Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Javelina Jundred. My first 100.

There are 6, 15.4 mile loops. The course is on the Pemberton Trail in the McDowell Mountains in Fountain Hills, Arizona. It is single track and jeep track. The course was comprised of a nice smooth dusty trail, followed by some sand, followed by tripable rocks and hills. In the evening the full moon would come out and would provide some light. For each loop, you go a new direction. For the first loop, we went clockwise. Then counter clockwise for the 2nd and so on. The 7th loop is special as you get a glow stick necklace and you go out 4.5 miles on the normal course, than get to take a right turn onto a new trail to get to the finish.  The course has an elevation gain of 800 feet for 15.4 miles, so it is fairly flat.

First 3 loops. The first loop, I had my costume on. The race stared in the dark, although that really did not last very long, I could see within the first 20 minutes. I got to check out the course with fresh legs. I tried to keep it at a 12 min pace, which is slow for me. It was hard at times, especially on the downhill sections. I did what everyone advised and walked the uphills. It was a fun loop; I got to see everyone’s costumes. There was a lot of excitement on the course. I enjoyed seeing the other runners as we passed.  I often chatted with people briefly; they all told me that I was doing very well for my first time. I remember chatting with one man. He asked me about my kids and asked which one I liked better, I responded, “the one who is being good at the moment and that always changes.  I noticed during the 3rd loop that my voice was starting to sound a bit hoarse; I thought I was going to lose it, but never did.The heat never bothered me.
My costume. I changed after the first loop, it was getting hot.

During the 4th loop, it got hard. I was headed towards 62 miles, 12 more than I’ve ever gone before. I was still running, even as night started.  I had my headlamp on and had one of my knuckle lights. I had a long visit at one of the aid stations as I really had to go to the bathroom. I stayed at the aid station for about 9 minutes, but I needed to.  I was running on a rocky section when a blister on my toe broke open. My initial thought was, “oh no, I’m doing so well, is this the end?” I sat down, took off my shoe and sock, got out one of my earrings and opened up the blister more, then sprayed on New Skin, all the while being completely annoyed by a moth. I guy came by and asked if I was alright. I got up and it hurt initially, but the pain subsided and on I went. I next remember being on a flat section, running slowly, eating a Powerbar when I heard a group of coyotes and so wish that I had my pepper spray with me. I thought they sounded so close. I quickly put the Powerbar away and ran faster to catch up with a man walking ahead of me. He said “no worries, they won’t eat you.” I still ran away quickly. When I came into the headquarters, I was absolutely exhausted and I really wanted to quit. It hurt, it was dark and scary. But, I remember something a woman told me previously, she said “when you’re finished with the 4th loop, it is very tempting to quit and get the 100K belt buckle. Don’t, just take a few steps and get out of there.” She was right, it was hard. I ended up getting a pacer for the 5th loop. She was supposed to have paced a faster woman who ended up calling it quits after 77 miles, so she was free to help me.

5th loop. Headed towards mile 77. My pacer and I ran a little bit at first and we got along very well. She told me about her, I did the same. She told me about Arizona and the different cactuses and species of animals. After awhile, I was feeling nauseated and quit talking so much and started walking. I never really ever ran again, it hurt too much. My pacer reminded me to drink, considering that I was barely eating. Absolutely nothing sounded appetizing to me. I forced myself to gummy bears, cookies, candy, broth. All gross. The one thing my pacer did that probably shouldn’t have happened, was reminding me that I still had to finish the loop with her, go out again, then out a final 9. Ughhh!!! That played with me mentally. The only thing that I kept telling myself was to just leave the headquarters and go out for a final 6, just leave. It was during this loop that my Garmin died, so I got out my older one. I stopped talking and just followed her to the headquarters. She’d walk a good pace, which challenged me in a good way. She was probably my favorite pacer.
Loop 6, heading towards mile 92. My original pacer had to go, so I got two new ones, a man and a woman. I told them that I really did not feel like talking, so they talked a lot. I told them my story a little. The man told the whole story of those Twilight books and movies from beginning to end and I corrected him during spots he got it wrong. I’ve never met a man who knew the Twilight story as well as he. The girl would always tell me when there was a big log or rock so that I wouldn’t trip. At times I held on to one of them when it was steep and rocky. They were the ones who however kept tripping, she even fell once. It was nice to have someone there and I mean with all my pacers, just the company. That 6th loop especially was very dark and the crowd had drastically thinned as we were nearing the daylight hours. The only time that I ran during the 6th loop was when it was light and it lasted for about a mile and at a decent speed. Other than that, I did not have it in me. I could tell that my teeth were very sensitive; the sugar from the gummy bears hurt my teeth. During this loop, I really only took a bit of something when my stomach growled. I just drank.

