Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CF San Antonio Run/Climb / Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Half Marathon

After two weekends of disappointing racing, I had a good weekend of back-to-back races in San Antonio, very unlike each other, and both a little different than anything I've done in the past. Saturday was a stair race, but starting with a 1-mile run (actually it was a little short due to construction); Sunday was a half marathon but on trails and a fair bit of elevation, a bit steep in a couple spots. I finished 17th overall in the combined run/climb, but I was ninth quickest on the stairs, a far sight better than last week in Dallas. While my time Sunday of 2 hours even was a little quicker than two weeks ago at 3M, the course was probably a mile short, so it would have been slower; it still was much better in that I put in a consistent effort throughout the race. While my weight hasn't dropped appreciably, it has been trending in the proper direction. Altogether, I feel this is a good indication my fitness is finally heading back in the right direction.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Big D Climb

I had one of my worst stair races yet this past Saturday, at the Big D Climb in Dallas. Probably the biggest factor was residual fatigue from 3M half marathon a week prior, plus of course the things that made that go poorly (lack of training, excess weight). It wasn't an entirely negative experience, however. My West Coast Labels/X-Gym team was well represented, drawing racers in from around Texas and around the country, and even as far away as Denmark, so I got to hang out with my "step siblings." And of course this is a charity fundraising event, benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which has become more relevant to me since Austin pro triathlete Amy Marsh was diagnosed with AML.
While the race this year was in a new building, it was about the same height as last year's race (finishing on the 53rd floor of a 62-story building) so it was very disappointing to be 2 minutes slower, at 9:34. While 34th (out of 1387) may not be my lowest finish in a stair race, it is really disappointing for the level of competition.

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

PS for all my news and musings, follow my blog, Facebook, twitter, and Instagram @mldarm.

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).