Mark Carbone http://www.markcarbone.com The Official Website of Mark Carbone Sun, 02 Sep 2018 20:12:22 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 SIZZLE SUMMER START http://www.markcarbone.com/2018/06/06/sizzle-summer-start/ http://www.markcarbone.com/2018/06/06/sizzle-summer-start/#comments Wed, 06 Jun 2018 14:58:02 +0000 MC http://www.markcarbone.com/?p=1581 What a hot start to June!!! With only a few weeks in May left since my last update, we had an increase in weather temperature to where it’s now consistently between 65-85 degrees. Gina’s triathlon race was coming up June 3rd, so we spent Memorial Day weekend getting in some good final training and with the unpredictability of the weather forecasting showers, made it a somewhat stay-cation. I did get started on 2 new books – Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith (behavioral psychology) and Wet Wall Tattoos by Richard Maschal (about the art of fresco painting specifically the one here at St. Peter’s).
Gina’s birthday was last week, but she held off on the celebrating until after her race. I got a request that week also from Kristina at Rita’s about racing in the King Tiger 5K  which was the day before her race. I figured why not since Ice Guy had a great time last year, plus the race organizer- Chris Elkins at Run For Your Life – advertised it on the race brochure. Thought it would also help Gina get her mind off the race and provide some levity to the weekend.
It was a sweaty week as a saturated humidity made every morning workout drenched. Overcast and afternoon rain showers each day because of it too. Gina was a little concerned about the weekend but by Friday after a final evening thunderstorm, the weather made for a clearer but hotter forecast. I was just concerned about getting in Ice Guy mode safely.

Woke up Saturday feeling good, great warm weather already close to 70. Made our way up to University to the race site to meet Kristina and her Dad at Rita’s at East Arbor. The store and race site are right there in the shopping center and Rita’s gives every racer a free small ice. You never realize how heavy and hot that Ice Guy is until you put everything on. I had to make sure I didn’t wear a shirt this time and need to look into some green dri-fit clothing to better streamline this dude. Regardless, Ice Guy got his bib number on and made his way to the start. I got some warm up routine in with a big F3 Nation contingent who apparently had a 4 man team aptly named Beat Ice Guy. It wasn’t until I got to the start that I realized how many other runners had a bulls-eye target on me. It was hilarious. “Going down Ice Guy!” “Gonna break 20?” “You ain’t beating me this year!” Too funny. I was seriously going to be thrilled if I broke 21 to be honest, and I saw that fellow Big Kahuna, Curly, was on the line. I didn’t reveal myself, but know he does around 21 and I can just hang with him. I hope. 3 deep breaths. Let’s ice.

I was very cautious the first half mile as you have to make sure you don’t trip over anyone. There were plenty of kids around and don’t want any accidents. Before the first mile I could see only out of my left side – and barely. I later realized the shoulder strap on that side became loose and unfastened causing the top to droop to that side. I  had to occasionally prop it up just to see. I did tag a fellow runner in a green shirt who kindly provided pacing for me. He said we were on 20 minute pace! I was burning up already and didn’t even see any mile markers. I didn’t care. I just tried to stay on this guys tail. But by the final mile, all uphill, I was starting to melt. Quick. I tried to manage everything and it didn’t help that I almost lost my balance a few times on the street neighborhood speed bumps. Just as I was about to crest the hill, Curly got by me and winds up beating me by 3 seconds. I couldn’t believe the clock said 21:10!! I immediately crossed the line and went hands on knees for a bit. Wow!! That was something – been a while since Ice Guy raced. But always fun.
Gassed but slowly regaining my breath, I got some water from Gina and then went over to Curly. I revealed my identity and he immediately said he didn’t feel so bad now knowing who was Ice Guy. I had a few guys high five me and I managed to be a bunch of the F3 group who were after me. Greaa group of guys and everyone was having fun. I hung around the finish line and spread some Rita’s happiness for the next hour, while Gina took photos and helped me hydrate. It was so much fun but in damage assessment I had serious soreness on my left leg/knee and sure felt more all over that afternoon. I did manage to come in 19th overall and 2nd in my age group! A pleasure being a part of the Rita’s family with the Fishers (side note: Kristina ran the NoDa 5K that evening and placed 2nd in her age group). That Horchata Misto afterwards for sure refueled me!

We made our way to complete our errands before making sure Gina had all her items ready for the race on Sunday. We did get to relax for some of the afternoon before heading to Mass. She was still showing signs of nervousness, but I knew what she was capable of and was more than prepared. For HER, seeing her nervous, to ME that was actually a good sign cause she usually does very well in that state. It was a quiet evening and early bedtime after a smoothie dinner.

Woke up sore and now felt DOMS in my other leg but heck, today I was a Sherpa! Took care of some things around house and loosened up a bit as Gina did her final prep and pack. Weather was clear and it was going to be warm, sunny, with no clouds on this day. We got her bike in the car and made the quick drive to the race playing Evanescence. Had plenty of time to park, get her timing chip, body marked, and set up her transition area. Smooth. She was ready. It was great to see the crowd of some 300 women take on such a challenge. Many of them first timers, but on the whole, just a fun grass root endeavor of these ladies becoming triathletes. The sun was now shining down and as 8:00 approached I gave her a final big hug and kissed and told her what she always tells me: “Come back in one piece!”  Since they line up inside the Y pool, I will not see her until she gets out. There were 2 other ladies I knew racing who are members of the YWCA: Barbara and Linda. Barb is experienced but Linda was a first timer and also had a hybrid bike like Gina. I now had a good 30-45 minutes to wait before they came out but since transition area and everything is all in one parking lot, just maneuvered and cheered on each racer as they exited the pool.

Barbara came out first as she was in faster wave. I only got a good photo of her in transition but she was fine in her whole race. Linda came out around 8:50 and mentioned that Gina was right behind her. Sure enough here comes Gina and she said she was fine as she jogged to her bike. It can get a little rattled in there but she took her time and safely made her way out onto the bike. She had a smile on her face and enjoyed her swim time. Now she was off for the 8 mile ride and with 2 loops I would see her each time. A prayer for safe riding on those roads. Within 19 minutes she came by and was moving nicely. I had a clear view as there weren’t many spectators on the sidewalks and got great photos, while updating her sisters on her race. And plenty of cheers. C’mon now just get this last loop in. Linda came by and was out on the run, and I knew Gina was right behind. Yes, like clockwork, her comes Gina in her bright red TeamMC shirt and yes! she finished the bike safely. She later said traffic was bad on the roads (there was an accident earlier in the race) and she played it right coming in just at 40 minutes. She made her way into T2 and came out on the run ready. It was hot now but I got to give her a kiss as she ran downhill under the shady streets for the 1 mile out and 1 mile back run course. Once again unimpeded from taking great photos and cheering up close. Linda came up the hill and gave her a high-five, welcoming her to becoming a triathlete. And then, there she was – coming up the hill in a great time – Gina in a bright big wattage smile, making the final turn to the finish. I cheered as much and as loud as I could.

 

WOW! So happy for her. She finished over 2 minutes faster than her last one 3 years ago and placed 10th out of 21st in her age group! An amazing effort!(side note: there was some weird issues on her time which originally went from 1:15 to 1:19) Heck, now was celebration time! A big sweaty hug, kiss, and the traditional pour of water over the head! So happy for her. And all of them who raced today. So inspiring knowing the time commitment each one has put into this day. We enjoyed the atmosphere for a little while, but Gina was hungry – yo, I mean she had been waiting for her splurge and that time was now. I drove back home as she hydrated and we talked about the race details. I just prayed a bit and thanked the many blessings that were bestowed on us and those around us this entire weekend. Amen. We got home, she took a quick shower and we had a great breakfast at the Charlotte Cafe at Park Road (in photo, the MM blueberry pancakes are mine). We then returned home and cleaned up a bit before crashing on the bed at 2:30 for a deep 90 minute nap. No I’m serious, like total deep, MChine shut down sleep. Both of us. And Holmes.

