Tag Archives: california

2016 ragnar so cal race recap

last month (april 1-2), kevin and i participated in our first ragnar relay race! if you don’t know, ragnar puts on a series of relay races across the country – teams of 12 spend two days (yes, overnight) each running three legs of an approximately 200 mile point-to-point course. we did the southern california edition, which started in huntington beach and ended on coronado in san diego!

we flew in a couple days before the race started so we could spend a little time with my family. i was so thankful to be able to squeeze this time in to see baby sister after four months apart! my dad also took us to check out a new brewery in redlands – perfect carb loading for the race the next day :)

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everything about ragnar screams crazy, but possibly the craziest part about this experience is that we only knew each other, plus two other teammates. I worked with our friend Johnnie back in Tucson, and when we asked us to be on a team with he and his fiance, Kristin, back in November, we didn’t really think twice about it! the rest of the team was comprised of their friends, all from Arizona. we met up with the team on their way to huntington from tucson on thursday evening, and joined them in the vans we rented for the weekend — here’s team Beer We Come all sunshine and smiles before having to run 200 miles.

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we got down to orange county around dinnertime, checked into our hotel, and went out for a team dinner at a nearby restaurant. kevin and i headed to bed pretty early in hopes of a good last night of rest before the race, but the freeway noise kept us up most of the night. we were up early friday morning to head down to the starting line to check in Van #1 (first 6 runners) and send off our first runner (kevin!). not a bad view to start the morning!

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we were short one runner on our team, so three people from our team filled in and each did a fourth leg as well. kevin filled in and kicked things off by running the first leg, a short 2-miler mostly along the huntington beach bike path. for some reason, I was worried about how much time there would be to pass in between the times that I was running, but I was amazed at how fast the two days went by once we started.

since I was runner 7, my first leg (12 miles) didn’t start until about 1:00pm, which was unfortunately right in the heat of the day, and my route did not have much shade. I was hoping to average around 8:00s, and was able to for the first 8 or so miles, but then had to slow down, and even stop and walk a few times because I was so overheated and dehydrated — definitely should have carried my own water because the course water stops were few and far between. I knew this would be the hardest leg to get through, since it was the longest and hottest, so I just tried to power through as best as I could. it felt amazing being done and passing the baton off to kevin to run next, and I even got a special medal for running the longest leg of the course!

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kevin was up next with about 9.5 miles and had a tough time on his leg as well – it was just so much hotter than we had run in throughout the past few months, and we also aren’t used to running in the middle of the afternoon. plus, his route was pretty hilly! I think we were both pretty relieved to get our longest legs out of the way first – although we got more tired, it still felt much easier for the rest of the time after those first legs!

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after the four other runners in our van finished their legs, we had a few hour break before any of us had to run again (while the other van was running). we headed to a nearby chipotle for a real meal, changed clothes and cleaned up a bit, and then headed to the next exchange point and tried to get some sleep. kevin and I ended up just laying in sleeping bags outside the van for a couple hours, but didn’t really sleep – I’ve never been a good napper, and since I was first up to run once the other van finished, I was worried if I did fall asleep I’d be too groggy and not feel refreshed.

we were all a little nervous about the nighttime legs but for the most part they ended up being really fun! I took off at around 11:30/midnight and my three miles went by super fast. I was worried about getting lost and not seeing any other runners, but thanks to all the reflective gear and lights they make you wear, I was always in eyesight of at least a few others out on the course. we did have one small snafu where we went to the wrong exchange and were waiting and waiting for our runner before realizing we needed to be at the previous exchange. it was a little stressful there for a little while, and probably augmented by how deliriously tired we were at that point, but we got it sorted out and back on track, and finished out our night legs!

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we then headed to our next exchange where we’d meet up with the other van after they’d finished their third legs. we had about 4 hours from when we got there to when it would be my turn to run again. there wasn’t enough room for all of us to sleep in the van, so kevin and I set up camp outside in sleeping bags again. just as we got comfortable, a race volunteer came over and told us we weren’t allowed to sleep in the parking lot for safety reasons, and directed us to a designated sleeping area. it was pretty much pitch black, so we couldn’t really see, and just wandered around until we found a spot that felt good (we were essentially on a beach). we dozed in and out for a couple hours, and woke up to slamming doors to realize that we’d inadvertently slept right near the porta potties, and the lines for the bathrooms had started to form around us. pretty awkward but we laughed it off and got up and got ready for our third legs to begin!

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my third and final leg was just under 10 miles and was the leg I was least prepared for. I didn’t review the map or elevation much, or really have a time goal. my legs were pretty sore at this point and our team was actually doing really well on time, so we all decided to take it pretty easy for our last legs. I knew mine would be along the coast, so I ended up stopping quite a few times to capture the breathtaking views! the leg turned out to be much hillier than I expected, and had road, path, dirt trail, and stairs, so I never got used to the terrain. regardless, I still really enjoyed this leg, but of course, it felt pretty amazing to pass the baton one last time to kevin and then be done for good!

