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Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Run: Desert Dancing

Before I get started, here's a quick peek inside the contents of my mind this past Saturday as we ran around the Arizona desert.  I'd like to call it the 100 Mile Mental Montage:

You just gotta ignite, the light, and let it shine/blah-betty-blah/'Cause baby you're a firework/Come on, show 'em what you're worth/Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh"/As you shoot across the sky-y-y
Baby, you're a fiiiiiiiiirework/blah-betty-blah-blah/Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh"/You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe/blah-betty-blaaaaaahhhhhh/brighter than the moon 
(courtesy of Katy Perry)
*record scratching*
I wish nothing but the best for youuuuuuuuu/Don't forget me, I know I re-emember you saaaaaid/Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts insteaaaaaaad... (Courtesy of Adele)
*record scratching*
Welcome hooo-ooooooooo-oh oh oh ooommmmme, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah (Courtesy of Radical Face)
*record scratching*
I'm too embarrassed to admit the fourth song that was stuck in my head.  I don't know how it got there.  What music happens in my head in the desert, stays in my head for fear of e-laughing and e-pointing.  For shame!

I must admit, the segues into each of the above four songs got smoother and more creative as the day went on.  It was like I had a professional mixmaster in my head.  Except that the mixmaster only had four songs to work with.  For 22+ hours straight.  I'll also admit that the above lyrics are verbatim from my head.  I don't know any lyrics beyond the above, so don't hold me accountable for any inaccuracies.  And I'm convinced that "blah-betty-blah" is really in those songs.  Who can understand what they're saying anyway?!

Moving on. 

The 2011 Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Run (that is actually 101.4 miles) was a mindblowing success!  I don't even know where to begin, so I'll just start and see where I end up :)  Oh, and it's going to be realllllly long.  Grab some hydration, something to snack on, and a warm fuzzy to cozy up with :)

Geof and I flew into Phoenix Friday morning and hooked up with Brian and Kelly (aka "Brelly") and baby Caleb at the airport.  We hopped in our rented hoopty, Caleb between Geof and I in the back seat, and I commenced with the goo-goo ga-ga'ing with Caleb while everyone else held intelligent, adult conversation, of which I heard nothing.  I was very engrossed in the insane adorableness of Caleb.

Exhibit 1 of Insane Adorableness

After checking in at the fabulous Holiday Inn Express - Fountain Hills, we decided to get lunch at Fireside Grill (which is conveniently located inside the hotel).  YUM.  If you plan on running/crewing/pacing JJ, ever, stay at the Holiday Inn and eat every meal you can at the Fireside. 

After doing some arranging of things, doing leaps across our awkwardly large room, and sniffing the really nice hotel toiletries (coconut lime verbena Bath and Body Works products, hello!), we met back up with Brelly and headed to McDowell Mountain Park to pick up our packets, hang out, enjoy the pre-race dinner and sit in on the pre-race meeting.  This year (compared to 2009) was super relaxed and laid back.  I ran into lots of peeps who read my blog (which always makes me blush), and finally met JojaJogger!  We gathered with other Chicago-area runners in town for the race, took some pictures, and then got in line for some grub.  P.F. Chang's was catering the dinner, and it was actually quite delish.  Rices, noodles, veggies, some other stuff that I didn't touch, and then three huge sheet cakes.  The ratio of rice and noodles to cake was somewhat...skewed...on my part :)  And oh so delicous!

After we wrapped up dinner, the five of us headed back to the hotel.  We said goodnight to the Brelly family, and immediately set about organizing our one drop bag (at the midway point of the loop, Jackass Junction), and our bag for the start/finish area.  JJ100 consists of six 15.4 mile loops, and a seventh loop of about 9.4 miles.  You always come back to Jeadquarters and then turn around and run in the direction you just came from (called 'washing machine' loops).  This means you get to see everyone throughout the day, and keep tabs on the front of the pack, which is amazingly fun to watch unfold.

