grabbed a couple menus and settled in to wait.

The line moved quickly and we soon made our way to the counter. The young lady who took our order was very friendly and helpful. I wanted food right away, so I ordered the lentil soup that was on special, plus the ‘Tempting Tamale.’ Alan ordered the “Avocado Heaven” sandwich, was was billed as honey vegan because the bread contained honey.

My soup came quickly and I dug in. It came with a slice of whole grain bread, which I verified with our server that was vegan. She assured me that it was. The soup was tasty, but not hot enough. I was way too hungry to wait any longer, so I started eating it anyway. Our entrees were served quickly, before I finished the soup. Usually, that annoys me, but I was hungry enough to just be happy to see more food.

Because our main courses came so quickly, I was able to compare my slice of bread with the bread that Alan’s sandwich was on (I didn’t take a picture). They looked exactly the same! Mine was supposed to be vegan, and his had honey in it. Hmmm. Not being in the mood for that kind of discussion, I just let it go and did not eat the bread.

My tamale was indeed tempting. It was served with rice, beans, a small salad, and a sauce that could have been a little spicier. It was still very good and hit the spot.

Our meal, including the soup, came to about $20. Not cheap, but not too bad for a tasty, healthy lunch. I would recommend the Lotus Cafe, but make sure that you ask questions (just like you would at any non-vegan restaurant) to make sure you are getting what you want. The service was fast and friendly and the food was good. There is a pleasant ambiance and lot of patio seating. I’ll be back.

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Yes, it is possible to eat vegan at a La Jolla restaurant. And I don’t mean visiting a random, omnivoric (is that a word?) restaurant, asking a million questions, only to be served something that either has bits of chicken in it (yes, that has happened to me), or to settle on a salad and hope that someone in the kitchen doesn’t think it would be ‘better’ with cheese shredded over the top.

For our visit to the area last weekend, we really only had one meal to deal with, dinner. We left a little later than normal, so lunch was home cooked. Since I was running the half marathon in the morning, and Alan was announcing the 5k, breakfast would consist of fruit and Clif Bars. After the event, we would be checking out and heading up to Encinitas for lunch. Encinitas is much, um, friendlier for vegans (more on that later).

Of course, we had gone through this last year, my first as a vegan. Fortunately, for us and for the veggie community as a whole, there is HappyCow.net, and their mobile app for Android. Thanks to Happy Cow, I had discovered that there were no vegan restaurants within walking distance (or anywhere actually in La Jolla). Fortunately, the app also lists veggie-friendly restaurants, and yes, there was one in town.

Now, La Jolla is a high end town, with a lot of high end restaurants. Don Carlos Taco Shop, reviewed on Happy Cow as ‘just a taco stand,’ is not. It is a tiny place, with four tables, a menu posted on the wall, where you order at the counter. Although they serve meat, and the standard, cheese-laden fare, they do have a vegetarian menu (also full of diary). They also have, both on their online menu and on their wall, a welcome sign: “If you are vegan, let us know.”

They also state that they use no lard or stock in any of their food. I ordered the mushroom tofu burrito. It was huge and delicious! And it was only $4.85! Alan had the Vegi Burrito, also huge, for the same price. The ambiance may leave something to be desired, but the food definitely does not. It is excellent Mexican food, healthy, huge and all at a very reasonable price.

Coming up in my next post: Lunch at the Lotus Cafe in Encinitas.

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During this past weekend in La Jolla, I did do a few things besides running the La Jolla Half Marathon. We had gorgeous weather, especially on Saturday, when it was about 85 degrees (very warm for the coastline in San Diego), sunny and perfect. It was cooler on Sunday, but it was great running weather. Here the rest of our weekend in a (rather larger) nutshell:

The Expo

After sitting through some pretty horrendous traffic (the few miles from the freeway to downtown La Jolla took about 30 minutes) we stopped by the expo, for Alan to check in with the race director, and for me to pick up my race packet. Expo is a rather grand word for this event, which exists of race check-in, packet and t-shirt pick up, along with six or eight vendor booths. After getting our business done, we took about 10 minutes to wander through. Nothing real exciting, although one booth offered some t-shirts with cute running sayings, such as “If you see me collapse, please pause my Garmin,”  “This seemed like a good idea 3 months ago,” and “If found on ground, please drag across the finish line.” My favorites, because they seem so true to me are, “The older I get, the faster I was,” “Toenails are for sissies,” and my favorite, all time cross country shirt, “My sport is your sport’s punishment.”

