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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