Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Javelina Jundred 2017

Having only had one “decent” race all year (the 24 Hour Worlds), I really needed a motivational boost from the Javelina. I seriously considered running a safe and easy race, just to have fun and immerse myself in the festivities. But ultimately, I knew I was too stupid and competitive to not push. I also knew that if I pushed and “failed” (like I did last year), it would be devastating for my morale.

The initial forecasts, 15 days before the race, looked quite promising with highs only in the low 80’s. Unfortunately, by the time race day came along, the forecast was for 91 - better than last year’s 100+, but nowhere near ideal for a heat hating runner like me.

As usual, I started without a light, and it turned out just fine. I didn’t want to bother with it for the 20 minutes of darkness. Mooching off of others’ headlights worked well enough.

Just a bit past the Coyote AS, I got passed by Katrin while I was taking a quick pee break off the side of the trail. I soon caught up to her and we had a nice time chatting over the next few miles. The surrounding runners found it amusing that I had a self-imposed 22 hour cutoff due to a 7AM flight.

With the rolling terrain, I know I annoyed everyone around me as I would fly by them on the little dips, then walk up the rises as they passed me by. I get dirty looks for this early on in almost every ultra, but I know it’s the smart thing to do. Everyone works too hard on the uphills (especially early on when they’re full of energy), and they don’t take enough advantage of the downhill gravity boost.

I reached Jackass in 78th place, downed my first can of club soda of the day, stuffed a bag of Doritos in my shorts, and headed onto my favorite part of the course. This section from Jackass to Rattlesnake is mostly downhill and I took full advantage of it, rolling easily along and gaining another 14 places without too hard of an effort. For the last 5 miles of the loop, I started running and chatting with Woody, who was also from Colorado.

Despite my best intentions, I ran the first loop 4 minutes faster than last year. I promised myself to slow down on the 2nd loop, but Woody and I pushed the climb back up to Jackass a bit too much, despite the rising temperatures. By the time I hit the downhill going into Coyote, I knew I wasn’t moving as fast as I should. I also caught up with Andrew Snope and was surprised to see him wearing shoes, as he typically runs barefoot or in sandals.

Coming back into Jeadquarters, I wasn’t flying, but nowhere near the death march from last year, and I still managed to “bank” another 5 minutes. As anyone who knows me, “banking time” drives me crazy as it does not work and I usually scold even strangers for doing it. I was at least smart enough to know that I would pay the piper, and sure enough I did on the 3rd loop. It was my slowest at 3:49, basically losing back all the “banked” time.

At the start of loop 4, I made the mistake of keeping both hand-held bottles, not quite sure of how fast I would run and how much water I would need between aid stations. Given that I use a hand-held flashlight, dropping the extra bottle would have made things a bit easier. Nevertheless, I managed to pick up the pace a bit and only lost an additional 5 minutes on loop 4.

Not having a watch (I ran strictly by feel, which is definitely the best for me), I didn’t quite know how I was doing except when I crossed the start/finish. I knew 17 hours was long lost, but figured breaking my PR of 19 hours was still doable. When I crossed the line for the second to last time in 14:35, I really felt like I had a shot at 18 hours.

I tried not to force it climbing up from Coyote, balancing my desire to not loose time with my need to keep enough in the legs to fly down the final hills. As it turned out, I misjudged by just a bit. I was pretty much running blind (not literally, but just not knowing the time) until I hit Rattlesnake for the last time. I took a quick gulp of Coke and asked the volunteers for the time. “11:30” was not the answer I wanted. I was hoping to be closer to 11:20. I was pretty sure then that I wouldn’t break 18, but I couldn’t quit just yet. Maybe she was rounding up. Maybe her watch was off. No matter what, I was going to put it all out there and finish strong.

I ran pretty hard those last miles, quite pleased with my strength and speed after almost 100 miles. When I came through Jeadquarters, I was in an all out sprint, crossing the line in 18:02:24. So incredibly close. I was a little disappointed, but overall I was pretty pleased with my performance, and when I was told that I came in 10th overall, that lessened the pain even more.

I came into this race a good 5 pounds overweight, temperatures of +/-90 degrees are well above my optimum, and I went out way too fast. Despite all of that, I managed everything quite well and had a very good performance. It was definitely a good morale booster and as usual, I had an awesome time enjoying what is basically a 100 mile running party. I even finished early enough to catch a full 2 hours of sleep before my flight.

I’ll be back next year to chase after the 18 hour mark, and who knows, if the weather dogs smile upon me, maybe even shoot for the 17.

1 comment:

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