Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Note

December 2012

Happy Holidays! In previous years, I sent out a Holiday card along with a note. This year I'm just sending an email, which is also reproduced here.

Much of 2012 was spent training for, and racing in, Ironman Louisville. The actual race was August 26, based in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. However, nearly every spare minute in May through July was spent training and doing races shorter than the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run of the full Ironman (the longest being a half Ironman in Lubbock June 24). I thought training in the heat of Texas would prepare me for anything Kentucky could hit me with, but I’m not convinced it’s possible to be prepared to run a marathon in the middle of a 90+-degree afternoon, let alone doing so after propelling oneself nearly 115 miles.

The run actually started out okay, but it didn't take long for the toll of the day to set in, and nearly every part of my body hurt. Not one to give up (I walked the entire Austin Marathon, whose shirt I am wearing in the photo, after injuring my knee weeks beforehand), I kept grinding out the miles, walking most of the way. When I did finally cross the finish line and hear the announcer call out "Michael Doherty, you are an Ironman," I was more happy that I could stop moving than that I had finished. I have been more excited about finishing since then, to the point that I had the Ironman "m-dot" logo tattooed above my ankle. If you're interested, there is video of me from a few points on course.

I had been feeling crazy/stupid for signing up for a half-Ironman race five weeks after Louisville, but the half distance takes much less than half the effort of a full Ironman, and it actually went quite well. Aided by favorable weather conditions, I significantly improved my personal record for the 70.3 (half Iron) distance. I have already signed up for Ironman Texas in May, in The Woodlands, and hope to improve on my first time of 15:30.

In March I flew to Brussels, Belgium, where I met my parents and my aunt Alice. Together we spent 10 days touring Belgium and The Netherlands, seeing the sights and sampling the beers (I may have had my parents' share of the beer) and chocolates. We very much enjoyed our brief stays in Bruges and Delft, but four days in an apartment in Amsterdam may have been the best. I particularly enjoyed seeing the spectacular art of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Rubens, and the many other Dutch and Flemish masters. Other great sights included windmills, canals, old buildings, and the flowers of Keukenhof.

In November I flew to Chicago in order to race up the 2,109 steps of the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower). I had been interested in the sport of “tower running” for a while, but hadn’t done one until the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air climb in downtown Austin [I am now soliciting donations for next year’s event]. I’m not sure how running up 31 flights of stairs convinced me I could do Willis’ 103. Maybe it was that I did the 31 in just over four minutes, and was the fifth quickest of all participants. Other than the 20 minutes spent running up Willis Tower, I had some time to see Chicago, and to visit with my cousin Keith and a college friend, Jason.

I had a traditional Thanksgiving, flying to New York, and spending some time at my parents' house before going upstate for the actual feast. As we have many times in the past, we ate Thanksgiving dinner at our friends' farm near Oneonta, NY. Before heading back to Austin, I had to pack up and ship anything of mine left at my parents' house, as they were in the midst of packing up to move to Virginia. They moved out of the home they lived in since I was a baby for a more temperate climate and lower taxes.

As much time as I spent swimming, cycling, and running, I had almost no time to spend with my motorcycles. The longest ride I took was a mere 300 miles round trip. Hopefully in 2013 I’ll have enough time to make at least one real road trip. In other motor vehicle news, I sold my Civic and bought a Chevy Volt. An “extended range electric” vehicle, it uses battery power around town, and has a gas generator for longer trips (such as driving to Kentucky). In the 10 months I've owned it, I've driven over 11,000 miles and averaged nearly 100 miles per gallon of gasoline. My electric bill has not increased significantly.

One thing I haven’t managed to do yet in 2012 is visit any more state highpoints. I hope to remedy that by climbing Mt. Hood while I’m in Portland, Oregon over Christmas time. If I’m not able to do that (due to weather, or whatever), I already have plans for the ultimate state highpoint: Alaska’s Denali (aka Mt. McKinley). In June I will fly to Anchorage and meet up with a team of professional guides and other clients to attempt to scale its mighty heights (20,320 feet). Part of the training for that will include a week-long skills seminar on Mt. Rainier in February. Both those trips will be with RMI, the guide company I used on Rainier in 2009.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season and a Happy New Year,

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