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Posts tagged ‘del mar fairgrounds’

Hill Yeah! (A La Jolla Half Marathon Review)

“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the La Jolla Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

Last weekend I ran the La Jolla Half Marathon and it was quite…humbling  beautiful!  No really, La Jolla itself is a coastal town in San Diego and I encourage anyone who comes for a San Diego visit to make a stop in La Jolla.  You won’t regret it. So I decided about two weeks out from the race that I would go ahead and participate (stay tuned for a future blog post called, “How NOT to train for a half marathon”) because I love La Jolla and I love running so why not combine the two?!  Did I mention this is only my third half marathon?  Anywho, let’s see how this story unfolds…

The Expo: The Expo was held at the Hilton across from the Del Mar Fairgrounds/Racetrack and there was plenty of free parking available.  I attended Friday afternoon and it was actually pretty busy.  Inside there was a horse prop and photo booth along with some refreshing water and merchandise kiosk.

There were also plenty of volunteers to direct foot traffic which I fully appreciated because I hate not knowing where to go.  I grabbed by bib and tshirt with no problems and then walked around the expo to check out the vendors.  I snagged a free headband from Xracewear, a tasty acai bowl from Sambazon, and a couple of samples from Ultima. I also purchased a couple of Clif bars and Honey Stingers since I was already there.

Parking – There were two options for parking: Either park at the start line in Del Mar and then shuttle back after the race OR park at the finish line in La Jolla and shuttle back before the race. Either way the shuttle was free.  I chose to park at the start line because I like to sleep. 😉 I was really nervous about getting stuck in traffic the morning of the race since I heard parking can be kind of difficult, but I was actually parked and ready to go by 6:30 am so it wasn’t too bad.  I did notice traffic starting to back-up once I had parked so I imagine anyone arriving closer to 7am may have had a more difficult time.

Pre-race – The parking lot was only a short walk from the start line and there was a water station as well as a coffee cart on location.  There were plenty of porta-potties so I didn’t have to wait in line very long and the line for bag check was also pretty short so really the morning went pretty smoothly.  I took a quick picture with my fellow Stroller Warriors and hopped in my wave.  I was in wave #5 out of 6 and I was happy to see the waves moving pretty quickly.  I think the clock was at about 12 minutes when I crossed the start line.  Then we were off!

Miles 1-5 – The weather was great!  High 60’s with the right amount of sun and clouds and not much humidity.  The first 5 miles traveled through the quaint town of Del Mar so there wasn’t a whole lot to see as far as scenery.  The elevation wasn’t too bad at this point and then there was a big drop right before entering into Torrey Pines State Reserve otherwise known as “The Big Torrey Pines Hill”.  This is the hill people warn you about when you mention that you will be running the La Jolla Half Marathon.

Miles 6 (THE hill) –  I was doing pretty well and keeping the pace I wanted until the Torrey Pines Hill came along.  I’ve hiked trails in Torrey Pines before but never walked or run up the big hill before…because there’s a parking lot at the top so why would I torture myself?  Well here we are, mile 6 and I’m thinking back on all those times that I should have run the stupid hill in preparation for this race… But I only had 2 weeks to prep, remember?  Yeah, that’s my excuse.  So my morale pretty much dropped around this time and I gave myself a good pep talk to keep it going and not give up.  I did run a portion of it, but ultimately decided to walk the rest since I still had half a race to go.  Also to note, there are no water stations in the Reserve so I made sure that I had enough water to get me through the most difficult part of the race.  There were, however, some really sweet rangers and volunteers holding signs and encouraging us throughout the hill torture.  Although I think we have different definitions of  “You’re almost to the top.”

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Miles 7-10 – After the infamous hill, there are more rolling hills (yay) through UTC and other parts of La Jolla.  Luckily my solemate, @thehungryrunner_ was at mile 9 to cheer me on and give me a little morale boost!

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Miles 11-13 – Wow, the race directors really make you work for those views.  Because around mile 11.5-12, they decide to throw in ANOTHER hill! Not as crazy as Torrey Pines, but still a legit hill and at the worst possible location. Apparently many people refer to this as the “F U Hill” and I can see why.  There’s also a lot of downhill and big dips during this mileage too so I saw quite a bit of people walking this portion.  I felt okay enough to run during the downhill parts, but if you have bad knees or hips I would imagine you would want to take it easy during this section.  BUT…the views are absolutely breathtaking!