Coming in for the final loop
Loop 7. Finishing. My husband wanted to pace me this time, so okay. He can walk 9 miles. I leaned on him a lot and I mean literally, down the hills, around the rocks. I was breathing heavy and everything sucked. I barely said a word. I had felt like I was in some kind of major battle, just trying to survive. Everything hurt, even my lips were badly chapped and I had been putting chap stick on all day. I think my Garmin was not registering right, which played with my emotions. I kept looking for that final turn and it took forever to get to or so it seemed. I cried a little because I was upset how long that final loop was taking to get here.  Finally it came; I filled up my water bottle, trying not to get stung by the many bees swarming around the aid station. The length of this trail was 3 miles, and then it turned to go back to the finishing line. I had to walk, I couldn’t run. I remember my husband telling me he was feeling chills and I noticed that he did not have that much water with him. So I lectured him about what it takes to be a good pacer, which means taking care of himself. But, I will point out. He stayed at the course the whole entire time. Every time that I came in, he was there. He only had 1 hour nap. He even helped out at the aid station. He was very supportive. The last 2 miles is when I started crying, I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to finish this thing.

The finish.  It was absolutely incredible. I did not have a big crazy finish; I ran a little bit in and smiled. I was just so relieved to be done.  I got my picture taken, got my belt buckle and sat down.
My finishing photo

In writing this, it has been 3 days. My blisters are healing. My leg swelling is finally starting to come down. I was able to take a shower standing up for the first time. I am very tired and have a big appetite still.

364 people started the race. I placed 141 out of 160, 100 miler finishers. My time was 29:07:45.
Other photos. Checking out the course the day prior.

Taken just before the race, I was so cold.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Training for Javelina, my first 100 miler

I have decided to write about my experience running Javelina Jundred in segments. 

The first is my training.  

I’ve been running marathons and higher since 2005. My first marathon was in 2005, first 50K was in 2008, and my first 50 miler was in 2010. My most difficult distance to conquer as far as making the decision to run it was the 50 mile distance. However, training for my first 50 and running it is when I fully fell in love with running. Making the decision to run a 100 came so much easier. It was a natural progression.
However, I started the year off with a stress fracture in my leg. I sadly hung up my running shoes on January 16.  I took 6 weeks off for recovery, I just swam. I became a very strong swimmer, having swum 3.75 miles as my highest mileage. Finally, it was time to begin running and I followed a 6 weeks recovery plan beginning on February 19th.  Each day was scary, I was scared the fracture would come back and I would not be able to run Javelina.

Here is my recovery plan, R is running, W is walking:
Week 1 2/19 w10 r5 w5 r5 w 5// w5 r5 w5 r5 w5 r5//w3 r7 w3 r 7 w 3 r7-mon=7.62 +4.12w only//11.74
Week 2 2/26 W2 r8 w2 r8 w2 r8-wed//r10 w2 r10 w2 r10-Fri//r12 w2 r12 w 2 r 10-sun=8.95+4.16W//13.11 10%increase
Week 3            3/4 R15,w2, r15–tues//R20,w2,r10-thurs//r25-Sat///r30-M=11.08+4.12w//15.2014% increase
Week 4            3/11 R 25-weds//r30-thurs//r25-sat//r35-sun=11.52+2=13.52 4% increase
Week 5            swim weds 3/18 R30-tues//r35-weds//r 35-Fri//r30-sat//Run 40-sun=18.22 26%
Week 6            3/25 r 30-tues//r30-Weds//r45-thurs//r45-sat//r30-sun//r50-mon=23.83 24% 
Mt. Hood 50

