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Javalina 100 Mile

Javelina 100 Mile Race – 15NOV2008 – Trish and I and the dogs arrived at Javelina Jeadquarters on Friday the day before the race. We found a good piece of parking lot and set up our tent under the shade of a Palo Verde tree. The day’s high temperature was 87 degrees in Fountain Hills, Arizona which is northeast of Phoenix. Race day forecast was for 82 degrees and sunny with light and variable winds. The entire course is run on a 15.4 mile loop through the McDowell Mountain Regional Park on the Pemberton Trail. After 6 “washing machine” loops the race finishes with a 9 mile loop with a diversion onto the Tonto Trail.

The Boy Scouts sponsored a pre-race dinner Friday night consisting of spaghetti, salad, cake and cookies. After most of the lights went out around 8:30pm it was pretty quiet considering there were about 15 tents and a dozen other RVs and pop-ups around the parking lot. I had made a point to get to bed early all week prior to the race as well as not drinking any alcohol for the last 5 days. With 18 days left to race day I remembered to stop using caffeinated drinks in order to make them more effective late in the race.

The race started at 6am. Kachina Search and Rescue had offered foot taping early in the morning. I chose to Vaseline my toes as usual and tape over my nipples to prevent chaffing. The morning temperature was rather mild in the mid 50s. I strapped on my Montrail Hardrocks that I just broke in and off I went with my headlamp on. The trail is very runnable with some loose sand in areas and only one lengthy stretch of maybe 2 miles of 3-6 inch rocks. There are two aid stations besides the base camp. The first loop is run clockwise with aid at Coyote Camp at mile 5 and again at Jackass Junction around mile 10. After completion of a loop the runner reverses direction and runs the next loop counterclockwise. My headlamp was no longer needed by the first aid station. The sunrise behind us to the east was creating soft pink and orange hues against the outlying mountains. I completed my first loop in a casual 2 hours and 16 minutes.

I have previously run the Pemberton Trail over the course of a 50K race two different times. Just to give a sense of how casual I felt during my first two morning loops, my fastest time during the 50K race was 1 hour and 40 minutes followed by a 1:55 For a 3:35 50K personal record. The key to the hundred miler is to not blow it out early and fade through the midday heat leading to a DNF. My second loop was clocked at 2:24 prior to 11am. During the second loop I felt a hotspot on the bottom of one of my toes on the right foot. At the completion of loop two I sat down for a break and changed the Hardrocks over to a pair of Pearl Izumi road shoes that had a couple hundred miles on them. I used a pin off of my race number to drain a blister on the toe next to the big toe and then noticed that I had developed a blood blister under the toenail. This is a common place that I develop nail blisters so I wasn’t too concerned. I squirted our Golden Retriever, Montana, in the nose as he was checking out my bare feet.

The heat of the day came on fast. By noon, an hour into my third loop I could feel the heat of the sun on my neck. As the loop turned on the backside a breeze could be felt for relief. My third loop time was about 2:50. Before the race I put together a plan to average 3 hour loops with 2 hours left for the last 8 or 9 miles. I was well ahead of this so I spent a little extra time at Jeadquarters checking my feet. The same toe on the left foot now had a blood blister under the nail as well as various other blisters developing on several other toes. Could I be dehydrated? Initially I used two handheld water bottles for loops 1 and 2 with a 50/50 gatorade-water mixture in one of them. As it warmed up I donned a 70 ounce camelback and kept one handheld for Gatorade. I meticulously used one electrolyte cap per hour and upped it to two at least twice that afternoon. Lap four was completed right at around 3 hours.

The sun was getting low so I found my handheld flashlight and stopped for a couple bites from a sub sandwich. Bob Bachani offered to run a loop with me so I gratefully accepted his company. We didn’t need the lamps until halfway around the loop. I began to really feel the fatigue in my legs in the 65-70 mile range. I felt that I really pushed it on this loop and recall finishing in around 3:30. I sat down in a chair and changed to a headlamp. I opened a Monster energy drink and consumed maybe half of it. Here at 75 miles with a quarter of the race to go I was really feeling tired. The moon was about to rise but offered no help at this point. I had not planned for a pacer anywhere during the race so when Bob offered I was happy to accept. He did not have the ability to go a second loop. I figured that I would get through loop 6 and then Trish would go with me on the last 9 miles. I walked out of Jeadquarters for about a mile and then began to run some more on the incline up to Jackass on the last counterclockwise loop.

The real problems with fatigue and sleepiness hit me at mile 84 about 2 miles out from Coyote Camp. I stumbled several times but remained coherent. The good thing about switching directions every other loop is the other runners behind you in the race will be coming against you until they turn around. This way there is someone to greet or acknowledge and helps you keep alert. I finally reached Coyote Camp and sat in a chair and tried to eat some food and drink some coffee. The longer I sat the sleepier I became so I decided to get up and at least walk to keep moving. The last 5 miles to Jeadquarters was interminably long. I believe I was passed by a couple of runners but also witnessed other runners visibly in the same condition I was in. I did not time this loop but it must have been 4 and a half hours.

I was a bit of a wreck as I entered base camp in preparation for the last 9 mile loop. Trish was prepared to go with me. After sitting down I fell into a slight delirium. Luckily the night temperature remained mild because I could not think for myself as to what was necessary for clothing. I changed into a long sleeve coolmax shirt and tried to drink some more energy drink. It was suggested that I take a nap. I began to act stubborn and refused to lie down for fear that I would not get up and finish the race. I got on my feet and like a zombie I walked out of the aid station and into the dark with my wife in the lead.

Trish claims she thoroughly enjoyed herself on this midnight hike under the full moon. She could not have enjoyed my company. I was mostly unresponsive with several monosyllabic utterances whenever she would prod me to drink water or suggest that I run. After 5 miles we came into Coyote Camp. I recall some haggling over whether I should have my water filled or just keep going. My brain wasn’t registering everything. I barely knew that I only had 4 miles to go. I did know that I was a long ways from being done. Prior to leaving for the last loop the aid station volunteer place a glow in the dark necklace around my neck so the aid station volunteer at Coyote Camp would know I was on my last loop and must make this last critical turn. After I turned off of the Tonto trail section and onto the last mile of the race I saw other runners coming towards me with the necklace on. I was greatly confused by what was happening at this point. They looked like fellow zombies going in the wrong direction. Trish urged me on continuously and I could not respond. I am amazed that I never fell down. Suddenly I awoke from my semi-conscious state to bright lights 200 meters away. They gradually came closer as I approached the parking lot and crossed the finish line for the last time in 22 hours and 55 minutes.

As I look back at Javelina I realize that the race is a great training 100 for other harder 100 mile efforts. My training prior to this race was shorter than my previous two completions. I really only had 6 solid weeks of 100 mile training where I could have used 10 weeks and some sleep deprivation training. This would have made the difference toward a sub 20 hour race. I cannot fully explain why I had the issues with my feet. I always get toenail blisters but the other blisters were many. Maybe dehydration was a factor although I felt I kept up pretty well. Maybe the light dust and sand were a factor. Almost two weeks later I still experience numbness in the ends of several of my toes. As usual for two days after a 100 miler I continued to lose weight. I don’t think I was ever down much more than 2 or 3 pounds during the race but due to metabolism and muscle damage I lost nearly 10 pounds over the next two days. I will do Javelina again mostly because the travel costs are low and it is extremely well supported and easy for CREW members to enjoy themselves while waiting for the “Cranky Runner with Endless Waiting.”