I almost DNS'd the Javelina Jangover. The weeks leading up to the race had been super stressful. I hate it when real life gets in the way of running. I hadn't been sleeping well, and my mind was occupied with so many things. I felt tired and low on motivation- not reassuring going into a race that would be the second longest distance I've ever done. I did a 50 miler back in 2009 then nothing longer than a 50 k since-yikes! Kinda scary considering I'm doing the Javelina Jundered in about a month. It'll be my first 100 miler. I was pretty sure I was going to DNS the jangover; I was feeling like there was no chance of it going well. But wait......... wouldn't going into a race tired and depleted be perfect training for the Javelina Jundred? Wouldn't that be a feeling I should get familiar with to get me through the night at JJ100? Yes, I decided I should go.
My husband Adam and I arrived in Phoenix Friday afternoon. Man, it was hot. It was about 100 degrees. The forecast predicted it would be about 100 when the race started, then dip down to a refreshing 88 degrees overnight. I'm used to the heat- you could even say I'm a fan of racing in the heat- I'd take 100 degrees over 30 degrees any day. That being said, it had not been that hot in Albuquerque for a few months, and I have had a few crummy hot runs this summer that left me a little doubtful about how good of a "heat runner" I am. My plan was to hydrate like crazy, take in enough salt, and put ice in my cap to keep my core body temp down.
Waiting for the 75k start: I'm the dweeb with the ice in my hat
Adam and I arrived at Mc Dowell Mountain Park a little before 4pm. Great- plenty of time to check in, put up our tent, and get myself ready. I checked in and got my number and shirt then looked around. I was starting to get a little excited. The Coury brothers put on such awesome races, I knew I was in good hands. I remember thinking all I had to worry about was my running- I knew everything else would be perfect: they always have great aid stations and amazing volunteers, and their races are so well-planned and flawless. After checking in, we decided to put up our tent. I wasn't looking forward to it and it proved to be just as disastrous as I had feared- some of the poles were rusted (I think from packing the tent up wet last time we left Silverton) and we fumbled with it for what felt like an eternity.....dripping sweat as we wrestled with our ginormous tent Awesome- just what I need before an ultramarathon, right? We finally did it, then I headed to the car to fumble with my shoes, nutrition, and water until the race start.
Just before the start, I put ice in my buff and popped it on my head. I put my headlamp on to hold it all in. Minutes later I was feeling much cooler and ready to go. As we started I felt pretty calm- here I was, I decided to come and give this a try and now I need to do it. As we started a guy next to me asked "Is that ICE in your hat?" I felt a bit embarrassed as I explained that I'm not from here and to me this was hot. Oh well- maybe I looked like a goober but I think running longer distances comes down to making little, smart choices that all add up and can end up making big differences later in the race. Why not keep a bit cooler? It will feel good and maybe save some energy for later on.
Off we went. I was impressed by the beauty of the Pemberton Trail- I'm used to deserts, but this one is a little different from what we have Albuquerque and it was cool to experience something new. I also thought about how familiar I'd become with this course in just a few weeks as I'll be doing about 6.5 loops on it- I'm sure I won't be thinking of how "beautiful" it is after 70 miles! Oh well. I remember as the sun was setting and I looked East the clouds were spectacular colors of peach, white, blue, and gray. It was gorgeous! The desert felt full of life- I turned my ipod off for awhile and listened to all the sounds of the birds and bugs, which was a peaceful sound.
75k near the start
I felt pretty good on the first loop. I ran the whole time and wasn't sleepy and had no GI issues. I'm glad I enjoyed it because it all changed on the second loop. I came into the finish/aid station feeling okay, saw Adam which always makes me feel better, then headed back out. For some reason, things started to fall apart. First, I started to feel extremely sleepy- like barely able to keep my eyes open, past my bedtime sleepy. What the heck? It wasn't even 9 pm- why does this happen to me at night? I did a night 50k back home about 3 weeks earlier and it was the same thing- I even got really disoriented and forgot where I was toward the end. It was scary. I wasn't sure why I was getting so sleepy so early on. I had been drinking Mountain Dew at the aid stations and some of the food I was carrying had caffeine. Oh well. I thought maybe I'd get a second wind or the caffeine would hit and I'd perk up. Gotta keep going- I'm sure I'll feel even worse than this at JJ100.
