Santa Monica Classic – Personal Best

The shirt and medal from the Santa Monica Classic 2017

The shirt and medal from the Santa Monica Classic 2017

I love running and I love running in races, but calling it “running” has always been kind of a stretch. I had never been very fast and my run was more a shuffle. Once my sister and I did the Tilden Tough 10 mile race in Berkeley and when we crossed the finish line they made a special announcement because we were two of the last three finishers. “Wait,” the announcer called after the award ceremony had ended. “There are a more runners.”

In the last couple of years, I feel like I’ve earned the right to use the word running. Especially after the Santa Monica Classic. I had my best time ever in a 10k coming in at 56:41 and running a 9:08 minute mile. It was amazing. My 13-year-old son, who has always been fast, won his age division coming in at 42:08 and running a 6:47 minute mile.

My son and I at the race festival

Part of the reason that I ran so fast (for me) was because I had been training and partly because my Nike+ app that tracks my pace had stopped working. I had no idea how fast I was going so I ran as fast as I could. I didn’t know I could keep a 9 minute mile pace for 6 miles because I wasn’t limited to how fast I thought I should go. I ran as fast I could go.

It helped that I did the race with friends and family and that it was a beautiful day.

Santa Monica before the race
The start line
The Santa Monica Pier after the race

It was a very encouraging start. The Santa Monica Classic is the first race in the Conqur LA series that includes the Pasadena Half Marathon in January, 2018 and the LA Marathon in March, 2018.  I’m super nervous about all of the training and may have injured my foot in the classic, but I’m excited to have started strong.

Bill Esparza’s Picks for Best Mexican Restaurants in LA for Families

The book L.A. Mexicano* by food writer Bill Esparza is so many things; it’s a cookbook with recipes from  local chefs, a guide to Los Angeles Mexican restaurants by neighborhood, and a history of Mexican food in a city the author clearly loves.

“LA has a vibrant scene of people that make this food. It’s not just what’s on your plate, it’s who is there. People are bringing a piece of themselves (to their food),” Esparza said. He knows the food scene so well because he’s been writing about it for years on his popular blog, Street Gourmet LA, and in the LA Times and other publications.

Review of Bill Esparza's book, LA Mexicano and his picks for best Los Angeles restaurants for familis.

The best part of the book is reading about the people behind the food. You’ll read inspiring stories of people like Ray Garcia, who grew up poor and went on to open Broken Spanish and B.S. Taqueria and be named the 2015 Esquire’s Chef of the year.  You may have had taquitos with avocado sauce from Cielito Lindo on Olvera Street, but you may not know that Aurora Guerrero opened it in 1934 and it’s now run by her granddaughter Susana McManus. The book includes a history of the street popular with tourists and also recipes for Cielito Lindo’s taquitos and avocado sauce.

Not only can you learn about people and get recipes to make the food, you can go to the restaurants and try the dishes. The restaurant guide in the back of L.A. Mexicano is perfect for anyone who loves Mexican food and wants to try more. It’s broken out by neighborhood and the type of cuisine including Pocho (which is “the food that many second- and third-generation Mexican Americans grew up eating, and the dishes that everyone in LA considered truly Mexican until we started knowing better in the 1990s.”), Regional, Alta (a blend of Mexican and California cuisine), Bebidas (drinks) and Ambulantes (food trucks and takeout).

After reading the book, I told my boys that it’s going to be our goal to go to every restaurant in the book. We started that very night at Sonorita’s Prime Tacos on Sawtelle in West LA. I grew up on Sonoran Mexican food and I was thrilled to find this gem in my neighborhood. My older son is 13 and hungry all the time, which means that sometimes he has more than one dinner. I knew Sonorita’s was good because he had a burrito, loved it and wasn’t hungry for more food.

I asked Bill for his recommendations of the best Los Angeles restaurants for families. I asked for sit down restaurants – so no food trucks – because when my boys were younger, asking them to stand in line always led to disaster. Here are his picks:

Downtown LA
Chichén Itza, 3655 S Grand Ave. #C6, Los Angeles, CA

“Nice and causal, not too expensive and really great food,” he said.  From the book, “It’s only a matter of time until more food writers catch on to these trailblazers, who have been giving Los Angeles a superb culinary experience for many years.”

Sonoratown, 208 E. 8th St., Los Angeles, CA 90064

I tried to go there once on a Saturday and drove around for a half hour and couldn’t find parking. If you go, take the metro or a car service or be prepared to walk a bit. Bill said it’s a great place where you can “have real street tacos and your kids don’t have to sit on the street.”