I felt a little parched, so once we finished our OCD race prep, we moseyed down to the Fireside Grill to enjoy our traditional pre-race libation: Coors Light.  Nothing better :)

We both slept like babies.  It was amazing.  I woke up really awake, and really nervous.  Geof went about his bid'ness and I about mine.  We met up with Brelly outside and drove the 20 minutes over to the park around 5:00 a.m.  I stared out the window at the full moon, pondering such things as mortality, why I'm about to do what I'm about to do, what kind of cheese I want to eat when we're done, and things of that nature.  When we arrived at the park, we made a beeline for the shelter at the start/finish to set up our bags and ensure that we'd have a dry place for our things in the event of rain, which had been forecast for Sunday morning early.  While we certainly took the possibility of rain into consideration, for some reason I didn't take it very seriously.  We decided to leave our rain shells in the trunk of the car, so they weren't taking up room in our bag, but still accessible if needed.  The start was cool, but warmer than I thought it might be, in the low 50s I believe.  But combined with nerves and not a ton of sleep, it felt cooler than that. I cuddled up to a cup of hot coffee and walked around some, in a complete daze.  I was reciting some go-to  positive affirmations that I've found to be beneficial when its crunch time.  Settling the mind and easing the butterflies.

For the first time ever in a 100 mile race, I felt ready, determined, and completely confident in my ability to achieve what I was setting out to do.  There was no way in hell we weren't finishing under 24 hours.  Just no way.

Just before the start!
Photo credit: Jen Birkner

What's up Javelina Jundred, I'm gonna make you my b****!  I thought that to myself as we lined up behind the start line.  And suddenly, I wanted to dance.  But I didn't, so I did a dance in my head :)

With a little fan fare, but an intense buzzing of excitement, 396 brave souls set out down the trail, running in the clockwise direction.  Headlamps glowed in the dark morning air, bouncing up and down, side to side.  I noted how very little chatter there was.  Everyone folded up inside themselves, contemplating the task that lay before them.  It felt very dream-like those first few minutes.  Geof and I started near mid-to-back of the pack and were encased in a heavy clump of bodies, worming our way along the double-wide trail, seemingly as one entity.  The soft plod of feet on loose churned sand.  I was thankful for the slow start, being stuck in such a dense pack of people.  Plenty of walking in those first couple of miles up to the first aid station (Coyote Camp?).  After that first aid station, the trail turns rocky.  It was far rockier than I recall from pacing in 2009, and a lot longer than memory served.  But, runnable nonetheless.  

The clump finally broke up some and we were able to bob-and-weave our way around people.  Chatter began, and I pieced together numerous tidbits of passing conversations into one complete thought in my head.  A humorous way to pass the time :)  Geof mentioned he wasn't exactly 'keen' on my sprinting ahead of large groups of people.  I just wanted to get ahead of the social peeps and settle into a nice quiet spot.  I didn't want to get roped into any conversations just yet.  I was still seeking out my happy place.  But, I tried my best to even things out a bit and slow some :)  I tried.  Before long, dawn turned into morning and the headlamps were shut off for good.  A guy named Dallas caught up to us, scaring the bejeezus out of me.  He apologized for the rampage and said he had been trying to catch us for a long time and wanted to see what it was like to run with #16 (me)...I refrained from mentioning that I picked my bib number, it wasn't a number given to me for being a fastie :)  I just smiled to myself.  He was sweet and held onto us for a bit before we cut ties.  I think he passed us up, but don't quite recall now.

And just like that, Lap 1 was done.  I knew we should keep pretty close to 3 hours, if not a little less, at first.  We finished the first lap in 2:41.  Boom.  A little faster than I thought it would be, but totally rockin' because I felt awesome.

Rolling into Jeadquarters, 15.4 miles down
Photo credit: Kelly Gaines

I grabbed a few more waffles for my waist pack, dropped off my headlamp, and topped off my water bottle while Geof did the same, and we were out of there in a few minutes.  Quick turnaround is absolutely key.

Heading in the direction we came from (counter-clockwise this time) we started to see everyone who was behind us.  This is the coolest part of the course, seeing other runners.  We ran all the way into the first aid station (Rattlesnake?  Not sure), stopped for a quick porto-john visit and were out in a flash.  It was very overcast, but still warming up nicely.  We were moving really well and I was stoked about how good I felt, but still very cautious.  One hundred miles is a loooong way to go, and nothing is guaranteed.  It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings.  

