26 October 2019

Javelina Jundred 100 km

For someone that professes to be an ultra "runner", actually running for extended periods of time is one of my weaknesses. #irony

I'm used to (and my body prefers) ultras that include hiking, technical trails, and perhaps just a slower average speed? Well, the Javelina Jundred is NOT one of those "slower" races. For the 100 km event, you gain a total of just 3,900' and only 5,000' for the 100 mile! So why is the finishing rate consistently around 50%?! Because there is a lot more than vert to an ultra.

Here I am about 10 minutes prior to the start. Things are looking up!



This was my "get the DNF monkey off your back" race. Five weeks ago I tried to run the Whistler Alpine Meadows 100 mile race and had to drop. It was a bummer. Today I was hoping for some redemption but also for some fun and sun! And really, I got all three so hooray for me.

It was a low budget, no-frills trip. I flew in solo Friday night, ran Saturday, and flew home Sunday. Unlike the elites, I don't have a crew that follows me from race to race patting me on the back and changing my shoes & socks, but I do usually have Shelley there. I really missed her on this trip. Everyone else apparently did have a crew. The start/finish loop through the race HQ was like some sort of tent city. Each tent had a bed, chairs, recovery gear, coolers, cheerleaders, you name it.



I heard the heat causes many people to drop. In defense of this, I personally saw two people that had collapsed from heat exhaustion within the first three loops. It was only 85 degrees but this late in the year, if you don't live here you have lost all of your heat acclimatization by now, big time. Case in point, me. I love the sun. According to my doctor, I should love it a little less... But on this day I got a little sunburnt and was gulping down two 24 oz. bottles between every aid station - and they were only 5-6 miles apart!

I also suspect that because this course is so runnable, many people try to run too much of it or go out way too fast. When you combine this with the heat, watch out! I ran 100% of the first loop. Oops... Thank goodness I was able to avert disaster but I came close to the edge. Pretty early on, around mile 30 or so, my stomach went south and I could no longer eat any solid food. Unless you count watermelon as "solid". From there to the finish I was subsisting solely on Perpetuem and Endurolytes Fizz. I am so thankful that 1) I had these two fuels with me and 2) that I had enough. It was also amazing what a difference it made when the sun finally went behind the horizon. It was like someone flipped a switch and suddenly my energy started to return.

But let's back up a bit, the start was at 7:00 AM and the temperature was a very comfy 55 degrees. Since this is the desert, I figured it might get really cold at night but not this year. I started in a sleeveless shirt and never needed to change. Nice.

Because so many people sign up for this event (there are more than two races these days), and because each runner brings an entourage, and because they bill this as a party (bring everyone!), parking is a challenge. I pulled up around 6:00 AM and they directed me waaaay down the road as all the parking lots had filled up full long ago. Turns out this was okay and it was only about a .25 mile walk to the start but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried there for a bit. I got to the start/finish around 6:20, there was no line at check-in (my flight got delayed and I arrived too late Friday to get my number), I had my drop bag in place by 6:40, and had gone to the bathroom and was ready to run by 6:50. Whew.

The drop bag area is like some sort of NASCAR pit row.



There is ample room for all your shit! I took a chance and carried a duffel bag to the start/finish in addition to my drop bag. NOT A PROBLEM. I think the fact that so many people had a tent meant this drop bag site was relatively uncrowded.

This is the only race I have been to that has a full-time MC. Who was awesome!



Here is what it sounded like.



I was already loving this Haloween Ultra Party! All the music they played was great by the way. In my humble opinion of course. :)

As I was standing there this guy taps me on the shoulder. "Hey, I noticed your 'clean' tattoo, I used to live with Phil Gaimon, do you mind if I take a picture of us?" No problem, honored actually.



Then it was time to run. And run and run and run and run...



I gotta say, the desert is beautiful! Especially when you don't live here and it's all new. The trail varies between legit singletrack, mostly doubletrack, some very rocky sections and a few sandy washes. The surface of all the trails are a variation of crushed gravel. Before coming here I was really worried about sand and dust filling up my shoes so I wore my Hydroventure 2 shoes and gaiters to address this concern. In retrospect, there isn't really that much sand and any old shoes would have been fine. But it was super cool to pull my shoes & socks off after the race and have totally clean feet! And my feet did not get too hot, these are some awesome shoes.

This first loop was a treat. I tried to keep the pace mellow as I was well aware of the tendency to go out too hard. I also ran with my Stryd (which I suspect would last for a 24-hour race by the way) and it was very comforting to glance at my wrist and see that my pace was on target. That is, it would have been on target had the temperature been lower or if I'd had any heat training recently...

During this first loop I ran for a bit with a guy that had tried twice to finish the 100-mile event and failed both times, he was back doing the 100 km event this time looking for some closure. We were pretty much the same speed except that I didn't spend any time at aid stations. Hello, can you say "foreshadowing"?

