I have no idea how to race 100 miles. Seriously. Just when I think I'm doing everything right, something goes wrong. Having finished two - Cascade Crest in 2014 (race report) and now Javelina - I have figured a few things out though. Mostly I've learned what not to do. Here are some of the things that my second go at 100 miles has taught me.
|Javelina Jundred is an absolutely fantastic race. I'd highly recommend it!|
Photo credit: Cetons Photo Place
If you have the option, always say yes to a pacer. Pacers aren't mandatory at Javelina and with the reverse direction loops there are always others out on the course with you, but in my opinion, it makes the experience so much richer to have someone there by your side for the good times, and the bad. Mostly the bad.
Some of the funniest conversations of my life have happened in the wee hours many miles into a race when I'm somewhat delirious and slightly deranged. Here's an example of one such conversation, a variation of which I had with both my pacers at some point when my stomach was starting to go off.
Me: I don't have to fart.
Pacer: Well, just try.
Pacer: You'll feel better if you do.
Me: (silent, not wanting to continue with this subject)
Pacer: Come on, you can do it.
Pacer: Nice - that's almost as good as a fart! Now give us another. It's good for you.
Ridiculous, right??! And that wasn't even the worst of it. There will be things discussed at mile 80-something of an ultra that can never be brought up ever again anywhere. What happens on the trail, stays on the trail.
I was fortunate to have two amazing pacers, my husband Dave and friend Katie, by my side for the last 40 miles and they really helped get me through my low moments. Sure, I could have done it without them, but it was so much better to have them there.
A final note on pacers, always remember that you're getting a lot more from them, then they're getting from you so show them lots of love. They deserve it! Often, they're sacrificing time, sleep, warmth and food to walk/jog in the cold, dark night with you for many hours. And, in my case, having to watch and listen to me throw up several dozen times! (And burp. For the record, I never did fart.)
I feel particularly bad for Dave who has been stuck with me at the point in both 100 milers when the wheels have come off and the barf fest has started. I can't imagine how hard it must be for him to see me with vomit dribble on my chin and a tear in my eye as I tell him "I feel sooooo sick" and yet because he loves me and knows me better than anyone, he knows I won't quit. So he gives me some water to rinse out my mouth and we carry on 'cause that's the only way to get to the finish line.
Beware of Bears
|Who's happy to be running again after a year of injuries? This girl!|
Photo credit: Competitor.com
Not the scary, hairy kind we have here in Canada, but the colourful, chewy variety that taste delicious and stick to your teeth. At some point during my third 25km lap, I decided I wanted to have something to nibble on between aid stations. There are pockets on the back of my favourite North Face race shorts that will hold two little handfuls of candy I discovered. Perfect! As much as I love chocolate, it melts and I didn't want a suspicious brown stain down my bum for obvious reasons so I went for the gummi bears. For some reason, I thought it was very amusing to have pocketfuls of smiling bears with me.
In the heat of the day, my bears were getting a little sticky but I was still enjoying them and I ate quite a few. This would come back haunt me later when I became violently ill and starting rejecting everything I had ingested over the past 12 hours, including a large family of little bears. When things were at their worst, I was spewing bile out my mouth and nose simultaneously and I'm quite convinced that a partially digested bear got lodged in my sinuses. I don't know if that's even physiologically possible, but post race, sinus pain was the worst discomfort I had so it must be true.
|On site camping - nice! Betty White the VW is in there somewhere.|
Photo credit: Katie Hicks
Last piece of advice with any mention of bodily fluids, I promise. I learned the hard way that because the desert floor is so dry, it does not readily absorb liquids so anything poured on it from some height or with force will bounce back and splatter you if you're not careful. This is is true of say water or Gatorade, but also of urine or vomit. Enough said.
|Ultras are gross but the desert is beautiful.|
Photo credit: Sweet M Images
Another runner was coming towards me singing loudly and poorly to music that only he could hear on his iPod. At the time, I thought to myself, "Man, that must be annoying to the other runners around him. I'm glad I'm not them." And then a few hours later Happy by Pharrell Williams came on my iPod and I was shocked to realize that I was not only singing along - loudly and poorly - but also dancing - badly and in public which I just don't do. Ever. Don't underestimate the effects of sun and fatigue on your ultra addled brain. They can make you do all kinds of things you wouldn't normally do.
Even during the "cooler" years by Arizona standards (think low to mid 20s), this is a hot race with full exposure i.e. no shade for almost 12 daylight hours. Come up with strategies to manage the heat and use them. Also have a good understanding of your fluid and electrolyte needs. I didn't and I think that's one of the reason I ran into problems later in the race.
So those are just a few of the little nuggets of wisdom that I wanted to share. I finished in 21:48 (my new 100mi PB!) and 9th woman. (Full results here.) Obviously, I still have A LOT to learn about the 100 mile distance if I'm going to do another one, which I probably will. I think. Maybe. Maybe not. Ask me again after the Western States 100 lottery on December 5.
|The crew support zone at Javelina Jeadquarters.|
Photo credit: Katie Hicks
I'm so thankful to the following for helping me get through yet another 100 miles relatively unscathed:
The Coury brothers at Aravaipa Running and all their wonderful volunteers for organizing a super race that I'd definitely recommend for anyone looking for a destination 100km or 100mi race. It has everything I look for in an event: beautiful scenery, fun trails, good schwag, yummy food (yep, even made on site pizzas) and local beers.
The North Face Canada - You've been a great sponsor and so supportive even though I've been injured almost all year and not able to race which makes me feel like a huge dud. As soon as I mentioned that I was thinking of doing this race, your immediate response was: "What can we do for you to help make it happen?" Thank you for having such a super attitude, believing in me and making great products that I'm excited to use and recommend.
Dave and Katie - I couldn't have hoped for any better crew or pacing support. You both claim to be "bad cops", but you took very good care of me on and off the course and I am so lucky to have had you there. When do we get to do it again - ha ha! ;)
Mom and Dad - Thanks for coming out to cheer me on in the blistering heat! I know that you don't always understand why I do what I do, but I'm grateful that you're still willing to get behind me no matter what my latest crazy scheme is - even if it puts Dad on the brink of a heart attack. Love you!
Jesse (RMT), Mark (PT) and Christine (PT) - You've invested so much time trying to put my broken body back together and I know that you probably didn't approve of me doing this race, but thanks for not giving up on me. I wouldn't have made it to the start line - let alone the finish line! - without all your poking, prodding, manipulations, cracking, needling etc.