BE-COMING 40 : RACEFEST HALF MARATHON

I’ve always taken the approach to this birthday as not “turning”, or “getting older”, or even close to “gonna be”, but like the term BECOMING. Yes, we all see this age as a sort or pun termed “mile-stone” and that’s just a fraction of what I am thinking it. C’mon now, Gina’s Pop got 50 YEARS on me!!! But I have decided to use this next part of my life – for how much longer it will last anyway – as a means to yes, start ESTABLISHING myself. I’ve already “been there, done that” as my race results and experiences have taken me. What’s next you say? What’s up my baggy sleeves? That part of my Johari Window will be opened soon enough, but first, we got some racing to do…..

Yes, the annual Charlotte Racefest Half Marathon fell this year right on my birthday. Touching indeed, maybe adding some pressure to the mix, but I was excited that I got to do a race on home turf, work some publicity for the store (this and the Turkey Trot are our owned races), and then get to celebrate it with friends afterwards, with some other plans made with Gina for the day. It was looking to be a superb weather day to boot! The heat is approaching as there have been a string of 8o degree days and it feels lovely! Dare I say too that Dunkin Donuts iced coffee flavors this spring are slammin’!!! Supercharge your day yo. The store wasn’t as busy as usual for a race week – not many calls about the event, not many people coming in to sign in – which was a good sign that the registration process is more efficient. There were 2500 runners signed up equally between the half marathon and the 10K. It’s probably the toughest half in Charlotte with its hilly profile, but I like it’s honesty. It brings out all the people you usually see out and about the town and a great fun atmosphere for all on a spring morning. There were a few people who also asked if I was planning on running in costume for this one. Nope. Unless of course Scott purchases a shoe mascot. I had worked most of the week and the feet were getting sore by Friday, but I made sure to sleep in my 110% knickers for 2 nights. It was showtime and the mind was ready to age-up.

Becoming 40 also has me now in a new race age group category – Masters. Sure I raced a few already this year, but one goal I had for this year was to put a good stamp on being in this new age group – and my next string of races – mainly in triathlon – will test that. I actually earned Honorable Mention All American for 2012 by  USA Triathlon, a third time for that. But I won’t kid myself, it’s a tough group as it spans 40-50 and plus. I also got accepted again to the Team AAA Carolinas triathlon crew representing in all of my events for 2013. I had a huge block of training in March and the past 2 weeks in April continued that. No tapering, even doing my annual AGE BIRTHDAY workout on Friday – 40min run, 40min bike, 40 min UBE. Not the best option for a day before event workout, but yo.

We got up at 5:30 and got ready. It was already just under 50 degrees but no wind. Awesome. Put the race gear on, took the 15 minute drive to Southpark and parked right at the finish line. Gina had a special birthday party planned with all the stuff in the back – including carrot cake cupcakes for all! We saw Brad and Ashley and walked with them to the start. The crowd was good. Everything seemed well organized and calm for a race this size. Big props to Danny White and his crew at RMS Sports. With a 7:30 start, you don’t get much time to loosen up, but you prioritize that with saying hello to all you know. I always use the first 3 miles to warm up anyway. With a big hug and kiss from G, and high fives to Brad and Ashley, I made my way to the front. Shades on, Polar RCX5 strapped to chest, and shaking the legs to let it rip. 3 deep breaths. Happy Birthday Yo.

Off we go and in a half mile, it’s clear. Being up front helps in this situation as you can see ahead and get into a rhythm quick. The only caveat is to make sure you get a feel to who is in the 10K and who is in the half. The cut off isn’t until 3miles, so it is important to be cautious here. There were 2 guys out in front really quick – one of them I knew Jamey Yon, another elder statesman who still kicks big time a$$ – which is great to put the young guns in their place.  The lead police car flashes indicate the gap between you and them. The first mile goes by in 5:40. Quick, but I got 3 additional guys in front of me and plenty of real estate to work with. My attacks usually happen at mile 7 on this course, where the serious hill on Sharon comes around and then you got the rollers the rest of the way. I was still with the group and we clocked 17:30. Comfy and I was hoping it got hot real quick with the sun up. Wasn’t happening, but it was great weather for all. I gave Gwen of Team in Training a big high five with her purple hand cushion and with the long stretch down Providence ahead, dialed into the mind and started to play chomp. I ran side to side with one guy and we caught one of the youngins who had headphones on. He didn’t respond so it was just me and him, now trying to catch a lanky blond youngin a good stretch ahead. I pushed the inclines and the guy fell back so now it was me going for the dude (his name was Jack from the cheers and an athlete of Jamey Yon’s group based on his singlet). I figured the big hill was the place to try and catch Jack. I slowly made ground – heck I pop a few 5:35′s to this point. Then I get to the hill and he starts looking back. I’m coming bro. I hit tangents and make the pass but he’s huffing and stays just behind. I continue to churn and know that either he breaks or doesn’t – but I’m gonna keep this pace. Game on.

