The past 3 weeks have been mad crazy as I have put together consecutive big training weeks, coupled with long hours at work, and basically testing the body to handle some of the things I may encounter at Hood to Coast, and all things stress related. That was a mouthful. By utilizing the Training Load aspects of my Polar monitors and downloads, I have been able to see how each day’s workouts impact me physically. Applying it the past three weeks have been a wonderful experiment (well, wonderful may not be the right word) in conjunction with this humid, hot weather here in Charlotte we haven’t gotten much relief from. Other than maybe the ice cold water I pour over my head at work, a nice swim in the pool after a day at work, and just walking in a downpour when one comes. Its been a challenge, even if highly adapted to now, but it can still be draining when you continue to attack it week after week. Gina and I have been very resourceful in how much we actually have to cook during the week, opting to make more meals and leftovers that can be eaten cold or require little reheating. Gina’s garden has been booming as the tomato’s are in full force, in multiple pots, and the basil is out of control.  Its added great flavor by allowing us to make pesto and some good caprese salads.

This week was a culmination of everything and a hard way to close out July. I am ready to change “gears” and start mixing things up to prepare for the NYC Marathon, my final big race, but was using the Stumpy Creek International Triathlon as a good finish point to tri racing (for now, schedule permitting in the fall). Before this though, the week included the first Chariots of Freedom event at UNCC on Thursday, Aug 2nd. Thanks to Charlotte Running Co., TEAMMC, and the CRC run group, I was able to put donations together to allow for the purchase of 2 “Chariots” for Mike and his program, in addition to t shirts and bracelets. We actually have one at the store, which we can use for more of his events, but also wrap it NASCAR style to our liking, and maybe push a kid here and there in the parking lot. Dana and I went to the UNCC track to meet up with EG, Mike, and Chuck, along with 50+ campers on campus for the relay racing and the official jump-start opening of Mike’s vision. In a nutshell, all 65 photos can be viewed here,
and lets just say running and pushing these kids for some 3 miles (and their cheers, smiles, fun) gave me that feeling of those days I participated in something “special” like Eurocycle, World TEAM, heck even Karhu Bear, and knew this was why I aimed for self actualization.  Dana and I needed the rest of the day to recover, even after a nice on campus coffee run thanks to chuck and EG, but we had to get back to the store and finish the day. We had time to stretch, ice down our feet, and wear compression socks to get through the day and thanks to some homemade treats at the barista station in the store, managed to survive the day. All good stuff and we look forward to participating in more of Mike’s events the next few months. Please visit the site, and if you know of a kid who could benefit from this, please let’s get them involved. It is indeed a great opportunity for them.

Friday was the start of tax free weekend and was crazy busy at work. So much for some type of reasonable taper as I found myself wanting to slow down but the task list just needed things to click off. I hoped to do a big taper but reasoned to see how I could compare the two triathlons under different conditions. In June, I did the Bandits race with a nice travel/rest day leading up to the race and it wasn’t as busy at work. That led to a nice race on a tough course. Now, I was going into Stumpy Creek Tri in opposite conditions. The week was crazy, did the COF event, was on the feet all day, and the race wasn’t far so would require a 4am wake-up call. The water temperature was 88 degrees so no wetsuit, but thanks to Melissa at IOS, I was able to test a demo skinsuit (even though it was a female model with pink stripes – it still fit). Gina and I opted to take out pizza for dinner, but skipped the sangria as we still had some preparations to take care of for the morning, some chores, and THEN some relaxing with the Olympics. BTW, Gina says (and I agree) that the commentators for the gymnastics, diving, and swimming events were appalling. Gina bashed the sideline reporting and judging aspects enough to yell some serious slang lashing at the TV. Word though, let them be. If I was getting interviewed pool side after busting my guts and got asked  lame questions, I’d just hug the reporter and yell, “USA USA!!!”  Peace!