Geof and I are pretty quiet runners, but early on we were chatty and gossipy.  I could tell Geof was debating something internally, but I didn't prod.  Verbalizing things sometimes makes them worse.  It was somewhere in this second loop that I enlisted a saying that Marshall Ulrich mentions using in his book "Running on Empty" (which you should absolutely read if you haven't already).  When something started to act like it was going to bother me, I told myself, "Not my problem."  And within moments, whatever it was would be gone; proof of how powerful the mind is.  I know that a lot of the time most of the things that bother me are manufactured by my mind.  So, I let it know it simply wasn't my problem.  That twinge in my ankle?  Not my problem.  That could-be-a-hotspot starting?  Not my problem.  All that gas?  Definitely not my problem...but certainly a problem for whomever was behind me ;)  

We started a habit of discussing what we were going to do at each aid station before we approached it.  I'd ask, "what do you want to do here?" and Geof would list out his tasks, and then I would follow suit.  This was a handy little tactic.  It kept our minds occupied, and it ensured we kept on task in aid stations rather than dilly-dallying.

And, once again, just like that we were back at Jeadquarters.  I decided I would change my socks here for the first time.  I had a couple hot-spotty areas on my right foot, so I did a quick wipe-down of the feet, reapplied Hydropel in key areas, and put on a fresh pair of Injinjis.  This would end up being the only time I changed my socks.  I freakin' love Injinji liner socks.  Of course, I was wearing my usual La Sportiva Wildcats, and I never once changed out of those.  First time I've worn the same shoes all the way through a 100 miler.  

Re-affixing my gaiters after Lap 2
Photo credit: Kelly Gaines

This stop was a touch longer, and Geof changed his socks, too.  He was having some very minor stomach woes and general blahs, but we were out of there in maybe 5 or so minutes.  

Lap 3 started out well, and somewhere in the middle, in the seemingly interminable section between the 2-mile aid station and Jackass Junction (a really loooooong feeling 6-6.5 mile stretch of rocky, rolling, crap) we both mentioned feeling a bit off...sorta tired, sorta not, sorta blah, sorta not...a general malaise.  We determined caffeine was in order.  The best way I can describe how I felt was allergies.  A stuffy head feeling.  Once we FINALLY reached Jackass Junction (it only felt longer as the day wore on), we both downed some Coke.  Holy EFF that was good!  I'm not a soda drinker generally (I'll imbibe once in awhile, at Chipotle, with a burrito), but especially not during long races.  The carbonation doesn't play nice with my tummy usually.  But this time it really worked for me.  Coke would end up being a staple for me during this race.  I was downing a cup of it at every single aid station.  And boy what a difference that made!  I felt like a billion bucks a few minutes later, and so did Geof.  We were in the warmest part of the day, and the sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds.  Each time it peeked out from the clouds it felt incredibly hot on my skin.  It was uncomfortable, and enough that I thought about ripping off every last bit of clothing and dunking myself in an invisible oasis of coolness, but thought better of it, mostly because I knew that oasis of coolness was only a mirage rippling on the horizon...  I kept my RecoFit Armcoolers on because there was still a very nice breeze blowing on my sweaty arms creating a really awesome cooling sensation.  I also kept on my RecoFit Calf Sleeves because they make my calves so dang happy, and now I have a really sexy calf sleeve tan :)

Somewhere on this lap I noticed my stomach sloshing.  Normally, I know exactly what to do when this happens, and I acknowledged that in my head, but for whatever reason I couldn't extract that information.  I asked Geof about it and he noted we were running pretty fast, in the heat, with a lot of liquids going in, so blood was getting shunted to the extremities and not enough was getting to the gut to aid in digestion and fluid absorption.  I married one smart cookie :)  So, we slowed to a ridiculously pedestrian walk for a number of minutes.  And, sure enough, my stomach got its act together.  I was able to answer nature's call, then I took one S!Cap (noting the time so that I could keep track of when to take another one), a small drink of water and then we picked it back up.  I ended up doing this once or twice more throughout the run, and every time it worked like freaking magic.  I eased up on the salt, even though it was still hot, and went from once per hour to once per 1.25 hours.  Keeping track of that timing and calculating when I need it next also keeps the mind nicely occupied.  Double bam.