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the rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent relaxing and cheering on the rest of the runners in our van. the other van had finished at this point and met up with us at some of the remaining exchange points, and we swapped stories from the previous couple days, since we hadn’t seen them much. once our last runner started, we began making our way to the finish line area, where we planned to run into the finish line together as a team. we made it there and parked with just a few minutes to spare — there was so much traffic! we spotted danny and all ran in to the finish line together – a pretty cool moment!

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the finish line was right on the beach at coronado, so we hung out there for awhile and enjoyed pizza and beers in the beautiful weather, before heading back to our hotel and going out for a proper dinner (which all of us were basically too tired to eat).

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we all crashed pretty early, and woke up the next morning sore but ready to continue the celebrations. before many of us had to go our separate ways, the whole team met for a delicious brunch full of ridiculous bloody mary’s. (mine had a grilled cheese sandwich on it!)

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then, a few of us who had more time to spend in san diego headed to stone brewery, which was conveniently very close to the airport, so we pretty much hung out there for the afternoon sampling beers and recapping the weekend.

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all in all, we are SO GLAD we said yes to our crazy friend johnnie back in november when he asked us to be a part of their team. it was so great getting to see him and his fiancé kristin, and to make a few new friends as well. we’ll definitely be back for another ragnar someday, and it’s an experience I highly recommend for every runner/adventurer if you get the chance!

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california, part 2: santa barbara + ventura.

So it’s been over a month since we’ve been back from our trip to California and I’m just getting around to sharing more of the photos…June was a whirlwind (but fun!) month, to say the least. One of the things I love so much about where I grew up is that you can get to so many other places within just a few hours, making for countless day trip opportunities. Santa Barbara has always been one of my favorite coastal cities, and Kevin had never been, so we decided to make a day out of it before heading south to Ventura later to meet up with Jolie. It was pouring rain for the majority of our drive, which made for a stressful trip, so by the time we arrived we were good and ready for some food and a drink! We grabbed a seat at the bar at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., tried a couple of beer flights, and ordered a pizza from a nearby shop.

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After lunch we headed over to the Santa Barbara Mission. I’ve been a few times but this was Kevin’s first California Mission visit! It was still raining so we didn’t do much exploring but enjoyed checking out the museum, gardens, cemetery, church, etc. All of the missions are gorgeous in their own way but I’ve always really liked this one, and it was fun showing Kevin around!

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After exploring the mission for awhile, we headed back down the 101 to Ventura. We spotted a brewery right off our freeway exit so we decided to check it out! It turns out they had just opened a couple days earlier! All the staff were super friendly, and we really liked all of their beers!

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After trying out some beers at Topa Topa, we met up with Jolie at her apartment and ate and drank our way down Main Street – sangria and pizza at Cafe Fiore, beers in mini boots and pulled pork nachos at Saloon BBQ, and a dessert trio with wine at Paradise Pantry. Everything was delicious, and I loved getting to experience downtown Ventura – such a cute area and super walkable! Of course, the highlight of the evening was getting to spend some quality time with my bff.

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We spent the night at Jolie’s and got up early the next morning to head out for a beachfront run – it was a little humid, but otherwise perfect breezy running weather, with gorgeous views!

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A great overnight trip filled with lots of delicious food and drinks, ocean views, and time with two of my favorite people in the world!

A few places to check out if you find yourself in Santa Barbara or Ventura:

santa barbara: figueroa mountain brewing co. | lucky penny | old mission santa barbara
ventura: topa topa brewing company | cafe fiore | saloon bbq co. | paradise pantry

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california, part 1: crystal cove.

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Crystal Cove State Park is one of my most favorite places and somewhere that we always try to squeeze in a trip to when we’re back in California. It’s reminiscent of family vacations and high school beach trips with my best girls, and for those reasons and more, has just always felt like home. We majorly lucked out with 80 degree weather and SUN (basically unheard of on the coast in June). We picnicked right on the beach, taught Kevin how to boogie board (sadly no photo evidence), took Kevin for his first Ruby’s Shake Shack experience, and generally got extremely sunburnt. Days like this one make me a little bummed that we live so far away from the ocean, but I’m so grateful for places like Crystal Cove where I can get my beach fix every year :)

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where to eat and drink in san francisco.

