Tuesday November 5th, 2k19 at 7:11 PM I received an email from Uncle James that he had signed up for the 100 Mile race in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso. Part of this email was the explanation of the event, and the second was asking me along with his siblings to be his crew and pacers. I had two initial reactions: 1, of course I’m in to pace and crew, and 2, why the hell is he running 100 miles? From that day on I would run 3-4 times a week for a few miles each run, and I would check on James to see how far his runs were. I was constantly amazed at the ease he would go out and run for “just a 5 hour run” . I also wanted to vomit thinking about it.
I honestly had no idea what I was doing on the crew aspect, but I’m fairly good at doing what I’m told, so I figured Team Leader Herrera would have me dialed.
What is it that makes a person want to run 100 miles within 36 hours? Is it because they hate themselves and want to suffer? I personally chose tattoos on that front, but that’s just me. Is it in effort to push themselves and test the limits of the human body in sport? Maybe to show us mere mortals that we should be going harder in life? Lets be real. Its personal. Its about community. Its about doing something for yourself and proving something only to yourself. This event from the training and journey, to the event itself was inspiring. It was completely foreign to me, and I was excited to be a part of it. Notes from the event after the photos.
I jotted down some notes during the event. First off why the hell does there have to be a 5 AM start? I mean come on, we could have started at 7!
Wake up call was 2:46 AM, and by wake up call James had opened my bedroom door thinking it was the bathroom. Well we’re up. Depart the house at 3:45 for the 5AM start.
First 5.5 miles went by quick and James was feeling good. Spirits high, to Franklin peak he went by 6:20 AM and off to Starbucks for me. Mile 17.2 was the next time we were able to see him, 9:15 AM. One hot spot developing on his foot, but nothing a bit of duct tape wasn’t going to cure. Foot care complete, and new vest with ipod fully charged and he was off. 16 miles without any contact from the crew, will see him at the start/finish. This 16 was a constant 1-2% incline, or as James called it “complete mind $#%&”. He came to the end of lap one at 2:40 PM. Good first lap. I could see a bit of fatigue, but that was to be expected after 33.4 miles. He didn’t want to sit at this checkpoint.
Set out for the second lap. first 5.5 miles took an hour forty. I had guesstimated the timeframe he would be at the peak, and judging by the time that the leaders of the events times, I suggested he put his cold weather gear on. He said he was good. Heading back up Franklin Peak at 4:40 PM. We would see him again at 9:20 PM. It was effing Cold. I had made him a fresh cup of pour over coffee, but it didnt sound appetizing at all. I was watching live timing and participants were dropping quickly. A young 21 year old guy was in the aide station at Bowen Ranch. He never made it passed that station. He blew his wad early and never recovered. The concern for James at this point was pretty high, he had no appetite and it was getting colder with the longest stretch coming up. He left at 9:40PM, we wouldnt see him again until 4:50AM. James turned down coffee???
What a moon! Super moon. 2AM and I am awake after an hour of sleep and concerned. At 4 AM I went for a walk up to the upper parking lot to look for headlamps on the ridge line to the west. I saw 3 lights and knew one of them had to be James. Giving it 1 hour and then I’m heading out, Jason said he would join.
4:50 AM start/finish James comes into the finish light. Cold, sick, fatigued, James makes the call to end his event. I looked in his eyes and could see the desire to go, but with a body that had drawn the line. I was heartbroken for my best friend. Back to the house for a few hours of sleep.
The drive home went pretty good. I know to a point the disappointment he was feeling. I have failed at plenty of events in my competitive career. I have felt the despair of not achieving my goals and I know the suck that is that feeling. But we all experience things differently. It is ours to feel and process, and decide when it is time to move on.
Which brings us up to date, and currently he is registered for 2 additional events with more on the horizon and back out running. That’s what sets certain people apart from most, the ability to lace your shoes back up and get back on with it.