I had always wanted to do the Javelina Jundred 100 Miler. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and the idea of running 101.4 miles in a costume sounded like the ultimate fun! It took a while before I came up with the idea of a good costume, but I ultimately decided upon being a pink flamingo. Armed with a variety of amazing feathers B picked up for me in the fashion district, I transformed a running outfit into an amazing blur of pink fabulous feathers.
The race is held on the full moon weekend closest to Halloween, which was the weekend prior to Halloween (so finally I can celebrate Halloween!). We got lucky with weather – high only in the low 80s, no rain, and not too cold at night.
I spent the week prior in Santa Fe, resting, loving, eating carbs, drinking water, getting nervous. And you know what? In the end, none of it really mattered. It went how it went. I look back at this race, and I'm proud of myself. I'm so proud that I finished - but I also know there is absolutely nothing I would have done differently. Okay, maybe not worn the stupid timing thing around my ankle, maybe drank a bit more water - but I don't think there's anything that could have drastically changed the results of my race.
I got to the race bright and early, the first runner to arrive. I chatted with the brother of the RDs in the shuttle up, then chatted with the volunteers and the racers. I took photos, drank some water, got nervous, chatted with friends like Tony and Kino. I met some people from the Ultra List, including the infamous Dave Combs, and mid-race, I met Rajeev! Yay! Meeting Rajeev was super exciting, especially when he rattled off my blog address. I also met UltrarunningBren from Twitter. Total ultra geekout!
The costumes were GREAT - cavewoman, clown, peacock, spiderman, nurse, guy with face makeup, cheerleaders, fairies, among other things. It was SO fun to see costumes at an ultra! Yes, people run in these outfits the entire time, or part of it, or even change their costumes in between laps. It was heaven for a Burner ultrarunner.
I started the race by tripping three seconds after I crossed the starting line, to the amusement of Tony. Well, that was the only time I tripped, miraculously! I ran most of the first loop with Cat and Paulette. I lost Paulette around the end of the first loop/beginning of second. We shared awful dating stories (and oh, do I have some terrible ones), laughed a lot, talked about ultras.
I ran the next lap with Cat and the great thing about the course was it was "washing machine loops" - meaning you go out in one direction, come back in a different. I felt good and kept a good pace.
Lap three I was alone, running with new friends, thinking, enjoying the scenery, the running, the aid stations. The aid stations were GREAT - they had pumpkin pie (yum!), avocado (heavenly!), oreos, cookies, my beloved pretzels, jolly ranchers, other things. I ran with a really great couple from San Diego and had a twinge of jealousy; I, too, wished my partner was an ultrarunner (though he's an amazing wonderful person and I don't want anyone else) who motivated me through the race and that I lived in someplace as amazing as San Diego for running. I found myself stopping and peeing frequently, yet felt dehydrated the same. I drank a coconut water and a bottle of water in between each aid station - the course was very exposed, I was quite thirsty, and it felt hot!
In the middle of lap four, I ran into Tony (and Rajeev, who was going in the opposite direction). I ran with him for a while, until he bolted off when I stopped to pee. I enjoyed some too hot soup around mile 55, and felt nauseated shortly after. I stopped to walk a bit, realized I still felt queasy, and kept running. I pushed myself. It was getting dark, darker, and it was hard to see.
Jenn Shelton, who had previously been winning the race but dropped out and was now pacing, saw me. "You don't have a light?" Nope, I hadn't planned on it being so dark when I returned. She lent me her flashlight, telling me, "If you get to the aid station before I do, give it to Maria."
This is what I LOVE about ultrarunning. A runner who frequently wins races will say hi to you, even offer their assistance, lend you their flashlight. I wonder if Paula Radcliffe would even glance at me; I doubt it. Jamie Donaldson who won the women's race and was second overall told me she liked my outfit. Yeah, ultrarunners are different.
At the aid station, I began tearing through my bag. Some random crew of some runner helped me dig through my bag and I didn't see Jon, who was pacing me. Suddenly I shouted, "Jon Roig!" and he popped up immediately. Whew! I drank a coconut water, changed my socks and shoes, and tried to head out as quickly as I could.
I followed Jon blindly, feeling like my socks and sneakers were too small for my feet, despite the fact that I had just changed into thinner socks and shoes that were a half size bigger than my normal running sneakers.
