What a weekend! Actually what a way to sum up the last 5 weeks. I handled a big training block the last 4 weeks and have been able to grasp a good plan of fatigue, recovery, and additional training stress. I have adjusted to the everyday standing and moving at work where after a month of being full-time, I am pleased with the way things have been developing. It took plenty of quick organization and managing to get things back to where I was use to them being when I left, while also proceeding forward with the additional aspects of the job that have grown with the store’s progress in the time I had been away. Everyone has pitched in and I thank Dana for assisting me with all this work and Scott for basically letting us do so. Needless to say, it helps to have a “barista” station setup and it’s kept us going each day – iced coffee, peanut butter, nutella, bagels, and Odwalla bars are staples. All we need is a few sleeping bags and we’re set for a second home. But it’s the involvement with the community of runners and events that are special and meaningful, and it makes the “work” more enjoyable. We’ve pretty much been able to get the word out that Gina and I are back.

Gina’s been in Ironsherpa mode as we have finalized all our travel plans for the World Championships (and honeymoon). The file folder is set. Maps, race info, etc. are all coming into focus. She’s been able to get the hang of things at her new job and enjoys the environment she is most comfortable – and best – at doing. We are attending a company picnic next weekend so I’ll get to meet her crew. She’s also been making sure I am staying balanced as well. We get to walk a few days a week and we of course enjoy our weekend breakfasts and sangria nights. The only downside if anything is Holmes gets things rolling at 5am for his walks regardless and this can sometimes call for some short nights. It hasn’t gotten cold here yet so he’s still at it. The pool has been officially closed and I got to sneak in there to “ice” down my legs, but now the locks are on. The Team USA uniform is in (see photo gallery) and I got to test it out. Thanks to Tri-Zone for setting that up and the extra Team USA swag – hat, swim cap, and polo top.

A quick shout out to Steve Sheridan for the extra GU and Feetures socks that we get to hand out for our Thursday Night Run crew. They already appreciate the NUUN and the Odwalla bars and now with the occasional baked goods from Gina, heck, we can have a healthy runners snack bar out there every week. Also, be prepared for news on the upcoming Charlotte Running Turkey Trot www.charlotteturkeytrot.com . I have secured a mascot outfit to run in and race the crowd similar to what I did for Kahru in March racing as The Bear http://www.onlineprnews.com/news/119998-1301091242-runners-can-win-100k-or-beat-the-karhu-bear-at-131-marathon-new-york-on-april-2.html  . Gobble gobble!!!

This weekend was a good test of scheduling ability and probably a good way to see how we would react to the days leading up to the main event next month by getting little rest. Saturday called for me to pace Eimear Goggin, whom I have been coaching the better part of 3 years. At 53, she is a dominant force on the running circuit here in Charlotte. We have been able to get her a PR at 10K, notch many a masters’ victory at 5K’s, but her latest endeavor this year was to race in all – and win overall – the Run For Your Life Grand Prix series. It consists of 10 events and a point system that accumulates within age groups to award a winner at the end. Big time prizes to the winners in each division. So her goal was not only to race in all of them but also to win the Female Masters division. I worked with her to specialize securing her position the past few months, while pacing her in a few events to also help coach her racing strategy. The final event was the LungStrong 15K. She’s never raced this distance before and knowing Eimear, she can freak herself out. It’s hilarious and she’s a pleasure to coach since she disciplines herself and executes her racing nicely. She just needs continuous confidence building to make her believe – in simplest terms – that she’s the “real deal” (or in slang, the $hi^). She gets it eventually.

So this morning we were up at 5am to drive up to Cornelius for the race. We saw many familiar faces, including a few Big Kahunas – Curley, Tracker, and Colonel. We also saw a few CRClub runners and everyone seemed to be ready for a nice good “season ending” run for this series. The air was crisp – low 50′s. We met up with Eimear about 15 minutes before the start and talked tactics – and hyped her up as much as possible. Even Gina pulled her aside for a chat. Gina actually met a co-worker and walked a portion of the 5K course with her. And the course was indeed lovely. No traffic issues, closed access roads along the neighborhood of Jetton Park. Rolling course and it was challenging, but despite going out quicker than pace the first 3 miles, she held pace well enough to even cross the 10k mark in close to a PR (which she set 3 weeks ago). She battled nicely and came through the finish in 1:08, good enough to not only win the series, but her, win the Masters division! An awesome culmination to her season and well deserved! It was tough to get her to wear her medal the rest of the morning, but the smile on her face the rest of the day made it all worthwhile. Gina and I are both proud of her and who knows what goals she will decide to take up next year!

