In every regard this turned out to be a very satisfying trip. Salida is about the cutest little town in the world and the weather was absolutely amazing all weekend. The run itself went about as expected. I cruised pretty mellow to a 3:33 finish. I would have liked to feel a bit better in doing this than I did, but I was certainly proud of myself for keeping my effort pretty casual and not pushing too hard to run with the 8 or 10 runners who were running out in front of me the entire race. I got to run on about 25 miles of dirt and I got to hangout with a bunch of running friends (both old and new).
The best part of the entire weekend though was that my girlfriend and her daughter went with me and after the race on Saturday we found a great riverside campsite East of Salida and spent almost 24 hours just hanging out doing all the things you do outside with a 4 year old (mud pies, getting poked with cacti, playing in the ice-cold water, etc.). Sometimes I forget how much of my life I have spent "living" outside like this. It's always when I do it for the first time in a long time that I'm reminded of how much I love being outside. And I mean really being outside. Not just getting out for a 3 or 4 hour run, but actually being outside for an entire day or more. Next week after Chuckanut we are going to take a camping trip to Southern Utah for the entire week. Although I'm quite excited about racing Chuckanut, it's this trip after the race that I'm most looking forward to right now.