Here I am being one with the cactus. Notice how I even have my head on slightly tilted to really make it look like I am a saguaro cactus.
Here I am with a competitor who did not take hydrating seriously. It was pretty funny that at each lap we had to pass this guy. Although he looked really bad at the beginning, he did not decline over time like most of the rest of us.
My friends from the airplane ride, Tim and his family were killing time playing cards while waiting for their runner Rob.
The final lap had a beautiful sunset. A really nice runner insisted on taking a picture of me showing how pretty it was.
I like it when others use my camera to take pictures of me because I do feel bad about asking competitors to take my picture. But when someone offers, I will always take them up on it. It was a beautiful evening for jogging and the sunset was very pretty.
I definitely will be back at this race in the future. I am undecided if I will aim for 1oo km or 100 miles but I will be back at JJ100 Oct 24th next year!
Why do I run? Because it’s fun!
At Javelina Jundred during my 3rd lap it stopped being “fun”. So I resigned myself to finishing the 100 km option. Almost immediately after coming to this decision, my manageable jog in McDowell State Park became fun again.
Having run 100 milers before I know there are ups and downs. But feeling a lot of pain and depressed within the first 50 miles does not bode well for a successful race. Even worse, throughout the day I was processing complex mathematical models in my head and as late afternoon and early evening progressed the math was no longer adding up.
I was going to have to violate some laws of physics to finish the 100 mile option within 30 hours.
Even worse, the icing on the cake would be a second DNF of the day by missing my flight back home to my beloved humidity (and of course beloved husband and pets). Once I made up my mind to aim for a 100 km finish it was like a massive burden was lifted and I was back to my usual perky self.
My journey to JJ100 started many months ago when I sent in my application and check. Since then I have trained hard and tried to prepare. Sadly organizing and implementing my 3 day statistical conference as well as subsequent races in cool (and predominantly rainy) weather did not prepare me for the mid-80’s and 10% humidity day that was Javelina in 2010. Of course running Marine Corps Marathon six days before the race might not have been the brightest idea ever. Alas you never know what you can do until you try!
Flying to Phoenix on Thursday afternoon (after taking off the morning to hang out with my critters), I sat next to a family one of whom had an Annapolis Striders 10 miler jacket on. Striking up a conversation I learned the gentleman behind me, Rob was running the 100 miler. Small world, eh? Tim who was sitting next to me was crewing and pacing as were another brother and their father who both lived in AZ. The flight just flew by with me answering questions about crewing and pacing (although my advice is pretty well limited to what not to do: say depressing things to your runner, be at a crew location late and ill prepared, the list goes on from personal experience…).
Pretty soon we were landing at Phoenix and it was time to get settled in. After a quick stop at Chompies (a very good but slightly pricey bagel place near ASU) and after checking into my hotel, the America’s Best Value Inn (where the proprietor recognized me from my Jan trip and seemed to know I would be back in Jan 2010) I settled in a bit. Then it was time for a small walk to the Yogurtini Store, a place that sells self-help frozen yogurt in many flavors. I had been looking forward to this since I decided to run JJ100 and it was yummy!
I then re-arranged my running stuff repositioning items in my drop bags. This would become a theme virtually every night before the race. I don’t think it helped. I also worked on creating my hula skirt. Because I decided I wanted to run in a pink hula skirt, I had to attach the skirt to the tri belt (for easier access during potty breaks). This took me about 45 minutes (which was a 15 minute improvement over my Saturday time). After my skirt was done, I headed to bed a few hours later than I wanted. Even worse although I had earplugs and a face mask to minimize interruptions, I did not sleep well.
Waking up about 3 a.m. (which was 7 a.m. my time), I called Tristan. Then I tried to go back to sleep. With no success I re-arranged my drop bag again. It got really confusing because there were times I was to be 10 miles from my drop bag and worried I would miss integral parts things I might need. Finally I felt a bit tired and got a few more less than satisfactory zzz’s.
