Thursday, February 14, 2013

California reality

"All the leaves are brown...and the sky is gray (and the sky is gra-ay).  Out and for a walk, on a winter's day.  I'd be safe and warm (I'd be safe and warm) if I was in LA (if I was in LA-ay).  California dreaming, on such a winter's day-aayyyyyy."
It wasn't just a dream.  It was my reality last week.  I was approved to attend a conference in LA last week through work and I was sooo excited to get to the coast.  I haven't been out there in about 20 years and I was SUPER stoked to get me some SoCal time.  Yes, you read that right: super stoked.  Don't judge me and my 80's beach vernacular- I love all things 80's and taking a chill pill on the totally rad beach was just what this Southern California born turtle needed.  I have been craving sunshine and gnarly waves, and my soul was in desperate need of  a little recharge.  So I went.  And here's how the story goes...

Got off the plane Wednesday in LA around 11.  Took a shuttle to the rental car facility, gave them 40 forms of ID, a blood sample, birth rights to my first child and then headed out.  I immediately got hopelessly lost and turned around.  GPS and maps on the phone weren't working.  No map in the car.  I just started driving around until I thought I was headed in the right direction.  I finally found the highway headed west, and got dumped out at Laguna Beach (well, just north of Laguna Beach).
Driving on the highway in LA made me want to become an alcoholic.  Holy crap!!!!!  Although, just one day later after I realized I could drive like a complete moron, like I'm in the game "Grand Theft Auto" and get away with it, I came to the conclusion that driving in the OC wasn't so bad....

Thursday I made plans with a local hiking group to hike 8 miles in the Laguna Wilderness Area (the Laguna Hills).  I wasn't registered for the workshop on Thursday so I wound up having the day off to go explore and play.  The day was very overcast and rainy and a little chilly.  No matter.  I was super excited to do some hiking and go explore The Hills (yes, I shamelessly admit I watched that MTV show for a few seasons).  The group was small and quite nice.  We headed off at a brisk pace and walked down, down, down to the ocean.  Then we turned around and hiked up, up, up back to the top.  Down was fast; up was not as fast.  No matter- it was beautiful and very exciting.

You can see the ocean in the distance in the pic up above
Friday I attended the workshop all day.  It was SUPER informative and I learned a lot.  I ran on the treadmill early in the morning, ordered room service breakfast and headed down to the conference.  No pictures because I didn't do anything but sit all day.  I did manage to get in some yoga on the balcony after my morning run. 
Saturday I signed up for a  half marathon in Santa Monica.  It was to be my 3rd half in 2013 and I was really excited about running along the beach!  However, I woke up with major tummy issues and I wasn't very excited about running.  I drove to Santa Monica about 5:15 in the morning (it was about an hour away) and I arrived in the dark.  I used the bathroom a billion times and then decided that I would just play it by ear and see how my stomach felt.  The field of runners was really small, and I figured I would be last.  No worries, tho.  I'm used to being near the back of every pack. It's my norm.  I am not nicknamed Speedy, after all. We got going and it wasn't long before I knew I would run the whole half.  My stomach settled down and the scenery helped to flush out (pun intended) any thoughts I had of stopping early. 
The course was 3 loops- under the Santa Monica Pier, past Muscle Beach and out to the spot where the Saved By The Bell kids had their summer jobs.  3 times.  Not too shabby for scenery there.  The sun was bright, the wind was light and the waves were giant and noisy.  PERFECTION!!!  I hovered behind a woman in green for the first 2 loops and then surged ahead on loop #3.  In fact, I passed 2 women on loop #3 so as to not be DFL.  I tell you, it takes me over an hour to warm up and then I can go all the live long day.  I felt great the whole time.  In fact, this is the fastest half that I've had in a LONG time.  I ran 11:38 min/miles.  For me, that's pretty fast.  I was thrilled.  I finished then headed to the water to watch the surfers shredding some mega waves. 
Then I got back in the car and headed back to the conference to finish out the morning meetings.  It was truly a perfect day.
Sunday I headed home.  I missed my husband and my dogs, but I sure did hate to leave SoCal. I really wanted to call my hubs and tell him I wasn't coming home.  "It's been a great 17 years, dear, but the ocean won't let me leave...."  Not really, but I sure didn't want to get on that plane.
All in all it was a very successful conference and a very successful outdoor adventure.  This SoCal born girl sure did miss her roots.  Maybe some day I can go back for longer.... much longer.


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