Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Javelina Jundred Race Report - Ran 77 Miles

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 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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Me vs. Javelina Jundred

So.....I ran the Javelina Jundred this past weekend. They have a 100 miler and a 100k (62 miles). I had no intention of running the 100k but when all was said and done I got a 100k belt buckle and not the 100m. I made it 77 miles.

I felt like I was on Ultrarunner Candid Camera the whole weekend. Anything that could possibly go wrong......did. The mishaps actually got to the point where they were really funny. I look back now and think "Did all that stuff really happen?"

Strike #1: I knew it was a bad omen when I walked into a gas station before the race and heard Bette Midler's song "Wind Beneath My Wings" playing. That is NOT the kind of garbage you want to get stuck in your head before a long, long race.

Strike #2: The Javelina Jundred is a race and Jalloween party. Lots of people dress up. Before the race started I quickly realized that my costume resembled an oven. It was like being baked into a Hot Pocket.

Strike #3: The costume virtually required an act of Congress to get off if, say, you need to go to the bathroom. Bad.

Trust me, that is only the BEGINNING of all the many things that went off track. But on the bright side, the race had some awesome swag (yes, that's a trucker hat!):

AND I met some amazing runners. AND I got in 77 miles. AND I shared the trail with some stunning scenery. I got lots of pictures I'm very happy with.

Let me narrow down the pictures and write up the review and I'll share all the blood, sweat, and tears (literally) tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Race - Baker's Dozen Half Marathon!

I have done an underground race for a few years but this year I decided to bring it out into the light. I just got all the permits and am excited to announce for the first time......The Baker's Dozen Half Marathon and 5k coming up on December 15th in Hurricane, Utah!

You can click on the picture to link to the race website but here are a few of the details:

The Baker's Dozen Half Marathon is your opportunity to combine some of the best things in life: 1) Friends, 2) Running, and 3) Sugar!

The Baker's Dozen is a social, fun event where runners race a 3.25 mile loop course allowing them to interact with other runners during the whole race. Half marathoners will run the loop four times and have the incredible fortune of passing the aid station (affectionately known as the "Sugar Shack") at the end of every loop. 5k runners will only get to run the loop once.

Half marathon runners will receive an AMAZING finisher's medal. have to earn it. Not only do you run 13 miles, but to earn a medal you must also consume a treat each time you pass the Sugar Station (3 times total). Volunteers will verify your gluttony, so don't register for the race if you don't plan to eat some calories.

The Sugar Shack will include all the foods you would expect to find in heaven including donuts, cupcakes, cookies, and Twinkies. So let the training begin! (And by "training" we mean "Bring on the maple bars!")

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Live Webcast/Tracking For 100 Miler

If you’re bored this weekend and would like to track my progress during the 100 mile run, there are a few options.

The Javelina Jundred is a series of 15.4 mile loops run washing machine style (start one way, then go back the other way) so you come through Jeadquarters regularly. They have a cool setup at Jeadquarters with a live camera and you can watch runners come and go through here. You can also track runner progress throughout the race.

If you are interested in watching the race live or to track progress, it starts Saturday at 6am and the cutoff is 30 hours later. To tune in and watch the race, click on this picture during the hours of the race. (I'm bib #300. This was my lucky number last year too!)

It’s highly likely that my wife will be posting updates and pictures on my facebook page throughout the race. My facebook page can be found HERE.

If all goes well, I’ll be jumping across that finish line sometime before the cutoff. I’m hoping by the end of the weekend I’ll have a picture of myself with glassy eyes holding one of the finisher belt buckles.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Strategy For 100 Miler

I have a memory burned into my brain that I can't get out.

It was around mile 45 of last year's Javelina Jundred, my first 100 mile race. I had gotten a second wind and was feeling good. So good, in fact that I started to push my pace. Just a little. I wasn't going all-out but I certainly wasn't conserving.

I was running with a group of guys and we sped past an older man and younger girl. The haunting sentence I heard him whisper to her was "Don't worry. The race hasn't even begun yet."

I thought that was crazy talk. Of course the race had begun! And by all means....if you have the energy, you should take advantage of it! Or so my amateur, inexperienced brain thought.

