Monday, January 26, 2015

3M Half Marathon Race Report

If the 2015 3M Half Marathon went poorly for me, I really only have myself to blame. Arriving super late, just before the start (and being in the port-o-potty line when the gun went off) was obviously my fault, as I somehow got it in my head that the start time was 7:30 and only realized at 6:15 that it was actually 7am. I certainly can't blame anyone else for my lack of training that led to a slow time and sore legs; this race was only my fifth run of 2015, and was twice as long as the next longest. I could attempt to blame lousy weather and allergies for the lack of running, but that's just an excuse. Plenty of other people were out running in the same cold rain and with the same cedar fever. I'm not sure I could have fully prevented the horrible blistering I got on my left foot, but I could have taken steps to mitigate it. If I had been properly prepared, it would have been a good day for a good race- the weather was mid-forties, sunny, with mostly favorable winds. As it was my 2:03:43 just barely cleared my lowest performance benchmark- quicker than my best run in a Half Ironman (a 2:05 at Galveston 2014). I finished in 2493rd place, which means I probably passed 3000 people since I started almost at the back of the 5485 recorded finishers. If you add up the number I passed miles 0-4 and mile 13 and don't subtract the number that passed me miles 4-12 it could be substantially higher.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Note

December 2014
   Happy Holidays! I wish everyone reading this a safe and warm winter. 2014 was another adventure-filled year for me with mountains, marathons, and many many miles. Despite all the travel, I am still employed at ARM, where I will soon reach 14 years of employment.
   I didn't climb many literal mountains this year, the notable ones being in Mexico in February. On a one week trip around the Mexico City area, we warmed up on 14,636-foot La Malinche, trained on 17,160-foot Iztacc√≠huatl, and reached a high point of 18,491 feet on Pico de Orizaba. Orizaba is the tallest mountain in Mexico and number 3 in North America. The lead guide, Geoff, was also a guide on my Denali (#1 in NA) trip in 2013. I'm hoping one day he'll guide me to #2, Mt. Logan, which is also the highest point in Canada.
   In 2014, I did two more Ironman races, 10 weeks apart. At the end of June I did one in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho amid beautiful scenery. The swim was one of the nicest I've done, in the cold crystal clear waters of Lake Coeur d'Alene. The bike course was challenging with long climbs, made worse by strong winds. The marathon was a bit cruel, going over the same hill four times. My finish time was my best yet, and for the first time there was still a touch of daylight when I crossed the line. The best part, though, was that my mother and her two sisters traveled to watch the race. It was the first time I've had my own dedicated cheering section at a race. Recovery and training went well for Ironman Wisconsin in September, but the race itself did not. The swim was more of a fistfight, the bike course had a lot of rolling hills and poor roads, and the marathon had a demoralizingly steep hill. It was my slowest Ironman yet, but I notched finish number 4.
   This year I started a quest to run a marathon in every state. Having previously done three in Texas and one in Kentucky, I added Louisiana in February with a Personal Record 4:15 in New Orleans. This later led to doing back-to-back marathons in October. I did a marathon in Dover, Delaware on Saturday, drove to Atlantic City and did the marathon there on Sunday. A leg injury serious enough to require stitches one week later put my planned Las Vegas marathon in November in serious jeopardy. After three weeks of almost no exercise, I was able to complete the marathon, though it was quite painful in the latter miles. "For fun" I did the San Antonio marathon three weeks after that and it did not go much better. With Idaho and Wisconsin, I now have 8 states where I have done a marathon. For my efforts I have gained entry into the Marathon Maniacs club. With one more marathon for 2014 on New Year's Eve, I will have done 8 marathons for the year. And then I'll start 2015 with another marathon on New Year's Day.
   I am still pursuing my other goals of visiting the highest natural point and the Capitol of each state. I made a slight (1,000-mile) detour on my road trip to Madison for the Ironman to visit the North Dakota highpoint for number 41. The original reason for choosing a marathon in Delaware was to also go to its highpoint. I spent a day in Washington, DC with my parents after the marathons and visited the highest natural point in the District for 42+1 (state+territory) highpoints. In my various travels I also visited the SD, ND, MN, IL, MD, DE, and PA Capitols.
   I did numerous shorter races in 2014 as well. I did well enough in stair races around Texas and at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas to be ranked #23 in the US for the year. I once again completed the Texas Tri Series, though some races I volunteered for and did not race. Besides the marathons, I ran everything from 400 meters to 30 kilometers.
   I had a nice visit with my family over Thanksgiving. I didn't get much time at my parents' home in Virginia as we drove to New York on Tuesday to avoid a foot of snow that fell on Wednesday. It was nice to get lots of home-cooked food and see my sister, niece, and old friends. The only other non-racing travel I did was to Windsor, England for business in May. It turns out the Queen has a summer cottage nearby.
   Looking forward to 2015, I have plans to ice climb in Ouray, Colorado, run across the Grand Canyon, and do two more Ironman races in Lake Placid, NY and Cambridge, MD. I hope to add others to my state marathon and highpoint lists as well.

