Ultra #12 – Jackalope Jam 24-hr timed race (100k finish)

It has been less than a week since New York City (achieving my second PR) and I was already contemplating on another upcoming race… I wasn’t in too bad of shape after NYC, but know that I can’t go all out and stuff on the next one.

The Jackalope Jam is a fairly new race (well… only a year old to be precise lol) held by the group called Trail Racing Over Texas (TROT), the same group that held the Franklin Mountains 50k. The race is held in a little town called Hitchcock, which is literally next to La Marque (35-40 miles southeast of Houston). The race was held on a one mile loop in a city park, and based on the website, the description sounds like compact gravel with superficial loose gravel. There was the option to do 6 hours, 12 hours, and 24 hours.

After my DNF at Rocky Raccoon 100 earlier this year, there was still some “unfinished” business on my mind. For I had completed 66 miles, which is several miles over an 100k. But because it was a 100 mile race, I did not receive any credit. My friend Alex dropped out at mile 40 (2 loops), and I was “forced” (listening to my body… kind of) to drop out at 66.

The Jackalope Jam offered different finish gear for each tier of distance that you complete. After completing a marathon, you get a medal, and after a 50 miler, a medal. BUT… after an 100k, you get a belt buckle. And after 100 MILES… you also get a belt buckle. I literally called Alex asking if he was willing to do the race and go for a belt buckle. Also, knowing that I will be moving to El Paso and that this may be the last time we get to do a race together in a while… that was what motivated me to commit. It wasn’t the typical race that I’d do. In fact, I’d never go for something like this on my own, because I just can’t imagine running around a “track” for hours and hours… 24 hours maximum to be precise!!

The race would start on Saturday, 11/12 and at 7am and end at Sunday, 11/13 at 7am. Those who signed up for the 6 hours would stop at 1pm, while those who signed up for the 12 hours would stop at 7pm.

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I got to the race premises around 6:30 am and picked up my bib number and shirt, as well as for Alex. I had no idea that the 1 mile loop was entirely PAVED!!! :O   The conditions were a little muggy but the temperature was alright. Alex and I started off with run walk intervals, until about mile 13, which he could not catch up because he hadn’t been running lol…

I also met a few maniacs. One of them was wearing his actual maniac shirt, and his name was Will. The other older lady kinda kept to herself and didn’t converse much. It turned out that Will was only doing the 6 hour race, and I presume the other maniac too. And Alex had called me a true Maniac because I went for the 24 hour option…

But getting close to the marathon, it was getting hot, and I was hitting a wall, getting tired. Alex had been on mile 23 while I finished 27 miles. At this point, I could just walk away and take the marathon medal. But it was too early in the game…

So I decided to go take a nap by my tent while waiting for Alex to complete his marathon. I believe I was down for about an hour and a half (I finished 27 miles shortly before 1pm), when I decided to get up and walk again. I thought to myself… ugh almost 40 miles to go… on this one mile track!!

There’s nothing physical about it… well I take it back, yes there is, for it’s almost all paved and asphalt!! This is a purely mental game… and some people call it a “mind F-“. Can’t get closer to the truth than that… The good thing was, the next aid station was always a mile away… LOL. So I kept on power walking with intermittent jogging, but it just seemed so hard and I could feel everything sore and hurts!! I was talking to Alex every now and then, and I was telling him how much I wanted to quit.

At around mile 32-33, it was close to 4pm I think, and I was seriously thinking about quitting. After all, I don’t want another “medal” for the sake of it, so there would be no point in doing 50 miles and stopping. I knew that because I overslept, I wouldn’t be able to make the 100 miles in 24 hours (in 30 hours.. maybe). The only thing that would motivate me to keep going was to get that 100k belt buckle. But that seemed so far away!! Like 29-30 miles.

That’s when I called Maniac mom (name shall not be disclosed here lol, but as the nickname implies, she’s a Maniac like me, except she could be my mom). Yes, I just have to have a “mom” everywhere I go lol. I put her on speakerphone while I was going with Alex and told her where we were at. I was like, this is ALL paved!! She was like, “how many miles do you have left?” and I said “um… 29. She was like, “ok I would stop if I were you, just go to Cavender’s and get a buckle!” hahaha… OMG lol.

