Javelina Jundred 2016: race recap

I went into Javelina Jundred  — my first 100 mile race — feeling as prepared as I could be. When I started to look at the 10-day forecast, the Phoenix area had a high of 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and wouldn’t that have been nifty if it actually stayed that way? But as each day passed and inched closer to race day, the temperature also increased. When I arrived on Thursday, there was a record setting temperature of 100 degrees that day, but I didn’t let it phase me. I trained for the heat and I had no control over what it is. All I knew was, Saturday was going to be a hot one, but I didn’t know what I was in for. But isn’t that the whole point of me doing 100 miles? To find out.

Friday morning, the nervous butterflies started to kick up as I made my way over to Javelina Jeadquarters to get my tent situated for my crew. And the butterflies were still there when I made my way over to the bib pickup at the We-Ko-Pa Resort. It was there I was finally going to meet my Ultra Ordinary Running podcast friend, Melissa! She and her husband Rob came in from Colorado earlier that afternoon and they actually stumbled upon me in the parking lot. Talk about perfect timing!

Tent City at Javelina Jeadquarters
Tent City at Javelina Jeadquarters
Smiles with Melissa at the expo

We went into the expo together to retrieve our bibs and goodie bag. I even introduced her to Catra Corbett (as if we’re old friends) whom I got to meet at the Bulldog 50K back in August. And eventually, Melissa and I dug up enough courage to talk to race director Jamil Coury who is super tall compared to our vertical challengedness.

With the original Dirt Diva, Catra Corbett
Brought Jamil Coury down to our Ultra Ordinary level. 😉

Before we knew it, we bid adieu for the evening because apparently, we had a race the next morning. The rest of the evening I spent getting last minute items organized for my drop bags and turning in early…6:30PM early. My 2AM alarm was going to sound off any minute, and I wanted to get in as much sleep as possible, which was an impossible task. First off, turns out the hotel I was staying in has some pretty thin walls and I heard a man talking loudly on the phone and then eventually singing. I don’t believe he was singing into the phone at that point. But besides that, it was hard to rest fully because then I started to think about the race. Good thing I slept pretty well the night before.

When my alarm went off, the reality of what was ahead of me hit me. I was terrified. I was also very sleepy. I wanted to stay in my pajamas. I wanted to stay bed. I wanted to go eat breakfast and go get a coffee and relax all day. And then I thought I can do that next weekend. For that day, I had a date with the trails in the Sonoran Desert, and I was ready for them!

Once I got to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, I lounged in my tent. Still sleepy, I closed my eyes and relaxed, but didn’t go so far as to actually fall asleep. I probably could have fallen a sleep for a little bit, but I didn’t. I listened to other runners and crew walking around and the sounds of their footsteps on the dirt made me think of someone chewing some very crunchy cereal. As I listened, I was coming up with reasons as to why I should leave that tent. For starters, I signed up and trained for this race. Besides, I’m already here, so why not?

When I heard Jamil Coury’s voice blast through the speakers, I knew the start was 20 minutes away so I made my way over. I said goodbye to my family and headed to the corner where everyone was gathering. I remembered what Dave told me, “if you look around and don’t see anyone wearing costumes, you should probably move back.” I didn’t see many costumes so I made me way more towards the back and surprisingly through the darkness, I stumbled upon Melissa and Rob. I was so happy to see some familiar faces! A few minutes later, friends Jim and Ta’Mara would find us.

Smiles before the race
Smiles before the race

The temperature was cool and calm which was in stark contrast to what I was feeling inside. I was nervous. I took some video and photos and it helped to take my mind off what was ahead of me. This was just going to be a day of me putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again. That’s it. For 100 miles.

When we were finally off and running, there wasn’t too much running going on. Many people were walking because I think we all figured we were going to be out there for a mighty long time so why rush it? There will be plenty of running on hand.

For the first mile or so, I was with Melissa, Jim and Ta’Mara maneuvering some single track until Melissa who is the strongest runner of us all, bolted ahead. I bid her farewell with a “Go Melissa Go!” and it would be awhile until I saw her again. Eventually Jim and Ta’Mara would surge ahead and it was me. Alone. Yeah, there were a few people around me, but I quickly came to the realization it would be me by myself in this desert for most of the day. And for the most part, I didn’t mind it too much. I knew I would have moments where I talked to other runners and those moments helped to get out of my own head, but for other times, I’d have to rely on myself to do that.

