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,

To keep up with all my news and musings, follow my blog, Facebook, twitter, and Instagram @mldarm.

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.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ironman Lake Placid

I'm not an emotional person. Heck, I often think of myself as a robot. I have something akin to "resting bitch face." I do smile, but usually it's to appear human when I meet someone else's gaze, or so my race photos look okay. If you saw my album of race photos, you might say I always look good, but (a) I've only posted the ones I thought were good and (b) I probably posed myself for that photo to some extent when I saw the camera operator. Even at Ironman, my smiling finish line photo is a put-on, because I'm more happy to be done than happy to cross the line. In contrast to that, my finish line photo at Ironman Lake Placid in July is the truest, deepest smile, possibly in my adult life. I first witnessed the frenetic energy of the final hour of an Ironman two years ago, on the spectator side of Ironman Wisconsin. For my money, it's the best party on Earth. So at the end of a grueling, shredding day, when I entered the finish chute at 11:32pm, on the Olympic speed skating oval, and my name was called, and the crowd went wild FOR ME, it was the most joyous moment I could ever imagine.
Of course, what "allowed" me to finish in the magic hour was a gruelingly long day getting eaten up by the brutal hills of the Lake Placid course. So just to officially finish, with less than 10 minutes to spare, felt like just as much of an accomplishment as any of my four previous Ironman finishes.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

TX Marathon Relay / Kerrville Tri

In what will likely stand as the most decorated week of racing of my life, in one week's time I finished first, second, and third in my category at two different races. The first and second were as part of two teams for the car2go Marathon Relay in downtown Austin, and the third place was for the sprint distance triathlon at the Kerrville Triathlon Festival. Specifically, first in the corporate engineering division for my company team, second in the open mixed division for my race team, and third in the men 35-39 age group.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hood-to-Coast Relay

