Sunday, November 16, 2014

Javalina Jundred 2014

Ultra "Celebrities" The Jester, Dirt Diva, and Gordy
photo credit Jake Richter

Once again, I had the opportunity to participate in a great event organized by the Coury Brothers from Aravaipa Running out of Phoenix.  I decided to sign up as a qualifier for Western States lottery next year, but what I discovered is that it is a very cool event that is close to El Paso.  I approached it more like a business trip, something I had to do to check off the box, but in the process had a very enjoyable time.
The 100 mile race is a looped course of 6 laps of 15.3 miles on the Pemberton Trail and 8.7 mile last lap through the Tonto Tank Trail in the McDowell Mountain Regional Park.  A 100K distance is available as well which is 4 laps. It is a good beginner course in my view, but not easy by any stretch of the imagination.  The atmosphere is second to none from my experience, however.

Having come off the 100K at Mont Blanc on August 29, I decided to follow a low mileage training program to prevent injury.  I did max 50 miles a week with the longest run of 20 miles on Saturday. I spent Sundays on the bike and did some swimming.  I am planning to do an Ironman in late November, so that was in the back of my mind.  I have learned from 'older' ultra runners that low mileage training may be sufficient to complete these events and may be less likely to cause injury.  

Pre Race
I decided to take the option of camping at the race site, which is very popular at this event.   They rent out tents and cots for an additional fee, or you can bring your own tent.  Also, they allow car camping in the parking lot next to the race site.  I had no pacer and no crew on this trip, and flew from El Paso Friday afternoon arriving at 2pm.  Unfortunately, I missed the "beer mile" which was held at 2 pm on Friday. It was won by fellow Mas Loco Patrick Sweeney. I rented a car at the Phoenix Airport, and headed out for the 45 min drive to the park which is outside of Fountain Hills, AZ.  I forgot to print a pass that would let me in the park for free but they were very nice to take my word that I was racing the next day.  I set up my tent in a clear spot of the expanding "tent city" and headed to the host hotel for packet pickup.  After a stop at the grocery store to stock up on supplies and ice for my cooler to be placed at the Start/Finish line. Then it was early to try to sleep for the next days adventure. 
Tent city in the desert

Race Morning
I slept fitfully and got up at 0400 AM for the 0600 start of the race.  I put on  the same Compressport trail top and bottom that I wore at CCC with compression calve sleeves. Dry max socks and Salomon X lab trail shoes.  They had a nice bathroom with a shower a few feet from the tent area.  Ate some breakfast and prepared my drop bags for the day.  I had a cooler (ice with almond chocolate milk, prosciutto, and cheese) and a bag of stuff (extra warm clothes, lights, batteries, socks, extra shoes, Cliff bars, Kind Bars, and Gu/Salt tablets)  for the Start/Finish Line and another bag (warm clothes, socks, batteries, food) for the Jackass Junction aid station which is half way point of the loop. Several people were milling about picking up their bibs which you can do on race AM.  I ran into Claire and talked to her briefly, she was pacing a friend and getting ready to go to Wake Island for 4 months to work as a Physician. I lined up at the start with 500 people and wouldn't you know who was standing right next to me, my friend Greg L. from El Paso who was also running the 100 miles.

