By Nolan Ripple
“Showing up is 80% of life. Sometimes it’s easier to hide home in bed. I’ve done both.” —Woody Allen
My first 100-mile experience occurred on October 27 in the beautiful McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Arizona—the infamous Javelina Jundred. Rather than digesting my race experience, here’s a glimpse into how I got there. Simply toeing the line on race day is an honor, and certainly not a given. Injuries, illness, conflicts, and less-than-perfect training were abundant in the months leading up to this event.
People talk about the “pain cave” in a race, but for me, I had been through 18 months of it. Emergency abdominal surgery, torn hammy from flag football, stress reaction of the femur, and nagging lower leg injuries took massive shots at my confidence. I questioned myself: Am I really meant for this? Am I doing long-term damage to my body? The brain can get hung up on negative thoughts but learning to be patient and working smarter to maintain health and fitness is paramount. For me, I found that each voice of concern also gave me new energy and desire to rise to the occasion.
Things were not perfect in the slightest leading up to Javelina. I had a shin splint issue which had been nagging me for a couple months but was getting progressively worse. Point tenderness on the bone and frequent ankle swelling relegated me to the good old elliptical. This was my only avenue of training in the month prior. Travis Macy would say, it’s all good mental training, but at the time, my ship was sinking and time was running out. This damn race was coming up and I needed all my strength. Probably the only thing preventing me from withdrawing was the fact that my family and a few close friends had already done a Costco shopping trip and planned their Saturday activities around Javelina. I had to at least show up.
The last couple weeks before the race had wreaked havoc on my confidence, but the beautiful mantra Send It was all I could think about on race day. Without strict expectations, I ran smart, ran hard, took care of myself and had fun. No serious leg pain crept in until 75 or 80 miles into the race, and the damn elliptical had kept me healthy. My family, girlfriend and close friends witnessed my first 100-mile finish in 18:48:19, a time that I am proud of, but an effort I am most proud of.