Javelina Jundred Race Report

Javelina Jundred 2015 Race Report – by Sarah Smith

The idea to enter the Javelina Jundred started in late April, when it became eminently clear that there was no way I would be running MMT due to a crazy injury called frostbite. “Disappointed” doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt about missing MMT, and since I was becoming a major pain in the @$$ at home, my husband Lee suggested I “do that run in Arizona in October instead.” And so I made a plan to run Javelina well before I was even cleared to leave my crutches behind.

Sarah SmithThe JJ100 was an ideal choice for several reasons. In 2014 during a cross-country drive I had stopped off to crew and pace Dave Snipes. I had been out for the duration of the event, run three of the six loops, and had developed a feel for the terrain. That familiarity was comforting. At the point at which I decided to run the 2015 race, I had no idea what my crew/pacing situation would look like, but they offer pre-pitched tents for the runners at the start/finish, so I could stash everything I needed within easy reach. Loop courses may have the reputation of being “boring” or for tempting people to quit, but I knew there was no way I was going to quit!! And as the sun moves across the sky in the desert the terrain continues to be strikingly beautiful and ever-changing throughout the day and night. With no stream crossings to chill my toes and as one of the last possible W$ qualifiers of the year, it was the perfect race…provided I could make it to the start.

Fast forward to October. I had completed a series of “tests” that I had set for myself in my four months of training, I had a great pacer lined up who I knew wouldn’t be tempted to coddle me, and I was excited to run. I was actually in Arizona at the “Burning Man of Ultrarunning!” Woohoo! We spent Thursday night at the hotel and I was ready and waiting to check into my tent at McDowell Mountain Regional Park by 6:30 Friday morning. Tents are preassigned by type (you can rent anything from a small tent without a cot to a large tent with two cots) but then first come, first served within tent type. For example, I was able to choose any large, two-cot tent. I knew from the previous years that these tents were along the runners’ path inbound and outbound on every loop, so I was there early to secure a tent where my crew could hang out in front and easily see me approach. (Imagine a whole front row of VHTRC tents- wouldn’t that be great fun?! Javelina Jundred Blue Train trip, anyone?)

Pre-Race GroupFriday night I met up with some local runners - my pacer Angela Russell was there, along with Sniper, Eve Mills, and Daryl Hultquist. Sniper introduced me to Dave Ploskonka, and I offered the other runners use of my tent for their drop bags and any gear they thought they might need throughout the race. Daryl hung out for a bit and had a beer with Angela and me, and then it was time to go to bed. The difference in time zones actually helped - at three hours behind EDT it was relatively easy to fall asleep, and a 6am start felt like 9am.

In the morning I got up, took care of business, and readied myself for the race. My biggest concern was my feet, so I taped a spot on one toe prone to blistering, wiped my feet with antiperspirant, and filled my trusty Injinji socks and my shoes with blistershield powder. My husband Lee turned up around 5:30am, we took a pre-race group shot, and then it was time to go!

StartWe set out on loop 1 in the dark. I ran behind a guy dressed as a carrot for a while - it being “Jalloween” there were plenty of costumed runners - and I spent half of the first loop chatting with Sniper. It felt a bit like the year before, except that this time I was running rather than just pacing! The sky grew progressively lighter, and the sunrise was beautiful. I wore my Salomon pack for this loop, figuring that I could skip the aid stations and just cruise along and enjoy my running and the scenery. I arrived in at 8:50, about 10 minutes ahead of schedule; added ice to the pack, took off my arm sleeves, grabbed a bandanna filled with ice, sprayed myself down with sunscreen, and went back out for loop 2.

Loop 2 started to get hot, but the ice around my neck and down my sports bra courtesy of Jackass Junction, the main mid-loop AS, kept me comfortable. During this loop I noticed a few things: I had forgotten my calf sleeves, my ankle that I had sprained repeatedly in the past was getting a little sore, and my bad foot was starting to swell. None of these things registered as full-blown problems, but I made a mental note to take care of them the next time I came in to “home.”

Happy Little PiggiesSo at the 50k mark I added calf sleeves, a light ankle sleeve, and started my “5 minutes up” regimen for my foot. I’d lie down on the cot with my feet in the air, Angela would set a timer, and I’d keep my feet up in the air for 5 minutes. This was a huge help, and kept my little piggies happy throughout the race!

Loop 3 was even hotter, but I modified the bandanna to loop it around the back of my neck and over my head, and despite the sound of ice sloshing around in my ears, it was heaven! I also noticed that with the addition of sleeves my calves were feeling great and I enjoyed using handhelds rather than carrying a pack on my back. Every loop felt like I was getting a “treat”- the first loop was exciting all on its own, the second I added music, and on the third I got rid of my pack. I was having a blast!