Waking up about 7 a.m. I continued to get ready. I surfed the internet on the hotel’s complimentary computer and then went to get my haircut and eyebrows tidied. About an hour later I had long luxurious and styled hair. After being home several days I had to point out to my husband I had gotten a haircut. Men…hrmph! Then it was time to drive to the race site for my volunteer responsibilities.
Pemberton State Park is about 1 hour north of Phoenix. I think mapquest suggests it is 30-40 miles, but much of the trip is in 25 mph zone. My ride was uneventful and soon enough I was entering the park. At the entrance gate I was confused because no one was taking money or checking participant names. I chatted with another person who was in the same quandary as myself and we both decided that donating $6 was reasonable and for a good cause.
At the main aid station I went to what I perceived to be the main tent and introduced myself and asked who was in charge because I was ready to start my volunteering. Oddly enough it was Jamil Khoury the race director. After a few moments I was assigned a task of putting timing chips into bags associated with each runner. This was a pretty simple task however, it was a bit more on my feet than I expected. Luckily I was paired up with several other folks. Also I delegated the job of ordering the chips for ease of bag insertion to myself so that we just could go into a row of bags and place 5 or 10 chips in the correct bags quickly and efficiently. I did wish the bags were up higher because towards the end of this task my legs were a bit bothersome. I hoped this would not adversely affect me but suspect it was a contributing factor to my DNF (but then again so was Marine Corps Marathon, lack of sleep the week prior to the race, lack of humidity and the technical nature of the course).
After chip placement, the next task was to decorate the main camp. This was a lot of fun although sporadically I would suggest to other volunteers that the position of some decorations might not be optimal. Having run a few ultra’s and marathons where items were placed poorly leading to runners tripping, runner traffic flow to not be optimal and a few races when things would catch on runners feet/toes, I tried to diplomatically suggest that when placing items reflect on what a person with no sleep and 90 miles on there legs can walk around, step over or might stumble on. A 1 inch deep impression looks like the Grand Canyon after 29 hours!
Pretty soon it was time for packet pick up and time to start the research study pre-event data collection. Packet pick up was uneventful except for having to sign a document agreeing to being filmed during the event. I was keenly aware of the film crews during the pre-race meeting and observed them (but was unable to screen myself during the event when I was having a meltdown of sorts). After getting my packet I was weighed in by the medical staff, then it was off to the research tent for baseline values and signing of informed consent. You can see my experience of this research study in the previous post. But suffice it to say, I became a human pin cushion no thanks to veins that are just not team players!
After finishing my research information I was pleasantly surprised to run into my pacer e. We chatted briefly. While hanging out I had the pleasure of meeting Phil R. Phil is a fellow ultra-runner from MD. I have heard of him as there are not too many of us doing 100 milers in MD; however, I had never met him. He mentioned he had just talked to a mutual friend of ours: Dave Y. who mentioned I was running this race and to wish me luck. Ultrarunners are such a friendly bunch! In fact later, Phil would be helped by my pacers after I dropped from the race when they were acquiring auxiliary runners.
As packet pick up continued I was lucky to run into many of my runner friends including: Rob A. & Susan D., Rob D. and his family from the flight from Maryland, Dave J, Tony P., Paige T. & Geoff and many others friends. Each person I ran into I made sure to introduce e to. Sadly a few runners I knew by face but not by name so could only indicate how I knew them.
Pretty soon dinner was announced and a line snaked through a bit of the parking lot. I was delighted to see my friend Don M. from JFK50 miler (he always wears super bright spandex pants and is SUPER cheerful and encouraging) collecting tickets. It was a reunion of sorts. After getting our dinner we sat down. As luck would have it we had a perfect place to sit and hear Caballo Blanco speak about his experiences with the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico. He was a main character in the book, “Born to Run”. His presentation was very interesting and I was bummed out when a massive splitting headache had me leaving a bit early. Alas by the time I got to the hotel and got settled in it was well after 9 p.m. (which on east coast time was 12 midnight!).