Excellent course marking throughout the race!

Early on I felt good, but doesn’t everybody pretty much feel good early into a race? Well, I suppose that isn’t necessarily true. I heard stories some people got sick the night before, and had GI issues before the race had started.

I rolled into the first aid station on Loop 1 (loop 1 of 5 this day) – Coyote Camp – and I had to take out a pebble that got into my left shoe somehow. This would be a periodic occurrence for the first and second loops unfortunately, because silly me forgot that pebbles can still gather underneath the insole of the shoes, and if you don’t clean those out, the pebbles will continue to surface, which they did. I was baffled and annoyed and kept telling myself, “isn’t this why I wear gaiters?!” Eventually I remedied the situation for good. I ate a peanut butter and jelly square and dipped my bandana in ice water before taking off.

The area between Coyote Camp and Jackass Junction were 6.5 miles of rocks. Not the entire way, but I would say a good portion of it. It was my least favorite of all the sections I would encounter on every loop because it slowed me down and when the rocks would roll under my feet, I feared losing my balance and plopping down face first into a cactus.

Arriving into the infamous Jackass Junction, I grabbed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, filled up my hydration pack with water, got a refill of CarboPro and used the restroom. Using the restroom is something I could usually go without during marathons, but there is no way of avoiding it during ultras and especially during a 100 miler. To me, it’s a sign I was staying hydrated and my kidneys were functioning. I also dropped off my headlamp here in my drop bag so I could retrieve it later in the race.

I would say the section between Jackass Junction and the Rattlesnake Ranch aid stations was fairly flat with some downhill slopes. At least it felt like that early on. It was a nice runnable section and I took advantage of it. In fact, I was doing pretty well pace-wise with being a good 10-20 minutes ahead of schedule into each aid station. Because I knew my Garmin wasn’t going to last 30 hours I only used the time on it to gauge my progress.

When I hit Rattlesnake, the temperature was really starting to warmup. I got more water, CarboPro, and added ice to my bandana. Before I left, I made sure I got doused with ice cold water over my head thinking it would keep me cool and wet for at least awhile. I’m pretty sure I dried within 5 minutes.

The Escondido Trail was a new addition for this year’s race and it was 6.6 miles of single track into Javelina Jeadquarters. By the time I arrived on it, the heat really got turned on and I’m pretty certain the temps were mid-90s here with spots in the 100s. I’ve run in 100 degree temps plenty of times and this definitely felt like it. Once my bandana dried I placed it under my hat to shield the back of my neck and head from the sun and heat even more. I looked a little kooky but I didn’t care. It helped.

At some point, a medical personnel came rolling up on a bike and alerted the runner ahead of me and myself, that she was responding to a fellow runner who was in distress. She asked me if I had enough water with me, to which I responded, “yes.” I wasn’t sure if they were in distress because of the heat itself, but it sure sounded like it. Hence, why she asked if I had enough water.

There was one thing I know I needed to do when I got to Jeadquarters – reapply RunGoo. My feet actually felt great. No blisters. No hotspots. No irritation anywhere. So I reapplied it simply as a measure of precaution. I ran myself through the camp in the designated alley, passing crews and their booths set up for their runners, and ran across the timing mat. I walked around where the arrow pointed and asked the guys in the booth, “Is that right?” One guy said, “Yep, it’s as simple as that.” Great!

I went back to the aid station and grabbed some Ginger Ale and walked to where the drop bags were to retrieve my RunGoo. Sitting down next to a few people, some guys didn’t look too great. The heat may have taken it’s toll on them. I looked over to my right where a couple of men were sitting and one of them was looking around with this dazed look on his face and probably thinking “why did I sign up for this?” I said, “We’re feeling great, right?” He just smiled at me.

After a couple of cups of Ginger Ale, Pringles, a refill of water, CarboPro, and ice in the bandana and wetting my head, I was off for the second loop.

I can describe Loop 2 in one word: Torture.

But this is a chosen suffering after all.

Because we run in a “washing machine” style, I made my way back towards the Rattlesnake Ranch aid station, but without the Escondido Trail. That trail was only on the first loop and it’s now done. This time I was on the Shallmo Trail which felt like a gradual uphill slope that I was going to love coming back down!