Faithful CrewI came in from loop 3 still on the aggressive end of my target time, and I knew that it was going to get dark midway through the next loop. My faithful crew refilled my bottles, I grabbed my flashlight, and the arm sleeves went back on. Halfway through 4 I was treated to a gorgeous sunset. As daylight faded the sunglasses came off and I clipped the light to my bottle, and as temperatures started to drop, up went the sleeves.

100k down and I was feeling fantastic. Was this really possible? Starting loop 5 meant yet another treat - I got to pick up my pacer! Angela and I had met the year before at Browntown. Not only am I in awe of her running, but her personality is a perfect fit- just the right combination of no-nonsense drive, kindness, and with a bit of fun thrown in for good measure. I knew that it would get cold, so it was time for a long-sleeved undershirt, t-shirt, gloves, light jacket, and a waist pack (so I could use one hand for eating and the other for a flashlight.) We paused a few times to appreciate the incredible star-filled night sky and Loop 5 seemed to fly by. We rolled in to the start/finish around midnight.

I have been told that the last 25 miles of a 100 is as tough as the first 75. I still don’t know if that is true or if I just convinced myself that it was so. So we set out after 76 excellent miles and I almost immediately felt sleepy. Really really sleepy! It was shortly after midnight but to my east coast internal clock it was 3am. Ok, time to stop making excuses. After 25 years as a coach I should have known better than to think those thoughts! So anyway I was feeling pretty damn tired, and started feeling sick to my stomach as well. I spent the next 7 miles walking generally forward, with a good bit of lateral movement in the form of weaving back and forth thrown in for good measure. Thanks to very aptly-named “Angel-a” I managed to stay on the trail and not walk into any cacti. We discussed a nap and agreed that it would be time well spent, and I passed most of the time during those 7 miles dreaming of lying down.

Snoozing at Jackass FlatsAfter over three hours of walking and weaving we rolled into Jackass Junction and I crawled into a sleeping bag. Ten minutes later Angela woke me up and handed me some soup. Five more minutes and we were back on the move - running! As we finished up loop 6 we passed every person who had arrived into the AS while I was sleeping. I still felt that loop was incredibly slow- 5.5 hours for just 15.5 miles!

Finishing Loop 6 I decided to lie down for ten more minutes, since I already had five scheduled for my foot to be elevated. Plus I was really cold! So I slept for 10 more, warmed up, pulled on some pants, and put on my jacket. I had been moving so slowly on the previous lap that I hadn’t had much to drink, and with only 8.9mi to go and two aid stations, decided to not carry my handheld. I was going to finish and wanted to be comfortable. I should have considered the fact that we were in the desert and the sun had just risen!

Leaving for that final loop I was close to tears. Okay, so a few managed to leak out. I knew I was going to finish and it had been such an uncertain road getting to this point. I was just a swirl of emotion, with some pain mixed in for good measure. I wanted to run- I kept trying to run- but every time I ran my stomach would start sloshing. I had taken some anti-nausea meds twice during the night but it would only last a short while (I found out later that I was supposed to let it melt in my mouth rather than swallow it whole.) As I mentioned, the sun had just risen. It became clear that I should have gone without the down jacket and long pants, as well as brought along a water bottle. Soon my down jacket was around my waist, I was carrying my shirt, and the first AS was a welcome sight. Three and a half miles later as we approached the last water-only station I was passed by a few runners and I was pressed to run a bit by Angela. At some point I should have just made myself throw up and gotten it over with so I could run, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I roll in with 3.4 miles to go and there are no cups, so I decide to lie down in the sand and open the tap. Most of the water ended up in my mouth and I was more than happy to let the rest splash on my face.

Cruising down the home stretch!After what seems like a heck of a long time for 8.7 or so miles we’re in the home stretch. I thought I had been pretty good about not hallucinating overnight. Yeah, there were a few twisty twigs that I walked around because I thought they might be rattlesnakes, but nothing like what I encountered right before the finish. A BIG PINK RABBIT was jumping up and down yelling “Sarah! You just finished 100 miles!” Well, I was not in the process of crossing a finish line so I certainly hadn’t finished and…BIG. PINK. RABBIT. Perhaps THIS was what hallucinating felt like!?! Angela confirmed that the big pink stuffed human-faced bunny was real and we just had a few more tenths of a mile to go. Daryl was out cheering near the rabbit (did I mention there was a pink rabbit?) and a little further along I saw my family. I tossed my jacket and the shirt I was carrying and finally found the legs- and stomach- to run to the finish.

I can’t really describe how I felt crossing the finish but it was more than just completing a 100 mile distance for the first time. Crossing that finish line was the completion of an eight-month journey from “Will I ever run again?” to 100 miles. As much as you think something is attainable, it never truly sinks in until you do it. But first you have to believe in the possibility. Thanks to the people I have met in my VHTRC family, I have seen time and again that just about anything is possible. This time it was just my turn.

Crossing the finish line[Sarah finished in a time of 27:24:11]

Results - 2015 Javelina Jundred | 100km