Siskiyou Out Back 50K

But, I made it through just fine. After the recovery schedule, I simply began my schedule that I made up to accommodate the three races that I wanted to do and to accommodate my fracture. The plan was to run the Sunriver marathon 6/23, 3 weeks later the Siskiyou Out Back 50K 7/14, then finally the Mt. Hood 50 miler on 7/28. All these runs were at altitude. Sunriver, was about 4000 feet, Siskiyou went to 7000 feet and the Mt. Hood was about 4500. Still, terrified the fracture would come back, I just proceeded. I had a lot of hope and faith that everything would be alright. I reside at the beach in Northern California, so for training, I ran a very hilly trail. It would go from 360 feet in elevation to just over 2000 feet in 2.80 miles, and then would gradually increase to about 3200 feet to the 8 mile mark. It was here that I encountered "Alvin, the bear" Instead of running away from me, he started walking towards me. I had no cell phone reception, there was not a soul insight, I did have pepper spray. He didn’t care about the 130 db body alarm that I pulled, he didn’t care that I was yelling and waving my arms, he just kept walking towards me. My only thought was to enter the woods, where there was no trail and go around him. It worked, he ran.  In addition to my running, I also was continuing with my swimming, practicing holding my breath for longer, not breathing every stroke.

Photos from my favorite mountain trail:
My favorite mountain trail had a lot of large pine cones

When I first saw this, I thought the 2 sticks looked like a cross, so every time I ran by it, it became a focal point, I would even put the sticks back in place if needed

Right in front of this log, was a tree stump, good for sitting. The arrow was pointing in the direction that I needed to go

The trail had great views

I made it through those races and had a lot of fun. After those races, I really was just in maintenance mode. I began following the training guide in the book Relentless Forward Progress by Bryon Powell. This was a book that I consider the bible for ultrarunning. I used the schedule more as a guide, altering the cookie cutter program as needed to make it my own and adjust it to my needs.  I ran 4 days a week, 2 on the trail, 2 on the road. I added a walk day about 5 weeks prior to Javelina, since I would be walking a lot in the race and walking uses different muscles than running. I walked for 5 miles, 1 day a week. My training got up to 70 miles a week, 5 of those were walking. I also was running about 44 miles on the weekend, 24 Saturday, 20 Sunday. It was easier than I thought it would be.

I was invited to run through the night at a popular 100 in Oregon, Pine to Palm. I was going to run a 50K beginning at midnight, headed for the finish line. The race director told me that he didn’t mind. But as bad luck would have it, I got injured the week that this 100 was scheduled. I injured my right calf muscle running on soft sand at the beach on 9/11 and then my back 2 days later because of a Crossfit move. I had to cancel the run. I was in recovery for about 2 weeks, not running much, but headed back to the pool and then I walked when I could. Luckily, the leg injury wasn’t serious. The leg got better because I took many days off, no running, just swimming for 7 days. My back hurt for 2 weeks, it was what made life difficult, it hurt to vacuum. It was after these two injuries that I decided to cut out Crossfit. I was too close to running Javelina and didn’t want to risk any more injuries.

5 weeks prior to Javelina, I started heat training with clothes. It was not as uncomfortable as you would think. I wore either capris or long pants and 2 running shirts and at times a running coat. 2 weeks prior to Javelina, I headed for the sauna to further my heat training. The goal was to stay in for 45 minutes. The first few times that I was in it, my heart would race. I’d get out and sit on the pool deck and the room would spin. Oh fun. About a week into sauna training is when I felt as if I was getting used to it, 160 degrees didn’t feel horrible anymore and I was staying in the sauna for 1 hour. I really think that I will miss my sauna experience.  I did sauna training for a total of 10 times.

Throughout all my training, I have been given a lot of advice from others and it has been very helpful.  The most interesting advice was that I should not change my socks, because you really just don’t want to look at your feet.

But, training for anything really only takes you so far. I’m showing up at the starting line with a strong will to succeed and a no quit attitude.

Javelina Jundred 101.40 miles 10/27-28/20012.
The start of many adventures to come.