Not much really happened during this 3.7 mile stretch aside from slowly making my way up towards Rattlesnake. I say slowly, because this was when the heat reached it’s intensity. All I kept focusing on was keeping hydrated and one foot in front of the other. I still had a pretty good pace overall, maybe slightly behind due to reapplying RunGoo, but nothing I couldn’t make up. At least that’s what I believed at this point.

For the most part I still felt good considering the heat always tends to drain my energy. Because of this I switched up my strategy. I wanted to play it smart. Since I knew this heat was slowing me down, I allowed myself to slow down to stay hydrated and take in as many calories as I could during this second loop so that when the sun started to go down and the temperature would begin to dip, I could surge ahead and make up some time. Or so I thought.

What happened next is something I had never trained, or planned for.

I arrived at Rattlesnake Ranch to eat, refill ice in my bandana, and douse myself with water. Before I left I made sure I filled up my hydration pack with water because it was a 5.2 mile stretch up to Jackass Junction and it was going to take me a good hour and 10 to 15 minutes to get there.

I left the aid station feeling good. Nothing out of the ordinary for being 26 miles into a race.

A few minutes went by and I took a sip of my water. What the hell? I took another sip. Oh gosh what is this? I took another sip. I spit it out. 

What in the hell just happened? 

My water tasted tainted. My first impression was it was unfiltered tap water. But then I realized it tasted heavily chlorinated. So chlorinated, I couldn’t ingest it.

I was heading into a big problem here.

The water I received was from the large blue container marked “Water” and I tried to replay it in my head to see if I took it from some other water source, but I know I didn’t. I even asked the volunteer to confirm, “this is water, right?” and got a “yeah” in return.

[Later on, when I’d tell my pacer John about the water, he suspected that maybe they cleaned the containers, but residue was still lingering.]

I made myself drink the water. I was too far ahead to go back to Rattlesnake and refill with other water. But other than the water in my CarboPro, I had no other water source. I made myself take more sips of this heavily chlorinated water until I couldn’t anymore. At this point I started walking with this man Gene, and I was telling him about the water, even offering him to try it. “After how you described it, I think I’ll pass,” he said jokingly.

I was in a dilemma. Am I doing more harm to my body by drinking it, or not? 

The water tasted so horribly nasty, I couldn’t get myself to drink it. Gene was so nice and supportive and talkative trying to distract me from the effects of not being able to drink this water because I was heading into dehydration city. So I focused on getting to Jackass. It was close. Wrong.

After getting the crappy water, it took me a very slow and extremely hot, 2 hours to reach Jackass, which was the 50K mark. By the time I reached it, I was nauseous, dizzy, tired, overheated, and dehydrated. I was familiar with this feeling before because I felt at the Leona Divide 50K in 2013 when I DNF’d after 18 miles.

Before reaching Jackass, I eliminated all of the gross water from my pack. I refilled it with fresh water and tasted it before I took another step. The water was ok, but my pack bladder now appeared to be tainted with chlorine. I got a cup of Ginger Ale and went into the tent to sit and rehydrate, where I would do so until I felt better to move again – 20 minutes later.

Twenty precious minutes would pass before I felt well enough to keep going. When I entered the tent, I saw the four cots occupied with people suffering the effects of heat and cramps. There were a few people dropping the race at this point and I knew I didn’t want to be included in that group. Dropping was not going to be an option for me here.

One man was doing the math and told a woman “you could do 20 minute miles at this point and still finish the race.” I liked the sound of that, but I didn’t believe him, based on my pace chart for a 29 to 30 hour finish. I was in trouble. But I wasn’t going to give up hope yet.

Justin, the aid station captain, kept filtering in and out of the tent to check in on us. He wanted us out, but only if we were well enough. I needed to move and get going because more precious time lost was only going to make it that much more difficult for me. I got more ice in my bandana, ate a couple more pieces of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grabbed my headlamp out of my drop bag, and started walking. I felt so tired.

A little while after leaving Jackass for the second time, another sensation hit me – periodic short soft pains in the pit of stomach which would plague my body until I reached the next aid station – Coyote Camp. Could these be a consequence of ingesting the nasty water? 

