As April came to an end, the snow finally began to melt. By May, some local trails were passable without snowshoes, and I jumped at the chance to get away from the roads.
I hiked a nearby trail as a test, and found that I could at least cover the first (and steepest) part without punching through thigh-deep snow with each step. The trail was wet and icy, but it beat asphalt.
Through early May I became very familiar with that particular trail, eventually cutting 30 minutes off my best time. Unfortunately, Rocky Mountain weather brought that to a halt with a late winter storm that dumped several inches of snow on the high country.
The fresh snow lingered for perhaps three or four days, during which I hiked at a much slower pace but for longer periods. Moving slowly allowed me to enjoy the forest much more, and I became easily distracted by bear and mountain lion tracks, and the occasional elk herd.
With my pacer, I picked out the last 10 miles of the course through patches of deep snow. It was comforting to know that I had covered one more section, and that my pacer knew that trail very well. At a time when I would be exhausted and possibly not thinking clearly, I would meet up with someone who would be able to guide me through those last three hours.
By this time it was obvious that my knees were hurting more than usual. A week later, I finally decided to see a doctor. I needed to know if I could still run the Solstice.
With only a few short weeks to go, I had an overuse injury. The treatment was rest, but the race preparation demanded training. I pumped up my bike tires and took to the roads on two wheels. With less stress on my knees, I could still get a good workout by riding over nearby hills. Rest days were once again exercise and stretching days, and I did the best I could.
I walked instead of running at a local race, and used it as an opportunity to test my fast walking pace. It went very well, and was a good confidence booster after a string of injuries.
As weeks became days, I began to study the course again. The Solstice was going to happen, and I would be at the start line, so there was little point in wondering if I would finish. I had to plan my race and hope that everything would hold up to 50 miles of wilderness.
This is the last of my training diary entries. At the time of writing, the race is less than a week away. There's no turning back now.
To see images from the various sections of the SJS50 race, click here.
My attempt at the SJS50 is partially sponsored by Alpine Animal Art.