The Javelina Jundred

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Starting line of Javelina Jundred

I love the mountains, the trails, the desert, but at mile 70 of my first 100-mile race, I loved none of that. All I loved was my bed.

I had been running for about 20 hours at this point. I had taken a conservative approach to my race and weathered the 100 degree heat of the day. At mile 60 I was sure that I was going to finish this race and by mile 70, every doubt imaginable had creeped into my mind. I wondered what business I had thinking that I could finish 100 miles. I had only ever run 50! Javelina Jundred is known for its deceptively low finisher rate and I had taken this race on without enough experience nor the mental strength to get it done.

So, there I sat, at mile 70 in the Jackass Junction aide station. A medic handed me a barf bag but offered little sympathy. I leaned over the bag as they reminded me that I’d only feel better if I ate.

Eating was very possibly the last thing I wanted to do.

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Mile 70 of my first 100-miler

People came into the aid station, laid down on the cots and told the medic they were done. Others were asleep, surely no longer able to go on to finish the race. The pull to quit was hard to resist especially when someone with a car ready to head back to the start line was asking me what I wanted to do.

I had Frank, my husband, with me by this point as my pacer. He assured me I was not going to quit. I told him that I needed to lay down for 10 minutes and then I promised that I would eat. The medic watched me as I curled up on the cot, I could tell that he was sure that my race was done. I layed there thinking of the 30 miles I still had to get done and suddenly I understood every person who has ever DNF’ed at the end of an ultra. After doing 70 miles, every mile felt like an eternity. All I wanted was to sleep.

After 5 minutes, Frank nudged me awake. “Come on, let’s go”. I shoved some watermelon down, a few pieces of banana and asked the medic “Am I going to feel this nauseous the rest of the race”?

“Probably.” He responded.

“I guess I can live with that.” I said, finally standing up from the cot.

I put the headlamp back on my head, added a few layers and after over an hour of feeling bad for myself and contemplating giving up, I left Jackass Junction to finish the race.

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My middle-of-the-night outfit

Frank and I ran through the darkness of the desert, singing Backstreet Boys songs, and looking for other headlamps in the night. Few were left. I could really tell that the race field had thinned out. Many of us hadn’t continued.

Javelina Jundred is a looped course with five 20-mile loops that bring you to the four aid stations in the desert, including one that is near the cars. Each station has a theme, and they are all pretty comfortable, which is a problem for anyone contemplating a DNF (Did Not Finish). As we neared Coyote Camp, I could hear a few howls in the distance. It was surreal to be out there so late in the night.

We breezed through the aid station and made our way back to the start/finish line where my crew captain, Lindsay, was worrying that I was about to come in to DNF. I recently had the realization that at the rate I was going, I would have to deal with the heat again on Sunday morning after a nearly 100 degree day on Saturday. I entered the aid station in tears, but I wasn’t quite ready to give up.

The problem with running 100 miles is that running 80 miles is really far, but you still have 20 left. For the first time, deep into my race, I finally understood why a person would quit a 100 mile race after having already gone over 70 miles. I realized that when running 100 miles, a finish is no more guaranteed at mile 90 as it is at mile 1. Anything can happen and the further you are along in the race, the more likely something will.

In the aid station, we took off my shoes to check on my blisters. My feet looked like I had been badly burned. I had giant, pus filled blisters between every toe, on my heels, and on the pads of my feet. With my shoes off, I could no longer fit my swollen feet back into my normal size and for the last 20 miles, I had to borrow Lindsay’s shoes which were a full size larger than mine.

After tears, and a little food, I left the aid station for my final lap with my pacer Kay Kay. I didn’t know her previously to the race, so it was nice to hear her stories about running and other ultras she had crewed.

The sun came up, and once again I was subjected to the heat of Pheonix, AZ, but unlike before, I knew I didn’t have to weather it for long. I was less hesitant than on Saturday. I realized that I had already been through the worst of it. As we came into Jackass Junction one last time, I saw the same medic that tried to convince me to eat in the night. He was surprised to see me at all. No other runners had laid down on a cot and gotten back up to finish the race.

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Leaving the final aid station before the finish line.

We took off from the aid station one last time. The miles ticked by and I started getting oddly emotional. I was crying, wanting to sleep but I was also ticking by the fastest miles I had run all race. Suddenly I was seeing sub-9:00 miles (which is not slow in a 100-miler). I passed others walking to the end with tears streaming down my face and I knew that I was going to finish. Every mile was faster than the previous and as I started to see the final aid station I broke out into an all out sprint. I crossed the finish line and was handed my belt buckle. All of the effort and exhaustion was finally done.

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The finish line

Finishing a 100-mile race and a Western States qualifier has been a goal of mine for a long time. It wasn’t until recently that I had the confidence to sign up and attempt such a huge undertaking. I’m glad that I did. I learned a lot about running, myself, and ultramarathons in general, but most importantly, I learned that anyone can run an ultra. Finishing 100 miles takes no more physical strength than a marathon does, but it does take more mental strength. I’m not sure where you find the mental strength, and I have no idea where I found mine, but even in the darkest moments in my own head, I did.

