A party is for sure! What a race.
When Troy turned 12 last winter and was beginning gun safety classes I realized Steve and the boys would be deer hunting for three weekends in November. The light bulb went on and I began to look for a coinciding race.
I found the 2008 Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Jalloween Party. A javelina is a wild pig like animal that lives in the desert. Many years this race falls on Halloween; as it will in 2009. Hence, the name. The Halloween theme is address even when the race doesn't fall on Halloween. The full moon. The coyotes. The desert. Halloween. A great venue!
It sounded great, but out of my comfort zone. I hadn't flown solo to a race destination, I hadn't really 'vacationed' without my family, I hadn't run in the desert, in the dry heat. I wasn't so sure. The more I thought about it though, the more I though I should do this to empower myself.
Wednesday night I slept on the couch. I couldn't take Steve's snoring. I woke up stiff and sore. I took a shower and as I bent over to dry my hair, I pulled something. Something zinged me from the base of my neck down to my heel. I saw intense white light. I was in pain; a lot of pain. I couldn't walk. I couldn't bend. I couldn't move my neck without pain. I didn't have any Advil! I went into work and the nurse gave me a bunch before I could make it to the drugstore. About an hour later the pain went away and I could move quite well.
I was scared to death! This race is a few days away and every 4 hours I have pain. For some reason the swelling in my neck cause my throat swelling and I couldn't swallow without pain. What the hell? I figured I'd just do what I can do at the race and that's it.
Quit thinking about the problem and begin to think about the solution.
As the day of the race neared, Tyler and Troy decided they weren't going to go hunting. Tyler became stiff and sore in his stand a week after surgery and didn't want to become sore again; Troy was invited to a birthday sleep over of a very good friend of his. He didn't want to miss out! Oh man, make plans for the boys. Luckily, my sister was going to be home for the weekend and was willing to drive them to and fro to their plans, allowing them to do as they wished and spend the weekend with their auntie. Thank goodness.
After driving the boys to school on Friday morning I left for the airport. I arrived in plenty of time, no mishaps. I dislike flying very very much; the sore back/neck and problem swallowing didn't allow for my breathing and relaxing techniques to make much of a difference. I was uptight and nervous.
Tyler telephoned me while I was in the lot of the rental company. I had just buckled myself in when my cell rang. All of a sudden all of my fears about the race : heat, sore back/neck, swallowing, head ache and the peaks and valleys of emotion took the best out of me. I began to feel so lonely. I wished the boys were with me to see Arizona. My voice began to crack and then Tyler became worried about my crying. I told him it was the emotions of the race, the fear of my pain, the stress of finding the rental car, the hotel and the race venue, but that I would be fine. I didn't want to worry him!
Scottsdale Arizona is beautiful. I stayed at the Marriott, only 30 minutes from Fountain Springs, where the race was held. Fountain Springs is beautiful. A posh little community where litter is non existent, there are NO billboards, beautifully landscaped yards and homes. Fabulous.
Of course the first thing I did was change out of pants and into shorts. Oh man, 88 F, light breeze, wonderment! I sat at the outdoor pool, the only one there, and read the final book of my 12 book series, The Confessor, by Terry Goodkind, as I've so often mentioned..
By 5:00 I decided to drive over to the race for packet pickup and spaghetti dinner. I wanted to see how many minutes it would take me to drive over in the morning. McDowell Mountain Park was very easy to get to and only 30 minutes away. The boy scouts put on a great meal of spaghetti, buns, salad, peaches and cake.
Angie, from Angies Pink Fuzzie Blog, introduced herself to me. She is from Tucson and was crew/pacing a runner. I spoke with Angie after the race, it was nice to meet her in person!
In my goodie bag I collected a water bottle, an awesome Javelina Jundred North Face running top-with a woman's fit!, Moeben sleeves that Shannon donated - I've wanted to try a pair but at $30 a pop was unsure. Thank you Shannon, a bandanna and other assorted goodies.
Back to the hotel for a good night of rest. I called the boys and my Mom and Dad. Sound asleep by 7 PM for a 4 AM rise.
After 9 hours of rest I was ready to run! I quickly assessed my range of motion; no change. Still stiff and sore. I popped 4 Advil and figured I'd do my best. I thought the exercise might actually release some of the tension and stiffness.