Checking into the hotel was a bit of a challenge as the front desk clerk seemed to have disappeared. When I finally got my room key, I had the pleasure of meeting several other young ladies who were running or crewing at the JJ100. Oddly enough although I have seen many pictures in ultra running magazine and in race blogs, my new friend included Michelle Barton (who ended up coming in first place in the 100 km distance). I felt so bad the next day when we were checking out at the same time and one of the young ladies indicated that she was there to crew for Michelle when I was able to put 2 and 2 together and identify who she was. I think ultra runners are so cool because so many extraordinary athletes are so down to earth and encouraging.
Once in my room it was time for a few last minute switches. I felt really cold during the dinner and worried that I would need more layers. So I stuck some extra layers in my drop bags. I also decided I would potentially take off one layer of clothing and leave it at the “remote” aid station to ensure I was not 10 miles away from layers if it turned cold quickly during the race. Having figured out logistics it was time to go to bed.
I was dismayed to wake up at 2 a.m. I wanted to sleep until 3:30 a.m. at a minimum which would feel like 6:30 a.m. Alas I tried to lie in bed and think positive thoughts. Finally it was 3:15 a.m. and I gave myself permission to get up. Slowly I performed my standard and race day morning tasks such as brushing my teeth (for the last time in 30+ hours so don’t think I wasn’t giving it 110%!!), putting in my contacts and gliding every surface of my body.
Pretty soon I deemed myself as “ready as I’ll ever be” and it was time to check out of the hotel. The comfort inn staff were very nice and set out the breakfast buffet extra early for the JJ100 milers. I thought this was very nice and I grabbed a English muffin and an OJ for the road. While loitering around I ran into my friends from the night before as well as several other runners. Since the ultra community is very small we were able to chat about friends in common as well as races. It was nice to chat with others.
On my way to the race headquarters I stopped to refill the gas tank to ensure I was not charged $10 a gallon for fuel. At the convenience store I was shocked to run into my friend Tim from my southwest flight. I guess at 4 a.m. in Fountain Hills AZ you are as likely to run into a person you know as you are to run into a stranger! We chatted briefly then headed to the race.
Upon entering the park I was a little worried that I might end up parking in the remote parking lot that had a shuttle to get to the start. Luckily by arriving about 5 a.m. I was able to park in the headquarters parking lot. During the race I ran alongside several runners who were in the remote lot. This would have distressed me considerably as there might have been items in my car I needed and of course my one “main” drop bag was not very small as I tend to embrace the philosophy “pack everything including the kitchen sink!”. Nice parking volunteers guided us to the appropriate parking spot. It was time to get ready for the race. Grabbing my two drop bags, my Halloween costume and my various layers and headlamps/flashlights, it was time to check in.
At the main headquarters runners had to check in, “Runner 174, Tammy Massie present and accounted for”. Then because of my participation in the research study it was time to get my first sweat patch. It was brrr cold when they applied this!
After sharing a packet of snoballs (the breakfast of champions) with my friend, the researcher Tami, it was time to eat my breakfast. I was so excited to eat my snoballs and of course I was loving pounding down my 2nd, 3rd and 4th diet mountain dew of the morning. Life was good!
Finally it was time for my last pee pee break in a real restroom for the duration of my race. After this, I was to pee in nothing but Ziplocs! Unfortunately my dream of a real bathroom did not pan out when the line snaked around a bit and I realized with less than 15 minutes to race time I might not be in and out before the race started. So I headed over to the porta potty. I hate porta potties! But after a brief wait with a few other runners who were very nice and chatty, I was able to do my business.
Within a few minutes the race was to start. I checked on my drop bag, made sure it was in order and then wandered about. I saw my friend Tim, runner Rob and his family as well as a bunch of others. Finally with one minute to race I sort of moseyed on over to the starting area.
As with many other ultra’s no one seemed to be in a tremendous hurry to start running. Or at least in my group of “back of the packers” no one seemed to do more than walk at a leisurely pace. I embraced this and in fact might have been one of the last to cross the start line. After a few pictures it was time to walk a bit faster. I knew my 100 mile journey was going to be long and difficult so I wanted to pace myself accordingly.
