MAY I?? WITH A TOMAHAWK TRI CHOP!

Finally starting to feel like summer! Early sunrises, humid mornings with dew points in the 60′s, sweat filled training sessions, and yes, pool swims! Granted the first few weeks I had to wear a full Blue Seventy suit, but now I am “down” to my sleeveless, old school short-john Promotion. It has indeed been an interesting month since my last post – but I often use the time in between for daily tweets – so if you have been following on Twitter, @teammc1 or Gina @ironsherpa1, you are in the loop.

I had my sister Anjie, and brother-in-law visit for 4 days and that was nice since I haven’t seen them in 2.5 years (since my Dad’s funeral) and it was the first time for them in Charlotte. It was a great weather weekend and for them, a chance to walk around/relax, get pampered, in shorts and t-shirts. Always fun to see the good sides of the family. Or at least the ones you still talk to. Gina loves to host and pulled out all the comforts of home for them.

We both have had some good talks the past few weeks pertaining to a lot and to many. I am still pursing fulltime work, and the supplemental part-time stuff is keeping me afloat on all fronts. Heck we saved almost $75 the last time we went food shopping at Harris Teeter! Seeing all the news about the economy, veterans getting dissed and others $$ off of it, the fast food minimum wage issues, just makes me hope for some change in “the news”. Someone got a pair of “sacks” or in a female sense some “chest” to just tell it like it is?  No one wants to hear it while they text and drive yo. Go figure. In the meantime, we scrape by, onward each day and continue to work and live. With smiles on our faces. We will be fine. Always have been.

How about a race no?

I decided to race the Tomahawk Tri for many reasons. It is a well organized event by Donny and Jen Forsyth’s crew at Start2Finish, with last years race being the inaugural one. Being part of Donny’s team Triple Threat, and his Charlotte Running Co. store in Ballantyne sponsors the race, with additional prizes by InsideOut Sports, it is also a way to represent as an athlete that also supports these businesses. It’s held in Cane Creek Park which is a long straight drive some 30 miles south, but offers a beautiful setting for a triathlon. A warm .6 mile lake swim, smooth roads (but hilly) for an 18 mile bike, and a challenging 5 mile trail run. Last year, the event was at the end of July, but this year it was on the 31st. Just so happens to be also Gina’s birthday!! I wanted to race well and win some prizes like last year, as the swag is also great, but I wanted to also do it for her.

The night before we got to celebrating early with some moscato and a mean spinach/strawberry/feta/dark chocolate balsamic salad with dinner. Word. We managed to get to sleep early and the weather looked perfect – overcast, 70-80′s – and the notice was the creek water was a balmy 83 degrees so no wetsuits. It’s been a full 2 months since Ironman Ocala, so this would be my first race and I was ready on all cylinders. My legs were a bit sore as I usually don’t taper for such an event, using the last month as testing making sure I didn’t burn out coming back too soon from the Ironman. I am part of a running study being done by the Exercise Science lab at Queens University. They are comparing VO2 Max values of Masters athletes (age 40+) to those 18-35 and seeing how 5K times vary based on running 40 miles a week. The study started 3 weeks ago as I tested at 60.5 (my Polar measured at 63), so I have added this variable to my weekly training. Certainly a difference in what I normally would be doing running wise at this time of year. Thanks to my 110% knickers! –  I did the usual 2 nights prior to a race of wearing them to sleep as precaution. In addition, I got the monthly treatment from Jessica at Sports Massage Therapy a week ago for a flush and some feedback on weak points. Golden. I was excited to get in a race again and fire away.

So we awake at 5am to some warm humid temps only to have it start pouring rain as we left. WTF weather people. I mean heavy at times to where Gina drives with concern and I think my mental game plan more like it was in Ocala. At least it was 70 degrees right? We got halfway there when it became just a light mist and hardly looked like it even rained much down in Waxhaw. Hilarious, but we’ll take it. Into the parking lot we go and it’s game face on. – with anticipation. It is a breeze to set up in transition and get everything checked. Music was playing a good list of songs, the crowd of about 150 racers was strolling in and the essence of race day smelt good. We met Donny, Jen, and the crew and also met Jeff Jones, a regular at the store who was doing his first tri. It was fun and a pleasure to get bombarded with his last minute questions. I mostly reassured him to have fun and that he’d be just fine. As long as it didn’t rain. Then he’d have to just be careful and really have fun. Also made sure to reassure his girlfriend Gisselle, but Gina gave her a brief Ironsherpa tutorial.

