I ran the JJ100 this weekend, starting on Oct. 23 as bib number 23 it being my third 100 miler. I am happy to report that this was also a PR race for me coming in at 22:36, 8th place woman and 28th overall. I went into this race with the goal of breaking the 24 hour mark and getting my first sub 24 hour belt buckle, but I never expected to PR by over 6 hours!
The run takes place in Fountain Hills, AZ on the Pemberton trail, which is where I entered ultra running and ran my first 50k in February 2009. The course consists of 6 washing machine loops of 15.4 miles and a 7th part of a loop, out and back. The weather on race day was perfect, starting the day in the low 60’s and getting up to just below 80 degrees before dropping back down into the 60’s. I was able to wear the same tank and shorts for the entire event and stay comfortable while LOVING the sunshine, blue sky, and beautiful desert landscape. I was right at home and it felt great to be back in AZ. We were able to experience a wonderful sunrise and sun set and a clear night sky with the full moon and beautiful stars.
The day started with greeting many fellow marathon maniacs featured in the picture below. I started out the run with pigtails and we ran together and talked for the first 5 miles or so which just flew by. We had to compare notes on our last 100 miler, Pine to Palm, which was very fun. She was on her 6th 100 miler of the year and I am just so in awe of that, really total rock star!!!
The first 2 laps were great for me and I only needed to carry one hand bottle and just relaxed into a nice pace and enjoyed the morning and the people. The aid stations were great, for the first mile 5 stop though apparently I was not totally awake yet and they asked me what I needed and I simply answered “Melissa.” LOL thinking they had asked me my name, they all got a kick out of this one! After the first 2 laps or 50K it was getting warmer so I picked up my second hand bottle and was good to go drinking both of these every 5 miles or 40oz of water, but it was working great for me. It was fun to see all the costumes out there and people just overall having a great time. There were lots of opportunities to cheer each other on with the loops and this was really fun and helpful to see the happy faces. There was some good time to be alone with your thoughts and this was exactly what I needed after my travels to Vietnam and being on the go so much for the past few weeks. I really loved the time that I had to reflect on the experience of the trip and what I saw with the kids and teachers over there. I thought of the kids a lot while I was running and what they struggle with on a daily basis, and the fact that I had the opportunity to be out there running 100 miles just made me thankful and forget about any of the pain that I was having right then. They made me stronger. They are strong.
On my 4th lap on my way to the 100k mark, or 62 miles, I took off. I was feeling very strong and rand hard. It was also getting dark and I knew that I would have a pacer, Danica, waiting for me and she would get there at around 6pm. So I was a little off of that time so I tried to pick it up more so I could meet her and she would not have to wait for me. I ended up being about 40 minutes off my wild ass guess of an estimate so I was pretty pleased with that and we meet up and headed out for my 5th lap. Danica was just amazing and we had the best time talking and catching up on life. She even gave me her head lap because mine was dying. She kept me going, checked on my food and water intake, made me laugh, and just really was everything that I needed at that exact time. it was her first night trail run and she rocked it out! She doesn’t know this yet, but she’s on the list for my Badwater crew! J
Next and last full loop was with Emmet my second pacer of the night. I gave an estimate of 10pm to meet him and was through the line at 10:15pm, so I was feeling pretty proud of my estimating time. Apparently the score keepers though thought that I had a lot longer to go and told Em that I was not predicted to come through until much later so he headed to his car for a nap. We quickly reconnected, with me being a bit too harsh, but hopefully after 77.4 miles Em will give me a pass on that one. We headed out and Em supplied me with a fresh headlamp and all was good in the world. Em and I had a great time catching up and laughing and talking. He was also super amazing pacer! He had a bit of a harder job because I was starting to feel it more towards the end of this lap, especially in my left hip flexor for some reason. But he was there for me and kept me going. He never made me feel bad and always made me feel stronger. He was just what I needed for those late miles and hours.
As we came across the line and completed lap 6 we were in go mode- getting food- new head lamp- water- chap stick- and Em was insistent that I stretch out my hip. He pulled in Andi, our other super amazing ultra runner friend (third woman overall at Zane 2009, and fast and strong as hell, hilarious awesome chick). Andi saw me trying to do what I could to get a stretch and was like um dude get up do this and directed me into the most wonderful stretch of my life! Seriously at this point it was heaven. Em and Andi probably saved my race at this point because I was not thinking clearly enough to stretch but it was totally what I needed. After that we got the glow stick and Em and I headed out for our last 8 mile out and back.
This last 8 miles is where it was just freaken hilarious. Well from what I remember it was, hopefully Em will agree. I was still in a bit of pain, but we were humming along pretty ok until we got back to the rocky section. I was doing what I could to keep “running” but it was tricky and I was hurting. At one point Em put his hand on my back to help guide me out of the way of some runners finishing up their 6th lap and I said “Hey! No pushing on the trial!” LOL I knew he was not pushing me, I was just being crazy, but I think it came out totally wrong. Like a joke that just didn’t have enough energy behind it to come out like a joke. Anyways he was perfect in doing everything to keep me going. He made me laugh, forget about the pain for parts and let me work though some of it on my own when he knew I just needed to be. He even sang out loud with me to music only I could hear when I asked because it helped distract. LOL people on the trial were like wow I am sure as us to crazies came running around the corner singing “Mr. Officer weeeee a weeee a weeeee, weeeee a weee a weeee, like a cop car!” LOL but it worked and was just freaken awesome. We came across the finish line singing “like a G6” and just so excited!!! I am sure Em even loved the big sweaty kiss I plopped right on his lips after our big sweaty hug when I realized we came across that line in 22:36!!!! Oh what a pacer has to put up with! I could not have done it without Em and Danica and I love love love them, they made this race for me!