Up and over and Jack holds his own. Granted he is really breathing now, with a few horse breaths thrown in and I plan to play a bit and see if he holds. He kept looking at his watch and when he pushed ahead of me he kept looking back. I never let him more than 20 yards ahead of me, and made the eventual pass on the rollers come mile 10 and assess his state. He was smart. He ran my tangents, kept with me when I passed, and then made a pass himself. I was enjoying this. There was NO ONE behind us at this point so in all this was the race. I was hoping Jamey held on to win (he did) so now it was just me and Jack for the next 5K.  We were moving this train. 5:36, 5;41, 5:50 on the big rollers. So at mile 11, we both drop the hammer. We pounce a 5:22 for that stretch knowing that the big incline that stretches for a majority of the last mile is ahead. I love it! This whole race was a FUN gift. Just racing with this kid for the last 6 miles was a pleasure. He did everything right. I kept him looking back as we crested the final big hill, then into the final incline onto Morrison. He had a good 5-10 second lead and I was pushing hard as a kick already, knowing I was more than happy to let him go for a job well run. I wasn’t risking a hammy pull for going totally ball bustin’ the last 1/4 mile, but I REALLY still wanted to get a 1:15. Considering I did 1:16 last year, being able to hit that would have been another gift (heck, I still did an 18hr training week and worked out 2 hrs yesterday!) So coming down the finish, give the Charlotte Running Co shirt a pump, give G a high five, some points to friends, and with that walk through the line in 4th overall place with a 1:15:26!! Jamey and Jack were there and we took a photo and I spoke to Jack briefly admiring him of his effort today. Let’s just say he probably slept very well last night. Kid earned it. Results:http://www.rmssports.com/results/13rcf.txt

WOW! I am ready for race season! This was a great test and a welcoming into BECOMING 40. I won the Master’s category and a few $$, but I quickly jogged back to G and the crew and celebrated. Those who did the 10K we got the scoop, Brian and Allyson got awards big time, and now it was all fun. I cheered as usually all with the CRC gear who came in to the finish and friends of the store whom I always give the props to! Paul, Todd (who pushed his new baby in 1:37!), his wife Erica, Amy, Brad, Ashley, Jody, the list goes on and I just loved it! We stayed there till the 2:30 mark, then made our way to the X where G had the party set up. Balloons, cupcakes, some drinks from Eimear, good times. We then went to the finish area where I helped hand out age group awards, then clean up, drive the box truck back to the store, unload, make sure all was good, then both G and I finally got home at 12:30! We unpacked, brewed the java, and had some brunch of scones and extra donuts. I have to admit, I think I received more in baked goods for my birthday than physical gifts. Big props to Amy’s Bread too in NYC for the applesauce donuts headed my way!!  I got some great books thanks to Brad and Gina, plenty to keep me learning for the next few months. We chilled out the rest of the afternoon (icing down part of it), then went to Mass before then heading out to dinner at Cantina 1511. We like this joint because they serve you a serious pitcher of sangria. Gina surprised me by asking Brad, his wife Danielle, and Eimear to join us and we had a blast. Drank about 4 glasses of the sangria! Gina also had a huge cake – one that for sure, despite sharing at dinner, will take a week to finish off. I added pictures to the PHOTOS section of the days events. It was great. We were exhausted by the time we got home, and were asleep by 10pm.

I had plans ahead - now that I have BECOME 40 - to begin the framework of building. It could take a few but I am anxious at the prospects. Gina and I are moving 100 feet into a newer apartment and from there, I am going to start coaching her personally through the spring and summer into 5K shape and even her first sprint triathlon! She has been my rock and it’s time for me to start focusing on her goals to achieve in these areas. I look forward to it - and my other plans – into this new phase of my life. Each and everyday I consider a birthday, always have, and feel wishes are granted to celebrate it in all forms. You just have to BE.

SCHEDULE AHEAD:

April 28 – Huntersville Sprint Triathlon

May 11 – Jetton Park Triathlon

June 1 – Charity Chase Half Marathon

June 29 – Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3, Texas

 

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