Author Archives | Jennifer Whitley

Jackson Jackass Trail Loop

Jackson Jackass 50K Race Report – Jennifer Whitley

When I first got my invite to do Josh’s Jackson Jackass 50K I was very honored that he choose me along with some of the more well known runners this side of TN. Knowing what kind of runner Josh is, I knew this was not going to be an easy run and I was in for a sweet surprise.

Now I love running wooded trails that have rolling hills that make you feel like you are on a roller coaster on foot but I’ve never got to run one with the extra challenges that lay ahead. Since it had rained all morning it made the course super muddy and slippery, so when you came to a downhill you would end up sliding down, and the steep up hills kept making you slide down as muddy footholds gave way. I slipped and fell so many times that after 5 falls I stopped counting. Only one of those falls was painful enough that I felt my right hip go out of place… but the next fall set it right back! Lucky me!

There were many sharp turns that would make your feet skate sideways because the mud was so slushy. One of the many challenging areas had a rope “hand rail” that if you didn’t keep a firm grip you would plummet down into a ravine. I heard one runner actually did end up falling into it, but I think he avoided any great injury.

Funny thing… it was about the 3rd go around that I realized if I just run and stop trying to be so careful, it became much easier. So when going down some of the steeper areas I did so much better and I never fell again after that. I was plagued with stomach issues, and lost some time with that. My legs stayed strong but my bowels made me make far too many stops in the bushes! Without all those extra stops I’m sure I would have finished at least an hour sooner. Several things could have been the cause, so I’ll just have to do some experimenting with long runs.

Every time I completed a loop I was met by Naresh who jotted down times and gave you assistance with anything you needed. He also made sure to give me words of encouragement and motivation before I left to the next round. He is a very encouraging individual!

My last round was mentally the hardest but also the most satisfying knowing that I would finish. Later I would find out that our dear friend Dallas lost his sight during the last loop. This same thing happened to him a few years back during another ultra. He was still able to complete the run which is amazing to no ends. He is author of Falling Forward and his new book, Going Down Slow. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of his new book! I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first book Falling Forward and I heard that his second book promises to be just as interesting and I can’t to wait to start reading it.

Afterwards several of the runners met at this local restaurant named Coyote Blue and we had some of fanciest looking Mexican food I’ve ever seen. Of course we all looked a little different by then, all cleaned up.

Posted in Race Reports, Running, Ultra Marathon4 Comments

knee deep

My Experience With Dirk’s Fat Ass (50K)

My First 50K – Dirk’s Fat Ass 50K (Murfreesboro, TN)

To start… I’ll just say this was quite the event! I really had no clue what was in store when deciding to run 33 miles on New Years Day. I REALLY didn’t expect to have to swim part of the event!

Upon arrival, two things went wrong right off the bat. First, I forgot my water bottles. Second, My Garmin would not turn on (although I know I charged it).

Lisa and I were the first to arrive, and rain was coming down hard! I became worried that we were the only two who were going to brave the storm, but much to my relief we were soon joined by about 20 other runners! I should have known better than to think a little monsoon would keep the “die-hards” away!

In fact… several well known Ultra Runners showed up as well. Among them were Naresh Kumar (who had just finished the Bartram Forrest 100 Miler a few weeks back) and David Jones (winner of the Badwater 135 in 97). Chris Estes who had completed a 50k the day before!

My friend Jay, who had not run longer than 12 miles since he ran a half marathon in October was keeping a great pace ahead of us. I thought he might be running too fast for an ultra. Heck… I thought WE were going too fast! Jay had planned on doing 20 miles (the run was made up of three 10 mile loops) but he found he had the legs to do 27 (21.1 in 3:37, which included time to change into dry clothes and then 6 miles of walking for a total time of 5:41). He is an amazing person who has helped me increase my speed!

The first 10 miles went great, but in some parts of the trail the water was several inches deep, covering our shoes. Joseph was still recovering from a bronchial virus infection, but soldiered on through grim determination. Lisa kept the conversation going. It amazes me that she can talk non-stop and still keep a great pace! Her tales are a great distraction and keeps the miles interesting.

On the second 10 loop, the rains had stopped… but the water from the river (that this trail borders) was rising, and at some points was over our knees! Our legs would freeze and our feet became numb! Now… this may have actually benefited us, as it was like taking an ice plunge to keep the swelling down of stiff legs.

On our third pass, Naresh warned us that the waters were still rising. I thought “No problem!” I was wrong. The water was waist high, and began moving rapidly. At one point the path dipped into a tunnel, and there the water was chest high!

We decided to climb the muddy hill that bordered the trail, which Joseph and Lisa made up with no problem. If you know me, however… my climbing skills aren’t the best. It was quite rocky and slick with mud. I kept envisioning what wonderful new scars I could bring home to show my family if I slid back down! Joseph dramatically reached down to grab my outstretched hand and hoisted me to the top, where I about landed on top of Lisa!

We completed 7 more miles for a total of 33 miles in honor of Joseph having turned 33 at Christmas! At the aid station, Dirk the race director told me and Lisa that we were the first women to complete this event!

And with the completion, my fears of the Strolling Jim 40 Miler that I have planned for May have been assuaged a bit, and I know that with continued training and good running partners… anything can be accomplished!

Posted in Running, Ultra Marathon1 Comment

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