Keeping fit on our California adventure

Well, after 28 days of fun in the California sun it’s back to reality.


I’ve struggled to write about our trip because it was so fabulous it honestly left me speechless. In the meantime I thought I’d write a separate post about what I did to stay fit. It’s a long one since I did more than just run!

It’s ironic I posted about working out together while we were away as we only ran together once our entire trip! With Harold along for the month, it was best to let him rest while we took turns running.

It was beyond marvelous to run in shorts in February! The other wonderful thing? Running by the ocean.


Laguna Beach

I ran the Embarcadero in San Francisco, the beach and ritzy neighbourhoods in Carmel, river trails in Newport, and ocean bluffs and a race in Del Mar.


Carmel River State Beach

We spent the majority of our time in Laguna Beach. All my runs there were incredible: I saw dolphins playing in the surf, ran into Dana Point, ran along the beaches of Crystal Cove and saw a baby sea lion, worked my lungs running uphill for four miles to the top of the hills (and trashed my quads on the way down), and ran trails at sunrise with Kelly and Harold.


Crystal Cove State Park


Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

I embraced every single run and am forever envious of those who get to live and run along the California Coast all the time!

California 10/20
The UT California 10/20 was an out and back 10 mile race starting and finishing in Del Mar and running through Solana Beach and Encinitas. (I found out about the race the day before it after running a speedy seven miles!)

It was chilly the morning of the race and Kelly and Harold walked me to the start about 45 minutes away from our hotel.


Not really feeling up to ‘race’, my only plan was to take it easy at the start and pick it up throughout. I did a great job of that with my first mile being the slowest and my last being the fastest. I ended up finishing in 1:11:53, which I was more than happy with for a surprise race on vacation!


It was a great run with tons of bands along the course (that’s what the 20 in the name stands for) and ocean views. It was the first year and over 3,000 people finished!

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)
I tried SUPing for the first time in 2008 and fell in love with it. Kelly bought me my very own inflatable SUP (NRS Earl 4) for my birthday this year, and I couldn’t wait to take it out on the ocean in California!!

I was a bit apprehensive, as it’s been a couple years since I last paddled. And I’m timid of surf SUPing; I just like to get out there and paddle.


It turns out that Laguna Beach is the perfect destination to SUP! The water is generally calm, the ocean life is amazing, and I felt comfortable paddling far out by myself (sorry mom and dad!).

I paddled almost every day we were there (I think I went 11 out of 13 days), went out a couple times most days, and experienced amazing things.

One day when we got down to the beach there was a guy paddling close to shore with a few dolphins alongside him. I was too nervous to go, so Kelly gladly hopped on the board. There were dolphins going under his board and surfacing right beside him. It was pretty magical to watch.

Screen shot from Kelly’s GoPro video

Once he came to shore I was brave enough to go.

The most amazing experience
The dolphins were mostly gone, so I went far out just to SUP. As I was about to turn back towards shore, I saw a huge pod of them swimming and jumping coming towards me. I was about 35 feet away from a massive dolphin highway. There was somewhere between 50 – 100 dolphins from what I could see. I was close enough to hear them breathing. A couple veered off course and came towards me, so I splashed my paddle a bit.

It absolutely took my breath away and I just stood there in shaky awe for at least five minutes watching their natural beauty. It was the most magnificent thing I’ve seen in nature and one of my most peaceful and special moments.

I paddled back to shore, turning constantly to take it all in. I was so happy Kelly saw what happened so I could discuss it with somebody!! (I was also a little disappointed I didn’t have a camera with me!)

On another day there were dolphins swimming under my board and around me. (I had to kneel down a couple times, as my legs got shaky!)

I felt so fortunate to SUP in the ocean again and experience the majestic dolphins. I can’t wait to get back on my SUP this summer in our lakes!

We each took a yoga mat and one set of weights with us. I strength trained in our hotel room most of the days Kelly ran. It felt good to keep up some strength and core work!

Laughter yoga
This was something I just had to experience! There’s a group in Laguna Beach that meets 365 days a year. I went on a chilly morning and met with four others including the director of the Laughter Yoga Institute, Jeffrey Briar.

It was the most bizarre class I’ve ever attended, but it certainly accomplished what it prescribes: I was joyful for the rest of the day! There is something to be said about starting your day laughing by the ocean with a group of warm, friendly people.

Staying in shape
Despite dessert twice a day most days I feel pretty good. My fitness is definitely much higher than when I came home from China last year, and I don’t have an Ironman to worry about in four months!

What’s your favourite way to stay active on holidays, or do you take it as a time to rejuvenate?

25 responses to “Keeping fit on our California adventure

  1. Sounds like a great time and lots of really fun fitness! I love that you just hopped into the race!!!
    I want to try SUP – I can’t even imagine paddling with that many dolphins around – what a super fun experience.
    And, I think the idea of the Laughter Yoga sounds awesome!!!

