Liza Howard. Ultrarunning Mom.

Ultrarunning Mom

Javelina Race Report: Part 1

I hardly know where to begin.  Do you want to know about the IVs and catheterization first or the 15 hours and 47 minutes of running?

I’ll start with the 101.4 miles.

The atmosphere at Javelina is entirely welcoming.  I haven’t been to a race outside of Texas in a long while and it felt strange at first to be surrounded by ultrarunners I didn’t know and need to hug.  But then I got caught up watching the happy bustle of packet pick-up, tent-pitching, and pre-race dining.  Because Javelina is a seven loop course, and the crews stay at the start/finish, the area has a festival-like character. The volunteers are gracious and experienced and wonderfully good humored — and so are the race directors.  You should go run this race and see for yourself.  (Unless you can only run 100 miles.)

I am ashamed to write that I did not show up in a costume.  I’d planned to put Kineseo tape on my shoulder and go as a beach volleyball player, but I got caught up in the trying-to-run-fast part of things and left the costume in the hotel room.  Lame, I know.

No one seemed to want to take the lead once the race started and I found myself in front of almost 400 runners for about 10 seconds.  I imagined 15 different scenarios where I got everyone lost in that span of time. Happily Hal and others finally charged by and took over the steering.  I stuck near the lead guys the first loop because the pace felt comfortable and I wanted to chat.  I managed to bother Hal for some pacing tips during that loop.  (“Hey, I know you’re busy racing and setting a new course record and all, but I was just wondering…”)  (He was very gracious, of course.)  I ended up running the first loop a lot faster than I thought I would, but I chalked it up to the cool air and the beautiful sunrise.  The second loop was warmer and I slowed to stay at that comfortable pace.  My coach, Howard Nippert, e-mailed me advice before the race that included: “100 mile races are not won in the first 30 miles.”  I kept repeating that to myself as the guys and potential conversations disappeared in the distance. Happily, the washing machine loops brought the rest of the almost 400 runners into view shortly.  I got to say hi to everybody over the course of three miles.  There were some amazing costumes.  There was a woman with a huge peacock tail.  Huge.  And Catra Corbett was dressed to the nines as Lady Luck. There was also this fine fellow.

And there was a man dressed as a large toilet.  I don’t know how he survived the midday heat.  What was most impressive was how everyone seemed to keep their costumes on loop after loop.  I would have started pulling out tail feathers at mile 2 if I had been that peafowl girl.

The looping was harder than I expected and I was very thankful to have an iPod on Loops 3 and 4.  Bad 80s music with a little ABBA and Glee mash-ups mixed in can really get you through anything.

Paulette Zillmer, runner and pacer extraordinaire, picked me up on Loop 5.  We’d only exchanged e-mails up to that point and I was looking forward to chatting away the hours with her.  As we left, someone hollered something like, “Don’t let her drop you, Paulette!”  And Paulette said something ridiculous about how I should feel free to drop her if I was feeling really strong.


Now I know there are amazing runners out there with 60 and 70 miles on their legs who can run faster than their fresh pacers.  I am not one of those runners.  If you pick me up at mile 60 and you can jog briskly, I will not be dropping you.  Paulette probably could have power walked the last 40 miles and kept up with me.  Did I mention that she won the Angeles Crest 100 this year?

After I told her she was a nut, we got down to the business of me feeling pooped and asking her for all sorts of help at the aid stations (I need two cups of Coke and an electrolyte tab and a flashlight and a long-sleeved shirt and please massage my lower back and and…).

I pretty much wallowed in feeling pooped and the rest of the race.  I definitely didn’t uphold my end of the conversation with Paulette.  And I got inordinately grumpy about the 9 million lumen headlamps and flashlights people were using.  (It’s hard to be good humored when you’re both pooped and blinded.)  This is about the point when I squatted to pee and saw that my urine was pretty dark.  Badness.  (Damaged muscles release myoglobin, which turns the urine reddish brown when it is excreted.  Myoglobin breaks down into components that can block the kidney’s structures causing kidney failure.)  I was shocked.  I felt fine.  Pooped, but in an understandable I-just-ran-90+-miles kind of way.  I’d been hydrating carefully and peeing almost hourly.  No ibuprofen or aspirin.  I stood up, fought my way back into my compression shorts (PS. Ladies, compression shorts are challenging gear to manage during ultras), and headed toward the finish line. Another bathroom stop a little later confirmed the dark color.  This time the urine looked like iced tea.  At this point, Paulette and I were about four miles from the finish and definitive care. I don’t know if walking those last four miles would have changed anything that happened later other than the time I got to the hospital.

