You can read what happened and what didn’t happen during my 100 mile stint in the Arizona Sonoran Desert at Javelina Jundred HERE.
It’s been a full week since being at Javelina Jundred. After I came close to grabbing a 100 mile buckle I didn’t earn, because apparently the woman confused my sad tears with happy tears, I sat in a chair near the drop bag area at Javelina Jeadquarters trying to process my feelings and emotions, but the only thing I fully felt, was exhaustion. I had already been awake for close to 26 hours and it was probably the last time I was awake for over 24 hours since being a teenager. I’m well past my teenage years and this tired lady needed some sleep!
Retreating to my tent, I changed out of my stinky clothes into less stinky warm clothes because the chill finally hit me, and I crashed onto the cot. But my legs felt restless, like they knew they should still be moving, and I couldn’t fall asleep quickly. Eventually I did.
After indulging in 3 glorious hours of sleep, I emerged from my tent and was greeted by an absolute beautiful sunrise that I know, no photo can truly do justice to. I took a moment to stare at the sky. It was a truly gorgeous sight, but I wished I got to see it while I was on the trail.
But then a funny feeling came over me. What was it? What was that strange feeling? Could it be….relief?!
Yes, I can honestly say there was a part of me who felt some relief I wasn’t dealing with the pain of a full bladder anymore which was never really full. Or maybe it was. Either way, I felt horrible. But I knew eventually I’d feel better.
It was already 6:30AM at this point and the runners who made the 6AM cutoff have already ventured out onto their 5th and final loop.
Waves of different emotions rolled around. I was still heartbroken despite also feeling slightly relieved that I wasn’t dealing with those gnarly rocks anymore either. They weren’t too bad, but they did slow me down, and I already had other issues to slow me down enough as it is.
Slowly I would find out, that out of everyone I knew doing the race, only one was still in the race: Carlos. I know Jimmy Dean had already finished, but Carlos was the lone survivor. Even though I don’t know him very well, I was seriously so proud of him. The times I saw him, he looked so strong out there!
I sat in a corner near the aid station with my family and John, watching runners come down the alley on their way to receiving their 100K, or 100 Mile buckles. They were constant reminders I didn’t reach my goal. Eventually Melissa and her husband, Rob would join us, and we talked about our respected races, laughing through the joys and pains of this entire experience. I’m so happy I got to be a part of this with her.
Finally I was able to eat and we enjoyed us some Freak Brothers Pizza that I heard everyone raving about. Ooh it was lovely. If I was still out on the course, I wouldn’t have been able to have this pizza. Was it still worth not having the buckle? Eh, probably not, but it was still tasty.
I tried to see the silver linings and the positive aspects, as difficult as it was, but I couldn’t fully appreciate what I had actually accomplished. At least, not yet anyway. Because one thing I do know, I can be enormously hard on myself.
Now that I’m a week removed from the race, I can look at this race, with a new sense of perspective and with fresh eyes. Being in the moment, those initial feelings are strong, but as time goes on, they change, and I can examine the race more objectively, and see things in the race I didn’t notice before, and know what I’m most proud of.
To start, I am pretty darn proud of the 61 miles I completed!! No doubt. But it was really hard for me to get to that place because I didn’t sign up for the 100K race, I signed up for the 100 Miles! My mentality went to: if I wanted to do 100K, I would’ve signed up for the 100K! End of story.
On Monday, my friend Jim checked in on me to find out how I was, as I was still processing what had happened. But I told him, “I didn’t think of the 61 miles I finished as an accomplishment. I saw the 100 miles I didn’t finish as a failure.” And after receiving some different perspective from Jimmy Dean, why does it have to be black or white? Why not both? And it’s true!
Javelina Jundred became a race of both success and failure. Yes, it’s true, I failed at reaching 100 miles, but I succeeded at achieving the greatest distance ever in my life…61 freakin’ miles in 95 to 100 degree temperatures in 21-ish hours! That’s still a long way to go in that type of toasty conditions! And I’m realizing that more and more each day. Plus in a way, Javelina became my Miwok. Where I failed at achieving the distance in May, I succeed at Javelina. And I can’t be heartbroken about that.
In fact, there comes a point where I have to give myself some tough love. I should say first, the comments I’ve received have been amazing! I’m truly touched and humbled and filled with love and gratitude for people offering their words of support. I feel comforted and they helped me. They really did. But there comes a point when I have to leave the pity party.