Season's Greetings,
Michael

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Monster Mash / Atlantic City Marathon Double

If you read my previous post about my road trip to Ironman Wisconsin, I hinted at having something a bit crazy planned for my next state highpoint. Well, after I decided to try and do a marathon in every state (roughly the time of number 3), I started looking for fall marathons, particularly anything within reasonable proximity of a state highpoint I hadn't done yet. I wound up focusing on Delaware, since it's a super easy highpoint and it's something of an outlier on a map of completed highpoints, being surrounded by states I've already done. I found two marathons quite close, the Monster Mash Marathon in Dover, DE, and the Atlantic City Marathon (New Jersey). I wasn't sure which I wanted to do, and then I realized since Dover is on a Saturday and AC the next day, it would be possible to do both in one trip. I floated the idea in my head for a while, ran it by my running coach, put it out to my Facebook friends, and essentially couldn't come with any reason NOT to do a double. I figured if I can finish an Ironman, there shouldn't be any reason I couldn't do marathons on consecutive days. So the weekend of October 18-19 added two tick marks each to three state lists- marathons, highpoints, and Capitols (bringing me to 7, 42+DC, and 32 respectively).

Saturday, November 1, 2014

CFF Dallas Stair Race

On Saturday, 10/25, I did my fifth stair race of the year and second race up the 70-story Bank of America building in Dallas, once again benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. My time of 12:52 was more than a minute slower than last year's 11:44, but let's just say my physical state was not nearly what it was last year. In addition to the sniffles and a cough I had for the week leading up to this race, the two marathons the previous weekend definitely slowed me down. Yes, I raced a marathon on a Saturday, another the next day, and ran up 70 stories of stairs the following Saturday. Yes, I need professional help. Despite my slow time, I still finished seventh out of a very small field of 84 climbers. While the public at large did not show up for this race, West Coast Labels/X-Gym did, taking 8 of the top 12 spots overall (male and female), plus three more.

Saturday morning I jogged the half mile from my hotel to the office tower race venue and had plenty of time to hang out and catch up with my "step siblings" before the race started. In addition to the usual Texas/Arkansas folks (Scott, Robert, Chuck, Heather) there was Steve (who passed me at the Strat), Michael who did this race last year, Wayne whom I met in Austin, Cindy who was also at the Strat, Ken whom I've seen at several races, and no stair race would be complete without George Burnham Sr. Also of note was Ignacio, whom I met Houston, up from Mexico, who just edged out Scott for the win. So a lot of good folks and some fun times. Except for the actual race, that kind of sucked.

For one thing the timing company didn't show up because of some crossed signals. It's fortunate it was a small field, otherwise it would have been a nightmare to manually time this thing. Remarkably the timing worked pretty well, better than some chip-timed events even. The race director had a little trouble sorting the results for awards, but the times seemed to be pretty accurate for having stopwatches top and bottom and noting a time for each competitor. The real sucky part for me was that my legs would not work the way they normally do on stairs. Even the first 5-10 stories weren't super fast, and it only got worse from there. When I got to the 24th floor I went for the water, but unfortunately it was just half-liter bottles, far from ideal. I took one and sipped and walked for 10 stories, stowed the bottle to jog 10 stories, and more or less repeated like that until floor 67 when I mustered whatever I had left for a solid finish.

Most of us hung around for a little at the top as more finishers arrived. People started dropping off as the morning went on; I stuck around for the awards to get my medal for second place in the 26-39 age group. I walked back to my hotel, showered, checked out, and decided to get lunch before heading home.

As for what happened that evening, that's a story for another post sometime down the line...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Kerrville Tri Race Report

For my last triathlon of the year, I once again went out to Kerrville for the "Triathlon Festival," two days of racing with three distances. However I flipped the scripts from last year and raced the sprint on Saturday and volunteered for the half/quarter on Sunday. The reason I didn't go for the half was that being three weeks after Ironman Wisconsin, I had no idea what shape my body would be in. Of course I couldn't do the quarter if there was a longer distance on the same day; regular readers will know my crazy wouldn't allow for that. I like to commit to events well in advance, so this was all set in place well before Wisconsin; I feel I've recovered enough that the half wouldn't have been so terrible, but still not advisable. I actually offered to run for a relay team, but they didn't wind up taking me up on it. While I had a decent day two years ago doing this half 5 weeks after an Ironman, it was probably best not to race today.
As for the race I actually did- in a word, it was sloppy. More the weather than my performance- it rained the entire race and I finished with a time of 1:19:12, good enough for 4th in my age group and 20th overall.