My great friend Chris was waiting for us at mile 100 to run the last 1.4 miles with me.  I’ve mentioned Chris’ shirt-off-his-back-for-me pacing move from my first 100-miler.  He outdid that feat this year.  More on that tomorrow though.  I spent most of those last 1.4 miles railing against 101.4 mile races and whining about my sore back.  (Apparently the small waist pack I wore that weighed maybe 6 ounces was too much for my lower back muscles.) We sprinted across the finish line and then there was lots of hugging, a little bit of sitting, a quick shower and a drive to the hospital.  I’ll work on that part of the story tomorrow along with my many thank yous, so I do them justice.

Spoiler: I am fine.  I was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, given four liters of IV fluid, kept overnight for observation and discharged in time to make my flight home.  I look like a sausage from third spacing all that IV fluid and I might have to buy a sweatsuit at Walmart to wear until I can fit into my pants again, but otherwise I’m fine.

Until tomorrow.

Update: Javelina Race Report: Part 2

38 thoughts on “Javelina Race Report: Part 1

  1. Tim Smith says:

    You’re nuts. I am glad you enlightened me about rhabdomyolysis though, because it sound eerily close to how I felt/experienced mildly at CR50 and heavily this past weekend. However, I don’t think my runs were quite long enough to warrant it, and I am feeling mostly recovered already, minus some soreness. It does serve as a reminder to me that I need to take in more protein during my long runs and I should probably get a check-up soon.

  2. Domingo says:

    Congratulations Liza! Glad you’re OK. Hope to hear the stories. You are amazing. I fell apart after mile 19 during RNR MARATHON SUNDAY. Succumbed to the heat. Medical gave me ice around mile 24. Ran in rest of way. Not a proud moment but made it.

  3. Paige says:

    So glad you are okay, Liza!!  On a lighter note, Geof and I both look like encased meat today.  I weighed myself today to see how much water weight I’m holding post-race…6 pounds, yowza! 

    So fabulous to meet you finally, and uber mega congrats on your course record! :) 

  4. Aaron Harrell says:

    Well, you killed the suspense with your spoiler. Glad you’re okay though. Congratulations on a fantastic performance!


  5. JohnnyTri says:

    Glad you are alright! and recovering. It was great to see you there kicking some butt! 


  6. Sarah J says:

    Congratulation on your win and the CR.  I’m glad you’re ok after the rhabdo scare.  I’m thinking that it’s more a result of running a hard 100mi and less from dehydration/nsaid use.  I definitely peed brown after Sawtooth and I didn’t take anything either.  I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.  Take care!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sarah, how long did the dark urine last for you after the race?  Writing the ER fun part of the story now.  

      • Sarah J says:

        It didn’t last too long.  I think the next time I peed it had downgraded to a very watered down tea color so I wasn’t worried.  Don’t waste too much time agonizing over what you did or didn’t do that caused the rhabdo.  There was an article a few months back in Trail Runner about Diana Finkel’s amazing Hardrock win and how she got rhabdo afterwards.  I don’t think she took anything during the race either, but in the article one of the doctors says that getting rhabdo in that sort of situation is all chance.  At least that’s what I got out of it.  You should look it up and read it.

  7. mtnrunner2 says:

    >Hey, I know you’re busy racing and setting a new course record and all, but I was just wondering…”
    Simply amazing to get a course record after your injury. Wow. I’m sure it was the aqua jogging.
    Sorry the run involved jospitalization, glad you’re OK.
    PS – Can’t believe I read the word “rhabdomyolysis” and don’t skip a beat any more. What is the running world coming to?

    • Anonymous says:

      My father in-law thinks “lol” means “lot’s of love” and signs all his e-mails that way now.  Makes for some ironic notes from him.  
      As much as I loathe aqua-jogging (with every fiber of my being), it probably did keep me fit.  
      Rhabdo is such a hard beast.  My dad asked me what I was going to do differently to avoid it next time and I told him I didn’t know.  I can’t figure out what I did differently/what went wrong this time.