As I walked out of the hotel I couldn't believe how WARM it was! Heavenly!! 60F with a pretty stiff breeze. Oh man, so glad to be out of the Minnesota cold.
At the race site by 530, check in and mingle. It was actually a nice change to be incognito. I didn't know anybody at the race, nobody knew who I was. Some of the entrants were dressed in Halloween costumes, this added a fun element.
We were given a timing device to strap upon our ankle. We'd run 6 laps of 15.5 miles, on the Pemberton Trail, alternating running each lap in the opposite direction. The final lap would be 5 miles up to the aid station and then a new trail - 4 miles to the finish on the Tonto Tank trail. At the end of lap 6 we would receive a glow in the dark necklace to wear so that the aid station personnel would know we were on our final 7th lap and would send us to the Tonto Tank trail.
While I was running the Glacial Trail 50 a few weeks ago, Beth Simpson and I spoke about Javelina. She had run it the prior year and told me it was a lot of fun. She also told me that she thought that as well as I have been running, I should try to break 24 hours. Well, up until that point I hadn't really thought about that goal of breaking 24 hours. I looked up some past results and saw that John Taylor ran it in 27 or so. Our times are usually pretty close in 100's. I then spoke to John about Javelina and he told me that his original plan had been to break 24. I decided I'd give it a go.
When I felt the heat at 6 AM I began to have doubts. My swallowing was still bothersome but the Advil cut the pain. I couldn't tilt my neck back, but my shoulders no longer hurt.
I then thought of another one of my rules: Don't dwell on the problem, dwell on the solution. Ok, so it is going to be extremely warm out today. That is the obstacle. How do I compensate and find a solution to that problem? I figured that I could either go hard early, while it was cool (er) than it would be later, which didn't seem like a very good idea, why go hard early in a 100 ? Ever? So I crossed out that idea and decided it would be much better to go out relatively easy early, a 12 minute mile for the first 30 miles. Then by the third loop, when it would from 12-3 to go even slower in the heat in the day, say a 4 hour loop, spending more time at the aid stations, running slower, then from mile 45 on do what I can, still be safe and run as fast as I can with what is still left, from 100K on. That was my solution to the problem of heat.
As to the problem of my aching body and swallowing, I overheard a runner tell another that he had a massage therapist coming to the venue and that he may be willing to work on runners. I was sure to look him up and work me over as I finished the second loop. I wanted to add 30 minutes to my loop, this was a great way to add a few minutes, rest and recover before going back out into the heat. He massaged me for about 8 minutes and I was up and out with a better feeling back, neck and shoulders. He told me my muscles were inflamed and tight. Yeah, I thought so.
As we ran in the dark the first 30 minutes of the race I couldn't believe how beautiful everything looked in the beam of my flashlight. I kept on stopping to look at a certain cactus, an animal I heard, different scrub brush. The first loop was the rocky section. 5 miles uphill of lose rock. It was difficult to run upon in the dark, not knowing the surface. I hiked and ran when the rocks turned to a gravelly sort of footing. Most of the trail was either rock or a finer gravel. Some was downright beach sand. I usually walked through the sandy stuff. It was deep and I didn't want to exert all of the energy it took to get through it while running.
Dawn arrived at 631. The rising set was absolutely awesome as it peeked out from behind the mountain. Wow. Amazing. I was only carrying a handheld and a flashlight this loop. I would carry my camera the next loop so I could get some pictures of the landscape.
At Coyote Corner, the first aid station, I met a woman from MN; it was Mary Croft, from Minnesota. She was volunteering for us. I was wearing my Twin Cities Marathon shirt and she asked if I was from the Twin Cities. When I replied yes, she asked if I was Julie. I confirmed. How cool, and what a small world.
After CC the course begins to level out a bit and the footing become better. More of the gravel stuff. It was now light outside so I could see the landscape that was so foreign to me. Cactus towering above me, mountains without any vegetation, scrubby knee high brush and these pieces of cactus in the middle of the trail that would every once in a while get me! A half dozen times I had to stop and pull some cactus spikes from my shoes.
We went down into a lower elevation upon the course and I could feel cold cool air. Pretty soon I heard animal noises. There were a dozen horses feeding on cactussy things. They were lose; I don't know if they were the volunteers horses or where they came from. I hoped that I wouldn't run into one during the night.
