The Javelina Jundred

The alarm went off around 4:30am on Saturday morning although I had already been awake for quite some time. In fact, I don’t even really remember going to sleep. I was blaming it on my dad’s snoring, but in truth, that would have been easy to sleep through had it not been for the challenge that faced me that day. Truly, this would be the greatest physical challenge of my life.

My running gear and Alice in Wonderland costume were layed out neatly on the hotel desk across from the bed. Within about 5 minutes, I was dressed and ready, awaiting our 4:45am departure. Erich and Donn met us in the hallway, and away we went for an adventure that would forever change me.We arrived at the start line an hour before take off. As I scanned the other runners, I noticed that few were dressed up, and almost no one dressed as elaborately as I was. Some people would be embarrassed by this, but not me. I was eyeing the trophy for best costume. Oh yes, it would be mine!

It was still dark when Jamil, the race director, signaled the start of the race. We were off, underneath one of the most beautiful moons I had ever seen. The runners all chatted excitedly. Many were first time 100 runners like me. The first 15.4 mile loop was fast for me, but I felt good. Only a few miles in, I saw Lee, the person that had chosen Javelina for me as my first 100. It was an exciting reunion. I saw Michelle Barton and Jamie Donaldson chatting together and Michelle gave me a big smile and wave each time we passed each other. I saw Brian as he quickly gained his spot among the elites. It was amazing how far he had come. As I arrived back at the start line, my entire crew had their white rabbit hats on in honor of me. I felt like a Nascar racer as they quickly loaded me up with everything I could possibly need. I was back on course within just a few minutes. The first 47 miles flew by.

It wasn’t very common for me to find myself alone with the looping course as it was, but when I did, I counted it as time with my ‘heavenly pacer’ the Moose. Boy would he be proud of me. I could hear his voice as clearly now as ever “This is great… this is just great!”

I felt good and lost little speed. I was right on track for a strong finish. Donn joined me at this point and would be with me through most of the night. By the time that he picked me up, the sun was fading and slowly but surely, I was too. Donn was about to see a side of me that he had never seen before. My highs were as high as a kite, my lows were the worst depression I had ever felt in my life. Our time together is a blur. I do remember many hallucinations. I kept seeing Indians and boulders that were not there. I made up songs about how I hated ultrarunning and I hated Donn too. I am lucky that he didn’t leave my butt on the trail somewhere!

By mile 62, I was fried. This is a common place that runners drop, but my crew would not have that. As I hobbled into the aid station, I saw some bright neon lights. “Look!” Donn said.”Oh good… you see that too,” I responded. I heard Erich and my dad’s voices. Apparently they had gone to the Dollar Store to pick up glow sticks to try to cheer me up. They were completely covered with them. I couldn’t help but smile.I was delirious and in tremendous pain. It was all I could do to get on that next lap. Donn followed me into the darkness and the next aid station just seemed like it was getting farther and farther away. I was behind schedule. By the time that we made it there, I burst out into uncontrollable sobbing. One of the aid station volunteers talked me down from the ledge, gave me some chicken soup and a gel, and soon I felt better again.It wasn’t long before I was back on track with my time.

Every once in a while Donn would gently encourage me to run and I would be able to muster one for a little while. I am sure he was happy to give me to Erich to finish up those last 23 miles. Donn was exactly what I needed to help me get through the highs and lows that the night brought with it. Erich was exactly what I needed to start kicking my ass into gear when the sun came up. The gentle and sweet voice of Donn saying ‘hey… do you think you can run to that tree down there’ turned into drill sergeant Erich telling me to ‘pick up the pace… how bad do you want this??’ I suddenly understood why Dean was so mad at me during our little jog up Whitney Portal! But it was working. I was speeding up.

I needed to reach mile 92 with 3 hours to spare to comfortably finish the race, although at this point, comfort seemed to be a thing of the past. We were 1/2 mile out from the aid station and I was walking. “When we hit the street, you are going to start running and you are not going to stop,” Erich said. I was too tired to argue. We ran into the aid station and I now had 3 hours and 3 minutes to finish the course. Suddenly, it was looking like I might actually pull this off.

The next three hours was the biggest fight of my life. My stomach hurt and my legs were screaming at me. Even walking brought no relief. “This is not a 20 minute mile,” Erich barked.

“I KNOW,” I snapped back. “I’m sorry, I’m doing the best I can.”

He shrugged “Don’t apologize to me. You are the one that has to live with yourself.” That made me angry enough to pick up the pace. Every once in a while, he would squeeze the back of my neck and tell me I was doing good and that helped too. By the time we reached the next aid station I had 1 hour and 10 minutes to go 3.7 miles. It might as well have been 300. The course was flat and fast and I knew I was capable of it, but the pain was so overwhelming. I broke down my running into the Galloway method of running 4 minutes and walking for 1 although I am fairly certain that Jeff didn’t have this in mind when he developed that program. Before I knew it, we were 1 mile away with 30 minutes to spare.

The next 20 minutes was another blur. My dad and Donn met me 1/4 of a mile out and as I crossed the finish line, I broke down into tears and Erich put his arms around me, partially as a hug and partially to support me from hitting the ground. I had used everything that was within me. I sat in a chair and the race director gave me my long coveted Best Female Costume trophy and my belt buckle. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Back at the hotel, I briefly toyed with the idea of taking my crew out to dinner, but we ordered pizza instead. Donn headed back to LA while Erich, my dad and I crashed at the hotel. I went to sleep holding my very first belt buckle. My first of many!

This was a perfect race. Jamil, the race director did an amazing job organizing the event and the volunteers definitely went over and above the call of duty, especially when it came to me. My biggest thanks goes to my dad, Donn and Erich who never stopped believing in me even when I was ready to give up on myself. I hope that I have the opportunity to return the favor to each one of them in the future. I learned so much about myself that day and I am so excited for all that is in store for me beyond this point. I can’t help but feel that this is just the beginning.

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