Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 Year in Review

December 2015
   Greetings and salutations this holiday season! I hope this note finds you well. For me, 2015 was another crazy year of travel and racing. I added to my lists of state attractions- 4 more highpoints for a total of 46; 7 more Capitols for a total of 40; and 4 more marathons for a total of 12.
   My Grand adventure of the year (pun intended) was to run/hike across the Grand Canyon, starting at the south rim, pausing at the north rim, and returning to the south rim in one day. Six Austin friends and I flew to Arizona in April for the 45-mile trek with 10,000 feet of vertical loss/gain/loss/gain. It took me 19 hours, starting at 4am and returning after 11pm. It was grueling, but it was also incredibly beautiful. The Grand Canyon is truly one of the greatest natural wonders of the world, and I would recommend everyone visit some day. Just make sure to go below the rim, it's a very different perspective than you can get standing at the top.
   I completed two more Ironman races this year for a total of six, but just barely. Ironman Lake Placid is a very hilly course, and I arrived in July undertrained. It chewed me up and left me for dead, but my feet just kept moving. When I finally entered the Olympic speed skating oval late that night, with less than 10 minutes to meet the 17-hour cutoff, and the crowd was whipped up and cheering for ME, it was by far the happiest Ironman finish I've ever had. Ironman Maryland in October was an ordeal of an entirely different sort. While I was en route for the race scheduled for the 3rd, I got news it had been postponed due to Hurricane Joaquin. Since I had a car and the time, I took a road trip to visit some points of interest. It was unprecedented and somewhat miraculous that Ironman was able to reschedule the race for two weeks later, so I flew back. There were fewer athletes and volunteers than there would have been for the original date, but the crowd and volunteer support were on par with any other I've done, which is to say it was excellent and did not feel like an afterthought. The course is pancake flat, but the weather was quite challenging with high winds and cold temperatures. It was bad enough the swim course had to be altered due to a small craft advisory for the Choptank River, making it dangerous for the support boats, let alone the swimmers.
   I made a trip to Utah in June to complete the "triple crown"- Capitol, marathon, highpoint. On Saturday the 13th I ran the Utah Valley Marathon, a point-to-point race that ends in Provo. Even though it's net downhill, there are a few uphill sections, and downhill is hard on the quads. I finished with my second-quickest marathon time yet. Sunday afternoon I started an overnight hike in the Uinta Mountains to Kings Peak, the highest in the state. It was roughly 30 miles of mud, snow, and rain all by myself. It was not the safest or most pleasant thing I've ever done, but that builds character, right? The three other state highpoints I visited this year were Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont on two of my trips northeast for Ironman. The other state I did a marathon was Oklahoma, in November at the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa. I also did my first ultramaration in 2015 as part of my training for the Grand Canyon, a 50-kilometer (31-mile) trail race near Austin.
   Other race travel was to Nevada and Oregon. At the end of February I made a return trip to the USA Stair Climb Championship, held at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, but I also took a couple of days to see "Not Vegas." It was snowier than I anticipated, so I did not go to Nevada's highpoint, but I did tour the Capitol and visit Great Basin National Park. I went to Oregon to validate my "Just Plain Nuts" moniker and join in a 12-person 200-mile relay run from the base of Mt. Hood to the coast with one week's notice. It was the kind of craziness and sleep deprivation you gladly sign up for again the next year. Non-racing travel consisted of ice climbing in Colorado in January and two trips to Virginia, one in June for a Meister family reunion, the other for Thanksgiving.
   With a total of 43 timed events in 2015, I can't cover every triathlon, duathlon, stair race, trail race, and road race I did. I will, however, highlight two particularly interesting weeks, one in which I won three medals at two races, and one with three very different races (a beer mile, a 5k, and a stair race).
   Looking ahead, I plan to spend New Year's doing 4 races between Eve and Day, a 5k and a full marathon both days. I was unable to complete the "double-double" challenge last year due to injury and poor weather. I will be doing the Austin Marathon in February, a marathon in Hawaii in March, half Ironman races in April and June, and full Ironman races in August (Boulder, Colorado) and November (Panama City Beach, Florida). I also would like to hit the highpoints of Hawaii, California, Nevada, and Maine to finish the 50 states.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year,