And so my tough love self surfaced, and wrote a letter to me:
Listen buttercup, I know you put your heart and soul into this race, and it didn’t go as well as you would’ve liked, but guess what, it’s called LIFE!! Things don’t always go as planned. You of all people should know this. You do A and B, expecting to get C, but noooo. There is no C. What’s that? Hard work equals success? Yes and No. Hard work equals hard work. Success doesn’t come until you can truly appreciate the fruit of your labor. You may have a hard time seeing it that way because you didn’t get the fruit you wanted. You got the fruit you earned. If you want that buckle, and I mean really want that 100 mile buckle, that means your hard work isn’t done yet! Not even close. But you say you got bad water. Yeah that is unfortunate, but I’ll reiterate what I just said, things don’t always go as planned! And I hate to break it to you, not reaching 100 miles isn’t considered a failure. I mean, if you’re measuring failure as doing 61 miles in 95 to 100+ degree temps, then you need a reality check. The minute you stop trying, you’ve failed. Of course, if you decide not to try again, then I guess you did fail. No pressure though. I’m not going to force you to go after another 100 mile race because you know this is hard. You’ve seen it. You’ve tasted. You know how difficult it is. But just because you didn’t reach it this time, doesn’t mean you won’t reach it next time. And I know you better than anyone. I know you’re not going to stop trying because you’re feisty and stubborn and determined and won’t stop. My gosh sometimes I get so tired and want to rest, but you simply won’t stop! But stop whining! Gosh I hate whiny runners. First world problems. Get over yourself. The world didn’t end! You got sick. You DNF’d. Boo hoo. Cry me a river, won’t ya? Yeah, sorry to hear that, but guess what, there are other races! Again, you of all people should know this! You revolved your life around this race and I know you sacrificed a lot, but you know, other people did too. You’re not the only one! It’s a HUGE race that required a lot out of you. And buttercup, that’s what you signed up for. I know you feel bad and this one stings and it’s okay to feel hurt. You’re allowed to feel whatever you want to feel. But you did your best. I know you did. So learn from it. Leave it behind. And move on!! Now!! And enjoy the next adventure that comes your way. Sincerely, your Loving Self
Dayum. My loving self can be a little, uh, lovingly harsh. But, I get it.
And then I got to thinking: maybe I was meant to do 61 miles all along! Maybe that’s what I truly trained for. Maybe my body wasn’t ready for 100 miles and maybe the Universe said, I’m gonna let you finish these 61 miles and have you work on getting stronger for the 100 miles you’re meant to finish at a later date. And maybe the Universe threw some funky water into the mix and wanted me to see how I’d handle it. And maybe I was only to learn from this race so that in my next 100 mile race – because yes, there will be another one – I’ll know better how to deal with adverse situations that arise.
Every single race is always a learning experience. And what’s the number one lesson I learned from this race? I will not leave an aid station after restocking my water supply without tasting it first! And I have done that in the past at times, but not this time. I may even include water in my drop bags. See, good outcomes come from not-so-good events.
Being a week removed from Javelina has also allowed me to look at the race as a race itself, and it’s interesting when I compare it to others. Now, I know I shouldn’t compare races, but it’s really difficult not to do so. For example, the goodie bag. For being such a huge race, I was surprised about the lack of goodies in the goodie bag. When I think about the Miwok 100K goodie bag, oh man, I had so many goodies it makes me want to do the race again! That is, if I can get over the memory of getting carsick on the way to the start. Maybe 2018. Maybe.
I know I should be grateful for any goodies, and I am, but when you’re shelling out money for the race, tents, and hotels, a coffee cup would’ve been a nice addition…or a pint glass!
One thing that struck me as odd, and maybe it’s because I’m spoiled as being a participant of the trail races here in SoCal is the “Self Serve” water/Gatorade/CarboPro stations. You need water refilled? Serve yourself. And that’s what I did. In fact, I saw all runners doing that.
Especially based on my experiences at all my other trail races, even as a volunteer at Angeles Crest 100, I’m so use to volunteers being so super helpful and involved by taking my hydration pack, refilling my water, and helping me put the vest back on. And maybe it’s because so many of the race volunteers around here are ultra runners themselves, or do trail races in general, so they know. It certainly would’ve been nice after 40 or 50 miles to have some sort of assistance because let’s face it, after 40 or 50 miles I can barely remember my name, or where I am. But like I said, I’m spoiled around here.
Maybe only the elite and super fast runners got that sort of treatment. I know it wasn’t due to the lack of volunteers because there were plenty of awesome people around. Look, I’m appreciative of all the volunteers because I’ve been one, and will continue to volunteer, and it can be a tiring gig, but that small act of kindness of a little extra help, goes a long way to making each runner feel supported.
Right now I’m feeling like I could still do 100 miles at this very moment. Okay, maybe not at this exact very moment, because body still feels a little tired, but at least my feet stopped throbbing after a couple of days. But I know I’m trained to go a long distance and I proved that last weekend. And that’s a nice feeling to have.
I’m proud of my efforts and the work I put into training thus far. I know I have a lot more work ahead of me and I suppose that’s the exciting part. Because who knows? At my next 100 mile race, something else may come about that I’ve never had to deal with before. There’s always going to be something. There’s always going to be something unexpected. I guess that’s the joy of the unknown.
Overall, I had a pretty good experience at Javelina and I haven’t written this race off entirely. I think it’s a great race! I really do. And honestly, I enjoyed being out in the desert. It was something different from the mountainous terrain I’m usually on. Plus I loved seeing friends out there passing along the trails. Plus I got to finally meet Melissa, and I really enjoyed the energy of the race. So on that note, you just may find me trekking back to Arizona next October. Maybe.
Thanks for reading!