Four years ago, October 26, 2014 to be exact, I did my first ultra race (Lake Hodges 50k)! I got hooked on trail running and running longer distances. In the past four years I would run anything up to 50 miles. I never had any interest to go beyond 50 miles. ALL my trail running friends were embracing the 100 mile distance, but I mentally didn’t want it ………Yet. I would do the 100 mile training with everyone and then sit back and support, crew, and pace anyone running the 100 miler. I was pretty content doing that until earlier this year when I decided I was ready… I was ready to tackle that 100 mile distance. It was fitting that Javelina 100 Miler was October 27, 2018, almost exactly four years apart from when I ran my first ultra race!
How did I decided which race to do? Well, last year my husband did the Javelina 100 Miler, so when I was debating on which race to do, this one really appealed to me. If you don’t know anything about Javelina, it is one
giant ultra running party!! It consists of five 20 mile-ish loops (washing machine style). Your crew gets to set up “camp” at the start finish line (Headquarters) while you go out and run your loops. There is an aid station roughly every 4-6.5 miles. What appealed to me the most was that there are 600+ runners out on the course with you. You have runners behind you, in front of you, and then also coming at you all day long! I love seeing people on course and not being alone for several hours before seeing anyone.
One of my many favorite parts about this race is we had SO many Trail Crasher Runners running and so many other San Diego friends also running which really made this event memorable.
Below I broke down how my race went on each loop. A lot goes though your mind and a lot happens when running a 100 miles! Even with some lows, I had a GREAT experience!
Loop 1 (miles 1-22.3)
I will start off my saying I was SO SO excited to run this race. I think my mental state was full of excitement, despite the unknown, some might say over the top, but I was so happy to be tackling this distance with so many friends on course.
This year the race director decided to do a wave start because it can get a bit bottlenecked once you hit the single track trail. Last year, my husband ended up walking the first mile or so because it was so crowded. His advice was to start in the first wave so I could run and not have to make up any time. It was great advice because I was able to run right out of the gate and I was able to run consistently. I ran a bit with Gloria and Nartaya. I loved being able to share some trail time with them! We always have such a great time in training. Gloria eventually took off and I knew she was going to have an epic race!! I had originally planned to pick up my music on loop 3, but people started to spread out a bit and I texted my husband that I
wanted to pick my music up for loop 2.
This race appears to be easy, but it actually is not. It shockingly has only about a 50% finishing rate. My guess it is largely due to the heat (Arizona desert heat with ZERO shade is no joke, plus it is super dry) and coming into Headquarters where the “party” is makes it hard for people to go back out. The key to running in hot exposed weather is to keep ice on you as much as possible. I iced early and started using my ice buff at mile 10. If you have never used an ice buff I highly recommend them! I have no idea how I survived running in the heat before and I definitely can’t imagine running without it now. I also started putting ice in my arm sleeves. I knew I had to ice early and often and keep cool so I could keep moving. It really didn’t start to feel warm until about mile 18/19/20. We hit this section where you could feel the heat bouncing off the mountain. I knew it was going to be a warm day!
I rolled in finishing loop 1 feeling pretty good. My crew was awesome in attending to me and getting me everything I needed!
Loop 2 (miles 22.3-41.7)
I left this loop with my headphones and music! It was just what I needed to take my mind off what I was doing, and how much farther I had to go! Every time I left headquarters, and started a new loop, it was always a 10 mile gradual uphill. My motto for this race was: “just run while you can”. I repeated this to myself over and over. I told myself “I don’t have to go fast, but I need to run now while I can” because I have no idea what kind of shape I am going to be in later and if I will be able to run. Sooooooooo, I just keep chipping away one mile at a time. I ran with Wade a bit on this loop and then Nartaya
caught me and we chatted and ran most of this loop together. It was nice to have her company and I felt like we were on a long training run together. She definitely pulled me a long and keep me going, which I was incredibly thankful for. She eventually pulled a head and I just kept on chugging along. I heard Robert hollering my name and he was already at mile 43!! I thought to myself “wow he’s doing great!”
I came into Headquarters finishing loop 2 feeling overwhelmed with my crew. They were awesome at attending to me once again, but what I realized after leaving them and heading out for loop 3 is I was hitting my first low.
