As I headed out of Twin Lakes feeling like Rocky Balboa (beat to hell but loving to be beaten). The trail becomes a valley that crosses 4 or 5 streams of the same river before heading up the Hope Pass vertical climb. I put in my iPod and turned it up. Oddly enough, my high school theme song came on: One by Metallica. It definitely had the impact of getting my legs moving again. As I crossed the last stream, my toes were cold and my legs were stiff. The tunes changed over to my theme song of this year’s race: Big Dreams and High Hopes by Jack Ingram (his daughter Ava is in Perry’s class this year). “And to this day, I don’t know why I’m restless, I guess some hearts are simply born to run… Big dreams, high hopes…They’ve led me through the hard times like a north star shinin’ showing me where to go…But even though I hardly ever catch ’em, God, don’t it just feel good to try?
Big dreams, high hopes…They’ve led me through the hard time like a north star shinin’ showing me where to go…They’re what got this whole thing started…They’re what keep this cowboy ridin’ down the road…Big dreams, high hopes“.
At this point, I headed into the woods and started to climb. As I stated earlier, I had NO IDEA how to gauge whether I was aerobic, anaerobic or not breathing. So, I just power walked up Hope Pass using my “why are these legal” carbon-fiber-titanium walking sticks. Everyone around me would pause every 30+ minutes to sit and breathe. I decided to just plow through and get to the Hopeless Aid Station. I wanted to catch Anton there and record his passing; unfortunately, he came by before then. I stood off trail and clapped for him and his pacer. He looked at me like Lance Burkhart (Laird Hamilton) in North Shore thinking, “You Idiot”. Or maybe he was pissed since lost the bet after picking me at the pre-race meeting to DNF first. Who knows, but it was cool to see him haul ass down the hill.
A few minutes later, I made it to Hopeless Aid Station with the Llamas. Jason Lippman was there. I love running into Lippman. He is so encouraging despite his own race feelings and situation. Of course, he does not believe in aid stations and took off before I could comb my hair and change underwear (wait a minute…). Did I mention that my legs worked going uphill? In the aid station, I ate the best potatoes on the course with a heap of salt on top and told them that I could not WAIT to see them again. In fact, I tried to bribe someone to take my number to Winfield and back while I hung out with the Llamas. No takers. On my way up the last section of Hope Pass, I saw Merredith Terranova running behind a chick that was setting the downhill course record. As I crested Hope Pass, I took video and started down. OUCH, my IT bands (now the left as well) did not work. I pole-vaulted down the first ¼ mile. People started to pass me which is not normal for my downhill, but this was Leadville and I was going to take whatever was thrown at me. On the way down, I gave Muz a hug (did you know it was me? Muz was focused and looked good) and ran into the Barbie Doll from the training camp and a few Austin speedsters. I finally made it down to the road into Winfield and began to power walk. I saw Ken and Paul Sali. I gave Ken a huge hug and began to almost power cry. It was awesome. I was not feeling great so I put my iPod back in and Limelight by Rush came on (one of my former daydream theme songs that I would listen to as a kid while I imagined sinking a 30 foot birdie putt on the 18th green of the Open (the British Open to you yanks) to be the first amateur to win since Bobby Jones in 1930. I finally found Winfield and ran in with my video recording and me smiling HUGE. It was awesome to be here to see my pacers for the first time and bask in the glory of making it to Winfield 10 minutes faster than 12 hours!!! (C’mon Jason, DIG DEEP!).
I looked at my watch, It wasn’t even 4pm YET! The staff weighed me and I was only 1lb down. This is good for running but I also wanted to lose some Lbs as well to look stout during the finish. I sat down as my total crew (including Team T-Rex) helped me re-apply my vagisil and other products. This was also where I saw Claire and Russ again who whispered something to me (I have no idea what they said) that somehow made me feel even better. There is something about 2 amazing athletes especially a husband and wife team that just got back from running across Germany telling you that everything is looking good (or maybe they said “you need to eat some food”).