LENT: SLAP YOUR ASH

So much for winter! Though today got into the teens finally, the past few weeks have been great weather wise. I did get hit with a big headcold 2 weeks ago, which was a combo of the usual overdrive, but it slowly started to subside with the help of Vicks, St Joe chewable asprin (bubble gum flavor yo), honey/ginger tea, and sleeping in the SockMonkey pullup pj’s for added warmth. It works, so don’t knock it. I had the 50K race looming the week of and a Sunday OFF really helped, thanks to Ironsherpa orders. I was going to run in this event to help support Brad, who had been training diligently over the month of December and January. My plan was to just run a nice easy pace and cheer him on everytime we passed on the 5 loop course. My first base phase was complete, but nothing to the specific of handling a run of this distance – thus the conservative approach. More than anything, it would give me a chance to get lost in my mind and just tune out to tune in. It was the first annual Charlotte UltraRun (www.charlotteultrarun.org) which is a 50K – 31.1 miles (and a 10K was also held) run along the McMullen Greenway. Brad was attempting the distance for the first time, a bucket list goal and break the 6 hr mark. Forecast was for rain and mild temps, but I still slept deep since I was somewhat sick.

The race benefitted Catholic Charities and was held by the Knights of Columbus Chapter in the University City area. It drew a great crowd of about 100 people for both races (I’d say it was a 50/50 for each race). Given the fact that the weather was wet, rainly at times, but still mild in the 40′s and no wind, it actually was good running weather. Since it was a quick drive we had
plenty of time to relax and get Brad psyched up for the run. My game plan was to fry my mind mentally while keeping a steady pace and not blowing up. Yes, if anything, nothing but work on the mental ipod! I was set to have fun. I was relaxed. I donned my gear, loosened up and after a good kiss and hug from G, Brad and I made our way to the start.  3 deep breaths. Zoned in.
Well, off we went into the misty rain and I simply followed pace with the lead woman in the 10K. Turns out the pace was just right for the remainder of the run. Turns out that pace was 6:37. Since the markers were all K’s, I ran through each at 4 minutes. Ok, Ok, the K’s went by. I was on autopilot the whole time after that first lap (5 total of the 10K course). It was a nice slight rolling, mostly flat course to not be dull: a mix of trail (muddy) and pavement, with 2 turnarounds. I  just counted 1-10K for each lap. Each lap I sought out certain points to assess and then determine if I wanted to ease up or speed up. Mixed bag. I let out a few hard coughs each lap, but felt fine. Awesome. There was one guy who I thought would catch up but when I found out I was gaining time each lap – from one minute up to three, it was simply a matter of staying in my heartrate zone and making sure the legs didn’t cramp up after the marathon point (which I did in 2:52). My bright orange Karhu’s turned out to be bright black muddy ones when all was said and done. But they felt sooooooo good.  I high-fived Brad as I lapped him and he looked good. He was tuned into his music and one woman was even singing Chaka Khan! (what, no 80′s metal hairbands?) You got words of encourangement from each runner out there and I did my fair share of “Yo!” people up and fist pumping. All was good, and I simply used a total of 3 gels and 10 oz. of my drink mix to fuel me. Gina was at each lap handing me and Brad what we needed. She made a few great catches that impressed volunteers. I got to give her a kiss at each lap too! By the last lap, I knew I had a 3 minute lead but still wanted to make it my fastest lap. I commemorated each 10K to a member of my family I lost over the years, and this one was for Pops. My legs didn’t feel like they just went through a marathon. I was innervated, clicking on all cylinders. That “power” I referred to in the last journal, it was tapped. Shielding the intensity in my eyes were my SwissEye shades and it also kept out the raindrops. Just roll brotha.
I came through in 3:25 winning by 3 minutes! On fire. Now my legs felt it as stopping would, but a hug and kiss of celebration with G was all I needed. All I cared for. I had passed Brad just before finishing so we cheered him on as he began his 4th lap (he later admitted he didn’t know I was winning). Fortunately no heavy rain and it was all fun after that! We had a good 2 hours before Brad was to finish, so we got to walk around, changed, stretch, hydrate, stay warm a bit in the gym while shooting some hoops, and we loved the outdoor bathroom trailers provided by Portable Bathroom Trailers (www.portablebathroomtrailers.com). It got a bit misty, but stayed dry, relative to the forecast. We hooted Brad as he came through in 5:47! He looked great! He was elated and it was all good! Great race, great fun, awesome to see all the Charlotte Runnning Club runners out there too. Got to meet a few people and recap the race, even cheer on the remaining finishers. Everyone got a nice medal, I won a cash prize, and they will name the overall winner male award The Carbone Award (and female award for Megan Hovis who was first female), until someone breaks what is now a course record. Serious! That was awesome!  Results posted on their website. Sure the legs were sore afterwards, and Gina and I enjoyed some Nutella/PBJ sandwiches and soothing the stomach with some Rita’s in the evening. A long day culminated with a snuggle and resting up in our respective “chairs”. (Side note:  we tried watching the SuperBowl the next day but that was lame, even the commercials.)
Personally, it was great as I focused on my Dad’s recent passing (and other family members) on each lap – each cherishing a different memory and using the last lap to hammer it down. Call it an extreme was of grieving? The environment of the Mallard Creek Greenway was so peaceful, it made the distance so compact. It was the perfect atmosphere to just get lost within myself. Focus deep. What I found was a power harnessed and ready to let rip for the races this year. I have to give a big thanks to Brad for coaxing me to even enter. It proved to be the best way to challenge my base preparations so far, find some adjustments, and now approach Lent with a clearer focus the next 40 days. I plan to use the NYC Marathon as my final race of 2012, so the next 2 races will be half marathons: one in March, and the April Racefest before racing triathlons from May through October. Get hyped yo. Keep Calm and Carry On.
Here are my 5K splits:
21:00
21:15
21:44
20:29
20:14
20:06
20:20
20:05
20:14
19:49
Thanks yo!

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