Running 100 miles was wonderful, terrible, exhausting, exhilarating, and quite possibly the greatest thing I’ve ever done.

I can’t wait to do it again.

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Hiking in Mill Creek Canyon

Hey everyone!

I am still around, diligently training for the Javelina Jundred in October. It is 35 days until the race, so it’s really go time right now.

As you’ve probably noticed, I changed my blog name!  This has been a long time coming. I really wanted to refocus the blog on my mountain adventures and ultramarathons and since I do run in the Wasatch, I thought it was a fitting name. The Wasatch is my home and even when I am not actively running in them, they are there reminding me of why I love Salt Lake City so much.

Training for Javelina has been hard. Utah is still hot and I’ve lacked the mental focus it takes to get through the final stretch to the training. Luckily I’ve been healthy and without injury, but my confidence and mental strength has really taken a hit over the last few weeks. It’s hard to feel the never-ending task of training. I do find that the miles get easier, but my long runs just keep getting longer.

Earlier this week, I was feeling a little burnt out, so Frank and I went on a short hike in Mill Creek Canyon. The leaves have been changing and I needed to check out fall while it lasts.

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We are in peak color season!

We started at the Mt. Aire Trailhead at Elbowfork in Millcreek and took the Lamb’s Canyon Trail to pass (affectionately known as Bare Ass Pass).

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View from Bare Ass Pass

The trail meanders through the woods on a south facing slope. It’s pretty steep and gave us about 1,400 feet of gain.

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Normally wildlife is pretty scarce in the Wasatch, but we did manage to see a couple of grouse running down the trail.

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Overall it was a 3.3 mile hike and only took us about 1:20 minutes to do.

What do you do when you just don’t feel like running?

Squaw 50 Vlog Recap

Better late than never, right?

Sorry about my lateness! I made a vlog talking about the Squaw 50. Check it out and hear about running a 50-miler for the first time. It was a great race and I am so glad that I did it. Honestly, I am not-so-secretly planning my return next year. 🙂

Click “like” and Subscribe for more updates as I trail for the Javelina Jundred.

I ran over 50 miles: Squaw Peak 50 Recap

I am three days out from the Squaw Peak 50-miler.

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I learned a lot. Not just about myself, but about running in general. The thing is, there is a certain amount of athleticism to run a marathon, or even a 50K. You train hard, you eat well and you don’t hit the dreaded wall. But when you are running for 12+ hours, you hit many walls and then you work your way back to many high points. You swing violently moment to moment, like an angry child that suddenly smiles. Every step of the way beyond the marathon mark was because I told myself I could do it. And I did. The thing is, anyone can run a 50-miler but the only thing that will stop them is truly knowing that they can do it. There were times I was barely moving at all, walking up hills when all I wanted was to sleep and there were moments of glory, where I was dropping sub-8 minute miles after already having 47 miles on my legs. Looking at your watch and seeing 28 miles and knowing that you have 22-ish to go is horrible and demoralizing and wonderful all at the same time. I’ve never been so tired in my life, but at the same time, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more present.

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The real lesson I learned from this race was my tendency to always look to the future. Mile 39 started a massive hill, climbing 3000 feet before making the 12 mile descent to the finish line. I would constantly find myself looking up, seeing little progress and immediately becoming discouraged. My pacer, Dan, would remind me to look down and just keep moving, that it would be over soon. And when I focused on the task at hand, I felt great, but when I looked to the height of the mountain, to the future, the work still to be done was daunting. Everything about running that far is daunting, but it can be done. Running 50 miles is nothing but a lesson in remaining present to the moment you are in and in the consequences of swaying away from the present moment.

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There were high points where I passed other racers, feeling strong and ready to take on every mile. Despite the pain in my feet from massive blisters, I managed to finish the final 4 miles in under 32 minutes, averaging just under 8 minutes per mile. I was flying into the finish, passing everyone in my path and sneaking under 13 hours. As the final miles ticked by I knew I could run forever. The finish line could have been in Nevada, and I would have found it. It’s that kind of mental strength that can pull you out of any low in any situation. It’s in that place that I will need to go to finish the Javelina Jundred in October.

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Running an ultra has far more to do with what is within you than what your body is capable of. I’d heard many times that the first 26 miles were physical and the rest were mental and that couldn’t have been more true. But the thing is, everything is temporary. Happiness, sadness, pain, elation, excitement and disappointment all happen but becoming attached to those feelings is what will do us in. Running 50 miles forced me to let go and run my race and my mile.

I was made for this.

And so were you.

If you are someone who has ever thought about running 50 miles and haven’t because you think you are too slow or that you can’t go that far, believe me, you can do it. One foot in front of the other is all that is needed to finish. No speed, no secrets, just determination.

