Saturday, November 2, 2013

Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Run

Here is my Javelina Jundred race report.  I had so much positive feedback from my first race report on the Javelina Jangover last month that I thought I’d write another one.  This weekend was so epic- it was like an adventure that I want to relive over and over.  It’s hard for me to condense all the events and emotions into a report, but I’ll try.  I think writing a race report is like taking a picture of a beautiful sunset- it preserves the memory but doesn’t do it full justice.  To see the full beauty you’d just have to be there.  Regardless, here is my Javelina Jundred story: 

 This was my big race for the year.  I started training for it in mid-June after I took a full two weeks off after the Jemez 50k.  My training had gone fairly well although I didn’t reach the weekly mileage I had hoped for.  I had found a first time 100 mile training plan online and loosely followed it, but modified it quite a bit as I went along.  I averaged about 60 miles/week. I was good about doing my back-to-back weekend long runs and did a few 50k’s and a 75k during my training.  I had built from 40/week in June to 70/week in Sept.  I only did 70/week twice. I wanted to get up to 80-85, but I was feeling like 70 was the limit for me this time.  I’m not used to this kind of weekly mileage- I’m usually in the 40-45 range.  I planned to do speed work or at least some type of tempo running during my training, but only did that about 3 times during the last several months.  Oh well.  I felt lucky to arrive at the JJ100 injury free and like I had done enough work to complete it. 

I managed to put together an awesome crew: my good friends Jennifer and Derek Warren, Stephanie Ward, and my husband Adam.  We had decided that Stephanie, Derek, and Jennifer would each pace me for a loop and Adam would be an alternate in case someone was not feeling well.  In addition to this stellar crew, my parents decided to come out and watch the race!  This was really special and gave me some extra motivation to finish. 

Derek, Jennifer, Adam, and I drove to Fountain Hills and arrived around 11 am Friday morning.  We set up our tent at “Javelina Jeadquaters”, which had been transformed into a very cool tent city with dozens of tents and campers set up.  The atmosphere was awesome- tons of runners and families hanging out and getting ready for the big day.  We had planned to take a nap in the tent after we set it up, but by that time it was too hot so we settled for relaxing on a nearby picnic table in the shade. 
Outside our tent at the Javelina Jeadquarters
 Later that afternoon, we headed over to the Radisson for packet pickup.  My parents were also staying there, so we sat out by the pool for a while and relaxed some more before heading to Ra Sushi to meet up with Stephanie for the pre-race meal.  Now you might say sushi isn’t a good choice for the night before an important race- I beg to differ.  I can’t pass up an opportunity to eat at Ra Sushi when I’m in a city that has one- it’s one of my favorite restaurants in the world.  We all had a lovely meal and discussed some details for the race, and then we all drove back to our respective hotels/tent for the night.

Race morning I woke up at 4am.  I got ready and went to get my feet taped.  I had envisioned a huge line of people waiting to get their feet taped race morning, but there was no one in line.  Sweet!  The guy who was volunteering there asked me about my usual problem spots and got me fixed right up as I ate my usual pre-race pop tart.  I felt a little relief- maybe my feet will stand a chance.  Going into this 100 miler I was really worried about my feet/blisters and GI problems.  Those were the things that I hadn’t been able to iron out in my training and racing thus far. 

It was nearly start time-6 am.  Everyone was crowded around the starting line and I got a few pictures taken with my family and crew.  There were lots of people wearing cool costumes.  The vibe was pretty relaxed, but I was super nervous at the start- I know I signed up for a 100 mile run, but how could anyone possibly feel ready at the start?  It’s a scary feeling.  I felt like that for my first ironman too- how the hell am I going to do this?  For some reason the thought of 6.5 loops felt more doable than 100 miles- I decided to break it down in my head: just 6.5 loops- 4 on my own (I know I can do at least 3 since I did the Javelina Jangover 75k), then I’d have pacers for loops 5, 6, and 7……… AND loop 7 is shorter.  Also, knowing that I’d be able to see everyone each time I come through Javelina Jeadquarters helped- it would be incentive to get through those 15 mile loops!  I got a piece of excellent advice the day before the race from race director Jamil Coury that I kept in mind and applied which helped me tremendously during this run.  He told me that on a course like this (with multiple loops) it’s best not to spend too much time at the main aid station.  If you come in feeling like crap, the longer you hang out where all the people and food are, the more likely you are to get sucked in and waste a bunch of time or consider quitting.  If you at least start another loop, you’ll finish it.  If you need to spend lots of time at an aid station, do it at the Jackass Junction or one of the other off site aid stations- that way you’re out one the course, so you have to at least get back.  (Thanks Jamil- great advice).  He also warned me about going out too fast.  I had heard the same thing from dozens of other people who have done this race- it’s very runnable and people go out too fast and burn out.  I kept that in mind too, although not much as I should have.  And now, I’m finally going to write about the race.  I felt like each loop had its own distinct feel, they did not blur together, which I find surprising.
With Derek, Jennifer, and Stephanie before the race start
With my parents before the start 