San Gabriel Valley
Burritos La Palma, 5120 N Peck Road, El Monte CA 91732

From the book – “Here in the City of Angels, you may be able to get kombucha, green juice, and fancy doughnuts in just about every neighborhood, but it’s really all about the Mexican food – and the burritos at Burritos La Palma might be the greatest single expression of that. They’re simply unforgettable.”

East LA
Manny’s El Tepeyac Cafe
812 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033

Known for giant wet burritos. “It’s where your kid can eat a burrito the size of them,” he said.

Bell Gardens
Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen
7891 Garfield Ave, Bell Gardens, CA 90201

From the book – “Handmade tortillas come with snips of chaya leaf in the masa, tacos are made with Oaxacan stews, and the rest of the tight menu showcases traditional moles, classic chiles rellenos with tomato sauce and chileajo, and a rapturous chile-based pork stew reminiscent of the ones served at the central market in Huahuapan de León.”

Huntington Park
La Casita Mexicana
4030 East Gage Ave. Bell, CA 90201

From the book – “One of L.A.’s most treasured institutions.”

3544 West Imperial Highway, Inglewood, CA 90303

“The neighborhood’s not fancy, but the restaurant’s really nice,” Bill said. From the book – One “of  the most important Mexican Seafood restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area.”

West LA
Monte Alban Restaurant,
11929 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025

“It’s great.” From the book, recommended dishes are Moletes, mole negro, caldo de res.

Disclosure: I was given a book for review purposes. All opinions are my own. This post first appeared on MomsLA.

The Best Mexican Restaurants for Families in Los Angeles. #food #losangeles #LosAngelesFood #Mexicanfood #wheretoeatlosangeles

Conquer the Overlook – 5k and 282 Step Climb

Conquer the Overlook 5k and 282 Step Challenge

Conquer the Overlook 5k and 282 Step Challenge

Every race should end with beer and tacos. Especially if you have to climb 282 steps to end the race. The Conquer the Overlook 5k and 282 Step Climb at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City on August 19th was brutal for sure, but it was worth it to eat delicious tacos and drink craft beer with friends.

It’s also easier to convince people to enter if it sounds more like a party. I invited the tough and awesome CrossFit ladies to enter the race with me. I don’t know what I thought, but it was harder than I thought it would be. Partly because I didn’t know the course ahead of time. I did know, from past hikes that we’d need to climb these stairs.

Part of the race was on a dirt trails and part on the road. It started out downhill. Because it was a short race most people were going fast and the trail was a bit narrow. At one point I faceplanted into a sign, but that was my own fault for not looking up and trying to pass someone in a tight space. We went down and around Culver City Park and then back up the hill, down again until we got to the stairs.

I had hoped that I would run walk the stairs, but I walked them, which I was more than happy about. It was amazing just to finish the race. The view from the top was worth it all.

The view from the top of the Baldwin Hills Overlook

Oh, wait. The cold beer and delicious tacos at the race party made it worth it all.


Hiking The Los Liones Trail To The Parker Mesa Overlook

The Parker Mesa Overlook at the top of the Los Leones Canyon Trail

I should have known that when I suggested that this year’s New Year’s Day hike should be short and easy that it would be long and difficult. For as long as my boys could walk on a trail we’ve done a New Year’s Day hike somewhere in Los Angeles. This year we chose Los Liones Trail that begins in Pacific Palisades and we took it all the way to the Parker Mesa Overlook. (The trail is spelled Los Liones and the canyon is Los Leones – I couldn’t find any explanation for this)

The beginning of the Los Leones Canyon Trail in Pacific Palisades

It was a gorgeous day. Cold but clear and no wind. We were lucky to find a parking space right by the bathrooms and drinking fountains.

Bathrooms and drinking fountains at the trailhead of Los Leones Canyon

The trail was crowded at the beginning as we started the climb up. It was a beautiful, shady trail. We ran into a group of women – a daughter, mother and grandmother – doing the new year hike together. The mother was having a hard time. I told her to take it slow because it was going to get more strenuous. And boy did it.

After we got out of the shady area,  we reached the fire road where it was uphill and sunny.


It’s one of those hikes that looks like you’re almost to the top until you go around another bend. My husband kept saying that it was just another half mile.

We were exhausted by the time we got to the Parker Mesa Overlook, but the view made it all worth it.

It was crowded at the top, but we ran into the woman who had started the hike with her mother and grandmother. I don’t know if they made it, but the woman was happy to climb a mountain on the first day of the new year. And so were we.

It was fun, fast walk down.

