My training for this race was decent. I never really hit my weekly total mileage like I wanted to, but I felt I did pretty well. I did a few 50k’s and one nighttime 75k (Javelina Jangover). I did, however, do the majority of my running on a treadmill. I would try to run to work (about 15 miles) once a week or once every couple weeks, but it really didn’t happen as many times as I would have liked. Two weeks before the race, we took a weeklong family trip to Disney World. During this trip, I did 0 miles of running, however we probably walked around 10 miles per day. Oh, and the night before we left, I threw up at work (Alli and been sick a day or two before). After the trip, I ran a couple times on the treadmill and had some pretty intense right knee/IT band pain. Bad enough that I could hardly bend my leg while running. I spent the rest of the week really trying to massage my IT band, and by mid-week it seemed to be fine. By the weekend, I was again sick with a fever and diarrhea. The fever went away in about 24 hours, but the runs continued, even on race morning.
The night before the race was Halloween, so I stayed home to hand out candy while the kids trick or treated. I left the house at about 8:45pm to drive out to the race and camp. My buddy, Cade, had set up a tent so all I needed to do was show up and try to get some sleep. Tents were everywhere, and surprisingly, people were up all night! I got a horrible nights sleep, but that was to be expected. I woke up at 4:00am, had my bagel, banana, applesauce/protein, and coffee. There really wasn’t a lot to do, so we just sort of hung out in the tent and visited the bathroom a few times. At about 5:50am, we headed over to the start line and I dropped of my drop bag and filled up my water bottles. A few short minutes later, the race started!
The first few miles were in the dark, but I didn’t bring a headlamp. There were so many other people with lights that I really had no problem seeing. It also was a bit slower of a pace to start, simply because there were 500 people all running together. But it really didn’t take long to thin out. Our basic plan was to run the flats and downhills, and walk most, if not all, uphills. Our time goal was to finish the first two laps (each lap was just over 15 miles) in under 3:30 each. The first lap was pretty uneventful, and we actually were well ahead of our pace and finished in 3:05:18. My family was at Javelina Jeadquarters and greeted us with cheers and smiles. It was great to see them! I spent a few minutes taking pictures with the family. We refilled our nutrition and made our way out for loop 2. At the first aid station (1.5 miles into loop 2), we stopped to use the bathroom. I pee’d, then stepped out of the bathroom and felt the need to release some gas. Suddenly, I realized that this gas could not be trusted and I jumped back into the bathroom (luckily there was nobody else waiting to use the bathroom) only to have sever diarrhea. Not a good way to start lap 2! Luckily, other than the bathroom episode, lap 2 was also quite uneventful. Although, I did start to notice that my right IT band/knee were making me aware of their existence, which made me nervous. From training runs we had done on the course, we knew that the even numbered laps would be tougher, so we expected our time to slow a little. We came in at 6:45:56 a.m., or right about 3:40 for lap 2, which meant we were still just ahead of our goal pace!
Lap 3 would be a difficult one because it was now going to be the hottest part of the day and we would also be matching both of our distance PR’s of 75k/46.5 miles. We were able to maintain a relatively steady pace, and were actually very lucky with the weather in that the weekend was much cooler than the rest of the week had been (forecasted high of upper 70’s), and we actually ended up with a mostly overcast afternoon! This lap could have been a lot hotter, and a lot harder, but we were lucky with the weather. Near the end of the lap, about 4 miles or so, it was getting a little hot, and out of nowhere appeared a man and son (I assume) with a cooler full of popsicles and otter pops! At that moment, it sounded sooooo delicious, so I opted for a blue otter pop, and Cade took one as well. That thing was so dang good, but it did give me a little side stitch. Oh well…totally worth it. As we finished up loop 3, I had made the plan to charge my phone during the 4th loop, as well as carry the smaller portable charge with me to charge my Garmin on the move during the 4th loop. We finished up loop 3, took slightly longer getting ready for the 4th loop than I would have liked, but we had a lot to do! We had to put on warmer clothes (it would turn dark during our next loop), refill nutrition, grab headlamps, call/text family, I had to get chargers all set, I re-lubed my feet and changed socks, and probably a few other things that I don’t remember. Anyway, we finally made it out of Jeadquarters still 5 minutes ahead of my goal pace (we finished the lap in under 4 hours, which was the goal, but changing time took quite a while, which ate up our spare time). Regardless, being that close to my goal pace at this point was awesome! However, this is when things got rough for Cade.