It was within this section between Jackass and Coyote Camp, I would see Jimmy Dean Freeman barreling down the trail where he gave me a high-five. I’d also see Carlos (who I met during a 24 mile trail run and is featured at the end of one of my vlogs) and I’d finally come across Melissa! Both looked so strong! And I felt defeated. Stay vertical and keep moving. I would tell myself over and over. But I felt bad.

As hard as I was trying to keep drinking more water, I was dehydrated. The lack of water between miles 26 and 31 took it’s toll on me. Five miles in 100 degree temperatures, in full exposure, and no water, took it’s toll on me. But “stay vertical and keep moving” was what I told myself over and over.

At this point I started to walk with a man named Franz and at first I thought he said “France” so I called him France. Now I know he said Franz. But he had a pretty good clip of a pace and I was able to stay with him for probably a good portion of the 6.5 miles into Coyote Camp. In fact, when I stopped to chat with Melissa for a minute, Franz pressed on, but I caught up to him. I kinda hung back a bit because I didn’t want him to feel like I was stalking him, but we talked and laughed for a bit and those moments were great.

Those moments made me forget for a second I was angry. I was angry for getting sucky bad tasting water that made me not want to drink it. Those moments made me forget for a second I was feeling horrible. My body felt horrible. I felt dehydrated and I had to go pee. I was feeling tired, but I knew I had to push through it. This is 100-freakin’-miles after all. Tiredness is expected! And darkness set in.

The sun was going down as quickly as I was.

When I got to Coyote Camp, I got a refill of everything, and drank some Ginger Ale. I sat down next to a guy who looked in worse shape than me. I wondered if he got the nasty water back at Rattlesnake Ranch as well. I didn’t ask.

Before leaving, I used the restroom because I had to go pee so badly. My bladder felt so full because I knew I was drinking so much water to make up for what I lost, but when I went, there was barely anything. Well now, that’s strange.

Upon leaving the porta potty, I ran into my friend Jim who was well into his third loop. My friend Ta’Mara was also there at the station. I felt slightly defeated again because I knew they were close to a good 8 miles ahead of me. But Ta’Mara kept telling me, “You’re good. Just keep going.” She was so positive and I believed her so I pressed on. Stay vertical and keep moving.

Five minutes after I left Coyote Camp at mile 37.7, I had to go pee again. What the hell? I just went 5 minutes ago! My bladder felt so full. Again! I tried to take advantage of every downhill slope as much as possible but my stomach hurt whenever I ran. I had to slow down and walk more, which I was already doing, but now it was dark and I couldn’t see very well, so I couldn’t run faster even if I wanted to. I also kept ingesting water every few minutes.

Before reaching Javelina Jeadquarters, I was able to text my pacer John who would be coming out with me for the third loop to let him know when he should expect me which was going to be around 7:30PM. Shortly after, I ran into friends Vida and Heather, who were with their respective pacers, setting out on their third loop.

I got into Jeadquarters and saw my pacer John standing right at the entrance. He ran over to let my sister and mom know I was coming through. I ran across the timing mat and headed back to the drop bag area where I got worked on like an Indy 500 race car with my pit crew! I was brought Pringles and Ginger Ale and got the pebbles taken out from under my insoles, and when I was about to reapply RunGoo to my feet, I discovered I had a small blister on the side of my big toe on my right foot. What??? Where did this come from?? I had no idea! I certainly didn’t feel it.

Lucky for me, pacer John took me over to the SoCal Coyotes crew tent to get my blister lanced before it got worse. From there we set out into the dark night which would be the hardest and slowest 19+ miles of the race.

It must’ve been around April when John told me he’d pace me at Javelina and that I’d be the third person he’d pace to their first 100 mile finish. I was excited because I knew I was in the hands of someone very knowledgable and experienced.

Early into this third loop my toe really stung from being lanced and I tried not to think about it, but it was difficult. John would ask me questions and I would talk for a bit, but then I’d get quiet. I didn’t feel like talking. I was feeling so horrible from being tired and my stomach feeling off and my bladder feeling full and my foot stinging. As time when on, the stinging in my foot went away and everything else intensified.

We slowly made our way through the darkness and it was probably a mile or so into my third loop when someone coming towards me passed and I heard “Go Christina, go get it!” I stopped to turn around and asked “Who is that? Heather?!” She said “yeah.” I said “Oh no, what’s going on? How’s your foot?” She had a foot injury coming into the race but I must say she looked very strong out there. A second later, Vida came upon us. They were turning around early because they decided to end their races. I was bummed to hear this, and I tried to convince them they still had time. It didn’t work.