Loop 3 (miles 41.7-61.1)
If you have never done an ultra there are many highs and many lows. You try to remember that a low is followed by a high, but sometimes in the moment you don’t remember that! This loop I started to charge my watch and when I hit mile 43 there is a road crossing. I saw a few friends there and I had to
use the porta potty to pee, so I gave my watch + charger and asked Fern to hold it. When I came out I was in tears! Fern did an awesome job trying to lift my spirits. It definitely helped, but ultimately I was in a low from mile 41-52. I questioned why I was doing this and who’s idea was it to do this (LOL … likely it was mine and I got everyone else to sign up with me LOL!!), but the one thing I told myself in my low is that I DO NOT want to be part of the 50% DNF rate. Jeff shared this great article a few weeks before the race and I just kept remembering …. a DNF hurts a lot longer than the pain you experience during the 100! It was sound advice and really keep me moving even though I felt low.
I pulled in to the aid station at mile 45.7…. I peed, ate, and then continued on the technical uphill. My feet were started to feel sore and the next aid station wasn’t for another 6.5 miles. It was hot and the longest stretch between aid stations. It felt like FOREVER! In this stretch I had to pee 3 times!!! I was so annoyed, but I figured my hydration was on point!! I think I was mostly annoyed that there were not a lot of bushes in the desert! Sometimes it is hard being a girl when you have to pee in the desert LOL, but when you gotta go you gotta go!
Have you ever seen the sunset in the desert? It was BEAUTIFUL! The sun started to go down and I
pulled my headlamp and knuckle lights out about 1-2 miles from the aid station at mile 52. I had a girl tag along with me as she had her lights waiting for her at mile 52. We chatted a bit and I enjoyed her company. Long story short we met at Kodiak 50 miler this year! Her name was Sue! Her husband did the 100 miler while I completed the 50 Miler. I had run a bit with her friend that was doing the 50k and she introduced me to her at the finish line!! I couldn’t believe we found each other! Small world! (Side Note: If you have never done Kodiak 50 Miler I HIGHLY recommend it! The views did not disappoint and the course markings were on point! Very challenging, but also rewarding! Also an excellent organized race!)
At mile 52 aid station I decided to change my tank top so I had a dry shirt on, but it wasn’t really cool enough for a long sleeve yet. I left mile 52 with higher spirits and feeling like I was out of my low. Plus, I was hitting a section of the course where it was downhill. I also was getting excited to pick up my first Pacer Cinda! I was looking forward to the constant company!
I came in from loop 3 and once again my crew was on top of it!
Loop 4 (miles 61.1-80.5) — Up to this point I have run 15:08 hours.
When I started this loop it was 9:08pm. My biggest fear going into this race was how I was going to
handle the sleep deprivation. I am typically in bed by 8pm every night LOL! I had decided that for this race I was going to start having caffeine at mile 61 when I picked up my pacer. My husband told me once I start on the caffeine don’t stop because that is when I will start to feel really tired. He has run five 100 milers so I trusted him on this one! I had a few sips of coffee and then my pacer and I took off.
I had lots of goals going into this race. Of course my ultimate goal was to finish under the 30 hour cut off by all means possible. When we left, we reassessed my goals. I told her I just want to finish at this point and this is the longest I have ever run so far! I was well under the cut off and not chasing any cut offs, but my feet were getting super sore. We chatted a lot on this loop and I loved the constant company! It was peaceful running in the desert at night. I actually enjoyed it, but also knowing there were hundreds of other runners made me more comfortable. I told Cinda the first 10 miles is uphill and I am hiking most of the up hills at the point. She had me swing my arms like it
was my job! I just did what ever she told me and I knew I would make it through this loop. We hit the technical sections again and I think this is where I realized my feet were extra sore, but now I had blisters on the bottom of my feet. I have never had blisters on the bottom of my feet before. I was able to “run” the non technical sections with little pain, but the rocky sections definitely held me back! GAH!