But the party didn’t end there. C’mon. We then ate an early dinner at Cantina 1511 with a few glasses of sangria of course. Topped it off with some cream cheese chocolate birthday cake and Fine Marsala wine (which was sweet enough to sip quickly and slap MC in the head quick). Ah, so good. We were done by 9:30 as it was Sunday and that means Monday was next. But hey, we both will be home from work early and plan to repeat the party at least another day! And rightfully so – she deserves a little break here as her effort and drive have been so inspiring, with which she now has instilled as habitual in her routine. A true sizzling start to summer.

 

 

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CALL ME – MAY, BE! http://www.markcarbone.com/2018/05/16/call-me-may-be/ http://www.markcarbone.com/2018/05/16/call-me-may-be/#comments Wed, 16 May 2018 16:21:11 +0000 MC http://www.markcarbone.com/?p=1568 Yes I think we are going to skip spring altogether and just jump into summer. The outdoor pool has opened and within a month what i thought would still be cold water has led me to be pleasantly surprised that a sleeveless wetsuit welcomed my first swim in mid May. Its been a tough few weeks of May simply from a schedule stand point as the juggling act with 2 part-time jobs continues trying to incorporate a consistent schedule, but added to that was also 3 Sundays of taking lifeguard courses. Yes, thanks to Jeff at the YWCA, he persuaded me to finally take the course since I’d be able to put in hours there in addition to the front desk. A few workers already do it, but he’s always in need of people when the younger guards are in school. It has been tough!! Maybe because I was 3x older than the average person in the class, and there were 17 of us, but also that final day was the Mother’s Day 5K which Gina and I had on the schedule.

After the first day which was basically hard testing and over 5 hours in the pool, I came home with cloudy eyes and chlorine scent that took a few days to get out (and I also was so glad the sessions were a week apart!). There was tons of information to incorporate and I found myself using several hours during the week to practice the motions of the drills, read up on the courses (side note there was also over 2 hours of online coursework), and then performing it during 6 hours sessions on Sundays. I would come home and just feel like this:

Big time props to the teachers Brandon, Leslie, and Jody for using their Sundays to teach us. There were some characters in our class which helped with the fun in the atmosphere of learning and we all worked together to make passing happen. One interesting takeaway was how you can go with the rhythm of the beat to Carly Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” song to chest compression in CPR. Serious. No joke. But it all added up to that final day…..

Gina and I have been continuing with training – that hasn’t changed – and her triathlon on June 3rd is coming. She’s been doing great in all aspects and she’s been able to get in the pool at the YWCA for a few sessions. With the warmer weather, we’ve stared riding a bit at 5am mixing it up with our usual runs. With the 5K, which we’ve done 3 out of the 4 years, is run in memory of our mothers. It’s a special morning for us, and I admit, it gives me a sense of loss every time I see a kid firmly grasp and hug their mom – heck even adults who are fortunate to still be able to. I never experienced that. Only vague 2-3 memories of it to be precise. Why I keep a photo of one by my bed. TeamMC force. Gina lost her mom a few years ago, which is why we both race. Indeed, our way of wishing a Happy Mother’s Day.

The morning was humid, in the 70′s, sunny – how I like it BUT and I admit, had my focus on not only having a good race, but conservative enough not to be all exhausted since I had the final lifeguard testing a few hours afterwards. Nice crowd, we had plenty of time since it was just in South Park, and even met up with Dan, Britt and their kids which is where we see them once a year as they also have made the race a tradition. We lined up and gave each other a kiss and short prayer in the Moms memory, then lined up. I was just 20-30 feet back from the start and Gina stayed in back. with it being a tough, rolling hills course, she wanted to make sure she too paced herself right. 3 deep breaths, and I’m ready to go.

Boom and like that of a 5K: 0-10.5 mph in 30 seconds. Everyone thinned out and I had 2 bucks hang on my tail while I focused on trying to easily reel in 2 other guys who really shot out of a cannon. I didn’t keep splits of my miles as I wore my Polar V800 but after seeing those splits later we were like in 5:40 range. We did indeed catch them both within 1.5 miles and now it was me staring at the back of the lead SUV while hearing both these guys latched on like a Masterlock. Everything felt good, but hitting mile 2 at same rate, and now having just 1 guy latched on, I knew I was at max effort and wasn’t going to go any faster. As we hit the final 1/2 mile, dudes says “enjoy the ride I’m backing off.” yet, problem was – he wasn’t and I’m trying not to laugh cause of that punk comment. Really? I knew what was next – last 100 meters he blows by and wins. I get it, all good, and he probably thought I was a young punk (he was in 35-39 age group so he was indeed the buck) teaching me a lesson. Hahahahahaha but that is exactly what I enjoyed afterwards as I made the turn after congratulating him and heading over to catch up to G – Dan said to me he saw he immediately vomited. Gets better – he almost LOST the race as he beat me by a mere less than a second since I started a few meters behind him!! We both had the same time 18:16!!! Awesome. Great racing.

Jogging back to meet Gina, after just a half mile, BAM BAM! Both my quads just erupt. I mean like serious spasm, cramp, soreness. Could barely walk. The course and effort level maxed these puppies out. Holy &%$# how the heck was I gonna swim test by noon?? As I managed to continue hobbling along cheering everyone on I finally met up with Gina who was moving nicely. Heck, I could barely match her jog pace the way my legs were. I was able to go with her less than a mile but she was almost done. I cut across Barclay Downs to get to the finish and saw she was close to 40 minutes. Here she comes running towards the finish and gets in at 40:30 CLOCK TIME. I knew she started in the way back, so her chip just might have gave her a sub 40 which would be a huge accomplishment on this course. Note: 2 years ago she did this in 45 minutes!

As we both recovered and laughed about our morning so far, sure enough as we checked the official scores – she did break it by 1 second!!! Hilarious – I lose by a second she wins by one! Man, I was so proud of her!!! We got to chat a bit with Dan and Britt before they headed off and we waited for the award ceremony. There was a Beerfest and BBQ the night before because a tent was still set up with the flyers and tables, etc. all near the race. On one of the tables was still UNOPENED cases of beer, soda, and liquor! Serious. No joke. In fact we walked away with a case of Diet Coke, Bundaberg Ginger beer, and Bravazzi Hard soda. Serious. No joke. Cheers!!!

So the next 2.5 hours was all BioFreeze, massage, and just getting as much range of motion as I could into my hips and quads. It was bad. I didn’t even take my Aquaphor tights off. Thankfully the first hour of the session was the written testing and gave me extra time. At least I was in the water too right? Well after 3 more hours of drills and testing in the pool, it felt good to take those tights off and sit in the 90 degree sun afterwards for Gina to pick me up. I got home and hydrated, spent the next 2 hours on the massage bed while finishing Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life book. I tried a nap, but man the shred within was too much for me to sleep. Gina cranked out the garden and now everything is blooming and the tomato, basil, and lettuce are also coming up! I did drink a hard soda with dinner though as we toasted our Mom’s and a successful end to the weekend! We were both exhausted. Only 2nd week of May? Call us, maybe we’ll answer.

