As I sit here in a sleepy haze, it is hard to believe that I woke up in the Hotel Danza Del Sol yesterday morning. But then I try to get up from my chair and my throbbing quads remind me that it wasn’t a dream. This weekend I had the opportunity to re-visit a very special place and re-run what was one of the best races of my mountain running career.
|Ajijic at a glance. Photo Richard Bolt.|
Just as I was ready to embark on my adventure to Ajijic, Mexico for the 2014 NACAC Mountain Running Championships, I received a phone call from a very talented reporter from the Bellingham Herald. Thanks to my very sweet BDP (Bellingham Distance Project) teammates, he was interested in doing a write-up on the pending race. You can find his article here.
|Only in Ajijic are there dogs on the roof.|
Tad and I met Richard and Nancy in the Houston Airport on Friday afternoon. After an hour delay and a 2 hour flight, we landed in Guadalajara getting dumped with buckets of rain. A local American volunteered to pick us up and drive us 45 minutes south to Ajijic. Our team all arrived safely and we convened at a pizza shop at about 9:00pm with our hosts and race directors, Ivan, Ricardo and Karla. Pizza and cerveza came out of the kitchen one after the other. It was delicious.
|Surprised with 1200 pesos from setting the C.R. 3 years ago.|
|Me and my friend, Jambo.|
Karla picked us up for breakfast and drove us to a spa resort just outside of town. We toured the grounds which featured exotic flowers, serene massage houses and the most enticing steam baths you can imagine. Our appetites were ready for breakfast. Fruit, yogurt, granola, croissants, bread, scrambled eggs, beans, tortilla chips, fresh squeezed orange juice… So. Good. After checking out the first kilometer of the course, the rest of the day was all about resting, stretching and preparing for the colossal effort that was to come in the morning.
|View from the breakfast table.|
|Me and Amber hydrating after the race.|
|Leading Brandy up the first big climb|
The descent is a dive back down the mountain. Sliding, hanging on branches, many screams and obscenities is what it takes to get down. The Mexican men were amazing to watch as they gracefully danced down the switchbacks and loose dirt. My feet burned. Despite how hard it is to run on cobblestone streets, I think everyone on the U.S. team agreed that it was so good to see the cobblestone after what we were dealing with. As Ryan said, once you hit the cobblestones and could get a semblance of a stride going, it felt like a road race.
The kilometer back to the finish was just as hard for me as any part. I was exhausted as I made the turn for the town square and it took a lot of effort to not lose composure and keep my legs from tying up. I crossed the finish a couple minutes behind Brandy and a couple minutes ahead of Chris. All three of us broke my course record from three years ago. Go U.S.A.! Amber had a tough day after a car accident two weeks before the race, but still battled through lead legs to conquer the course and meet us with a smile. Full results here.
|Interview with Foro Runner. See below!|
|Me and Tad post race and my arm splashed with paint.|
I am embarrassed to confess that Tad and I took a taxi to the town square for dinner rather than walking another mile on the cobblestones. My ankles called uncle. A group of us went out for margaritas, burritos and some of the best guacamole ever. Ironically, the restaurant had run out of tortilla chips and we had to eat it with saltines. Too funny.
After dinner, there was more eating, drinking and celebrating with our hosts at a taco joint that was open late.
I woke up at 2:45am the next morning. I couldn't sleep, but had to be ready to go for when Ivan came at 3:25am to take Tad, Danny, Rich and myself to the Guadalajara Airport. It was sad to say goodbye, not only to my teammates, but to Ajijic. Once again I was charmed by its authenticity and character.
I could go on and on about how much fun I had this weekend. I am so thankful for this experience and couldn't have asked for a better group of people to share it with. I want to thank Nancy and Richard for the opportunity to be a part of this family.
|Shrimp ceviche toastada at the finish.|
Ivan, Ricardo, Karla and sweet Mom – you were so good to us and we truly appreciate your hospitality. Hopefully one day you can visit the States and we’ll take turns sharing you.
As always thank you to Trail Butter, Terrain Gym and Align Chiropractic for fueling me, making me strong and tough and for keeping me healthy. You help me every day to reach my full potential and for that I am truly grateful.
Until next time, Ajijic.
|In my happy place.|
|Experimenting with some exotic fruit.|
|Three cheers for Chupinaya and good margaritas!|