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The trials and tribulations of an elite level age-group triathlete.

2015 Javelina Jundred

It seems I have this pattern which goes something like this --

1. Beginner's luck at my first go at a new distance.
2. Bigtime failure in my second.
3. Redemption.
4. A long string of successful races.

 

Perhaps I just get cocky after that first success and I need a big fat helping of humble pie to get into that methodical madman mindset that serves me well. However you want to look at it, history has once again repeated itself over the last year with my new found love of running hundreds.

My debut last year at the Javelina Jundred was an incredible success for me. I had no idea what to expect, went in with the goal of finishing and I thought a sub24 finish would be sweet. At the end of the day, I crossed the line in 21:08 which far exceeded my expectations.

Stepping into this year, back in July, I stood on the starting line of the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 -- a race I'd been warned about and one that I would consider significantly harder than the Javelina Jundred. Following my pattern, this race did not go well. And despite the fact that I spent a fair amount of time licking my wounds, I actually embrace the failures as much as I embrace my successes. If you’re willing to look, a failure will provide you with a treasure chest of lessons and you will walk away a smarter athlete.

The first rule of failure -- admit the failure. I failed. I went out too hard and I didn't treat the distance with the respect it deserved. A hundred miles is a long way to run (or walk) and if you allow the day to come to you rather than you running to it, your day will end up faster. This is why my first go at Javelina went well and Lake Tahoe not so much.

In the wake of Tahoe, I put my ego back together and I took a birds-eye view look at myself. As a whole, I am stronger than last year, I have more experience and for all intents and purposes, I should be more successful at my second go at Javelina. But I've been retooling my approach, specifically my nutrition, which had previously served me well for a long string of successful Ironman races. So like most people after that kind of failure, I had a seed of doubt in my mind but it's a problem and I'm a problem solver which I think is what allowed me to do well at Ironman.

After Tahoe, I focused heavily on my nutrition strategy. Was the change a mistake? Although still a work in progress, it was working well for me in my training.

We try to rationalize our failures and I wanted to believe that aliens had come down from outer space, tied my shoes in invisible knots and prevented me from running. But the more time I put between me and Tahoe, the more I just had to accept that my nutrition changes were working and my effort was too strong in the beginning of the race. Even though I wrapped my mind around this concept, I kept thinking about my nutrition changes and I wanted to go back to my old strategy. But I didn't – that old strategy was in need of an overhaul for the sake of simplification.

Leading up to Javelina, training was going well but as the race approached, I had one minor issue -- I would need a new pair of running shoes for the race. No problem, you say, but my shoes were discontinued and my supply in the garage had finally been exhausted. The manufacturer had pointed me to a replacement but it caused painful hotspots on my big toes. Like every other person in this situation, I went out on a shoe buying spree. Hokas, Altras, New Balance, the boxes were piling up by the front door and as quickly as they entered the house, they left the house. No joy.

In the end, I found a pair of the road version of my discontinued trail shoe. Eyeballing them, they were almost identical and it seemed like the logical choice even though my mind played games with me. By the time I arrived in Fountain Hills, AZ, my decision was made but I brought a pair of the old shoes just in case. Yeah, I'm crazy -- we're all crazy like that.

I arrived the day before the day before, or in normal speak, the race was Saturday and I arrived on Thursday. I met up with Maria and John, Maria was also signed up for Javelina and it is/was her first attempt at the hundred mile distance. The following day, She-RA arrived and our gang ran around taking care of all the prerace stuff.



On Friday night, Tom came into town just to have dinner with us which was really cool. Tom, Maria and I did the double crossing of the Grand Canyon back in April and Friday night was our first reunion. To put it simply, we are connected through the sharing of an incredible day of pain and beauty. Or maybe beauty and pain. Or maybe it started off one way, ended the other way but regardless you get the point.

We spent way too much time at dinner bs'ing and when someone mentioned the time, I realized I should be in bed soon. We parted ways, went back to the hotel and it was lights out not long after.