Lap 1    15.3 miles  3:07:33
The race started with 500 runners for the 100 miles (the 100K start at 0700) while still dark.  I took a small headlamp and went at a slow pace dictated by the people around me as passing is quite difficult early on.  The first aid station is only 2.5 miles away and then we started a gradual ascent to Jackass Junction.  The sunrise was spectacular and the temps were in the low 60's F.  It was during this lap that I first got to see all the amusing costumes folks were running in.  There was one guy with pants that had a hole over the butt which was displayed for all to see. (I passed him quickly).  I also got to chat to several interesting fellow trail runners with very accomplished running resumes.  The first was a Loyd from Utah who had a T-shirt from Wasatch 100 with, the course profile in the back.  He told me he was a 9 time finisher from that race which takes place in Sept.  He also has done the Bear 100 and Hardrock 100.  We talked for a while as we ran/walked and this made the time pass quickly to Jackass Junction.  There, I left my headlamp and took some nutrition at the aid station which was very well stocked.  The next 7 miles was a gentle downhill and towards the end there is another aid station about 1.5 miles from the start/finish point.  I started to see people who were in the lead at this point which allowed me to "follow" the race as it was developing.  When I arrived at the start/finish I graved my Salomon race vest with two 20 oz bottles in the front.
Lap 2  15.3 miles 3:31:30, total distance covered 30.6  miles in 6:39:01
During this lap, I started to see the folks behind me and then the 100 K runners finishing their first lap. The first half is a gradual incline but making it possible to run at a slow pace.  During this section, I passed three young guys dressed up as "The Chippendales" and wished them well. (at the end there was only one left).  The sun was starting to heat things up and I was conscious of hydration and nutrition.  At Jackass Junction, they had avocado and salt which was delicious and went down very well. I also had boiled potatoes and a Cliff Bar.  The next section back to the Start/finish is more rocky and I understand it has been made worse by all the rain they received in the Summer of 2014. Once I reached the start/finish point, I had a prosciutto and almond chocolate milk for lunch. It was now 1pm in the afternoon.
Rocky section, photo by Fast Cory

Lap 3 15.3 miles  4:09:00, total distance covered 45.9 miles in 10:48:24
This lap was the same direction as Lap 1, and was the hottest part of the day.  On Friday, the day before the high was 90 degrees but thankfully a cold front had moved in and the high on race day was 83.  There were a few clouds which were always welcomed but very little in the way of shade from the small tress in some part of the course.  It was during this lap that I got to run with Gordy Ainsleigh, the first 100 mile trail runner from Western States (his bib was the number zero).  We had talked briefly in June at Western States and I talked to him for a while which was very enjoyable and made the time pass.  He was there because the board of Western States required him to "qualify" for the race by completing a 100 miler as he has DNFd the last few years at Western States.  As the originator of the race, he does not go on the lottery though, he has automatic entry by finishing (he did).  Later on, I got to meet Catra Corbett the famous "dirt diva".  She has done hundreds of Ultras all over the country and is the nicest person you could meet. (of course, all ultra runners are super nice).  When I asked her whether she was dressed up as  "Raggedy Ann", she said no that it was a she was dressed up as a Harajuku character.  Since I had never heard what that is, she went on to explain it was an area in Tokyo where mostly teenagers dress up like anime characters or punk musicians.

Dirt Diva in Harajuku costume

 We then ran into fellow Mas Loco Jess Soco who was on her second lap coming the opposite direction.  She was having knee problems and abandoned the race when she finished that loop. I ran for a while with Bobby Keogh, who is 65 years old,  from New Mexico and who I originally met at Rocky Racoon 100 in 2013.  He is a very accomplished Ultra runner having done the Grand Slam (Western States, Vermont 100, Leadville 100, and Wasatch 100 all in one Summer) several times and said he would do it again next year if he got into Western States.  As we chatted, we came upon a man and his son who were giving away popsicles in a section half way from Jackass Junction to Start/Finish and we both had one. One lady who passed us said she wasn't having one because the food coloring in the popsicles caused "brain damage".  Bobby laughed and said quickly, "that is OK, I already have brain damage, that is why I do these Ultras".

Lap 4 15.3 miles in 5:27:08 total distance covered 60.2 miles in 15:15:32
At the start of Lap 4, it was close to 6 pm and the sun was setting.  I got my headlamp and took off my hydration vest off. I put another shirt on top for warmth during the night and took one of my 20 oz. bottles to carry.  I also had two 8 once bottles in my belt.  This was a lonely loop and was made worse because I forgot to bring my music which I had intended to do on this loop.  The field was very spread out and there was no one to talk to. At Jackass Junction, I briefly saw Claire J. who was pacing her friend Jody. I had no pacer and the people who did have pacers seemed to be having the most fun. The only sound out there were the hauling coyotes which I have to admit were a little creepy.