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Crazy Running Week (@FloBeerMile / #TRE15 Indie 5k / LWTDD / Decker Challenge)

Even for me, last week was a crazy and diverse week of running-related events. Starting with the FloTrack Beer Mile Tuesday night, The Running Event (a trade show) and its Indie 5k Thursday, a unique stair race in Oklahoma City called Little Willie's Triple Dog Dare Saturday, and concluding by cycling the Decker Challenge half marathon leading the 3rd place man. It has left me exhausted and sore, and upped my total number of timed events in 2015 to 40.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Superhuman Sunday #FastestManAlive #TourdeDonut

On November 1st, with the help of some tricks of time, I was able to run 7.4 miles in 5 minutes and bike 24.8 miles in 44 minutes. While it is actually possible for a human to ride a bicycle 25 miles in 45 minutes, that's either very rare talent or down a very big hill, neither of which I possess. Nor do I possess a time machine.
However, by leaving my house at 1:34am before the time change, running 7 miles and returning home at 1:39am, after the time change, I can claim to be the fastest man alive. Heck, at 88 mph, with a flux capacitor I could have actually travelled through time. Other than the trick with the time, it was a pretty normal run, just in the middle of the night. It was actually fun, and coming soon after a 3am run at Hood-to-Coast made me wonder why I don't run in the middle of the night more often. It probably has something to do with the sleep factor.
The trick with the bike ride, later in the morning after a few hours of sleep, was that in the Tour de Donut you receive a time bonus for donuts eaten during the ride. The ride starts near the "race director"'s house (this is not a formal event, just for fun and to raise a little money for charity) and stops at Krispy Kreme, Shipley, and Dunkin Donuts before ending at the top of a hill near the start. I didn't do nearly as well as I had hoped. I really would have liked to have ended up with a negative donut-adjusted time, but I didn't eat as many donuts as I had anticipated, and spent too much time eating them. My elapsed time was 1:55 and I received a bonus of 6x 3min (KK) + 3x 6min (Shipley) + 5x 7min (Dunkin). I did tie for the most number of donuts eaten, but frankly this was a much less competitive year than last, with past winners absent. It was a kind of beer mile level of awful fun. I, for one, do not intend to even touch another donut until next year's race. I'm not sure if (or how) I'll train next time, but I'll at least try to beat my first time.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Making Lemonade From Ironman Maryland Lemons

Wednesday, September 30, did not start well. When I went to check in for my flight, it said my first flight was delayed and my second flight was changed such that I wouldn't get into Philadelphia until 5pm instead of 2:30 (never mind I booked a direct flight that was supposed to get in at 12:30). I was quite upset and marched straight to a ticket agent. She searched flights, supposedly including some other airlines, and the only improvement was supposed to get me in at 4:30. Fine, at least it feels like it's a little better. I had some time to kill in Austin, got to Charlotte and had more time to kill. Then the flight from Charlotte to Philadelphia was delayed, and delayed some more. As I was on my phone killing time until we we left the gate, I saw a curious post that said something about Ironman Maryland and "options." I had no idea what that meant, so I clicked and it took me to an announcement from Ironman that due to expected flooding from Hurricane Joaquin, the race was cancelled (with a possible new date) and asking people to not even come to the area. I blurted out an expletive at less than a yell but more than under my breath. My brain was swimming in thoughts and questions: "Can I get out of my hotel?" "Should I just get off the plane?" "What the hell am I going to do?" One early thought was to see if there were any other marathons that weekend in the area. Another thought was to go on a road trip of State Capitols and take care of a bit of unfinished business from IM Lake Placid. When I couldn't find any marathons that would work, I decided that if the hotel would give me at least some refund for three of the nights I had already paid, a road trip it would be.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

CFF Dallas Stair Race

This year's Cystic Fibrosis climb in the Bank of America building, Dallas's tallest, went similar to last year's, in that I did it one week after a ridiculous endurance event. This time it was right after Ironman Maryland, which took place near last year's two marathons. This year's climb time of 13:03 was 10 seconds slower than last year, and more than a minute off of my best for the building two years ago.