The best of all was: “You know you’re a runner when…” (on the front of the shirt) On the back:

  • You can recite the dialogue from chariots of fire.
  • Your vacations are planned around marathons.
  • You lube up to get into your clothes to prevent chafing.
  • Your friends don’t call you anymore to go out on Saturday nights.
  • The majority of t-shirts in your closet have sponsors and race dates on them.
  • You consider gels a food group.
  • You consider a half marathon a good “training” run.
  • You can say fartlek without laughing.
  • You buy advil and Epsom salts in bulk.
  • You can correctly spell plantar fasciitis.

The problem was,  I wanted them all, so in the end I couldn’t decide and bought none. I did get this, though: Mine is pink. I got it to go with my license plate, which is RNINGRL. Perfect, no? All these items were from One More Mile and they had tons more sayings on their shirts–something for everyone!

Old Friends

After the expo, we headed over to the La Jolla Cove Suites to check in. Our plan is always to get to the hotel, park the car, then not use it again until we leave. The traffic along the coast is always pretty bad, and getting from point A to point B is challenging. We dropped off our bags, then walked the few hundred feet to the La Jolla Cove. Even at about 4:00, the day was still so warm no sweater was necessary.

I have some friends that take great self photos, but not me.

We took a stroll along the path, then headed up to town for a little window shopping. We stopped at the La Valencia, which is an old, elegant hotel that looks out over the ocean, for a glass of wine. Does two years in a row make a tradition? If so, that’s what our stop is. This year we sat out on the deck and enjoyed the warm weather.

My Darling Husband

What really made this year special, though, was that I was going to see someone who I hadn’t seen for more than 38 years! My first best friend! Kathi, who I met the first day we moved to Los Alamitos when we were both three years old! She lived on the street behind me and we were inseparable all through elementary school. Birthday parties, swimming (we had the pool and we both were always in it), Disneyland, all the things that young girls share when they are best friends. I was a year ahead of her in school (due to a cut-off date), so unfortunately, we started to grow apart as I got into junior high school. We moved out of Orange County as I was entering my junior year of high school, and I hadn’t seen her since.

We reconnected, not surprisingly, through Facebook. All that had really amounted to, up to this point, though, was some reminiscing on each others’ wall. When I put a call out last week for advice about whether to run the race, Kathi let me know that she would be in La Jolla that very weekend. We exchanged phone numbers and she happened to call while we were at the La Valencia, so we decided to meet there.

We really had a great time. It was so much fun, catching up, meeting Kathi’s husband, Kirk, talking about old times, new times. The time passed way too quickly, especially for two people that needed to wake up at 4:00 the next morning and still had not had dinner (that would be Alan and me). Finally, after too short a time, we said our goodbyes. Hopefully, it won’t be another 38 years before we see each other again.

I have to apologize, though. In this short period of time since I knew I was going to see Kathi again, I haven’t been able to find any old pictures of our childhood together. I’m sure I have them somewhere and I’ll keep looking and post them when I find them, but until then I’ll have to leave you with this very bad photo that Alan took on Saturday. Sorry, Kathi.

With that I’ll end part one of the rest of our weekend in La Jolla. Next post I will talk about eating vegan in La Jolla.

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Thanks (I think) to all of you who voted through this blog, Facebook, and Twitter, in response to the question I asked in my last post. I asked for your help in deciding whether, in spite of poor training, I should run the La Jolla Half Marathon last Sunday. The majority were definitely wearing Nikes, meaning you all said “Just do it.” So I did.

I spent most of Saturday wavering. The other options were very alluring (and much easier than running the half marathon). By late afternoon, though, I’d pretty much decided, as one commenter stated, to “just go for it.” Therefore, I kept my wine drinking to just one glass 🙂

Fortunately, after Saturday’s near record high temperatures of around 85, the forecast for Sunday was about 15 degrees cooler. We (the runners) were required to take a bus from the La Jolla Cove to the Del Mar Fairgrounds, which is the start line of the race. You actually have the option of parking in La Jolla and busing to Del Mar before the race, or parking in Del Mar and taking a bus back following the race (which is what I’ve done in most recent years after a horrid ‘stuck on the bus on the freeway five minutes before race time’ experience about 10 years ago). However, because Alan was announcing the 5k, we were staying at the La Jolla Cove Suites, right across from the finish line and just down the street from the bus pick up.

The first bus was scheduled at 5:00, the last bus at 6:00, I presume to avoid those stuck on the freeway moments. We were required to be in line for the bus by 5:30! This is for a race that starts at 7:30. Needless to say, I was up early. Alan had to leave the hotel at 5:00 as well, to meet the motorcyclist that would drive him to the 5k start line. So we were both up very early, had our coffee, light breakfasts, etc. and out the door.

I rocked the running skirt!

On the bus, I sat next to a young woman named Lacey, from Santa Monica, who was preparing for her first marathon in a couple weeks, the Big Sur International Marathon. I felt like the wise old owl, sharing my experiences in the 35 marathons that I have finished.

