Pounding Pavement – Jackalope Jam Race Report
First off… This is LATE, LATE, LATE. I had meant to get this out several times and it just never happened! My bad! Here it is! 😀
Coming back from Afghanistan I needed a race to do and Jackalope Jam peeked my interest; it was a new race, had a buckle, and was a step for me into the “distance” world. As many of you know, I primarily run trails and have NEVER run a timed race before. This race not only took me off the trails, but was also a timed event.
So a little bit about the race. Jackalope Jam was a 6/12/24 hr race hosted by Trail Racing Over Texas. First off, if you have never attended one of their races, the RDs do a fantastic job and each and every race they put on. Whether it is a kids race, or a 100mi race. They give everyone a top notch race experience! Jackalope Jam was no different!
I was feeling good going into the race; My training was where I wanted it to be, have logged all of back to back longs rungs getting the body used to running on tired legs, and dialed in my nutrition. Much of my training leading up to this was all in Afghanistan running along the side of the road in the sand/dirt (admittedly I REALLY dislike running roads…come to find out that is going to bite me later on). Once I returned back from Afghanistan in September my training dropped back a little bit, but still felt great on all of my runs. I was still hitting my long runs, but was spending more time with the family. That reality still exists for me… Family > Running and that will never change. 🙂
Going into this race, I had some bigs goals. this was going to be my first 50mi, first 100k, and was hoping for this to be my first 100mi as well. I knew going in that this was going to be on a 1mi track and that was going to be the biggest challenge for me. For those that have run with me in the past, I absolutely despise loops. The smaller the loop, the harder the run is for me. I would much rather do a point-to-point race or BIG loops. The problem for me is that once I see my car, wife, or fun at the start line my mind starts wondering and I want to park it!
This race was pretty exciting for me because my wife was going to be joining me and camping out at out the start line (which in itself resulted in something pretty cool!). We travelled to the park the day before the race and made several stops on the way to go shopping. (Why not right!). We were actually the FIRST ones to arrive at the park. We arrived, setup the tent, and just kicked back and relaxed.
In the midst of all of this I wanted to check out the course so I set out on an easy 1mi walk/run to see what I had ahead of me. That is when the degree of mind-pain set in for me. I already knew this was a mile loop (which is expected in a timed race) and I even saw the “course map” on the site before I arrived. The map on the site almost looked like an out-and-back course but I just assumed it looked that way as a result of the map scale. Guess what!! I WAS WRONG! The course was literally a 1/2mi out-and-back. That made this pretty challenging for me.
That night, my wifey and I went out, had dinner at a local restaurant, stopped and filled my water jug with water so I could make mix my Tailwind Nutrition and returned back to the tent. At this point, there was nothing more I could do to prepare. All I had left to do was sleep.
The next day one of our friends (Elizabeth G) drove all the way down from Killeen to hang out with us. I can’t thank her enough. I wasn’t worried about people being there to support me… I was running a 1mi loop… Not too much support is needed for that 🙂 I was more worried about someone for my wifey to hang out with. 🙂 While we had our tent neighbors, it was great that my wife had a “FRIEND”! THANK YOU ELIZABETH!!!!
The morning of the race I did what I always do… I woke up at the buck-crack-of dawn and realized something was off… I HAD NO COFFEE!!! First things first.. I jumped in the truck and went out looking for my coffee! Once I came back I sat outside the tent enjoying my coffee wishing I had the missing ingredient; I didn’t have Bailey’s! About 2-hours before the race start I began setting up my aid station along the route (which was only about 20′ from the tent). I had my cooler in place with Tailwind Nutrition, boiled potatoes, and extra socks (just in case).
The time finally came to toe the line and jump into this next journey. My plan as simple. I was going to do a 5min run, 1 min walk as long as I could mentally take it. As always, I started off a bit brisker than I had wanted, but since I as going to be turning around in only 1/2 mi I wasn’t too worried about it. I quickly got into my grove and just began moving forward. The course itself was actually a 1/2 mi pavement path through the park. Since my ankle injuries and surgery I have never enjoyed pavement/road/etc. Put simply… the pounding on the hard surface hurts my old joints. Funny that one of the things that began bugging me first was passing the same people every few minutes. I am accustomed to greeting everyone on the trail as we pass. After waving to people a few dozen times I fell into my own little world and just casually smiled at times. One thing I did note is that Jeff Ball lapped me 9x during his 6hr race!
