This is an odd month with 2 journals in 2 weeks – if you missed the Boston recap, read that first!

After a quick return from Boston and some catch up at work, it was back on the road Friday afternoon for the drive to Cary, NC. I am getting my usual bouts of SAD early and I could tell since in Boston the sun was up at 6am, yet here it is now after 7am. Bright light, bright light!!  This particular race was to be a good test and see how well I could pace myself for the Ironman in November. The Duke Liver Half-Ironman is a tough hilly course and one I enjoyed last year. Though last year I used this race as my final one of 2007, this was to be a status check to monitor my feel for race situations come November. I needed a race like this (and this distance) to be able to swim in open water (though I did swim in our outdoor pool with a wetsuit), get a good fit on my new Big G, and run at a pace slightly faster than what I plan to run the marathon portion of the Ironman in. Looking at the weather showed a hot, humid forcast - upper 90′s – but one of which I won’t complain about.

We got to our Holiday Inn and settled in before taking a nice walk to dinner. Slow things down, relax, and took the time to catch up since we haven’t seen each other for 4 days. A good night sleep was called for so we had no problem getting to bed early. With that – we had no problem getting up later either (7am early?) We both did our workouts and walked over to Panera for breakfast. By now it was getting really warm out and it was good to get an idea of how things will be at that time of day. Hydrate and eat light was the order of business. Since we had our file folder from last year, everything was a dry run from here – check in at IOS, head over to the Lake to review directions, then back to the hotel to chill before going to church. Clockwork indeed. Gina had the Sherpa situation handled and constantly read off the checklist for us both. The mass we went too had a great vibe and the priest’s sermon was right on about the type of suffering personified by the symbol of the cross. Put me right into the mental mode for an approach to the race.

Checking out the bulletin while the parking lot emptied out (which Gina loves to view “the crazies”) I found an ad for RITA’s Ice. Those who know/have had a Rita’s ice know what I’m talkin’ about. A must have!!!! They had a buy 2 get one free and for sure we were checking it out. After a “homemade” dinner at the hotel, we went for Rita’s which was 5 minutes away. AWESOMEEEEEEE!!!!! A vanilla ice coupled with a Pumpkin Gelati and man, I was instantly hydrated (overhydrated!) MMMMMMMmmmmmmmm!!!!! (www.ritasice.com)

Didn’t sleep much – never do, I was ready. More fun ready too. I woke up at the usual 4:13 but the odd thing was we accidentally put the FAN setting on instead of COOL and sweated it up most of the night. We went through the normal pre-race settings and out we were at 5am cued up to a little Tesla on the tunes. By 5:30 we got in, set things up, bodymarked, ect and were notified the water temp was 79 – no wetsuits! I wanted to get more work in my Blue Seventy but heck if it was that warm, the Orca skinsuit was gonna ride this race by itself. I was also gonna have to work harder in the water, but that was fine with the plan. Sun was up by the time we headed into the water. A nice Kiss/Hug from G and it was game time.

As my wave group settled into the water I found a spot up front. 79 degrees??? They had to be kidding. It was colder than Georgia and they had wetsuits there. What the heck. Three deep breaths. Off we went and kept nice strokes, no contact, and make for a smooth swim. Though I got colder towards the end, exiting the water at 37 minutes was slow, but a nice “warmup” even though I was chilly. Onto the bike and off I went. Took a bit to warm up but the sun was out and I cranked. Had to get use to the new gears so I played with things a bit and ”felt” real comfortable (the bike is made by Felt). Bob and Melissa at IOS really did a spot on job getting me into this bike. It will serve well come Ironman. An uneventful bike (no houses that wowed me, no animals, etc), but hilly,  and after 56 miles the sun was beating down. The mind cued up techno mostly and was in the moment. Great test. Now lets run.

Gina took great video/shots and was able to see each transition. She later mentioned it was hot and there was no shade available for spectators. A workout in itself, she endured it all and was the only one at the finish line. I got into rhythm nicely and since there were no mile markers, just went on my RS800 heartrate readings. A 2 lap course over hilly grass/gravel terrain was nice on the legs and if you ran the right tangents were able to hit shade most of the route. First lap 43 minutes. Time to get into it. I felt fine. Nice breathing, and was way hydrated so I skipped a few aid stations which by now looked like triage tents (thank the Rita’s!) They were handing out towels to cool off with but athletes were leaving them on the dirt ground. Get a “reused” one from a volunteer and you now cool off and get dirty! I zoomed the rest of the way to finish the final lap in 40 minutes thank to hard metal cued on the mental Ipod). A negative split and came away with a 4:52 finish. Big smile on my race since last year I did a 4:50 with a major taper. Awww Yeah.


I placed 17th overall out of 500, 4th in my age group out of 69, and overtook 70+ spots during the run -my run slpit was 3rd overall. Even better – no need for extra recovery. I planned my pacing right where I wasn’t spent. Maybe it was the ice coffee/ Moster / DPmax combo afterwards and during the ride home, but I did what I needed to do. Gina was able to see how her Sherpa-ing went and we both came away well prepared for the next 6 weeks before Ironman. I did learn a big lesson too – at mile 47 on the bike I hit a bump and lost my mini pump, which was on my belt. Gina constantly told me to bolt it to the water cage and I never did. ALWAYS ALWAYS LISTEN TO THE SHERPA!!!!!!! Etched in stone kid.

Now it was in the 90′s so after a quick dip back in the lake to cool down, we changed and headed home. We had an early dinner and some wine to toast the weekend and were passed out and in bed by 9pm – both (not drunk, just tired). I finally was able to not spend an evening in a hotel room too. But another week was ahead and we both enjoyed the quick respite. I can settle back into training with no residual aches from racing and fine tune everything the next 4 weeks before the major taper.

Swim 1.2 miles: 37 minutes

Bike 56 miles: 2:47

Run 13.1 miles - 1:23 

Total time: 4:52            

Next up – a return trip the first week of October to NYC for induction into my high school Hall of Fame (Catherdral Prep). First time back home in 1.5 years!

Then the Ironman Battleship on Nov 1.

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