I got really confused at an aid station and suddenly realized, "Jon, we went the wrong way!" We went out in the wrong direction. Everyone thought we were super fast, but we were just spacey!
I got up to move on and said, "Jon, we need to leave." Suddenly I couldn't even stand, much less walk, much less run! I grabbed onto Jon and was in tears. I thought about how I should probably DNF; I was in SO much pain. I had no clue what was up. I thought about how I would have to tell people I didn't finish; for some reason, I thought of my boss learning I DNF'd. I know she'd be impressed if I told her I made it to 70 or 80 or whatever mile it was, but still, I wanted to finish. I wanted to be impressive. I wanted to do this. I had worked so hard. Remember that 5 hour run in 95 degrees in 90% humidity in Florida with all the chafing? Remember missing parties to run, events, parties, sleep? I have worked too hard.
So I let Jon convince me to sit in front of the heat lamp and I drank more coconut water and then we walked slowly out of there. People told me they couldn't believe I had actually continued. I am so proud of myself for doing that.
I felt really sick. The stupid thing on my ankle caused some sort of painful, awful rash, and I switched it to the other ankle, where it did the same thing. Brilliant, Cherie. I ultimately had Jon put it in his pocket.
This guy at the medical station began using this metal wand to do some sort of energy healing, which didn't work. Some other volunteer put neosporin and gauze around my ankle. The next lap, I had to take off my gaiters completely and deal with rocks in my shoes. The ankles were so red and irritated, and forget taking off my sneakers to dump out rocks; my feet were to swollen.
I have never been in so much pain. Jon and I did a lot of walking. Jon was amazing. We talked about who he's dated/dating, my new love, work, ultrarunning, my pain, work, friends, love, trail running, that sort of thing. You know, the foundation of the life of an ultrarunner. We talked about kids, about stomach issues, about how I needed to eat more pretzels.
I saw shooting stars - never so many in my life. I wished for a lot of wonderful things, but I LOVED seeing them. The only time prior that I had seen them was this summer at BM. Jon missed a few of them, but we saw some pretty amazing ones.
I also hallucinated HARDCORE during this race. I started hallucinating around the 50k mark when I swore I saw someone in one of those tall cacti. Shortly after that, I saw lightning burst from a cloud (and that never happened). Mostly, in the middle of the night, the cacti turned into things, like large telephones and other bizarre objects. My hallucinations were pretty insane; I think I was making Jon jealous. Poor boy got sleep while I was running so his time wasn't as interesting (though it wasn't clearly as painful!).
I stumbled on. The sky was bright and we passed other runners, and I was fairly comfortable. I wore my pink running skirt (covered with feathers), sports bra, pink tank with feathers, two long sleeved shirts, and gloves. We wore headlamps but rarely did we turn them on. Despite the clouds, the full moon lit our way.
We walked. We ran. We hobbled (or rather, I did, and Jon slowed his pace to mine). We talked. We looked for shooting stars. I ate oatmeal cookies and broth and potato soup and pretzels and coconut water and jolly ranchers and wintergreen mints. I tried to not complain. Every so often, I'd almost start crying. "Jon, I hurt sooooo bad." Jon encouraged me, told me how tough I am, how impressed he was that I had finished VT100 the year prior with my swollen feet, made me eat. You gotta love a man that encourages you to eat!
The thing that really began killing me as we did the last 9-point-whatever mile torturous loop was that people I had been a loop ahead of were passing me. Until mile 55, I was on sub 21/22 hour pace. Mile 60, still on sub 24 hour pace. My feet did me in. I was glad I finished in 28 hours.
What was my issue? My feet, ankles, and legs were covered with horrible red splotches, some areas that looked rather rash-like. The medics hypothesized it was the desert sand, which makes me nervous - what if I went back and it happened again? However, I do have a history of swelling so...hmmm....
My feet and ankles and legs were SO swollen. I had blisters all over my feet. I was also dehydrated. Upon crossing the finish line, after the medics attended to my feet, I was shivering like crazy. They wanted me to go to the hospital, but I refused. I was severely dehydrated, and suffering from electrolyte imbalance. I huddled under a blanket, drank lots of water and coconut water, ate a veggie burger, and eventually hobbled to my rental car to leave what had been a torturous and loving and fun home for over 28 hours of running and fun.