Since qualifying for World Championships 70.3 at Buffalo Springs, the past month has been a whirlwind of recover, plan, recharge. The week we returned, even though it was a holiday weekend, we had maybe half a day’s worth of “vacation time”. I participated as the Karhu Bear again at Start2Finish’s Firecracker 5K where in muggy, humid conditions, I bested last year’s time by almost 2 minutes, finishing in 20:40 and coming in 3rd age group! It was a blast and much easier heat-test wise as I had enough mental clarity to join the kids in the Tot Trot. Always a good time, and my only concern was my right calf which was strained at the BSLT race. We then had plans to join her boss’ family bbq on the 4th and with us working the day after, well, so goes that first week. I resumed training the fllowing week and thanks to Jessica at Sports Massage Therapy haven’t missed a beat as she help flush the system, pointed out some weaknesses, and from that feedback, it’s what I’ve been addressing. The weather pattern here has been locked in a soupy, sticky, humid mess which isn’t bad as I am comfortable training/sweating in it, but the daily soak can make you drag in the afternoons. So be it. Just hydrate and stay with it, yo.

So my only tune-up on the calendar came at month’s end with Start2Finish’s inaugural Tomahawk Triathlon in Cane Creek Park. I knew I had to jump in it as the distances were great, fell on the calendar perfectly, and with that crew, knew it would be a top notch event. Plus, with CRC being a sponsor, also had to rock the Triple Threat gear which Donny had well represented with athletes at the race. So this week I trained regularly but monitored my intensity starting after Wednesday and made sure I didn’t show up with totally spent body (Saturdays has normally been an easy day for me the past month). It was a little sore going into Friday as I trained, but also voluntered a bit at NC MedAssist for a few hours on behalf of friend Cathy Grable,  but I made sure I wore my 100% knickers that evening to bed (and a little sangria with dinner!)

We woke up around 4:30 and took our time getting out the door, but with an hour drive, made sure we had plenty of time to get there and loosen up. The weather was humid and in the 70′s, the rain possible at anytime that day. “Get done quick!” Ironsherpa says. We got there and with everything ituated in one area, it was so easy to park, rack the bike, and get organized. Jen, Sean, Rachael, and the crew know their tri’s and made this a sure winner for all. I got to see many a familiar face, many a top athlete, and a few relay newbies. Several hundred would start in a time trial wave, each going almost every 5 seconds. We had a good hour to get set, but with 15 minutes to go, it was time to get the game face on. The water was sooooo warm, like 80, so I had to wear the swinskin ontop of the 3T gear. I opted to use my Polar CS600 as I didn’t want to wear a watch in the water. I was in the Elite Wave so there were 10-15 of us who got to start first, each every 15 seconds before the rest of the field. Since we went alphabetically, I got to go 4th! Yikes, I knew there were faster swimmers behind me, so I tried to make sure I kept a steady stroke and draft when I could. Now it was time to step on the dock. 3 deep breaths. Lock in. Testing……

And with the 5 second countdown, I jumped in and got into a good stroke rhythm. I was comfortable right away as the water temp helped me get loose. breathing, kick, all systems got into it. Eyesight on the bouys: check. I did get passed by 3 people over the 1K course, but I did manage to catch one just as I hit the final bouy. Yes, nothing to make note of. Nice warmup. Soild since I was without a wetsuit so I will take it. Grab the ramp handrail, exit, and proceed for the 1/4 mile jog to transition area – thankfully all on grass. Time for the 1K swim: 17 minutes.

I peel off the skinsuit, hear Ironsherpa in area, get transitioned on the Blak Widow and out I go. Lock in. Being in the front wave, I was solo on the road with just me, my thoughts, the humming of the BW, and an occassional “wow, that’s a nice house” scenery. I kept my cadence well near 80-90, heartrate in zone 2-3-4 ranges as the course was undulating hills. I was passing the 5 mile flags right on time. I sipped my drink at 20 minute segments. All clockwork, all on pace. The legs felt just a bit fatigued, but not an issue. I was only concerned with a possible cramp that could occur in my calf, but not to be. Donny’s gear was very comfortable too. Breathing solid. As I got past the 15 mile mark, 2 guys pass me, but I kept them in sight since I was only 3 miles from the end – just don’t loose them. It looked like it could rain, but I was happy to be almost done on the bike it if did. It didn’t. Slight climb to the finish, off the bike and very pleased with finishing the 18 mile ride: 53 minutes (21mph).