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Finish Line – I finally crossed the finish line and received my medal, food bag, and chocolate milk.  The finish line area was pretty congested, but the volunteers kept the flow moving.  Then I headed over to the beer garden. Once I got to the beer garden I grabbed my IPA beer (we were allowed 2) and collapsed.  Not literally, but almost.  Never in my life have I chugged a chocolate milk and a beer within a 5 minute period.  This event was just full of firsts for me.  Then I picked up my bag from gear check, which was a cinch (pun intended) and checked out the vendors.

Course Support – Lots of volunteers and plenty of Race Guards on hand.  Also plenty of water, Ultima, and Vaseline stations.  There was even a lady handing out baby wipes around mile 8, which for some reason made my day.  There weren’t a ton of spectators at this race, there were people sprinkled along the course cheering and holding signs…but not as many as I’ve seen in other races.  Also, there weren’t any mile markers until the 8th mile so if you plan to run this and like knowing your times then you will definitely need a watch.

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Post-race: I didn’t hang out for too long after the race because it got windy and I was getting cold so I hobbled over to the bus line to head back to my car.  I only had to wait about five minutes before getting on the bus and the busses were nice and air conditioned.  It was also kind of nice not having to drive out of La Jolla since the streets are so narrow and traffic is pretty crazy on the weekends.  I even had a nice chat with a lady on the bus who told me that this was her 6th time running La Jolla.  She explained how she didn’t make her goal time but still enjoyed the views as always.  I explained how I didn’t make my goal time either but still had a good time.  Then we both agreed that running is great because you get what you put into it.  If you don’t train to PR, you won’t PR. Profound moments on a bus…which is why I love the running community!

So what was the SWAG?!

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Lots of yummy goodies! Not pictured: my acai bowl and chocolate milk.  I also received a free session at CycleBar in Hillcrest once they open.  Also, the tshirt is way better in person.  I love the fabric, color, and design!

And I love the medal! It displays the unique scenery of La Jolla!

Overall, I really fell in love with this race…hills and all!  I’ve talked to a few others that have run this and everyone pretty much has the same two reactions.  Either they absolutely love this race and would totally do it again OR they absolutely hate this race and never want to talk about it ever again.  I, personally, would do this race again in a heartbeat!  1. I always love a good challenge.  2.  The views are incredible!  3.  I would like redemption and to improve my time.

Also, La Jolla is part of the Triple Crown Series so if you want that extra bling then running this is mandatory!  I recommend doing some hill training and don’t get too stressed about the elevation, the views are all worth it!!!

And I didn’t forget about my BIBRAVE buddies!  There were a few other Bibrave Pros out there running, too!  I got to meet up with Mai (check her blog link below for photo proof), but missed Jeremy and Justin (next time, guys!).  You can also check out their thoughts on the La Jolla Half Marathon here: @once_upon_a_run, @runner_blogger_az

See you at the next event! 🙂

~SM

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Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo Review

Earlier this year, I attended the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo (GFAF Expo) in San Diego and it did not disappoint! The GFAF Expo is a two-day gluten free and allergen friendly event that comes to cities all over the U.S.  I also had the opportunity to attend as an official blogger which meant I got a little extra swag. 😉

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It was held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds which would normally mean that there were some nice views, but it happened to be raining this day so everyone pretty much ran inside to dodge the rain.

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Since it was at the fairgrounds, there was plenty of close parking and I arrived early enough to avoid any traffic.

Before I get into the review, I will disclose that I do not have any food allergies myself.  However, when attending many get-togethers or playdates involving foods, coordinators will often ask for people to be considerate of others’ unique dietary needs when bringin snacks.  So I thought this would be a great opportunity to not only score some swag, but find out what types of tasty and allergen friendly foods were out there!

The morning started out with a free breakfast hosted by BFree Foods.  They talked about their company and offered us coffee, bagels, juice, and fruit.  We were then free to network with other bloggers and vendors before the expo officially opened.  Then they gave us our own swag bags and we were off to explore!

One cool thing about the expo is that each vendor has an information card on their table that lets you know if their product contains a particular sensitive ingredient.

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The event also featured authors and speakers that presented information all throughout the day.

There seemed to be a good attendance at these classes since I saw several people standing for the presentation as the chairs filled up.  I listened in on a couple of presentations and the presenters seemed enthusiastic and informative.

There were TONS of vendors at this event so I won’t be able to mention every single one, but you can go to the GFAF Expo website to learn more.  I will, however, touch on the ones that stood out to me!

Enjoy Life Foods  had a cute little set up, where you could score goodies along a maze-type structure.  I also think their products are super tasty, especially those chocolate chips!

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Garden Lites offered up some pretty sweet waffles and Namaste Foods gave out delicious cake samples!

