I left off with us running along the Divide with stunning views...
The snow still told the story - I was way back from the front. The snow was way too trampled. It was a race full of half-hearted racing, on my part, and half-hearted "oh-well", never really deciding which to stick to, fun or competition.
The Divide rolls along up and down and some flat sections, snow, rocks, grass... I wanted to run across the grass and sing, "The HILLS are alive, with the sound of music!" But somehow I think I wouldn't have quite the effect of Julie Andrews. It was the obnoxygen getting to me.
One section had a very amazing drop-off. It was a thrill. I still have some frost-nip in my fingers from working my way down that snow field.
After several hours above 12,000 feet, we finally started descending. We got to the Divide aid station and I ate a big cup of Ramen noodles, then some banana, and left with my squirrel bag full of 'tater chips.
The next 9 miles were nearly all downhill. I did good, but the next closest guy was over a mile ahead. I didn't catch anyone until I got to Slumgullion aid.
There I met Tim and Anita Fromm. Anita crewed me through the stop, shoving food at me and filling my bottle and Camelbak while I sat and Tim took my mugshot. As I was leaving, someone else was coming in behind me.
Soon after leaving down from there, I passed another guy. Then the trail started the last long climb. Did I say I suck uphill? I suck uphill! The guy I passed, he passed me back. Then two more guys passed me. I cared, but at miles 41-44 - and you were never good at uphills - what can you do?
I enjoyed the scenery, that's what I did. I started to take photos several times, but aspen meadows don't seem to be so fantastic when looking at photos. I guess you had to be there. So picture this...
It's hot, but not so very hot really - just that you're pushing hard uphill so you're a little overheated. The sun is beating down without mercy. There's a mild breeze now and then that occasionally has a little umph. It cools your sweat and feels luxurious.
Nothing sounds like aspen leaves. Nothing looks like aspen leaves flittering in the wind. The course winds through aspen, then through meadows surrounded by aspen, then along the edges of meadows and along the edges within the aspen looking out on slanted grassy meadows. It was heavenly. The course dives in and out of so many of these groves and meadows and it soothes the soul.
But like I said, I guess you had to be there. My camera couldn't capture it.
More mud and water to cross before the last aid station.
Just 3.5/4 miles to go, mostly downhill - what I do best. I passed a few guys right out of the aid station, but one guy would not be passed. He kept the distance ahead of me all the way to the end. I passed someone limping, but he had it made at that point. Back down into Lake City, I could see three people ahead.
I closed on two. I knew I could pass them. But then I saw it was Cindy Stonesmith and another woman. They were holding hands and talking like it was a momentous occasion. I didn't understand anything they were saying, but body language made it look like maybe it was the other woman's first 50-miler or something. Cindy looked back a few times and saw me closing the gap. Holding hands like they were, they were a very wide obstacle, but one I could have sprinted around.
Basically, it looked like they were having a Kodak moment and everyone was cheering. I thought it would look crude to blow by them and spoil an otherwise poignant moment. I never found out what the deal was. The other woman wasn't in the final results, so I guess she was a friend of Cindy's and I don't know what the "moment" was all about.
Finish: 13:50:06 - same as Cindy.
Wow, I couldn't believe I finished UNDER 14 hours!!!!!! But then I found out that it was about the fastest SJS50 ever and I was only middle-of-the-pack. Very mediocre performance. I should've broken 13 hours. Oh well, goals... Next year...
I've taken notes and will be expecting better of myself next year.