Photo credit: Manoj Nagalla

Photo credit: Manoj Nagalla

I decided that the heat was "Not my problem" and kept my head down and my feet moving.  We tore up the remainder of the loop and pulled into Jeadquarters in fine time, slowing a bit as expected.  Here we decided to grab our headlamps as we weren't sure how long the fourth loop would take and wanted to be prepared just in case it stayed cloudy or the full moon didn't make it out in time.

Per my mental plan, we were officially halfway done with the "full-time" portion of the race.  The first six laps were like working a 9-5.  The final, seventh, lap was going to be our "over time/party" lap.  Overtime is fun because you get paid time and a half, and who cares how long it takes, you're getting paid for it! ;)  That's one way I kept it fun in my head, and one way I broke things up into bite-sized chunks.  These are the things I think about on the trail.

Exhibit 2 of Insane Adorableness: Caleb giving Geof a pep talk, "listen, dude, you got this, just keep following that awesome wife of yours!" ;)  Photo credit: Kelly Gaines

We also decided to grab our jackets, just in case it cooled off while we were out there.  Not rain jackets, just something with some wind protection.  We tied those around our waists and set our headlamps on our heads...and never once touched either of these things on our fourth lap :)  But, better to have what you need on the trail and not use it, than to need it and not have it I guess!

Lap 4 was great.  We traded places with fellow Chicagoan, Daniel Robinson.  It was his first 100 miler and he was doing awesome!  He was playing a similar game as us...run to that cactus...walk to the next ribbon...run to that sticky-outty bush...walk to the top of the hill...run to that cactusfeeling it the way I normally would.  I could tell I had been running for quite a while, but my legs still felt fresh and springy.  I was really surprised how loose and comfortable everything was.  I was just a touch tired, as expected.  I was keeping my mind in the present and thinking of nothing but the next hundred yards.  I rarely looked up or ahead by much; my focus was very intense compared to prior races.  I felt so comfortable, and my stride effortless.  My breathing was even and conversational, and my mind was positive.

I felt happy.

I consciously smiled from time to time, to remind the rest of my body how happy I felt.  I would get a surge of energy each time I did this.  I also made sure to recite the things I was thankful for at any given moment.  Cheesy, but highly effective in times of need:  "I am so thankful for this perfect running weather...for the ability to run 100 miles...for my health...for the ability to run this race with my incredible husband...thankful for the ability to burp really loudly to release all that carbonation in my belly...the ability to pee frequently so that I know I'm properly hydrating...thankful for having four not totally awful songs stuck in my head...thankful for my DNF at Leadville last year and all the lessons I learned from it, like that quitting was in no way an option, petty weaknesses are not welcome on this day..." thankful for simply being.

And then we were at Jackass Junction, lookie here!  Coke!

Jackass Junction...which was a total jackass to get to...
Photo credit: Manoj Nagalla

From Jackass, we landed a cozy spot behind a gal running an amazingly comfortable pace.  THE perfect pace in my opinion.  We clipped in behind her and matched her stride-for-stride.  I was in a zone, completely off in my own world, concentrating only on the gals feet in front of me and making sure not to run her over.  I could hear Geof making noises behind me but I wasn't registering them.  I didn't want to pass her because I knew she was running everything and the rolling hilly section was upon us, which we would walk.  Once the rollers started, we lost her for awhile.  The gal said she'd see us again soon, and Geof said we'd make sure not to tailgate her next time...oh, oops.  I was totally one of those runners just then.  That's what he was chirping about :)  Turns out, perfect-pace-gal was Jess Mullen.  Boom.  That was cool.  I can't believe we were running stride-for-stride with her!

The darkness began to set in fairly quickly, around 5:30 or so, maybe even before then, but we kept pushing on refusing to turn on our headlamps.  Our eyes adjusted and we rolled into Jeadquarters, 100k done, at precisely 6:06 p.m. (12h:06m for 100k...that's a dandy mid-100 PR!).  I was on cloud nine and ready to kick some more ass and take a few more names.  We took a little time here to reset and get Geof's stomach geared up.  He seemed to be doing better, but a little cautious still.  It was at this time that Kelly told us that race officials announced that they were expecting "significant rain" after midnight.  We asked her if she could grab our rain shells from the car and put them in our bag at Jeadquarters so they'd be ready when we got back.  Kelly is the trooper of all troopers, let me just say this now!  She had Caleb with her all day, but carrying around, and feeding, another human being didn't stop her from being star crew and support for anyone who needed it in our group.

