Saturday, November 19, 2011

101.4 Miles of Desert Fun

The Javelina Jundred began on November 12 and came to its much anticipated end on November 13. I flew to AZ and met my friend Aimee, who would be my crew. I had no real context to wrap my mind around 100 miles. I ran the Resurrection Pass 50M and maybe about 60 miles on a long 15 hour training run, but 101.4 miles (to be exact) was out of my mental aptitude. We spent the night before unpacking, organizing, and strategizing at the hotel. I found a nice balance between feeling prepared and letting go of what I couldn't control or yet understand.

I remember walking around the Javelina Jeadquarters the night before at bib pick-up with my mouth open. "This looks exactly the same as the photos on the website!" It was still surreal, hard to imagine what was ahead of me. In my mind I kept going back to..." I'm going to run 15 miles, and then I am going to run 15 miles and the I'll run another 15 miles..." The first six loops consisted of 15.4 miles and the seventh about 9 miles.

We slept from 8pm until 3am and drove out to the start. I felt silly and anxious and tried to "embrace" the situation.

Twenty six minutes 'til the start. The start was laid back. Runners moved towards the line as we got closer to 6am. The excitement began to build in the dark. A friend told me to think of the many blessings in my life when things got hard. Before I knew it I was trotting out into the desert.

We ran washing machine loops. A 15.4 mile loop and then into Javelina Jeadquarters and out the way you came. Lots of people to see and much distraction.

The first four laps felt great. I felt strong and happy and on top of my calories, salt and hydration. I kept my aid station and Jeadquarter visits SHORT and SWEET. I was IN CONTROL and in and out. Fabulous trail, overcast skies, and the desert sights to enjoy.

The scenery was lovely. Lots of variety to the trail- packed sand, sandy washes, ups and downs, mud, puddles, rocky trail and technical terrain. The sun pretty much stayed behind the clouds, but there were sweaty moments of sunny heat.

Coming into the end of the fourth lap I felt good at 60 + miles. Things began to change in the fifth lap. The calories became more difficult to take in, the gagging began and I seemed to be spending more time squatting behind the cactus.

Then the darkness came.
And the sixth lap.

I began lap six about 12:30AM. I had been averaging about 3.5 hour laps. Aimee ran me out to the first aid station. And the rains came. I was a dripping mess with the first hour of the lap. I put on a garbage bag and shivered underneath as I walked into the darkness. I ran a bit and began to run sideways, falling asleep while running. I yelled, slapped my face and still fell asleep running in the rain. I could feel the hot spots then, on my feet, and knew I was in for trouble. I saw few people and those I did see were vomitting, curled up on the side of the trail and angry.

The Jackass Junction aid station was a beacon of hope. I changed my wet socks, tried to tend to blisters and tried to eat. It was difficult to get a small bar down. I doubled up on energy drinks and downed a hot chocolate. Solid food was not tolerable. I spent a little extra time at this aid station trying to get warm and dry in front of the heaters. I watched injured runners wincing in pain and listened to more able-bodied folks complain and moan about their run. Enter the NIGHT of the LIVING Dead. I knew I had a long stretch ( 6.4 miles) until the next aid station. Feeling dry and warmer and scared to stay any longer, I left the tent and down came the rain again. This section was technical and really hard on my blistered feet. I tried not to cry, but I couldn't hold it in. I felt scared and lonely and in pain. I saw the lights of Coyote Camp, but it looked so far away and I sobbed at the distance I had to travel. Upon arriving at the aid station. I made a bee line for the potty. I was having trouble with my tummy, but I really needed a good cry before I met anyone at the station. I told some of the aid volunteers that my feet had blistered pretty bed and in a whimper I told them I did not know if I could make it to the Jeadquarters. They pushed me out of the station and told me to just head down to the start. The sixth lap took me almost 6 hours. By the time I arrived at the Jeadquarters for the last 9 mile loop I was PISSED. Why did I feel so bad? Why did I get blisters? Why do people run 100 miles? I met Aimee and told her I wanted to get it done. I did not want to spend another minute in the aid station. Off we went and I made a feeble call to my husband and told him how hard it was. He told me to get it done. So did Aimee. They seemed to trust in me that I would get it done. The physical wasn't there, but the mental was. Or not, I saw a white mother duck and her three ducklings. Then they turned into tiny Alaskan huskies pulling a sled. Then I realized it was just sand. Thus began the battle between mental and physical. I really struggled with every step. The blisters on the bottom of me feet were excruciating and I had developed a hacking cough after a night out in the rain. Aimee held my hand, sang to me, made me sing, gave me treats, led the way and laughed with and at me. "DON'T STOP BELIEVING!" Yes, I sang Journey pretty loud during my last lap. I also got passed 4-5 times and it was denigrating. I just didn't have any fast moving ability left. We approached the junction heading back to the finish and Aimee announced, " You just ran 100 miles!!!" Only 1.4 miles left. Let's go. I'll never forget the woman heading out for her last nine miles as I was about to finish. She was so positive. She screamed about how proud of me she was. I didn't know her. She still had 9 miles to run. It was time to get it done. 100 miles is a battle between the mental and the physical and the 100 mile ultra-runner is a WARRIOR.

Done and tired and so relieved. I thought I would end by flipping everyone the bird and telling them how horrible 100 miles is. But I leapt across the finish line and smiled and hugged my crew, Aimee.
27 hours and 25 minutes.


nadzent said...

Sarah - holy cow! I am in absolute awe. I had no idea you were an ultra runner. Your story is amazing and inspirational. What an accomplishment. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Sarah, Mom and Dad think you are really something! Congrats on finishing. Sometimes you are just too much........
Love always,
Mom and Dad

Cory Reese said...

Simply incredible! I loved your blurry blob of light called Jackass Junction because that is exactly how it looked to my foggy brain at that point. And your leap across the finish line?!?!? I kept watching it over and over because it was just so awesome. Way to go!!!

(Is it too soon to ask if you'll do it again?)