Here are Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules to Life – of course added to TeamMC self-actualiztion process:

Back Straight Upright

Take Care of Yourself

Have friends who want the best for you

Comparison to who YOU were yesterday – NOT who someone else is today

Don’t let your children do anything that makes you dislike them

Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world

Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient

Tell the truth, or at least don’t lie

Assume the person you are listening to might know something you don’t

Be precise in your speech

Don’t interrupt your kids on skateboards

Pet a cat (dog) when you encounter one on the street

 

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SPRINGING WITH APRIL http://www.markcarbone.com/2018/04/26/springing-with-april/ http://www.markcarbone.com/2018/04/26/springing-with-april/#comments Fri, 27 Apr 2018 01:41:46 +0000 MC http://www.markcarbone.com/?p=1547 Spring??? Could have fooled us rightfully so on April 1st! With this weather? Think we are about to skip a season altogether. Fortunately, we started April off with a needed trip away to Tampa. My friend Corey Johnson was getting married and invited us last year when it was planned. We booked everything back in February and with another gloomy weekend planned here, we actually savored the idea of getting away where the weather was going to be 70-85 each day. I personally was grateful to be able to share such a life event with a good friend. Why? Well let’s just say Corey was dealt a strong hand against him 1.5 years ago and took a risk to move to Tampa and move in with his then girlfriend Danielle. They both have been able to build a nice life together and he sealed the deal by “putting a ring on it”. Much respect for him. It gave me a reminder of how Gina and I had been when we decided to pack up everything we had and move to Charlotte. Grit. Love. Happiness. Not so much WHAT you have as WHO you have. Special to witness.

 

 

We were fortunate enough to be able to walk everywhere we needed to that weekend. Morning jogs along the Riverwalk, cool off at water parks, great brunches and dinners (BBQ and NY pizza!) within blocks of us, the wedding and reception itself was beautiful, participating at Mass in an amazing historic church at Sacred Heart, historic Plant Hotel, oh and the cookie dough desserts and wine!!! Certainly, a brief respite from what we had in our day-day lives the past few months. Even got a dent in my reading of Jordan Peterson’s book – 12 Rules For Life. BEING.

Then a week later…..45 years! Yes, got to celebrate my birthday by being able to complete 2 of the usual birthday workouts (45 mile bike/45 minute run/45 lap swim) the week before and week of my birthday! Took advantage of the semi-brief warm weather we had and it was good and of course reflective. Gina had a weekend packed itinerary for us and it started after a long workday on Friday. Came home and we made leftover Easter ham-potato hash! We drank 2 glasses of wine Moscato and man, I almost didn’t make it to cake! Oh, but I’m glad I did as she came out with this………

Man, this took me a week to finish!!

Then Saturday we got to do our “brick” and breakfast before I had to go to work at the YWCA. She picked me up after that and we went to Mass, then right to Maggiano’s for dinner. Surrounded by prom kids looking I guess to grab dinner before their prom, we were seated at a nice table in full view of all going on. It was typical busy but our waiter William, a fellow Long Islander, was so on the ball and presented us with great service despite the usual chaos. We had sangria of course, but this had a touch of ginger beer which I certainly will try and replicate. We had a great dinner and to top it off – William was able to combine our coupons and gift cards where we had the meal for free!!! No joke. Nicely tipped afterwards of course. Salute!

We then made a break at some more cake before getting enough sleep ready for the final day of celebrating. Sunday was same – brick, breakfast, and then baseball game at 2pm. The Knights were playing the Yankee farm team Scranton, but with a huge storm predicted for the afternoon, we didn’t know how much of the game would be played. The crowd was minimal but we managed to have great field level seats, BUT in front of a row of 10 old guy Yankee fans behind us. Gina, a Mets fan, was laughing. Of all seats! These guys were funny too. Every inning people’s phones would siren the weather alert about a tornado warning. No one seemed to mind. No announcements either over the PA at the game. We made it through 4 innings before it was like right above us. The thunderstorm was imminent and once it started raining, we donned our rain gear and headed out. That was our plan. We were happy to get even half a game in. We rushed to the car as it now was getting very gusty and heavy rain. We cautiously made our way home in 10 minutes and were grateful to get in the door safely. BUT….. no power. This is usual (and becoming too frequent for us) in our small complex for a storm to cut power. We figured it would only be a few hours so we took out all our emergency power lights and supplies and made sure fridge wasn’t opened (and for sure cause we had 4 quarts of RITA’S and 5 quarts of Turkey Hill ice cream in there!!!) we had plenty of daylight still and just settled in for a nice quiet remainder to the afternoon. We decided to cook leftovers since we had gas stove working. Once the sun went down we realized that no movement was happening about the power. Damn. Of all times to end the weekend we had on this note?? We went to bed early after a candlelight dinner and hoped for the best, because we were near point of having to possibly dump the fridge. Just an added reason to seek out new places too.

We got up usual time and nothing. We did our training and saw that everyone else in hood had power but our complex. This frustrated us even more, but nothing will tick Gina off more than not being able to blow dry her hair in the morning after showering (trust, even in a hotel, make sure it has one). Look out. She opted to just take everything with her and go to work early. No sooner did I secure for a dollar an 8 lb. bag of ice from BK on the corner and shove it in the freezer as our last ditch effort to save everything did the power come back on – at 10am!! Too close to call. Wow. Amen. (I did then get to catch an hour of the Boston Marathon and have to admit – reminded me of my final Boston in the 2007 Nor’easter and big time props to all those finishing this one!)

So even though April was a flurry of stuff with wet gloomy, cold weather to go with it, we hope May brings some sort of blossoming to us. We continue on and enjoy what begins to be truly extended daylight to our days. The Easter season had done us well. We spread that light in everything we do each day. Examine it daily before dark. Renew it again. Happy Birthday MC, another year older, and ever wiser. Yo.

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RISE and SHINE! http://www.markcarbone.com/2018/03/25/rise-and-shine/ http://www.markcarbone.com/2018/03/25/rise-and-shine/#comments Mon, 26 Mar 2018 00:03:32 +0000 MC http://www.markcarbone.com/?p=1525 Lent is coming to an end and the preparation within during these 40 days have indeed led to a resurrection. A more intense humility, grace, prayer, sacrifice, and mercy. Cleanse the soul as well as the palate for sustaining on more than just bread. Darkness still prevails in the 4:30 mornings, but slightly extended now to finish it off by 9:30 bedtime. The first week is difficult establishing this new routine (like attending Stations every Friday evening) but is finely tuned each week thereafter to a slight form of mastery after the 40. Life everlasting to its core. And peaked in time for Easter.

I had the opportunity to enter the Run For The Ridge 5K on the whim of a chance idea between myself and good friend Brad Mintz. His son Gabe, only 10, loves to run and play basketball and did this race last year, narrowly missing a win in his age group. He planned to race and I offered to pace him, but prescheduled Bball games left the idea of him running an option.  I found out during the week that they had a promotion for a free entry if you had won a race in 2017. I submitted my results from the Isabella Santos 10K from September and was accepted. The plan now was for me to actually race, Gina was going to do a 3 mile tempo, and Brad said Gabe and his daughter Darby were going to just run at their effort. The race benefits Marvin Ridge HS/MS and is a great community effort type of event. Gina and I went about a normal week schedule since we cemented this idea the Thursday before the Saturday race. We drank smoothies and had Cherrios for dinner those 2 days leading up.