We headed out on loop 4 (which was again the more difficult direction) and everything was going great. We both were in new, uncharted territory and with every step were were setting a distance PR. Prior to the race, I put the goal pace for each lap on my phone’s lock screen so I could quickly access it between loops to see what our next required pace would be. Unfortunately, I left my phone in the tent to charge and failed to look at what our required pace for lap 4 was. I knew our goal time for the lap was 5 hours, but couldn’t do the math on the fly to figure out what the pace was (which should have been simple…roughly 15 divided by 5 = 3 or 20:00/mile. To make up for the .4 of the loop, 19:00 would have been a nice round number). Since I didn’t have my phone, I had to guess our needed pace to finish the lap under 5 hours, and guessed 17:30 as our goal pace. Also, I was charging my Garmin, which meant I could not look down and see our pace, so I just had to go based on feel, which after 46.5 miles was not so great. Needless to say, I may have been pushing a little harder than necessary. I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but Cade started to fade back a bit. He wasn’t right on my heels like he had been all day, and he apparently stopped taking in any real nutrition. At Jackass Junction, I took out my Garmin, only to find that there had been some weird malfunction, and it had turned off. Worse yet, when I turned it on, it froze. So, I repeated this turn off/turn on scenario about 5 times, thinking something different would happen, when finally, something different did happen! It started working again, but had erased all of our previous data. Not a big deal, I just didn’t know what our overall pace was for the whole race. Anyway, I could now see what our average pace was for the second half of lap 4. I did some quick math to figure out how much time we had left to finish the lap in 5 hours, and realized we had been going too fast and could slow down quite a bit. In fact, I remember telling Cade that would could do 22:00 miles for the rest of the lap and still be right on target. Cade continued to go downhill and was now noticing that he was going downhill. His family was now waiting for us at Jeadquarters, and I convinced him to at least finish up the lap and then we could evaluate things. As we came in to finish the lap, his wife saw him and knew that he was not in good shape. I told her to get the chairs set up at the tent and we would meet them over there. When we got to the tent, his whole family was very supportive and helpful, but Cade was not doing well. He had gone too long without nutrition and wasn’t really in any shape to continue. I stayed with him for about 10-15 minutes, trying to convince him not to quit yet, but instead to take a nap and then maybe try again. He actually had a friend that was there to pace him for the 5th lap. I felt Cade should take a nap, get some nutrition, and then see if he could continue. Finally, it came time for me to say adios and move on, otherwise my race would be in jeopardy as well. Unfortunately, Cade decided to call it a day and was done at 100k. Still an amazing feat and PR!
I grabbed my drop bag and went to get all set up to do the next 40 miles by myself. I went to grab my phone, only to find that for some reason it did not charge, and was instead down to 32%! This meant I would have to try the other charger and hope it had enough juice left to charge my phone, otherwise I might have trouble getting in touch with my dad who was coming to do the last 9 miles with me. I plugged it in and hoped for the best! I also grabbed my iPod, which was a lifesaver. I also changed shoes, then headed on out. I was now about 20 minutes behind my planned schedule, which was alright. I knew I had an hour buffer built into my predicted finishing time (before the cutoff). I had a burst of energy as I started lap 5 and felt like I took off flying, even though I probably wasn’t going any faster. This was again the easier direction to travel, so I was excited about that. I ended up meeting a few people along the way. I don’t recall any names, but it was nice to pass some time chatting with other people who were hurting just like me. From what I recall, lap 5 was great, just slow. When I crossed the line to finish lap 5, my total time was 21:03:33, which meant I was 3:33 behind from when I wanted to START lap 6. So, every second I took at Jeadquarters would add to my time deficit. Fortunately, at this point, I didn’t care a whole lot. I knew that I had just under 9 hours to finish, and as long as I could keep up the pace I had been doing, I would finish. I checked my phone and was happy to see that it was fully charged. I called my dad to let him know that I had actually made it through 5 laps and would be looking to start the 6th lap in about 4 1/2 - 5 hours. I knew I wouldn’t want to make him wait around for forever, so this gave me more motivation to hit my lap 6 goal.
