Javalina Jundred (JJ100): The Sun and The Moon

Posted: November 2, 2012 in Running, Trail Running, Ultra Running, Ultrarunning, Uncategorized
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The Javelina Jundred (correctly pronounced Havalina Hundred with the J’s pronounced as H’s like in Spanish) is a 101.4 mile ultra marathon that takes place in the Arizona Desert outside of the Scottsdale suburb of Fountain Hills.

Back in May, Coach David successfully talked me into signing up for this race, as well as

one of my friends Lisa (who also wrote a report for this race that can be found here: http://avalon42.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/javelina-jundred-2012/).  We, in turn convinced another friend, Elizabeth to run it.  The plan was to make this the most fun race of the year.  Initially, I wanted to run it as a no time goal run after LT100.  Well, since I DNF’d at Leadville I figured I was in a better position to go for a personal record… hell and if all the stars aligned than maybe even a sub-24 hour time.

The course consists of six 15.4 mile loops, washing machine style followed by a 9 mile ‘half ‘ loop.  The course runs through the Desert of McDowell Mountain Park.  The key to that, is the word ‘Desert’.  When I signed up, I had planned on heat, but with no time goal, it wasn’t such a big deal.  Now, if I wanted a PR, I would have to either be able to deal with the heat more effectively than in previous races or have a cool day.  If I wanted a 24 hour time, the heat would have to be lower, and I would have to manage the warmth.

I had my pacers lined up, and they would be helping crew as well.  When I got on the plane leaving Denver in a snow storm, I felt like I had done everything I could in my power to be successful.  When we got off the plane in the heat, I got a little bit worried…  Somewhere in my head all I could think was “oh f**k… this really is the desert…”

As friends showed up, we met and chilled out by a pool, went to packet pick up and prepared mentally for Saturday morning.  And as a side note, the race SWAG we got at packet pick up was pretty sweet for this one.

The Race

“When I walk beside her, I am the better man
When I look to leave her, I always stagger back again
Once I built an ivory tower so I could worship from above
When I climbed down to be set free, she took me in again

There’s a big, a big hard sun
Beating on the big people
In the big hard world” – Eddie Vedder

I had been given the option of sleeping at the host hotel with one of my pacers, Heather. 

left to right: Me, Elizabeth, David and Lisa right before the race started

This meant I got to wake up, get my Mohawk up in a warm room and get out the door feeling a bit more prepared than I do sometimes when I camp.  We met Elizabeth and Jessica in the lobby and headed to the park.

The race staff did an amazing job getting things together.  Jessica left us at runner drop off, which was right at the start finish and we quickly found Lisa and David.  We talked strategy for a minute, which really consisted of going out slow, took some photos, and lined up for the start.  With the horizon starting to lighten and all the headlamps around me, I opted to pull my headlamp off.  The count down started, and we were off.

With all the runners I worried about the trail getting too crowded, and having Leadville Style conga lines, but that issue never manifested.  The trail gently rolled out towards the mountains in the distance on great trail.  Before we knew it we were running past Coyote Camp Aid station 2 miles in, no one stopped.  It was too early, 2 miles in.  In fact, part of me wondered ‘why the is this here, so close to the start finish?’.  We moved on, after Coyote Camp, the trail got rockier, but this early in the race, I wasn’t noticing.  We ran, talking as the sun rose above the horizon.  I got to know one of Davids running friends, a coach out of Kansas City with bright purple hair, which is always cool.

Once we came up to the top of the hill after Coyote Camp, the trail became a series of rollers.    Short, 20-30 foot ups, followed by down hills, shorter on the way down.  While it was getting fun, and the trail getting more exciting, the heat was also starting to kick in.

We rolled into Jackass Junction feeling good.  I stopped to go to the restroom, grabbed some food and headed out.  David and Colleen made it out of the Aid Station the fastest, so we fell behind, but kept plugging along.  When I left the start line in the morning, my goal had been to finish the first lap between 3 hours at the fastest, and 3:18 at the slowest.  I had been warned by a friend who had run this race before that after Jackass Junction it would be easy to pick up speed and cruise into Javelina Jeadquarters (the start/finish of each loop) way too fast, so we made sure to take our time coming down the hill, though it would have been easy to tear that section up.