The hike ended up being one our favorite even though my younger son and I complained the first two miles. Once we got into a groove it was great.

Los Leones Canyon Trail to the Parker Mesa Overlook
Bathrooms: Yes, pit toilet bathrooms near the trailhead
Dogs allowed: Yes, on leash
Strenuous: Very, if you do the trail all the way to the overlook
Distance: About 7 miles round trip

Eva Longoria Wants You to Vote and so do I

There are 26 days until the presidential election and Eva Longoria and I have an important message to send to you: vote. This could be the most important election of our lifetime – as women and latinos. So please vote.

I had asked Longoria why it’s so important for Latinas to vote last week at an event at The London in West Hollywood for her bedding line at JCPenney. (You can learn about her line on MomsLA. Her collection was fabulous and she was lovely.) I talked to her only a week ago, but so much has happened. Since our chat last week, horrible accusations have surfaced against Trump, which make it even more urgent that women turn out to vote.

Longoria is a longtime supporter of Hillary Clinton and even gave this moving speech at the Democratic National Convention. My favorite part was, “I’m 9th generation American. My family didn’t cross a border, the border crossed us. So when Donald Trump calls us criminals and rapists, he’s insulting American families.”

Who could have guessed that it would only get worse from there?

Sleepover at the San Diego Zoo for The Wild Life Movie

An Echidna, an Australian porcupine, at the San Diego Zoo

One thing that has been on my California bucket list since I moved to Los Angeles nearly 11 years ago has finally been scratched off; my family and I took the Amtrak train from Los Angeles to San Diego. Why was it on my bucket list? Because you can see the California coast go ambling by without having to be in a car and sit in traffic. We went as guests of Lionsgate for The Wild Life movie. Our adventure included taking the train to San Diego, seeing a screening of the movie and spending the night in the San Diego Zoo – yes in the zoo.

I’ll start with our train adventure. I was freaking out that we’d be late so I made sure that we arrived an hour early. I imagined going through tight security like we did when we were in London and then having to run alongside the train and throwing our luggage and children onto the moving train. Well, there was no security check and we walked on and waited until our on-time departure. The view was pretty great in some spots. This picture was taken near the station in San Clemente.

The view of San Clement from the Amtrak train from Los Angeles to San Diego

We had a lovely time on the train, chatting and relaxing – the opposite of a long car ride. We were in business class at the front of the train with families that looked like they were going to a wedding – beautiful dresses and dressed-up children. The back area with the bar looked like it was a lot of fun.  People got on the train in Orange County to go the racetrack.

Once we arrived in San Diego, we were shuttled to see The Wild Life movie. It was about Robinson Crusoe and the animals he encounters after he’s marooned on an island. The Wild Life opens in theaters today.

The Wild Life Movie Poster

His new companions include a macaw, Mak, and a Tapir named Rosie. After seeing the movie, we went to the zoo to see some of the animals that are featured in the animated film like the macaw below.


And this tortoise.

Tortoise at the San Diego Zoo
After a few more private viewings it was time to have dinner at the zoo campground and see our home for the night.
Tents at the San Diego Zoo's Camp Timbuktu

The zoo provided tents and bed rolls and we brought sleeping bags and pillows. Dinner was buffet style and very good. I was happy to have discovered a new cupcake – a cookie-cupcake.

Is it a cooke? or a cupcake? It's both! Treated to this cupcake at the San Diego zoo sleepover

After dinner, we were treated to activities that included a nighttime scavenger hunt around the zoo after it was closed. My family was very into it and not just because we felt like we were alone with the animals in the zoo – the scavenger hunt itself was fun. We learned a lot about the animals that we might not have just walking around during the day.

My family searching for clues during San Diego Zoo scavenger hunt

The best part of camping is always the campfire. We roasted s’mores and learned interesting animal facts. My boys even tried roasted bugs.


The next day, we met more animals including Taraji the cheetah and then headed back to the train for our journey home. It was a great 24 hours that my kids will remember for a years (and ask to recreate, I’m sure).


To learn more about The Wild Life, watch the trailer below.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Lionsgate and was provided transportation, food and lodging for this experience.

Instagram and

Wildflowers in Joshua Tree National Park

I’m not an Instagram star. I don’t have tens of thousands of followers and I don’t make a million dollars posting photos on the app. But I love it so much. I love taking pictures and documenting our life in Los Angeles. I love seeing what other people are doing, where they are going, what they’re eating and how they express themselves. After all of these years of plugging away and not knowing if anyone was watching, I got an email from I was chosen as one of the Top 25 Maker Moms on Instagram!

