No one who witnessed James in Arizona thought that he would be getting up the next morning, no one but the people closest to him. I knew that our friend Heath Haacke would be showing up in New Mexico to surprise James. Hopefully this would bring a little love and sunshine to James in New Mexico. James saw his friend and was so excited! Heath was prepared to do the whole day with James.
Heath had been in a very serious accident a couple of years before. He had been hit by a motorcycle while on his bike and was nearly killed. It was a very dramatic recovery. He wanted to share this day with James as part of his new life, having recovered as well as his body would allow.
I woke up in a parking lot of a fitness center. The kids were still sleeping, so I grabbed my swim stuff and slipped out of the RV and locked the door. I had no idea where anyone was, but it was still relatively early (well, much later than we had planned to start, but I knew he wouldn’t be too far into his swim). I figured he was in the pool swimming.
When I got poolside, James wasn’t out of the locker room yet. I guess I got lucky with no alarm and would be ready on time to swim with him. I had yet to do anything with him on this journey. I figured I needed a shower, so I may as well swim and then shower. The kids would sleep late, since we left AZ so late, and I figured I would give it a go leaving them in the RV.
I saw our friends Ron and Cathy Oldroyd. It was so nice to see friendly faces, especially fresh meat who had yet to see what was really happening out here. They stayed poolside through the whole swim to offer their support. I ignored the crowd of strangers, figuring they had no idea who I was, and I hopped in the water and began to do a few laps.
James came out and was having trouble with his shoulder. Casey jumped in to offer him a draft. Casey is a better swimmer than James normally, now with James crippled, it was even slower. Casey and I goofed off in the water and played around. Heath swam in another lane to stay focused on getting his whole swim in. We tried to find solutions for James, but we were definitely no help. That basically gave Casey and me permission to play around together in an effort to forgot our troubles for just a short moment.
After a long battle, the swim was done and we moved into the inside area. James hopped into a hot tub, and there were 2 giant trays in front of him; one tray was scrambled eggs and the other was hashbrowns. James WOLFED this food down! I scolded him for contaminating too much of it with ketchup (which I hate!), and quickly tried to save some before I lost any chance of me having breakfast.
I headed into the shower, felt so grateful to be having a shower, and noticed how great the showers were. They freaking had soap, shampoo and conditioner in the shower! I wondered why we don’t have a fancy gym where we live. I visited with a couple of people in the locker room, then headed out to the RV to check on the kids.
They were still sleeping. I was relieved, and wondered if this would maybe work out in other states. Eventually people were in and out of the RV to get things for the bike. Kids woke up in time to say goodbye to James. He started to take off, I chased him down to give him a kiss to send him off for the day.
Within a few minutes, a gentleman had come up and wanted to buy a shirt. After popular demand, we ordered shirts, and began selling them. We dug through the Mazda to find the right shirt and size. This shirts would become a huge responsibility that ended up looming well after our finish of the 50.
We had lots of laundry to do, several days worth. There was no house in NM for us to stay at, so I looked for a laundromat. I couldn’t believe how many came up on my google! I unloaded the car, moved all of the boxes into the RV, and loaded my ducklings in. We had piles of laundry!!! I decided it would be a good day to do sheets and extra stuff, since I would have several washers and dryers. That little Mazda was loaded to the max! Where was the van? No idea, all I know is that instead of fitting comfortably in the van, we were smashed into this Mazda.
Laundromat after laundromat on my list was closed! Finally I found one and the kids helped me carry everything in. They loved the idea of this room filled with washers and dryers! I filled 6 washers with our laundry. At this point I insisted on doing the Wingmen’s laundry too. They had tried to do it on their own, but it wasn’t working out. I told them to give it to me in a separate bag, so that their things wouldn’t get mixed up with James’.
My phone rang, and I answered. It was someone close to us, and they spent the next hour trying to get me to talk James out of doing this project. An hour….”James shouldn’t be doing this! What if something happens? Is it worth it? As his wife, you need to make him quit.” Just another person who didn’t see the vision. You can call it concern, I call it annoying. Then in the end, they claim to be one of our #1 supporters. This is our reality.
I finished our laundry and I was super bugged! I tried to talk myself out of this frustration as we loaded the car. The phone rang again, it was our friend Kyle Woodruff. He was calling to let me know that James had been in bad shape, but that he had taken a nap and was out again on the bike. Poor James… His day started out bad, and it seems to have gotten worse. There is nothing I can do about it, I am in a car full of kids and laundry, 50 miles away from where he is doing his event. My heart was heavy; first an annoying phone call, and then a troubling phone call.
We headed back to the RV to unload the laundry. Someone in New Mexico had given us tickets to see a zoo type place. But it also had an aquarium and some botanical gardens. It was now POURING rain! It was super windy when we were at the laundromat (which made me feel so bad for James), and now it is pouring rain! We zipped over to grab lunch at Pizza Hut (this was the ONLY place to eat in this area!), then we headed to this great attraction 40 min. away. We figured if it was pouring rain, it wouldn’t be very busy!
We were right! We got there and people were leaving. We didn’t care! If rain was the worst part of this, that was minor compared to how things typically went on a day during the 50. We saw lots of things and really enjoyed ourselves. We only had 90 min, but it wasn’t busy, so it was great! At the end there was even a gift shop, hooray!!!! The kids spent time in there finding the perfect thing! I remember I was on the phone with my friend Carlee Lilley Tulett telling her about everything over the past few days.
The RV had been moved to the park with the 5k. The GPS location for this park was really weird and it took us a very long time to find it. When we finally did, we were relieved to see everyone there are ready for the 5k. The girls quickly jumped out to get everything ready. People had been organizing the van and RV and things were pulled out. I quickly helped in this organization to make sure I knew where everything was.
Dallas Makin was there and he and I went to fetch dinner. 5 Guys Burgers and Fries is what was requested by the crew for dinner. We grabbed it, went to a gas station to grab water and maps (Lucy was collecting maps), then back to the park. Everyone ate, and night was approaching. This park closed at dusk, so we had to move the RV again. We ended up in a Domino’s parking lot.
Heath climbed in the RV disappointed that he had abandoned James on his run. We reminded him that an iron distance event is no joke! He visited with us until the very last minute. He had planned to drive to CO and do some with James the next day, but just couldn’t physically do it. Remember, this guy had been torn up in the accident and was just making his way back. We were so grateful he came out, and we love him dearly.
The kids changed beds all the time. We were constantly trying to find the best place for them. They were plopped all together on the table that was folded out into a bed. We waited patiently for the Iron Cowboy to make his appearance into the RV. He finished exhausted and we all prayed, thanking the Lord for another day done, and for the great support we received on yet another day.