When I arrived at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, I had almost two hours to wait before the start of the race. In the past, I’ve always had my husband to keep me company, plus a few friends to hang out with. This year, I had found  no name on the registration list that I knew. So I started by wandering around the venue, finding the water and the clothing drop off (for later, it was way too chilly to drop off so early!).

I’m going to share a secret that only a few wise veterans of the La Jolla Half Marathon are a party to. Before you read further, you must pledge, on your running shoes (or biking shoes depending on how your roll), that you will not reveal what I’m going to tell you. Do I have your word? Alright then:

I am in possession of the secret knowledge of the existence of a large, clean, well-stocked, plumbed, bathroom barely one tenth of a mile from the long row of porta-potties available for the masses. Yes, the runners dream–no lines, no holding your breath-not to mention no holding a half-squat, seat covers, and yes, sinks with running water, soap and paper towels. Of course, my next destination as I awaited the start was to my special place.

I actually found a seat in that area, knowing I would probably make at least one more trip before the start of the race. I relaxed and listened to a book that I have downloaded on my phone, and that made the time pass pretty quickly.

As race time approached, I dropped off my warm ups, took one last potty stop and moved into the starting area. I didn’t bother with a warm up, knowing that my plan was to “start slow, then back off,” as I read on someone’s t-shirt. Finally, the National Anthem, then we were off!

I’m not going to share my mile-by-mile experiences during the race. I will tell you a line that kept running through my head during the race (at least something was running!), “Those who can, run. Those who can’t run..take pictures.”

I made it to mile four relatively easily. I knew that I wasn’t going to suddenly and successfully start running eight minute miles, so I tried to relax and just enjoy the experience. It is a beautiful course and I was surrounded by a few thousand like-minded athletes. I was prepared to take it easy, walk if necessary, and take pictures. What could go wrong?

Well, exercise induced asthma for one thing. It is something that has been an issue for me when I’m racing, since back in 1996, when my new boyfriend, Alan, was going to pace me to a PR (personal record) in a 10k. Well, I did get that PR. However, I don’t much remember the experience because I passed out on the finish line (another running shirt I saw, “If I collapse, drag me across the finish line.”) I married him anyway. Throughout those 35 marathons I’ve run, I’ve had varying degrees of asthma problems, from the occasional need to take a puff of an inhaler, to needing the medication so badly I carry the inhaler in my hand, to twice having to drop out of the race because I just couldn’t recover enough to finish. It is always some degree of an issue, though. Yeah, I’m crazy, what of it? Training properly is very important because my body adapts, my lungs get stronger, and I have a lot fewer issues. Training, which, of course, I didn’t do much of for this race.

So, I’m running along in mile four, feeling pretty good, when all of a sudden, I feel it coming. It’s not sudden, like my airway closing while I start wheezing. It is more like a feeling of light-headedness, a tingling in my extremities, a flashing of light in my vision. When I feel that, I immediately stop running and start walking, take a couple puffs of albuterol, and try to walk it off. When I feel it lift, I can start running again.

And so it went. I’d run a while, have to walk, wait for the ‘spell’ to pass, then start running. About eight more time during the race. I try not to use the medication each time. Once I started walking, I’d feel pretty good, not like I’m going to pass out. But I know that if I tried to keep running, I’d get slower and slower as my body stops getting enough air, my vision would darken, and eventually I’d pass out. So I walked. Then I figured if I walked I should take pictures So I did:

I told him "some people will do anything to get out of running." It earned me a smile.

After I passed the cop, I ran pretty well down the hill, pausing at the entrance for one quick snap:

Then part way up just to show that there were people behind me:

I actually ran strong the rest of the way up the hill. Not fast, just strong. After that, my cycle just kept repeating itself. Run for a while, feel the asthma, walk, recover, repeat. And that, my friends, is pretty much the story of my race. From mile 7-10, I didn’t even want to bother to take pictures. It required too much energy that I needed to keep upright and moving forward. Mile 11 was heading downhill toward Scripp’s Institution of Oceanography, and I was actually able to get it together a bit.

I have always love this purple house at mile 12 and I finally got a picture of it.

There is a rather steep hill at mile 12 that comes as a shock to first timers (I heard one girl say “you’ve gotta be kidding me!”). My photo from the bottom doesn’t really give you a sense of the grade of this hill, but believe me, at mile 12 of a challenging half marathon it is tough. Not only that, but once you get up this hill you turn a corner, thinking that the hill is leveling off, only to find that you about another third mile uphill! After that, though, you finally have a clear, wonderful downhill to the finish. On cobblestones! (It’s actually more like a brick surface, but by that time, it may as well be cobblestones)

No photos of the finish line (I should receive the race photo in a few days, if I choose to buy it). As I ran the last 100 yards, I could feel the emotion swell up inside me, something I always feel at the end of a full marathon. Unfortunately, it is not good for asthma, which seems to react to emotion in a detrimental way. As soon as I finished, I could feel my airways start to close up, and the wheezing started. Fortunately, as I walked through the finisher’s area, collecting my water and pretzels (the only vegan option besides bananas), my breathing calmed down. I wandered over to the stage, where Alan was presenting the 5k awards, just to let him know that I was done and that I was okay.