I was also getting a wonky stomach......uh-oh. Not again. I had really wanted to have a race where I had this under control before the big day. I realized that wasn't going to happen tonight. This is funny because I've gone for years without having much GI distress on my runs. I usually take an immodium in the morning before a race and I'm good to go ALL day. This has always worked for me until this July when I did the Kendall Mountain K2 Double and had severe GI issues from about mile 8 on. I almost quit about 40 times that day, but kept going because I have never DNF'd a race I've started and I honestly believe persevering through crappy runs will help me get through a 100 miler. As I ran in the darkness on the trail I had lots of time to ponder my nutrition and came to the conclusion that I need to change something. For whatever reason, I can't eat gummy stuff and tons of sugar anymore- it worked for years but now I need to figure out what I can eat that won't leave me feeling this way- the stomach pain was coming in awful waves and reducing me to a walk at times. When the wave would end, I'd start running until the next one.
Ok, lets talk about this picture: no, I did not pee in my shorts. Must have been just the way the water from the ice on my head ran down my back. Doesn't look good though. You can tell by the look on my face that I wasn't feeling too hot here. This was the second loop.
I felt like I wasn't in the game at all. I was sleepy, my stomach was all over the place, and honestly my mind was too. I started questioning why I do these races- why don't I do normal things like other people? I have all kinds of stuff to stress about at home- why don't I quit running and focus on that? Everyone is right- I am crazy for doing this stuff- it's silly. Then, toward the end of the second loop, I started to pass some people. It felt good- maybe I wasn't doing so bad after all. One of the people coming the other way had told us they saw a rattlesnake- whoa! I know, I know- a rattlesnake in the desert- big deal right? But I had been so wrapped up in how bad I was feeling, I hadn't even considered the possibility of rattlesnakes being on the trail. I needed to pay more attention! Suddenly, I was more awake and noticing tons of tarantulas on the trail. I sure didn't want to accidentally step on one- the thought of squishing a bug that big gave me the creeps-even with my giant hokas! I never saw a snake, but the whole rest of the night I was kinda freaked out- what if, in my running stupor, I accidentally got too close to one and got bit? That's all I needed.
With Adam at the aid station-they even had quesadillas!
The third loop got much better- I finally got into a groove, felt like I was back in the game and thanks to the magical pumpkin pie and bean burritos at the remote aid station, my stomach was better-still not 100%, but a lot better. I was running/walking with the girl who I think went on to win the 100k- it was nice to have someone to chat with for a bit, and she was looking strong. I was still having waves of extreme sleepiness, but at least there were periods where I felt awake too. Staying awake is going to be a HUGE obstacle for me at JJ100.
The second half of the third loop is where I remember starting to notice the full moon and think about how cool it was to be running in the middle of the night through the desert. It really felt epic. All I could see was the silhouette of the desert against the sky and the circle of light that was illuminated by my headlamp. This is why I do these types of races-for this feeling that I was finally experiencing with about 7 miles to go- doing things that most people think are crazy and knowing that it is crazy but that is part of why it's so great. I was in my element- miserable stomach, sore feet, borderline deliriousness, and that indescribable feeling that only other ultrarunners would really understand and appreciate.
Finished!!!! It felt so weird to finish in the middle of the night
I finished in 8 hours and 48 minutes- good enough for 4th overall and 1st female- I think we started with 4 women and 2 of us finished. I was very happy as I had wanted to finish in under 9 hours. I thought Adam would have been asleep but he stayed up to see me finish. It made my night- I always love the feeling of reconnecting with people after being out there on my own for so many hours. It's another weird feeling that's hard to describe. I did feel a little disoriented and had to sit for a few minutes before I got my award which was a super cool indian statue thing. I love it! He's going on my shelf with my donkey, conch shell, and sheep.
My super cool trophy
I'm scared as hell going into JJ100 but this was an invaluable training run- I learned I need to go out slow: walk more near the beginning, eat real food, and figure out a way to control the blisters which were pretty bad at the end of this race. I had a great time and am so happy I didn't DNS the Javelina Jangover. I would definitely do this run again- maybe next time I can convince some friends to come join me ; )