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when we started telling people about our trip to san francisco earlier this spring, we got sooo many recommendations of fantastic places to eat, drink, grab coffee, and otherwise visit. and so we made it our mission to eat and drink as much as possible during our three-day latermoon, and i’m happy to report that i think we fared pretty well. to say thanks to everyone who recommended one or many of the places that we visited, and to pass along our favorites to anyone visiting in the future, i’ve put together a list of (nearly) everywhere we ate and drank during our time in san francisco. enjoy and bon appetit!

FOOD

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taqueria cancun | 1003 market street

taqueria cancun was our first stop after arriving in san francisco from a long day of traveling. it was right up the street from our airbnb and was recommended by our host, and we needed a quick bite before our reservation for drinks later that evening, so it worked out perfectly. it’s your typical hole-in-the-wall taco place, but it didn’t disappoint. we both had a carne asada “super taco,” which comes with onions, cilantro, salsa, cheese, avocado, and sour cream, and at just $3 and plenty big, that’s hard to beat.

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guardino’s at fisherman’s wharf | 2801 taylor street

we might not have gone here had i read the yelp reviews before eating here, because they’re quite mixed, but for us, this was the perfect way to get our fisherman’s wharf seafood fix without having to splurge at one of the pricier dine-in restaurants. we split a lobster roll (splitting is key when you’re trying to eat your way through a city like we did), and i’m glad we did, because it was giant and they didn’t skimp on the lobster meat. we ordered an anchor steam beer here too, and although you’re technically supposed to drink it right by their stand, they’ll put it in a brown paper bag so you can somewhat inconspicuously drink it across the street where there’s a few places to sit.

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locanda osteria + bar | 557 valencia street

we sort of stumbled upon locanda when a couple other places in the mission district we were considering eating at weren’t open for dinner yet. the menu looked good and they had a table available for an early dinner, so we figured we’d give it a shot. ironically, it turned out to be not only one of the best meals of the trip, but one of the best meals ever. locanda has the same owners as delfina and pizzeria delfina just down the street (which also came highly recommended to us), and specializes in from-scratch pastas, craft cocktails, and unique antipasti and bar snacks.

we started with the radishes + anchovy butter – something i wouldn’t normally be drawn to but figured this was the kind of place to try it at. it was wonderful. we also tried their coppiette, a roman-style pork jerky, which is marinated in campari and peroni and consequently was also wonderful. and then the entrées – kevin ordered the orecchiette (sausage, broccoli raab, parmesan), which was amazing, but the star of the show was my entrée – the short rib ravioli with sunchoke velutato and black pepper. omg. i don’t even know what a velutato is but i know i like it and i know this is the pasta dish i will forever be dreaming about. for dessert we had the cookie plate, which came with a rosemary shortbread and a chocolate espresso drop – the perfect light, small dessert to balance out the richness of our dinner. go here.

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mission street oyster bar | 2322 mission street

after our morning tour at anchor brewing company (see below), we were in the mood for a lighter lunch and in search of somewhere to try some pacific coast oysters. mission street oyster bar was in walking distance and fit the bill – we had side salads and some miyagi oysters, and although this was our first and only time having pacific coast oysters, i definitely preferred them over the atlantic coast ones we’ve had (which is saying something, because we really like those too). bonus: it was happy hour when we were there (at lunchtime? score!) so oysters were only $1.50 each, making this a super affordable meal.

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sliver pizzeria | 2132 center street, berkeley

our stop at sliver was totally unplanned – our reservations at chez panisse weren’t until 9:30 that night and we found ourselves in berkeley several hours before that needing a pre-dinner dinner to prevent getting hangry. i was willing to eat anything at this point and wasn’t expecting much, but this was The Trip of No Bad Meals. sliver has a different slice of the day each day, which happened to be fresh corn, red bell pepper, chile pasilla, mozzarella, cotija cheese, limes, cilantro, and garlic olive oil when we were there, aka all my favorite flavors piled into one. so good. when you order a slice, you actually get a slice plus a “sliver” – hence the name – which was a fun surprise. also, their mission (other than making fantastic pizza) is centered around eliminating human trafficking, so that’s an added bonus.

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chez panisse cafe | 1517 shattuck avenue, berkeley

chez panisse was the only meal we made reservations for on this trip and has been on my bucket list for a looong time, #becausealicewaters. we went on the third and final night of our trip, at which point (a) we were exhausted, (b) we were so sick of walking, and (c) i was pretty sure i had strep throat and could not find an urgent care anywhere nearby (surprise! i had an ear infection instead and spent the rest of our california trip on antibiotics). but! we took operation steak + frites very seriously and made the mile+ trek to the cafe from the BART, complete with lots of grumbling over tired legs, sore throats and self-questioning over why we thought it was a good idea to eat dinner at 9:30.

but we went inside and for an hour, everything was perfect and magical and just what i’d dreamed it would be like. at 9:30 on the dot, our server (who was french, of course) brought over the late-night menu and we promptly ordered what we came for, the steak + frites with salad greens and a glass of the house zinfandel (because red wine is so good for sore throats, ha!). it was perfect. a great way to experience chez panisse without breaking the bank, as the late-night meal is only $25/person. already dreaming about going back someday.

