The past two weeks have been a test of patience and a study in ease as several items came onto the plate both at work and beyond. With the Racefest Half Marathon and 10K (www.charlotteracefest.com) in full registration swing, the additional tasks of adding/confirming people in the database, depositing monies, and assisting Scott in the minor details that needed to be taken care of, can make the days at work extended – especially dealing with the hundreds of phone calls from runners with questions easily answered from the website. My run group was also in final prep as a nice long run in the rain and a final tune up run finished up their plans for the race. The Thursday Nite crew also had a nice run in the torrential rain storm (was actually fun too) and they were eager to have some fun racing on Saturday. Nuff said that I was able to sleep pretty solidly at night and with my 39th birthday on the horizon, welcomed the challenge of taking on the half marathon on a tough course, fully compacted with these stresses attached.

The weather has been splendid with its ups and downs in temperatures. Gina’s flowers are blooming nicely in the patio. True spring in the air now. And with the pool opening early, even with the water cold, cold – serves as a nice ice bath at the end of the day. I got a nice birthday surprise from Gina and the Thursday crew with a cupcake-cake celebration (and some of Jeri’s homemade strawberry jam!) followed by a decadent cupcake from Nancy and a huge brownie/cake frosting thing from Michelle of my Saturday run group. Heck then I get the world famous fudge brownies (stated by the NY Times themselves) by Chris Colvin, Gina’s sister, delivered at the door! Dang – no problem polishing these off sllllooooowwwwwwllllllyyyyy. The need for dense calories sure help. I even got 2 cat singing birthday cards (one that I can make rap) and a singing red stuffed monkey. I got my USAT Honorable Mention All American certificate award in the mail to cap off a nice few days of gifts. Yo.

But the birthday celebration will be spread out over the weekend. Gina and I had a nice home meal Friday night (with sangria of course) and some cupcakes. Up early on Saturday, we got to the race and had plenty of time to walk around, met Brad and Ashley, then the Thursday crew and lined up at the start. The weather was cool, but just right. Everyone was psyched. My game plan was usual – plan the attack in the first 3 miles, then charge and hammer starting with the big hill at mile 7. Then hang on. I felt fine, a big heavy in the legs since I don’t taper all out for this and try to avoid OVER training the week of simply because of the anticipated stress. Thanks to New Balance, I donned the 860′s V2 in the female light blues. I aquaphored up to keep warm, forgoing the arm warmers. RS800 strapped for the final time this season (going with the RCX5 after) and ready to roll. A few kisses from G and I am set. Shades on. Several rows back. Three Deep Breaths. Happy Birthday.

After 20 seconds clearing the shuffle front runners, I hit the side and in a half mile, create room. First mile under 6, all good, legs rolling. I immediately see only about 10 guys in front after a few miles. Once we hit Providence Road for the loooong run down south, I track a guy in a lime green Dr. Greenapple shirt I recognize from last year. Now, I didn’t pass him until after the big hill, but here he was now, running nicely, gaining on the several guys in front of him. I trail him by a few seconds down the long stretch, analyzing him and the 3 guys in front of him, and how the manage the rolling terrain. Pace fine, heart rate in the 160 range. Clicking. Ok, so as we turn towards the hill at mile 6, I say this is where I hammer. I pass him, then the guy in front as I have no mercy on them or myself up the hill – at 5:27 pace for that mile. That’s it, I’m committed. Holy smoke that was awesome, form solid, arm strength legit. With Skillet’s “Awake and Alive” in the mental ipod, I’m rollin. I see another dude in a lime green singlet. Easily Nickelback’s “Next Contestant” chimes in.

I inch closer, and at mile 10, there is Jeri, Suzi, and Paul cheering on. “Take him!” Jeri’s yells and its chomp time. Shortly after, on a ice grade, I take it. Turns out he was wearing an ipod so he probably never heard me. I never look back. I motor here. The last 3 miles are very very challenging and running the tangents help big time. At mile 11, you catch the 10K walkers. Several cheers from them and its All Lips and Hips. I see the mile 12 mark time at 1:09:30, heck I can break 1:16! Yo, pump, surge, hammer cuz this last mile ain’t easy. Making the final turn on Morrison, you now get the crowd. Its celebrate time! High fiving Gina and crew, I finish in 1:15:59 chip, besting last year’s time. 5th overall and winning my age group!!! Awesome bump in test fitness. Slamming fun! Now its time to be cheerleader. Getting back to G and a few more kisses and hugs around, its time to hoop it for the rest of the gang – April already did a PR for the 10K, Trenace came out with Haven to cheer also. Bryan, Allison soon come in strong with PR’s. Stephen finishes, Brad scorches his PR as he breaks 2 hours!!!!!!!! Dave finishes his first ever half, Amy comes in (and then heads to Boston with Paul for his big race on Monday), Ashley just misses her goal by a minute, but gets it done, and Sherri gets it in under 2:30. Everyone elated and having fun – all before 11am!!!!! Many runners were wearing the CRC gear so pictures were abundant. It was great to cheer on all other finishers, many customers we know through the store, and just enjoying the accomplishments. Happy birthday indeed.

The crew surprised me with my own Kindle Touch as a thank you for coaching. But they already know that I am honored to be able to coach and run with them as they prove equal amounts of guts and determination that inspires me to reach my goals. We helped clean up and I drove the box truck back to the store to unload remaining items with Dana and Gina. From there, at noon, we made our way to have some breakfast at IHOP!! Still all sweaty and sore (but BioFrozen), we made our way to RITA’S where I picked up my quarts and slurped up a small gelati!!! Hydrated, we got back home close to 2pm. By the time we had laundry going, we hit the couch and passed out for a good half hour. That shower afterwards never felt better. Off to church and yo, dinner and a big glass of sangria. We watched the movie Warrior (thanks Brad, but that ending was really corny for a fight movie), and more cupcakes to devour. Deep sleep as the day ends for us. Happy Birthday.

Everything feels good. We are spending Sunday now assessing any residual soreness, did a nice spin and some wt training, good french toast breakfast (thanks Dana for the c-raisin bread), and some Qtime with Gina. Catch up on some reading and now switching the program up a bit to stay in race specific shape into the summer with some nice short races on the dock (a duathlon in 2 weeks to boot) and a half ironman hopefully in June. So I now roll into my 39th year and even though I may be NEARING 40, people, this puppy is still a puppy. Everyday is my birthday and here’s a great quote = Embrace Fortune when you Encounter It. Pictures from the race are in the photos section and as always, updated tweets @teammc1.    YO!

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