At Jackass Junction, the 10 mile mark upon the loop, they had a porta pottie and a ton of food. They were serving Succeed, Gatorade and water. I stuck to Succeed or mixed up my Hammerheed when I was at Javelina Jeadquarters, were my drop bag was. The Succeed worked well, they also had Carboom gels which I must have consumed 40 of. I ran out of my Hammergels. In this heat my stomach was not happy with the thought of food. I only had two quarters of a sandwich and a few pretzels. Otherwise it was all gel and drink.
I made sure I drank at least 24 oz every hour. This worked well as the aid stations were about one hour apart for me, for thepace I was running. In the heat of the day I would stand at the station and gulp down an additional 4 or 5 cups of water while waiting for my bottle to be filled.
The volunteers were wonderful! I'd run into the station and someone would always be standing 15 feet up the trail to collect my bottle, asking what I would like. It was always the same: Succeed and gels. By the time I made my way to the table they had my bottle filled and gels in hand. Incredible.
I ran the first loop in 257. Right on target. I went to my drop bag, which was on a table with a chair at the Headquarters, near the bon fire. As I was slathering on my Foot Potion runners were curious as to what I was doing. Later on they became more curious as to how I didn't have any blisters and their feet were hamburger. I ended up leaving a few containers of Foot Potion on the tables for others to use. I sent 12 Potions home with others. I was so happy to see that it worked for them, too. When the runners asked what it was and where I purchased it from I told them my Foot Potion story. I told them they didn't have to pay me back, that the could try it out and see if they liked it. Guess what? Today there are 12 sales of Foot Potion from the runners that I told to take it and try it. Thank you runners. I'm glad it worked for you!
Loop 2 and I carried my camera along. I shot all of my pictures during miles 15-30. I didn't like running this direction as much as the other. This was the 5 mile rocky section is a downhill and I couldn't get the speed I could in the other direction coming downhill on a smoother surface. You pretty much climb up five miles, up and down rolling constantly for 5 miles and then a downhill for 5 miles.
Loop 3 was my worrisome loop. I wanted to add time, so had the massage, drank a ton, used the bathroom, and went out and hit it. Oh yeah, it was hot. The temperature hit 87, it was dry dry dry. My run bra felt a bit damp, but I wasn't sweaty. The sweat dried as soon as it came upon my skin. I was salty, my face was gritty. I was peeing every few hours so knew I had the drinking portion ok. I made sure to consume at least 200 calories each hour in gels and drink.
I took Advil when I couldn't tolerate the back pain. I had taken some in the early morning and again 11 hours later. That wasn't too bad. The swallowing became easier once the second round of Advil kicked in.
Loop three: 345. Good. I took it easy, didn't hammer, didn't do any damage.
Loop four the endorphins kicked in. Miles 45-60 were rocking. I felt euphoric, dancing, laughing, having the time of my life. I came into the aid stations stating how happy I was to be in Arizona and not in Minnesota. How lovely the day was, I was gushing. Then I would realize that some 'not so good looking' guys were sitting in chairs looking like they were dieing. They told me they wanted to be in Minnesota and I was too happy. Oops. I'll try to contain my euphoria.
Watching the sun set and the moon rise was incredible. A fiery red ball went behind the mountain and a big yellow moon rose, illuminating the landscape. It was spiritual. Many people ran without lights. I had my Phoenix handheld and Black Diamond head lamp and felt like I needed them both. I'm night blind. When I stopped to pee, I carefully stepped off the trail looking for the bastard piece of cactus trying to stab me, and turned out my lights. I realized how ridiculous it was to pee under cover as there was no coverage and I was illuminated by the full moon! During the night the rabbits and mice became transfixed within the beam of my lamp.
The desert is beautiful in a different way. It's not lush and green and thick. It's brown and green and dry, but there are beautiful mountains and many varieties of cactus, and everything is so 'open' it seems as if the stars and moon and sun are right there with you. I enjoyed it so very much.
