ADVENT’S HERE – One Last Look Back on 2011

I spent the past 2 weeks since returning from Vegas trying to get into “off-season” mode. It has been crazy at work with our Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day and trying to learn a new POS system. The weather has been yo-yo with super warm days followed by a few cold days. The clock switch has triggered my SAD symptoms with a post 7am sunrise and a 5pm sundown. And with Advent approaching, and now here, the time has enabled me to take a quick look back and see what needs to be addressed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. as I get set to prepare for the Christmas season – my favorite time of year!! I enjoy being able to just be unstructured and “play”, which lends to giving me the chance to really have some fun!

I had the opportunity to team up with John at Rita’s over in Matthews and become Ice Guy, their mascot, at a 5K called Fix4theday on Nov.19th. It was held in conjunction with the Let Me Run program for boys, a spin-off of the nationwide Girls On The Run program. CRC sponsored Eimear’s team over at AG Bell school, and since we were going out there to run with them, I had the idea of running as the mascot for Rita’s as well. Gina and I met John at Rita’s on a very very chilly morning – like 25 degrees. I had the parka on so I was toasty warm. Gina donned her hot furry coat too.  The run was on the cross county course at McAlpine Park with an open race at 8:30, then the fun run 5K with all the boys in the programat 9:30. They had a great turnout of several hundred people for this inaugural event.  As soon as I donned the mascot outfit, I was ready for some fun. I got on line and tried to hype up the crowd. I got the usual punches, taps, bumps that was expected being around kids, but it was all fun. Once we got started,  I settled into a smooth pace the first mile as I made adjustments to the costume. It was heavy and I was really warm, but my hands being free helped in staying balanced. I didn’t want to trip and fall on the downhill or trip on a rock. I could see out of one side, but the front on the outfit rubbed and chafed my nose while the top bounced up and down. I started to slurp up some runners and had an easy time navigating the hills and dirt of the course. Yum yum as I passed more folks –  and even caught up to Eimear in the last mile. I had no clue what pace I was doing so I just ran faster as I approached the finish while high-fiving folks and came through with plenty of clearence on video. I finished in 21:48! Check out the finish line video here: www.fix4theday.com

Now I was really sweating and I started cheering and making my way to the boys start again. I followed the same style I employed when I was the Karhu Bear in March – take pictures with kids, jump around, dance around, and help John with handing out free coupons, and try to stay loose. By this point I felt my nose was bleeding red due to the rubbing. I settled back into the crowd lining up with the boys and they were excited to be running against/with the Ice Guy. I was joined this time by Brad who ran a PR in the first race, coming off a PR in the ThunderRoad marathon a week ago! This 5K had at least 400 people in it and everyone was having fun, celebrating the boys achievement at not only being able to complete a 5K, but also the 6 week program of what they learned during their coaching sessions. Brad ran with me the whole time as we just jogged a good 10 minute pace, encouraging the boys as we made our way through the course. Once finished (over 30 minutes), it was more celebrating, pictures, and some NUUN! Man I was thirsty. It was a pleasure helping out John and a big THANK YOU! to him for the Rita’s ice the day after and stash of Pumpkin Pie cream ice!!! Photos of the event are in the album section!

From there, Gina dropped me off at work and it made for a long day. But it was fun and one of those days where by the time you get home you just collapse with a smile on your face, and a red, rashed shiny nose. It was rubbed raw and some Aquaphor helped over the next few days. All this was actually good practice for I was set to be yet another mascot a week later - the CRC Big Turkey.

Yes, this year for the store’s 23rd annual Turkey Trot 8K, there was a “Smoke the Turkey” competition. Thanks to sponsors Saucony and a few giveaways from our NUUN rep, Daniel, anyone who beat the Turkey would get a prize. I had a cool outfit from Party City and it was certainly the most runable mascot outfit I wore this year. With a record 8500 people registered for both the 8K and 5K, work was busy the entire week. I was pretty sure I would be able to get in the top 50 since there are some serious fast runners who come out to this event, and with the crowds, positioning would be key. Gina and I got there race morning to pick up my number and help fill water cups at the finish area. Dana worked the event as well and he helped make it a festive, celebratory morning for sure. I wished he got to run, but he preferred to be available to assist with the finsh line area. At 8:30, Gina and I got into Turkey Mode. We had tested the outfit a few times before, so some masking tape around the leggings and a pin around the head helped keep things secure – for now. We made our way to as close to the front as possible, while stopping to take a few photos with some other costumed runners including Superman, the Pilgrim, and the female runner who dressed up in a similar outfit, only with a cheesehead on top. Awesome fun. But now I had to get into somewhat of a serious mode as I did have a race to run – and plenty trying to race me. I took 3 deeps breaths, or gobbles, and off we went!!!!