I was in the Elite category as the 10 or so of us were able to start ahead and in 15 second waves. I was 3rd in line and knew I may get passed by a few behind me who were very good swimmers. It’s a great start as you run down a ramp and into the bath water. I gave Gina a thumbs up, took 3 deep breaths, and RACE TIME!!
Into the rhythm I get. Smooth solid strokes, breath strong, clear the mind. Feel the water, catch sight lines, go. I only got passed once at the mid point and managed to stay on sight of him all the way into transition. A great warm up as I got the legs prepared to hit dry land. On second thought……….

Swim 1k: 19 minutes

As I exited the water, I saw Gina nearby and it was pouring!! She started to run with me a bit as it was a good 1/4 mile to the bikes. “It’s raining??” I said to her.  “Wouldn’t be a race without it!” She replied. Two races this year and BOTH in a pouring rain. At least it was warmer today and I didn’t feel cold at all. So into transition I go prepared for another wet one. Smooth in and out and I head out to the road. I board the Black Widow 2 and cautiously I ride off. I stayed upright as the roads were tough to gauge with puddles and a pelting rain hitting your face. The BW hums nicely but says “WTF another rainy race?” Steady, steady. I pass one woman who started first and she was wearing a helmet visor that was getting all wet. Out on the open road, I challenge myself NOT to get passed by anyone. The weather finally holds up and the rain stops around 10 miles of the bike. The volunteers and police held the intersections at the turns and were awesome as always. Made sure to issue a Thank You at each one. The roads got smoother, and caught a break from the good winds that hit us too. Now time to churn, churn. Keeping an eye on my Polar RC3 GPS, I had all my numbers as feedback. I was dialed in and enjoying being out there. The breathing I sound to issue a rate of calm all over. Focus, change gears, stand, stay loose. All channeled. Been there, done that. What rain? At mile 15 and with 3 to go, it was possible I wasn’t going to get passed. Make sure of it now. I roll into transition and get prepared for a possible hunt. I was quickly out of there in 30 seconds. No rain, but with a trail run, prepare to be muddied. I catch sight of Gina on my way out and she tells me I am in 4th.

Bike 18 miles: 53 minutes

It was humid and I can feel the sweat on me. Keep your eyes on the ground. The S2F crew does a great job spray painting the trail hazards. It certainly is different than the open roads. Cadence changes, speed fluctuations, and a heart rate at 160-170 means me ain’t got time to think about anything but what’s in front. And FAST.
It’s muddy indeed and an occasional slide of a foot plant can mean a twist with slide. I was trying to keep pace and wondering if 3rd place would come into view. There was a turnaround point where I could see that. I saw 1st and 2nd go by and with big gaps between them. I finally see third place dude and he had at least 2 minutes on me. No way. I’d have to run like Galen Rupp to catch that. But how close was anyone BEHIND me? I never turn around. Only because I don’t expect to be caught on the run. I get to the turn point, and Donny is there on his bike. Gave me a good fist bump and motivation. As I continued back I saw I had a HUGE tread on anyone behind me. As I get back into the woods, I jut my left plant foot and issue a pain in my hamstring down low. Wow! That was close. It was enough for me to really chop my cadence and now use my arms big time on the rolling, twisting climbs. I’m good. I’m good. Almost there. Now others runners hitting the course make for a crowded line of sight. No crashing, though tempting to just steamroll someone as I was screaming down a hill. I make my way along the edge trail to the finish. I hear the music, see the clock. Sprint finish bro!! I hit the clock in 1:45:59, and get under 31 minutes for the run! I place 4th overall, 1st ‘Masters!!

Run 5 miles: 30 minutes

I hug Gina at the finish and we walk a bit, jog a bit as I am now sore. I don’t care as I wanted a good placing and win for her on her birthday. Goal accomplished. And to beat the elements again! Awesome. I waited to loosen the leg up a bit more, got my heart rate down, pancaked some ice on my leg, and we took some selfies. One guy asked me how I stay fit and I pointed to my Wheaties hat. We cheered on other finishers, including Jeff Jones as he then showed me his blister (opted to run sock less after I told him it was a trail run and it rained). Think he’s hooked for sure! We talked to a few people, and saw AAA Carolinas team member Steve Trickle who won his age group, Theoden who won his, plus young newbies who represented the up and coming. The weather got sunny and warm, perfect for just taking your time. S2F has some great prizes big time at this event. Swag is fun and was added gifts to present back to Gina.
Full results are here: http://tomahawktri.racesonline.com/results

We then headed to brunch at Fox and Hound (gotta love the birthday club gift coupons!). We enjoyed a quiet leisurely recovery meal before heading home. Sore, sweaty, and tired, we both took a few hours to crash, before heading to church, and a cap off of dinner at Greek Isles. It was a pleasant, loving, long day to enjoy for her birthday. She’s my gift and any chance I have to celebrate her, I will. This weekend was ours to spend together. Take time. Step off. And then turn the calendar towards the second half of the year.

 

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