But this was to be a great test to see how the legs can rip in a longer distance than the sprint a few weeks ago, and give me an idea of how to tweak things getting ready for the Hood to Coast Relay at the end of August.  The 1 mile swim was in calm, hot Lake Norman, the 27 mile bike course semi rolling, and the 6.2 mile run the same profile with a repeat of one mad hill. We got up at 4am to a humid 77 degrees and made the quick 40 minute drive to Stumpy Creek Park in Moorseville. Easy parking, easy transition setup, and everything was a breeze to get ready. We had a good 30 minutes to hang, got to talk to Bob at IOS (Melissa was racing), and we saw a few regulars to chat it up with, including 50 yr old Jim Bertrand our KSwiss/2XU rep who even though said he was “an old guy”, still managed to wind up beating me by a minute (and why I always laugh when someone says that). It was a nice large turnout, some 400-500 people and all in good shape. I donned the Team AAA gear, Aquaphor tights, Aquaphored up, and was fully hydrated. I slipped into the skinsuit and was ready to roll. A nice hug,kiss and encouragement from G and into the water I went as I was the second wave. It was bath water warm, so together with the weather, I couldn’t ask for a better scenario. Now my wave had some 100 people in it so I got to the front and WAY right. I anticipated a rough start, but focused ahead to the next bouy, took 3 deep breaths, and waited for the horn.

Off we went and I just churned as usual to the 100 yd buoy. Still got a crowd, stay steady to 200 yard. I didn’t feel comfy till we got to the 400 bouy and then it was a matter of hitting the turn buoys unscathed and skimming the water ahead. I felt fine. The stroke was in rhythm, nice kick, and the skinsuit felt great. It was clean swimming by now and the only difficult part of the swim was the final 100 yards as we turned into the sunrise and honestly couldn’t see squat. Luckily there was one swimming I could tail and take line into the dock. Up and out, skinsuit off and into transition – swim time for the 1 mile: 27:34

Smooth transition, monitors one and beating, got a cheer from G and with a decent clip-in, started to roll on the Black Widow. The course starting with a nice incline out and the first 5 miles put me in a good mindset and in tune with everything. Legs checked in good and my rate was in line with what I expected. Nice scenic roads, a few cows, a few horse stables, and one dog wandering in the road giving chase for a bit. By 10-15 miles, I started to get passed by a good number of 40 yr old. A few in my age group, but I swear there were at least 10-12 of them and I just thought, “get your lead fellas, and a good one.” that’s not to say I was happy with getting passed at that point, but I didn’t feel the need to push harder. I was, but today was all about pace. I was not going to force the issue on myself. Ride sucka. And ride I did. It was overcast but still humid, I was comfortable, and only consumed one gel the entire race, with a few sips of my drink. It was a hilly finish back into the park, and as I came into transition, I was happy with my ride since it was faster than Bandits – 27 mile ride time: 1:19:53

Out onto the run and I was ready to rip. I high-five G and it was pac-man time. I secured my cadence quickly and was feelin good. There were no individual mile markers, only 2 mile hits and I was clipping sub 6 at the first loop. But that last hill coming back into the finish area was a HUGE incline. Run the tangents brotha. Pump the arms. I cooled off at the water stops with a quick splash and sip and once I started the second loop, with full visual of what to expect, I hammered. Heck, I opened wide the pacman each time I passed a 40 yr old who passed me on the bike. Yum yum. I saw a fellow Team AAA guy - Rich Sexton – and gave him a verbal push of motivation (he came in 3rd in his age group). By mile 4 I was chomping away big time. Once I got to the mile 5 mark, I saw a 5:54 pace which included the hill. It was a nice gradual decline to the finish and I hammered away – talkin 175 beats, heart in the throat pace. Into the finish I come and blasted the 6.2 miles in 35:42 (2nd fastest overall)  with a total time of 2:25!!!! Good enough for 21st overall and 2nd in my age group!

A hug and kiss from G and a 5 minute jog to clear the lactic acid up and I was returning to homeostasis. I was really pleased as I felt good and pushed hard despite the week. I improved on all my markers and my recovery went well which now includes the usual iced cold cans of soda on the quads! We got to spend some time to chat with people again, share some stories, and simply relish the morning effort. the sun poked in/out and really heated things up so with a good walk between transition and finish area, we got our stuff together, packed the X, quick stretch and re-hydrating, and headed home. A quick dip in the pool, we made some java and pancakes, and took in a good breakfast while icing our feet in tubs of cold water. As I write this, Gina looks so nice and peaceful when she naps after a morning like this (she didn’t sleep much past few nights) and for sure we’ll be drinking the sangria tonight!!!!

The store will be busy with back to school happenings and some team night events so the next few weeks will be “all-in there.” The Olympics will come to and end and all Panther nation will get recharged here in Charlotte. I now tweak things up and use July’s testing into preparing for the Big Kahunas and a final trip to the Hood to Coast Relay on August 24-25th. There will be a few pushes in the CRC Chariot along the way, maybe one or two more sprint tri’s, but from here, I aim for the final race goal of 2012 - running for Pops in the NYC Marathon. Yo.



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