Interrupting previous scheduled blog posts to post about my Sunday Funday with Iron Cowboy!
James Lawrence, or as he calls himself the Iron Cowboy is a man on a mission! He has set a pretty huge goal. He’s doing 50 Ironmans in 50 days in 50 states. He calls it 50/50/50 and most of you who are reading this have either heard about him and his huge goal, or your jaw is on the ground. Yes, 95% of people think he can’t do it (he told me this) but he set the goal, put everything in order, and a week ago last Saturday got started in Hawaii!
Hawaii – Alaska – Washington – Oregon – California – Nevada – Arizona – New Mexico – Colorado
#9 was Colorado. James told me the date about 4 months ago. A million things have attempted to take over that date in my calendar but I held strong that I was going to be there for him when he came through Pueblo, CO on Sunday.
Saturday was the Boulder 70.3 and I spent most the day out on the coarse coaching and cheering. I got a good nights sleep that evening and headed to Pueblo at 7:30am. I originally intended to start the swim with him, but had heard he was starting at 6am and with the drive to Pueblo and staying up to finish my athletes schedules, I decided to leave Denver at 7:30am and see if I could start the bike with him. I saw on Periscope that he was just hopping in the pool at 7:30am, and was relieved knowing that the timing would be perfect.
It was easy to find him! He has a wrapped RV, van, and car. I knew I was in the right place.
I got my bike ready with lots of fluids and food and waited for him by his bike. I was a bit sad that we didn’t have like 20 cyclists waiting to join him in Colorado. It really was just me. We did have lots of people happy to drive the bike course with us and point us in the right direction and keep us making the correct turns. The support was fantastic, I think people just weren’t sure how much they could bike with him, what time he would start, etc. The course was supposed to be 2 loops. I was in for both loops, just there to do whatever needed. If you join him in a future state keep an eye on social media to get better time estimates. They try to keep a schedule, but honestly, it’s all changeable if he needs changes.
James came out and off we went. At first he was talking very softly. It was nice to have him all to myself to hear about some of the adventures thus far and be able to ask questions about what was working, what wasn’t working, how his family was holding up, etc. He had finished the marathon at 1am the night before and then drove to Colorado from New Mexico after that. He only had 3 hours of sleep the night before (he slept in the back seat of the Subaru because the RV would wake him up when it turned) and he had not gotten more than 3.5 hours of sleep since he began the 50/50/50. In my head I was like “SLEEP is going to be the limiter” here. He has so many nutrition products, recovery modalities, IVs, medical help, but what the man really needs is sleep. The problem is that he is finishing so late, and having such a huge drive that sleep is getting chopped. I’m really hoping he gets this figured out!
After some chatting we got on this great road that went straight for like 20 miles. James said he would just sit in and draft and I told him to tell me if the effort level is off. He asked me to remind him to drink every 20 minutes. We did this for awhile and at one point I sat up and told him to drink and I woke him up! I shocked him! The whirl of sitting on my wheel had zoned him into near sleep zone! Yikes! Swimming makes me sleepy too! At that point I knew from ultra running that I needed to keep him talking more and engaged more. So I tried to do that.
We had a little bit of company on the way back from some of the local Pueblo triathletes. That was really nice. Dallas, his chiropractor also hopped on a bike to talk to him about what he was doing, what was hurting, etc. Also, at one point his Colorado point person hopped out and rode next to us on a tandem, with huge wigs. I thought I was going to pee my bike shorts. It was SO hilarious, especially Eriks pink flip flops!
James decided that after loop 1 he would take a little short nap in the RV, get an IV, sit in the Normatec boots, and then we would head back out for loop number two. We were making good time, so he felt he could get away with it. We finished 54 miles in just over 3 hours. He was happy about the time!
After his break we were back on the bike, again just the two of us out for the second loop. We headed out the same way and 8 miles into that second loop Colorado did it’s typical thing and downpoured on us. I was really sad because I had all this new rain gear in the car for Norseman and I didn’t have any of it on me. I was actually afraid when we left for loop two that it was going to be really hot. Welcome to Colorado! You just never know what you are going to get!
We rode through the wind, and rain, and splash. Matt, who had been helping us know where to go all day in his truck hopped out and had a raincoat that we put on James. James was concerned his body temp would drop in the rain, as were we, so that was awesome that Matt had a coat that fit him. It stopped raining hard shortly after but James wore it for the rest of the bike. We got some good riding in through miles 60/70/80 in aero, with some rain on and off.
Of course when it started to rain and get nasty the camera crew turned up! James is filming a documentary so there is a camera crew around all the time too! I gotta say it was a highlight riding in the rain with James, in the gorgeous plains of Pueblo, all green with grass and sunflowers, and then seeing the camera drone come whizzing by over our heads. I felt awesome in that moment, and so did James. Just thinking about the footage they got makes me pretty excited! Rudy Project was also out getting some footage of James, they are based in Colorado, so it worked well for them! I love this picture of the Iron Cowboy car with the kayak, the bikes, and everyone hanging out the window. What a crazy experience!
When we turned around to come back into Pueblo we had about 30 miles left to ride. The storm was directly in our path, with a huge amount of lightening so the crew loaded us up in a truck and skirted us around the storm. I rode in the back of the truck while we drove through that storm and it was awesome. I didn’t get too wet, but I did take a little cat nap! We then met up with a road that had a tailwind and we rode that bad boy like we stole something! 30-32mph for the last 22 miles or so! It was awesome! I’m really glad his crew is there keeping him safe. Lightning is no joke here in Colorado and kills people every year here.