Up early around 5:30, head down to Waxhaw and get there by 7.  Weather was cold at around 40, but the rain forecast seemed to be way off and not an issue. An amazing school facility and fields to boot. Gina and I both were able to relax and use the heated field house bathrooms. Yes heated. We checked in and stayed warm in the car till 7:30 when now, a few hundred people gathered and Brad got there also with his kids, soon to be joined by his wife Danielle (D1). The school colors were orange and blue, so I wore the most orange I could find in my race kits. But I had to don the new TeamMC visor that the crew at 1st Choice Activewear. It was a little chilly as we all stripped down to our race gear and waited for the 8:00 start. Good crowd and mostly youth and families from the neighborhood. One of those races too where there is a 1:1 ratio of volunteers to racers. We all lined up and prepared to start. Gave a kiss to Gina and high fives Brad and D1. The race director then shared the mike to a student, together with her family, recalled the loss of her brother at the age of 14 to suicide. It was emotional and collectively warmed the hearts of all towards this family. Added inspiration to race even harder. Then a group of kids sang the national anthem. Gabe and I lined up right up front. Activated the Polar RC3GPS. Took 3 deep breaths. Ready.

The horn sounded and I went 0-10mph in about 15 seconds. The rush of a few kids who darted ahead quickly dropped and soon it was open road behind 2 lead cyclists. I was in the lead after a half mile and immediately just tried to heat the engine which settling into a nice pace to do so. But I had one kid who seemed to glide right past me before we even got to the first mile and put a good 25-50 yards on me. I figured he was a stud and was out for a joyride given the way he went past me, but when we passed the first mile in 6:01, I knew if was just me and him and he wasn’t gaining any ground. A few fans chanted his name, Liam, and turns out he was Gabe’s run coach who went to Marvin Ridge HS. I just eased in and felt warm now just before the turnaround. This was unique in that you went across and around a family’s driveway, of which there was a designated water stop too. Awesome setup.

Once we hit that, I felt the slope of the road now trending downhill. Slight but a little tailwind helped silence everything, allowing me to dial in, and focus intently on what Liam was doing.

Being an out and back route, I had Gina on the other side as I passed at mile 2 in 5:51.

She shouted out to me “you got this!” Which led me to believe she saw something in his face. Sure enough as I started to piston the arms, he got closer. And closer. Reeling him in. Everything was clicking now. Knowing full well we were now all downhill to the finish, I let it rip. I was now on his shoulder and didn’t even bother to size him up. I just screamed forward and kept the pressure. Now I had the 2 cyclist in view and used them as guides to just not let up. For the next half mile, it was just me and knew I had it and now was just going for time. As I made the last left where you enter the track, I thanked the cyclists and sprinted the remaining 100m to the finish. Last mile in 5:28, and an overall time of 18:14!!! Awesome racing!! I saluted the crowd and did a quick Facebook live interview before hugging Brad and D1 in celebration. Liam finished some 30 seconds behind and the first female was in 3rd, herself a young HS runner!!

I quickly however turned around and went back in jog/cool down mode but mainly to see Gabe heading towards the finish and then continuing on to meet up with Gina. I cheered everyone as I made my way back. Gina was hitting great paces. We finished the last mile together as she herself cracked a 39 minute time trial! We met up with everyone and learned Gabe established a PB in 21:30, placing second in his age group! Darby who is mainly a track runner, raced a respectable 35:00 while running with her friend. Good times indeed all around!

We were able to gather some serious goodies thanks to the enormous vendor support available post race. Add to that the prizes and raffles to boot. By 9:30, we were heading to the cars as they had the Bball games to get to and we were warming for some Java. No rain, overcast, but plenty of sun shining faces all around. But it helps when you have such dreary weather all day and the MChine needs to shut it down for a 20 min nap in the afternoon.

Side notes: we got an air fryer as a gift and have been cooking everything we can in it. Burgers, fries, egg sandwiches, fish, etc. Serious tool yo. Most recent are Gina’s awesome two ingredient bagels!!! Serious fuel yo. Also have to give a shout out to the Texas Tech Red Raiders BBall team for getting to the Elite 8. Awesome fun to wear the gear while watching, even wearing it to bed when I couldn’t stay up for that 10:30pm game Friday. Guns up yo!!!

So now let’s take our palms and journey into Easter week. Take what was Lent and Rise up yo.

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2018 – LENT A HAND http://www.markcarbone.com/2018/02/11/2018-lent-a-hand/ http://www.markcarbone.com/2018/02/11/2018-lent-a-hand/#comments Sun, 11 Feb 2018 20:32:26 +0000 MC http://www.markcarbone.com/?p=1497 2018 has gotten off to an interesting start. I purposely avoided the monthly journal for January and I ended my entries on @teammc1 for Twitter. I wanted to reduce the amount of time on the computer as possible, as I developed the habit of praying more, meditating, and focusing on my Essentialism habits. The book by Greg McKeown is a great resource and has helped reinforce the Self-Actualization within MC.  Together with the spiritual aspects of prayer, a powerful punch to help slap on silly.  Now with Lent approaching, this should be a great next 40 days.

The past 8 weeks also have been involved in great training with Gina as she prepared for her sub-40 minute race attempt at the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K. We’ve been out there twice a day in the freezing mornings and colder evenings, and then on the weekend morning of the same weather. The 4:30am wake ups with sometimes 8:30pm bedtimes, the 2-3 nights a week of smoothie dinners, disciplined routines, and determination have been so inspiring to join her in, I didn’t care that I wasn’t as prepared myself for the 15K. You know what though – I could have cared less what I did, the goal was for her to smash her goal. I was determined to help her nail it.

The last 2 weekends we did recon runs on the course. Detailed her every race move.  She did the first trail in 43 minutes, then last week in 21 degree weather all bundled up she hit 41 min.  I knew then she was ready, and we just had to make sure her race week schedule was spot on and not taxing anything extra. The weather was actually looking to be so warm – and by that I mean 50′s and a chance of rain – but that was a good thing! She hit her training sessions for the week and we enjoyed a sunny day in the 60′s that Friday getting our packets and hitting some errands. The plan was set. Now we execute. (trust MC was making sure he was dialed in too with several sessions of his own that week).

Woke up race morning to the sound of rain but nothing heavy. Since we were only 5 minutes away, we got up at 5 and took our time getting ready. Gina did her thing, I prepped my gear, lubed up with Aquaphor, strapped the Polar V800, and got myself in race mode. With temps just at 50 degrees and humid, the rain was light and misty by the time Chrissy Hamlett and Liz showed up – 2 of Gina’s coworkers who wanted in on a 5K attempt of their own. We all drove down together and parked within a half mile of the start. Plenty of time and got a good walk in to warm up. A good crowd as this Hot Chocolate race series is nationwide and here, a fundraising arm of the Make A Wish foundation which we donated to. Probably several hundred in each race as the weather probably deterred some. But it wasn’t bad at all and having such warmth after so many sub freezing days made this shorts worthy.

I gave Gina her final pep talk and kiss as her race started 20 minutes before mine. They all were able to line up close to the start and not get caught up in any huge crowd. Plenty of space at the line. She knew her plan and I just kept her in mind and heart as the horn sounded and they were off. I’d have to wait till I was done to know what happened.

Now I had time to loosen up and get my game on. I had preferred spot up front based on seeding. I was pleased to see Megan Hovis and Bill Shires at the start. I didn’t see any other women in our area so I figured she would have no comp winning this thing. Some young studs were around us including one Mike, a fellow racer at my last Ironman 3 years ago in Ocala, Florida! Haven’t seen him since that race and the iron-y to see him at a start line of a 15K! I told him we’d talk more at the finish. Just focus and get set bro. Game time. 3 deep breaths.

