Two weeks ago, I ran my 5th 100 mile race – the Javelina Jundred. It was an incredibly fun race. Many of my friends and family came out to support with me and run with me. The race is a completely silly party in the desert – more on that below.
My race itself was uneventful – no injuries, no hallucinations, no insanely hard terrain. I felt great the entire time.
It’s taken a little bit to get to writing about this race, largely because – other than being fun – there was no drama. Nothing crazy to report, other than a crazy good time. So here’s the race report, with the end at the beginning – I had fun and I got to spend a weekend with friends. Everything else was secondary.
About the race
I heard about Javelina earlier this year and I was immediately intrigued. Here are some facts about the race:
- It is a race in the desert
- It happens on Halloween weekend (or, Jalloween – all the Js are pronounced like Hs), so there are COSTUMES, and prizes for great costumes (or … lack thereof, as there’s an award for best bare booty)
- Runners and crew can camp out at the start/finish (called “Javelina Jeadquarters”).
- Jeadquarters also has great music at all times, a beer mile, and other silly activities
- It is a loop race with 5 twenty-mile loops, which makes logistics easy for crew
- It’s a pretty flat course (less than 10k feet of climbing)
- It is the largest 100 mile race in the world (by number of runners) (I think – someone tell me if I am wrong)
When I heard these attributes about the race, I emailed the race director, Jubilee (hard “J”), with a humorous plea to let me into her race and a photo of me running in costume. She generously agreed to let me join her and the crew in the desert. That was back in March.
Training and stuff
My training journey was … a bit of a mess. Emily Torrence, my AMAZING running coach, made a very comprehensive training plan to account for my unnecessarily complicated goals leading up to the race, which involved a triathlon, two other ultras, and extensive travel.
My plan was to complete the Escape from Alcatraz Tri in June, then switch over to 100-mile training completely at that time. So I did the tri, had a GREAT few weeks of training (70+ mile weeks), and … got plantar again.
I decided to run through it (bad choice – don’t do this) and ran White River 50 miler before the foot was too painful to run on. I eased off quite a bit, started going to Physical Therapy (Nicole at Potero is excellent), ran very little between White River and Burning Man 50k in September, then ran less than ten miles a week in September and October. I pretty much exclusively biked for the last two months. I got a cortisone shot in mid-October and headed to Arizona. So, I wasn’t exactly well-trained for this – my plan was to take it very easy and rely on prior 100 experience + sheer will to get to the finish line.
Before the race
Dad – my #1 crew captain, who has been to three of my prior four hundreds – met me in Arizona on the Thursday before the race. The closest city was Fountain Hills (ask me about their only distinguishing feature which is … their fountain), so we stayed there. On Friday, we headed up to McDowell Mountain Regional Park,
We set up the tent where I would be sleeping that night. Ahead of the race, Robert Lopez, one of the race directors (edit: he asked me to clarify that he is not a race director, and is just in it for the free pie), would post very helpful treatises about the race on the Facebook page. One was about securing your tent and shade structure – he indicated that there might be high winds, and your tent needed to be locked down to prevent it flying away. After years of desert camping at Burning Man, I felt very prepared for this – my Kodiak tent is the Fort Knox of tents. However, it turns out that my tent might have been a bit of overkill – everyone else brought … normal tents. Mine looked palatial in comparison. However, the bulletproof tent ended up being a great plan. I was able to sleep in it, we could store food and supplies in it, and my pacers and crew were also able to use it for napping during the race.
I picked up my bib and we headed back to Fountain Hills.
It was fun to see Jeadquarters before the race. Many runners and their crew set up 10×10 popup shade structures, and some had very elaborate designs and decorations. One was completely banana-themed, with banana flags and neon lights. One of my favorites had a whiteboard that said “only 100 miles to go!”
That night, Eric, my lap 5 pacer, and Kate, a friend and new ultrarunner, arrived, and the four of us headed to dinner, along with my Dad’s friend from sailing, Rollin. We met up with Bob Hearn, a running friend from Burning Man, and his friend Amy, both of whom were also doing the 100. Amy was looking for a pacer, and Kate was looking to pace someone, so we found a market-clearing solution. Kate ended up pacing Amy on her 4th lap.