I don't like some of the connotations of the term "bucket list." I am very much a list obsessive, and I do have lists of things I would like to do "some day," mainly races and mountains, but I don't want to just tick boxes or do things because "you have to do them." While I have done plenty of things to tick the box, I always try to make the most of the experience, and make it an adventure if it's not interesting enough on its own. If I were to lose interest in completing a list, such as visiting all the State Capitols, I would shelve the project and focus on things I'm more interested in. Furthermore, it's not like I will ever complete my bucket list; much like the hydra, when I check off one item, two more take its place.
Which is a long way to go to say that I have wanted to do the roughly 200-mile (it varies a little year-to-year) 12-person Hood-to-Coast Relay for a while, but hadn't actively pursued joining or forming a team. Several friends of mine, along with other Austinites and their friends, have done the race in years past. When two of those friends were injured, I put my name in to fill in. Someone else took that spot, but Saturday 8/22, less than a week before the race, another team member had to drop out, and my friend messaged me asking if I could jump in at the last minute. After checking that flights were reasonable, I had to check with my boss that I could take two days off of work on such short notice. With approval, I booked a flight and became the final member of the Fat Cheetahs.
The logistics of Hood-to-Coast (HTC) are daunting. I studied what I could before the race and still hadn't the slightest idea of how it would work. Molly, the team organizer, is clearly some organizational wizard to forego the already complicated standard scheme of two 6-person vans and devise a 5/7 rotation scheme. I don't know the history, maybe this was pioneered by someone else, but it's still hard to wrap my head around even after having been through it. I can't possibly explain the mechanics, but it works out to the "off" van having 5 people and the "on" van having 7 people, one of whom is running. Add onto that coordinating the arrivals and departures of 12 team members, it's way more than I would ever attempt to coordinate.
Beyond the individual team logistics, the HTC organizers have a crazy task to assign every team a start time from 5am to maybe as late as 5pm on Friday. They must have some huge pool of data they use to estimate everyone's leg time based on their stated 10k pace, then come up with an estimated team time which they use to have everyone finish within a certain time frame. Essentially, the slowest teams start earlier, and the fastest teams start later. We were assigned a 1:15pm start time.
All 12 runners, plus Molly (who didn't run this year) and her son, drove up to Timberline Lodge a little before 1. Mt. Hood looked significantly different than last time I was up there, for a Christmas-day climb in 2013; there was very little snow on the mountain. I watched the 1 o'clock wave go off, wandered around a bit, then the team gathered up to cheer our first runner off at 1:15. At that point, van 1 was "active" and went to exchange 1 for the handoff; I started in van 2 and we went to exchange 3 to hang out for a while at a convenience store. The fact that leg 1 ends at exchange 1 further confused things, but at least we had time to figure things out before the fatigue and sleep deprivation set in.
Before the rain started and before the traffic jams, pretty much the whole active team went to watch/cheer the transitions. Let's just say the enthusiasm waned a bit once the rain started overnight. From then on through Saturday, the traffic got so bad at the exchanges the van didn't always have a chance to park before the exchange happened. Several times the next runner had to jump out of the van just to be at the exchange to meet the incoming runner, and didn't always get a chance to take that potty break they wanted.
I was runner number 7, so I ran legs 7, 19, and 31 at 6pm Friday, 3am Saturday, and noon Saturday, respectively. The race organizers grade every leg based on distance and elevation profile, and my legs were 5.4 miles moderate, 5.8 miles "very hard," and 4 miles moderate. I'd say the grades were fairly accurate, though with the very hard leg being in the dark in the middle of the night, it didn't seem that bad. I haven't done a lot of night running, this was definitely the longest, and I kind of liken it to my also somewhat limited trail running experience- that you have to run more by feel than the watch, and you'd better not be looking at your watch. I didn't find it that bad running on a very dark small road in the middle of the night, I reckon almost every car on the road was part of the relay. My biggest problem with that leg, beyond the dark and the hills, was the tilt to the road. Whether it was deliberate for drainage or just that the road is old and in poor repair, the left side of the road, where we were running, slopes decidedly to the left. I developed a blister on my left foot during this leg, and I think it was due to that foot being "downhill."
The race has somewhat arbitrary rules on safety gear- every runner from 6pm to 9am has to wear a reflective vest with lights and carry a flashlight or headlamp. Since my first leg started just before 6, I had to wear the gear even though the sun was still well above the horizon, and I was wearing sunglasses. The vests also carry an "ick" factor, since they are always sweaty when a runner finishes their leg, and we didn't have enough vests for everyone to get their own. I did bring my own headlamp, however. Apparently it's a lot brighter than other peoples were. The headlamps of some of the people I passed in the night were so overpowered by mine, it didn't even seem like they were on.
There is a thing in this race about "roadkill," that is passing another runner. Some teams had "kill counts" ticked off on their van, this wasn't something our team was tracking. I didn't keep a close count of the people I passed, but it was somewhere around 20 combined for the three legs. On my first leg, our van passed as I was passing another runner and the driver had his phone to take pictures or video, at which point the woman gave a dejected "Aw man, kill in action." I was passed something like 6 times. It wasn't until my last leg (with an almost a hockey stick profile- long flat shaft, then straight up the blade to the finish) that I got "chicked" as I sputtered up the hill.
Between breakfast Friday and dinner Saturday, I didn't have a real meal nor any real sleep. The vans were loaded with snacks, so I didn't go hungry, but due to the time constraints and having to run every 8 hours, it just wasn't possible to have a regular meal. About the closest I got was Saturday morning at an exchange that was serving breakfast. I got pancakes and eggs, but I only ate about half of it before handing it off to a teammate. Theoretically we could have gotten a decent nap from about 10 to 2, when our van was off, but it just wasn't working for me. We were in the parking lot of a high school, and exchange point. The school was set up with showers and cots or something like that for sleeping for a few dollars, but those who had been there before did not recommend it. With 5 people in the van moving around and such, plus other vans coming in and out, I could not sleep. The irony was that I did fall asleep for about 5 seconds when we were driving around before we got to the school. Later in the morning I was so exhausted I was desperate for even a moment's rest to "reset." Fortunately I managed to sleep for a few minutes at one of the exchanges before my last leg.
The weather was apparently the worst this race has ever had. The finish line party had to be cancelled because all the tents got blown down in the wind. The worst of the storm was around 4:30am, shortly after my leg ended. I could see some lightning way off in the distance when I was running, but only got rained on for the last half mile, and not too badly. Mary, who ran the next leg, got the worst wind and rain. The lightning was very close, and she described the rain as just going sideways in front of her eyes. There was some drizzle when I started my leg, plus it was cold, and I was worried about dumping rain and being cold, so I ran with my light rain jacket on, but took it off within the first mile and left it tied around my waist. The rain got heavy again around 10am, and I was worried I would have to run in the rain, but it cleared up and the sun even came out not long before I started. My shoes did get wet from the wet road, but it wasn't too bad. There was a long stretch of road that was covered in leaves, plus an occasional branch, brought down by the storm.
The wind was still pretty strong on the beach later in the afternoon, to where you felt sandblasted. Since I finished in van 1, and was the last for that van, once I was done, we went straight to the beach house. We had a chance to shower, eat some pizza, and relax for a while. At 4 we went down to the beach to see our last runner, Hans, in to the finish. I think he was pleasantly surprised to see us. Because he had been running with his head down so his cap kept some of the sand out of his face, I don't think he saw us until he was to us, at which point we all ran the last 100 meters to cross the finish mat together.
All in all, I had a great time, it was a lot of fun, and I would do it again. Although next time I would plan it more than a week in advance and fly out Monday instead of Sunday to get a little more time at the beach.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Jack's Generic Triathlon

