A photo posted by Zoila Gomez😊 (@zoilagomezita) on
The past three weeks have been some of the busiest and most exciting weeks of the year and my life. My body is responding to training, the tutoring program is going well, and my visit to Mexico two weeks brought the very best in me. It rejuvenated me to the point that this week I was able to reach the 100 mile week in training and Im more determinaed than ever to make the time to step on the line at the 2016 Olympic Trials.
It all started with the decision of preparing for traditional Medio-Maraton Venado/Charcas. A race I grew up hearing about and even remmember seeing the yougest of my brothers, Obed, coming home exhausted and very proud after completing such a challenge 23 years ago. He was sweaty, exhausted, but very happy. I recall sitting with him in the big patio at my mom's house asking tons of questions. I was so impressed that I even went downtown to chek up the reslts to see his name on the list. In my heart I was proud of my brother.
Going back to Mexico for this event is very special. After my wonderful experience from last year in which I did not only conquered the distance, but was able to share my journey with young and adults all I wanted was to go back. See, I was born in Charcas and I spend two of my most important childhood years in Venado ( town where the race starts) when Mom and Dad separated just before dad passed away.
One of many things I have to deeply thank, In The Arena, is the freedom I have to chose my races, community events and the way I reach out to our youth. This freedom has allowed me to come back to my roots for the second year. I always dreamed of coming back to show our people that things can be done, that we can succeed, that we can make our dreams come true. What I didn't know was how I was going to do this and now thanks to In The Arena I'm back but with a greater purpose to talk, to touch not only my family, my childhood friends but an entire community. Also, sporting the L.L Bean gear with the ITA logo meant the world to me. What a privilage to show my community how two amazing visionaries met and how now they are working together with the same goal, to make a positive impact in the lives of today's youth while helping an athlete like me persue her dreams.. What a blessing for me to be that voice, to be that story, to be that athlete.
This race is a no joke as it starts at 6500ft and ends at 7500ft. We start in Venado and we made our way to Charcas. Last year, I finished fifth and people were so grateful for my effort they took me as if I had won the race. This year I wanted to give them a little bit more. I fully prepared and I was confident I could do something special. Unfortunatelly, the heat and humidity got the best out in me and I was not able to run a faster time. It turned into survival and tactic race. Half way into it i knew it was going to be all about the effort and not the time.
I accomplished one of my goals of making the podium. I finished 3rd overall and was the first Mexican, the first from my state and the first from my town. I will never trade the moment when I arrived in to town. The love the appreciation, the warm welcoming is second to none. At the end Im running Home, the place I grew up and I learned many wonderful values.
I had great moments prior, during and after the race. I dined and visited with wonderful people. I spent wonderful times with my mom and many of my relatives. Mom's face expression at the finish line was priceless.
I will never forget, Mr. Maximiliano a men in his 60s riding a pretty old bike who joined me for a mile or so and with the most passive voice said " Do not rush yourself, the next women is way behind" When we approached the next village, his village, people started cheering us on and 300 meters later Don Maximiliano tells me,
"Finish up strong, nice to meet you"
What about the two girls who chased me at the finished line? Once I approached the finished they hugged me tight. Both of them were at my speaking engagement two days prior to the race.
To my nephew, David who stayed close giving me updates and my liquids during the race. To all my family and friends who came out to support me along the route either on their car or a bike. Those who even came from the city, 2 hour drive, Thank You!
So many acts of kindness that will keep me grounded for many years to come.
I can proudly say that In The Arena has a special place in the hearts of hundreds of children and their families in two remote towns in Mexico. We are indeed making a big difference. Thank You In The Arena!