From there, Gina and Eimear dropped me off at work, then they headed out for an afternoon of hanging out in NODA. I finished up at 5pm, where Gina and I then went to church, then to Food Lion for shopping, and by the time we walked in the door it was 8pm. Dinner of glorious leftovers (we usually finish up from the week) and we were so tired we actually used the dishwasher – which we haven’t used since we cleaned our dishware when we moved back. We set up everything for the morning for another round as I was competing in the Take Flight Sprint triathlon Sunday. We did this event in 2009 when we met Scott Campbell, whose son died due to the NCL brain disease of which he set up a foundation – Garrett’s Wings (www.garrettswings.org). The triathlon was held to raise money for this cause and we enjoyed it so much, I felt compelled to show up and support the cause and race in it. It also gave me a chance to get a triathlon in and test the new uniform. It’s fast enough to give me a nice jolt to the system, especially after such a training block, while also giving me a feel for racing. It consists of a 400 meter pool swim, 10 mile bike, and a 3.1 mile run along the rolling hills of Hunterville area of Skybrook.

So we were up at 5am again and at least it was somewhat warmer – 55 and light winds. I layered in Aquaphor head to toe, wore 2 skinsuits – my old orca and the new Team USA one on top,  my Odwalla jacket, and the new CRC branded wooly hats. Super warm. We got there and loved the way the race now secured parking across the venue, the houses they were building back in 2009 are now completed, and the crowd of 300 was more than manageable by the staff. Plenty of volunteers who were awesome throughout, and the transition area offered plenty of room. Gina and I easily made our way through the usual – pick up packet, body marking, and set up my little transition area. I was going minimal today and old school – I intended to simply wear my skinsuits, no shades, and bike in my running shoes. If it was more than 10 miles, maybe I would have bought my bike cleats, but what the heck. I also didn’t set up with race wheels, no gear kit, and no water bottle. Just blast balls to the wall effort. I expected to be cold anyway so didn’t want to have to let go of the handlebars. I was seeded 9th and everyone went into the pool every 15 seconds. Prior to the start I did a sample run out of the pool area into the cold air just get an idea of the temperature change. OOOoooooooo. But doable. Not mind boggling. Yo. So a few kisses from G and I set up in line for the start. I got to shake hands with Scott and he was happy we showed. The pleasure is ours. Everyone was eager to roll.

I got into the water about 45 seconds before the start. Oooooo this was cool too. No time to think. I took 3 deeps breaths, looked forward and heard, 3..2…1… go! I didn’t churn super hard, just steady and quick. I felt fine, comfortable. I actually got caught by 2 other swimmers with one lap to go. No biggie, I got outside and headed for the black widow. I passed both of them on my way to the bike. Boom, boom, boom. Out I go and now I start the churn. Funny thing – so as I was setting up my bike in transition before the start my RS800 wrist strap broke. I didn’t bring my CS600 which was on the bike cause I had the 800. What to do? Solution. I had the half of the watch in my sneaker, so I shoved it in my skinsuit once I got on the bike. I didn’t see it, but I had interval timers set at 10 minutes so I heard it. Now I’m cranking and keeping rhythm. No worries on cars, easy to navigate thanks to the layout and volunteers, and I caught a few folks. By mile 5 I was starting to get chilly though. I balanced my sneakers on the pedals nicely and only managed to slip off once. I just focused on my breathing and pushed as much as I could. Soon enough it was over, rolled into T2 and hopped off, racked, grabbed my visor and headed out in 45 seconds. I pulled out my rs800 so I could split the runs and see my rate now.  I saw Gina on the way out, gave her a high five, and now I REALLY cranked. Bust it. No joke. Mile 1 in 5:17. This course was hilly too, but sort of out and back. I saw I was in 4th position. I felt good, steady. Hrate in the 160′s. Mile 2 in 5:35. Ok, so I figure I got the guy in 4th in sight, namely since I see by his race number he started some 45 seconds ahead of me. Just as I get to mile 3 I catch him but he decides to finally sprint. Oh well, he got me. But I still got him based on start time – haahahahaha. Whoa!!! Final time 52 minutes! My run time was 16:51. Awesome test, all good. I kissed and hugged G despite a runny nose (love the Ironsherpa) and quickly went into a jog for 10 minutes to stay warm and loose. Very happy and pleased. It was only 8:30am.

Scott had a fine race himself – which is also why I have a great deal of respect for him – he races frequently and does well in his division too – and even though I bumped the guy in front of me to get into 4th, I got bumped actually by someone who started later on – and met after I was done. They had sign ups on race morning so he was seeded at the end. Oh well, I finish 5th overall and 2nd in my age group. Yo! Gina and I walked around a bit, cheered, and stayed warm before jetting out of there by 10:30. We got home to enjoy a power pancake breakfast at home with java, Biofreeze the legs, and just tried to finish in house chores in the hopes of taking a nap around 4pm. As I write this, she is baking dozens of cookies and I’m still wired. The dark mornings and early evenings haven’t tapped the SAD symptoms yet, but with the excitement here, I don’t expect it to kick in at all.

So now it’s 3 weeks before we depart for Henderson, NV. I will shift focus now on good interval work and slowly cut the volume. The store will be a bit busy and it will tie in nicely to allow me to avoid thinking about the event. We’re gonna enjoy this one and represent well. This was a great weekend overall and thanks to Melissa and Bob over at Inside Out Sports for planning on taking the Black Widow in for an overhaul and front “facial” change (new setup). They also are going to be able to transport the bike to the race event. Big time shout out to them. Time to fall forward!!!



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