Javelina Jundred 100 miler is described as a 15 mile loop run in clockwise, then counterclockwise “washing machine” loops. The final loop is a bit shorter 9 mile loop. The course includes jeep road, single track, rocky surface, sand wash and a few road crossings. The clockwise direction starts with a slight decline then a pretty steep incline through a rocky section to the first “remote” aid station. Between the first aid station and the second aid station there are rolling hills on a mostly single track surface with sections of sand washes. Finally between the second aid station at about mile 10 (where drop bags are located) and the main headquarters, runners have a slow downhill on a jeep road/sandy surface. On even laps we would do this backwards.
I liked odd loops better than even loops because the section between mile 10-15 (on odd loops) was a nice gentle downhill that was easy to run. On the odd loops this section was a gentle but insidious uphill. Even worse the predominantly challenging rocky section was where a majority of the net downhill was achieved but because it was technical at least for me it was hard to get any speed up.
The first lap I was moving pretty well. I jogged when I could and found myself in a pack of runners that I felt had a similar pace. I chatted with a bunch of runners and just enjoyed the run. It was chilly but as the sun rose it got warmer and nicer. At the first “remote” aid station I was able to take off my shirt and placed it on a random sagebrush for safe keeping. This would come in handy later in the day as I was slowing down and wanted to have an extra layer as approached the main aid station.
During this lap I had the pleasure of meeting many runners. Although I knew 20 or so runners coming into the race, there were many whom I had not met at previous events such as JFK50, Umstead 100, VT100 or other ultra’s. I took pictures every few minutes to document the “conga line” that were the ultra runners on the course. And of course so that I could show others what the course looked like. Sadly I did not have a specific impression of the course but was a bit surprised as to how rocky it was. During my trip to Sedona with my dad in January I don’t think we hiked on any technical trails so I had a false impression that the rocky section would be “easy”. I will say that compared to the Appalachian Trail (AT) section of JFK50 miler, the rocks were easy. But without the AT as a comparator they definitely provided quite a bit of challenge. Also, while the hills were definitely manageable and definitely a lot shorter than most if not all hills in VT100, the hills definitely were not to be taken lightly.
Chatting with other runners, taking pictures and just enjoying a beautiful morning in Arizona I was surprised when I arrived at the first aid station. At the aid station I asked about research pee but was a bit bummed to learn the Ziplocs were still on the way. Luckily I have a large bladder. In fact subsequent to the study I learned I was the champion pee-er with a bladder capacity of 0.7 liters. I am not sure if I should be proud or horrified about this achievement. I think I will stick with proud!!! Although bounded by being unwilling to pee without a pee-bag, I was happy to partake in the beverages. I drank several cups of Gatorade and heed then headed out of the aid station thanking the volunteers. I had just finished my Snoballs a little over an hour ago, I was not interested in eating.
Between the first and the second aid station I took more pictures. It was a beautiful morning and the sunlight was bright and creating interesting shadows. During this section I met Leigh Corbin. I had heard of her because of her recent success at Badwater (for some reason I know many female runners…I like to think it is my way to support and encourage “girl power”). She graciously took a picture of me attempting to look like a saguaro cactus. She was really nice and good company for a while. We have several friends in common so we were able to hold a nice conversation for a bit. She is quite a bit faster than I so soon enough she was pulling ahead.
I was excited when I realized I was approaching the second aid station. It was at this point the front runner, Dave James passed on his return. He was more than 10 miles ahead of me when I made it to mile 10! He is a running machine and yet so nice. At the aid station I was able to attend my intake and outflow needs. The first order of business was locating a pee-bag. Luckily I was able to acquire a gallon Ziploc because by this time my bladder was pretty full. Deciding behind the tiny shrub across the trail from the aid station was sufficient for my needs, I wandered over and used the LaTree. It was pretty humorous to see the various runners stepping behind this tree for research. Regardless of using the facilities conversations continued while in/behind the LaTree. I imagine this is what a urinal is like since on occasion we would be lined up on the one side of the tree, particularly during the early laps. And it appears no one would stop conversations for these pee breaks. I think perhaps either I am weird or else women are different because frequently when entering stalls conversations come to a complete stop, then resume during handwashing.
