Friday, November 2, 2018

Javelina Jundred 2018

I tried my hand at the Javelina Jundred 100 Mile back in 2016, but I DNFd after two loops (about 40 miles) because of the heat. I remember walking the 10 miles from Jackass Junction back to the start/finish area, very slowly, with my heart beating like it would for a tempo run. I was exhausted.

Bourbon at an aid station. I was not so brave, but I love the idea!

After trying a few other hot-hot ultras, I decided that running in the heat wasn't for me. I didn't plan on coming back to Javelina. But this year I needed to do a Western States qualifier ("needed"), and I DNFd at Quebec's Ultra-Trail du Harricana because I was going too slow for the cutoffs. Comparing the remaining qualifying races of 2018 with my personal schedule, it turned out that returning to Javelina was my only hope.

Packet pickup on Friday

I was more or less well trained, but I was also extremely stressed out from my new teaching job and fall travel schedule, and I went for it. I arrived in Phoenix on Friday, checked in to the race, and then ate as much as I could and walked as little as possible while hanging out with my friend Jake, and then hoped for the best on Saturday morning. I planned to go out with Wave Two (expecting slower than 24 hours), but at the last second I joined in with the back of the pack of Wave One.

Watching Wave One start. I was going to just watch, but at the last second I joined in.

In the race, I started feeling fatigued earlier than usual, around mile 10. Whenever this happens, I think back to my first 100 mile finish, where I was dead-tired by mile 25 yet still managed to finish. If I could do it then, I could do it again, I thought. I was determined to finish.

I've grown as a runner since 2016, particularly when it comes to heat. This time I came in with a good heat management strategy. I wore arm sleeves, a bandana around my neck, and a microfiber towel over my head, all of which I stuffed with ice at every aid station. I drank as much water as I could, which was aided by the wonderful pack I got this year from Orange Mud (holds 2 liters!). As a result of all this, I never actually felt hot, and I never ran out of water. It was great. The only downside was how heavy all this was—but I couldn't do without it.

My desert running getup

Exceeding my expectations, I was on track to finish in under 24 hours for most of the race. I hit 50 miles in around 11 hours, and I felt as good as I did at mile 10—and things seemed like they'd stay well enough at that pace.

Then around mile 75, something bad happened. I managed to get a sizable blister on the ball of my foot, edging toward my toes. It popped of course, as it bore my whole body weight with every step, but that only made it hurt more. I changed socks, but I think that actually made the pain worse. I'm not sure what caused this, but it may have been the combination of compression socks and sandals that I was wearing. I'm starting to wonder if sandals may not be the best idea for a 100-mile run—at least the whole thing. I'm pretty heavy as far as far as runners go (usually around 190 pounds, plus my gear), and having that weight pounding down, especially when it's rocky, with no padding can add up after a while.

In any case, after mile 80 every step was excruciating. It reminded me of the end of the Pistol Ultra a few years back, where my feet were extremely swollen and I felt like I had a stress fracture in my metatarsals. Each step was the kind of pain that makes you feel like you might pass out. It made me scowl and tear up a bit. I tried to enter into the pain, and it wasn't really all that bad after all. I could deal with it. Again, I was determined to finish.

Alas, with the blister issue and my increasingly tightening muscles, I could run very little of the last loop—maybe only one mile of it in total. As a consequence my time slipped, and I ended up finishing in 25 hours, 38 minutes. Still not so bad!

Such amazing views, which smartphone cameras can't really capture

All in all, I loved this race. The desert was surprisingly beautiful. My friend Sonya said it was because they'd been having a lot of rain recently (and unseasonably), which made everything green again. There were even some flowers. The sunrises and sunset were gorgeous—the deepest marbling of unexpected colors. I heard songs from crickets, birds and coyotes at various points throughout the race, and I loved watching the constellations trek across the sky (in Philadelphia you can see about three stars on a clear night). I also loved Jackie O, who was dancing at the turnaround point all day and all night, giving ice-water sponge hugs and encouragement throughout the race. Yay!

Jackie O at the turnaround. Photo by Aravaipa Running.