And with that, September is over. The days now are shorter – daylight post 7am, and the minor S.A.D. symptoms have appeared. The adjustment is easier now and handled with proper sleep, nutrition additions, and well, just suck-it-up-and-turn-the-lights-on action. We have had a nice taste of the chill weather of fall, only to be hampered recently with a slew of consecutive grey, rainy, but humid days (I describe the rain as more of a “snow”mist rain). Though the pool is cold and still open, I STILL get the wetsuit on and swim my laps. In fact, the past few weeks I think I have been the only one swimming in there. Since I have the BlueSeventy, it isn’t cold at all and even swam the past few days in the rain! Open till it’s locked yo. It’s been an unpredictable schedule with work  so Gina and I have been utilizing as much US time as we can. So when she recently was able to get a small grill and lawn chair for free from her co-worker, we promptly got some coals and grilled out on the patio the first day we could. That included roasting some huge marshmallows too! Old school nostalgia. And plenty of sangria too.

We both did IOS’s SouthEnd Shuffle 5K together as it raised money for melanoma and the light rail project. This year it was held at 6pm, so after we rode our bikes in the morning, I was at work all day, and Gina accumulated a full days of activity on her Polar M400 doing things at home – meaning we both showed up just looking to make it. AND it was now 85+ degrees. It was a nice turnout given the time switch, but we all we fought hard to get through this one. Gina was a trooper and was hurting, but she pushed through and we crossed the line in 45 minutes!! I was elated because given her running, knew she would be able to do around this time, but add the factors of the day to it, her time was awesome!!! All we wanted to do was go home, shower, relax, and have dinner. She then gets an email the results were ready and as she checked them realized she had WON her age group!!!! Yeah, granted she was the only one in her group, but still – she HAD to finish to win!!! And she did!! Just seeing her smile and joy at that moment erased any pain, sweat, and exhaustion she was going through up to that point. I loved seeing that. More wine please!! Salute!!

I had one final event for the year planned and that was the SetUp Events Cane Creek Sprint Tri in Waxhaw.  It was local, I knew I had the day off, and I wanted to race a final time to end my tri year. The race would be a great lead-in to get some forced “off” time, rest a bit, and wait for Advent to ring in the next phase. The weather was looking dreary, cold in fact, but we prepared as usual for all situations. We got up at 5am and prepared for the long drive all the way down Providence Rd. into Waxhaw. It was comfortable out, but misty mix of on/off rain. We drove through the dark on those non-lit roads and arrived with plenty of time to check-in, setup, and prepare. We’ve been here for S2F’s Tomahawk Tri race, but this event had a different swim course and run course. The sun was still shielded by the clouds but offered some light and a dry period as we made our way to the swim start. There were about 150 racers as the SetUp Events staff did a great job despite lack of volunteers who had cancelled due to the weather. I actually had some thought of doing the bike with the wetsuit on if it was any colder, but the humidity made the 65 degrees held things quiet mild and erased thoughts of that. Instead I used the day to sample a new lotion in addition to my Aquaphor to keep my skin temperature insulated and it worked very well. I planned to use it come winter, but this was a nice test to lather my arms/legs here. I was to be in the huge wave of Males 50 yr. old & under so where to line up for the swim was my initial strategy maneuver. I gave Gina a huge hug and 3 kisses and made my way to the water. She had to plan her way back to the swim exit/transition area as it was to be a fast swim. Mist was still present but no rain. I made my way to the far left and waist deep and wet my face 3 times in the warm 73 degree water. I took front row and plenty of quick breaths to prepare for a fast start. The race counted down 5-4-3-2-1-

Just churn yo. I immediately just swam hard and held it for a good 2-3 minutes cause I know what’s it’s like to get hit from behind by a mass wave of punks. No issue at all here as I had smooth sailing once I leveled off a glided along with each stroke. Easy sights of the buoys and no issue with anything. Warmed up and steady, I had one swimmer I eyed ahead of me and looked like no one ahead of him so I was good. Make it a good swim. I had the dock in sight, touched ground and pushed up. Out of water, time for a long jog to transition area. 750 Yard Swim – 10:57.