I finished lap 1 just past 3 hours.  Elizabeth had gone out ahead of me and was getting her

almost done with my second lap, Coach David captioned this on facebook “Ultra Smurf”… he has a point 🙂 – Photo by David Manthey

feet taped, so I hit the restrooms and took care of some necessary issues after visiting my wonderful crew.  I left the Aid Station at 3:15, I had spent a lot of time there, but it was all important stuff, so I felt good with where I was at as I headed out for lap 2 on my own.

There was a solid breeze on the way back to the Rattlesnake Ranch Aid Station, and was just enough to help cut the heat of the sun, which was now coming down in earnest.  It was also here that I noticed the hill we had run down on the way to Javelina Jeadquarters.  It was pretty consistent for almost 6 miles, between the road and Jackass Junction.  I walked a good portion of it, but after Rattlesnake Ranch, the breeze became considerably less consistent.  Once I left Jackass Junction the lack of wind became even more pronounced.  Often the breeze was blocked entirely, and I realized how hot it was actually going to get.

By the time I got back to Javelina Jeadquarters, I felt like I was in an easy bake oven set to broil.  I knew full well this would only get worse, so when I got to my crew and saw that they had my hat out and soaking in ice water, I was ecstatic.  Jenn, who was unsure if I had a bandana had actually cut up one of her shirts and had that soaking as well so that I would have a bandana, and she had given Elizabeth half as well when she went through.  Even though I had one, it meant that I not only had the had that I could put ice in to cool my head, but an ice cold bandana around my neck and one around a wrist.

Lisa came in as I was getting ready to leave, and since both of us anted company for the 3rd loop, I used a couple of minutes to get more food in and cool down a bit more and it helped her keep moving through the aid station.

I was not looking forward to this loop.  I had gone into this race knowing that the 3rdloop

One of the many Cacti all over the park. These things are huge by the way!

was likely to be the hottest, and it did not disappoint.  This time out, I could not have been happier to see Coyote Junction 2 miles in and now fully understood why this Aid Station was placed where it was.  The ice in my hat was already gone, and the bandanas were actually warming up.  We refilled and left after getting a misting of water by the wonderful aid station staff.  The back half of the loop was the hottest last time, and there was a bad feeling that it would be the same this time.   Again, it didn’t disappoint.  As we made it back to the hill leading to the Tonto Tank water drop, I was already heating up badly.

I run hot, and am way too easily impacted by high temps, it has always been a weakness of mine at these races.  Fruita 50, and the Bear Chase 50 had both handed it to me because of the heat, I wasn’t about to let it drain me so much this race.

At Tonto Tank, I rewet my hat, my bandanas and went back out.  The water was warm, but it would help cool me off.  I was cooking, but the sweat was evaporating so quickly I couldn’t even tell.  The wind was nearly completely blocked, and as I went on I could feel myself overheating.  The uphills that seemed runable, were tricking me into overheating myself.  By the time I was a mile from Tonto Tank, I was overheating dangerously.

Lisa was hanging back for me, so I asked her to go on.  I knew what I needed to do, I

needed to run within myself.  That was the advice Coach David had given me on Tuesday

we passed this tree over and over again on the race course. I thought it was really cool so I went back the next day to take a photo of it.

at Speed Training, and I have learned that its always better to listen to what Coach has told me.  That meant walking every up this time, and gently running the downs, so that’s what I did while I reminded myself that all I had to do was get through the last of the day and it would be doable from there.  This lap would be the worst, but one aid station at a time.

As I felt myself heat up, I started getting desperate for the Aid Station and ice.  The desert heat was slowly wasting me.  As two of the front runners came up, I asked how far Jackass Junction was.  I couldn’t have looked too good because they asked if I was ok, and what I needed.  I said I just needed to get to the Aid Station to get ice to cool my core down.  The lady, the female leader, stopped, and gave me ice water.  When I asked she said her name was Tracy I think.  The level of class she showed was incredible.  It did help.  It was at that point where anything that cooled me down, even for 2 minutes was a blessing.

