I loved this race.
Yesterday I completed the Salida "Run Through Time" half marathon with several members of the Attack Pack running group. A trail race in March in Salida has the ingredients for a potential disaster, but this year it was a blast. Due to my recent injuries that caused me to drop out of the LA Marathon, I was hesitant to sign up for a race. ESPECIALLY since I had been training for flat and fast, not rolling trails with climbs. I had not run over 8 miles in nearly a month. A member of the Attack Pack, Jamie, had signed up for the sold out race but could no longer run and offered her bib up for grabs. So, instead of wallowing on the couch all weekend mourning the loss of my Boston dreams, I decided a fun trail race with friends would be therapeutic.
A few of us more hardcore individuals camped out the night before in the nearly freezing temps. I was on the lucky shift that pulled up late and hopped into my sleeping bag as I spent the evening blowing off steam, drinking beer and getting a fair amount
of stretching in while Molly and Katie rolled in and set the tent up. The gods of fire knew it was going to be a good race, because they flame sculpted a running man for us.
Morning came quickly (but was interrupted around 3 am when I almost attacked Molly thinking she was an impostor trying to get into our tent). We threw down on some oatmeal and headed over to the start with little time to spare.
The race kicked off and I was flying. I didn't know how I would feel so my goal was to just listen to my body. So when on my second mile, I looked down and was running a 7:30, I thought it might be a good race. I LOVE running trails far better than road and I had not been on trails in quite some time, so I think my running spirit erupted with delight and I just couldn't help myself. The race looped around a mostly single track trail system just on the other side of the river in Salida. With the snow-capped mountains in the back drop, every turn offered picturesque peaks that made your heart leap and want to break into songs from the Sound of Music (Yes, I might have actually done so but you have no proof). If I was a betting woman, I would have put money on me eating dirt at some point since the trail was pretty rocky and full of tire track and shoe ruts. Around mile five, a volunteer aggressively waving a cowbell (we need more cowbell!) informed me that I was 12th woman overall. I was literally shocked. And as I explained to my running comrades later, my fierce competitive gene kicked in. I WOULD be top ten. So I targeted every woman in front of me and slowly picked them off. Winding through trails, sprinting up hills, all my training over the past few months carried me through and I felt like I was soaring. My heart hasn't felt that light in a long time and it reconfirmed why I love to run. It was the confidence boost I needed and repaired my broken ego.
The finish line was slightly uphill and the race was closer to 13.5 miles (but who's counting). It was also somewhat anti-climatic with a sleepy crowd lazing on the rocks by the river and no announcer loudly proclaiming my personal victory. Eager to see how I finished, I checked the results. I was racing under the pseudonym Jamie, not Alicia Pino. Jamie was in the 30-39 age group while I am actually in the 20-29 age group. And like fine wine, we women get better with age. I wasn't doing myself any favors competing in a much more difficult age group. I printed the results receipt and my heart lept. I finished 8th woman overall and 3rd in the 30-39 category and (if I had been registered as myself) I would have won my age group by nearly 5 minutes. I have never placed in my age group in a race before let alone win it. It took everything inside of me to not plop down by the river and have myself a good cry. Instead I went back to the finish line and waited for every one of my running framily to finish. They gave me support when I needed it and I would be there to cheer the loudest as they finished. All had a great race. Ironically, Wendy came in as 8th woman in the marathon.
Needless to say it was a beautiful weekend spent with some of the best people around. I wouldn't have changed a thing.