After finishing my business, it was time for a wet wipe then time to rehydrate and to munch on some snacks. At this aid station I also was able to take off some layers including my pants as well as my long sleeve top and grabbed my handheld bottle so I would have adequate beverages for the remainder of the day. It was a new Nathan Pink handheld used first at the Marine Corps Marathon the weekend before, but it worked perfectly! After my first lap I was actually getting the courage up to fill it with Succeed (or whatever the “less flavored” beverage for the race was).
After thanking the volunteers I headed back out onto the course. As I had approached the aid station I had seen my friends Rob and Susan and knew they were only a few minutes ahead of me. I decided I wanted to catch up to them so put a little pep in my step. After a mile or so I did succeed in catching up. We chatted throughout the rest of this section about various things and time really flew by. We talked about recent races, life in general and future events. I asked lots of questions about Mont Blanc Ultra which Rob and Susan recently completed. I would love to do this race sometime in the future but know I am limited in the races which are feasible to me because I am slow and really bad on technical terrain. Susan had a great suggestion that there is a 100 km option that might be optimal for me. I think in the next year or so perhaps Tristan and I will head to that race so I can run and Tristan can mountain climb.
Pretty soon we arrived in the main aid station. At this point it was time for me to get my patch changed, my food intake gathered and then more importantly time for me to go to the aid station. Of course having pounded down the beverages, I needed a Ziploc break before I did much. After my potty break I went to my drop bag. I have no idea what I needed and think I just successfully wasted a few minutes. I know from Umstead and VT that I tend to waste a lot of time in aid stations and this race was no different. Finally, it was time for some food and drinks. Since it was hot, I asked for ice in my bottles and filled a bandana with ice. Seeing Rob and Susan I asked if we could get a group picture. Susan was a bit surprised when she put her arm around me and it was cold. I think she realized it was a bandana ice pack but imagine it was a bit startling. I continued to eat and drink for a few more minutes because I was indecisive about what I wanted. But after refueling and thanking the volunteers it was time to head back onto the course.
After just a few minutes on the course I was lucky enough to see a Coyote. It was wandering around aimlessly. It seemed unconcerned about runners and as I tried to attract its attention by meowing it pretty much ignored me. Sadly as I took several pictures it disappeared into the shrubbery. A few minutes later I caught up to Susan and Rob and they also had seen the Coyote. Susan’s picture of the Coyote is considerably better than mine.
Resuming our conversation we talked about Susan’s recent race directorship. It sounds like she was very busy planning the race for the past year or so. But the race went off without a hitch and was enjoyed by all of the runners. I will definitely need to add it to my calendar after I get some trail running confidence. I continue to really stink at trail running and spend so much energy being nervous about tripping and falling I don’t tend to enjoy the experience as much as I should. We also continued to talk about their Mont Blanc experience including the logistics of traveling to an international event. I learned a lot about both Susan and Rob including Susan was an exchange student in Sweden. This was really neat because I was an exchange student in Switzerland for just a summer, which I think really attracts me to the Mont Blanc race. I could head back to Switzerland where I had an amazing 10 weeks back in 1990!
We also chatted about my job which had gotten hectic since last April when H1N1 influenza started spreading. I suggested I was doing ultra’s now to “get away from it all” since when at an ultra I was unreachable to perform any statistical analysis on swine flu vaccines. I guess my ability to perform with little if any sleep does have some benefits to my employer, the federal govt! We also chatted about our families and I learned the couple at the main aid station who greeted Susan and Rob very warmly were Susan’s parents. It was so sweet they were here to cheer both Susan and Rob on throughout the race including I believe a visit in the middle of the night!
Time flew as we chatted and soon enough we were arriving at the drop bag aid station. It is here that I lost Rob & Susan and in fact for the remainder of my race was pretty much alone. I could sporadically see runners well ahead of me and runners well behind me but somehow I ended up in a big gap. Or else I offended everyone and word on the trail became “avoid Tammy at all costsJ”
The most exciting thing I saw during the race was a dust devil. And I saw it in this section. Sadly I was not able to pull out my camera quickly enough. I think this was because I was in a major panic about what to do with my eyes. I was struggling as it was with my contacts. My eyes were dry and I did not want them to be dry and dirty. I had hoped my sunglasses would help if the dustdevil got close to me, but I was not sure. And my bandana was currently occupied with ice. My only option was going to be lifting up my shirt and exposing my mid-drif. I was not looking forward to this. I imagine the runners coming the other way were not looking forward to this either. Luckily it veered off away from me. It was cool to see.