After early dinner, I headed back to Jeadquarters. It was already dark. This part of the world is known for its dark skies, so the stars were incredibly bright. Also, it was cold, so I put on every coat that I had and headed to bed.
I woke up before my alarm – around 3:30 – and stayed in bed for a bit longer. Dad arrived around 4 or 4:30. Around 5:30 – about an hour before I would start running – I ate a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast. I had been binge-drinking water the last 24 hours, so I felt well-hydrated for the dry and hot day ahead.
The race would start at 6am with three waves. Runners who thought they would finish under 24 hours started at 6am. Runners who thought they would finish in 24-30 hours would start at 6:30. There was another race – a 100k – which would start at 7am. Originally, I had hoped to finish in under 24 hours, but because my training was not on point and I had no delusions of grandeur, I started at 6:30.
Lap 1 – the start (miles 0-22.3, 4 hours 53 minutes)
This race is in the desert, and you run through the middle of the day as part of it. Historically, temperatures have reached 100*F or higher. I talked to a number of veteran Javelina runners before the start, and they all said to take the first lap very easy – walk often and run slowly. So that was my plan – I tucked in behind some other runners, kept to a slow pace, and passed very few people.
Eric and Emily had also chatted before the race and decided that nutrition would be critical for me to get right on this race, since it had been such a disaster at White River. Because of this, I made sure to eat frequently. I ate about half a sandwich every 10 miles, plus whatever else looked good – watermelon, mostly. I also aggressively filled up my water at every opportunity.
At the first aid station – Coyote Camp – I saw Eric and Kate, who volunteered to live stream from this aid station. It looked like a lot of fun, and you can see a video Kate took of me running through Coyote Camp here. (Also, the commentators on this live stream are sort of lame – my ‘mid/back of pack running’ got me a 50th percentile finish amongst female finishers, which doesn’t even include the 1/3rd of runners who didn’t finish this race.)
The first lap takes a bit of a detour to add a few miles, and there were some nice rolling sections in the back half of this loop. Overall, I felt good after the first 22 miles. At Jeadquarters – which you could hear from about a mile away – I said hi to my crew. Dad was still there, and Alex and Cyndi had arrived by this point. I headed out for lap 2.
Lap 2 – it is hot (miles 22.3-41.7, 4 hours 50 minutes)
The main loop consists of four sections. I am introducing them now because the first loop has a slightly longer last section, but the next four loops would all be the same.
- Section 1 (Jeadquarters to Coyote Camp): 4.3 miles of rolling hills
- Section 2 (Coyote Camp to Jackass Junction – hard “Js”): 6.4 miles of gentle uphill
- Section 3 (Jackass Junction to Rattlesnake Ranch): 5.3 miles of downhill
- Section 4 (Rattlesnake Ranch to Jeadquarters): 3.8 miles of rolling hills
The terrain is all VERY runnable. The rolling hills are very easy, and the uphill/downhill are very gradual. It’s all very benign, in theory.
However – the second section was very tough for me. It’s a very gentle uphill, and if someone were running just one lap, the play would be to run the whole thing. However, for a race of this distance, it is important to pace yourself to conserve energy for later. The person who introduced me to ultrarunning told me that in ultras, “if it looks like a hill, walk it.” On this lap, I walked a lot of this section, even though it was a very light incline.
Around mile 27/28, I started overheating quite a bit. I became very dizzy, experienced some double vision, and wasn’t walking in a straight line. I sat down by a cactus, which offered a little shade, for a few minutes. At this point, I honestly was not sure I was going to finish the race. I was feeling pretty bad, it was still very early, and I couldn’t really see a path to recovery.
After a few minutes, I got up and kept going. It was around this time where I saw Alex – he had hiked in a bit to say hi and take a photo – and this lifted my spirits considerably. I made it to the next aid station and started feeling a lot better, which I attribute to the cooling temperatures, the downhill section, and making smart choices for the first 30 miles around pacing, hydration, and nutrition.
The back half of this loop was much easier, because the 5.3 miles of downhill feel really good after the slog uphill. I met another runner – also named Alex – no relation – and we ran a bunch of these ten miles together, including finishing the lap together. I was feeling really good at this point.
