Skip to content

The Comeback: Angelisa’s Journey to Javelina

the comeback

For runners who love an epic 100-mile challenge, few races bring the heat like Arizona’s very own Javelina 100. The harsh conditions and endless miles have crushed the dreams of many athletes. The goal of running the Javelina drives Angelisa forward. Arocha, a runner from Colorado, has spent months recovering from a bad knee injury from a ski accident. “Some days are good, some are bad,” she says about her recovery. “Some mornings I wake up feeling like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. I have to slowly get going.” The comeback is not without its setbacks, but Angelisa maintains a positive attitude. 

Training From Scratch 

The injury forced Arocha to completely restart her training from scratch this spring. Not yet running, she mixes in biking, climbing, and hiking with her PT work. “I dialed it way back,” she says. “It was like, okay, let’s try 2 miles. Okay, got that, let’s do more.” Little by little, she built her mileage back up while closely watching her knee. “I’m tracking my miles on Strava. I set a goal of 20 miles per week, and once I hit that, I’ll keep pushing more.” 

The Online Running Community 

Arocha credits the online running community for keeping her motivated during the tough days. “Social media is motivating when you see people posting about their runs and accomplishments. I feel like I’m right there with them.” She also leans on training partners recovering from injuries, such as her friend Shelby, who is recovering from a foot injury. “We all cheer each other on, like ‘you got this, we got this!'” Getting motivation from others on the same difficult path has helped her vent frustrations and stay positive.

The Hard Work Is Paying Off 

In addition to building mileage, Arocha continues to see a physical therapist and does a variety of prescribed workouts to build her mobility back up. Angelisa must do these exercises every day to keep her progression moving. She recently started yoga too. “I’m getting my flexibility back through yoga, and it’s really helping,” Arocha says. The hard work is paying off as Arocha can now log longer outings without her knee swelling up too much. “Two and a half miles doesn’t feel like a lot anymore,” she jokes. “I just have to do that 50 more times!”

ADVERTISEMENT – Use Code RunTriBike and Save 20%

The First Phase 

Her sights are set on when her official Javelina training plan begins. The first phase focuses on long hiking to build endurance as she awaits clearance to start running. “The plan is to hike until I’m cleared to run,” she explains. “At my appointment on May 21, if cleared, I can start running on an anti-gravity treadmill.” Despite the bumpy road, Arocha’s desire to race Javelina hasn’t wavered. The iconic event has become her driving motivation. “Javelina is like my goal now – we’re going to do this!”

Overcoming Her Family’s History 

Part of what fuels Arocha is overcoming her family’s history of health issues like obesity and diabetes. “That weighs heavy on me,” she admits. “I want to change things for myself and avoid those problems.” Arocha’s tough, never-quit mindset embodies the spirit of an ultra runner. If her intense work ethic is any sign, Javelina’s desert trails will face a fierce competitor in Angelisa this October. In July, Angelisa signed up for a 12 hour race on a 10-mile loop. She intends to use the event to gauge her progress. 

Toeing That Start Line 

With each step forward, Angelisa’s confidence grows that she’ll be toeing that starting line. “I have to be patient with myself and accept where I’m at,” Arocha says. Perspective is everything and Angelisa believes hard is relative to the challenge at hand and what a person needs.  “If a 3-6 mile hike is my limit before my knee swells, that’s where I’m at. But I’m slowly pushing to go longer and do more every week.” For Angelisa, the comeback is at hand and as her goal race draws nearer, her strength grows.


Aum Gandhi Run Tri Bike Magazine Co-Owner

Aum Gandhi is a social media manager, content writer, and co-owner of Run Tri Bike. An active ultrarunner, Aum has a palpable love for the sport and the trail community. His purpose in all his professional and personal activities is to inspire others by leaving a positive impact. Aum maintains a personal blog on his website in which he shares both his running exploits and features of energizing endurance athletes to all audiences. In his free time, you’d probably catch Aum reading, crewing at races, playing video games, out on the trails, or watching NBA Basketball.