Wanna tap into the MC Mind during a race? Here’s a sample if you can last and feel it - https://youtu.be/SFdN3syFxeY

Sure enough about 7 young guns (including Mike) fire out with a bang. The first mile is uphill so I tuck in behind Bill and plan on using the first 5K to immerse in race strategy. Bill was holding a good pace at 6:10 and just before the 2nd mile, the only hilarious memorable moment of the race happened. We caught one of the young guns. This guy was about Kevin Hart like, powerful sprinter like stride gliding along when he decided to take off his shirt. Kid was ripped like a football player. The best part was he decided to then whip out his phone and plug in headphones. Now he’s rapping out loud. I don’t know if Bill heard me laugh behind him, but I think he knew too it was time to pass this guy NOW.

We did and from there we were able to catch another youngster by mile 4.  Then it was just me and Bill. We couldn’t see anyone else in front and knew no one was going to catch us. Clipping 6:10′s steady just like the rain, we just ran together. Ran the tangents, and I was able to really gauge the body checks closely. I made a deal that by mile 8, if we were still together, I was going to blast. This guy runs probably 3x more than me so I know he can kick – but then again, I’m a triathlete and do a hell of a lot more swimming and biking hahahhahha. I wanted to make sure we tackled all the hills and there were plenty until that last mile. Big ones. I was able to make a few moves close to him on each hill and assess the situation and knew a hill was where that move would come. Mile 8. We were still on all 6:10 pace.

Then as we finally came to the marker, I felt it. The grace and spirit that said GO. NOW. 

And I did. I pushed up a slight hill then didn’t stop. I hit 5:45 pace and took it the remaining 1.3 miles. All in. 170+ BPM. Screaming down the final hill, I heard the announce call the 5th place finishers name and knew I was there. Crossing the line in 58:00 and 6th overall!! The youngsters in front all were under 31 years old so I made it as first Masters and won my age group!! Bill was only 25 seconds behind me and we represented the older guard well. Gave him a fist bump and thank you for the ride  and company.

I saw Gina right there asking her how she did and as she hug me she told me the news – she did 39:23!!!!! She placed better than half her age group too - 20th out of 56! Holy Sh!$. We both hugged hard and held on for a main squeeze!! Wins all around and rained tears of joy! Chris and Liz did awesome too! We all walked in the continued mist and relished the hot cocoa treats and bowls that were given out. Awesome awesome simply awesome. This was gonna be a long fun day.

 

I talked to Mike a bit who had a solid run for 4th and caught up as much as you can in the weather and after 3 years. We all then decided to head back as we had a good walk still back to the car and didn’t want it to stay in the rain. Once Chris and Liz gathered everything and headed out, Gina and I stretched, iced while making Java and pancakes and just tried to get warm again. We rehashed events and were able to see results and photos of the race that afternoon. Great work by the race committee on that end. She was able to crash and take a nap, before we attended her friends’ son Eagle Scout ceremony, and then to a celebratory burger and fries at Burger 21 – her “award” she was promised once her goal was attained. We then were able to have the after party at home with sangria and cheesecake. Oh my.  Yes, the hard work pays off. An immense blessing all around and I made sure to note that in my Daily Examen that night. Was an early bedtime indeed as Gina’s sangria hits hard around 20 minutes AFTER you stop. Amen.

We will feel out all our DOMS Sunday and then proceed to the next goal of hers, but now we will see more biking in the mix with better weather hopefully. With Lent this week, on Valentine’s nonetheless, we will embark on a 40 day journey to Easter filled with grace and abundant giving in mind – never a giving up.

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ADVENT – BORN ANEW http://www.markcarbone.com/2017/12/20/advent-born-anew/ http://www.markcarbone.com/2017/12/20/advent-born-anew/#comments Wed, 20 Dec 2017 20:34:47 +0000 MC http://www.markcarbone.com/?p=1485 Gina made sure I had a sun clock this winter because I always have a mild case of SAD in November/December. We finally got a good patch of cold weather come through and even some snow sprinkles to really make it difficult to consistently get up at 4:30am each morning (it’s not a problem for us to be in bed by 9pm). But that sun clock sure makes a difference as prior experience using one was back when I lived alone in my first apartment in Queens.  Gina now is up to a steady two-a-day walk/jogs of 2-2.5 miles each session!! On the weekends since its too cold for our bike riding, she puts in one long session in the mornings. She’s doing amazing and I’m happy to be with her everyday churning along. She’s hit her goal already but now it’s on to the next one for January. Oh, and her Salted Caramel Apple Sangria is pure genius. I’ve been able to amass 71+ miles of swimming from October-December 31st in a contest at the YWCA Charlotte where you swim the length of Lake Norman (34 miles so yes, I did it 2x!) I did thrash my BlueSeventy wetsuit in the process which needed to be tossed anyway, and now is a ripped “holey” mess. That was a fun challenge and I thank Cynthia, Jeff, and Jody for hosting such an event, but mind numbing-altering-strengthening too. Now we get to take a much needed trip away to Long Island to see Gina’s Dad and I get to visit my parents at St. Charles cemetery nearby for a nice little spiritual blessing. For Christmas time on LI means also a time to run on powerful 25A, sit by the fire doing crosswords with 96 yr. old Arthur, and enjoy the warmth of family, good cooking, and fun with Gina’s sisters and their families.

This Advent has been a real awakening from years past. I now find the time to put in 3-4 good prayer sessions during the day to help reflect on the things around me, the people, and the memories of 2017. I enjoy nothing more than to sit by the tree, listening to Christmas music, the YouTube yule log station, and maybe a cup of hot cider/wine wassail drink and reminisce. And pray a little more. Its been challenging trying to steady the emotions, wondering the why? in questioning behaviors of others, even family to the point of disgust. Yes, the evil darkness of the world creeping in at any instance in every form, but extinguishing it with any form of light you can muster without being exasperated yourself. Reboot, recharge, renew, reborn to live another day.  One song in the mental MC iPod that has been a good reflection during this time (and many others hat innervate well while training) is by one of my favorite bands – Breaking Benjamin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kb7zhunYGik

Merry Christmas. Get L.I.T. yo

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GIVE, THANK YOU http://www.markcarbone.com/2017/11/12/give-thank-you/ http://www.markcarbone.com/2017/11/12/give-thank-you/#comments Sun, 12 Nov 2017 16:18:32 +0000 MC http://www.markcarbone.com/?p=1470 These next 2 months I usually chalk up to my favorite time of year. For me, it’s a time more emphasized in retreat to silence. in that silence, to best work on my reflection, retrospectives on things done, yet to be done, a time to give what I can, and to listen.  For while most rush to forced festivities, those must have gifts to buy, hustle to decorate the house, yard, whatever you can string lights on, and stress themselves out, at its core the holiday season gets overlooked and bombarded with fluff. The trees here have started to color nicely and shed their coats despite the mild temperatures. You can almost hear the Christmas music waiting to infiltrate every store you walk into. But what do you feel? The shortened days mean darkness threatens to take over the light. Be prepared. Be alert. Burn.

