Sunday, November 22, 2015

Racing on Pacaya

Last Sunday morning, I woke up to the sound of soft rain on the roof.  A never-ending drizzle had started the afternoon before and never really stopped in Guatemala City.  My thoughts toward the rain were not pleasant.


It was the morning of the Pacaya 10km race, which is one of my favorites each year.  The trail is difficult, but not impossible, and the views the entire race are breathtaking.  I had run it the past two years, with a slightly better time my second year than my first.  Though I hadn’t explicitly trained for this year’s 10K, I knew I was in pretty good shape and thought I had a chance at finishing well.  


But… rain.  


There was already a facebook message thread between some of the people going with me to the race.  Two had decided not to chance the rain and mud, and a few of the others were waffling.  Resolutely, I added that unless I heard the race was cancelled or postponed, I planned to drive there and make a game-time decision about whether it was worth running or not.  


Thankfully, as we maneuvered the dirt road leading to the starting line, the rain held off, and the road didn’t appear too terribly muddy.  The eight of us who’d made the trek unanimously decided the run would be worth it.  

The 8 ladies who ran the race!  (post-run)
We were blessed as we ran; no rain, and the skies cleared enough to allow the usual sweeping views across the hills and lakes.  Parts of the trail were muddy, yes, and I felt like I walked more this year than I did last year for that reason.  


It also seemed like there were less people running the 10K this year than in years previous.  The group of us at the starting line seemed discouragingly small, and along the route, except in the first kilometer, I rarely saw anyone ahead of me or behind me.  Thankfully, workers had been well placed at each turn to make sure runners stayed on the correct route, and I didn’t get lost.


When I crossed the finish line, the woman who handed me my finisher’s medal told me the award ceremony would be in a few minutes and asked me to stay for it.  She also informed me I was the first woman to cross the finish line.  


Chatting to the first place overall finisher, a man from El Salvador who had finished thirteen minutes before me, I discovered that I was in third place overall.


Without a doubt, this is the best I’ve ever finished in a race.  


A woman came sprinting across the finish line a few minutes behind me, and shortly behind her came three of my friends, right in a row.  




Two hours later, the podium was cleared and they were calling our names.  I took my spot in first, and then there was a moment of confusion as they called Lindsey and Janae in second and third place, not woman who’d come in right behind me and Holly.  Glancing at their list, I realized that the two of them were placed in the “Masters” age category.  This was comical, because Holly had taken the number of a friend whose knees hadn’t allowed her to compete, and definitely does not fall into the older age bracket.  We congratulated her after she took her place on the podium, telling her how young she looked.  



It was a day of celebration for us at Volcan de Pacaya.  I’m so glad we braved the weather and ran the race!  Standing with my friends on that podium is a feeling I won’t soon forget.  





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