2017 Javelina Jundred

Every so often, we go into a race following a great block of training, we taper down without injury or incident, and in general, everything has gone right which presents us with an opportunity to really put things on the line.  That’s how I would describe my preparation for this race.  It was perfect.  I managed to string together some really big weeks of training, topped out at a 100 mile week, brought it down to a point, and without any issues.

In the final weeks, I had an idea of what I wanted to do -- break 18 hours.  In my head, that meant 17:59:59.  That would put me closer to the top 10 than in my previous attempts and it could also put me first in the age group.

Then I started thinking about how I would go about ‘racing’ this race.  I came up with a few ideas which included going only with bottles, unless it was a really hot day, and using a small waist belt to carry nutrition.  She-Ra and I worked out the plan.  I had two belts, she'd stock one to hand off to me when I entered start / finish, and I'd give her my empty for restocking.  That was pretty much the extent of the gear.

In my drop bag at start / finish, I had other items but those were part of plan B.  Other than swapping a hat and a headlamp drop off and pickup, plan A worked for the day.

That covered the non-running portion of the plan.  For the running portion of the plan, I went out faster than I would have if I was being conservative.  For a hundred mile run, I took the first loop aggressively by my standards.  I thought it might bite me later but if ever there was going to be a test of one's training, it was going to be this day.

When I finished my first loop, I felt fine but questioned my less than conservative approach.  Exiting start / finish for the second loop, the next 8 miles were uncomfortably hot.   It felt warm early but this segment unnerved me a bit.  It was only around 9am and it seemed like we were in store for a hot day.  But it never got any worse than that 8 mile stretch and if anything, it improved slightly.  Aside from that, the only real issue was bridging the gap between the aid stations that were spread a little further apart than my water bottles would carry me.  

Adjusting the nutrition plan based on the aid station placement, I switched from Tailwind to gels to keep plain water in the bottles.  That confused She-Ra as she thought I wasn't fueling.  

The entire day was played aggressively and if I had carried a pack, was more cautious with the pace, and hauled more gear, it would have cost me time.  I think going minimal helped quite a bit.  

As each loop passed, I felt more confident but as the saying goes -- everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face and I was waiting for the punch.  The punch never came though.

When I wrapped up the fourth loop, I felt tired but I was still chugging along.  I think She-Ra was more confident about my goal than I was -- she made a comment about it and I think I mouthed some skepticism.  I wasn't being negative, I was just being pragmatic.  It was a good race up to that point, I wasn't expecting a disaster, I just didn't think I could keep the pace.

As I exited for my final loop, I felt good -- or at least as good as someone can feel after running 80 miles.  I kept pushing like I'd been throughout the day and I had some minor ups and downs.  When I did have a down moment, I tried to grasp what was going on, addressed it, and got back on track.  Around mile 93, the Garmin died(!) and I no longer had the ability to keep track of my nutrition timing, the clock time, or distance.  For the remaining 7 miles, it was down purely on feel.  Keeping the pace up was not an issue but my grasp of time passing was non-existent.  If I felt hungry, I ate.  If anything, I probably ate too many calories but not so much that it impacted me.

As I entered the final aid station, I was kind of out of it.  I wasn't sure if there was another aid station nor did I know the distance back to start / finish.   I asked how far it was to the end and I asked for the time.  I lit up when I heard his answer -- 11:02PM and 3.7 miles.  Game on!  I filled my bottles and I was off.  There was plenty of time but now I wanted to keep my finish time as close to 17 hours as possible.  I ran hard, I hurt a lot, but I knew it would be over soon.  And then it was -- I saw the lights, ran through the camping area, and charged across the finish in 17:38:40 for 8th place overall.  

Kind of a shocker, really.  It's not like I didn't believe I could go under 18 hours but it takes a near perfect day to hit your goal which is what I got.  Sometimes you have to play to win, right??

It's hard to imagine getting a better day on this course and I probably said as much but after thinking about it, if I go back, I'll get the #8 bib -- #WANT