At the aid station I had to attend to my bladder, then after a quick hand sanitizing session I started eating and drinking. I also went into my drop bag but again have no idea why other than to waste time. My diet consisted of the usual pretzels, banana’s, M&M’s and other tasty treats I felt like partaking in. I felt pretty good but was getting a bit hot. Re-icing my bandana and putting ice into my bottles it was time to say thanks to the volunteers and then off I went.
The remainder of this lap was fairly uneventful. I continued jogging and was starting to feel sluggish. Even worse I was struggling with some grit in my shoes/socks but was too lazy to deal with it. I started getting into a funk and suspect this was the beginning of the end for me.
After a brief visit at the remote aid station for intake and extake of beverages and to nibble on some food I had my second animal spotting for the day. This was thanks to two runners well in front of me who actually had picked up a horny toad. By the time I caught up to them, they had released the toad but I was able to see it and take a picture. And of course I was able to realize it was a friendly critter.
Heading into the main aid station I knew this visit was going to be challenging. I had a blood draw, sweat patch change, food diary to recite and of course the usual pee-bag to fill as well as general aid station stuff to do. The research portion went pretty quickly and uneventfully, which was good. Sadly Thursdays 5 needle sticks to get only a tiny bit of blood was fresh in my mind. But alas on race day my veins cooperated. At the aid station I munched on food and refilled my bottles. After a brief but useless visit to my drop bag, it was time to get back on the course.
During this lap I continued to struggle a bit with the heat and lack of humidity. I was putting ice in my bandana, down my sports bra, in my water bottle and yet was remaining quite hot. I also was not thrilled with my feet situation. I seemed to have grit and rocks in my socks and shoes even with gaiters. I continued plodding along but was not feeling happy. My legs felt like dead weight and my nose and throat was dry and parched.
I did enjoy seeing all the runners heading back towards me. It gave me lots of energy to see my friends from other 100’s Dave, Tony, as well as my new friends from the race. Everyone looked so strong.
My aid station visits were uneventful. I was continuing to eat and drink without too much difficulty. I was trying to stay ahead of my fueling and hydration needs and did my best to ensure I did not run into stomach issues. At this point I started to seriously consider dropping at the 100 km because I realized I was slowly down considerably and it was going to be hard for me to meet the 30 hour cutoff for the 100 mile. I also realized that if I DNF’ed for time to the 100 miler, I would also be at risk of DNF-ing my flight home. My legs were so tired and just would not move faster.
As I headed into the aid station completing my 3rd lap, it got dark. I was happy I had my petzl e-lite to help navigate the trail. At the aid station, my pacer was waiting patiently. I took care of my research project tasks then ate and drank in preparation for what was to be my final lap.
During my aid station visit, I told my pacer, e, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I will finish the 100 km but the bad news is I will not finish the 100 mile”. I knew I had an additional 15 miles on my feet but could not imagine another 55 miles. Even worse there was no way I could speed up to ensure I had adequate time to finish. I was depressed about verbalizing this and even worse a camera crew was there to see my meltdown.
Since there was the tiniest possibility I would continue on to the 100 and I needed to resolve my feet issues, I changed out my sneakers. This took me about 15 minutes. E was very helpful and refilled my bottles and brought me food while I changed out my sneakers. She was very attentive and helpful!
A final visit to the aid station for a slice of pizza and some extra treats and I was back on course. After a few bites of pizza I realized either my taste buds went south or they use different/odd olives on the pizza. There was no way I was going to successfully eat my slice. I asked e to bring it back to the aid station to toss it out and she graciously agreed. At this point I almost had a super huge tragedy in that I almost took a wrong turn. Somehow I decided I should turn off the main trail, not simply go straight. Luckily after a few minutes I realized my error and turned around and got back on course. Pretty soon e caught up to me.