After saying our goodbyes and Heather telling me “finish for us,” John and I pressed on and made it to Coyote Camp, at 45.7 miles, where I used the porta potty yet again because I had the constant sensation of a full bladder and yet I didn’t really go pee that much. I also had some veggie broth and Ginger Ale. I sat down next to a guy whom I’ve seen periodically throughout the race at the aid stations. In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw him at every single aid station since Loop 2 and it wasn’t too difficult to notice him since he had on some of the shortest shorts I’ve seen on a guy running in any race.

I was about to embark on the rocky section between Coyote Camp and Jackass, but this time, elements were working against me – I was tired (no surprise there since this is an ultra after all), my bladder felt so full and painful, I couldn’t run because my stomach hurt to run, and it was dark. Even with the brightest of lights, I run much slower in the dark. Plus the dust kicked up and I simply couldn’t gauge the drops in the trail and contrasts of the rocks too easily.

One thing I found interesting was the lack of chill or cool temperature. Word on the street is, or I should say, word out in the desert is, the temperatures tend to drop and after we wear sweaty clothes all day, we can get chills at night. This was the least of my concerns at this point because the temperature was still really warm. I was prepared to change clothes but didn’t need to.

About 3 miles to go until Jackass, I started to do math.

“John, by the time we get to Jackass, it may be somewhere around midnight.”

Yeah.

“And we still have about another 10 miles to go until Jeadquarters.”

Yeah.

“That means I will probably need to do 19 miles in 3 hours.”

Yeah.

“John, in your honest opinion, do you think I’m going to make that cutoff?”

Pause

And I could feel the tears start to well up because to be honest, John didn’t need to say anything. I knew it was going to be physically impossible for me to complete 19 miles in 2.5 to 3 hours. It was here I realized I wasn’t going to make the 80 mile cutoff time at 6AM. I knew my race was going to be over soon and the flood of tears came rushing out. Good thing it was dark.

“I’m so sorry John. I’m so sorry.” This was all I could think of saying.

The pain I felt wasn’t so much physical anymore. It was emotional. I felt heartbroken. I felt severely defeated. I felt disappointed. I felt like I let others down. I let myself down. I feel like I put so much time and energy into training and preparing for this race for what?? For 61 miles?? John and I discussed heading back out on loop 4, but I couldn’t get myself to do it. I was tired and I felt done. My body didn’t have it. In a way, maybe I just gave up at that point, and then I got upset with myself for feeling that way.

In my quietness, I started to rely on what has helped me with any tough races and moments: gratitude. Even though my race was not going as greatly as I would’ve liked it to (damn you filthy water!!!), I was feeling grateful for this opportunity. I tried to remember how many people would love to be in my shoes right now, and even simply, having the ability to walk and run, regardless of the distance. I started to think of blessings and I prayed. I prayed for strength to get me through the remaining miles. Those tears stemmed from feeling like many people, including me, sacrificed their time, energy, and money to support me and I didn’t finish what I set out to do. It broke my heart.

The next couple of miles dragged on slowly as I tried to murmur “good job” to passing runners. One of them being Jimmy Dean Freeman whom I had passed in nearly the exact location as the first time I saw him. He said, “Good job Christina” and I turned around and said, “Who’s that?” “Jimmy Dean.” Oh!!! It was really dark out there.

In fact it was so dark out there you could see the stars shining so brightly. I remembered being out on my first night training run with Mitch and Sundar and Mitch told us to turn off our lights so we can look at the stars. So at one point, I asked John if we could stop and turn off our lights to look at the stars. They were so beautiful and there were so many of them. The sky was so clear and the stars really did look like diamonds in the sky.

Jackass Junction in darkness.
Not a giant star. It’s Jackass Junction in darkness.

When I reached Jackass Junction for the final time, the party was in full swing. I plopped myself down in a chair and tried to take it all in because I knew I wasn’t coming back. John went to get my drop bag to put in the “return to Jeadquarters” section so I lounged there in the chair trying to figure out what I should do. Should I eat something? Should I drink something? I had no idea what to do at this point so I just sat there. Like a log.

