MC – Feel the Sizzle

So we’ve been here a month and I honestly feel that when you start giving directions to people, you pretty much have settled in. Gina and I have studied endless maps, found local joints that we may need to visit, and traveled various shortcuts to be comfortable enough to know where we are going (we did get lost a few time trying). Foods stores, church, mechanics, parks, run/walk/bike “loops”, eateries, coffee shops, and finally a bakery!! I have easily resisted the temptation too to go to Bojangles or Chick-fi-let stores even if you can get a sweet 32 oz ice tea for 77 cents. Radio Stations found and most still offer the 80′s. But 106.3 gets me the rock I need. Gina uses the WPLJ link on the computer to get her favorite station though – and the NY news. The weather has not shifted beyond/below the 65-90 range and we even started to voluntarily skim the pool when needed. Gina has grown a great basil plant and we both enlisted to volunteer at one of the MANY services offered by St Gabriel’s – but most don’t begin until September. Gina and I watched the nightly recaps of the Tour de France and she has become a great commentator/spectator. She is right that it has been ruined by the doping stuff. And I agree with her in how it ended – yo, if I’m down by only 30 seconds, I’m making a race out of the final stage for sure!
I started working part-time at the Charlotte Running Company (see link), the premier store for any runner at any level. On a suggestion from Polar tech rep Wayne V, I applied to the nearest Polar retailer and sent my resume. Scott Dvorak, owner of 2 stores here in Charlotte, contacted me the next day and after an interview, I had a job. Though only part-time, I hope to gain full-time status, but for now I have to sharpen my knowledge of the whole sneaker business and how the store operates. I feel really comfortable with everyone and have been able to utilize my background in PT and as an athlete with assisting customers (even showing a few lacing tricks). I split time at both stores which are easily accessible for me by running or biking. The entire staff has been helpful in making me comfortable and teaching me the policies of the store. One happens to be my neighbor – Curtis – a former D1 runner who specializes in 5k-10k distances. He wanted to return to racing and eventually try a marathon and we have been running 2-3 times a week at good clips. It took me a while to adjust to running with him at 5pm or so and the 80+ degrees that he even got me to go shirtless a few times. Apparently, no one runs with a shirt here (except the ladies who don jog bras but I’m sure they’d do the same). He has become a good friend and being from PA, is a fellow northerner. I even taught him a few moves about crossing streets with traffic and the now customary dip in the pool after runs.
Gina and I volunteered for the 24 Hours of Booty (see link) – an annual fundraiser for a few foundations. Individuals and teams ride a 3 mile loop over a 24 hour period from Friday night to Saturday night. Teams camp out in a grassy oval and vendors are in full force. We volunteered to help with dinner. It was fairly humid and we arrived to see the volunteer check-in but were met with chaos. One poor woman didn’t know where everyone was/ how to direct to certain stations and she had no help. We finally were able to sign in, get our shirts, and were asked to assist the SoyJoy people to set up their tent. They had to park about 400 yards away and we unloaded their van, set up their tent, and made sure they were ok. I didn’t get to try their stuff either! Wearing our blue shirts we felt official, so we decided to shoot the breeze a bit, rack up some samples, and got to meet Jeff Ganoung at Great Harvest Bread. His bakery we found (see link) and go there once or twice a week to try something new – whether it be bread, muffins, scones, power bars, etc. A wonderful, friendly person – like most bakery owners – and he even knew of Amy’s!
Just then the rumblings of thunder began. We took our station at the food tent and were assigned the blue corn tortilla dish. Simple enough. By 7:30, riders who had been riding, spectators, riders going to ride, etc. feasted on hamburgers, veg burgers, chicken, PLT, and cole slaw. And of course, Gina and I made sure they got chips. We even helped do some directing by making suggestions to some of the higher ups (like putting the donation tin at the FRONT of the line, not BACK). But by 8:30, it started to pour – and I mean pour!!
The whole week I hoped for an afternoon blast and it comes today! Luckily we had prime standing area under a tent. But the wind picked up, it got 20 degrees cooler, and riders were getting soaked. All came off the road and headed for their tents and many calmly continued getting their eats – I was amazed at those that still took the time to place the lettuce, tomato, and choice condiments on their burger all while being soaked and shivering (note – when the temps get into the 60’s people here get cold). THEN they take it in the rain to their tent. I should remind you that the oval where people set up shop was on grass and by now it was a muddy mess. Woodstock? I think our friends at SoyJoy were surrounded by water too.
By 10pm, Gina – who braved this lightning/rain storm (we were standing by a lot of trees) – gave the sign that if it eases we go. Our job was done, but the car was parked a mile away so we can easily get out. It eased up, we were out. Waddling through endless puddles and soaking wet, we made it to the car and home by 10:30. Tired indeed, but it was fun.              
I got up and met Curtis for the usual Saturday long run at 6am since he was heading to Myrtle Beach and we were picking up Lisa at the airport. She spent the weekend and we did the whole tour guide thing as she decides if Charlotte is for her. We both didn’t get much sleep this weekend – but it was worth it to see her and show her how we were doing.
Now the high school teams are beginning to practice since they start school in late August. It should be interesting to see how the roads get then. Sunday is definitely the time to go for a bike ride. Roads are real nice and quiet – time for a good 2-3 hour reflection. TeamMC member John Rondello, a close high school friend of mine, recently had his mom succumb to a bout of sudden lung cancer. What was pneumonia turned fatal and this man has been through a lot the past few months. I knew her well and enjoyed my Christmas visits there. “Mom” (that’s what I called her besides “Mrs. Rondello” even to this day), along with his entire family will be on my mind and in my prayers. I wished I had been to the wake and funeral but the first trip back to NYC will include a trip to his house for a visit. 
Racing? I have been training well and am currently on the waitlist for a tri in Lake Norman on August 25th. Short – but should be sweet to test things out and let it rip. I am entered for the Duke Liver Half-Ironman in Raleigh on September 16th.  That is where my training is directed for now. Most of he races around here are 5k – 10k running events. If there is a tri, it’s a short one. Many clubs who frequent the store are groups preparing for the major half-full marathon events this fall.
So that’s the scoop. Check out the following links to MC’s favorites:
Charlotte Running Co. –
Great Harvest Bread –
24 Hours of Booty –
St Gabriel’s RC Church –

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