As I was running my 6th loop all I could think about was wanting that glow in the dark necklace around my neck. Once I had the necklace I'd have 9 miles left. Oh the joy! I couldn't wait. I turned on my iPod to listen to Ozzie blare out Bark at the Moon. I barked at the moon, the coyotes - lots of them, barked at the moon, and the man in front of my asked me to serenade him some more and we both barked at the moon! Fantastic fun.
As I ran over the timing mat, finishing lap 6, Jamil placed the coveted necklace around my neck. I hugged him and told me it was the most beautiful piece of jewelery I had ever seen! I loved wearing that necklace, signifying that I am running my final 9 miles. What a treat.
My treat became daunting. This was the uphill rocky section to Coyote Corner. Ugh. The damn rocks, trying to run, time is of the essence, I can actually run 24 hours for a 100, a PR for me and something that I NEVER, up to this day, believed I could pull off. Ugh. My legs were tired now. Duh. They were talking back to me. "We're tired. We ache" my brain said "Tough shit legs. The brain is stronger. The brain is leading you and the brain is saying run faster. Run because you can. Run because you can have 24 hours. You ran smart, we held back, we have it. Look, the arms are pumping faster, you have to follow. You are not checking out. The brain is not checking out with you" Yeah, I have these conversations with my body parts. There was not going to be any negative I can't, I'm tired, I suck, I'm a fat imposture ultra runner. No, there will be none of that today. "OK, we are in. We are strong legs that will work with the brain, as one body to get this done" And that is just what we did.
As I was running up the hill I couldn't believe how long it was taking me. My gosh, could it take me 4 hours to run this damn 9 mile section? What is Tonto Trail? What if it is worse than this! It has to be downhill at least, but what if it is steep and even more rocky? Don't dwell on the problem. Dwell on the solution.
I finally saw it. Coyote Corner! I began to cry. Oh my gosh, I'm so happy to see you! You have on the necklace! We'll show you the shortcut to the finish. Is it rocky? Is it awful? No, it is smooth sailing, downhill, you can fly. Really? You mean it? Yes. I have 90 minutes to 24 hours. I wonder if I can do it? You can. You can. I can. I can. I will. I will.
I cranked up Megadeath and I flew. I flew. I ran those last 4 miles with everything that was left in me. I passed 4 men. The surface was a fine gravel, straight downhill, lovely. Lovely because I didn't have any blisters, I felt strong, my legs were back in the program and I was going to break 24 hours! Me!! Julie Berg! Holy shit. Never would I have believed...
I ran and ran and ran. I ran 3 miles downhill in 25 minutes. I then had 1 more mile on the Pemberton Trail to the finish. Oh my god. I ran as fast as I could. I ran through the deep sand, up the hills, over the pavement. As I passed 2 men they said "JEEZE! Where did you find THAT? You are strong and fast. You Go!" I said thanks and ran on by. I was doing it. 24 hours baby! I was going to get 23 something. Oh my god.
I began to sob. I began to sob because I was finally finishing, I had overcome the obstacles of pain and heat, I began to believe I could..and I did.
Instead of dwelling on the problem, I focused on the solution.
As I ran across the mat, bawling with emotion, Jamil yelled out "Julie Berg! 19th Finisher! 4th Woman! 23:15!!!
He congratulated me and handed over the buckle. I was beaming. Euphoria.
I continued to wear my glow in the dark necklace until I went to bed last night.
We were able to take hot showers after we finished. What a treat. I showered and immediately was cold after. I was happy to have my warm winter down jacket and hot coffee. I visited, watched other finishers come in and encouraged others to go on.
I called the boys and my Mom and Dad, then tried to rest in my rental. No go. I decided I'd head to Fountain Springs. I walked around the beautiful neighborhoods and took in the sights.
After dropping off my rental I was still at the airport way too early. My flight didn't leave until 530 so I opted to standby for earlier flights. Unfortunately the first 3 were over sold but I did get on a 330 flight and arrived home at 900. I slept like a rock last night.
I took a vacation day today. Topaz and I went for a 5 mile recovery jog. I have no swelling now, it might come on tonight. I am not sore, I have no blisters. It is amazing what a body can become accustomed to.
The results are posted at Javelina Jundred. Over half of the entrants dropped. There were 147 that began the race with 70 finishers. I think so many start out too fast and then wilt in the heat of the day.
I might have a certain Jalloween party to attend to in 2009 :) I will post pictures soon.