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Never alone nor lost: American Heroes 24hour Race Re-cap

#PlayGldn Friends and family pacing me my final miles.

There are two items that stuck through me throughout the 100mile run. The first I had heard from multiple Ultra 100 mile friends which was, “Your heart has to be in it.” I can honestly say I never poured my heart into anything (except my kids and wife) as much as I did this run. The 2nd is a bit different but really made me think and push through, One of my training runs I was planning on doing “4 or 5 hours.” Mentioning this to Mr. Turboletti during a #PlayGldn run he stated (not a full quote but close) “Well I think you should choose 4 or 5, because that is really what you are up against in this run.” He was correct. I honestly chose 2 hours after talking with Mike Bell and how he pointed out running 4 or 5 hours the weekend before the race was just stupid and most likely cause an injury. Heading his advice, after one time I did not heed it and was the worse for where, I listened and did 2 hours instead. The run was great, I felt great, and those two gave me some of the best advice I could of asked for the week before the race. Especially considering I have never ran for more than 26.2 miles, or longer than 4.5 hours in a single run. I was throwing myself into flames!

Race day was upon me. I had planned to eat a nice breakfast and chose NoNo’s cafe with french toast, grits, and Bengiets. I was nice and full after. I got home and did some dishes and a bit of cleaning before “clocking” out at 9:30 am, since this race started at 4:11pm, it was a bit rough to plan out. I did not sleep great but I at least had two or three 15-30 minute deep sleep sessions. Next time I will remember to have a white noise maker and a mask to help facilitate better sleep. 12:30 came and it was time to get the gear in the car, by 1:45pm we were on the road and headed to Longmont, CO. The drive was really nice and not stressful at all. Minimal traffic and easy going. Once we reached Longmont, we got out and I went and introduced my self to Mr. David Clark and got my bib. We setup a light sportsbrella, a few chairs, and I laid out my fuel. In no time at all the race was upon us. David Clark gave an awesome speech about the race format and why they decided to start the race. With just two minutes left I hurried to the bathroom came out with thirty seconds to spare. The race started.

My plan for the race was to start at 12-13 minute miles for the 2-4 hours the sun was up. Unfortunately the adrenaline kicked in and I was doing 10:45-11:45 minute miles. I tried slowing down but it is ironically hard to run 12-13 minute miles at the start, even though I finished it was impossible for me to go below 19 minute miles. At this point I kept to my strategy, 20 minutes running 4 minutes walking with eating every 40 minutes. I kept up with the strategy. One of the things people asked me about and warned about this race was how easy it would be to over stop. I think I did pretty well at controlling my stops, but I also used that to my advantage. Instead of carrying a water bottle with me, I would pick one up when I needed and switched to Nuun every other time.

This was a huge bonus, no extra weight, my shoulders could be relaxed except for the 1 lap I was hydrating. My wife went to eat and get in her hotel and came back, I stopped and chatted a bit longer than I wanted to but took advantage of eating while talking. I ran around a couple more times and she took our youngest daughter to get in bed, around 8pm. She was talking with my brother in law, Leif, and said he would be here by 9pm. I knew I had an hour. I kept to the strategy but added an extra lap so that when they got there I could take a quick 1-2 minute break to eat and talk. Leif showed up with Ewan, my nephew. Once they setup their canopy, tent, table, and chairs they joined with me on a slower lap. This was the game changer for my race.

Unfortunately, since I did not plan on having anyone, I really failed on letting them know what I needed and what my plan was. I may have barked a few times at them but this is a great lesson learned. Next time I will not expect to be alone and plan to instruct anyone who will help me crew. This is probably my biggest lesson I learned throughout my run. I am not alone. Ewan joined me for 2 more laps before I made him stop, since he was wearing Van shoes. He helped get me a few more fuel items before he crashed. Leif stayed up till about 3am, filling some water bottles and keeping the fluid going till he finally crashed. It was about an hour after Leif was getting some sleep I hit the part of the run I always heard about but never understood…the darkness.