Somewhere after mile 70 I caught up to Nartaya and Spring with their pacers, Phillip and Saul. It was
like one big party!! We all ran a bit together and it was so awesome to have us all together during a race. Then we saw Robert and his pacer Michael Scott passing us in the opposite direction. This was my favorite moment of the race. Phillip actually got this moment on video and it was the best! (Thank You Phillip!!!) Robert was killing it!! I was so excited to see him crushing his last loop!! We also saw Gloria and her pacer Colleen. We all hugged each other, told each other how our feet hurt, but seeing Gloria and Colleen was just what I needed to keep going! Gloria was also crushing her 100 miler!! I was so happy for her!
We carried on, I kept swinging my arms like no ones business. As we hit some more rocky downhill my feet were in rough shape. Rocks were not my friend. Ricky told me there were no technical rocky sections on this course, but clearly he blocked those sections out! HA!
Cinda and I finished loop 3 and she was awesome at keeping me moving and motivated! Not to mention super patient with a few of my bathroom stops!! My crew once again tended to me and I was so thankful to have them there each time I came in.
Loop 5 (miles 80.5 – 100)
21 hours and 27 mins have now past and I am still running. Here I picked up my second pacer Gemma! It was still dark out (3:27am).
My amazing crew was once again got me all packed up for my LAST loop! I bushed my teeth before I started this loop and I felt like a new women! It’s amazing what brushing your teeth will do for you!
Just before leaving my crew, we saw Robert come in for his epic finish!!! He totally crushed his 24 hour goal with a finishing time of 21:33!!! Freaking fantastic!!! I am so happy I was able to see him finish!! He earned a nice shiny silver buckle!!! Seeing him finish gave me some extra motivation for that last loop!
Gemma and I left the crew spot and maybe 25 feet later we pulled over and I decided to put on my long sleeve. It was starting to feel a bit chilly. Once I layered up we were on our way!
I couldn’t believe I had already run 80 miles… 80 MILES!!!!! Completely insane I know. Lots of you I am sure don’t even like to drive 80 miles LOL. But I knew I was going to finish this race and I was SO happy to be on my last loop!!
As we headed out, Spring and Nartaya were crushing it as they passed us just before we hit the trail entrance. They ran this race last year too. Spring has finished it 3 times and Nartaya twice!! They were doing so well!!
As Gemma and I continued on I warned her I was definitely hiking the uphills and “running”, more like shuffling, the flats and downhills. My goal was just to finish! We hit that lovely rocky section again just after mile 84.5 and by this time my feet hurt even more! My feet were screaming! More like the blisters were not doing me any service. Each step was almost unbearable! Not to mention my poor big toe that
I kept smashing into rocks was not helping!! We SLOWLY made it though it and I told her I HAD to take my shoe off and pop the blister because I was not going to be able to make it 4 miles to the aid station. I could barely put any pressure on my right foot. We found a rock to sit on, popped it and went on our way! Maybe about a quarter mile or so I was able to run more normal and we both decided we made a good decision on popping the blister.
Around mile 88-89-ish?!?!, somewhere around there, the sun started to come up! The sunrise in the desert is also very beautiful incase you are wondering. As the sun got higher I took off my long sleeve. We did quite a bit of walking and talking. I told Gemma I was starting to feel a little tired and possibly hitting another low. I also told her when we get to the aid station at mile 91 I am going to have some coke-a-cola for a boost. If you know anything about me I never drink soda… has too much sugar and it rots your teeth. Anyway, I do partake in some soda in extra long runs (50 milers and now 100 milers) for its extra sugar crack-like effect it has on the body! It works! Trust me!
We made it to mile 91 and I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel! I AM going to finish this!! I CAN finish this! I just have to keep moving!!! I drank my coke, iced back up for that second day heat, and was ready to go. Just before we left though, we saw Lisa who had hit a major low! I gave her a hug and encouraged her to fight on. We pushed her out of the aid station with us! Told her to tag along with us
and that she could literally finish this race if she walked the last 9 miles. I knew she had it in her to finish and knew if we could just get her on the trail with us she would be fine. She left the aid station with us and I was happy to see her moving in a forward direction.