SNACKS

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pressed juicery | 1 ferry building #38a

a cute little juice stand inside the ferry building with tons of pre-bottled juices to choose from. we got the greens 1.5 and loved it. pretty pricey, but we split one and it was a great mid-morning snack and pick me up for our walk along the embarcadero.

bi-rite market | 3639 18th street

bi-rite market is pretty famous as a model locally-owned grocery store with tons of local produce (they even grow stuff on their roof!) and other locally-sourced artisan products, so i definitely wanted to pay this place a visit. we didn’t make it to their ice cream shop, but we did stop in at the market to pick up a few snacks – some popcorn and some cranberry-orange scones from a bakery in berkeley.

gott’s roadside | 1 ferry building #6

also inside the ferry building; i think they have a full restaurant on the outside of the building, but we visited their indoor frozen yogurt stand for an afternoon ice cream snack our our way back from fisherman’s wharf. the pomegranate-blueberry flavor was delicious, and any fro-yo place with mochi as a topping option is a favorite in my book. yum!

COFFEE

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blue bottle mint plaza | 66 mint plaza

we had three mornings in san francisco and three coffee shops we wanted to visit, so it worked out perfectly. blue bottle at mint plaza was our first stop, and was conveniently just a couple minutes’ walk from our apartment. our macchiatos were great, and since this location has a full food program, we grabbed breakfast here as well. this location is pretty small and was very busy on the sunday morning we were there, but there’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating that makes this a great place to read the paper and enjoy a cup of coffee before starting your day.

blue bottle ferry building | 1 ferry building #7

a second blue bottle location, obviously, in the ferry building. we stopped here on our way back to our apartment from our morning in fisherman’s wharf for an iced coffee, which was very good.

sightglass coffee | 270 7th street

out of the three shops we visited, sightglass was the one i knew the least about before our trip, but after realizing that it was also right down the street from our apartment and reading the yelp reviews about how neat of a space it was, we made a trip there on monday morning on our way to anchor brewing. sure enough, it didn’t disappoint. our iced coffees were very good, and although we’d already eaten breakfast, i wish we hadn’t because there were lots of good-looking pastry options taunting me. the space was indeed very cool, with a cool staircase up to a second level with another full coffee bar. also cool: their packing/labeling line is visible from virtually the whole shop, which was neat to watch.

four barrel | 375 valencia street

four barrel was recommended to us by a whole bunch of people, so we walked back down to their mission district location on our last morning in san francisco before heading to the airport. another very cool space, similar to sightglass with lots of cool, open seating, plus some bar-like seating where you can watch the roasters in action. my cappuccino was very good, and the blackberry pistachio croissant was amazing – i’m a sucker for anything pistachio, so definitely worth a visit just for that.

DRINK

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bourbon & branch | 501 jones street

if you’ve always wanted to go to a place with a password (everyone, right?), then bourbon & branch is a must. b & b is a speakeasy-style bar with a password entrance in a slightly-seedy neighborhood that only adds to the whole experience. reservations can be made one month in advance online. it’s a little hard to find, but that’s part of it, so i won’t give you any hints here. their cocktail list is incredibly extensive, and i’m sure everything is good. it was negroni week when we were there, so i went with their featured negroni, but their staff is very knowledgeable, so i bet you could rattle off a couple things you like and they’d bring you something that exceeds your expectations. great place for a fancy, unique night out!

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anchor brewing company | 1705 mariposa street

ever since our epic trip to fort collins to tour at new belgium, i’ve set my expectations fairly low for other brewery tours because theirs is just flat-out hard to beat. the tour and experience at anchor, however, comes mighty close. our tour guide had tons of personality (essential), gave a great history of the brewery and the craft beer movement in general (essential-er), and, wait for it, we got to try eight different beers at the end (essential-ist). their tours are super popular, so make sure you sign up months (yes, months) in advance or you might not be able to get a spot.

thanks again to everyone who sent us their recommendations – we loved everything!

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san francisco.

sb011the three days we spent in san francisco at the beginning of our recent trip to california were beyond perfect. perfect weather (80 degrees in SF in june? such a dream), perfect food (we literally did not have a single bad meal there), and of course, perfect company. we had no real agenda other than to eat as much good food and drinks as many good cups of coffee and cocktails as humanly possible. i’m happy to report: mission accomplished. in short, it was the perfect place to spend a few days adventuring together on a super-belated honeymoon right before our three year anniversary (today!). a few photos from the trips below, and a full post of food + drink recs to come shortly!

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