It was wet grassy run but was able to get the wetsuit mostly off and saw Gina in nice position as she gave a cheer/snapped photos/sherpa1-ing. Got everything set and rolled out onto the roads for the ride. I left transition with one other athlete and took to the wet roads with a nice cadence. Got the mind set and body checked, then geared up and pushed. I caught a few ahead, but had a few blow by me around 5 miles in. That was fine with me as I stayed in range and kept sight of at least one person in front of me. Cops did great job directing traffic at key turns and the roads were ok without any puddles. Nice route indeed as the wind had a decent blow in all directions and the mist was prevalent, but I was warm and comfortable – calculating my push, keeping good rhythm. Heart rate was solid and knew I was cranking, took sips every 4 miles. The Black Widow 2 rolled smooth and handled well. Position was great and one of the things that has really helped this season. Soon enough rolled back into transition. 14 mile ride – 40:56. (21+mph)

I didn’t bother with the shades with the rain and left run transition with another guy just in front of me. Gina said I was 6th or 7th and I quickly wanted to distance myself from this dude. I had a bet with my crew at VS about finishing in the top 5 too. I made sure he couldn’t hang and then made my way to the top female who had a 2 minute head start as she was in the first wave. It was humid and with an 2x out and back loop, I was able to see where I stood standings wise. I caught her just before the first turn and knew I had at least 5 to catch in front of me. BUT the loop back to the transition area was UPHILL. And a gradual one. I knew I could catch people because of this but I needed to hustle. Ain’t no 10K so no time. So once I made the final turn to do loop 2, I ran hard. I caught 2 more, and it was going to be real hard chasing down another going back uphill. I held form throughout and made the turn to the finish seeing one guy who was shuffling about 100 yards ahead of me. GET MOVING YO! I knew it was a slight downhill and I sprinted. He looked back but was not going to kick. I made the pass about 50 yards to go and had 5th in the bag!! I cross the line in 1:12 total, completing the 5K run in 18:50 (6:04 pace, fastest split). Overall 5th and I won my age group!!!


I hugged and kissed Gina and we took a cool down walk around the grassy field. WOW! That was fun! Weather lucked out and held to the misty rain/overcast as we did plenty of walking as per usual post-race to get clothes, stretch, get some goodies, stretch, and cheer on other athletes. Was about another hour before awards were handed out and every winner got a cool big duffel bag. By 10:30, we were heading out for breakfast and java in Waxhaw. We had eyed a coffee place called Java’s Brewing and it did NOT disappoint. We expected it to be crowed given the weather and time, but only 2 people were seated and it was an awesome display of homemade cakes, muffins, cookies, and plenty of java!!! They had a flat screen tv of the Pope’s coverage on the news and we comfortably got some large java and I had a XL oatmeal apricot tart and Gina scored her favorite – bagel with cc and lox! Awesome score. Before we left we had to chat with the owner, Joyce Zrihan, while racking up on brownies, a cake slice, etc. I think we even eyed our anniversary cake which we will celebrate in a few weeks! Yo. Mad good find.  Then it was off to Hobby Lobby as Gina got some yarn for her projects – which BTW, if you ever get to be one of the fortunate special few to own one of her homemade crocheted blankets, scarf, or a hand coozie (me) - get one her good list for Christmas yo!! Mad skillz she has.

By the time we got back home it was almost 2pm! We unpacked, cleaned up, she scored a nap, but we weren’t done! No, despite the still dreary weather, we went to Mass, then off to Maggiano’s for a nice dinner to just “wine” down. We walked a bit in the mall as we had an hour before our reservations, so we went into Bath& Body Works and left smelling like Pumpkin with 5 hand sanitizers. We people watched outside before we headed in and were seated upstairs in a quiet area of the place. Even though we tried a whole new slew of menu items, Maggiano’s did NOT disappoint!! We loved it. By the time we got home now, it was 10pm! Now for US – that was how we do a quality time day. Priceless.

So I get to now “play” a bit and test some things in this next “phase”. I give myself until Advent before preparing for 2016. By then, holidays will be in full swing (if not already in most stores), the weather will “chill” out, and will provide the blend of thanksgiving, silence, and anticipation for the end of year reflections. The lessons learned from this year, even with limited racing, were informative on all levels – training, nutrition, rest, time management, new Mental MC playlist, etc. Never stop learning. Think NOW.

Thanks to James Haycraft at IOS again for the continuous bike tips, Jessica at Sports Massage Therapy for the body maintenance, Clean Bottle for the awesome pre-holiday TEAMMC gifts, Polar, and Rita’s Ice for the hydrating Gelati. and all my ongoing sponsors to TEAMMC. For the next 7 weeks (work schedule permitting), I am helping coach Let Me Run ( at Dilworth Elementary – and our first session was fun and reminded me of why I coach. A group of 14 motley crue group of boys all over the map and with coaches Janelle and Brady, get to mold them into a team for their 5K event on Nov. 21. Just the observation of school dismissal was both impressive and a ”what the..? moment.

My next post will be mid-October as we have a big celebration coming up – our 5th wedding anniversary!!!! Stay tuned.

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