I had almost listened to what Maniac mom had to say but still could not make up my mind… so I said, “how about… if I take a picture of the belt buckle, and the medal, and I send you a text. Then YOU tell me whether or not it’s worth going another 30 miles for it!!”

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When I was taking a picture of the belt buckle the race director came by and was like “whoa what are you doing?” I told her I was gonna take a picture of the buckle and ask my Maniac mom if it’s worth going. He told me, “that buckle is not given, it’s EARNED”… ha

So I did. I was expecting Maniac mom to say, “oh yeah, it’s not worth it, just go to Macy’s or Cavender’s or something…” But instead she texted back and said “wow, that’s actually a really nice buckle, you can’t get that at Macy’s, sorry, keep running!”

And I said to myself… “ugh I hate you for saying that”… ha

Put it on the plus side… One of the perks about a loop race, unlike a linear/point-to-point race, was that there is ALWAYS someone on the course that keeps on moving, so unconsciously, you’re motivated to keep going too.

Getting to mile 40 seemed like it took freakin’ FOREVER… And almost EVERYTHING started to hurt…!!! But finally when I past 40, the sun went down. And somehow, I had a second wind. Yes I was sore, but somehow, I was able to get some running in there with intermittent walking, while listening to some easy-goin’ tunes (It’s weird, because some of the classic country songs with a beat actually helps to keep me going when I’m stressed… Don’t ask me why lol).

By the time I counted to mile 50, it was close to 8:30 pm. The race crew, quite to my surprise, said I had 53 miles already!! I found that hard to believe, so I asked if my splits could be reviewed. The race director Rob said that one of the splits was counted by accident, so he took it off but still I did 2 more than expected. That enlightened my mood by quite a bit!! Before I left the aid station at mile 53, the race director was like, “give me another mile at the end!” I was like, “ah come on man you’re kidding!! haha”.

Then a few miles later, I could feel my left glute tweak sharply a little bit, but I knew better, and I released my TFLs, quads, adductors, and QLs on that side, and the problem went away and I kept going.

I was counting down the number of laps I was doing as I approached 62 miles. After doing 62 miles, I said, “alright i’m DONE!!” Rob (the race director) said, “how many laps did you do?” I said “62”. He was like, “go give me another mile” and I was like, “??what??” He said “yeah man I wasn’t kidding, a 100k is 62 POINT 4 (62.4) miles, so you need another lap”.

Just when I thought I was done… I had to do another lap, I don’t know if I should feel embarassed or funny or the same way I had been feeling… wow.

But even with that extra lap, i managed to finish the entire 100k in just under 16 hours (15:55:05 to be precise). Alex had long been walking (the last 37 miles) and decided to stop at a 50 miler, finishing about 15 minutes after me. What a mental accomplishment and triumph… I can’t believe I just did 63 laps on a one mile city park and got a 100k belt buckle… This was the longest distance I’ve completed to date!! Crazy right? And I was recovering from New York still!!

At the finish line, I met another Maniac who was from Rhode Island and we hit a conversation about hitting all 50 states. I am nowhere near where she is at, although the number of races we completed ain’t that far off. That’s the good about these small races, you get to meet and talk with people, seeing them and encouraging them along the way, while running the race set before us with the endurance that is ultimately a gift from Him. By all humanly thoughts, this seems and probably is impossible.

This was by far one of the toughest thing I’ve ever did in my life. I was faced with the temptation to quit so many times. But it is Him who gives me strength that keeps me moving one step forward at a time.

This was also a lesson and a test to not settle for the status quo. After all, I could have just quit after a marathon and walked away with another medal. For this was the “security” I was holding on to. For I knew that deep down, the reason I came today was to keep my friend Alex in company and go for something much greater than “just a marathon”.

Mark 12:30 states “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”. How this experience today points me back to God is that the satisfaction in what I do is the fullest when I devote my everything and give in my ALL, not just my “good effort”, for good is the enemy of best. It’s when I give Him my all and not settle for “some”, that I experience my answers and rewards from Him in full.

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