“Slow is smooth and smooth is fast” – Pat Kelly on “The Way” of chainsawing.
“It is his capacity for self-improvement and self-redemption which most distinguishes man from the mere brute.”
-Aung San Suu Kyi
Race: Javelina Jundred
Distance: 101 Miles
Date: October 31-Nov 1, 2015
After going out way too hard at Run Rabbit Run I knew I was capable of more than my performance had suggested, so I waited until the very last possible moment to make sure I was recovered enough, and signed up for the Javelina Jundred. Further minimizing my level of assistance from Run Rabbit Run I drove down by myself to attempt the 100 mile distance with no pacers, no poles, and no crew. Just me, my camping gear and a cooler that I would visit every 15 miles.
I drove down Friday night, set up camp and settled in for a melatonin-induced slumber party with a couple hundred running strangers.
Despite hearing that a headlamp was not needed for the first 40 minutes of running before sunrise, I toed the line with a headlamp and immediately regretted it before tucking it into my pack a couple miles in. I held firm to my resolution to keep my hear rate below 146 the first lap and it flew by as we ascended the gentle slopes to the craggy base of the McDowell Mountains.
The second lap flew by as well and I let my heart rate climb a bit into the black hole of training knowing that I should get some decent distance in before the heat of the day settled upon us. My first two laps were nearly identical 2:30 splits.
By the middle of the third lap it started to heat up and my paced slowed down as expected as I stuffed ice down my sun-sleeves and into my hat at every aid station along the way. I had also realized by this point in the course that I had mixed my VFuel Endurance Drink Mix way too strong and was starting to have some stomach issues with the excess sugar calories. I finished off the loop drinking just water and was in full shuffle mode at the end of the loop with unusually sore, tight and swollen legs. I diluted my drink mix, loaded up on gels and Shot Bloks to mix up my glucose menu and headed back out.
As the fourth lap unfolded I noted that I had yet to pee since about an hour after sunrise despite staying on top of hydration and adding a third bottle to the mix on the third and fourth laps. From around mile 32 to 50 I hit a sustained and nasty low point. Trying to run up the incredibly gentle hill back to Jackass Junction I was reduced to a walk with short bursts of shuffling on flat and downhill sections and occasionally just to try and mix things up which never lasted very long. I needed something to get me out of the funk. I teamed up with another runner, Miguel, for most of the climb and then said farewell once we got into Jackass Junction thinking I wouldn’t see him after that. I had a plan to get out of my funk. I hopped into the aid tent, almost laid down in an ant hill and then found a good spot to do a quick 4 minute leg inversion. I munched on my first caffeine of the day while I freshened up the blood in my legs and when I left Jackass Junction with a fresh supply of ice I felt AMAZING. I was flying on the flats, attacking the hills and riding one of the highest highs I have ever had racing, 50 miles in. I caught up with Miquel and he came along for the ride as we made great time back to Javelina Jeadquarters. I swapped from my Trail N2 to the Road N3 to mix things up for my feet, grabbed my headlamp for the impending darkness and headed out for lap five.
The fifth edition of the Pemberton Trail was like entering a new world of elusive cacti, amazing stars and an accelerating pace. The cool evening temps allowed me to cut about 30 minutes from my lap time, including a self-imposed 10 minute hydration break at Jackass Junction where I didn’t let myself leave until I had to pee in an effort to respect my kidneys. Dave James gave me a great pep talk on the merits of peeing in the desert and I was on my way to my third fastest lap of the day as I flew down the trail back to Jeadquarters. I wasn’t sunburnt (a first in a 100 miler), was only mildly chafing from the abundant salt on my entire body, and was on pace to finish well below the 24 hour mark.
Lap six felt great for about 70% of the climb and then the wheels started to come off. My legs were trashed and no amount of caffeine or leg inversions could counter the deep fatigue from RRR six-weeks before and the last five laps of almost pure running. I could still move well on the downhills, but going up I was reduced to a hilariously slow shuffle or power hiking. Around mile 85 the running came to an end and I knew I was going to be power-hiking it in for the finish despite my minds resilience and desire to keep pushing. The legs just didn’t have the mobility required left in them.
Coming in for my final full lap there was a bit of confusion since my bib said 100km on it and the volunteers thought I was done, but I cleared things up and was presented with my glow necklace for the final lap. A couple of bean tortilla wraps and a cup of soup later and I was on my final power-hike ascent to the Tonto Tank cut-off. On the climb I was passed by a few runners but most people were headed in the other direction wrapping up lap five. Once I got to the Tonto Tanks junction I knew I should be running, but couldn’t. On any other run or earlier in the day I would have flown down the buttery smooth granite track at seven minute mile pace, but now I was struggling to keep it under thirteen minutes per mile. A number of runners passed me that would end up finishing five to ten minutes before me but I knew that unless something horrible happened I would be coming in under 23 hours and stayed focused on running (or shuffling) a smart race to the end. The rolling mile to the finish line found me power hiking until I could finally smell the barn after seeing the bright lights of the Javelina Jeadquarters. I crossed the line in 22 hours 27 minutes and 30 second and I am content in knowing I didn’t have any more to give. Going in without a time goal and running on effort allowed me to run almost consistently to mile 85, 25 miles further than my first 100 mile effort which is fantastic progress after just 2 years of training, and I redeemed myself after my blow-up at Run Rabbit Run.
I stuffed my beaming face with some Hammer Recoverite, a couple of Boca Burgers with guac and threw on some not-so-salty clothes. Once in my tent I pretended to sleep while my legs throbbed until sunrise and then found a chair to keep warm while hanging around the finish line with Karl Meltzer and others chatting about how deceptively hard this course was and stuffing my face with egg and avocado burritos with salsa.
Eight breakfast burritos later I was packing up my tent and it would have been quite the sight to see as I crawled and limped around bashing stakes with a big rock and stuffing all my things into a duffle bag. The 9 hour drive home was brutal and I have never seen my feet as swollen as they were when I got back to Grand Junction that night. Highlights from the drive included being pulled over my the police in Utah for a burnt out tail light and thinking it was a good idea to get a milkshake and fries at the McDonalds Drive-Thru in Moab because the prospect of walking into a gas station or restaurant seemed like too tall of an order.
Javelina was a first class event, tons of fun to run solo and a great end to my first serious season of ultra running. I achieved my goal of running a sub 24 hour 100 miler this year, problem solved and pushed through a long low point and am ready to take a few weeks off of running before getting things fired up for next year. Time to throw my name into the Western States, Hardrock and Wasatch Front lotteries…fingers crossed.
It was an honor to see Gordy Ainsleigh out on course with a smile on his face, and congrats to the other Pearl Izumi Champions that were out there this year.
Gear: Pearl Izumi Ultra Short Tights, Pearl Izumi Pro Singlet, Pearl Izumi Sun Sleeves, Pearl Izumi Thermal Lite Gloves, Flora/Udo’s Oil beanie, Injinji socks, iRunFar Headsweats Hat, Smith Parallel D Max sunglasses, Black Diamond Icon, Storm and Sprinter headlamps, Pearl Izumi Trail N2 V2 and N3 shoes, Salomon Skin 12 Vest, one extra Hydrapak 500ml soft bottle, iPod shuffle and Yurbuds, and a steady diet of VFuel Endurance Drink Mix, CarboPRO, Shot Bloks and bean burritos/ramen and Coke.
Favorite Song of the Race: Bon Iver – Heavenly Father