I decided against changing my socks at the 100k mark, as originally planned, since we were now going to encounter rain...what's the point?  I told myself I'd change them after the fifth loop.  I never did end up changing them again.  Once your feet are wet enough it isn't uncomfortable.  I got comfortable with being uncomfortable.  After swapping out my arm sleeves and wet short sleeve shirt for a dry short sleeve under my favorite Icebreaker, and deciding against re-upping my stock of Honey Stinger in my waistpack, we were outta there. 

Somewhere near the end of the fourth loop I decided my waffles and chews weren't sounding appetizing anymore.  I've noticed this happening around the 45 mile mark in races of late, so I wasn't surprised when it popped up this day.  It came on a little later, though, which was nice.  I was thrilled to pieces when I saw that aid stations were stocking CarbBOOM! energy gels.  I've only had this brand of gel once before, but I loved the flavor and texture of it, and that it's made of more natural ingredients.  The apple cinnamon, peach banana, and grape pomegranate became my best friends, along with cups of Coke.  I grabbed a couple gels at each aid station and stocked them in my skirt pocket.  Eventually the gel texture made me want to gag, but it was way easier to just pour those down my throat rather than chew a waffle, so I stuck with the gels the remainder of the race and choked them down on schedule.  I normally start to shirk my eating duties in the final few hours of a race and that always makes for a not-hot feeling, so I kept on top of it this time.

We are making our way up, up, up the sandy wash section of the clockwise fifth loop, pushing hard and I'm starting to sweat now.  Headlamps are on as it's full-on dark and no moon in sight.  I have a handheld in my hand.  I never did end up using the handheld, but I kept it in my hand or pocket all night.  Just in case :)  We pulled into the 2 mile aid station and grabbed some Coke, and Gatorade for our bottles.  And then the rain came.  I look down at my watch and see that it is 10:30 p.m.  WHAT.  THE.  EFF.  Underneath the tent of the AS it sounds like it is just coming down in buckets.  We put on our rain jackets, zipped up to our chins and set out into the wet night.  Not 200 yards out from the tent the rain stops.  "Bring an umbrella and it won't rain...forget it at home and it'll pour."

So, back around our waists our jackets go.  This happened a few times in the next couple hours.  The rain couldn't make up its mind.  But whatever, we had work to do, and rain certainly wasn't going to stop us.  The full moon began to push its way through the clouds to boast its mighty glow.  My headlamp began to flicker a touch, but was still bright.  I announced I'd like to change my batteries at Jeadquarters, before lap 6.  By the Rattlesnake AS the rain became steady.  It sounded ferocious underneath the tent of the AS, and was puddling beneath our feet.  I was thankful to only have to run, and not have to stand still in the chilly, wet night for hours and hours.  Those volunteers are saints of the highest order.

Pulling into Jeadquarters after a little more than four hours, almost an even split with the fourth lap.  I swapped out my batteries and wiped my face off with a wet wipe.  Heaaaaavenly.  We both decided to brush our teeth after slamming a Starbucks Doubleshot.  I was feeling great still, and that toothbrushing made my mouth sing.  I was looking forward to our sixth lap, and saying goodbye to the parts of the course we'd not see again...Rattlesnake, flat runnable non-sandy part, Jackass Junction (sweet mother of love was I glad to say goodbye to that section).  The rain was really coming down now, and it was heavy enough that it was creating large puddles across entire portions of the trail.  Getting around them was tricky, and eventually futile.  My headlamp kept flickering so I moved it underneath my hat so that the brim protected the lamp, and suggested it to Geof as well.  This helped a lot, and thanks to the almost featherweight-ness of our lamps (we were both wearing our Black Diamond Spots) it sat comfortably on our bare foreheads and never caused any bouncing issues.  Score.  Adapt to your environment.  I pulled my hood over my head as well and from there I was completely in my own little world.  I could hear nothing but the sound of my Goretex hood flapping next to my ears, and my own breathing.  The beam of my headlamp spread out wide before me, rain drops gleaming in the light.  My hands were exposed and wet, but not cold thankfully.  The feel of my footsteps along the rocky and submerged trail.  I could no longer hear Geof's footsteps behind me with my hood up so I'd glance back every so often to make sure we were still together.  We pulled up to the Tonto Tank water stop and filled our bottles once more.  We told the volunteer there that we'd be seeing him again soon, for the last time. 