By mile 80 I understood what that man meant. By mile 80 the race really HAD begun. And I had wasted my running legs earlier in the race. Now I had nothing to give. Every cell of my body hurt worse than I ever imagined my body could hurt. My lack of conservation earlier in the race came back to bite me. Not just bite me - it came back and chewed me up then spit me out on the side of the trail.

This time I'm going to try to be smarter.

On Saturday when me and the Javelina Jundred meet again I'm going to be like "Hey, wassup." And Javelina is going to be like "Hey, I remember you! You're the one who ran fast in the middle and then walked at the speed of a filing cabinet for the last five hours." And I'll be like "Yea? What's it to you!" And Javelina will be like "You're mine sucka!" And I'll be like "Oh yea? I'll get you my pretty! And your little dog too!"

Or at least that's how I imagine our conversation going. Around mile 80. If (or when?) I start hallucinating and talking to the trail like it's my sassy next door neighbor.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Countdown to 100 Miler Is On!

On Monday I ran an easy 5 miles. It was early in the morning and I'm pretty sure I slept through the whole thing.

Wednesday morning I ran 6 miles with my friend Will from work. It's a good thing I ran with a human being instead of my mp3 player - because I swear to you - if I hear one more Katy Perry song on the radio I will have to be institutionalized.

Will had never been on the Prospector Trail in Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. I'm pretty sure after this experience it won't be long before he goes back again.

I was feeling antsy to go out and run again on Thursday and Friday but I had a conversation with myself that went something like this: "Self, you should give your legs a  little break, get a little more sleep, and rest up because you're running a 100 miler next week. Go eat another cinnamon roll instead." So I did.

On Saturday, October 20th I ran 9 miles on the Guacamole Trail with my friends Cherie, Lyle, and Jason. None of them had been here before. I like showing people all the incredibly awesome trails we have so close by. This is the short climb to the top of the mesa:

 Once we reached the top of the mesa Cherie gagged down a Gu packet and then we were off.

We took a few detours to check out the views from the edge of the mesa. This involved making a few death-defying jumps. (Or not. The jumps are much less intimidating than they look.)

Lyle cheated death himself by jumping over some low lying barbed wire. Before he jumped I told him that I wasn't carrying him out if he fell. I'd just leave him for the mountain lions. No legs or manhood were harmed in the making of this picture:

My favorite part of the whole run was seeing their reactions as we came to different views along the trail. Honestly they were like kids in a candy shop. They couldn't believe how spectacular the trail was. I know how they feel. I feel the same way each time I run out here.

We stopped to take plenty of pictures along the way. It was an easy, casual run that made the miles float by. It's hard to take yourself too seriously when you're hanging out with yahoos like this:

Cherie has been into Crossfit, and I explained that she could just stop Crossfit and get into more trail running. If Spiderman was a trail runner, this is what he would look like:

We had one minor detour trying to find the trail, and before we knew it we were back at the beginning after nine miles. Sometimes it's better to slow down, relax, chill out, enjoy the scenery, not stress about pace, and have some all out fun.

I can't believe that the Javelina Jundred is in a few short days! It is such a strange feeling to know that on Saturday morning I will take my first step of a 101 mile run, and hopefully take the last step of that 101 mile run before the cutoff 30 hours later. It's going to be hard, and fun, and challenging, and amazing, and positively awesome.

In the next few days I'll give you some info about preparation, race day strategy, and live tracking of the race. Can't wait.

"You're better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can!" ~ Ken Chlouber

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Does It Always Get Worse?

A while ago I posted a question in the ultrarunning forum on Runner's World and got some interesting responses. Here is my question and then a few funny (but true) responses:

Me: I remember reading a quote before my first ultra that has always stuck with me: "It never always gets worse."

The funny thing is that in all the ultras I've done (should have clarified that this was for 100 milers), well, it always gets worse. Once I cross that line where fatigue or leg soreness has set in, I've never come out the other side of that and felt better later on in the race.

I hope I don't imply that I'm complaining. I love the challenge of ultras and can't wait to run Javelina Jundred again next month. So out of curiosity, have you had times when it DOES always get worse?

Joeja: No. It might get worse until you finish, but then it doesn't always get worse.