9 more miles… I could hardly believe it! They seemed like the longest 9 miles of my life. I did a bit more running …errrrrrr shuffling in this section, but also a fair amount of walking too. I ran what I could and when I couldn’t run I walked and then tried to run some more and then walked… this went on for 9 miles… I took one mile at a time and just kept plugging away! Gemma was uber patient with me and I am so grateful she paced me the last 20 miles. She really pulled me though this section. At one point I told her just to talk to me… I didn’t care about what, but I needed conversation to just keep me going! She is an excellent talker and I love her for that! I love we could just chat about almost anything and it helped time to go by a little bit faster! As the sun got higher it felt hotter than the day before. Thank goodness for that ice buff and those arm sleeves. Total life saver! We started to see less and less people and I felt like I was the last one on the course because people were far and few between. Before we knew it we had 1 mile to go!
Once you make it to the Headquarters and you have to run around everyones’ pop up tents before you actually cross the finish line. People are standing up and clapping and congratulating me. I told Gemma I felt famous LOL. The support on course and at Headquarters was unbelievable! It truly makes this race! And there it was… The Finish Line! I ran 100 Miles! Unbelievable. I still don’t know if it has really sunk in yet. My finishing time: 28:37:35.
My nutrition plan was on point! I never had an stomach issues, never threw up, zero cramping, and never felt nauseous. I consumed a gel/gu every hour and I supplemented with potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe,
and vegan broth at the aid station. I also nibbled on ginger during the latter part of the race simply just to clear my palate, plus I love ginger so I figured it couldn’t hurt. I never once took any salt pills or any other food/junk food they had at the aid stations (minus the cup of coke-a-cola at mile 91). I used Extreme Hydro X as my electrolyte drink and also plain water. When I hit my crew I consumed X-Endurance Fuel 5 (non caffeine–which is basically liquid calories to help make sure I was consuming enough, but I usually only drank about half of it and I believe really only drank it twice)?!?! I consumed caffeine gels from miles 61-100 and also had a few sips of coffee at mile 61 and 80. That was my plan I it worked for me! I couldn’t be happier!
Lots of people think of running as a solo sport, but in ultra running it truly is a team sport! I never would have been able to complete this race with out my crew (Ricky, Michael Scott, Sarah) and most
definitely not without my pacers (Cinda and Gemma). I am forever grateful for your help, motivation, and patience! I am also incredibly thankful to all the Trail Crasher Runners! Thank You for all those long training runs in the mountains and for waiting at the finish line until I came in! It meant the world to me to see all your faces at the end of the race and I am excited to have finally joined you all in the “100 Miler Club”. Thank You to the endless number of friends on the course and all the high fives you gave! To everyone that had messaged, encouraged, and kept track of me me while I was on the course, Thank YOU!!
It’s been 4 days since I completed the 100 Miler. My legs feel great. My blisters are mostly gone and the only thing that really bothers me is my big toe that I kept smashing. Thankfully it is not broken, but just super bruised and possibly has a blister under the nail which I am not able to release the pressure.
What is next on the agenda?
Well……………. I guess I have a Western States Qualifier (GULP!) so I will be tossing my ticket in for that (EEEEKKKK!) … Something I never thought I would do! In the meantime I am going to enjoy some unscheduled shorter runs and truly take advantage of some much needed down time.
What did I learn during the race?
You really have to have a good mental attitude when going into a 100 miler. I felt really positive and I
was ridiculously excited for this race so I really enjoyed myself and had fun despite the lows I went though. I may have questioned why I was doing it (several times), but it never crossed my mind to quit. Had I not really wanted to do this race, I may have quit early on.
I also learned more about my feet. I have never had blister issues before! This was the first time and it was awful. Something I will have to experiment with in other races… maybe taping my feet and going from there.
I think next time I would fly in a day earlier to run around (get water, food, etc…) so I could have an extra day to relax. I would then also fly home a day later. I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to walk on Monday when we had to fly out. I managed, but it was not pretty. Thank goodness we had plenty of time in-between our connections LOL.
Would I run a 100 miles again?
Absolutely!! No question. I knew I would as soon as I finished despite how bad my feet hurt. This race was well organized, NEVER ran out of ice (which I think is so so important!) and the volunteers were so helpful and friendly. It gave me a great positive experience, which would make me seek out other 100 milers!