When I caught sight of Jackass Junction, my joy could barely be contained.  Lisa hadn’t gotten there too far ahead of me, and I went straight for ice, liquid and then got some food in me.  This time, I didn’t just wrap a wet bandana around my neck.  This time I rolled ice into it and wrapped it around my neck.  The effect was dramatic.  Within minutes my mood, my ability to run smoothly, my sense of humor was bouncing back.  As I bounced back, Lisa struggled with her stomach, and I stayed with her for the remainder of the loop.  The sun was dropping, but it was still hot and felt like staying with my friend as long as I needed it, then ditching her as soon as I felt better when she had stayed with me when I was struggling was bad juju.  The positive side effect was I kept it reasonable through the end of that lap.  By the end I had started calling the sun the “Unholy Hell Disk”, and it was dropping behind the mountains fast.  I came into the end of loop 3 ready to roll, feeling like the worst was over.

When I came in the crew let me know that about 50% of the runners had dropped already…

I took food in, ate potatoes, made sure I had my headlamp, and headed out.  The run wasn’t over yet!  In 5 miles I would be half way through.  I was feeling better and better every minute.  Lisa and I moved quickly while maintaining a strong run/power hike pattern up the long hill to Jackass Junction, picking up a few runners along the way.

At Jackass Junction Lisa sent me out ahead, and I was off running in what I had wanted to

be my favorite area.  As I started across the rolling rocky trail between Jackass Junction and Tonto Tank by headlamp, I felt alive.  I picked up the pace in a huge way.  A half mile out of Jackass, I put my headphones in and cruised, stopping or slowing only to check in with the runner I saw sitting on the side of the trail.  I gave him a stinger waffle and kept moving.  I knew now was the time to make some deposits of time in the bank.  I was pretty sure a 24 hour finish was out of the question, but a PR was still in the cards if I could turn it on.

I ran it in strong, even shutting my headlamp off for bit after Coyote Camp, able to see so well in the moonlight that I felt like the headlamp was overkill until I came up on the road just shy of Javalina Jeadquarters at the end of the loop and at mile 62.

I didn’t stay long, I felt strong and wanted to capitalize on it.  I picked up my pacer,

Jenn and Heather, my faithful crew that stayed up the whole 26 hours in the desert with me and 2 of my pacers! I wish I had a photo of me running with Andy!

Heather, crammed food in and left.  Heather and I kept the pace strong.  We made the same time up but I was starting to get hungry, and the hungry wasn’t getting resolved by the chews or waffles anymore.  As we came into Jackass Junction Heather asked me what I wanted to eat, what the one thing would be if I could have it.  Grilled Cheese popped in my head, and it sounded fantastic!  But I had seen the cooking utensils the outer aid stations had, and knew they were not going to be equipped to make one, so Heather promised if I ran hard into Javalina Jeadquarters, there would be a grilled cheese waiting for me.  There was quite a bit of motivation in this for me.  When we got to Rattlesnake Ranch, I heard her calling back to Jenn, asking her to see if the aid station could make a grilled cheese… the prospect spurred me on!  I ran several 11 minute miles coming into Javelina Jeadquarters, at mile 86, and even saw some Coyote eyes glowing in the dark as we ran the path between the main park road and the start finish area.  It felt good to move so strong!

Aside from that, when I came into the aid station, Samantha had corralled a grilled cheese sandwich for me, and it was in fact the most wonderful thing in the world!  Combined with some potatoes and muscle milk, I was ready to roll with Andy.  The swapped my pack out and I was ready to go.  Andy kept me rolling strong until just after Tonto Tank, when the hunger monster returned with vengeance, but this time, the wheels fell off with it.