And then I looked to my right to find where John was and I saw him talking to Jim Walmsley, and then I saw them both looking over at me, at which point, Mr. Walmsley waves to me.

For a second I wanted to turn around to see who he was waving to. Me???

Oh my god he waved to me. What do I do? Do I continue to sit there like a log? Or do I walk over? 

And as I walked over, I said to myself, I was right! I knew I saw Jim Walmsley running as I struggled between Rattlesnake Ranch and Jackass Junction on Loop 2! In fact, I told him that I saw him but I wasn’t sure if it was him. He replied, “yeah I saw a couple of Jim Walmsley’s today.” “Well that is the ultimate compliment,” I said.

I’m not going to write about the in-depth conversation we had because this post has already turned out way longer than I anticipated, which ironically is the exact opposite of how my race turned out, but anyhoo, I will say this, Jim Walmsley is one of the sincerest, nicest, genuine, positive persons I’ve come across and I only spoke to him for about 15 to 20 minutes. At least that’s what it felt like. Maybe it more like 30 minutes or 10. Who knows?

Within that time, Jim Walmsley found out about my race and what I was feeling and he comforted me. He tried to make me see the positive aspects because being at 52.2 miles at that point was my farthest distance thus far (he gave me a high-five) and by the time I reach Javelina Jeadquarters again, I would’ve finished the 100K distance which will be my farthest distance ever. He brought me a couple of cups of Coca-Cola. He gave me a hug. He talked about constant forward progress. Each step taken is a step in accomplishing what you set out to accomplish but to keep moving. You learn way more from the races that don’t go as planned than the ones that do. 

Getting 100 mile race insight, inspiration, and encouragement from Jim Walmsley. I think we're BFF's now.
Getting 100 mile race insight, inspiration, and encouragement from Jim Walmsley. I think we’re BFF’s now. (Photo credit: John Magnussen)

At one point I had to use the restroom, no surprise there, and he says, “well come by and say goodbye to me before you leave.”

Before leaving Mr. Jim Walmsley, there was one question I was curious about. “Do your feet ever hurt?” And without any hesitation, he let’s out this loud, “Oh my gosh YES!!!!” But he did say Hoka’s help him. However, he added, “you have to block out the pain.”

And that was the best time I had during this race. He gave me the layout of the next 9 miles. “Once you leave Rattlesnake, it’s all downhill from there.”

I was ready for the downhill.

I was also ready to see friends such as Melissa again who should be coming back up on her 4th loop at any moment. For most of the area between Coyote Camp and Jackass Junction, I felt like I should be seeing her and then after I came upon Carlos, Jim, and Ta’Mara who were all on their 4th loop, after Jackass, I began to get concerned about Melissa. I know she’s fast, but not fast enough where she would’ve zoomed by me and I wouldn’t have noticed. Although I did almost miss Jimmy Dean the second time. I guess time would tell.

After talking to Jim Walmsley my spirit felt so uplifted and I felt more positive about the outcome of my race than before he started talking to me. Yeah, that was indeed pretty epic for me.

My body still felt bad. I was trying to figure out what I could have done differently which being in the thick of a 100 miler and 55 miles into the day and on the verge of a DNF, may not be the best time for reflection. But I felt like I took enough salt and electrolytes throughout the day. I tried my hardest to rehydrate after the Jackass Junction on Loop 2. I took in calories. I ate. I don’t feel like the heat itself was the primary factor but more of a secondary consequence due to the lack of hydration I had for 5 miles during peak heat hours. But maybe it was. I was upset with me. Maybe I should’ve just made myself keep drinking that nasty tasting water even though it gave me stomach pains later. Maybe I should’ve sucked it up, no pun intended, and trekked, however long it was, back to Rattlesnake to tell them my water was bad and get fresh water. If I was able to stay hydrated, the heat didn’t bother me.

As Jim Walmsley reiterated, “The heat was so brutal!” And it was. But I said, I trained so hard for this race. I put in so much time and effort and even did heat training in the dry sauna. To which he said, “It’s not the same thing.”