Once I zigzagged through the first wave of folks, I got into a rhythm and space, while also heating up  quickly. By mile 1, I flew by in 5:50 and was like Whoa! I was encouraged by yells of “Go Turkey!!” from the crowds and ven a “Go Chicken!” I tossed my gloves. A few runners I passed asked me if I was the Turkey they had to beat. A quick “Hell, yeah!” and it became serious up front in a hurry. By mile 3, I was still at 5:50 pace. I stayed on pace and felt the left leg giving way, slowly falling off towards my foot. It made it cooler, but luckily we taped the ankles so I wouldn’t trip. Once I hit mile 4, there were 1-2 runners I had a shot to gobble up, and then my right legging started to give. I did pass one, and had room enough in the final uphill to wiggle my way across the finish in a time of 29:10!! 26th overall and 2nd in my age group!! CRC Big Turkey!!!  I was elated to have been able to do this and finish so well. I celebrated with a big kiss from Gina, drank some NUUN, and cheered the other runners in. Heather and Thom from EPEC, Melissa from IOS, and the Thursday Night crew all came out for a good fun run. The weather was warm, a slight breeze, and good enough to just make it a splendid day to give thanks.

We took plenty of pictures, I helped Scott hand out the age group awards, and then the garbage cleanup. Give Dana big props for he hung around until 2:30 helping out, while Gina gave the word at 11:30 for us to head out. I finally got out of the costume, assessed the burn on my left leg from the leggings, and we got to stretch, have breakfast, and relax a few hours before heading to Jeri and Suzi’s for dinner. It was soooo warm and comfortable. We got to their house and hung out on lawn chairs in the street while her neighbor schooled us in the art of frying a turkey. Sipping some sangria, we just enjoyed the recap of the race, relaxed, and had a great dinner. Thanks to their double chair, I almost got too comfortable and was ready to crash. We headed back home around 8 and the roads were quiet and empty. It was only 8:30 and it felt like 11. I was taking care of our neighbor’s dogs so after attending to them, we both settled in early as we had to work Friday. My foot was sore and so was my back but getting into bed made all of that go away – with some BioFreeze too.

Black Friday was as advertised. After a quick spin, I headed to the store, while Gina headed in as she had a half-day. Dana and I had no rest period as a healthy steady stream of customers rolled in throughout the day, and it wasn’t until 5:30 that we got to clean up and actually relax. So much for the holiday weekend, as I also worked on Saturday, but I started listening to Christmas music and after Mass on Saturday evening, Gina and I enjoyed the final leftovers we had over some sangria. My Pops gave me the collection of old home videos my sister Lisa converted to disc for him. Gina has never seen them, and they were a hallmark to my days as a kid that my Pops would show to friends and family on special occasions. Advent is here and the past couple of weeks were perfect for gearing up for this holiday season. It has been a great year indeed, and I use the next 4 weeks of Advent to shed layers within and prepare for addressing my weaknesses, seeing and rooting out that which needs changing, all with the goal of building up to welcome in Christmas, looking towards 2012. Gina and I have planned to go back to NY for the 24th-26th of December to see my Pops who is resting at home, and also get to see her folks. It will be an emotional trip for us both, and we hope to be able to spend a few moments away from it all.  Recharge.

For now, Gina and I (and Holmes who had his 5th birthday), wish all of TEAMMC a healthy and happy, blessed holiday season. A thank you to all sponsors this year – Odwalla, NUUN, Aquaphor, Polar, BioFreeze, amd locally with Rita’s, EPEC, Almquist Massage, and of course CRC. Continued thanks to all listed in the link section for their ongoing support to TEAMMC.

Know that it ain’t all about the gifts you buy or obtain, but what you can give of yourself in manners of service in the process. Look back and remember, but quickly, for you need to always move forward!

 RACE RESULTS 2011

CHARLESTON HALF MARATHON    JAN. 15     CHARLESTON, SC         10th OA  / 2nd AG         1:17

CAMUSETT 25k                  MARCH 6 NY 4TH OA / 1ST AG            1:32
KINGS PARK 15K                 MARCH 19 NY 6TH OA / 1ST AG            53:43

CHARLOTTE RACEFEST HALF MARATHON   APRIL 16          CHARLOTTE, NC   3RD OA    1:16

LONG ISLAND HALF MARATHON          MAY 1       NY     10TH OA / 3RD AG        1:14

MACARTHUR AIRPORT 5K                         JUNE 5       NY      5th OA / 1st AG     16:30
NYC CORPORATE CHALLENGE                JUNE 16       NY      44th OA            19:26
BUFFALO SPRINGS HALF IRONMAN     JUNE 26     LUBBOCK, TX      98th OA / 17th AG      4:58

NUTRITHON DUATHLON       AUG 20          KANNAPOLIS, NC    2ND OA / 1ST AG      1:14
HOOD TO COAST RELAY- BIG KAHUNAS       AUG 26            PORTLAND, OR     32nd OA / 3rd Division   21:07:00

TAKE FLIGHT SPRINT TRIATHLON   OCT 9  HUNTERSVILLE, NC      5th OA / 2nd AG       52:00

ITU WORLD LONG DISTANCE TRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS        NOV 5  HENDERSON, NV      149TH OA / 32 AG    6:17

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