So, I have been MIA but that does not mean the training has slowed. In fact, that’s part of the reason I have not made time to write or recap anything… I have been running non-stop day and night, or at least that’s how it feels.
Rewinding back to Mid-September, I officially became an ultramarathoner at the Javelina Jangover, which was originally started as a training run for the notorious Javelina Jundred.
As with many of the summer time Aravaipa trail runs, we ran at night. We started just after dark, and planned to run 2 complete loops on the Pemberton trail at McDowell Mountain Regional Park. After a few miles, my running partner started to experience extreme cramping in her legs. She pushed through, painful mile after painful mile.
About 8.5 miles in, we hit the first aid station. As per usual, the aid station was extremely well stocked and the volunteers were not only nice, but extremely helpful and positive. My running partner downed some salt tablets, and we headed out to finish the first loop.
We saw a countless number of tarantulas, a coral snake slithered across the trail only inches from my foot, and just as we closed in on the halfway point, a rattlesnake surprised me. Thankfully, he gave a nice, loud rattle so I was able to see him there and wait for him to abandon the striking pose, and move on with his night. We gladly trucked on towards the main aid station.
When we arrived at the main aid station, my running partner made the decision to throw in the towel as the cramps were not only continuing, but getting worse. I decided to keep on and finish one more of the 15.3 mile loops. 2 girls we had been running with off and on had made the decision to stick with me for the last loop, as it was dark and there were a large variety of desert creatures lurking about.
Gratefully, we headed off towards the aid station 8.5 miles from the finish. I have never been more thankful to run with other people. It was extremely late, I was overly tired and my hips and feet were starting to get sore. One of the girls, was so positive and happy, and she was able to keep our spirits up as we marched forward (and it really was more of a march than a run, that’s for sure!).
We stopped at the aid station, revived ourselves and prepared for the final section of our adventure. While at the aid station, we saw a giant, 4 inch scorpion walked across the path. The volunteers told us they had seen several throughout the night. With this knowledge, we pressed on.
I am typically a middle of the packer, but this night we were certainly in the pack of the pack. We knew there were other runners that had left the aid station after us, but we felt very alone. Occassionally, one of the 75k runners would pass us (the laps were completed washing machine style).
As we hit about 3 miles left, we saw people running towards us. It was too late for 75k runners to be starting their last loop, and after a minute the runners reached us. They explained that they were sweeping the course, and had already removed all their course markers for the rest of the course. They had us stop, and wait as they attempted to call in and ask what to do. After about 15 minutes, we decided to take the risk and just try to find our way back. We were exhausted, and getting sore as we stood their waiting.
Luckily, Pemberton is a very easy trail to follow and we made it back before too long. We crossed the finish line, and excitedly discovered that Freak Brothers Pizza had waited to make us fresh, warm pizza upon finish. We sat down, ate our pizza, and hung out to watch the sunrise. I officially was an ultramarathoner, with 32 miles under my running belt!
I am so grateful to have had this experience, as I learned the importance of staying positive and making sure to stay out of my own head during the hard times. I am excited and nervous for my 52 miler, which is just around the corner now. I will catch on with another race recap, and then we should be current.
Thanks for hanging in there!