Adam and I

Loop 1: we started at 6:00 am.  At this time it was still dark and cool, but I knew that would soon change.  Tons of people passed me near the very beginning and quite a bit during this entire loop.  I really tried to hold back and walk all the uphill parts.  I ended up going all the way to Jackass Junction (about 8 miles in) without taking in any nutrition….ooops!  I felt like that was a tad too long and quickly realized I needed to start thinking and get in the game or I’d be in trouble later on.  If you read my Javelina Jangover report, you’ll remember that I didn’t get my nutrition dialed in as I’d hoped at that race.  The sweet sugary things I was used to eating during training/races were wreaking havoc on my stomach and I knew I’d have to try something different at this race if I wanted to make it.  Experimenting with new stuff at a race (my first 100 miler nonetheless) is scary stuff!  But here I was with a tentative plan to eat more “real food” hoping it would work better.  At Jackass Junction I ate some fruit, a few potato slices dipped in salt, and a piece of bean burrito which was just refried beans in a tortilla.  They had an amazing spread at these aid stations: cookies, M&M’s, chips, pretzels, pickles, fruit, pumpkin pie, PB&J sandwiches, gu, coke, mountain dew, ginger ale, candied ginger, and probably some other stuff I can’t remember now.  Normally I would go straight for the sweet stuff- handfuls of M&M’s, a cookie or two…….okay maybe 3 or 4.  Not this time- I had to stick to the plan.  I did take a packet of gu and put it in my back pocket just in case all the real food didn’t work out and a piece of candied ginger in case my stomach got wonky.  The rest of the first loop was pretty uneventful.  I was pretty excited to finish the first 15 miles and see my crew.  At Javelina Jeadquarters, I ate again (similar things-fruit and bland stuff), then I swapped my headlamp for sunglasses, my crew got me more water, and I was off again.  My first split was 2:45.  I had wanted to average 3 hours/loop, so that was a little fast, but I really felt like I was holding back, so I figured it was okay.

Loop 2: On loop 2 I started to feel real good.  It was warming up, so I grabbed ice at the first aid station 2 miles out and put it in my hat.  I finally felt like my legs were moving well.  I stuck to my real food plan and still tried to hold back and walk the uphills.  I started to pass some people.  That made me feel both good and worried- I didn’t feel like I was speeding up.  Are people already slowing down?  Do I need to slow down?  Am I making the classic mistake of going too fast early on?  I didn’t know what to do, so I tried to keep it in the zone where it felt pretty relaxed and not worry about what everyone else was doing.  Another thing I was concerned about was my feet: I could already feel some friction in my shoes.  I felt like the friction was in-between the socks and my shoes; not my feet and the socks.     I figured I’d stop after this loop and take care of that before it became a bigger problem.  At the end of that loop I came into the Jeadquarters and ate more of the same stuff, and I decided to allow myself some mountain dew/coke for a caffeine source, but I really tried not to chug that stuff- I learned the hard way what happens when I guzzle down a can of mountain dew during a fatass 50k earlier this summer- it wasn’t good.  My parents had also bought me some coconut water which is always magic for me during races so I started drinking about a carton after each loop. 
Chugging some coconut water
 Anyway, I sat down and took off my shoes and my crew found the lube I had in my drop bag and we put it all over my socks. That was a good piece of advice from my friend Aaron Mascarella (thanks, Aaron)!  At this stop I also realized I hadn’t put any sunscreen on yet, so my crew sprayed me down and I was off again. This would end up being the only time I sat down during the entire race.  I’m always afraid if I sit, I won’t get back up.  My split for that loop was 2:56- just about where I wanted it to be.
My crew helping me at mile 30
Loop 3: I knew loops 3 and 4 were going to be hot.  I planned to keep cool as much as I could with ice from aid stations, keep drinking/eating, slow down if I needed to, and probably walk more than I had the first two loops.  I stuck to that plan and it worked great- I felt damn good on loop 3.  My split was a bit slower, which I expected at 3 hours, 12 minutes.  The weird thing is it felt faster, I think because so many people were being affected by the heat and starting to slow down.  At aid stations I was seeing more runners sitting down, some puking, others complaining of nausea.  I was glad I was able to plug away and had no major issues.  One weird thing about me is that I like it hot.   Sure it slows me down like everyone else and I suffer too, but I think it affects me less than some people.  I enjoy the challenge of battling the heat in a sick, twisted way.  Someday, I’d love to do badwater- just thinking about that race gives me chills.  I’m not sure what the high temperature was at this year’s Javelina Jundred- the forecast high was 88 degrees, but I heard reports of the actual temps climbing into the mid 90’s. 