I decided to sit down right before the 12 hour mark and have a 5 minute sit because I was in a bad place in my head. Doubt reared it’s ugly head and I decided to make a post on Facebook to put my thoughts down on “paper” in an effort to get them out of my head. I forced myself out of the chair and back onto the course. The next miles were slow going, my body hurt, my head was in a bad spot, and I was about the only person on the course. I had not seen anyone for a few laps, assuming most were sleeping or we were all going a similar pace. Finally at about hour 10 I decided to take some caffeine to help push through till the sun came up. 2 laps later the caffeine sank in and I was feeling great. I started getting back to 11 minute miles instead of the 14-15 minute miles I had been doing the past 2 hours and really bounced back, perhaps a bit too much.

The bounce back felt great but the side effect was, I pushed way too hard. Now this part of the race I will be always calculating and thinking what would of happened if I slowed it down to doing 10:30’s instead of 9’s like I was? I knew that 90degree heat was coming soon and wanted to get some fast miles in before the heat sank in. Whether this was the right choice, or if I should of slowed down and maybe finished stronger I do not know. What I do know is that I will be focusing a lot more on heat runs and sauna’s. I was doing 15-20 minute saunas about 3 times a week. I think I need to try for 20-25 minute sauna’s for the next race 3 times a week with at least 2 heat runs. I do not know if this would of made a difference but we will see.

In the middle of these fast miles I took 1st place for the first time. At 17 hours 30 minutes. Chris, who was the guy I was chasing, had been asking if I had taken a break yet and kept looking back. We chatted briefly and high fived then I sped along. I met Debbie and Seth around this time, runners who were training for the Break Creek 50 miler, which is right outside my house, and they were doing a 30 mile run. We did a full lap around 9:30 pace which was great, I love the Ultra community. From here I was able to gain 1.5 laps on Chris before everything started catching up to me.

One lap before my final fast mile I decided to use the bathroom and noticed the rust color. Understanding what that meant I switched to Tailwind instead of heating and water / Nuun. This way I had liquid calories with the electrolytes that seemed to sit well but next time I passed the aid station I felt a familiar sign that my kidneys were shot. Having dehydrated 3 times last year I am familiar with this feeling. Fear of urinating blood, I sat down for 5 minutes, hydrated up. When I got back out on the course the feeling was gone but I think the mental damage took over.

I walk jogged some more laps when Mike Bell, Kaitlin Pace, my sister Jacove, step mother Tammy, and my kids Jocelyn and Nolan showed up! Mike and Kaitlin came from El Dorado and running a race, I was so happy and shocked to see them. It boosted my mentality a ton, even if my speed stayed the same. By now we were at about mile 90ish I think, I cannot really remember. Mike and Jacove walked a lap with me when who showed but none other than the Turboletti’s (nick named because of how fast they both are), Dan and Julia.

They all walked the next lap with me, having 5-6 people walking along side me for a lap was the best feeling ever. Another Chris, who ran the Leadville 100 (which Mike also just finished 2 weeks previous) was doing a lap holding the American Flag noticed Mike and they talked then he showed me the belt buckle he earned from doing the race previously. The thing I remember saying to everyone after seeing it was, ‘I want that effin buckle!’ This is when I learned, that despite everything, just having one small thing to keep motivated, no matter how dumb it seems, can make all the difference. During this walk I learned that Dan was going to run from Golden to Longmont, which would have been insane! But luckily he stopped in Boulder (limiting himself to “only” 31 miles) where Julia picked him up and came to walk and support me.
They walked a time or 2 more with me and stuck around for a bit before they took off. I was truly grateful to have such awesome friends show up. I owe each of them any type of crew, pace, or cheering support! When they left I think I had 4 hours left with about 9 or 10 more laps to go. The sun was cranking and had my crew pull out my Dirty 30 buff get it wet for me, after gathering advice from Chris, who just passed me taking his 1st place spot back. I put the buff under my hat and off I went with a cool head. This helped but that heat was just beating down. It was only 90F but it was a game changer. Chris was able to pull back through it and handled it like a champ. I still do not know how he was going as fast as he was, I was amazed.

Leif paced me for the next lap, because I did not want to eat, and forced an orange on me and a peanut butter and jelly roll. Neither tasted good but I forced it down. Without that push I would of probably DNF’ed at that point, because my system was giving out. Next Jacove paced me for the last 10 laps, in the heat. Making sure I had water and carrying my water for me, which was awesome as my shoulders were shot. We counted down the laps, I probably got a bit worse with my potty mouth all the while grunting and cussing my feet for hurting. My kids wanted to give me hugs and encouragement but I had to be mean and turn them down. It felt like a nice stiff breeze would blow me over. Nolan, my son, joined us for a lap and a half with Ewan. Ewan ended up doing close to 13 miles with me when all was said and done. The second to last lap Lyndsey joined me and we walked with a lady from Dallas, TX and talked to her. She came to Colorado to get out of the heat for a nice cool race, when it was anything but cool! Lyndsey did awesome and I really appreciated her full support, even if she thinks I was crazy. Jacove and Ewan did the final lap with me into the finish, I wish I had the energy to bounce up and down but I crossed the finish line barely walking.