Gina and I have been able to do a few races locally and she’s really been getting into great shape. It’s been fun to work with her on her program and the effort she puts in daily is inspiring. Even if each days seems to begin at 4:30AM . We recently did the NCMedAssist Pancakes and Beer 5K where she rocked a 43 minute race on a tough course. It was a 1200 runner turnout and amazing fundraiser for a great organization. I was able to race a 17:44 and a 2nd Place overall finish. I have been working on efficiency in every aspects of my swim/bike/run and felt it translate well in how I moved in this race. Good to have the “mind” race again too. Coming along nicely as I enter a new age group next year! Together we enjoyed the efforts of some hard training and honestly nothing beats being able to see Gina in a forced “shutdown” while resting comfortably with an afternoon nap. We hope to participate in a few more events before Christmas. Or just make another visit to the Windy Hill Orchard too. Burning bright.

 

Read, read some more. I just finished GRIT by Angela Duckworth and yet another great “memo” to brain/self to implement into daily living. Always change. Always adjust. Power. Passion. Perseverance. Great 10 videos about the Sacraments on FORMED keep me motivated after reading Cultivating Virtue book. Yeah, it can be fun to watch some sports on TV, but honestly I’d truly rather listen to the radio. There is still much to be avoided in the world out there that shielding yourself with “armour” in mind,body, and spirit is the only way to protect yourself from it. Find your why. Don’t give IN, don’t give UP, but do GIVE. In this season of the holidays, starting now with Thanksgiving, I “fall back” with this time change and shore up my defenses to brighten the shortening of my days. Never run out of the oil to burn it with. I’m surrounded by what I need to fuel my arsenal, and present the challenges to it with open arms in what I can handle. This indeed is what the time of year brings forth in me. See clearly.

Thanks-Give-in-G.

 

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#7- SO LUCKY http://www.markcarbone.com/2017/10/18/7-so-lucky/ http://www.markcarbone.com/2017/10/18/7-so-lucky/#comments Wed, 18 Oct 2017 20:15:19 +0000 MC http://www.markcarbone.com/?p=1456 Gina and I finally were able to piece together our first trip away together this year with a weekend in Asheville. Though we quickly planned this a week prior, we had a set plan in place that would make it seem like a whirlwind of activity in a small window of time (Friday-Sunday morning), but it winds up being just the relaxing getaway we needed (and helped that we sandwiched it with a Sunday-Monday staycation). This was planned to be our tie in to our 7th wedding anniversary and we aimed to simply celebrate together and how we do it best – on a road trip!

Though we attempted to get in a very early bike ride on Friday morning before leaving, we did so but in a misty-drizzle rain that was unexpected. We were tough on getting that done, but it took a while for us to at least regroup and prep to be on the road by 9am. The rain cleared and left us with overcast the rest of the day, but the temperature stayed warm – 70-85 degrees the entire weekend! Amazing weather even for Asheville. Before we got to the city, we made a stop to visit Sierra Nevada Brewery. A scenic tourist attraction for us, but for locals, seems to be a hot spot for lunch and early dinner with of course – beer. Now we both aren’t beer drinkers (heck I can only drink the low alcohol root beers and ciders, etc.) but that didn’t stop us for at least trying a few. Since we hadn’t even eaten yet, we opted to have brunch there. WOW. We polished off a burger, duck fat fries, and soba noodle salad with each of us getting the 4 sampler 2 oz. glasses. Never did that one before! Awesome though. By the time we left around 12:30, the place was packed. We came away with a few big beer glasses and 2 beers we liked as souvenirs.

We tried to check into the hotel early but had to wait until 3, so we decided to tour downtown Asheville earlier. We found what would be our $5 parking lot, walked a ton to get our bearings, and picked out a few possible dinner options for the evening. Its similar to “uptown” Charlotte, but with smaller roads and more of that artsy, locally owned business feel like Portland, Oregon and Austin. You can encounter the wealthy, poor, college aged, and vagabond folks all meshing together in around a few square miles. We got back to the hotel where we basically just relaxed a few hours before getting ready for dinner. Since we hadn’t eaten since noon, we made our way early to Carmel’s which was in the Grove Arcade section of downtown. We had an awesome meal and when the waitress said tonight was $5 sangrias – boom, forget it we knew it was gonna be a “good night”. We polished off 2 of those EACH and by 7:30 the whole area bustles with weekend nightlife activities. We shopped a bit and watched a drum-off in the local park. Once we got back it didn’t take long for us to be lights out tired and in bed by 9pm.

Oh and what a sleep we had. Since daylight comes up around 7:30, we did indeed “sleep in”. We ventured for a nice 2.5 mile walk and Gina got to feel what its like to exercise at altitude. That sure woke us up and refreshed as we hit Cracker Barrel next door before making our way to Biltmore for most of the day. It was only a 10 minute drive to the estate and we couldn’t believe how tucked away it was from the main road. Talk about secluded. We loved the quietness of the lush trees and gardens. We got to the ticket house and purchased the day passes (crowded doesn’t begin to explain it but not overly where it was annoying). We even got 2 free wine tasting tickets! We parked nearby and walked to the main estate and WHOA. It immediately transports you 100 years when this thing was around and to imagine the scale of it relative to today? Historical. Amazing. Vanderbilt was no joke. The walking tour of the house is almost single file and takes you in a nice line throughout the house – and basement where the guy even built a swimming pool, bowling alley, and gym! Also if you even seem Downton Abbey you’d get the feel too of the servant quarters. To think of all the manual labor that operated this place. Unreal. Loved it.

Now it was 2 hours of touring this place and Gina really, no REALLY wanted to get to the winery. Everything was on this property so we drove 2 miles to it and realized how much of an extra benefit it was to stay at the hotel located on the estate property ($$$ but worth it). You could bike ride, picnic, horseback, and walk around the other half of the entire estate. It was so warm too that it felt like summer soaking up the sun. We checked out the history of the winery in the underground tunnels and then made our way to the main floors. We were able to sample way more than the allotted 5 samples but who was counting right?  We jotted down our bests and went shopping. Came away with a score of bottles and even some spice mix for when it actually gets cold. We made our way back to the hotel to reboot, quick snack, and then shower up for 5 pm Mass at St. Lawrence Basilica which was right next to the Grove Arcade in town. A beautiful church indeed. Right from its stained glass windows to its creaky old pews, it was a blessed time to be able to finish off our trip here. We bought some rosaries and walked over to the local Thai place for dinner. Thai food was where we ate on our first date, so was fitting to try and recap the memories with some dinner here. We lucked out on getting there early because it was slow service and when we left the late arriving crowd was probably gonna realize that. We walked around again since it was another warm, gorgeous night and simply took our time people watching. We got a small chocolate pie for dessert and packed up for an early departure Sunday morning.

We should have probably had some wine with that pie cause we slept okay that evening. We woke up to a dense fog and opted to do our walk in the hotel gym. We were all set and ready for home by 9am and the fog lifted enough for us to trust being able to see on the highway. Smooth sailing it was as we were home and in the door by 11:30am. Another warm sunny day awaited us, so I made Gina breakfast and we ate brunch out on the patio. We simply took our time unpacking and just chill as we only had dinner reservations at Dogwood’s Southern Table on the menu. Talk about a perfect dinner evening – it was a slow night, no crowd, easy getting there and park, and Chris and his crew gave us the 5 Star Service man. When Gina can clean here plate, it’s good. And we always finish the plates. And wine. Even dessert. And to think we still had 1 more day to celebrate – our actual wedding day to come next!!!! Salute!