I would glance at my watch from time to time, but never absorbed the information except for at Jeadquarters, and noting when the rain began.  Thus, I had no idea what sort of pace we were on, I just knew we were still on sub-24.  Leaving Coyote Camp, the rain was still heavy, but I was glad to know we had less than two miles to Jeadquarters.  The loose churned sand was now fully saturated and turned into some of the most ridiculous "mud" I've ever experienced.  I've run McNaughton...and I thought that was bad?  This stuff was super slick and glued itself to your shoes.  My feet must have weighed an additional five pounds by the time we made it out of this section of trail (about a mile long).  Oh well, we only had to deal with that one more time.  We stamped our feet to try to remove the stuff, but it was useless.  The rain began to let up enough that I removed my hood and pulled up my sleeves a little for some relief.  Smiling the smile of 92.4 miles successfully covered, and still under the cover of night, we rolled into Jeadquarters for the final time during the race and finally got to that which I've been daydreaming about all race...the coveted final loop glowstick necklace.  It's like being knighted, on your birthday, which is also Christmas, while eating Kyle King Carrot Cake, wrapped in fleecey warmth, surrounded by all your loved ones on top of a mountain of wildflowers.  It's THAT amazing.  I was smiling ear to ear.  Only 9.4 miles to go!!!!

We grabbed a couple more gels from the table, refilled our bottles and grabbed some extra batteries just in case.  Geof got something hot to drink and we began walking out of the station.  I was now in full on inner-reflection mode.  I thought about everything...all the training, all the running, all the good sleep, all the lost sleep, all the Honey Stinger Waffles and Chews, all the aches and pains, all the anxiety, the packing and unpacking, the silly-hot days, the blisters, the number crunching, mileage tracking.  Logging into my running log was one of my favorite parts of the morning, entering in our miles and time for the morning's run.  Getting up at 4:30 every morning to squeeze in our run.  All the Tuesday Ten Milers, all the long runs in the Kettle Moraine and lunches at the General Store.  The gross hot runs at Palos, and the humid and interminable Waterfall Glen runs.  It was all about to be worth it.  Not that I ever questioned that.

I knew I wanted to reach the Tonto Tank water stop by 22 hours.  No real reason, other than that I wanted a full two hours to run it in if needed.  We wound our way along the trail after Coyote Camp and caught up to Daniel and his pacer Jim O'Brien (another Chicago area fastie).  It felt like this rocky crappy section wouldn't end, and Dan and Jim expressed similar sentiments.  We ran behind and beside them for a bit, then the rain picked up again and I put my hood back up.  I was shut out from my surroundings and resolved to just run how I felt.  I put some space between me and the guys...I could smell the barn; it was strong, and I wanted nothing more than to just get there.  Geof caught up to me as we made our way along the ridge that lets you know you're almost to Tonto Tank.  I was being pulled in by the light of the tent.  A little more water, and then we were off.  Jeff Browning was pacing a guy that had been running near the front all day.  They were just a touch ahead of us, but not for long.  We passed them up and never saw them again.  Now Geof was in front of me, pulling me along.  He was putting down the hammer.  But first, I needed to pee one last time.  A quick pit stop and we were back at it.  This section is a really smooth and wonderful downhill section and we used it to our complete advantage.  I knew we hit Tonto Tank at exactly 22 hours (bam!), but after that I stopped looking at the watch.  We were moving fast.  I couldn't believe how well my legs were moving, so fluid and smooth still.  I paid close attention to them all day and made sure to never break good form.  Clearly, this was paying dividends now.  It felt like Geof was upping the pace a little bit every few minutes, and his determination was now palpable.  I was waitin' for that to come out :)  Geof knows how to seal the deal towards the end of these things, and I was thankful we had his resolve at this late hour.  I would have been content to just cruise it in comfortably at this point.  But Geof, he was on a mission that I was unaware of.   And I loved it.  I loved feeling my legs turn over as fast as they were after 99 miles, feeling like I could go on a lot longer.