After crossing I immediately walked over to David Clark, who was holding my buckle, and gave him a big long hug. Tears were shed and I was over joyed and elated. Chris was sitting there, not quite finished because he had one more lap to set the course record but he congratulated me. As well as a group of runners from Cor, who gave me a part hat to wear in. Everyone was awesome! All the love and joy I experienced was overwhelming. After all that I went and changed, which was insanely hard. I could barely lift my feet but ultimately I got it done. Put on my Cyclebar shirt from my sister and then knowing I probably would not be able to get up from anywhere else, sat in the car. While everyone was loading stuff I was able to help clap a few people in and cheer them on. Made my live Facebook thank you and replied to a bunch of posts.

That was probably a bad thing to do because after we got driving there was a couple U-Turns here and there and stop lights. Maybe 5 miles down the road I got sweats, nausea, and insane hand cramping. Lyndsey had to pull over, get out, open my door for me because my hands were crippled from cramps in order to dry heave a few times. My hands were locked into position and that was it Lyndsey put a towel down on the side of the road and I laid there while her and Tammy rubbed my hands to get them back to ‘normal’. After maybe 10 minutes of me laying on the road Lyndsey and Tammy lifted me up and back into the car, as I could not lift anything. Tammy gave me some ice packs that I put on my hands and then the towel put on top of me because I was cold after sweating. This worked and I was able to doze into on and off sleeping the rest of the trip home.

This was an amazing experience. I learned multiple life qualifying lessons, one being how much friendship and family really matters in life. Do not be afraid to ask for help, most awesome friends will realize the help needed and show up because they understand, but asking them to show up is not a bad thing! Same with family, I was expecting to do most of the run alone and the main reason I chose this for my first 100. I was severely mistaken thinking I could do this alone and that almost cost me goal. Luckily I have a freaking awesome brother in law who knows me and how I am and realized the need. Without Leif I would have been lost during many points of my life and not with just this one experience. Without Lyndsey dealing with an exuberant 15 month old child for hours while I did my laps, I would have been lost. Without my acquired running friends from FRXC, which led to #PlayGldn (Thanks Mike Bell), I would have been lost. Without an awesome mother-in-law taking my kids and brining them by to cheer me on, I would have been lost. Without an amazing sister to tough out 3 hours of walking in the heat to make sure I did what I came to do, I would have been lost. Finally without my nephew being an awesome pacer, talking to me about how proud he was of me for 13ish laps, I would have been lost.

The fact is, I was never lost. My family and friends guided me to victory and showed up at my time of need and for that I can never ever repay them. Love you all so much and thank you for finding me when I was close to getting lost.

3 thoughts on “Never alone nor lost: American Heroes 24hour Race Re-cap

  1. Wow, great recap Ultra Jim… the car ride home sounds like the worst part!! Congrats on your accomplishment and for making running a whole lot more than just alternating steps. Rest up!!

  2. Once that cramp and heaving hit, it was bad. It only lasted for about 10 minutes and was gone. I think that was the worst part of it all, just glad I had family there to help me out!

  3. Jim you have amazed me through out your life. The first being the fight you had to live how hard you fought to breath and fight what your birth had given you. I had prayed so hard for a boy and then we were blessed with you. You will always be my man child who had my heart from day one. I am very proud of the man you have become the love you have for your family and the love you have for you niece and nephews who love you so much. Even if the ones in Cedar only see you once in awhile they always are happy when you come. I still think you are crazy for doing some of the runs you do. This one was very special to me, having to find pictures of family who served in the war and then I remembered that my mother had all of her brothers in the war. They all left at the same time. She her birthday was Dec. 7th and she would say she hated her b’day and she once told me after D day it was hard for her because all of her brother’s had to go to war. So by doing this run you showed me that the freedom we have came at a great sacrifice by so many. I love you and admire the person you are. Love Mom

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