One of my favorite vendors was Brazi Bites!  I love these little bread balls and I’m hoping they come out with a cinnamon flavor at some point.  You may have seen them on Shark Tank, but if not…definitely check them out in your freezer section!

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There were a couple of different Kombucha brands, but I enjoyed the ginger-lemon sample from Health-ade the most.  Sunbutter had a pretty big presence at the event and they were generous with their samples and also handed out some little coloring books for the kids.

Keli’s Hawaiian Sauces were pretty dope and I thought they would be great on all different types of foods. The folks over at RP’s Pasta were also very friendly and generous!

I enjoyed the flavors from Rise Buddy Snacks, but unfortunately my kids weren’t too thrilled with this snack.  Smart Flour Foods gave out yummy pizza samples and this also something that I would purchase in the future!

 

I tried an interesting sample from Natti Bar.  They’re basically bananas mashed into bars.  Personally, I would prefer just eating a regular banana but others may dig these little things.  Betsy’s Best offered samples of different types nut butters, but I just didn’t think it tasted much different than other brands.

Glutenberg Craft Beers were one of the gluten-free beers representing at this event.  I thought it tasted okay, but I’m also not big on craft beers so I’m sure others would enjoy this.  It also looked like many people were skipping over the beer booths so I’m not sure gluten-free beer is a super popular thing.

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Another vendor that I really enjoyed was Aleia’s Foods.  They offer a variety of gluten-free stuffing, bread crumbs, croutons, and cookies.  I almost devoured a whole box of chocolate chunk cookies by myself.  I couldn’t even tell they were missing any gluten!  And use code “GFAF17” to save $1.00 on your online purchase!

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Towards the end of the day, I got to try a decadent German chocolate brownie from Coronado’s Gluten Free Pantry.  I was also really drawn to their packaging so I definitely recommend checking out their products!

There were also some non-food exhibitors such as: Beautycounter; Hands for Life Ocean Beach (They gave me a demo and I was informed that I needed an adjustment); San Diego Meditation (which I probably need); and some massage people that wanted to sell me a $200 device that felt like a shock treatment.  The authors also had a few booths where they were selling their books.

I only attended on Saturday, but I was able to hit up pretty much every booth.  The place got pretty packed throughout the day, but I didn’t have to wait at the booths for very long.

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So what was the SWAG?!

Every attendee was given an Enjoy Life reusable bag with some samples and coupons when they first walked in the door.  Sprouts Farmers Market also gave out reusable bags with some greek yogurt samples as well as fresh fruit.  I also received the BFree swag bag that included full-size bread samples, coupons, an infuser bottle, and a selfie stick!  And because I was an official blogger, many of the vendors gave me some extra swag as well as their business cards for future networking.

And here are the goodies that I collected…

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Yep, it was a pretty large haul!  So much that I could barely fit it all in one picture!  I also scored a huge stack of coupons for discounted or free items so that definitely added to the value.

Overall, I really enjoyed this event!  I learned about a lot of new brands and I was introduced to some interesting food items.  However,  I did feel that one genre of brands was missing.  And that was cleaning products!  I was really surprised that I didn’t see any natural cleaning product brands represented at this event.  I also think they should have put our blogger names or social media handles on our badges since that’s what most of us go by in the blogger world.

I recommend this event to anyone with a food allergy or that has a family member/friend with a food allergy.  I also recommend this event to anyone that just wants to learn about new products or about healthier living in general!

If you are planning to attend this event in your city, I do have a few tips!

  1.  Arrive early!  There are so many booths that it can seem overwhelming so give yourself enough time to get through most of the expo and catch a couple of presentations.  Even better if you can attend both days!
  2. Come hungry!  I literally just ate samples all day and I was full for the whole day.  I even had to turn some samples down at the end because I was pretty stuffed.
  3. Bring water!  There were only a few beverage vendors along with some water fountains at this particular venue.  Bring enough water to get you through the whole day because you will be tasting lots of yummy foods.

Be sure to check out http://gfafexpo.com/ to see if this event is coming to a city near you!  Tickets run about $5-$35 which is totally worth it for what you get at this event.  The price does not include parking so make sure to check your venue for parking details.  You can also get involved by volunteering, blogging, or presenting at this event so be sure to check out the website for more info.

I really enjoyed blogging for this event!  I was able to connect with some other local bloggers as well as network with some pretty amazing brands.  I would definitely attend this event in the future.  You can also follow @gfafexpo on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!  And thanks again to all of the sponsors! 🙂

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Did you attend the GFAF Expo this year?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

***Note: I was provided free admission to the Gluten Free and Allergen Friendly Expo in San Diego as part of being an official member of the 2017 GFAF Expo Blogger Team.  All opinions are my own.