It felt like we had just left the Tonto Tank water stop, and we were already coming to the turnoff, hopping back onto the Pemberton Trail.  We knew what this meant...one more mile!  I still hadn't looked at my watch.  It didn't matter to me.  It was still pitch black out, and that meant we were still in sub-24 hour territory. 

OH.  MY.  HEAVENS.  WE ARE STILL IN SUB-24 HOUR TERRITORY!!  I couldn't believe it, but at the same time I totally could.  I set out to achieve this goal, did the work, and we got it done.  This is what success tastes like at this moment...gel residue, Coke bubbles, and the cold desert air in my lungs.  The rain had slowed considerably by this point, so I pulled up my sleeves once more, and removed the hood.  The stop sign at the road crossing was in view, and that meant just a few hundred more yards.  The flagging appeared, along with the torches, and people lining the chute leading us to the finish. 

Then that song popped into my head one last time, for old times' sake...Come on, show 'em what you're worth/Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh"/As you shoot across the sky-y-y/Baby, you're a fiiiiiiiiirework/blah-betty-blah-blah/Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh"/You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe...

And just like that, we ran it in together, glancing up at the timing clock, and crossing the timing mat for the final time...22 hours and 40 minutes after starting this journey.  I wanted to scream and shout words of joy and exitement, but a smile and a thank you to Jamil as he handed me my oversized, sub-24 buckle to me was all I could muster.  I didn't even feel teary.  I just felt...so dang happy. 
With Jamil, RD, at the finish
Photo credit: Kelly Gaines

Photo credit: Kelly Gaines

I still can't believe how good I felt ALL DAY LONG.  Other than that little spell of tired/blah-ness early on, squelched by heavy intake of Coca Cola, I never felt completely off.  I never fully craved a nap, and resolved early on to not take a nap (a first for me!).  I made sure to not sit for very long at AS stops...mostly because it made my legs buzz and I know nausea usually follows shortly thereafter, but also because I didn't want to get comfortable or cold.  I let Geof have his low points and didn't bother him with too many questions about it, and I didn't let his disposition affect mine in any way...which I tend to let happen in these races.  Any discomfort that popped up I kept to myself so as to not weigh him down with my issues...and it helped reminding myself that my "issues" were "Not My Problem", and therefore they left just as quickly as they popped up.  Keeping my mind on track and not letting it lose sight of our goals was key.  Paying attention to the body, but not too much attention, kept me balanced and feeling overall pretty good.  Humming those four songs over and over in the night while it was pouring down rain, and the only other sound was my hood against my ears.  Blinking my eyes continuously and moving them around to avoid getting hypnotized by the beam of my headlamp at night helped in a big way, too.  I find I get dizzy or nauseous if I focus too much on the narrow light beam, and thus generally require more than one light source.  Not paying too much attention to those showing early signs of DNFing also made a difference.  It's easy to get sucked in by the negative field of energy that surrounds a DNF...that sounds really cold, but it's very real.  Maintaining focus on our task at hand was all I had the energy to do, that and running. 

I couldn't be happier with how everything went.  A 5.5 hour 100 mile PR...that's ridiculous!  And in a race where less than 45% of the field finished.  We missed snagging a PR for Geof by mere seconds.  That's the mission Geof was on as we pounded out the final miles down Tonto Tank Trail.  He knew we'd slide under 23 hours, and was looking to PR, too.  I bet I could have turned the legs over a little faster if he had shared that tidbit...  Guess we'll have to snag that one next time :)

Well, recovery has been amazing, best I've ever felt post-100.  Today the legs feel as though nothing happened last weekend.  My hardcore cankles have disappeared and I can see my ankle bones and the tendons in my feet finally.  That's pretty exciting.  Six pounds of water weight/gel/Coca Cola have exited my body and I'm back to pre-race shape.  I earned a total of three blisters, none of which were enough to warrant messing with, so I let them be and they are nothing more than callouses now.  Boom.  I'm a huge lover of my Injinji toesocks these days.  The tendonitis in my left ankle never bothered me once, and still has yet to bother me post-race.  I did tape it up a touch with some KT Tape, and broke up some of the adhesions with my trusty golf ball before we left the hotel for the race.  That hurt like a sum-bish, but clearly worked out.  Everything decided to work together with me and I couldn't be more grateful to my body for that.  What a rush, finishing in the dark, in less than a day. 