Lap 3 – it gets dark (41.7-61.1, 5 hours 19 minutes)
My whole crew was together at this transition, which was awesome. It was so motivating to see everyone there. We took a picture with the horns (thanks to my crew for tolerating my costume foibles). Dad took off to get some sleep at this point.
Before starting lap 3, I emptied my shoes of rocks and sand and changed into a long-sleeve shirt for nighttime. Alex was going to pace me for lap 3, so he geared up and we got ready to go. We also took our headlamps because it would get dark on this lap.
The first section was fairly easy – it was still light outside. Having learned from my first two attempts on section 2, I asserted to Alex that we would likely be walking a lot of the 6.4 mile hill, which we did.
We turned on headlamps at some point during this section. Eric loaned me his super bright headlamp, which was a game-changer for me later on. Unfortunately, the headlamp did not play well with the horns, so the horns had to come off for the dark parts of the race.
During this section, my stomach was becoming vaguely unhappy. I didn’t really want to eat anything. Alex showed me an anti-nausea acupressure technique – which we both agreed was HIGHLY suspicious and we were skeptical couldn’t really work – but it did work, and completely cleared up my nausea. There are apparently some studies that back up the efficacy of this. My mind still refuses to believe this is scientific and real, but it definitely worked for me and helped me continue to eat during the race.
We spent a lot of time in section 2. Alex started noticing the emergency location signs – the race put out a sign every mile or so with a letter so that emergency responders would know where to go (e.g. “Go to location C.”) We started making up cactus-related phrases for each of the signs, such as “Ginormous Cactus” for G, or “Hella Cactus” for H. I am SURE we are not the only runners to have had fun with these signs. They did help pass the time.
At the aid station, I sat down on a cot in the medical tent because it looked comfortable. In prior races, I basically refused to sit down or lie down unless it was absolutely necessary, e.g., for changing socks. In this race, I knew I wasn’t going to PR, and I thought that sitting down would make me happier, so I did that a few times during the race.
The downhill section of this lap felt great. I ran all of it. I had my only wildlife sighting – a cute fieldmouse with a sleek tail – on this section.
The last 3.8 miles were tough – I was getting very tired / sleepy, which is a major issue for me during 100s. At times like this, I have a hard time keeping my eyes open – despite still running or walking – and I am unable to move forward in a straight line, which can become dangerous on trails. I decided I would take a 10-minute nap between lap 3 and 4 to see if that helped.
With about half a mile to go, we could hear the oontz-oontz music of the start finish, and Alex and I finished lap 3.
Lap 4 – darkness (61.1-80.5, 5 hours 51 minutes)
I took a quick 10-minute nap before starting lap 4. This was a great choice. I was actually able to sleep, and I woke up feeling refreshed.
Cyndi paced be for lap 4, and it was great to have her company. Before we headed out, she asked if I had been aware that there was ramen at the aid stations. I was not aware of this, and I had some ramen on the way out. It was at this point that I switched from peanut butter sandwiches, which I had been eating for the last 60 miles, to ramen, which kept me going through the night. It was salty and warm, which was perfect.
Lap 4 was fairly uneventful. I walked the second section, ran the third section, and complained in my head about the fourth section. Historically, this part of the race has been quite challenging for me. My body generally wants to shut down and go to sleep. Cyndi kept me awake through these very hard hours.
Lap 5 – sunrise (80.5-100, 5 hours 47 minutes)
I took another 10-minute nap between these laps. It felt great. I woke up realizing I was still clutching a sandwich, which I had been carrying in my hand “in case of emergency” for the last 30 miles.
Eric was my pacer for the last lap, and we headed out into the darkness. Eric is an insanely talented ultrarunner – he just finished UTMB – and he takes a very scientific approach to running. He researches and reads everything he can about a race, gear, and strategies, and then actually implements all of it. Having him on the last lap was a so helpful, because I knew he would keep me on track and get me to the finish line.
The first couple of miles were fine – a run-walk combination. I walked the 6.4 mile section, and the sun started to come out at this time. It was amazing to see this section – a constant irritant for me – in the sun. Even though I had seen it twice in the sun the day before, I had more recent memories of it in the dark, so being able to actually see the turns in the trail was very motivating. It was like a whole new trail somehow. The trail was turning in directions that didn’t totally make sense with the mental map I had developed over the last four laps.
