Going into JJ100 I knew I'd be facing my biggest running challenge to date. This meant that I needed to approach this run with the right mind set, be patient and run smart in order to finish. This is an epic event that more then lives up to its myth. When I lined up on Saturday morning, October 26th 2013, I did my best to calm my nerves and reminded myself to have fun and enjoy the adventure.
At the start of the race I positioned my self mid pack as the plan was to start off slow and be conservative. In training I had run the 15 mile Pemberton Trail loop and knew from experience and reading blogs/advice on face book, it was easy to go out fast. I did not want to blow up early.
During the early miles of the first loop I was over thinking things which caused some unneeded anxiety. So it felt good when I finally got into a rhythm. Beyond the mid point of my first lap I saw the front runners on their second loop pushing the pace. I did not spend much time at head quarters, the start/finish line, after my first loop and continued out on my second loop with the same strategy, of running flats and hiking the little hills.
|Out on Lap 2|
As I entered head quarters I was happily greeted, not only my family and crew, but by an Otter Pop. It was the best Otter Pop ever! I was feeling good and keeping on tract with my pace and nutrition plan. I was eating bean and avocado burritos and water melon at the aid stations; that seemed to work for me. I said goodbye to my crew as well as my wife and 6 year old daughter and headed out for loop 3.
As I passed runners I could see the look of fatigue and discomfort in many people’s eyes. I knew the afternoon heat would make my 3rd loop challenging. I was wearing a waist belt that held one water bottle and I carried another water bottle in my hand. I begin pouring water over my head every so often to keep cool but it did not seem to be enough.
I was grateful for conversation with any and all runners. I checked on the welfare of a few runners I seen hurled over dry heaving. I even seen a few who lay under bushes seeking any shade they could find. The heat was really taking its toll. After the race I read some reports saying the temperatures ranged from 102-106 degrees. I continued to push on, knowing the next aid station was close, judging by the sound of ice sloshing around in runner’s water bottles.
When I got to the Jackass Junction Aid station for my 3rd time, I cringed at the site of most everything on the table. I grabbed some watermelon and orange slices, which I projectile vomited not many steps outside of the aid station. I felt sick. I took turns walking and running. I pretty much ran until I dry heaved; then walked until the nausea subsided and repeated this process. I could taste the stomach acid in my throat.
A few miles from headquarters, I sent word to my pacer, Brian, letting him know Id be in soon. At this point I was a little over an hour off my goal pace. I changed socks, shoes, and my shirt before heading out for lap 4. It was a relief to have someone running with me, not only for the company, but to help keep me motivated. The sun was setting and I knew the night would bring its own challenges.
Running by headlamp I felt hypnotized by the shadows. People have asked me what I thought about. My mind drifted a lot and I really can’t recall actual thoughts besides not wanting to throw up and wanting to know what time it was. Now and again I'd look at my watch and crunch numbers; I begin to fear I would not make the 30 hour cut off. Brian kept me moving and reiterated that I needed to stop thinking of the finish and start taking the race on one aid station at a time. He was right.
|Brian and I after Lap 4|
I got a pleasant surprise at the finish of lap four. My sister and brother-in-law had shown up to show their support. It really meant a lot to me. My crew, as well as my sister and brother-in-law, poured words of encouragement over me; it gave me a moral boost. Giles who was set to pace me for lap five worked out the numbers and said "we are going to chase that cut off and find a way to help you finish under 30 hours." That's when I made up my mind to continue on until I absolutely could not move or was pulled from the course. We would do all we could to complete lap 5 by 5:30 a.m. or my race was over.
I have what feels like flash backs from lap 5 (Running, walking, puking, chicken soup, ginger ale, coca cola, and overwhelming sleepiness.) I just remember wanting to sleep. I was told the next morning that Giles played mind games with me to keep me going; from promises of rest breaks, which I would forget about, to a ten minute aid station break that I was promised would be twenty. I am grateful for this.
Hope was alive again as we approached the head quarters completing lap 5. I was 1 hour and half ahead of the cut off time. Brian and David, who both were asleep and not expecting me until around 5am at the earliest were shocked. Brian asked if I would give him a few minutes to get ready to pace me for loop 6. I did not object knowing I could sit and rest a bit as he got ready. We left for lap 6, satisfied at the fact we had made up some time, and I now had a really good chance to finish the race.
We arrived at the Jackass Junction Aid Station just before sunrise. The volunteers encouraged the runners and reminded us we did not have far to go. I was at 83.2 miles; prior to this my longest run was 40 miles. The sun was coming up I begin to feel a sense of relief and energy. Brian and I ran and talked. I was getting excited and could not wrap my mind around what was happening. It was as if months of training had all flashed before my eyes.
Not until a quarter of a mile to the finish did the energy begin to flow back into my mind and body. On the paved road we had to cross before the last stretch to the finish line, Hal Koerner race Champion, was talking to a runner. As the runner left and Giles and I crossed the road, Hal called out to Giles, and asked if he would please catch the runner he had been talking to a give him a six pack of beer he had pulled out the trunk of his car
The runner turned out to JB Benna of Journey Films. As payment for delivery, Hal told Giles he could keep a beer for himself. I could not help myself and reached out and grabbed one. I congratulated Hal on his win and he wished me congrats on my first 100 mile finish. Hal is a runner I look up to very much in this sport. I was delighted to meet him as well as JB Benna. Both great guys. (JB Benna was running JJ100 just 2 weeks after covering 175 miles on the Lake Tahoe Rim Trail)
I finished my 1st 100 miler in 28 hours 51 minutes and 54 seconds.
It was a magical moment. The race was very much dream like. I know that if it wasn't for my crew none of this would have been possible. They poured words of encouragement into me, and believed in me! They helped make my dream come true! This victory is as much theirs as it is mine.
Much respect to Giles Widener, Brian Soto, and David Collier!
And a special shout out to Tim Widener. He was very much a part of this journey and I know if it was possible he would have been there.
One last Thank You to my wife, Liz for putting up with my training and always encouraging me to follow my dreams.
|David, Me, and Giles|
|Brian, Me, and Giles before the last Lap, I put my shirt on Backwards|