I was out of fuel, the hunger was telling me I just had not eaten enough, and I hadn’t been

This is a particularly nasty breed of cactus… apparently 4 runners went headlong into one of these during the race… ouch!

able to stay ahead of it.  As a consequence, we went from passing people right and left, to maintaining our place.  This was not where I wanted to be.  To boot, I had not re-lubed up to this point, and chaffing was setting in, making running painful.  When we got to Coyote Camp, there just wasn’t anything of substance that I saw, and wanted, so I ate some of the things they had and rolled on, chugging slowly along.  Andy came up with a game plan for coming into the aid station.  We had still made reasonable time, but I needed to remedy issues before I could have a successful last lap.  I would come in, get some calories in me, re-lube and go.  He sun would be up soon and the issue of warmth wouldn’t be there, though I was dreading running in the sun again…

As soon as we got in, Andy and the crew got some food in me, and I was ravenous.  I ate potatoes, and a muscle milk.  I started shivering fairly quickly, so I didn’t linger as Jenn pulled her pack on while her and Heather walked me to the porta potty so I could go re-lube.  When I went in the porta-potty, I took care of the chaffing issues, and had a little break down.  I knew 24 hours was gone, the clock passed that point while I was at the aid station, and with 9 miles left to go, I was worried tht even a PR was out the window if I couldn’t get it together.

I pulled it together and headed out with Jenn.  She, unfortunately, got a little bit of a revolt.  When she tried to get me to run anything that even resembled an uphill, I flat refused.  I was being a bit of a brat, but my stomach still hurt, and now needed to use the restroom again.  I was not so happy.  As we came into Coyote Camp I asked her if she could check and see what type of Ramen they were using, if it was chicken, then I might be willing to violate my vegetarianism just this once, but anything else was too big a risk since I am allergic to pork and red meat had not been any part of my diet in 15 years.

I took care of business in the porta potty and when I came out discovered there was beef based ramen.  The wonderful aid station staff problem solved with me and made vegi broth with some of the boiled potatoes in it.  Brilliant!!!  Why hadn’t I thought of this much earlier?  It was wonderful.  We headed out, soup in hand, power hiking up the hill to Tonto Tank.

Jenn had substantially more success in getting me to run as we approached the Tonto Tank turn off, but couldn’t get me to run up the steeper hills that were presenting themselves.  As we came up  on Tonto Tank I realized that the Gatorade in my pack just wasn’t doing it anymore.  It was time to switch to water.  Jenn took my pack and started changing the water while I pushed myself back up to a run.  From here, I honestly had no idea how far it was back, I hadn’t read that in the previous reports, and my brain wasn’t capable of doing the rest of the math.  Jenn caught up to me and told me that she had talked the volunteer manning the Water Drop, and we only had a mile and a half left.  My brain immediately went to a certain level of indignant irritation, there was just no way!  I knew it was something like 5.5 miles out to the Tonto Tank turn, and this was a 9 mile loop… or maybe I was wrong about the distance out.  While I was playing with the numbers in my head, trying to figure out all the reasons I shouldn’t have to run the whole remaining distance in as hard as I could, we got passed, twice…

Jenn kept prodding… run harder, come on, its not that far, its only a mile and a half…

So I started pushing harder.  I was running harder, I had some fuel left to burn, not much,

coming across the finish

but it was time to burn it.  I let myself start believing what my beautiful girlfriend/pacer was telling me in regards to how far I had left to run (which were a boatload of lies for the record) and I ran.  We managed to pass one of the groups who had passed us, and I was spurned on.  I couldn’t get passed again.  Aside from that, if I could run hard repeats at speed work, I could run this.  After all, it was just a mile and a half left (more like 3.5 a this point… but I was willing to believe the fabulous lies my dedicated pacer was spoon feeding me).  I pushed as hard as I could.

When we made the turn onto the Pemberton Trail, I knew there were uphills left but I had made the decision that I was running this in.  There was no more power hiking.  I had run the whole Tonto Tank Trail, this was a matter of pride.  Jenn pushed me in the way I needed to be at that moment, and I pushed hard to the end.  When I looked up and saw the time on the clock (time of day not race time) I was worried that I had missed my PR as well, but when I crossed and heard 26:47:02, I was a little numb.  I asked Jenn what time they had said.  When she repeated it, I realized that not only had I managed a PR of 57 minutes in a race where over half the field dnf’d off the 100 mile distance.  Coach David, Jessica, Steve and his wife were there to congratulate me, as were my three fantastic pacers that I really owe my race to, Andy, Heather and Jenn.