Eric was an excellent pacer during this section – he kept me moving up the hills. When I was walking, I was doing about 17-18 minute miles, and I felt like I had energy to do it – it didn’t seem like a completely impossible task.
Once we got to the top, I started running the downhills. I was feeling really strong at this point relative to where I was in the race. I knew I was going to make it to the end, and there was no reason to hold back anymore. While my body generally hurt, nothing hurt TOO much. When I wanted to walk, I would walk for a minute or so, then would realize there was literally no reason anymore to walk – I wasn’t saving any more energy for the future. This was it. Time to run.
When we got to the last aid station, with 3.8 miles to go, I was ready to be done. Eric asked if I wanted to talk or would prefer not to, and I said I was pretty grumpy about this section so I was just going to concentrate on it for a bit and focus on moving forward. I pretty much ran the last 3.8 miles.
With a mile or two to go, Eric texted the crew and said I was on the way. As I came in, everyone – including Dad – joined me for the final 100 yards of the race. Then I was done.
Videos: Running to the Finish Line – the live stream; Running to the Finish Line – Rollin’s cut
|Lap #||Total time||Lap time|
I was SO happy to be at the finish line with my crew. And so happy to be done.
No joke – one of my first thoughts was, “Wow, that was over quickly.” Then I immediately reconsidered, and was like “no, that took a REALLY LONG TIME and was also REALLY HARD.” But honestly – it did feel fast. So much of the race was time I got to spend with friends, and it made it fly by. I also made some really good choices about nutrition and pacing, which meant that the last several hours were much more enjoyable and much less painful than other races. I actually ran my 5th lap faster than my 4th lap, which is … unheard of, for me. I usually go much slower towards the end of these races. The last 20 miles have taken me up to 8 hours in other races.
We took some photos and then headed back to the tent, which my crew had deconstructed while I was on my last lap (thank you guys). I bought some swag (duh) and we loaded up the car. Alex and Cyndi headed to the airport. Eric, Kate, Dad, and I headed back to the hotel, where I slept for a few hours.
The four of us met up with Bob for dinner and compared notes. Bob finished much earlier than I had (like … four hours earlier, because he is a machine) but was feeling about as sore (as approximated by our similar post-race shuffles). After dinner we went back to the hotel, had some celebratory champagne (courtesy of Rollin!) and went to bed.
Dad took off the next morning quite early, and Kate, Eric, and I headed to the airport to go home.
This was easily my favorite hundred of the ones that I have run. This is for a few reasons:
- Words cannot describe how much joy I felt at being surrounded by friends and family. Getting to spend time with these people was such a gift. It was also extremely motivating – every time I thought about maybe quitting, I would think about the fact that they flew and drove all the way out to the desert for me, and I didn’t want to have wasted their time. I can’t thank them enough for taking a weekend to do dumb stuff with me in the desert.
- I made some really smart choices during this race. I paced myself really well in the first half and did not go out too strong. My nutrition was dialed in (thank you Eric for pushing me to create a plan here – even if my plan was “eat more stuff,” which was more of a plan than I had before we talked). My hydration and salt intake was good. I took care of issues before they became issues (thank you Bodyglide). I took breaks when I needed them.
- The race itself was wonderful. The course was easy, the Jeadquarters party was SO cool, and the costumes were fun.
I’ve basically taken the last two weeks off completely from working out. It takes a long time for a body to heal from a race of this distance. I’ve done some light biking, some yoga, some easy hiking, and some swimming, but nothing high impact or long duration. My plantar seems to feel a lot better than a few weeks ago – it wasn’t made worse by this race, somehow – and I’d like to spend some time getting it back to full health.
In terms of what’s next – I’m not signing up for any running races until the plantar is healed, or at least until I have confidence that it’s on its way, or at least … until I want to sign up for another race. I do have a half Ironman in April, but that’s mostly biking. So we will see.
For now, resting and recovery.
So, as I mentioned at the start – not a dramatic race at all. Just a fun one.