  8. lisa says:

    Oh no Liza, Rhabdo!?!  So at about 75 or so you saw the dark urine? Have you ever had this happen before?  I’m glad you are ok!  I wonder why now and not at other 100 mile races. Did you push super hard this time? Always makes me nervous to hear but sounds like you will be back on track soon enough.

    Just curious- what iv fluids did they give you? LR or NS?

    By the way, I loved reading your report.  Especially the “pulling out tail feathers” and “pea fowl”- hilarious!

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Lisa!  :)
      I’m working on trying to figure the “whys” out, but the consensus right now is bad luck.  We’ll see what more digging finds.  
      I’m feeling close to 100% this morning though, so that’s good.
      It was NS and later D5W with 2 amps of Bicarb.
      What’s up with you? 

      • lisa says:

        I interrogated my husband for info on Rhabdo- got some good information from that man- he did learn a thing or two in residency ! 
        Glad you’re feeling better anyhow! How do you feel after a win?  Is it like taking a test you prepared for, doing really well, and then feeling like ah, no big deal? Does it make you happy?  I have always wondered what drives people to do difficult things- is it the process mostly?  Just curious… :) 
        I am not running much right now.  It just started raining here and it makes me eager to go out and run but everyday is full with school and work but soon! I will be at it again and this time, no destination, no goal.  I am just going to do it and see how far it goes. But, when the time comes, it would be super to talk to you about it!

        take care of yourself!

        • Anonymous says:

          Mostly it’s really nice to do well at a race because it feels like it legitimizes all the training and time away from Eliot and Asa.  The mom guilt is a bit less after a good race.  And when I look around my dirty house, it’s nice to be able to think, “Yeah, sure it’s filthy, but I am good at other things; I can run for a really long time.”  I wouldn’t say winning makes me happy.  It’s like a really nice present.  Pleasing.  The process does bring happiness — and the running with friends — and life with Eliot and Asa.  
          Sounds like a great plan with the running.  Look forward to those conversations.  

  9. Tony Cesario says:

    Liza, congrats on your awesome finish, you looked solid everytime I saw you, and still smiling and saying “hey” to the rest of us. Rest up, you’ve definetly earned it.

  10. […] into a race report on her blog.  In it she details her 101.4 mile journey in the 1st installment (read HERE) and her ER visit and hospital stay in the 2nd installment (read […]

  11. kellyagnew says:

    It was awesome watching you run! You were really tearing it up! Great job!

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks so much Kelly. I definitely felt like those loops were tearing me up at times.  :)  How was  your run?

      • kellyagnew says:

        It was good. Was shooting for a sub 22 and came in right at 21:57…35th place. I had a lot of fun. And most importantly, I feel great and am ready to run the Philly Marathon on Sunday.

        • Anonymous says:

          I can’t believe you’re running a marathon Sunday!  That is awesome and incredible.  I might manage an afternoon walk around the neighborhood Sunday — or maybe I’ll just eat some donuts.  Hard to say.   
          Nice job on the run! 

  12. John says:

    I never would’ve guessed you were having problems.  Every time you came toward me you had an ear to ear smile on your face and it looked like you were the happiest person in the desert. 

    Congrats on the new CR.  You were amazing out there!

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks so much John.  I felt pretty great while the sun was shining.  The darkness cloaked the smile turned grimace.  :)  How was your run?

      • John says:

        My run was great thank you.  Struggled a few times with electrolytes and nutrition, but accomplished my sub 24 goal with no leg pain, no blisters or anything.  I’m now reading about so many problems other people had with their bodies and thinking I didn’t push myself hard enough.  :-( 

        I guess I didn’t see you after dark.  The last time I saw you was with Paulette running toward Rattlesnake Ranch and I gave you a standing ovation.  It’s a big inspiration to see someone doing so well and making it look so easy.

        Sorry about adding that image, I thought I was adding an avatar.  Feel free to remove it if its a problem.

        • Anonymous says:

          I don’t know, it sounds like you ran a really smart race.  My training goal is always to feel like you felt during a race.  And the image is great.  :)

  13. […] Liza Howard – First Place Woman! […]

  14. […] had no idea what to do. All I could think of was Liza’s story about peeing coffee and having to go to the hospital right after her race. I thought I was finished here. I did NOT […]

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