I got led to a chair, where a beer was waiting, but I honestly just wanted to go over to the

Jenn with me right after I crossed the finish line. Photo by David Manthey

cot that the crew had been using.  I peeled my shoes off, laid down, and promptly passed out.  Jenn woke me up when Lisa came in for her finish so we could all cheer her in.  It turned out that Samantha had volunteered to pace Lisa for the last 9 miles so that she would have someone to bring her in too.

This race was an amazing experience in every way.  With so many fantastic friends out there running together, pacing and crewing each other, and generally supporting each other, I walked away from this race feeling like everyone had been a huge part of each runners finish.  We all had the most amazing crew and pacers out there.  I cannot begin to say thank you enough to everyone.  However, in no particular order; Jessica P., Heather C., Samantha W., Andy H., Steve and Mitzi K., and my super fantastic girlfriend Jenn, THANK YOU ALL!  You all came out and selflessly gave your time and energy to the four Runner’s Edge Runner’s that were out there for the race, and words cannot express how grateful I am to all of you!

In the end, what I learned from this race is that when you have friends around you that support you, anything is possible regardless of the obstacles out there!

As far as things I learned:

1) I finally figured out the shoe thing!  I stayed with what I knew was comforatable for my feet, and made that my priority.  My Mizuno Ascends worked wonderfully.  I should have stayed in the 7’s the whole time, I have loved my 6’s to death at this point, but no foot issues the entire race that were shoe related.

2) I got my nutrition 90% right this time.  Next time though, I will place real food in my drop bags, so that when I come into aid stations where I can access my drop bag, there is always food that I know is Trevor friendly.  Even though the race did a fantastic job with Veggie friendly food, they started running out of some items that were veggie friendly staples and it would have made a huge difference in keeping myself completely fueled.

3) If I run within myself (as my sage coach David Manthey so eloquently preaches), and make time goals secondary to listening to my body, and running as strong as is safe and healthy, then in the end I am capable of oercoming obsticles that have nearly ended races for me in the past with minimal discomfort.

As a total side note: Jenn, Lisa and I all went back to the park after the race because I

This is what happens after running 101.4 miles… falling asleep with my arm around my new buckle and one of my favoirte beers within reach! – Photo by Heather Coffman

really wanted to get some photos of the Cactus and trees we saw out on the course.  We visited the visitor center and learned tons about this amazing ecosystem, and is totally worht the $6 it cost.  The park staff was so friendly and was excited to tell us all about the unique trees, cacti and wildlife.  Once we were done, we went wandering and as we drove through, we did actually see a group of Javelina wandering near the road.  Unfortunatly thefurry little creatures are pretty skittish so we couldnt get photos before they ran off, but given one was eating a cactus, my guess is they are tough buggers!  Maybe it was better we didnt have any encounters during the race!!!

“When she comes to greet me, she is mercy at my feet
When I see her bitter charm, she just throws it back again
Once I dug an early grave to find a better land
She just smiled and laughed at me and took her blues back again

There’s a big, a big hard sun
Beating on the big people
In the big hard world” – Eddie Vedder

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Comments
  1. avalon42 says:

    Good race report! Thanks for not ‘ditching’ me the second half of loop 3. 😉

  2. Great race!! I’m glad I found your blog, I am running my first “ultra” in Feb 2013 if you consider a 50k an ultra after your 100 mile race 🙂 I love the different phases you went through, those ups and downs are such a great part of racing.

    • Thanks! Very cool that you are taking that jump to the wonderful world of ultra’s! There is no easy ultra, and taking that jump to the 50k distance is a great way to start! Before you know it you’ll be hitting a 50 mile race 🙂 which 50k are you running?

      • I’ll be doing the Hagg Lake Mud Run in February, Forest Grove, OR. It’s known to be a big mud pit and on one of the worst weather days of the year. It’s also 2 loops, so the runners get to go through semi tracked up mud, then really tracked up mud on the 2nd loop. I’ve heard that remaining vertical is quite a challenge 🙂

  3. dmoutdoor says:

    The alluvials around the McDowells are unexpectedly punishing for sure. Precious flats are hard to come by.

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