Speaking of aid stations, these were outstanding! They had all the food runners love including vegan options and hot food. It seems that every long ultra will have one aid station (legit or pirate) that offers runners some sort of liquor. Not to be outdone, Javelina Hundred had two. And they didn't just offer Fireball (do runners really like Fireball or what...?), they had a freaking assortment.



I sometimes think that this stuff is only at aid stations in order to make an already tough event even harder. Kind of like those people that climb the lookout tower on each lap of the Orcas Island 100. It's not really part of the course, but damn it if they aren't going to earn that gold star. Just because they can.

This race is run "washing machine style" meaning you do the first loop clockwise, the next one is counter-clockwise, repeat. The first time through the start/finish was totally disorienting to me. I passed the drop bag area, thought I was done, and then realized I had to run around to the finish first. So I did that and then went back to my drop bag. At least it only took my once to figure it out. :)

I started my second lap and suddenly noticed it was warm. I got to the first aid station and there was a Goodr table and they were handing out sunglasses! Yes please, I'd love a pair. "Okay, but you have to stand like a Flamingo." What...?! I looked around and suddenly noticed the table was surrounded by pink Flamingos. I lifted my right leg and my hamstring promptly cramped. Eek...

Like any athlete worth their salt (pun intended), I faked it, grabbed my sunglasses (for which I was super grateful!) and tried not to hobble as I left the aid station.

ASIDE - these glasses are awesome! During the course of this race, I dumped a ton of water on my head and put loads of ice in my hat and not once did the lenses get smeared or even perceptibly dirty! I kept them on non-stop until it was getting dark meaning I even wore them for a bit after the sun went down.

This was WAY too early for any cramping nonsense. I started to reevaluate how much I needed to be drinking and realized that in the desert, your sweat evaporates so quickly that how wet you are is NOT a good guide. So I looked down and sure enough, I already had a salt stain on my shirt.

Around this time I also realized I was walking. I tried not to let it get me down but I was only halfway done. :( At the next aid station, I sat down.

One of the things I pride myself on and that has resulted in my times getting a little better even as I age is my efficiency at aid stations. I have learned you can make up a ton of time by being super efficient. I usually show up with my bag of powder already in my hand and just need to fill my bottle with water after dumping in the powder. If I need solid food, I'll usually just grab it and eat as I walk. I almost never sit down. Well, not today.

As I was sitting in the shade stretching my hamstrings I noticed the guy next to me had a beer in his hand. What...?! I got out of my chair, walked over to the table with all the liquor and asked if they had any cold been. "Sure, what kind do you want?" Oh man, I love you Jamil Coury. A PBR will do just fine thankyouverymuch. Oh heavenly bliss.



In all seriousness, when I'm burned out on sweet and have an upset stomach, something cold, and savory, and carbonated can be magic.

For the next 20 miles it was a case of managing my resources and trying not to blow up. Yes I was tired and hot and in some difficulty but I was not crushed. I will admit to entertaining the thought of dropping but it was not a terribly urgent desire, just the sort of thing that happens to me in a loop race where you arrive at the finish, only it's not the finish, you still have 20 miles to run.

I think I sat down at every aid station from here to the end. I tried not to linger long but my legs did appreciate the short break. And it let me fill my bottles with powder without risking spilling everything on the ground. That was motivation enough because since my drinks were the only thing keeping me going, I had taken stock of my supply and I had just enough.

This event has gotten the reputation of a party. I think some people over hype it a bit but it is way more fun and entertaining than your average ultra. Quite a few of the participants wore costumes from start to finish, and many of them were running the 100 mile distance! At the start of the 100 km I saw a taco and a hotdog. HAHAHA. And Lucca had told me about some guy wearing a Flintsone's car from last year. Well on my second loop I saw Fred himself. And he even said, "Yabba dabba doo!" as I passed him.



I have crazy respect for this guy's team spirit.

I also saw a person wearing a Star Wars costume and carrying a lightsaber in his hand. And one woman had on scaly tights, horns on her head and a large tail attached to her shorts. All with a matching scale pattern. Of course there were also a ton of people that just wore rainbow colors or a tutu but it was all fun to see.

I think this event also a reputation for being "wild" and "R-rated". The event even professes this and says it may not be 100% kid-friendly. I never saw anything risque. In addition to prizes for running, there is also a "best ass" prize. Honestly, I'm bummed I never saw the judges as I think I stood a chance in that category... #humblebrag

On my last lap, while sitting down at the Jackass Junction aid station, I saw two people blowing up some really old, and really sad looking sex dolls.



Not sure what the plan was since it was already late in the day. But hey, Jaloween!

Shortly after leaving this aid station the sun dipped behind the horizon. And it was like someone had flipped a switch, just like that my energy started to return.

There is exactly zero shade on this course. And if you run the 100 km distance you start in the sun. For a second I didn't understand what had happened and then it hit me, I wasn't getting roasted anymore! The effect was dramatic and suddenly I was able to run for miles at a stretch without walking.