They featured this photo in the post:


It was taken at the Wisdom Tree during my birthday hike in Griffith Park. We also hiked to the Hollywood Sign and Cahuenga Peak that day. I was happy they picked that picture because it captures what I try to do with my Instagram feed, which is to share the beautiful and the interesting in Los Angeles and on my travels. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the past few months.

Arroyo Burro Dog Park near Santa Barbara

This was taken during Spring Break at Arroyo Burro Dog Park near Santa Barbara. It’s one of the photos that I hashtag #Viewfrommyrun.

Gluten free lemon almond cookies

I took this picture during a video shoot MomsLA did with Healthy Grocery Girl. Find the cookie recipe on MomsLA.

Hiking trail in Canada near Banff National Park

The picture above was posted with a quote – “I see my path, but I don’t kow where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel.” Rosalia de Castro. I took it while on a trip to Canada with Ford.
Ready for the rain at Disneyland

There are a lot of pictures of my family in my feed. I love this one we took at Disneyland.

Thanks to for including me in this group of talented Maker Moms!

The White Mexican

Yvonne Condes at the We All Grow Summit (photo courtesy of Robson Muzel and ?#?WeAllGrow? Summit)

This is the full version of the story I told at the #WeAllGrow Summit 2016. To watch the video, visit

One day my son came home with a mask he’d made in art class at elementary school. It was for indigenous people’s day. He put it on and said, “Look at me. I’m a Mexican.”

I looked at my blonde haired, blue-eyed son and said, “Sweetie, you don’t have to wear a mask to be Mexican. You’re a Mexican all the time.”

And you may not know it by looking at me, but I too am Mexican. My name is Yvonne Condes de la Torre but I was raised Yvonne Condes. I’m Mexican American, but no one ever knows it unless I somehow slip it into the conversation. Because I’m not just a white Mexican, but I’m often the whitest person in a room full of white people.

My son coming home with the mask reminded me of a time when my mom told a story about the family that lived in the house behind us. She referred to them as the Black family. “You can’t talk about them that way,” I told her. “They have names just like the Jewish family and the Single Mom.”

“You don’t think everyone calls us the Mexicans?” She asked. Up until then I hadn’t thought about it. Even though there were plenty of Mexicans in town and plenty of Mexicans that came to our house, we were the only ones on our street.

I realized that other people saw us differently. And that we might not be like everybody else. I didn’t know it then, but that’s how it would be most of my life. I was something different. And anyone looking at me, might not know what that is.

One of the things I love about this community is that years ago when I started blogging, I found a badge that I could put on my site that said “Blogs by Latinas.” Finally there was an answer to the question that has plagued me all of the years: What are you?

And I’ve asked myself that question. What am I? Who am I? And more importantly right now, what are my kids and who will they become?

My parents had a hard time growing up, my mom didn’t speak English when she first came to the Southwest and the kids and teachers were terrible to her. By the time she and my dad moved from the border town where they grew up to Tucson, she, like many Latinos of her generation wanted us to assimilate.

And assimilate we did. To my great shame, I don’t speak Spanish. I don’t even speak very good Spanglish.

So when my older son said, “hey, look at me. I’m a Mexican.” It really struck me. What will that mean to him later on that he’s Mexican. Will it mean anything to him? That he’s a super white half Mexican whose mother doesn’t speak Spanish.

Since that day I’ve tried to infuse as much of my culture into their lives as possible. I take my boys to festivals, we listen to latin music, we watch documentaries, we’ve marched in protests, and I’ve enrolled them in Spanish classes.

I’m actually trying to make them the Latino kids that I wasn’t growing up and I’m not always successful. My younger son has always hated having to go to after-school Spanish class. Last year he would stop any mom he knew and try to convince them that I had scheduled a play date with their child so he could get out of it. He made me a little miserable about it. But even though he didn’t like it, some of what he’s learned did stick.

And I’m exposing them to the language and culture because as most mothers feel about their children, I want everything to be great for them. Because I don’t want them to feel like they’re missing something.

Like I do when I go to a Crossfit class and I see this group of Latinas that hang out together and talk to each other in Spanish. They’re so badass and I want to join in on their conversation and say Hey, Look at Me, I’m Mexican, too. But I realize that would be weird.

Because I’ve often felt like I don’t fit in with other Latinas, like I sometimes do at events like these.

And I don’t want my kids to to ever feel like that, like they’re not Latino Enough. Because I have definitely felt that way and I know I’m not alone.