Throughout my run I did get a chance to chat with A LOT of people and really had a great time. I had the chance to meet a lot of great runners from many different places and had an absolute blast!
My plan going into the race was pretty solid. No matter what happened, I was leaving with a buckle and a new distance PR, and injury free and I walked away from that race with all three goals accomplished! My initial goal was 100mi. After the first 30mi on the course I reassessed those goals and focused on the 100k instead. While my body felt great throughout the entire race, it was the pavement and the 1/2mi out and back that did it for me. 🙂 The other piece that was weighing heavy on me was we needed to pack up and drive 3 1/2hrs to get home the following morning.
After reevaluating my goals, I turned the race into a FUN time! I focused on the running community, chatting with people, and hanging out with my wife and Elizabeth. Yes… I said hanging out! After I reassessed my goals I stopped at my tent every hour and just hung out with them… I kicked back on my hammock and enjoyed the company and time.
HUGE kudos to people that compete in timed races. That takes a special kind of mental strength to get out there and endure that 1mi loop for 24hours.
At 16hr (after several hours of BSing with friends and family) I completed my 64 miles. The board said 62 but my Suunto said 64. Either way.. It was a 100k and I walked away with my first buckle!
Now comes the strange part. This race actually ended up being my first 50mi AND my first 100k. Truth be told, that 100k number was scary. I have my eyes set on a 100mi TRAIL race in 2016, but for some odd reason 100k concerned me. Well after I finished my race I sat down in my hammock and had an “Apple Juice”. For those who know me, there is no question in your mind what I drank! I used some Body Pills and cleaned up a little, packed up my aid station, and crawled onto the air mattress to get some sleep. I went to be feeling great but I was honestly expecting to wake up sore from the 64mi of pavement pounding.
The next morning I woke up, scooted myself off the air mattress and stood up. What I learned is that all of my training up to that race was spot on. There was no soreness, no pain, not a single blister, cramp, NOTHING!! Not only did I run my first 100k, I didn’t have any DOMS to go with it! In fact, that day I still went for a run and was back on the trails doing my thing the following day.
Now that I put that scary number behind me, I was ready for the world and my next trip would take me to Bandera 100k!
Gear and Hydration is was spot on. I ran about 40 miles in my SKORA Running Tempos and my FEET felt absolutely awesome! While my feet felt great, the pounding on the pavement was starting to get the best of my old broken ankles. 🙂 As far as fuel/hydration goes, I stayed on my normal fueling routine and kept the Tailwind going. I was taking in approx. 250 calories per hour of Tailwind throughout the entire race. I do also add boiled new potatoes to the mix as well. Not for the calories but to relax my mind. Sometimes I just get happy eating 🙂 A special thanks to SKORA Running and Tailwind Nutrition. They offer phenomenal products that have really changed the way I run!
The race was put on by Rob and Rachel Goyen over at Trail Racing Over Texas. If you have never been to one of their races, you simply MUST start. Regardless of the location or distance, Rob and Rachel go all out and put together a first class event! Their races are 100% fully supported to include fantabulously stocked aid stations and volunteers! While the Jackalope Jam was a timed race, that didn’t change a thing. They treated this race just like a 100mi race or any other ultra. There was a fully stocked aid station, course markings (yes… even on a 1/2mi track), and some of the best volunteers out there!
This was the first year Jackalope 6/12/24hr was run, but it is definitely a must do Trail Racing Over Texas race! Be sure to check out the next one!!
Before I talk about what is next I need to thank the single greatest person in the world… That is my wife. While I may be the one doing the running, it is her support that allows me to do just that. She always makes sure I have what I need, everything is packed (and then some), and gets out there and supports me when she can. We are a union and in order to be involved in the sport I love, I need the support of the person I love. Put simply… Races are not the same without her by my side. I love you honey!
So what does that possibly have to do with “What’s Next”?
Well one of the challenges we have with races is the duration and availability to facilities. Without getting into the specifics… we need to have facilities available to us when we go somewhere and tent living doesn’t exactly provide that. So how do you fix that? You buy a camper!!!
On the way to the Jackalope Jam we actually stopped at an RV place and took a look at them to get an idea and see what would work for us. I honestly wasn’t expecting much to come out of that, but I was wrong!
A few weeks after the race we went to Fun Town RV in Waco. We are now the proud owners of a camper! The best part about it… That means my wifey will also be at Bandera 100k with me!! I could not be more excited 😀