  2. Wow, that dolphin experience sounds absolutely incredibly and something that happens only once! Amazing! I love that you guys stay active on vacation – I know few people that do. Way to go on your race too – um… speeeedyyyyyy! Can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

  3. Your dolphin experience is incredible! My best SUP experience was when I first learned in Tiree, Scotland. We went to a white sand beach called the Maze due to it being full of reefs. We paddled through the reefs and clear water to a further out beach, and along the way, a seal popped it’s head out of the water! I can relate to your initial trepidation with the dolphins, when I saw the seal, I called for my husband who was far ahead. Once it dove back under, however, I absorbed the encounter and was okay with it. I’m definitely better on active holidays, either surfing or skiing. The best is staying active all day long, like skiing, having a fantastic meal then going to bed early because you’re exhausted! I envy you California holiday, sounds like a dream 🙂

  4. Looks like a fantastic trip! So glad you had an adventurous and fun vacation 🙂 and I’ve always wanted to try SUP!

  5. Awesome! Way to stay active on your trip. And congrats on the race! Lately my vacations are centered around a race. But if not, I always have my running shoes and also work out in the hotel gym.

  6. Welcome back!!! Your dolphin experience sounds amazing! I’m so glad you loved California and am so happy we were able to meet up! Now you should just move here!!! 😉

  7. Love SUP! There is a SUP Yoga class in Madison thats on my list of things to do for Summer. Your pictures are beautiful…often times I wonder why I don’t move to a place like Cali!

  8. runnerbydefault

    Love the dolphin pic! What an awesome experience for you? SUP is on my list of things to try. You make it sound amazing. Congrats on your race. I love picking up a random race on vacation! So fun. Where did you guys stay in Laguna? I am always looking for a pet friendly to stay. I can’t wait to read all about the rest of your trip. Your instagram pics were great!!

  9. I’m glad you got to try SUPing, it’s one of my favourite things to do!

  10. I love Laguna Beach. We used to go there when I was younger! Everything, your whole vacation, sounds wonderful! The dolphins sound amazing!! That is so neat.
    I have been wanting to try SUP but I have yet too! Looks like you did great!
    Way to keep activity on vacation and definitely having dessert twice a day sounds amazing!!!
    Laughter yoga sounds interesting. I have never heard of it!!

  11. i wish we could all move to cali! what a great place to ENJOY good food and fitness! and congrats on your race. Well done speedy!

  12. My husband and I love SUP. Talk about a great core workout! And way to go speedy. That’s an awesome 10-mile time! Can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

  13. I am so envious of your vacation!! I wish we had the time to do this (since I am a school teacher, our vacations happen during the summer months). We almost always center our vacations around physical activity, but also spend time relaxing and having fun together 🙂

  14. Loved reading about your trip. It sounds like the perfect trip that I would love to do some day! I’m jealous of all the SUPing you got to do, especially with the dolphins. And congratulations on a speedy race! I love that you found out about it and then jumped in and raced it!

  15. I am so glad you’re back! Glad you were able to stay fit while away and have a great time, too!

  16. Wow what a spectacular trip! I had never heard of laughter yoga, but I’m already enamored with it!

    That’s great that you were able to stay fit while you were away and awesome that you had a race! I love all the pics! They made me miss California so much.

    Welcome back!


    I cannot even imagine what it must have been like to be on the water with the dolphins… Amazing!
    Laughter yoga sounds really different. I’ll have to read more about it to decide if it sounds intriguing or not– right now I just can’t picture it 🙂
    Your photos are so beautiful!

  18. I am so jealous of your dolphin encounter…amazing!! What a wonderful trip, I am so glad you two had an amazing time. California is definitely beautiful, but I don’t think I could ever move away from my beloved Pacific Northwest!

  19. I can’t believe that you spent an entire month in Cali! I am so beyond jealous! I’ve been wanting to try SUP. I hope I get the chance!

  20. Sophie @ life's philosophie

    So jealous of you California adventure! Looks beautiful and peaceful. I’m terrible on vacations and usually just chill and relax. I will try to run a couple times, but I tend to be exhausted from the day to do anything. I guess I’m mostly used to traveling to big bustling cities where I spend all day walking around! I’ve always wanted to try SUP, but I’m generally terrified of the ocean… I really need to work on that.

  21. Learning to SUP is on my list for this summer at the beach. It sounds so fun and like it would be an amazing core workout! I love that you had dolphins with you on your adventure!

    Wow, you are a speedy girl!

  22. Pingback: Highlights from our California Coast adventure | Change of Pace

  23. Running on the beach by the ocean is the BEST THING EVER 🙂 Congrats on a super speedy race! Active vacations are awesome! Can I have the itinerary for your entire trip?! Nick and I have to do this!

  24. WOW! What an awesome trip!! Glad you guys had the opportunity to do some amazing adventuring together 🙂

  25. Pingback: How was your year of running? | Change of Pace

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