I slowed down this year at Jack's Generic Triathlon versus the past two years, but I'd say I have a pretty good excuse- I barely survived Ironman Lake Placid one week prior. Actually, my swim and bike times weren't bad, to my surprise, it was just the run that was really slow. My swim was two minutes quicker than last year (my time from two years ago is messed up, plus the course was slightly different), my bike time was 30 seconds slower than 2 years ago, which was three minutes slower than last year, and my run was a good bit slower than either. Other than the relatively slow time and a massive blister, it was a pretty fun morning with my "triathlon family."

Friday, July 31, 2015

Northeast Capitols/Highpoints

While I was in New York to compete in Ironman Lake Placid, I took a little bit of time to tick off a few northeastern points of interest from my list. I only had so much time around the race itself, and staying in Lake Placid made it hard to get to everything still to be seen. If I had had five days just to drive around New York and New England, I could have toured 7 or 8 State Capitols and visited 3 or 4 new State Highpoints. With the time I did have, I only managed to tour the New York and Rhode Island Capitols and go to the Massachusetts and Rhode Island highpoints. I would have liked to hit the Vermont highpoint and Capitol as well, but ran out of time before my flight home. I got as high as a sub-peak of Mount Mansfield, but did not get to a point where I could claim to have completed it. Even still, I'm pleased to have knocked off highpoints numbers 44 and 45.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Couples Triathlon

Third time is not always the charm. My third time doing Couples Triathlon was my worst. Not my slowest (I was a little slower in 2013 right after Denali), but my worst. My overall time was only two minutes slower than last year, but the swim was cut down to 500m this year from previously being 800m. But really it wasn't just that I had a terrible run that made it the worst, it was that I got such a bad calf cramp in T2 I was actually limping later in the week.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Climbing Denali with RMI Expeditions

[ed note: this is old and unfinished, I'm just finally posting it now as is, on the two-year anniversary of summiting Denali July 5 2013]
On June 18 2013, I flew to Alaska for an expedition to North America's highest peak, 20,320 foot (6,194 meter) Denali (officially Mt. McKinley). In total, we spent 20 days on the mountain, and about 5 minutes at the actual summit. It was filled with challenges, both mental and physical; I lost both my big toenails; it took a while to get over the cough I acquired at 17,000 feet; I am quite psyched to tick this one off of my list.
After great previous trips with RMI Expeditions on Rainier (a summit climb in 2009, and a winter seminar in February), I didn't even consider climbing with anyone else, even though I had never met the guides. The lead guide for my trip was Pete Van Deventer, along with Geoff Schellens and Robby Young. Along with them and six other clients, none of whom I had ever met in person (I connected with the guides and one other climber via Facebook), we had a great trip; we got along pretty well as a team.
I already posted some articles on specific aspects of this climb, starting with the training and gear, also about the weather. I had ideas for several more articles, but I lost momentum on this whole project; I just had too many adventures the following summer, most notably climbing Granite Peak in Montana and a return trip to Mt. Rainier. What follows is the day-to-day of the trip, notes taken during evenings and rest days on the mountain, some fleshed out after returning home.

