After four races this year on the Golden Trail Series, Zegama, Marathon du Mont Blanc, Dolomyths and Sierre Zinal, I had enough points to be invited by Golden Trail Series to the next two stops!
This meant my first ever trip with Golden Trail in the USA: Colorado and California!
Big thank you goes to my sponsor Salomon Italy, Suunto and Trieste Atletica to support this travel and this journey.
What a big adventure ahead, didn’t know exactly what to expect, but the excitement was high!
Sharing two weeks with some of the world bests mountain runners while running through some amazing natural parks in Colorado and California!
The trip started by flying to Denver airport, I met my good friend Annastina on the plane so we were not alone and waited for the rest of the group together.
While I tried to enjoy every minute of the trip and every single day out in the mountains I struggled as well during this trip. Travelling with a group of strong runners for almost two weeks and adapting to the routine and rhythm of the others, specially when athletes, ain’t always easy. And I must say that many times I found myself I was doing too much compared to what I’m used to and even felt out of place sometimes.
I struggled a bit with self confidence, finding myself too tired, too slow, too influeced by the altitude compared to others and doubted a bit on my runner’s career and even runner’s body compared to others.
Reflecting about this afterwards I think that’s okey and even a way to improve, when you find yourself a bit out of your comfort zones it’s when, coming back home you can reflect on what to change, what to improve what is wrong or good on your training and lifestyle.
First race for me, Pikes Peak Ascent (21km only uphill with 2300m ascent, from 2000m to 4300m) was a complete game over. From the very first meters I found myself out of breath, heavy legs and a really hard time to run. Breathing was hard and by thinking it now I think I was sick, maybe Covid or just flu, but was really frustrating. I wanted to quit but I realized the fastest way to get down and go home was running up the top and get a lift down, cause there was no road or assistance to go down. So I struggled all the way up, above 4000m my breath was worse and worse and the feeling I had at the top was horrible, I couldn’t breath. They put me in the ambulance to get down to reach Manitou Spring as fast as possible.
Not the adventure I was looking forward and whereas in that moment I just wanted to feel better and didn’t care about the race, later at night, of course all the disappointment came out and I felt low self esteem, tired mind, tired body, emotional a bit unstable but I tried to keep this to myself and try to motivate myself. That’s part of the elite sport as well, and part of training and living for two weeks with other athletes.
Luckily I was sharing my trip with my good friend Annastina with whome I feel I can open myself and we shared our emotions and help each others.
This was my Pikes Peak adventure, not all fun and games!
But the trip was not only about racing!
So many incredible runs after Pikes Peak in the wonderful rocks of Colorado Springs and after landing in California for the second race we run in the Yosemite Park, in the Giant Sequoia Park, before heading to Mammoth Lakes for the Mammoth Trail Fest, 26km and 1200m.
No words to describe the feeling of running in these giant parks, close to El Capitan or the big Waterfalls in Yosemite Park or Mammoth Lakes.
Even if many easy runs were too fast for me and again I had the feeling of not being fast enough many times, I embraced this challenge and try to learn the most I could.
Running is so difficult to understand, and so much more competitive than my previous sport Stand Up Paddling that I still have to understand so many things about it.
But that’s for sure what makes it challenging and exciting for me. The path is so more difficult and full of up and downs that it keeps motivating me.
Mammoth Lakes race was luckily a bit better than Pikes Peak even if far from a good race, but I could finish top20 again and so gain some more points in the overall ranking.
I come back home from this trip with incredible memories of beautiful runs, many good moments shared with amazing people and a better knowledge of what I have to work on to keep improving. Also even more motivation to keep training and running more and better.
I have few new goals in mind, starting from the finals of the golden trail series in Italy and then will work on my calendar but I know I want to do some road and track races this winter, some cross country races before switching to mountain running in spring/summer.
Thank you to the people on this trip, to whom made this trip possible and big thank you to Greg Vollet that is making the most for the athletes and helping us living of this.