James wanted to ride to 112.1 miles so we stopped right on the side of the road when we hit that mark and the crew van scooped up James and drove him over to the start of the marathon spot. Matt gave me a ride back to my car and I packed up and drove over to the marathon starting location. This is us just after finishing the 112.1 with Erik and his son. Erik was the Colorado liaison and did a fantastic job!
There was a good little crowd over at the marathon start! I got a real taste of what James is going through from an energy standpoint. I was a little tired after biking 112 (we clocked a 5:55 ride…thank you tailwind!), my energy was a tad low, and then there were 30 really happy, really excited people who all couldn’t wait to see James. He changed and came out to join everyone and I’ll tell you, he had more energy than I did! SO many people were there to share their story and James told me that in each state SOMEONE has run their FIRST marathon with him. What a cool thing. If you see the man on the left in the below picture, holding his daughter, well he ran his first marathon that night! His inspiration is Dick and Rick Hoyt, because his daughter has a genetic abnormality and he runs with her all the time! Oh, the stories, I’m so thankful for the community that running and endurance sport creates!
After some photos we all got going in the marathon. We ran 4 miles over to a loop that we were going to run, all the while with James Periscope live streaming. If you don’t know about Periscope check it out! It’s twitters new live streaming and it’s a TON of fun, perfect for what James is doing! We made it out to the loop we intended to run, but a section of it had been overtaken by the river! James got a short little ride through it! haha! We decided to change the course and ran a different loop, and by the end of the night, we were running 1 mile laps around Pueblo River Walk. That was entertainment in and of itself!
The marathon was really cool and I was glad I got to walk/jog/run the whole thing with him. I think there were 10 of us that did the whole thing with him, and another 30 or so that did parts! He does a “5K” everyday where lots of people come out and join for that. Most of his kids run the 5K, he has 5 children, all who are on the trip! His wife Sunny Joe is a really wonderful woman. The two of them are beautiful to watch together. What’s really cool is his wife takes the kids to go do something fun in each state and then when the 5K rolls around the kids run with him and tell him all about the fun they had that day. I LOVE this, and you can tell it totally gives James energy to have this little routine with them. At one point I watched him pick up his son and spin him around in circles. I was like “eek…how are you doing that after 9 ironmans in 9 days?” The kids are having MUCH more fun than James is! haha!
I had a blast meeting the two older girls, and then meeting many of the other people doing the run along with him. Two people came all the way from Aspen to run with him and one guy had completed 30 Ironmans in 30 days in Italy! It was so cool for James to run with him, they had lots to talk about. That guy was probably one of the only people on the planet that could even remotely relate.
I felt like I was the insider a little bit because I had been with him all day. It made me a little sad to think that I couldn’t go on the next day and just do it all again with him. I really wanted to. I think if I could do the bike and 10 miles of the run every day with him that would make me a very happy girl. I’m hoping I can meet him in Nebraska in July and spend a few days doing just that! James and I have always clicked personality wise and at one point in the marathon his quad started giving him trouble. He stopped and stretched, and he used a can of sunscreen to try to roll it out a bit. When it didn’t let up much after that he texted Sunny Joe, his wife, and asked her what to do.
This was by far my favorite part of the day because it’s SO UP MY ALLY. Sunny Joe does energy work. Our emotional body has a mirror in our physical body. If you get all squiffy about this sort of stuff then move to the next paragraph but James asked her what the right quad means emotionally and she replied with “worry of behind the scene details.” We both looked at each other with wide eyes. She then gave him like 5 mantras to repeat to ease his worry of the behind the scenes details and we ran a mile repeating those and talking about how great the crew is, and how the details are handled, and how he just needs to focus on swim/bike/run. Two miles later that quad pain was GONE, but we had to really repeat those mantras and get that emotional worry to subside. It wasn’t just about repeating words, it was about convincing him that the details were handled. Once he believed and knew that in his heart, his quad was back to it’s normal tired heavy overtrained self. The more years I spend in the sport, the more that kind of work is something I really lean into and believe. It may sound like Hocus-Pocus, but I have so many examples of things like this in my own life, and that of my friends. It was cool to see James using the medical side, the physiology side, and then pulling in the emotional side. Mmmm Juicy!
We finished the marathon at 11:55pm and I felt proud about that because I knew he was going to get a solid 6 hours of sleep, and I felt a little responsible for that. It truly takes a village to get him through each and every day, but I was glad to do my little part on one little day! 95% of people may feel that he isn’t going to make it, but I’m in the 5%. I know quite a bit about the determination in this guy, and we shared a lot of words out there. If he stays on top of his bike, and the crew keeps doing their job, then James will do his job! Childhood obesity is a cause close to his heart and it keeps him going when it gets tough.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will try to answer them with what I know. If he has yet to come to your state, PLEASE go join him! Especially on the bike where drafting is super helpful! The running crew is fun, but he could sure use bike supporters too. Oh and no speed is too slow, especially for the run! We were logging lots of 13 14 and 15 minute miles! It’s very inclusive! We had some 4 year olds running with us at one point!
Perception and perspective is something we develop through our life experiences. I know in my heart that I have perceptions that just aren’t true, and James is great at challenging those in me. For as long as I’ve known him, he’s pushed the limits of his own capacity and has broadened my horizons in doing so. Just making it through the 10 that he has thus far in 10 different states challenges what I think is possible. Deep bow to him!
If you live in Colorado….he’s in Nebraska on July 19th, and Wyoming on July 23rd. His last day is July 25th in Utah!
Keep it up Cowboy!