I woke up at 4:30am to walk our cat Holmes and when I got back into bed at 5, Gina told me it was raining. Sure enough it started to pour. Totally unexpected. It continued to pour into the morning where I did some training indoors while Gina did some of her workout. We both intended to split the morning to get things done (like our wedding day) and after a quick breakfast we didn’t meet back up again until 1:30. We finished off our to-do’s and then took a nice 3.5 mile walk in a cool but now sunny day. Then we lounged around before doing what we did for dinner on our wedding night – leftovers. A mix of all we had for dinner out and then some and of course – a bottle of moscato. Awesome. We opened some gifts and then toasted to us an amazing 4 days together finally. Truthfully married my best friend and loving every minute of it. This #7 sure turned out to be a good lucky one. Amen.

These are links to my tweets about our weekend w/pictures:

https://twitter.com/teammc1/status/919190208125505536

https://twitter.com/teammc1/status/919328957278941184

https://twitter.com/teammc1/status/919723809636306944

https://twitter.com/teammc1/status/919925724282277888

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CUT SOME CORDS http://www.markcarbone.com/2017/09/27/cut-some-cords/ http://www.markcarbone.com/2017/09/27/cut-some-cords/#comments Wed, 27 Sep 2017 15:24:57 +0000 MC http://www.markcarbone.com/?p=1441 A true constant that I have in my life and has served me quite well over these years has been my faith. With meticulous watering, vigilant guidance through prayer and Mass, and a nurturing with readings (and websites like formed.org), relying on its growth has been paramount to me. The daily encounters and news revelations, with its social media aspects and what have you, all the gossip, headlines exclaimed, fostering a value system that has become alarming, more so with the reliance on its daily input, has left me full of SMH, LOL, and true WTF. I have thus vowed to end my Twitter account by year end and cut some additional “cords” to limit myself to the good read of my books, industry magazines, and good quality old school time. Honing in on the power of silence, allowing for prayer especially the Daily Examen before bed, throw in some chess nights with Gina instead of the TV will become my go to entertainment. Yo, we even got our old JVC recorder hooked up to the TV and now can watch old videos from 10 years ago!! (which ironically required some cords) –  Value system. Time to start depositing more into it. Plug IN-WARD. Strategic on my next move.

I’ve become stronger in the ways of trying to Master the Saints, thanks to the latest book I am almost finished with – Cultivating Virtue . I have been happy with my self-actualized life and staying genuine, but this book has added even more spiritual workload for me than any physical training session could. Perfection,Humility, Mortification, Patience, Meekness, Obedience, Simplicity, Diligence, Prayer, Confidence,Charity, and Union – yeah, try to master those. With SUAVITY! And though I feel like a Jedi, I think harnessing those skills like being a Saint tops that. I enjoy that challenge. Its true inner power and allows an ability to KNOW and interpret what is life’s meaning around us. I no longer care for any part of it online as much as seeking more of it offline. Time. We don’t have enough of it right? Or so you say. Look up.

After 3 years at my current job, I have opted to resign in mid-October. It was time. I no longer was as invested and couldn’t handle the unpredictable schedule and overall direction. Gina and I both were able to discuss at length about it and the past month only confirmed it. We needed to change that. It was fun though concluding it over a date night for pizza/bottle of wine and then trying to walk back home from that one!!(and during our 5am walks) We’re not interested in living a life trying to fight or argue, get frustrated daily with, and come home exhausted only to relive it again. We left NY because of that. But we have a control within us in our faith that allows us each week to fire the engines up and actually now be able to DO something about it – all in the confines of those Saintly characteristics. But we have to cut some cords. And we got big scissors. Yo.

 

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HOOD TO COAST #5 – BIG KAHUNAS http://www.markcarbone.com/2017/08/29/hood-to-coast-5-big-kahunas/ http://www.markcarbone.com/2017/08/29/hood-to-coast-5-big-kahunas/#comments Tue, 29 Aug 2017 16:34:10 +0000 MC http://www.markcarbone.com/?p=1419 Last Thursday, was off to Big Kahuna land in Seaside, Oregon meaning a forced rest day just to travel. Having worked 8 days in a row, training several hours each day in hazy, hot, humidity, and feeling some relief from a Jessica Marriott Sports Massage, I think this could be the race my body needs. That and the fact that the weather out west was cool at 55-70 degrees probably doesn’t hurt at all either. But still, having NOT raced pretty much all year (other than as Ice Guy mascot), this was a good actual race.
I got up at 4:15am which is Gina time and though we didn’t have much time together the past few days, we made the most of the early morning hours we did have available. She dropped me off at the airport and by the time she got home, I was checked in and at the gate. Smooth. Little did I know that she slipped an inspirational card in my bag that I later found which I carried with me the entire race!  Fellow teammates Curly and Punisher were on the same flight so was good to have company. The Kahunas all are not only great runners, but great friends, influences, and connections to a network that spans some 14 years of Coach Spano and Sandman doing this race. Once we got on the plane, which wasn’t full, and they didn’t put on the lights, half the passengers dozed off (me too but I did manage to read 2 of my magazines and a chapter in my book). After a 5 hour flight and quick bag claim, we met up with Maverick, grabbed some java and we’re now up and charged for the 90 minute drive to the Reunion House in Seaside – home of the Big Kahunas

Wow the weather was awesome. Sun me Sun me. Oh and hit me with some of that Pacific Ocean breeze. Thank you.

Coach took a few of us right away to Mo’s which is in Canyon Beach (remember the Goonies movie?) and had a nice cod fish sandwich with fries for brunch. As much air as possible keeps you awake now. I unpacked and claimed my futon bed with the great view and sounds of the waves which help put me to sleep. Went for a nice walk, then relaxed as the final members of the team came in and Coach organized his group dinner. Just a pleasure running with these guys – Sandman, Gasman, Buzz, Seahawk, Sticks, Achilles, ET, E-Dub, Danger, Ruby, Ladybug, Maverick, Jefe, Patron, and Little, and the many Kahunas not here that I have had the pleasure to race as teammates the 4 times I’ve done this relay. You can find the 4 prior race journals in the posts history section if you want to read about those to get an idea of my thoughts of it back then.
We had a brief meeting and Coach let us know that the departure time was 6am, so I had a little melatonin help to call it a night by 10pm, or 1am EST. It was time to get into race mode. Time to prepare the body for hard racing, no sleep for 40 hours, and timely, proper fueling to keep the mind functioning optimally throughout. It’s Hood to Coast yo.

How hard is it to get into this race? Unless you place top 4 in your division, you have a 40% chance to get one of the converted 1000 slots. Yes, that many teams run the roads from Mt. Hood to Seaside in addition to hundreds of volunteers at exchange points along the way. Nothing but runners. And a huge beach party awaits at the end.

I have Leg 5 – 19.66 miles total. Difficulty level #1. Distance total #1.
Having done this leg twice before, muscle memory is my intent to frame my mind when attacking it. We had a 10:30 am start time so off the Kahuna team departed in the darkness of morning at 5am towards Mt. Hood.

 

The good thing about being in Van 1 is that you start right away. We made it to Mt Hood in plenty of time to take a team photo, loosen up, and soak up the sun. Seriously I was surprised how warm it was up here. 6000 ft and the sun made the 60 degree morning feel like 70. Awesome. We got all the vans decorated in Kahuna style and by 10:30 Coach was lined up at the start. It was GO time.
Once he started, we made our way to the vans and headed to the next exchange. Everyone takes turns driving but I found a good rhythm by taking the wheel for the first few exchanges. Kept my mind distracted off things and focused on the team. We were in second place after leg 4 and I was amped to try and make up ground on my first run. Once I got the baton from Sticks I was off.
I may have gone out too fast as I saw I was hitting sub 6 pace. I felt it too. It was 12:30 and around 75 degrees. A good headwind to boot on the highway route. Once we started the 3 mile uphill climb I saw our lead in sight. With less than a mile to go I was able to make a pass and get a minute lead off to Buzz. Wow!! Welcome back to HTC Hammer. That one hurt a bit - 6.2 miles in 37 minutes @6:30 pace

Buzz lengthens our lead to a few minutes as we handed off to Van 2. We now had at least 4 hours to hop to the next rotation point but more important was dialing in on hydration, good light eats/fluids (banana/Bonk Breaker/aminos) and plenty of stretching. And more walking. Stay loose. Vitamins. Again. And repeat each rotation. But man the weather was so warm and beautiful! Soak up the atmosphere. Picture runners in droves like at the start of a major marathon but in teams of 12! With plenty of costumes and oddball Van decorations- with uncensored language to boot – that’s Hood to Coast.

