So after a few days of recovering from the Duke race, I looked forward to hitting the roads again and becoming a runner. The pool has been closed here for the winter but not before I got a few final swims in with the wetsuit. I don’t know why so early since it is still in the upper 80’s, but we are in a severe drought and water restrictions are in place. All this simply means more UBE work and some bike rides, but mainly road work with the legs. I had an eye on the Hit the Brixx 10K and 5K run to get me a baseline time to gauge my current running condition, and then aim for the Dowd YMCA Half Marathon to end my season.

I have been doing some volunteer work at that YMCA as a reading and math tutor for people studying for their GED’s. I have met some older, determined people (like a 75 yr old from Congo) looking to accomplish something that has eluded them for many years. It is great work and fun even if just for an hour. I also have helped at some high school cross country meets as a finish line recorder and the recent race had these teenagers running 5k’s in some awful heat conditions. I almost got puked on by one kid as I tried to tear off his bib number. I am also trying to start a running group of all paces to meet once or twice a week for runs outside the Charlotte Running store. I hope to begin by the time the holidays roll around and most of the major races are over.

After a week of good training and a thorough upper body treatment from Molly (she evaluated that my whole left side has issues and needs work), I felt eager to do the Brixx race. So eager, that I signed up for BOTH. They were to go off at separate times, but close enough for me to finish and jump right into the next – and only for 5 bucks more! Gina didn’t mind as long as she didn’t have to get up at 4:30 and since it was in town, was only 10 minute ride. I have been eager to race since moving here that I often have trouble sleeping at night. Usually it’s deep for a few hours, and then in the wee hours I toss and wait for the alarm.
We got up and welcomed the low 50’s with cool breezes. It was to be another sunny warm day. You would never have guessed some 1400 people were there but it was so calm. There was a big breakfast available to people at the Brixx place (which we never could find when we visited here) and our friend Geoff from Great Harvest was dishing out slice after slice. I got my timing chip and since I didn’t bring my tri ankle bracelet, I had to switch shoelaces with Gina so I could tie the chip to my sneaker (I cut mine sometimes because they are too long). Checking out the crowd it was your normal motley crew of runners: those with strollers, ipods, the shirtless, the covered, and those Gina calls “characters” up front.
I got to sport not only my Polar stuff, but my Team CRC jersey (thanks Scott!)

Soon it was time to run. Once the gun went off, I was game. I ran hard, mostly in Zone 4, but felt great. It had to be the cool weather. After passing the first 2 miles in under 6 minutes each, I ran the tangent seriously and this guy paced with me. He could tell I was from NY after a few sentences and we shared a few comments about the course. It was a rolling course but hilly from 3 miles on. Once he knew I was 34 and WAY under his age group he let me go attack the hills and gobble up people, and tried to share the load. After 4 miles though, I upped the ante and passed a dude who you would swear was about to drop dead the way he was groaning with every step. Ever see a women’s tennis match? Heck a guys tennis match? You know what I mean. And he was moving too! I passed him at mile 5 and still heard him some 200 yards behind me! The last mile was uphill and windy and now there was only the lead woman ahead. I shot through the finish in 37:45 and loved it. I met Gina and rehydrated a bit as I made my way to the 5K start. The volunteer who takes your chip saw me and since I was doing both races, she said to keep it. There was about a 20 minute gap between races so my heart rate dropped down to 80. I was relaxed, warm, and had to just stay loose. I think there were more people for the 5K but I still got a good spot up front. I planned to go easy and smooth, but once the gun sounded………..

Now I knew the course (and the tangents). Once we made the first turn and people started to put in their ipod earphones, I wanted to race. There was this 10 yr old girl and her father up front whom I helped fit for sneakers about a month ago. Talk about talent. We passed the first mile in 5:54!!! Now it was wide open and I jetted. What the heck. When mile 2 went by in 5:15 I was like “YO, SON!!!” It helped that those 3 volunteers with no signage or directional gestures shouted “5K turns here” as 3 people continued the wrong way. Expecting the final hill and wind, I churned my arms to drive up to the finish. I crossed in 17:40 something as I was greeted by the race director who congratulated me on finishing 3rd. The timing chip woman took my chip finally and Gina gave me that warm elated hug I long for after every event. I was very pleased with my current fitness and to come away with an award and a faster split than the first race was more than I expected. Now it was time to simply enjoy the warm sun, rack up the extra goodies being given out, and watch some kids run 50 yards in the Tot Race.
We were impressed with how once the beer van opened its kegs the line extended 3 deep down the block. Know anyplace but after a running event where a load of beer and pasta at 9:30am is normal?? Gina and I simply sipped on some FRS being given out by the Max Muscle guy – his line was empty, and ate some bread from Great Harvest.

After an hour of getting tanned and taking pictures, we got the 10K results: 18th overall and 4th in my age group. But when the 5K results came, my name (and several others who did both) we not even on the board. They were giving out awards in a fury and we had to wait until the end to ask questions. Turns out they didn’t reset the clock for each race and some people’s chips from the 10K were read twice, or not at all, for the 5K.
Gina was ready to jump someone Brooklyn style. Luckily, both the director along with the chip woman, were handing out the awards and knew me. I got the award but I really felt bad for that 10 yr old girl. She was the OVERALL woman in the 5K and got a small medal like all the age groupers. Gina and I both agreed in a race that funds a charity either all runners get a small medal or none at all. Honestly, if my award said first place I would have handed it to this girl (I did ask for her autograph though).

We spent the rest of the morning enjoying our good ‘ol weekend brunch at home and then went over to Nissan before Mass. Gina was just looking to get an idea on other Xterra’s but this dude kept driving a price down to have us purchase a car right then and there. Aw man it was awesome!! We had this guy going back and forth to his “insane” manager who kept lowering the monthly cost of a new Xterra to the point where our car was worth more than the new one!! We drove this guy nuts!! Gina was smooth, slick, and firm with her knowledge of how car salesman can be while I played the “give me the truth, I’m from Brooklyn, what the woman says goes, didn’t you hear she said no?” guy. I think we ruined his day, but may have given his partner a lesson in how NOT to bargain.

We highly recommend watching the Ti Burns’ series WAR. It is amazing footage and stories about World War II. We’ve seen each episode so far.
Now, it will be another final month of running before getting ready for the holidays!!

If it ever gets cooler.

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