Loop 4: As I started back out for loop 4 I still felt pretty good, but as I reached the 50 mile mark I started to freak out just a bit.  Here I am officially going further than I ever have.  Every step beyond this is uncharted territory- longer than any distance I’ve ever run- and I’m only halfway done -holy crap, that’s not a reassuring thought!  The miles started to go by slower at this point too; I’d feel like I did 3 or 4 when in reality I had done 1. Regardless, I kept going and stuck to my plan.   It seems that during every ultramarathon, I have a period of time where I reminisce and get perspective on where I am in life and how incredibly blessed I am to be able to do this kind of stuff.  This was that period for this race. On loop 4 I listened to the entire Beethoven Symphonies 4 and 9- I know, not exactly typical running music but as a former musician I can really inspired by classical music while I run.  It’s totally nerdy. I thought about the transformation I’ve made over the past year as a runner.  Until this year, I avoided trails and steep stuff because I had some hang up over going slow or having to walk.  I would seek out flat, fast courses on pavement and do 99% of my runs on flat surfaces.  Then in December 2012 something happened and I realized I was really missing out and decided to embrace trail running.  I did some pretty epic trail running this year: Cedro Peak 45k, Jemez 50k, Silverton 6hour, Kendall Mountain K 2 Double, and La Luz.  Now here I was doing my first 100- on a beautiful Sonoran desert trail.  I was feeling glad I saw the light and made this transformation as a runner.  Maybe I have slowed down, but I wouldn’t trade the beautiful scenery I get to see or the fact that my races now feel more like adventures for the faster times.   As the sun got low in the sky the mountains turned pink just like the Sandias in Albuquerque and the way the light was hitting the desert changed; everything almost looked a different color than it had before.  The cacti looked super green and were almost glowing.  Maybe my brain was just fried from running all day through the hot desert, but either way it sure was pretty.  It was almost dark when I finished loop 4 in 3:18 and as I came in to see my crew and pick up my first pacer-something I had been looking forward to for hours- I was getting a little emotional. I had also made a mistake and ate too much pumpkin pie at the last aid station on the 4th loop and felt a twinge of nausea for the first time all day.  I was fighting tears back and feeling like I was going into a lonely place.  I think my crew all noticed it too.
Stephanie and I getting ready to start the night-mile 61
Loop 5:  I think Stephanie’s upbeat attitude is what got me going again from the dark place I had just been.  When we started out, she was so excited and said she had been anxiously waiting to run all day.  She had never been on a night trail run before, and it was cool to see her experience it.  I immediately felt guilty about how slow I was going, and that I had to walk a lot more.  Of course Stephanie didn’t mind one bit.  She walked with me when I needed to walk, and on the back half of the loop we ran quite a lot- she ran in front of me and really helped me pick up the pace.  Had she not been running with me I would have been going slower for sure.  I was still eating and drinking, but not probably as much as I should have.  Steph had to remind me to drink a few times.   We saw one small rattlesnake- or at least she saw it and warned me.  He was moving pretty darn slow off the trail so we walked carefully off the trail to get around him.  We finished that loop in 3:31.  Sure enough, the wheels were starting to fall off. 