In the next day or so, I’ll post a video recapping the race and getting into some of the specifics. Thanks for supporting me in my crazy ideas, there are more to come.

Javelina Jundred, here I come!

Training Update: 2 weeks until Squaw 50

Hey Everyone!

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It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on what’s going on in my running life. As you know, since the beginning of the year I have been training for the Squaw 50-miler. It’s a tough race through the Wasatch Mountains and gains about 14,000 ft throughout the course. To say that I am nervous is an understatement. I have no time goals and only want to finish the race while staying happy and healthy. I am done with my training and now I am tapering until June 2! Stay tuned for more updates.

Those of you that watch my youtube channel know that I have signed up for the Javelina Jundred in October. It’s not going to be easy, but after Squaw 50, my only focus will be to train in a way that gets Javelina done. It’s a nice runable course, which generally plays to my strengths, but don’t get me wrong. I am still scared. Although I did sign up, I still feel as though I have no business running 100 miles, but I’m not sure anyone does.

I’ll post again about my prerace thoughts heading into Squaw 50, but if you want to see some more info about my training and how things have been going, check out my youtube series, Training for 100. Here are my two latest videos.

Training talk:

Running the Bonneville Shoreline Trail:

Oh, and of course, here are a few pics from the trails in SLC.

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What are you training for? Do you have any goals this summer?

Vlog Series Episode 1: Training for 100

Hey Guys!

Let’s just cut to the chase. I signed up for the Javelina Jundred in October. It’s gonna be a wild ride from here to that finish line and I am starting a vlog all about my training and the trails I run outside of Salt Lake City. Check out my first episode where I talk a little about why I am running Javelina. Click like and subscribe to follow me on the journey!

We are being robbed

There are many things that I absolutely love about living in Utah. Having the opportunity to run in the Wasatch is not lost on me at all. And to top it off, after living here for about a year now (that was fast), I have made some good friends that make Utah a fun place to be.

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Despite loving my home, sometimes it can be hard to live in a state with such blatant disregard for environmental conservation. I feel like I am constantly protesting some legislature and I am always getting emails from the Sierra Club about new problems. It’s depressing.  Even though this has little to do with running, I still think you should know what the Utah (and national) government has in store for this place. Keep in mind, this doesn’t just affect me. Much of the land in Utah is federal and protected by either the National Park Service or the Bureau of Land Management. This land is your land too.

The Fight for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments

National Monuments, much like National Parks, are managed by the Department of the Interior. Often National Parks start out as National Monuments, which generally have more minimal management and staff and less stringent rules about what can be done within the area. While a National Park may not allow grazing or hunting, often times National Monuments do. New National Monuments can be made through the Antiquities Act (started by Theodore Roosevelt) that allows a sitting president to declare federal land a new monument without the approval of congress. Many of our past presidents have done this, including Barack Obama, who declared the controversial Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah.

Utah has the Mighty Five National Parks (Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches) but also seven National Monuments and two National Recreation Areas, all of which are managed by the Department of the Interior. The National Parks alone amount for an estimated $1.7 billion in the state of Utah. We are a state that specializes in outdoor recreation and ecotourism.

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Despite the obvious economic benefit of Utah’s parks, the state and the federal government are fighting to reduce two of our largest National Monuments. On December 4, President Trump rescinded 85% of Bears Ears National Monument and over 50% of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in a proclamation that undid years of environmental progress. It is currently being fought in a legal battle between the Federal Government versus Patagonia (the retailer), REI, and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (Hopi, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Navajo Nation, and Zuni Tribes). As of last week, leases for drilling became available for land within the previous boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase.

This fight should be important to us all. The federal government and the state of Utah stole land from every American and have shown no respect or regards for the wants and needs of Native peoples. Even if you have no plans to ever visit these places, this land has been taken time and time again from Natives, despite the many archeological sites within the monuments of ancient pueblans and tribes. When left without management from the Department of the Interior, Bears Ears National Monument is subjected to grave robbing of native sites, and now is open for drilling.

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Frank and I went to Bears Ears a few months back. What we found is hard to put into words. We went on hikes with towering cliffs, upon which were small shelters high up where I imagined no human could get to. Everywhere we went went we found the remnants of ancient cultures. It was a silent place, but it was as if we could still hear the people who once walked this land.

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I’ve also been to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, which is covered with slots so tiny, we could barely fit. These places are unique and special and worth preserving. Each of these photos were taking within the bounds of these precious monuments and these scenes are not hard to find, you just need to go for a walk (or a run).

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So, here I ask for help. Contact your local legislators about this and tell them that you do not support Trump’s overreach on our lands. Donate to the Native American Rights Fund. Donate to the Sierra Club. They are making a huge difference in this fight. This is not my fight or Utah’s fight. This is everyone’s fight.