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After #girlscamp was over, Ellen flew home and Mikki, Mo and I were off to our next adventure. I spent 6 years when I was young (10-16) living in the town of Los Osos. If you have never been there, don't, it's horrible. Haha! It's such a hidden gem in California and I have oodles of fond memories of this place. I saw that they had a trail race the week after the Coast Ride and I knew I wanted to do it. I signed up for the 50K, but then after the knee went berserk they let me drop down to the 8.3 mile race. So saddddd. Mikki, Mo, and I made it to Morro Bay just in time for the sunset and it was amazing. We went to the backside of "The Rock" and watched the waves crash over the jetty as the sun set over the ocean. Life was really good. I think this was the first time I took a really deep breath and just exhaled the events of the week. I was in a place I truly truly love, like love deeply in my soul.

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And with two people that I adore just as much.  When I look at this photo I feel the joy of the moment. It takes me right back!

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We headed from Morro Bay into Los Osos where I had booked us rooms at the Back Bay Inn. Again, I want to say this is a horrible place so nobody will ever go there, but it was amazing. I lived 3 blocks away from this place growing up and I had always wanted to stay there. This was the perfect opportunity and I booked "The Cottage Room" because it would sleep all of us. WELL, the Cottage Room actually turned out to be the little white cottage up on the little grassy hill that I dreamed about growing old in when I was little. If I could retire to one place this would be it. I remember a little old lady living in it when I was growing up and when she passed the Inn bought it. The surrealness (not a word) of the situation was ridiculous. Mikki and Mo didn't even stand a chance, I called dibs on the front room, bay view bed, where I slept and dreamed the most wonderful exciting dreams. I meditated each each day here and could not have been happier. Total "did not want to leave" BLISS!

IMG_0903 The Inn had wine happy hour, we hit that up, then went two doors down to La Palapa and had the best girls dinner, complete with Margs and table side guac. Life was so so good. What race??

Bright and early the next morning we were off to the races. Mikki and Mo were running the 25K. If you do this race, I suggest the 25k since the 50k is just two loops of the 25K. I really wanted to be running the 25k because I only got to run half of it and felt like I was missing out on good views. But, I'm trying to be sorta smart here, and so the 8 mile it was! I realized after arriving that I forgot my race hat. I was wearing my favorite purple Coeur shirt and wanted to match it with my Coeur hat, but I forgot it. Took my warm hat off and my hair was CHICKEN HAIR. Oh no, this would not do. I ambled around looking for someone who might have a second hat, Mikki and Mo laughing at me and my hat problem. Then I saw the race organizers were wearing hats and I decided I would ask to buy their hat. I decided I would offer $50. That's how desperate I was for a hat.

So I went up to the table and right then a guy said "Do you have hats for sale?" and she said "YES" and I promptly got in line and bought one. It was only $15 and I was HIGH AS A KITE! I was so so so happy and skipped around telling Mikki and Mo "THE UNIVERSE WILL PROVIDE" which is one of my favorite lines!

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We lined up on a hill and all together for a mass start. The race director briefed us on which color flags to follow and then said GO!!!! OFF I went. And with it, OFF went any rational thoughts about being nice to my knee. I have a problem. I can not NOT race. If it's a race, I'm racing. At this point I have run a grand total of 16 miles in the last 30 days, 14.5 of those in the 5 days prior, but it's a race and I'm leading it.

I'm huffing and panting and running WAY too fast, and the girls behind me are chatting. Totally chatting, not breathing. The first 2.5 miles this is pretty much your view (this was taken at sunset, but you get the picture).

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Then the course turns uphill and all at once in mass three ladies pass me like I'm standing still. Oh man, I'm panting and the self talk starts knocking at the brain door. Too out of shape, went too fast, too steep. And I just said "Hush, this is amazing" in my head about three times and all went quiet. I focused on running up the hills as efficiently as I could and tried to run the flatter stuff fast. The third girl that had passed me was creeping out of sight and the first two were long gone. I also figured that all three of these ladies were running the 25k or 50k due to their chipper sounds as they passed me.

We climbed up Valencia Peak, a peak I climbed many times with my high school friends growing up. It's steep and there was some walking. I had a 14 minute mile in there and I got passed by about 4 more guys on the climb, BUT I was RUNNING, and I was in my SPORTS BRA, and the weather was AMAZING, and so life was really really good. At the top you picked up a rubber band to prove you made it and I stalled there trying to decide what color to get. Finally just grabbed orange and started back down.

Now so far I have zero knee pain and so, in my infinite wisdom I decide to just bomb the downhill. I mean, it's easier if you just do that right? I love downhill running and about half way down I have passed the three guys back and caught back up to the 3rd lady that passed me. She lets me by and I keep bombing down but I can hear her right there too. So now I start thinking "is she doing the 8 mile?" "why would she be right there if she was doing the 25k, there's no need" "Oh no, we are going to have a sprint off" So I'm running as fast as I can, my arms are flailing all over the place and I finally hit the road and the finishing stretch. I haul as fast as I can and whew, there's the finish line. YEaaaaaaah!

Then I see the lady come through the other direction meaning she's doing the 25k. So I just sprinted from a lady doing double the distance. Party Foul (again hangs head in shame)!

The first lady, who beat me through 8 miles by like 5 minutes, was actually doing the 50k....she won that...overall. The second lady and then the last I was near both were 1-2 woman in the 25K, and yes, I am now the Montana de Oro 8.3 mile champ....although I should have given my champion coaster to the 50k lady who beat everyone to every check point. Amazing!

And, the real winning moment? No knee pain! Now, my quads were brutally sore the next day from bombing the downhill but my knee was totally happy! Maybe it prefers abuse?

I walked up the course to see Mikki and Mo come through. They both did great and had top 10 finishes in the 25K. I'm so proud of them!!!

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After refilling with burgers and fries, shopping for new hats, and eating ice cream we said goodbye to Mo and she drove back to San Jose to fly home. Mikki and I had a pretty hilarious rest of the night. We went back to Montaya De Oro and went tide pooling. This made me extremely happy. I love me some tide pools. I have no idea why I didn't go into Marine Biology. I sure love it. We watched the sunset out there and it was kinda magic. It had this way of completely resetting the both of  us. That final sunset on that final night, completely fulfilled in that moment and focused only on the good in the world. It was magic.

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Then we went for a hilarious steak and rib dinner at the Madonna Inn. Pure hilarity and we had a GREAT conversation. If you have never been there it's worth the stop, built opulently in the 1950s and not a single thing has changed. It's theme color is pink. They have themed rooms too, I've always wanted to stay in the cave room. Maybe next time! Then we were off to the hot springs for some soaking time before we tucked ourselves into bed for the night.

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The next day we slept in, went for walks, basically acted like we were retired folks, made friends with the locals. It was true bliss. The cherry on top was lunch with Amy and Christine where we laughed and laughed and laughed until I almost peed my pants. Good friends, good times. And dinner with Mud and Barbara before our late flight. We are so lucky!

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All in all the Coast Ride, Camp, Trail Race week long excursion was just what I needed to get back on solid ground. It was the unofficial start to the 2015 season and gave Muddy and I the chance to plan the races for the year. I came back feeling motivated and excited to get to work for the years races. The beautiful weather of California was so awesome and the many sunsets over the water were liquid gold. Life really is pretty amazing!

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