There are memes and youtube videos and blog posts and tweets dedicated to the feeling that some of us are not Latino enough. That because we were raised differently or we live differently that we’re not quite Latino.

But I don’t believe that at all.

As the years have gone by and my kids have gotten older and I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that all of our experiences are unique and meaningful. My life might be vastly different than the badass ladies from Crossfit, but being super white with no ear for language doesn’t mean that I’m not really Latino.

I know that someday my kids will look back and talk about their crazy Latina mom, who yelled too much, who made them take classes they didn’t want to take and eat a lot of Mexican food. But I hope that whatever they say about me, the say it lovingly and I hope they say it in Spanish.

Rainy days and Spring Flowers at Disneyland

I remember going to Disneyland from the desert of Tucson as a kid and I couldn’t believe how lush it was in the park. So many beautiful flowers were in bloom in so many colors. I had that same feeling last week during our trip to Disneyland. Spring is finally here and there’s no better place to see Spring flowers than in Disneyland.

The best area to take in the the beauty of the flowers is in the central plaza near the statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. Plus the gorgeous Pink Lapacho trees (or Pink Trumpets) are in bloom.

California Adventure has its share of flowers as well.

My family and I were invited to Disneyland to celebrate the rainy days of Spring. It was overcast the day we were there, but we were still able to use the rain ponchos Disney sent us to wear while we rode on Splash Mountain. (Now they’re in the emergency kit in my car. I love practical gifts!)

Rainy days are the best at Disneyland because the wait times for rides are much more reasonable. We were hoping for a downpour so we could ride Star Tours over and over again, but no such luck. It looked like it could rain the morning we were there and the wait time for the Materhorn was about 20 minutes.

Once the sun came out, the crowds started coming into the park. If you get caught in the rain at Disneyland, check out these tips to having fun on a rainy day.

Even so, we had a great time. Disneyland is celebrating its Egg-stravaganza and you can search through Disneyland and California Adventure for Eggs. Here’s one we found, but I won’t tell you where.

Now through March 27th, 2016 visitors can buy an Egg-stravaganza map and find the hidden eggs. When you turn in the map, you get a surprise. We didn’t do that, but we did enjoy looking for eggs and and spring flowers.

Disclosure: My family and I were given one day park hopper tickets, meal vouchers and rain gear for review purposes. All opinions are my own. This post first appeared on MomsLA.

National Parks Adventure Review

Mountain biker Eric Porter jumps over a mushroom boulder in Moab, Utah. Courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films. Photographer: Barbara MacGillivray ©

As a family, we love the National Parks. We try to visit one every year to hike, camp and explore. I feel like we just went on a National Parks vacation after seeing National Parks Adventure  3D at the IMAX in the California Science Center. It was spectacular.

National Parks Adventure took us on a road trip with legendary climber Conrad Anker, his stepson Max Lowe (son of Alex Lowe, who died in an avalanche in 1999), and their friend, artist Rachel Pohl. They not only went to breathtaking locations, but did some incredible climbs, mountain bike rides, and all-around adventuring.

The scene below was one of many that took my breath away. Anker and Pohl climbed Devils Tower National Monument. It goes straight up and looked ridiculously challenging to climb.

Conrad Anker and Rachel Pohl climb up the El Matador route on Devils Tower National Monument. Courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films. Photographer: Michael Brown ©
Conrad Anker and Rachel Pohl climb up the El Matador route on Devils Tower National Monument.
Courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films. Photographer: Michael Brown ©

What I especially loved were scenes from locations I had never heard of, but now am dying to visit. The group was hoping to see snow in Yosemite, but when the weather didn’t cooperate, they headed to Michigan to ice climb at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It was stunning. The way it was filmed, it felt like I was there and I could reach out and touch the ice.

Max Lowe and Rachel Pohl explore a cave behind a frozen waterfall in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan. Courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films. Photographer: Barbara MacGillivray ©
Max Lowe and Rachel Pohl explore a cave behind a frozen waterfall in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan. Courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films. Photographer: Barbara MacGillivray ©

It’s not just incredible to look at, there is also a lot to learn about nature and the parks. The film is narrated by Robert Redford and talks about how Theodore Roosevelt came to love the outdoors and created the national parks.

Steam rises from the Sapphire Pool in Biscuit Basin in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films. Photographer: Brad Ohlund ©
Steam rises from the Sapphire Pool in Biscuit Basin in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
Courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films. Photographer: Brad Ohlund ©

National Parks Adventure opens on February 12th at the California Science Center and I highly recommend it. (We’re hosting a giveaway on MomsLA of a family 4-pack of tickets.)