Lap 6 was a little crazy. I had now been awake since 4am the day before, so 23 hours or so. I had also done 76.5 miles, which blew my mind. At some point, I became very tired and was a total zombie walking around out there. I could tell my eyelids were super heavy and all I wanted to do was sleep. In fact, I kept seeing little tents all along the course, with runners taking little power naps. Great idea! Except for when I got closer, there was no runner, and no tents. Total hallucination!s. One thing that kept me off of the ground were the massive ants that were pretty much everywhere out there! Ha! I knew that I was so close, and if I wasn’t going to finish, then I should have just stopped after 4 laps. I knew future Jason would be pissed if I stopped now. So onward I went, just focusing on getting to the next mile, and the next aid station, or whatever else came to my head at the moment. I started sitting down for a couple minutes at each aid station. Just long enough to give my blistered feet a break, have someone refill my water, and gather my thoughts, then it was off to the next landmark. About 2.5 miles away from finishing the loop, I got a call from my dad saying he was at Jeadquarters and was waiting. I told him I would be about 45 minutes, which gave me a short-term goal to focus on. I reached the final aid station of the loop, sat down for 5 minutes, and got back up again. When I finally finished lap 6, my total race time was 26:13:03. This meant I was 13 behind my goal, but that I also had 3 hours and 47 minutes to do 9 miles. Things were looking good! I told my dad that I wanted to sit down until the race clock said “26:30:00”. So I sat there, resting my legs, talking with some people around us, when I finally realized, there’s no reason in prolonging this suffering. I needed to get this thing over with!
We headed out for the last lap. My dad did an awesome job, and I really did a poor job at preparing him. I really just told him it was 2 easy miles, followed by 2 miles of climbing, then the rest was a gradual downhill back to the finish. I forgot to mention that the first two miles contained a few sections of beach sand (or what sure seemed like quick sand to me!), the climbing miles contain large, jagged rocks that made getting any solid footing just about impossible, and the final miles I had never actually done before. But, he paced me without complaining and kept me moving at a great pace! In fact, we hadn’t seen anyone for almost the entire final 9 miles, until we saw a handful of people and passed 3 people with about 3 miles to go! Eat my dust suckers! Other than this lap being painful and slow, there were no major surprises during the lap. In other races I've done, it's common to run across the finish line to get a great looking photo. My dad asked if this was my plan, and I said "Heck no! I am DONE running today." However, when we finally made it back to Jeadquarters, the camera man, of course, had to get right in my face and film me. So, I had to put on a show and “run” while my dad walked next to me. It probably looked really dumb, but oh well. My dad was nice enough to "jog" with me, though, so it wasn't obvious how slow we were moving. Then, as we made the final turn, my dad yelled out, “Look who’s here!” and there was Keith and Teri with my kids! My eyes immediately swelled up and I ran over and gave Alli and big hug and a kiss (Luke appeared to be sleeping). Cade and his wife had also come back and were there too! Then, when I turned to actually cross the finish line, there was the guy who talked me into this whole crazy thing, Rick Cheever (who finished about an hour before me)! It was so cool to have all of those people at the finish line when I really didn’t expect anyone to be there (in fact, I actually told everyone not to come out due to the uncertainty of me finishing, the location, and everyone’s schedules).
Once I finished, all I wanted to do was sit down. My dad grabbed me a Coke, and it was probably the best tasting Coke I have ever had, or will ever have. We chatted for a while until I decided it was time to clean up and get the heck out of there. I did forget to get an actual finishers photo though, which I’m pretty bummed about. But oh well. After over 29 hours of being on my feet, I had officially run a 100-mile ultra marathon!
As for my nutrition, it was very simple. Cade actually told me about a company called “Tailwind Nutrition”. I read the reviews online and they sounded to be God’s gift to endurance athletes, claiming that this one drink can replace the drink/gel combo that most athletes do. They had a “Tailwind Challenge”, which meant you bought 4 bags to train and race with, and if you were unsatisfied, you could get a refund for your race entry. I figured what the heck. So I signed up. Well, during my 100 miles, I didn’t so much as touch another form of nutrition. I pre-measured 2.5 scoops of Tailwind into ziplock bags and just grabbed them after each loop. My plan was to drink a full bottle of water + 2.5 scoops every hour. Then starting on lap 5, I would incorporate the flavor with caffein. I stuck to my plan almost flawlessly, and made it through the whole race without feeling sick (not including my explosion at mile 17…I credit that to my entire week of diarrhea) and without feeling hungry. The only time I felt noticeably off was when I was super tired and sleepy. Maybe I could have used more of the caffeine version, or added some Coke. Who knows. Regardless, it seems to have worked.
The aftermath really wasn’t all that bad either. I had about 6 blisters between my two feet, and then a few hotspots. The rest of my body was tired, but not too bad at all. I took a 3 hour nap after the race and was pretty stiff when I woke up. Then I got about 10 hours of sleep at night and really felt quite well in the morning, other than my feet still hurting. All in all, I believe it was a very successful event!
So, the big question is, will I ever do this sort of thing again? Drum roll please.....I have no idea. I NEVER planned on doing it this time, so I can honestly say, I don't know.
And with that, you have now wasted a good 15-20 minutes reading about my race. Go do something productive!