I’m off to review the next event!

~SM

The Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo

Do you have a food allergy?

Do you enjoy eating healthy foods?

Do you enjoy learning about new products?

Do you like networking with bloggers and authors?

Do you LOVE scoring SWAG?!

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you won’t want to miss the upcoming Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo (GFAF) in San Diego!

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The event will be held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on February 11-12, 2017.  More details about the time, location, and parking can be found here.

I am really excited to attend this event not only to score SWAG, but to also learn more about healthier food choices and to network with other health-minded individuals.  There will be tons of samples as well as classes and presentations!  Check out the schedule here.

As a bonus, the event is being held in a beautiful location! The Del Mar Fairgrounds offer great views and are located within walking distance to the beach!  So snag a hotel and check out the sights after the Expo.  It would make for a pleasant weekend getaway!


So what should you expect from this event?

  • You will get to explore over 100 vendors and brands!
  • Samples and Coupons!
  • Discounted items to purchase at the expo!
  • Classes and presentations about living a more gluten-free and allergen-friendly lifestyle!
  • Free bag to carry all of your SWAG!
  • An opportunity to meet authors and bloggers!

This will be an amazing event that you won’t want to miss!  I hope to see you there!

Tickets cost between $5-$35 and you can purchase them here!

And the sooner you purchase, the more you save! Use code “ADVANCE” to save 20%!


As an added Bonus, I will be giving away tickets this month on my Instagram so make sure you are following me (@theswagmama) so you don’t miss your chance to win!

***Note: I am receiving complimentary admission to the Gluten Free Allergen Friendly Expo in exchange for participation in the blogger program.  I am also associated with the affiliate program for ticket sales.

~SM

Six Reasons to Attend the San Diego Kids Expo & Fair!

Every April and October, the San Diego Kids Expo & Fair comes to town and it’s a whole weekend filled with fun for the whole family!  So why should you go?  I’ll give you six reasons!

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  • Del Mar – The event is held in the coastal and picturesque town of Del Mar at the Fairgrounds.  It’s right off the freeway and it has a fairly large parking lot.  I’ve always found a parking space fairly close to the entrance with no issues.  It’s also right near the beach!  So after you attend the event, you can drive a few blocks and see some pretty amazing views!

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  • The Shows and Performances – The expo provides an opportunity for local dance and drama groups to show off their awesome talents!  These shows are all included in the price of admission so check the performance schedule before you head out so you don’t miss your favorite group.

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  • The Animals – Keep an eye out for your chance to get up close and personal with a unique animal or reptile!

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  • Outdoor Activities – Make sure you take the kiddos outside to jump in one of the many bounce houses or take the zip line for a spin.  There are also bungy jumps, human hamster balls and rock n’ roll bands providing some sweet entertainment!  This is where the tiny ones can burn off some serious energy!

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  • Interactive Exhibits – The main focus of the San Diego Kids Expo & Fair is to educate the community on all of the awesome opportunities for the kids of San Diego.  Take some time and visit the vendors and partake in some of the demo activities that many of them offer.  The kids might be able to kick a few balls, run through an obstacle course, tour an ambulance or hop in a photo booth. They will also love spinning the prize wheels at some of the tables! And if you have super tiny kiddos, don’t worry…there is a mommy and daddy lounge for nursing, changing or just some quiet time for sleepy babies.

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And last, but not least…my favorite part of the Expo!! Can you guess?!

  • SWAG! – You will not leave this event empty handed!  You will be loaded up with samples, coupons and maybe even some prizes!  I actually won free movie tickets and got free photo booth pictures!  My daughter also loved spinning all of the prize wheels and getting lots of stickers and tattoos!

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These are just a few reasons to attend the Kids Expo!  Checkout the website for a full list of vendors and schedule of the entertainment and shows.  Also, note that this expo comes around twice a year and each time the vendors change.  So basically, it’s almost like a new event each time you attend!

What about pricing? Tickets are $10 at the gate (children 12 and under are free), but you can save money by purchasing on the website.  The outdoor activities also require a wristband which is a separate purchase. But, again, you can save money by bundling and purchasing packages online.  Also check Groupon for group deals! I received free tickets both times I attended through local mom’s groups (I scored these tickets from Mom’s Guide to San Diego).  Check out mom’s groups on Facebook and Instagram and search hashtags for a chance to win free tickets!  Unfortunately, parking is $10 and there really isn’t any way around that.

Have you attended the San Diego Kids Expo in the past?  What are you looking forward to the most at this year’s event?  I’d love to know what you think!

See you at the next event!

~SM

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