When I think about how hot it was that day, I know it was hot. But I also know I tolerated it a lot better than I did on that fateful day in 2013 when I DNF’d at Leona Divide. In fact, I’m quite surprised I was able to withstand it for as long as I did. If this was me a year ago, or even a few months ago, without heat training, I know my race would’ve been over for me a lot sooner.  And I can honestly say, I’m quite proud of myself for that and I don’t think I would’ve done anything differently. I think the dry sauna actually helped me tolerate the heat more.

When John and I rolled into the last aid station at Rattlesnake Ranch, it was like an oasis. I knew I still had 3.7 miles left to go and I was banking on that downhill to pull me through to the end. I was also hesitant to get more water here, so I knocked out the remaining liquid from my CarboPro bottle and filled it with water. I drank it and it was fine.

We sat down for a few minutes where I had more veggie broth and I saw the guy wearing short shorts strolling in and we chatted a bit. After which, it was time to go. It was time for my race to be over with.

“This doesn’t seem like downhill,” I said to John, as we neared Jeadquarters very slowly.

“I was thinking the same thing,” he replied.

I think Jim Walmsley and I may have two different definitions of downhill. Of course, if I was feeling physically a lot better I may have agreed with him. But how can this stretch of trail be uphill in both directions? 

I texted my sister to let her know I was coming in.

When I reached the entrance of Jeadquarters, I couldn’t stop the tears. John and I ran silently, as much as I could run. I would hear people from their tents that were lined up along the track, shout out to me, “good work” and “good job.” I tried hard to smile through my tears.

When I reached the timing mat for the final time, I went up to give my bib number and tell them I dropped but I couldn’t even speak. The woman pointed me in the direction to receive my buckle, but then a guy said, “no, she’s dropping.”

Dropping. That stung harder than that blister I had lanced.

John and I walked back to the drop bag area where my mom and sister were waiting for me. And just like that, after 3 loops and 61 miles later, my 100 mile race was officially over.

 

Thank you to Jamil Coury, and all the Aravaipa staff for all their hard work at organizing this event. 

Thank you to all the aid stations and the volunteers who helped in any way, shape, or form. 

Thank you to friends I got to enjoy in this adventure with: Melissa, Ta’Mara, Jim, Heather, Vida, Carlos, and Jimmy Dean.

Thank you to my pacer John for coming to Arizona, for sticking with me, encouraging me, supporting me, and getting me through my final loop even when I didn’t feel like talking or dancing.

Thank you to my sister and mom who are always my constant cheerleaders. Without their love and support, this race could not have been possible. 

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me and been along with me during this journey. 

And thank you for reading!

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10 Comments

  1. Congratulations on surviving a tough course and a brutal day for as long as you did. This time the elements were not in your favor, yet you managed to keep a positive spin on your experience and take so much that is good from it. I hope that once you recover you’ll find your next challenge and go after it.

    1. Thank you Bill! I’m still on a quest for that 100 and I’m not giving up. On to the next one!…whenever that is. 🙂

  2. Great job making it as long as you did! The nasty water would have totally been the break for me and you were able to push through and get as far as your body would allow. You are going to rock the 100 mile next time!! I just completed my first 50K and you inspire me to challenge myself with 50-100 miles and beyond! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Lindsey! I really wish my race went differently but I know can’t go back. I can only learn and move forward and go for another 100. And that’s so great about your 50K! Congratulations!! I have no doubt you’re going to do awesomely with further distances. I’ll be looking forward to hearing about your journey!

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever been this moved before by a post about a running event. I really feel for you, Christina. I’m also very proud of you and your epic achievement even if you didn’t complete the whole thing. Your passion, your sparkly personality, the way you encourage and inspire other runners(especially me!) and your talent for writing make you a treasure of the ultra-running community.

    I’m angry about that tainted water. Has this been explained? Did anyone else experience the same problem? I hope you receive some answers about this and that this never happens again. These races are challenging enough without sabotage like this. I also think more races should serve pickle or sauerkraut juice at aid stations since it may help with GI issues.

    1. Aww thank you so much Chris! Your words truly mean a lot to me. Yeah I was bummed about the water and I haven’t contacted them yet, but I am going to because I was wondering the same thing – if any other runner experienced it too. There was pickle juice available at the aid stations, but I never experimented with it and didn’t know how it’d affect me. But I’ve definitely learned a lot from this race. 🙂

  4. I’ve been trail running for more than 3 years but I think I won’t survive if I was on your shoes at that moment. You did an amazing job!

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