Now time to crank. With a few cheers from Ironsherpa on my way out, I immediately pass those 2 guys. One, Dave Koontz, says “go get that Run Prime!” He’s referring to the many prizes being offered at this race – which included the fastest Swim, Bike, and Run times. So I crank more. The course then takes you on a very technical looking trail, but wide enough to navigate thanks to S2F crew spray painting the branch juts orange. With my TeamAAA visor and Tifosi shades, I can see clear. I couldn’t tell what pace I was going as there were no mile markers, but was constanly changing paces, charging up the hills, and screaming down them. It was turn heavy too. I would glance at my CS600 in hand to see my heartrate was in the 160′s which was right on where I wanted to be in effort. I caught one person, then almost took out Donny on his mountain bike as he was in front of the leader – James Haycraft of IOS. I knew then there was a turnaround point coming up. I then counted 3 others behind him (including eventually female winner Jenny H). Could I catch one of them? Out of the trails briefly and onto a paved road parkway to the turnaround. I glance and see 15 minutes. Perfect. I was targeting a 30 minute-ish 8K and now that I was heading BACK, knew the deal ahead and could risk some speed. Crank bro. I churned the arms. Really took some risky launches and quick steps. Then had to doge the runners now going out onto the trail. Fortunately that wasn’t bad and was thankful to have the chance to start ahead because of it. The couse takes you slightly right along the lake where you can see you are getting near the finish. I glance down and see 27-28 on the lap time. Push yo! Out of the trail and into the final sprint to the line. I finish the 8K in just over 29 minutes (5:53 pace)!! Awesome!!!!!!! Full results to the event can be found here:

I immediately returned the timing strap and kept running to cool down. They gave me a cold, wet mini towel and I just wiped it on my as I trotted for another 5 minutes. I grabbed Ironsherpa to give her a big hug and kiss. I kept jogging for a few more minutes, then walked around with her to make sure no cramping. 2 dpepsi’s as ice packs helped. My finish time was 1:42, good enough for 5th overall, 1st Masters Division, and I won the Run Prime. All collectively a great test and the systems are looking very good for the next phase. We enjoyed the next hour unwinding, stretching, packed up, and watching others finish. I got to talk to many a friend about the event, news, etc. We sat on the grass and soaked up a brief sunshine. The rain was holding away.  It was fun. After the awards, we headed home as we both wanted some breakfast and java (though Papa John’s pizza was available at the finish, not really my kind of food at 11am).  The drive back was more rehashing events, planning, and just as we got 5 minutes away, it poured! And poured for another hour!! We made it home just in time and enjoyed some java and scones. Granted it was almost 1pm by the time that was done, but Gina was concerned about the weather most. Not much of a chance to nap, but we had some downtime before heading to church. We finished the evening with some pizza and yes  sangria!!!

Now its 4 weeks of just laser focus. Everything checked out ok, and on my Sunday easy ride, just took a body check and was nice to be out there with some quiet time. We have 2 of her sisters coming in next weekend, Christina and Susan, so that will be fun indeed to have some form of family finally visiting (the same 2 visited last year and have been the only visitors). Gina has the itineray planned for them, but more importanly a chance for us to connect a bit to. We already have Vegas planned and outlined. I have some items also in the works, but will slowly form them into a grand plan for after Worlds 70.3. Now just a patient, disciplined plan with the goal of executing it as perfectly as possible. A continued round of thanks to the following crew this month: AAA Carolinas, Polar, Start2Finish, Karhu, Artic Spray, PocketNaturals, Dunkin Donuts, and Gina’s X-Ray tech Christine Hamlett for making some serious skirt steaks every few weeks. Yum Yo!

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