This past weekend I ran the Javelina Jundred planning to have it be my third 100 miler. Things didn't go quite as planned so I had to improvise.
I was excited to have my friend Ben Hobson who I ran the Zion 100 with come and run the race also. The only bad thing for him was having to be seen in public with a really nerdy guy dressed up as a clown. (Costumes were encouraged for the Javelina Jalloween party.)
The race started at 6:00am and 364 of us headed out into the desert in the dark. That time in the dark passed quickly and soon the sun was coming up.
Mel bought the clown costume for me and I wasn't loving the idea. To me it looked more like a Hazmat suit with polka dots. Experts say you should never try something new on race day. I realized that this advice applies to wearing clown costumes also.
It didn't occur to me until after I started running that there was no escape route with the costume if, say, you need to go to the bathroom. If it so happens (and it did so happen) that you need to go to the bathroom, you need to take off your hydration pack and wrestle with the strings on the BACK to get the stupid thing off. I'll skip the details, but lets just say this almost proved to be tragic. And the suit made me feel like a baked potato. No bueno.
I tried to distract myself from the fact that my body felt like it was a hot dog laying on the cooking rollers at a gas station. The views helped to do this.
Even before the sun came up it was already getting warm. Even if you weren't wearing a clown costume! We knew we were going to be in for a hot day. (I lost the clown costume after 15 miles......and couldn't have been happier.)
I LOVE the Javelina Jundred. The race organization is flawless. The race directors go WAY above and beyond to take care of runners. The aid stations are the best I've ever seen at any race. The volunteers are incredible. And the scenery is beautiful.
By 10 miles I realized I may have a bit of a problem. My stomach did not feel good at all. In previous long runs, my stomach didn't get to this point until mile 70ish. I was a little concerned but there's no sense in stressing about it because that won't help at all. You just keep going and wait for things to work out.
The funny thing is that after 30 miles things still hadn't worked out with my stomach. Any time I tried to eat something I got even more nauseous. A few times when I ate a Gu packet I threw up in my mouth but instinctively swallowed it again. (Gross. I'm sorry. That is too much information.) I managed to get down one or sometimes two Gu packets each hour.
One of my favorite things about the race was getting to see one of my ultrarunning heroes Hal Koerner. It's cool to give a mid-race fist bump to one of your favorite elite athletes:
We had reached the hottest few hours of the day (around 87 degrees, maybe a bit hotter out in the middle of the desert) and I could see that the heat was getting to some of the runners. Let's just say some people had to be careful to not get Gatorade on their shoes.
There was not a solitary cloud in the sky and no shade anywhere on the course. It's a good thing I ditched the costume after 15 miles, otherwise I would have ended up being just a melted pile of clown on the side of the trail.
I really, really loved talking with other runners during the race. One of my favorites was Ed Ettinghausen. We ran together for a while and talked about the Zion 100 which he ran also. (Check out my review, you can see a picture of him climbing up an insane mountain.) Ed runs with a cowbell for the entire race and cheers on runners the whole time! Unbelievably awesome.
I think the loop course of Javelina is so much fun. It's cool to see other runners coming and going. I think I said "Good job!" or "Way to go!" at least a few thousand times just as other runners said those things to me. I was so thankful when I saw the moon come up and I knew that the temperature would start dropping soon.
My stomach still felt sick and I hadn't eaten more than a few Gu packets for 11 hours. After 45 miles I was still moving pretty good but I knew my lack of calories would catch up to me unless something turned around soon. I had a little conversation with my Heavenly Father at that point. I asked if it would be okay, I'd like to have my stomach feel better so I could eat something and be able to continue the race. But I also agreed that if this prayer wasn't answered the way I wanted, I wouldn't complain and I'd be thankful for the experience.
I hoped that the setting sun would give me new life. Despite feeling crappy, I wasn't giving up.
The next lap from miles 46 to 61 were in the dark. I loved hearing coyotes howling at the moon. It was a little bit of a psychological kick to look at mountains far away on the horizon and see little pin pricks of light. I knew they were headlights and that my feet would have to carry me there. It was such an emotional high to finally see this view in the middle of the night. I can't say enough how awesome the aid stations and volunteers were.
My stomach went from bad to worse. It was now at the point where even taking a drink of water made me gag. I'll give you proof of how bad my stomach got. The aid stations had EVERYTHING: pretzels, chips, different cookies, brownies, pumpkin pie, candy, noodles, soup, tortillas, pizza, sub sandwiches....everything. And during my entire 24 hour race I ate: 1 gummy worm, 4 pretzels, 2 ginger snaps, and 5 M&Ms. You know when a junk food addict like me only eats that much, there is a problem.
Mel had volunteered during the day at Javelina Jeadquarters, but when she saw me come in after 61 miles she knew I wasn't doing so hot and decided to join me for the next lap. (She is amazing. Don't know how I got so lucky to marry her.) That's when the night got really crazy.
Mel told me that earlier in the day at the race parking lot, someone backed into our rental car, made a big dent, and drove away. ($500 deductible. I'm still so sick about this. I may need to start accepting sponsors to help pay our deductible.)
And then out of nowhere we saw a coyote 15 feet ahead of us on the trail. Mel was petrified. (I was too exhausted to care.) We saw it run up the ridge then look down at us with it's beady eyes. Mel was freaked out but then joked "It's okay. I don't need to outrun it. I only need to outrun you....so I think I'll be okay."
And then about an hour later Mel's nose started bleeding. Gushing blood. So we hung out on the side of the trail to do some first aid. No bueno. Later on my legs were all cramped up so I decided to lay down and try to stretch them out. I'm not sure if that made things better or worse.
After what literally felt like forever, we finally reached the next aid station - Jackass Junction around mile 70. Since I couldn't eat, my brain was fuzzy and my muscles were fried and I knew I wouldn't make the cutoff at Jeadquarters but I didn't want to just quit. I laid down for a few minutes to stretch. When I stood up I couldn't find Mel......until I looked over at the drop bags. Lets play a game called Spot The Wife Among The Drop Bags:
My feet and quads felt thrashed but we made the final push to Jeadquarters. After a while I said "Are we going the right way?" Mel said to chill out, she thought I was hallucinating. But I didn't see any footprints in the dirt. We then realized we took a wrong trail. I'm embarrassed to admit this because Javelina course markings are perfect. Stevie Wonder couldn't get lost here. But we managed to take the wrong trail. After turning around we saw that we walked right past a "Wrong Way" sign. Dumb. It probably only added an extra mile though.
I got back to Jeadquarters after 24 hours and 24 minutes.....and 77 miles (or 78 if you count our detour). I didn't made the cutoff to go on to the next lap so my race was over. Out of the 364 runners who started, only 160 finished 100 miles.
The cool thing about Javelina is that if you run at least 100k (62 miles) you get a 100k belt buckle. It's not the buckle I planned on, but for some reason it was just an off day. All I can say is that I did the best I could.
There is one thing running has taught me: Control the things you have control over, and accept the things you can't. I didn't have control of how my stomach was feeling, but I still had control of my attitude. Those 24 hours out on the trail were a good lesson about being thankful for the things that are going right, not dwelling on the things that are going wrong, and staying positive no matter what.