Loop 6: After coming into the aid station and doing my usual food/drink routine, I dropped off Stephanie and picked my Derek, my next pacer.  Poor Derek!  He had the unfortunate luck of pacing me on my worst loop.  I was wiped out.  He would try to encourage me to run, but I was getting to the point where I didn’t want to.  We walked almost the entire loop.  He tried several creative methods to get me running.  First, he would just ask if we should try to run again, and we would for a while, then a little tiny uphill section would come and I’d start walking.  Then, he tried to make up some kind of game- I shot that right down.  Next, he had an idea to “shuffle” instead of walking.  You know– slower than running, but a little faster than walking- we started doing that and for a while it worked.  We’d walk the uphills, and then get the shuffle going.  Eventually I got to where I couldn’t shuffle anymore. My knees were screaming and my feet felt like they were shredded.  I just wanted to walk.  So we walked, but fast.  Well, it probably wasn’t very fast, but the perceived effort was that of a power hike.  I remember telling Derek that if I was going to walk, I at least wanted to walk fast.  I couldn’t let myself slip down to the lowest level of forward movement: trudging.  Derek joked there were still 2 lower levels below trudging: crawling and rolling.  True- I wasn’t doing that badly yet.  The really crazy thing is I was still passing people.  Steph and I had not been passed once on the 5th loop, and Derek and I were not passed on the 6th loop.  This was blowing my mind- how could I be passing people when I was just walking?  I couldn’t believe it.  Also, on this loop I suddenly had to stop to pee every 10 or so minutes- what the heck?  I remember thinking I wasn’t drinking enough to be peeing so much.  It would come on very suddenly-out of nowhere- and I’d have to stop right there.  There was hardly time to pull off the trail.  This had never happened before.  I was really falling apart.  Derek had to battle to get me to eat and drink.  The nausea was coming and going but was pretty minimal- I never felt like I was actually going to puke, I just didn’t feel like eating or drinking anymore.  I had stuck pretty well to my real food plan, which had gotten me through the day and was working much better than anything I had done before.  I was just getting so tired of all the things I was eating.  I wanted some variety- maybe a cookie, some M&M’s- but I was scared that those things would make me get sick, and I couldn’t deal with that now. They didn’t even sound good anyway!  Nothing sounded good- I felt awful.  There was one point at the last aid station before the completion of loop 6 that I was getting really fuzzy.  I didn’t know it at the time, but Derek saw it.  I have a hazy memory of looking at all the food/drinks at the aid station and the volunteers asked me what I wanted.  I said “none of it”.  Derek stuffed pretzels in my Nathan pack and we took some bananas to eat for later, and he persuaded me to eat and drink a lot of stuff while we stood there. One of the volunteers said, “I think you should listen to your pacer, he knows what he’s talking about”.   Reluctantly, I did.  I must have been pretty depleted before that little intervention, because after getting these calories in I felt like I powered back on, and we finished up the rest- still walking, but not trudging, crawling, or rolling.  Had Derek not forced me to eat at that aid station, I probably wouldn’t have made it much longer.  During the last few miles, he even tried to get me to sing.  I wasn’t really up for singing but I appreciated his positive attitude and creativity in passing the time during that loop, which took us an agonizing 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete………..ouch! 