During our lap together we chatted about random subjects. This made the lap go pretty quickly. I re-iterated that I was not going to be continuing on for the 100 and I think a few times she wanted me to reconsider. Sadly I knew I had too little time for too much course. And I also had sort of checked of the race so was not motivated to try to speed up to get back on track for a 100 miler. I think one has to REALLY want to finish a 100 miler, not just really want it. (Notice emphatic-ness of this). Just wanting a finish is not sufficient, one has to be willing to dig super deep and I just did not have that passion and determination during JJ100. I think a bunch of factors contributed to this, but I felt good about my decision and was happy to use this as a “learning experience”.
E had an advantage because she was local. She knew the course and was familiar with the terrain. Pretty soon we were approaching the aid station. After a quick bathroom break and a few treats/beverages we continued on. We were pretty much alone during this section of the course. Sporadically fast runners would lap me and once in a while we would be near runners at my pace. At one point we ran with my friend David from VT100. David did not finish VT100 as he timed out about mile 80 or 90. Sadly he also timed out at JJ100 although a bit earlier stopping at mile 75.
Heading into the second “remote” aid station I was spent. I took my potty break then decided to sit down for a bit. I have never sat down for no good reason during an ultra before. It was kind of nice. I knew I had about 14 hours to finish the last 5 miles to the main aid station, so I was not overly worried about loitering. While at the aid station I saw my friend Don who was volunteering. He was so sweet and every time a runner came into the aid station he would yell, “Elite runner coming in, lets get this runner some food/beverage!” It was really cool.
While sitting pondering my thoughts I tried to make sure e was warm enough since she had less layers than I. But she seemed okay. I chatted with another runner Heidi who was doing her first ultra. She was struggling and was having a hard time staying awake and moving forward. She asked if I would share my pacer and run with her. I was happy to do this as my race was essentially over at the 100 km. After a few minutes we both agreed it was time to finish our race. We headed out.
Heidi, e and I jogged along. We chatted about a variety of subjects and I learned Heidi was from NY. I recommended she consider VT100 as it is a more familiar environment for those of us from the east who are accustomed to humidity. Also, I think the terrain is a bit easier although I believe the elevation gain is significantly higher at VT100. Heidi and e were good company.
As we were within a few miles of the main aid station Heidi ended up touching a “jumping cactus”. She had a few cactus attached to her arm. E knowing that you do not want to touch the cactus because it will then get on you said she would try to figure out how to deal with it. Apparently a comb would have been a good idea but I did not have one (I have virtually everything else in my 5 lb fanny pack, but no comb!). E ended up “MacGyvering” up a solution by grabbing two rocks and smashing them together to disengage the cactus. Heidi was tough and did not complain or cry at all.
After this incident I paid particular attention to jogging right in the middle of the trail. I did not want to be attacked by a cactus!
Pretty soon, the festivities of the start/finish line were just around the bend. As I ran across the start/finish line I was happy to have completed the 100km. I was satisfied with this as my endpoint and after dealing with my research obligations, I handed in my chip to Dave Combs, the race timer. I was satisfied with my decision and was happy to have finished 100 km in about 18 hours!
My pacer Nikki was ready to pace me but my race was done. I had suggested to e during our lap together, that Nikki might easily pick up another (potentially faster) runner who would greatly appreciate a pacer. In fact both e and Nikki ended up pacing runners within a short time of my DNF. I ran into both runners the next morning and they both expressed their appreciation for my getting my pacer-hand-me-downs.
After finishing I wandered around aimlessly and confused. After 18 hours of running I had no idea what to do. I felt lost. But pretty soon I realized I wanted to warm up a bit and get off my feet. I got some stuff from my car then sat in front of the big bonfire and chatted with other runners, crew and pacers. I know I fell asleep at some point because the group of folks around the fire had changed. Pretty soon, the sun was coming up and I started the second (and happier) part of my JJ100 experience. I considered asking for my chip back and doing one more lap but ended up deciding to walk the course backwards cheering on runners finishing or completing their second to last lap after 24 hours.