December 2013Happy Holidays! I hope this note finds you well. I am quite well. In fact, 2013 was such an amazing year, there's no way I can talk about it without sounding like I'm bragging. So, fair warning, I'm going to go ahead and brag about my adventures this year.
Mt. Rainier. Conditions were harsh, starting with a 24-hour snow storm, and below-freezing temperatures most of the time; at least we had a hut for shelter, even if it wasn't heated or entirely weathertight. In August I climbed the highest peak in Montana (Granite Peak), nearly as physically challenging as Denali, but only for 2 days. Granite Peak was actually the last state highpoint to have a recorded ascent, in 1923. In September I returned to Mt. Rainier, mainly because I had never been to the very highest point (we didn't get anywhere near the summit in February, and while I did get to the summit crater in 2009, I did not continue to Columbia Crest, another 100 feet higher). I was glad to remove that asterisk from my "résumé." It's more of a hill, but in September I went to the highest point in Illinois for state highpoint #39. Later this month I'm going to Portland, OR, hoping to bag Mt. Hood to end the year with a nice even 40.
Ironman Texas, my second full-distance triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run), in The Woodlands, just outside of Houston. While the heat did its best to beat me down, I did manage to improve on my time from last year in Louisville, finishing in a little under 15 hours. Not only was it in the 90s that day, but it had been a relatively cool spring until race week, so I wasn't prepared for that kind of temperature. To compound the sun's scorching rays, I didn't take adequate steps to mitigate the heat; I got very overheated on the bike, and it took the first half of the marathon to get under control with ice and drinks (the sun setting helped). Even that was insufficient; after finishing I needed 5 liters of saline at the medical tent.
This year I also set new personal records in the half and full marathon distances running, and the half Ironman distance in triathlon. As a full-blown racing addict, I did many other events and distances through the year, seemingly every weekend I wasn't climbing a mountain.
Houston, Austin, and Dallas, and many more at the "granddaddy"- the race to the 103rd floor of Chicago's Willis Tower (still commonly known as the Sears Tower). With two second-place finishes (in Austin and Houston), I ended the year ranked 27th in the US by stairsport.com, and 146th in the world on towerrunning.com. It's almost impossible to say for sure, but I'm claiming to be the first person to climb a 6000-meter peak, finish an Ironman, and be ranked in the top 50 in the US for stair racing in the same year. What that says to me is I'm at least mediocre at several things (and I have free time).
I would be remiss if I didn't give credit and thanks to the many people that made such a great year possible. To the many athlete friends who push me in training and in races, and especially my coaches. To the folks who made donations to the charities my racing helps support. To my aunt and uncle for their hospitality while I was in Montana (particularly when I could barely walk after the climb). To the great climbing guides and climbing partners. To the many strangers who helped, especially the scores of race volunteers. To so many Facebook friends for their encouragement, kudos, and 'like's. And of course to my parents, who followed all my adventures with great anticipation, and surely more than a little concern. Thank you all!
I have no intention of slowing down in 2014. The calendar is filling up quickly with things, including the New Orleans Marathon February 2nd, a climb of Mexico's tallest mountain (Orizaba) 2 weeks later, Galveston half Ironman in April, Ironman Coeur d'Alene (Idaho) in June, and Ironman Wisconsin (Madison) in September.
PS if you're into social media, feel free to follow my blog, Facebook, twitter, and Instagram @mldarm.