On Saturday, February 23 I ran Jackalope Jam. I chose the 24 hour duration with the hopes that I would earn my first buckle, get some "time on my feet" experience, and become ok with the dark.
This race is a timed event, so instead of racing a certain distance you race to get as many miles as you can within a certain time. The course is a 0.5 mile out & back (or 1 mile loop) down a rocky ranch road. It sounds boring in theory, but it really isn't all that bad.
Jackalope Jam Recap
On Friday morning, I got up bright and early to head to 7IL ranch for my volunteer shifts. I spent the day (from 7am-7pm) volunteering at packet pick-up. It was enjoyable spending time with some old and new friends... and talking to the runners about the goals for their race. I went away from my shifts inspired for the next day.
Saturday morning started out warm (almost 70), humid, and misty. After getting my gear together, I found a place under the "community tent" to set up. I was happy to see that some friends had also staked claim under the tent as well. The race meeting started about 20 minutes prior to gun time. I spent rest of the time before the start chatting up with fellow TROT ambassadors, and other folks that I often see on the trails. I tried to keep myself chill and not really think about the day ahead as I was starting to get overwhelmed.
The first half
Before I knew it, it was GO-time... we had a countdown and then we were off. I started out with the intervals that I had planned - run easy 3 laps and walk 1 lap. I tried to remember to use the walking lap as a time to fuel. The weather was getting breezy and it was starting to rain, on my next lap past my gear, I popped over to take the sunnies off my head. It wasn't more than 3 more laps and the sun came out, and pretty much stayed out all day.
After mile 15, I took a break. I hadn't taken in any nutrition since breakfast and I was getting a little peckish. In addition to fuel, I rolled out my legs and changed shoes. I felt great after this little break and got back out there and kept putting one foot in front of the other. It started to get rather windy and I went from the intervals I started with to walking against the wind and running with the tailwind. At the marathon mark I took another break to change shoes AND socks, roll some more, and eat some more and grab my headphones.
Once I hit 50k, I knew I was going to be able to finish with a buckle. I was still feeling strong and even though I was walking more than I was running I was making really good time. I went and grabbed another pair of shoes from my car and changed into those.
The second half
Darkness had started to set in, so I grabbed my headlamp and set out to conquer my fear of the dark. The wind had died down some and I ran a lot more during this period... it I started setting milestones where I would give myself a little reward just to keep going. At mile 40, my reward was a cup of vegetable broth with ramen noodles and to put my feet up.
I hadn't intended to sleep during this event, and I wasn't really tired. However, my body was craving rest. At mile 50 I opted to lay down for a few hours and change out of my damp clothes, I took a 2 hour nap. Now, I'm not the best "getter upper" after I've been sleeping and I have to admit, that both evil Vicki and good Vicki had conversations when my alarm went off. Thankfully, good Vicki won out and I made it back out on the course.
The last 13 miles, I wish I could say that they went by in a breeze, but they didn't. Miles 50-54 were awesome, I was running and it felt effortless... then it didn't feel effortless. I was at 9 miles to go, with 3:10 to go on the clock. I knew I could do it, but had to be smart about it. At this point, walking felt better than running so I walked with purpose those last 9 miles. Reaching 60 miles was another milestone and knowing I only had 3 more to go was exhilarating!
I finished with a huge smile on my face and got a high-five and a hug from Rob, the race director.
Thoughts on the race
A timed loop race with a 1 mile loop did not appeal to me until I had volunteered at the aide station last year and then it made sense. While it sounds boring, it really isn't... you are always surrounded by people! I was able to people watch, give high-fives and encouragement, and chat with other runners. In addition, I think that running 1 mile loops over an extended period of time is huge challenge mentally.
If you're setting out to tackle a big distance or challenge yourself, this is a safe setting to do it in. You are never more than 0.5 miles from your gear, the aide station, or even the bathrooms.
Things I learned
- Having a plan and sticking to it is great, adjusting it based on how your body feels is even better.
- Mental toughness is just as important as physical strength.
- Music helps... so do high fives and random smiles from strangers.
- Never underestimate the power of ramen noodles, avocado sandwiches, and coke.
As you may have read in my previous post, I made some goals for Jackalope Jam... here's how I did against them:
- Start out slow and steady. It might be tough starting out at the same time with the people that are doing the 6 and 12 hour events, but I need to remember to race my race. My plan is to run 3 loops, walk 1. I know that incorporating walking and going slow in the beginning will help me go longer. - Goal met... I incorporated a bit more walking that I had planned, but it kept me going until the end.
- Mileage goals: A. 75 miles, B. 70 miles, C. 63 miles - I clocked 63 miles. After the 50k, I decided that going after the bonus miles after 100k wasn't worth it.
- Push through the mentally dark moments and move past them. - Achieved, although I really don't recall any dark moments.
- Embrace the darkness (with a headlamp, of course). - Goal met, I was able to run without any major issues.
- Be sure to take in calories and hydration, use walking loop as a reminder. Achieved!
- Last and the most important of them all... HAVE FUN and SMILE! Definitely met... I smiled and had fun the entire time!
That's it all wrapped up. I really had a blast at this one, and am considering signing up for the 48 hour jam in 2020. My biggest take-away is that I feel that I got it in my to give Possum's Revenge a go!