Back in late November, Coach had planned for most of the Kahunas to do the Charleston half marathon as a winter tune-up for this year’s Hood to Coast relay. It was also to be a time to hang out a bit, get the gang together at a beach home, and enjoy 2 days together. I was all in and for me, it was to be a good test by doing a hard run on a flat course in the middle of my base phases. The logistics worked, the weather should be warm, and Coach as usual pretty much organized the rest – all I had to do was get there. I was confident heading down there despite the weather here in NY. I already started with hill training, some pace work on the bike, and was comfortable with the colder weather. It was to be in the low 30′s in Charleston and not get warmer to the 50′s till afternoon. I planned accordingly with my attire and approach by making sure I wasn’t going to hurt or cramp during such a hard effort. I cut training volume race week by only 1-2 hours and got in a good run, spin, and UBE the morning of my departure. Unfortunately Gina wasn’t going to come on this trip, but she thought I needed to get away from the phones, computer, and just NY for a few days. I treated it as business, since most of the Kahunas were going to use this to qualify time-wise for the NYC marathon, so the pressure was on to perform well.

Gina dropped me off at LGA and I got through security in 10 minutes. I packed light so I had no carry-on and shortly boarded the small 50 seat plane for the 1.5 hour flight. I like these trips as it seems just like taking a small car ride and soon I was getting picked up at the quiet Charleston airport by Coach and the Colonel in 45 degree weather. Man it was comfortable!! Colonel is a great guy as I expected someone more military-style like in demeanor, but he is polite, fun, and regimented in his routine, but in an easily adaptable way. Coach hadn’t been running much but he can easily get someone motivated to perform, and it even goes for himself.  He’s been busy with work so his training hasn’t been to his level but he was looking forward too seeing the Kahunas in action. We got to the expo to pick our stuff up and then headed to the house Coach rented. Awesome!!! Coach nailed it as it was on the Isle of Palms and with 6 bedrooms each with a jack-and-jill bathroom, we were able to have our own rooms. So comfortable and its how Kahunas roll. A trip to the Piggly Wiggly for shopping and we then just hung out until the other Kahunas arrived coming from Florida.

By 6pm all was accounted for and I got to meet Ice and Haz, along with Kahunas I met at HTC – Thunder, Undertaker, Black Widow, and Raptor. We made a good Kahuna dinner of pasta, sauce, and salad and planned out the events for the next morning. We knew it was going to be cold in the morning so we organized everything to detail since it was a point to point type of race – and special thanks to Thunder who even though she was injured and wearing a foot boot, she hooked up by offering to be sherpa and was going to be able to take our bags from the start. We all got up around 6am and were expected to be out the door by 6:30. It was 28 degrees but with no wind, was cold, but all awaited for the sun to start getting things warmed up. It was no problem getting there and getting to the start but it wasn’t well laid out. Soon we all got to the start and with 10 minutes to go we started to strip down to our race gear. I lathered the skin in Aquaphor and opted for the Aquaphor tights for support along with a long-sleeved top with the Polar tank. A beanie and gloves were also a must, then the shades. I lined up right at the front with Raptor who was looking to PR in under 1:20. Three deep breaths and I was ready to roll.

First I wanted to make sure I warmed up from miles 0-3, cruise from 4-10, and the drop the hammer from 11-13. With the first mile coming off in around 5:50, it felt fast, but then again it wasn’t. Comfy speed. The course took us through the downtown area where crowds were brief, but at least the scenery was nice. Keeping pace in each mile, I settled in nicely and unfortunately by mile 3, the course then became very, very desolate. Some of the leaders were in sight, but with each mile, the front group of us were slim and spread out. Just a matter of staying in your head and reeling people in – if you could see one. Needless to say, miles 4-10 were dull and boring. Reminded me of the old course of the LI half marathon where we ran on a parkway and this was no different. It did get warmer and there was no wind, so that was an advantage. So the mind got into focusing on form, maintaining pace, and making sure I was ready to rip the final 5K. The mile markers were different in that instead of a clock, they had an automated voice that announced the running time. Water stations were every 2 miles and it didn’t get interesting until mile 10. There I decided to crank it by hitting 5:45, 5:43, and a final 5:42 miles all the while keeping my heart rate at 155-165. The course entered into a park/shipyard to the finish which was the only action of people, crowds, bands, and yes – the finish line. I crossed in 1;17 and was excited since it was a great indicator on how the Base has been progressing. I placed 10th overall and 2nd in my age group. Very, very pleased with the effort. It was really comfortable now and I ran back to stay loose and cheered as Raptor, Colonel, Ice, Coach, Undertaker, Black Widow, and Haz came into the finish. A great Kahuna representation as 5 of us won awards and NYC qualifiers were obtained!!!

After hanging out for a few hours, warmed by the sun and several metal garbage cans that were burning firewood, we got the awards and called it a day. There really wasn’t much going on. Thunder drove one group back to the house as Coach, Colonel, and I took the bus back to the start where his car was and we made a mandatory Starbucks run. Stories got shared and now the rest of the day was about hanging out, relaxing, and watching football. It was a great fun day and everyone was pleased with their results. Certainly after the games, each retreated for an early night’s sleep. I think everyone was in bed before 11pm. One thing I will say is that the past week I have had some deep, vivid dreams, almost Inception-like  and the past two nights here were no different – if not even deeper.

 The next morning, Colonel and I went for a run along the bridge and got to see a nice sunrise and even though it was in the 30′s, it felt much warmer than that. When we got back, Coach and Ice were heading out so I joined them, and then Ice wanted to do 2 more miles so I wind up doing a 90 minute run. Nice to loosen up and we got to see some of the rest of the Isle’s strip of homes which were impressive. I could only imagine how jumpin’ this place is during the summer. After packing up the cars we all went next door for breakfast and rehashed the trip. It was a great way to end the weekend. We all then piled in our cars and headed home in each direction. I got dropped off at the airport where I was the ONLY ONE – seriously – at the terminal, security, and the gate. Unreal. I took my time purposely for this rare moment as the 4 TSA guards laughed. “We were expecting you Mr. Carbone.” one said. Awesome. The only other airport like that had to be Portland, Maine, but this was the best.

But I was looking forward to getting back home and snuggling up to a nice Sunday brunch with Gina. Sure enough, 4 hours after getting to the airport, I was back in the house doing just that. It was great to be home and with an extra day off due to the holiday, we still got to enjoy a weekend together.  So all systems are a go and now with the races beginning  in March, I can take this info and implement it into the remaining Base 2 and then into the next phase come February. Hammer time!


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