Loop 7:  After coming into the Javelina Jeadquarters for the last time, I met with my crew and picked up my last pacer Jennifer who would be with me through the finish of my 100 miler. I was very happy to have Jen run the last part of the course with me: she is one inspiring person and I thought it would be so cool to finish my first 100 mile race with her.  Derek grabbed my handheld bottle and filled it with perpetuem and gave it to me knowing I would not go through Jackass Junction again- there would be the one aid station about 2 miles into the final loop and that was it.  I’m glad someone was thinking about all that stuff because I sure wasn’t.  I had packed tons of baggies of perpetuem powder and a handheld bottle in my drop bag just in case my nutrition plan didn’t work and luckily hadn’t needed them all day.  We thought maybe it would help to have something different and easy on my stomach at this point. Adam gave me my glow necklace which they give to everyone on their last loop- I felt proud to put it on my neck……finally on the last loop!  Jen and I took off, and I immediately told her that I couldn’t run anymore, it was just walking.  She tired a few times to persuade me to at least try to run.  I would tell her I couldn’t.  Once she got me to run for about 30 seconds and my knees just hurt so bad I quit and walked.  I was still trying to walk fast, not trudge.  She also had to keep reminding me to eat and drink and a few times I would just pretend to take a sip of perpetuem when she asked me to (sorry Jen- it was making me cringe as I drank it).  We saw 2 more rattlesnakes on this loop- again, I’m pretty sure that without my pacers I may have deliriously stepped on one of those guys.  I don’t know how people do a 100 miler through the night without pacers, but I did see some people out there solo.  I can’t even imagine.  It felt like it took an eternity to reach the turnoff for the last loop.  Even though I knew we hadn’t seen it yet, I was worried we had missed it.  It finally came and we were on the last section of the course!  At this point I started to obsess about time- I was pretty sure I would be able go sub-24 hours, but I started do wonder if it would slip away.  It’s hard keeping track of 16 or 17 minute miles of walking- I’m used to thinking of 6 miles taking about an hour, now it was taking almost 2, especially with the constant stops to pee.  It was also starting to get cold.  I put on my arm warmers and gloves, but still didn’t feel warm.  Oh well, nothing I could do about it now.  Got to finish this up.  People started to pass me again.  I think maybe 5-8 people passed us.  Jen kept reassuring me I would make it in under 24 hours and we tried to hike as fast as we could.  I kept looking down at my garmin- first, I was hoping the miles would pass faster and second, I was getting close to hitting the 100 mile mark.  I knew the course was a bit longer than 100 miles, so I knew I’d see 100 miles before the finish.  We stopped to take a picture of the garmin when it hit 100 miles, then moved on.  It was surreal seeing those high numbers on my watch!  I ended up with 101.7 miles in the end.  
Hitting the 100 mile mark!
 As we approached the finish, Jen gave me some much needed motivation- she reminded me that this was it-I was about to complete my first 100 and I was going to do it in under 23 hours!  She encouraged me to enjoy the moment and soak it up.  I am so thankful for that, had she not said anything I would have done what I usually do and get my mind wrapped up in something else and not really enjoy the finish like I should, then I’d regret it later.  She also motivated me to run across the finish line- I had planned to walk it- can you believe that?!
Coming through the finish line
I started running and as I saw this finish line and heard my crew cheering for me, I started to cry.  Finishing that race was probably one of the proudest moments of my life- the feeling of accomplishing something so monumental cannot be put into words, at least not words that will do it justice. I will remember that feeling forever.  I always seem to be pretty loopy after an ultramarathon and sometimes I say some pretty stupid things.  I remember seeing Jamil a few seconds after I came through the finish and I said to him “that was hard” as I was trying not to burst into tears.  I bet he was thinking something like “wow, genius- its 100 miles- did you think it would be easy?” but he’s a nice guy so didn’t say anything like that.   Someone handed me my buckle- I was so happy to finally hold that darn thing- I had thought about it for nearly 23 hours!  To make it even sweeter Jamil handed me the award for 3rd place female.  I was surprised because although I knew I was in 3rd at some point during the race, I was certain I had slipped down several places over the last loop, which took 3 hours for me to complete.  Going into my first 100, I didn’t expect to place at all, so I was thrilled. 

Race director Jamil Coury giving me my award
Holding my buckle and 3rd place female award
What made this finish so special was that my crew, parents, and husband were all there.  They had been awake almost the whole time with me, had been there for me after every loop, and I know that I wouldn’t have made it without them.  I hugged everyone and hobbled over to sit down.  I drank some hot chocolate which I threw up.  I didn’t mind though, I was so happy to puke after the race and not during it!  Someone suggested that I go see the medical people to have them clean up my feet and fix my blisters.  I was curious to see what a gnarled mess my feet would surely be as I never stopped during the race to check out my blisters- I had decided I was better off not knowing.  I was impressed and surprised to see minimal blisters- maybe 5 small ones, and two toenails that will fall off (one was on its way out anyway).  Not bad!! 
The "feet guys" getting ready to reveal what's going on in my shoes
There I was: a total wreck - awake for 23+ hours, every inch of my body hurting, sick to my stomach, puking, stumbling around, surrounded by friends and family and feeling truly appreciative for what really matters in life.  I wouldn’t have traded that feeling I had that morning for anything in the world.  I already knew right then and there that I will eventually do another 100.  I’m not sure when, but I will. 

My official time was 22:56:21.

There were 377 starters for the 100 mile race, and 157 finishers.

There were 120 female starters, and 48 finishers.
I finished in 3rd place for the women, 24th overall.      

Jen and I hugging after the race