Two years ago, I ran Javelina (read that report here) and absolutely loved it! This year, when Paige and I were deciding what races we wanted to do, we quickly decided that Javelina would be our target race for the fall. Well, its now fall and last weekend we ran Javelina Jundred. Friday morning, we flew to Phoenix and met up with Brelly at the airport. With Caleb entertaining us in the backseat, we drove to the hotel in Fountain Hills to check in and get some lunch. Packet pickup and the pre-race dinner started at 4PM and we didn’t want to miss any of the action so we soon headed out to McDowell Park where Javelina Jeadquarters were already buzzing with activity. The number of entrants was much higher this year versus the last time we were here but it still had the same awesome vibe. We quickly found a few familiar faces and checked in. After snapping some pictures and milling around chatting with friends, the Coury brothers provided a quick pre-race meeting chock full of info. It felt good to be there. After a most delicious dinner and some more socializing, we headed back to the hotel for our final prep.
Race day, the alarm went off at 3:30AM and, surprisingly, I felt pretty rested and awake. By 5AM, we were on our way to the start of my fifth one hundred mile race and the second that Paige and I have run together. After getting our stuff set-up and dropping off our drop bag, we took a couple of pictures and were soon underway. The night was cloudy but the temps were perfect so I started in a short sleeve with arm warmers that could be removed if/when it warmed up. Starting toward the back of the pack, it was slow going through the first two miles and then Paige made her move, the first of many throughout the day. For the next several miles, she was pushing past clumps of people trying to get to a place where we could run our pace, I just followed, which would be a theme for the day. As we made our way around the first loop, I was happy that it felt so familiar and was everything that I remembered – runnable and beautiful. They moved the aid stations around some and added one more for a total of three on the course plus the main one, this turned out to be a nice change. We finished the first loop fast but it felt comfortable so I tried not to worry that we were going out too fast. We didn’t stay long but made sure we had everything we needed before heading out on our second loop, counter-clock-wise this time.
In this direction, its a gentle up hill for the first several miles but it didn’t feel like it as we ran nearly all of it. One of the many great things about this race is the ability to see everyone from the front of the pack to the very last runner multiple times throughout the day, so we got to say hello to all the Chicago peeps as we doubled back, everyone was looking fresh and in good spirits. We cruised through the second loop nearly as easily and quickly as the first, again, my tendency was to worry it was too fast but it felt easy enough so we rolled with it. Finishing up the second loop, we took a little longer to get in and out of the Javelina Jeadquarters with Paige changing her socks and me messing around with food choices. It was fun to see some of our crew who were there to support other runners or pace later on in the day; they were a ball of energy and made us feel very cared for (i.e. Kelly and Caleb, Jen, Jim, Terry, among others).
The next couple of loops got a bit warm with the sun peaking out and the warmth of the afternoon reaching the mid-70s, it felt warm but never hot which made it very manageable. As the day unfolded, we saw many familiar faces throughout the day and enjoyed being able to keep tabs on how everyone’s race was going. We finished up a loop around 6PM and were given the news that the latest forecast was calling for significant rainfall after mid-night, not the best news we could have received but at least we could prepare for it. The amazing Kelly, went to the car and got our rain jackets and had them waiting for us on the next loop.
It was dark now and we were running with our headlamps on. Running with a headlamp always creates an odd sensation, but not in a bad way. The headlamp typically comes out after running all day, the temperature has started to drop, the pace has slowed, the sleepiness has started to set in, the legs are tired, … and today was no exception – I love it, all of it! I don’t know why but my absolute favorite thing about running these races is the night portion. Somewhere during the wee hours of the morning, I was thinking about this and I started to feel just a little sorry for the race winner, Hal Koerner, who finished so fast that he didn’t even get to experience running at night, poor guy. I say this, of course, just a little tongue in cheek because I would rather set a course record than run through the night but I would miss the night portion. Normally, I experience a period of extreme sleepiness around 1AM and it typically lasts for a couple of hours but it can be normally be managed fairly well with coffee or soda but I had been fighting this feeling periodically throughout the day and when it hit at 1AM, it was a force to be reckoned with. I could hardly keep my eyes open and my body was trying to force me to sleep, sort of like someone was hitting the manual override button and I no longer had control. I have been packing 5-Hour Energy in my drop bags for a couple of years but have never resorted to trying it. I decided it was time and within minutes of ingesting the life giving liquid, I was feeling significantly better – the stuff really works!
The rain came early and by 10:15PM, we were huddled under a tent at an aid station putting on our rain jackets and moving our headlamps under the bills of our hats for protection from the rain and thought, “here we go.” Fifteen minutes later, the rain let up and we were able to take our jackets off for a while longer, though the next time we put them on, it would be for the duration of our race. The night didn’t get as cool as it did the last time I ran this race and with the rain, that was a very welcome thing. Still, we saw runners who hadn’t prepared for the rain and were unable to move fast enough to keep warm – that’s tough situation to be in but thankfully, we were both moving well and protected inside our jackets. As we finished our sixth loop, we were given our glow-in-the-dark neckless which signifies the “bell” lap. We headed out and, after shaking out the stiffness that had quickly moved into my legs during the AS stop, we ran most of the way to the first aid station. After a quick bottle refill, we were back on the trail which had now been soggy at best and shoe sucking muddy at worst for the past several hours. The next section was the rockiest section of the trail, it was still pouring rain and we decided to walk through the worst of the rocks to make sure we didn’t take a fall on the slick rocks. Two runners came up on our left as we navigated this section, it was Daniel and our friend Jim who was now pacing his cousin. We’d been playing leapfrog all day with Daniel. We stuck with them for a while and then Paige suddenly picked up the pace and took off. Jim look at me and said, “well, you better go with her,” or something to that effect, I knew he was right because she was feeling good and could ‘smell’ the end was near. I took off after her and I don’t think we stopped running until we hit the finish-line. I had been doing some rough calculations in my head and knew I was close to my hundred mile PR but couldn’t remember exactly so I decided to keep it to myself and just keep pushing in hopes of breaking it. As we crossed the line, several of our crew were there including Kelly and Caleb! Jamil, the co-RD, came over and presented us with our buckles and congratulated us. They Coury brothers put on amazing events but more importantly, they are just amazing people and this is consistently seen in every interaction with them. As it turned out, we didn’t quite best my PR but it was within seconds and if you factor in that Javelina is actually 101.4 miles, I suppose it is a PR of sorts. Paige, on-the-other-hand, broke her PR by 5+ hours, I was simply in awe of her all day, she went out there prepared and executed the run flawlessly.
I want to send a shout out to Brian who had a fantastic race and shaved hours off his PR as well. We had such a fun time with all the Chicago crew including some new friends. A huge thank you to Kelly for being such an amazing crew person all day and for the others who stepped in to help as well. Other than fighting with the periodic sleepiness and a slightly touchy stomach, I felt pretty good most of the day. Despite feeling good, it was all I could do to stay with Paige for the majority of the day. Two Dunmores ran Javelina this year and it is undeniable that my wife was definitely the stronger Dunmore … at least on that day : ) (You can read her race report here.)