I'm not gonna lie, I like this psuedo-fastie business!  Now the question is...how fast can we get?

Almost done, just a couple more photos.  I was hoping for some on-course pics, but those haven't been posted yet.  Perhaps I'll update this with more photos once we get those. 

Ever wondered what a post-100 mile fog looks like?  Exhibit A:

Photo credit: Kelly Gaines

And now for the requisite shwag photo:
I think that's about all I've got right now.  My fingertips are more sore from all this typing then my legs were from our little desert dance! ;)

You can read Geof's account of the day HERE.

Paige, out.


Dirty Running said...

So cool, or as my daughter would say, pure awesomeness.

Congratulations on such a strong race and thanks for taking all of us along for the ride through your report.

Paige said...

:) Thanks @Dax!

Run Home Pam said...

Wow, Paige! Freaking WOW!!! Way to stay on top of your race, your day, your head, your everything. I think marriage agrees with you!

Meghan said...

Oh yay! Congrats to both you and the hubs for gittin' er' done! :) :) I can't wait to see what you two do next...

denalifc said...

Great race report Paige, felt like I was back there (well one loop). Thanks for sharing with the World. This was one RR I was waiting and excited for. So glad I know you guys. BAM on getting it done PR Queen.

JojaJogger said...

Great job and report! Was the fourth song "Sexy and I Know It" by LMFAO by any chance? (That song was stuck in my head this morning)

Paige said...

@Pam, I think you're right, marriage is very agreeable :) What a difference a couple years makes, no?!

@Meghan, thanks lady! We are starting to scheme...what next...?

@Ian, hey!! Thanks for reading! We sure missed having you out there this year. The volunteers and organization were ever more ridiculously amazing this year, I bet you would have loved to see all the upgrades they've made. The Jeadquarters tent was HUGE! They had a sink, refrigerator, stove, microwave, freezer, and shelving units set up in there this time. It was quite the operation!

@Jan, thanks for reading! And great meeting you! The fourth song was not LMFAO...I don't know that I've heard anything from them yet. I live under a musical rock lately, lol.

Gene Taylor said...

I love long, detailed race reports, Paige. Thanks for sharing,

Gretchen said...

Awesome report, Paige, and of course - KILLER race!! I am totally not surprised by how much ass you guys kicked. Not at all. You trained hard, had a great attitude, and got er done! Congrats on the huge PR!

I love my injinji socks too!

Alili said...

I'm pretty sure that NO ONE writes a better ultra race report - you make it all sound like so much fun!

Congratulations on an amazing race (for both of you!)!

Eric B said...

Great read Paige. You and Geof are a machine, you two make it seem so smooth and easy. Congrats on the PR !!!

Stacy said...

Great race and a really blah-betty-blah report. You've really become a skilled ultra runner. Congratulations to you and Geof both!

Jennifer said...

Great race report. I really enjoyed it and feel you did a super job getting all the detail across in an interesting way. I am new to ultras, (a 50K earlier this year) my first 50 miler is in March '12. I am still thinking I lost my marbles when I registered. I think your mental games to keep your brain in gear are really good. The "not my problem" mantra is one I will try and use and love how it works to keep you focused. I am terrified and excited at the same time but your report makes it all seem a bit more down to earth. Thanks! Maybe someday I'll get to the 100 mile mark. Cheers!

Paige said...

@Gene, thank goodness! I can always deliver on "long, detailed race reports" :)

@Gretchen, your Western States performance was great inspiration for me. Injinji = <3

@Alili, awww, thanks! :) Thanks for reading!

@Eric (aka Oscar), thanks! Looking forward to sharing the trail with you again soon!

@Stacy, LOL. "Skilled"...whoa, never thought I'd see that in connection with my name and running, ha! Thanks, dude :)

@Jennifer, thanks so much! Good luck on your 50 miler, and enjoy! You only get your first 50 once, so love it up!

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