In the morning, the alarm went off and as with all early morning rises, I wasn't thrilled but a little caffeine perked me up. My gear had already been setup on the second bed in the room so it was just a matter of taking the pieces from the bed and applying them to my body. When I was all set, we left the hotel, got in the car and not long after, we were at the race site. Not long after that, I stood on the starting line and I waited for the clock to wind down to zero.

And we're off.

As I started the race, I kept several three things in mind which served me well last year:

1. A hundred miles is a long way and the day is not won in the beginning.
2. For the first 30 miles, my strength is my weakness. In other words -- after 30 miles, there should be enough fatigue in my body to prevent me from running a 7:00/mile.
3. Walk all of the hills. Similar to item #2, it's really easy to spike the heart rate at the start of the day when energy conservation is important.

In addition to the above, I kept the conversations to a minimum, I avoided thinking about the distance or my time and my focus was in the present.

Lap one -- uneventful.

Lap two -- I celebrated the finish of 30 miles and I felt like I was in the clear as far as effort.

Lap three -- Despite having 30 miles in my legs, I felt too strong and I continued following a cautious approach to effort and hills. I also felt slightly cooked. Heart rate was high for the pace but I just slowed down a little more to keep things in control. And thinking ahead, I knew the sun would set behind the hills soon enough and that would most likely correct the overheating problem.

Lap four -- The sun sets behind the hills, I have enough fatigue in my legs, I'm feeling really good, the field is starting to come back to me and I'm moving at a good pace.

Lap five -- I start to play a numbers game when I realize that I have so many miles in my legs that it will take a loss of the number of miles in seconds to move my average pace one second slower. That was a fun game and the more miles I got in my legs, the happier it made me. By this point, I'm still cruising along strong and I'm breaking up the run into five mile chunks without any real resistance.

Lap six -- With only 25 miles remaining, and with all things considered, I feel great. I'm looking forward to picking up She-RA at mile 90. I run this entire loop strong and in the back of my mind, I occasionally think about what 'could' happen (as in something bad) but I quickly let that slip away. I was driven by the thought of running with the Mrs. and finishing out this day as strong as it's been so far.

Lap seven -- I pass start/finish, get my glow necklace which signifies I'm on my final lap, I pickup She-RA and we are on our way. I'm in the zone, I explain to the Mrs. that I'm probably not going to do too much talking but I would like it if she talked.

The uphills are slowing me down but I'm still tearing down the descents. Well, I'm tearing down them as well as someone who has spent the entire day running.

I feel like the last 10 miles are going to seem long, especially the ascent to the final turn but I blinked and we were at the turn. In the final stretch, it's a few miles to the finish but it's on non-technical terrain with a slight downhill. I'm still feeling surprisingly strong and we're easily passing anyone in sight. After last year's confusion in the final mile, I know exactly where I'm going and I lead us back to the finish. We cross in 19 hours, 20 minutes and 25 seconds -- exceeding my expectations(!).  Adding a second buckle to my Javelina collection --

At the end of the day, I didn't really think about the time or my position. What I thought about most was that for me, it was the perfect run. In any race, things go wrong but nothing went so wrong that it derailed the day. I wanted to run from the beginning to the end and with the exception of intentional walking, I accomplished what I set out to do. Miles 75 to the finish were strong and it's hard to imagine that even though I setup the day for that specific outcome.

I really have no complaints about the entire day. If I choose to do this race again next year, I will get stronger and fitter but I will repeat this execution by the numbers.

Final thoughts go out to my lovely wife who supports me through this nonsense. She was out there on every lap, making sure I had everything I needed and then she brought me back to the finish in one piece. I looked forward to see her smiling face at the end of every lap and I couldn't wait to get her on the trail with me for the final miles.

She-RA in action --





Some additional photos for your entertainment:

A shot of start/finish taken the day before the event.



Javelina Jeadquarters from above --



A shot of the back of my head.  I'm colorful!



Prerace photos of the hair --





This sums up my feelings about the entire day --