Soon it was rotation 2 as the second Van did well. I took the wheel again and made our way through some congestion along exchange points but getting rolling again. Dusk approached then darkness. We lost our lead and were down some 6 minutes. I planned to cruise control this 7 mile leg but got a little competitive to make up time. I grabbed the baton once again from Sticks and off I went at 9:30 pm.

I had a seriously good rhythm going and dialed into everything: breath, air, pace, body check. And again. With only the light from my headlamp, I kept eye with my Polar and saw 6:07 consistent each time. I enjoyed the ease of it. The sky was lit with stars and though of Gina and said a few prayers. Was worth it, cause the route was extended more than half a mile towards the end in what became a blur of a run. I knew I would feel it later but I completed the flat 8 mile portion in 49 minutes @6:12 pace.

Back in the van and onward. Now it was close to midnight when we arrived at the Van exchange rotation zone but was able to cue a tweet and message to Gina since we had cell service (and though it was like 2am EST). Oh if I could only snap a photo of the stars. The sky was amazing.
Got a little chilly as everyone in the van took a nap. Me – I stayed awake by typing these notes. Pure adrenaline and energy pathways neurological stimuli fired up. It’s tough but worth it to experience. I relish the whole physiological aspect of it too. I’ll pass out when it’s over.  I also was the alarm clock cause by 3:30am we will be set to start our final rotation. And the toughest. Every 20 minutes I took a walk outside in the nice cold air to liven up. Looked up at the stars, said a quick prayer, then back in the van to warm up again. This is the only time you have to make sure you stay warm by wearing the layers. Sip hydration. I made sure the van was awake by 2:30am as we expected the Van 2 to be done around 3. There is little if any cell service available during these final legs so communication between vans is critical prior to. We got Coach ready and though he was hurting bad with knee/calf pains ever since his first run, he was ready to gut it out no matter how slow. Sure enough at 3:15 Van 2 was here and the exchange came and off we were for our final rotation.

The roads though on back country were quiet for us driving and helped me stay awake for sure behind the wheel. We nailed each exchange on our end except when Gasman and I underestimated having him ready for Coach when he came by. That was hilarious as we had to help Gasman get stopped down just as Coach arrived. Only 20 seconds delay in the handoff, but one of those Kahuna stories to talk about afterwards.
Once Punisher went out for his leg, I made sure to get ready with Sticks who had only a 4 mile final leg before me. I stayed warm by layering Aquaphor and keeping my compression socks on with gloves. Sticks was now out running so it was going to be close to 6am when I went out and would get the whole dark/brightening sequence of day. As I warmed up at the exchange point I got a fist pump from Coach and set the mind set for one tough climb. As I grabbed the wrist baton from Sticks, I set off for my final run.

And up I went. Just as if I had done this last year as oppose to 4 years ago, it was the same images. Winding climb 1300 ft and never seemed to end. It was crisp air and I allowed myself to simply just get into it. Each mile up I got quicker, warmer, stronger, all while maintaining touch within to any soreness that may easily get exacerbated on this climb. Not many out here but enough to target and pass. They have a great crowd at the top and that’s when you know you’ve reached it. But then it’s a screaming 6:00 pace all downhill for the final 2 miles. Let it roll!! But just as tactically you MUST monitor the quads as the are some foot strikes that with another few pounds of force could easily end it with a tear. But I was all controlled and as I hit the line of cars awaiting the transition, I saw the Van a few yards back telling me Buzz was ready just hand off and wait for them there. And just as smoothly, I handed off to Buzz, jogged 20 yards, hopped in the Van, and off we went to the final rotation zone.
Done!!! The 6.3 mile leg in 37+ minutes at 6:45 pace. All 20 miles of my HTC was completed.

It wasn’t until we got to the zone as I went to get up did I feel the sharp stab pains of sore legs. My right side was sore as well. A time to really not joke with recovery methods. Once we made sure all was secure with Buzz and his relay to Van 2, we made the hour drive back to the house and finish line. We finally had some cell service and I got to send some messages to Gina. I took the massage stick and then rolled my quads and hamstrings all the way back. Everyone was beat up. We got back to the house around 8am and I immediately unpacked a bit, mandated stretches, and a much needed shower before drinking a big cup of java with a banana and another Bonk Breaker bar. I wanted to wait till the team finished before having the appetite to devour a bagel/PB/banana sandwich. Oh yeah. Move move move. I awaited at the beach watching the runner teams finish as the huge beach party was brewing up. By 11:15 our team finally finished and we all crossed the line together.

We lost in our division by 17 minutes as we finished 2nd and finished 33rd overall out of 1000 teams with a time of 24:39.

A true team effort and NOW the party time was to begin!
Well more like a slow party time. We all dispersed as half the team opted for long naps at the house, some like me just caught up on emails, etc and food intake and sun soaking (it was 75 and truly awesome weather). That sandwich was goooooood. I helped clean up some of the vans, soaked my feet in the cold Pacific, and soon the second team Kahuna recreational team was finishing by 6pm. We then went back to the beach to see them finish. Now on fumes around 7pm I made myself some good dinner and most of us were sharing stories of the race. Some went to try and see the boxing match but I was counting the minutes to 9pm. once the sun went down with this view I knew it was time.
After 41 hours awake, I prepped myself on the futon and said my Daily Examen before shutting my eyes and lying to sleep. Amen. Amen. Race over.

I woke up at 6am to the sounds of the waves and feeling totally recharged. I did some stretching calisthenics on the patio to assess any soreness and then was joined by Curly and Punisher for the quick walk to the 8am Mass at Our Lady of Victory (fitting name no?). A nice small Catholic church I’ve been to in the past to simply give thanks for a fun, healthy, blessed race for all. Nourishment for the spiritual MC each week, and here, allowed for a solid end to a great weekend. Granted today was just beginning, but it’s a day we all just eat, walk, do what we want, and simply recover before most of us depart tomorrow. I FaceTimed Gina after Mass that morning and personally look forward to going home and share the experience with her over dinner and wine! We did get another medal for our placing in the SuperMasters division. More sun to soak up today as it has been spectatcular 70+ degrees each day here. Those 2 guys came and joined me for an hour bike ride which I rented from a local shop about a 20 minute walk from the house. A great way to loosen the legs and see the town.  Then helped cleaned the vans, did what was needed to pack, and just relaxed with most of the team who chilled out and watched baseball (after al with 3 hours back, we catch all the later games on east coast time!).  Coach SPANO cooked each of us a steak as tradition and we all has a good final dinner together for everyone to end the celebrations and toast us all. Some chose to party out afterwards but I just waited till sunset again before heading to my futon.

Another great Big Kahuna experience Hammer has had with a great team effort. Much love, much friendship, much fun over 200 miles of racing and pain. But worth every bit of it in memories forever – again. Yo.

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