Lap 5 15.3 miles in 4:42:05 total distance covered 75.7 miles in 19:57:37
At the Start/finish, I got my music to keep me company.  The loop was the same as 1 and 3 which was my least favorite because of the rocky sections.  On this loop, I passed by Ed Ettinghausen who dresses up for every race like a court "Jester".  He is on his way to breaking the Guinness Book of World Records for most 100 mile trail races in 1 year (this one was 33, I think).  I think he is planning on doing 40 this year and will break the record on Dec 6 if things go as planned.  He is an amazing athlete and  a real nice guy.  At Jackass Junction, I saw elite runner Kaci Lickteig had stopped to eat (she finished 3rd overall in 15:40:55), I foolishly said to her "you stop at aid stations to eat?" She didn't answer me and just gave me a look and was probably thinking "yes, and I also go to the bathroom like anyone else."  Of course, since I wasn't done making a fool of myself, I asked her "What place are you in?".  To that she replied politely, "I don't even know, anymore".  After that she kept going on loop 6  for her.

Lap 6 15.3 miles in 5:01:29 total distance covered 91 miles in 24:55:08
When I finished Lap 5 it was now 2 in the morning.  I remember as I went to my drop bag, Jamil Coury saying that in most of the country it was the end of Daylight Savings time. In Arizona, they don't change the clock so instead, Arizona is now Mountain time Zone and no longer Pacific Time Zone.  "Just a little bit of trivia" for everyone as he put it.  I was feeling pretty good and not for a second did I consider not finishing.  Also, I never had the thoughts I had before of "why am I doing this? What is the point?"  I just kept ticking down the miles and waiting for the next aid station to come.  I suppose I have arrived at a new point where I don't question my sanity, and I suppose that means I am completely brain washed.   Towards the end of this loop, the sun started to come out again and I got to see a second spectacular sunrise.

Lap 7  9 miles in 2:45:22  to finish 100 miles in 27:41:30
As I finished Lap 6 at the start/finish I ran into Greg L. who was a minute behind me and there I got rid of my headlamp and refilled my water bottles.  They provide a glow stick necklace at this point to indicate that you have finished 6 loops. The start of this loop is the same as loop 1,3,and 5 which was my least favorite rocky section.  I walked this part as my feet were very sore at this point and I could feel every rock I stepped on.  At mile 5 was the turnoff to the Tonto trail which was downhill and at this point I started to "run" again.  At this point, for some reason I could not walk fast, but I could run at a faster pace and it was downhill which helped. I ran to the finish and was greeted by Mas Locos Jess Soco, Maria Walton, and Patrick Sweeney.  I got my belt buckle and sat down to eat.  Jess got me some egg burritos and later on I had some pizza.

In keeping with my idea that this was a "business trip", I had booked a flight back to El Paso for later that day.  This meant, I had to hurry and get changed for the return trip.  The shower at the campsite had a long line of people, but someone mentioned that where they had made us park in another campsite there was also a shower.  I hitched a ride there with Greg who was heading home and showered and dressed.  Then I drove back to my tent and had the challenging task to take the tent down and pack my bags. On the 45 min drive to the airport, I had for the first time hallucinations which I have read about in people doing ultras.  This was around 2 pm, so almost 36 hrs with no sleep and I thought I saw a state trooper on the side of the road and later on I thought I saw a person sitting next to me which in reality was a piece of luggage.    I made it to the airport with plenty of time for the return flight.  I slept at the terminal and on the flight home.

I had a great time in this race and recommend it highly.  The Coury brothers put on great races and its a great way to spend Halloween. Next year, 2015, the race is actually on Oct 31.  My total time was 27:41:30 which placed me at 199 out of 290 finishers. There were about 500 starting the race which means 58% finished which is about average for this race.  One thing to keep in mind is that you can sign up for the 100 miler and if you finish 100K, you get a 100K finisher buckle but you still show up as a 100 miler DNF.  The race was won by Catlow Shipeck (36) in 14:51:33.   He looked great the entire race and led from the beginning.   Miguel Lara, who is a Tarahumara runner, was second with a time of 15:15:35, and 3rd was Kaci Lickteig at 15:40:55. She incidentally broke the Woman's course record previously held by Liza Howard.
Two week later, I am much less sore than I have been before my previous 100 miler in 2013 and my 90 miles at Western States in June. That is a good thing, because in 2 weeks, I am doing Ironman Cozumel.  Next year, I am doing the Boston Marathon and hopefully do Western States in June as I am in the lottery again. If not, then I will do another qualifier and try again for Western States in

2016 and even try to get into the hardest race in North America, the Hardrock 100.