It took me a while to recover from this race. I was dehydrated, despite drinking at each water station (they don’t have enough at this race, about every two miles). My toes were cramping. When I was taking my shower, I started to feel so dizzy that I had to hold on to the wall. When I was drying my hair and putting on make up, I couldn’t hold my arms over my head, they felt weak and heavy. It really took me several hours, lot’s of fluids, and a full meal before I started to feel normal again.

Woo Hoo! Finisher's Medal!

Crampy toes--they were stuck in that pointed position.

Please promise me. If I ever, and I mean ever, start talking about running a half marathon (or riding a century), and figure I can get through based on my past history, STOP ME! Send me back to this post. While I still love this race, and still enjoyed the people, the view, the challenge, I have reached a point in my life (I guess I should say, I have reached an age) where the detrimental effect on my body outweighs the experience. I need to train if I’m going to compete. Simple, huh?

By the way, don’t worry about me. Aside from some very sore quadriceps muscles, I feel fine today. I can breathe, I am re-hydrated and well fueled. But not quite ready for more. Yet.

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Enlarge the photo to see the Torrey Pines hill ahead.

This Sunday is the La Jolla Half Marathon. It is one of my favorite races. The course is so beautiful, you can just enjoy the sights as you take your 13.1 mile trip from the Del Mar Race Track to the La Jolla Cove. The beauty can almost, but not quite, make you happy to endure the suffering of the climb through Torrey Pines State Park. Oh, and that final steep hill at mile 12 (that’s a warning to first-timers. Yes, it is unfair).

The La Jolla Half Marathon has special meaning to me in another way, too. Three years ago, my oldest son, Nathan, and I crossed the finish line together in what was his first half marathon. You can read a little about his story here.  The wonderful girlfriend mentioned at the end of the post? She is now his fiancee, with a November wedding date.

I love this race. And, because Alan is announcing the 5k (he’s moving up to the “show” next year and announcing the half marathon!), I have a comped entry into this year’s sold out event. The race promoters are putting us up at a hotel right across from the finish line. The weather should be about perfect this weekend, sunny with the high about 70 degrees. Great racing weather.

My dilemma? Well, I haven’t exactly trained for this race. (Yeah, I know, you’ve all heard that one from me before.) My longest run in the past two months was 10 miles. Once. About three weeks ago. Oh, and I did do the Palm Springs Half Marathon two months ago. That’s it for endurance training. That would be all well and good if I had a base of running five or six miles a couple days a week. Nope. I generally run two days per week, with my mileage totaling about 10-15 miles. That is miles per week. I do ride my bike another two days a week, but that doesn’t do much for your half marathon training. And, of course, I have no speed training whatsoever.

I did try to test myself this morning. After running three miles with my dogs, I went right back out and ran another five. You know what? It was hard.  As I was running up the trail, which has a grade of about 3-4%, I struggled and imagined Torry Pines Hill with it’s 10-15% grade. Or Princess St., which I’m not sure, but feels like about 18%. Lordy, I’m in trouble!

So I have a decision to make. Before I haul my ass out of bed to catch the 5:00 am bus to Del Mar (last bus at 6, must be in line by 5:30, race starts at 7:30), I need to have a plan.

Here are my choices:

1. Suck it up. You say you’re a runner, so get out and run. After so many years of running, racing, marathoning, etc., you should have enough base, not to mention cajones, to get through a mere 13.1 miles.

2. Repeat what I did last year (when, of course, I was in the exact state of too little training), which was to start running from the La Jolla Cove along the reverse route of the race. Pass the start of the 5k, kiss my husband, run another .9 miles for a total of four, mostly uphill miles. By that time the 5k had started (so had the half, but it would be a while before they’d catch up). Then I turned around and ran the mostly downhill four miles back to the hotel. Watch the festivities at the finish line from the deck on top of the hotel.

3. This one has the most allure for me: Leave the hotel around 6:45, run the reverse course to the start line of the 5k. Kiss my husband. Then turn around and join the racers on their way back to the La Jolla Cove.  Participate in the festivities at the finish line.

4. Ah, to hell with it. Sleep in, eat breakfast, and kiss my husband when he comes back after the race.

Please help me decide. Your opinion is very important to me. What should I do?

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