Lent has been truly a blessing so far this year, and it’s only half done! The past 10 days I spent in Houston, though under the roof of a the loving Gasman family, working a ton at the Wellness center getting a feel for the job, training well, and getting an average of 6 hours sleep a night. The one constant that resonated with me is sacrifice. By that I mean how everyone I was interacting with was dealing with some type of giving up for the benefit of something else. And it wasn’t just because it was Lent. I personally felt, each time I laid down to try and sleep after each night, that I was there for a reason: helping, assisting, being helped, being cared for, etc. and knew deep inside, it was just possibly only temporary – not a definite. I talked to Gina daily, going over the aspects of the work, what I saw of the neighborhood, and after each call, with her voice in my head, trying to be in Charlotte and thinking of moving, suddenly it hit us in our last discussion. Even though the offers for us financially would have been ideal, and trust we would have worked well together at the wellness center, putting all the pieces together from my end in Houston and her end in Charlotte, for US it wasn’t a NEED.

Together we would have worked well with long hours to make the center something amazing, but it wasn’t to be? In my heart and mind, while training Wednesday morning on the bike, I was “told” to depart ASAP and not hesitate. In a whirlwind of a matter of hours, even after getting in that long bike trainer ride, I found myself packed, Black Widow 2 ready to be shipped, and in the airport on an afternoon flight back home to Charlotte. It was a rush of deep emotions, adrenaline, and sacrifice.
A truly reflective, emotional, spiritual 1.5 weeks (I had a few dreams of my dad while in Houston), and from a friendship standpoint certainly damaged, I can say I am content and pocketing this experience definitely in the heart. This wouldn’t be possible without Gina’s determination and doing what she was telling me to do, and I long await her embrace once I get home. Never leave your wingman(woman). I had to get to the airport, check in, and await a flight from Houston to Chicago, then back to CLT. I had time to think more, text, speak to my sister Anjie, and drink a lot of Dunkin Donut java.

Once In line for departing, a man handed me a coin that was a religious reference type of deal, with a great saying of trusting your faith. A token of things happening around me. I got in some reading, and once in Chicago, knew I was almost back home. There was a hint of a delay due to weather, but all stayed good and on time. The ironman bag I had from the 70.3 World Championships was a revealing identity on the connecting flight from Chicago (where it was snow/ 23 degrees). There was a track team from KC heading to a meet in NC and you get the usual triathlon questions. I gave advice and encouragement, without expressing much of myself accolades. Never do. Just give it to them straight up and humble. Once I landed – it was almost midnight with the hour time loss – but it was home. Hey, BIG TIME props to SOUTHWEST airlines. From the change in flights, to their boarding procedures and 2 bag check limit, awesome flying!!!!
With precision timing, I got my checked bag, and headed out to meet Gina in a drive-by type of pickup. Secured in the Xterra, we made our way home and in the door by 12:30. We had some ice cream and a small glass of champagne and called it a day, or a night. Rest assured that’s exactly what I did. Passed out and in deep rest. Both of us.

I used the next day to catch up on everything, but made sure to get in a morning workout on the ÜBE. Twice. I then unpacked, did laundry, sorted mail, and get the bearings again. Someone tell me why this daylight savings thing is still relevant, but I wasn’t complaining today. It helped to get some extra sleep.
I finished this final week with big hours, and actually had a few good leads on jobs going forward. We will be ok, just gotta stay with the plan. We attended Stations of the Cross at St. Patricks and I am glad we are doing this on Fridays (it’s Gina’s Lenten challenge). It has been a long time being a part of this, since my days as an altar boy and it was rewarding spiritually. With trusting faith, prayer, and God’s guidance, this is the path chosen for me.
I have now 2 weeks before we go to Florida for HITS Ironman Ocala, and though fit physically, it’s mentally I feel so strong and better prepared for the event from this experience. I am going into a 2 week taper plan and we have everything finalized regarding the details. Meetings still continue this upcoming week, then the mental taper reigns with a week to go.
Thanks again to my sponsors Wheaties and Polar, plus special thanks to deals with Picky Bars, PocketFuel, and InsideOut Sports (with the Black Widow traveling all over).
I hope each of you achieve the rewards that come with any sacrifice you have chosen during Lent. Embrace the journey!

Mark Carbone
TeamMC – www.markcarbone.com

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