And then it got dark. And then the temperature dropped. On the race website, it warns you that the temperature will decrease by about 30 degrees when the sun goes down and they were so right. It went from 85 to 55 in a hurry. I sat down for a minute at the last aid station and realized I had to get moving or I would freeze. Not that it was objectively cold, 55 is still plenty warm as long as you are not depleted and soaking wet and I was both. Once I did get moving I was fine.

I'm so glad those last 10 miles were fun! I was super tired but running with a headlamp is a blast and feeling somewhat revitalized was really cheering me up. During the last 20 miles several people had passed me and it was very satisfying to pass many of them back here. I didn't really smell the barn until perhaps two miles to go. I was with this guy that pointed to a glow over the horizon and said, "Do you think that's Javelina Jedquarters?" I was like, I'm not going to get your hopes up, buddy... So he said, "Just lie to me like my wife." Ha! For some reason that put a big smile on my face. And you know what? The guy was right! I had forgotten that on the first lap you do a couple of extra miles and this time the loop was shorter! Man do I like that kind of surprise.

As I crested the ridge and heard the rave music and saw all the lights I was so psyched! My fatigue just melted away and I got a little bounce in my stride again. As we approached the entrance to the start/finish area there were a bunch of runners in front of me and from behind, I could not tell what distance they were running (100 mile runners had green numbers and 100 km runners had yellow numbers) so I accelerated. We sort of converged and bumped a little going under the arch and then I saw their numbers. They were green. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to bump into you..." Lucky for me everyone was very nice.

I had joked with someone a few miles back that my only goal was to finish ahead of Patrick Reagan. This guy has won the 100 mile distance here the last two years and has become the poster boy for this event. Every time I saw him on the course he was flying! Based on his finishing times I had to get close to 12 hours because he's usually around 13. As I ran down through pit row, I suddenly heard the announcer yell that "Patrick is coming!" What...? So now I had to speed up? As I rounded the bottom of tent city and headed back up to the finish I actually got nervous as the announcer kept giving updates. It sounded like Patrick was just around the corner behind me.

Approaching the finish was super cool. There were hundreds of spectators crowding the fencing on both sides and tons of photographers were poised ready to take pictures and to start filming. Of course none of them were waiting for me so I just ran past all the excitement and collected my buckle in total anonymity. :) And just in time! I think Patrick finished about two or three minutes behind me. And boy was it fun to witness. There were lights, the announcer was shouting, people were cheering like crazy and as he crossed the line Patrick got mobbed by people. It was moving! Then I noticed I was freezing so hobbled off to my stash of gear. Here is the after shot.



I changed my shirt, put on another shirt, put on a wind shirt, and put on my raincoat. And just to be safe, I put on a buff. After that, I was able to slowly take off my shoes and socks.

I was wrecked!

Who knew running made you this sore? I have not felt this way in over a year. When I finished Pine to Palm last year I felt awesome so figured maybe the days of getting super sore after a run were behind me...? Not! Looking back on this race, it is ALL running and the surface is mostly relatively firm so no wonder.

I limped over to the Huss Brewing table where an angel bought me a beer when I realized my wallet was back in the rental car. I must have had a very pouty face. The ultra running community rules. Then I took my beer to the Freak Brothers Pizza table at the aid station and got a slice. The setting sun had helped but apparently, I was a long way from being 100% again. I didn't even finish the slice. Not only was my stomach still a work in progress, but my throat was also super sore - perhaps from breathing dust all day long? It was hard to swallow solid food and was especially bad the next morning at breakfast.

I collected my bags and walked slowly to the car. On the way I was pressing the unlock button on the electronic key every few seconds while aiming it at the line of cars on the shoulder as I had no good idea where the car was parked and now it was pitch black. Objectively I knew it was a silver Toyota and I had a working headlamp but right now my self-confidence was not peaking.

I must have looked like a charity case walking along the shoulder of the road as a person asked me if I wanted a lift to my car. Score two for the ultra running community.

In my car I turned the heat up to 11 and drove back to the hotel. It took a 30-minute shower (after what felt like a 30-minute walk to my room) for me to feel normal again. Then I hit the sack. Hard.

Once again I learned a lot!
  • Running an ultra solo is tough, appreciate your crew and those that support you!
  • Lucca has told me numerous times how she puts ice in her hat, in her bandana, in her clothes... well today I put ice in my hat - for the first time - at least six times and it was a dream.
  • A course profile can be deceiving. I needed to dial down my pace just a hair to adjust for the heat. I forgot to do this and it caused me to slow down.
  • If you have a favorite fuel, bring enough. Do not count on the food and drink provided by the event.
  • After starting too slow I was luckily able to catch up on my hydration. And I think I got the electrolyte balance right. That early cramp went away and I never felt it come back again. I only peed once during the race but even after finishing the color was okay and I didn't feel totally dried out.
Here are all my pictures and videos.

Results
Nutrition (before)
Nutrition (during)
Nutrition (after)
  • 1 slice pizza
  • 1 beer
Gear

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