Weegee (a very experienced ultra runner by the way): I like to repeat to my personal Pessimist's Creed: No matter how bad it is now, it can get significantly worse, so enjoy your current dismal state and laugh as you spiral downward.

Laughing at myself actually does seem to help. When you think about all the time, effort and money you have piled into the patently stupid activity in which you're engaged, it's hard not to giggle. That, and having high hopes but very low expectations does make every little gain much more pleasurable.

Or not. But again, that's funny.

And it does get worse for me afterward. You drink that finish line beer and eat some grilled cheese sandwiches leftover from the midnight aid station crew and lie down to sleep and… Ouch! Why the hell does THAT hurt? And that? Ouch! Running is dumb.

And, for a final laugh, here is how I look around mile 90 when it has gotten worse:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More St. George Marathon Pictures

I had a little bit of a problem during the St. George Marathon. The scenery is so awesome that I couldn't seem to put my camera away. I think if I left the camera at home I'd be able to run sub-3. (Or not.)

Here are a few more scenes I caught during the race. This was our location at the starting area. It took nine minutes from the time the race started until we actually crossed the starting line.

My friend told me that he didn't know wildlife were allowed to run the marathon. Rawrrrrrr.

Around seven miles later we got to Veyo Hill. The hill is kinda steep. And kinda long. And you aren't shocked if you look to the side of you and see grown men crying like little babies.

From there you just run. And run. And eat some Gu packets. And wipe your tears if you happen to be one of those grown men who started crying back at Veyo. And then you keep running some more.

Our persistance paid off when we neared the awe-inspiring Snow Canyon.

These views are enough to take your mind off the fact that your legs feel like they are filling with rattle snake venom:

This is the last hill of the race at Ledges Parkway. I always get a chuckle around this area when I see how many pace bracelets are ripped off and thrown on the road on this hill. (Mine was one of them the first year I ran here!)

After the Ledges, the course becomes a very steep downhill. It makes for fast running, but chews up your quads like a velociraptor nibbling on your muscles. There is always a crowd of people standing at this barricade trying to stretch their weary muscles. I'd like to call it the Weeping Wall.

And then all too soon you cross the finish line......the ending of an awesome 26.2 mile journey. Then a happy volunteer places around your neck one of the coolest medals you'll find from a marathon (made of polished sandstone).

Thanks for another amazing year St. George Marathon!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Marathon and Trail Jumping For the Week

A few hours after the St. George Marathon I was good as new! I was out running around with the kids, playing frisbee and baseball with the fam, and was shocked at my incredibly speedy recovery.

Unfortunately the Grim Reaper snuck into my room Saturday night. On Sunday my legs were so sore that I wanted to sob like a little school girl. And Monday was even worse! (For me, the Monday after a race is always the worst.) The downhill pounding from the marathon made my legs feel like someone poured lighter fluid on them and then lit a match. And then dropped a refrigerator on my legs just for good measure.

I'm thankful that the soreness didn't kick in during the race and prevent me from getting in a few hops.

Thankfully by Tuesday everything started to loosen up, Wednesday even more, and by Thursday all the soreness was gone. I did an easy 2 miles on Friday to ease back into the running thing.

Saturday, October 13th 2012: 6 miles easy. I went to one of my favorite spots to run: the Jem Trail.

We got a bunch of rain over the last few days so there were a few sections that were muddy, but not too bad.

My friend Chris from The Scene Begins is an amazing 100 mile runner and photographer. He told me about some Sahara Shorts from REI that he uses for races because they have lots of pockets to carry gels, a camera, etc. I bought some and took them out for the first time. I think these will work well for for the upcoming 100 miler.

Holy Moses. The Javelina Jundred is less than two weeks away! Wait. The 100 miler is next weekend! This was my first 100 miler and I can't believe a year has passed since then. I can't wait to spend 100 miles in the beautiful, unforgiving desert with 400 of my (soon to be) close friends. Bring it on!

"Pushing your body past what you thought it was capable of is easy; the hard part is pushing yourself even further....past what your mind wants to let you. That's what ultrarunning is all about; introducing you to a self you've never known." ~ Rex Pace