Monday, June 22, 2015

ALA Dallas Stair Race / Lake Pflugerville Tri

For me to do two races in one weekend is hardly unprecedented and not that ridiculous, particularly considering the combined time was less that 1.5 hours. To do two races in two cities, one week after running a marathon and hiking 28 miles to the highest point of another state, is why they call me "Just Plain Nuts." After getting back from Utah late Tuesday night, going to work Wednesday through Friday, I drove to Dallas Friday evening. I went to Dallas for the postponed American Lung Association Fight For Air climb, now moved to the Reunion Tower (site of May's Heroes Memorial Climb). After that race I turned around and drove back to Austin for packet pickup for Sunday's Lake Pflugerville Triathlon. I would say I had a decent showing in both events; I definitely felt the previous week's exertion in my legs and maybe more so in my cardiovascular system, not having truly recovered.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Heroes Memorial Climb

I raced in the inaugural Heroes Memorial Climb, twice up the Reunion Tower in Dallas, benefitting first responders. I wound up finishing third in the competitive wave. According to my watch my climb times were about 6:11 and 6:52, but my official combined time came out to 13:12. I had maybe five minutes of recovery between climbs, waiting for the elevator back down. After the second climb I went outside for the opening ceremony, afterward following the firefighters and police back into the building. The event organizer had said we could climb as many times as we wanted, so I followed everybody else right into the stairs. My third climb was about 7:20, and I went right back up after coming down the elevator for a time of 7:22 by my watch. I took a longer break after the fourth to take some pictures at the top. I went most of the way up the fifth time with my friend Robert, who was doing his ninth climb. Five was my limit, with a final time of 7:55.
The stairs were quite confusing to me the first time up. Most of the way it's a pretty standard flight, landing, 180-degree turn, next flight. However there's a second stairwell entwined going the opposite direction. With the poor lighting and open-backed metal stairs my mind was confused. Also, since it's a tower with no occupied space until the "pod" level, there aren't regular indicators of progress. There is an occasional spray-painted "20" or "45" to indicate the level, but they're easy to miss. Eventually you get close to the pod and the top treads have been painted. The stairs change in the pod to a triangular formation, brightly lit, clean, and much nicer materials than the rest of the stairs.
The event in general was a good one. It was cool to see so many first responders climbing in their gear, and to be able to climb with them (later climbs, they weren't in there during the competitive wave). The stairs are super wide so there was plenty of room for everybody. I have no idea how good of a fundraiser it was, there weren't a ton of people, at least not that I saw. Probably fewer than 200 people did the event, maybe 40 of those were first responders. There are things they could improve, but it went pretty smoothly for a first-time event.

The Rookie Tri

My third time doing the Rookie Tri was my slowest yet, but I have a pretty good excuse. Whereas last year I did this race a day after doing a 100-mile bike ride, this year I did it one week after a 45-mile hike/run across the Grand Canyon and back (aka Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim or R3) in 19 1/2 hours. Considering my quads were so sore I could barely walk down stairs the two days after and a bad blister on my left big toe hindered walking on flat ground, that I was only 30 seconds slower is pretty good in my book.
After getting home late Monday night, I did some light workouts through the week. A bit of swimming and biking was fine, but the two attempts at running did not go so well. I didn't manage more than a couple miles, and not a very good pace. I picked up my packet on Saturday and my only goal for the race was to have fun.
When I set up my transition Sunday I made the unfortunate discovery that I didn't have insoles for my running shoes. That's definitely something I should have checked after barely getting over a bad blister. I briefly considered doing the run barefoot or use my only other footwear- flip flops. I decided the shoes would be the best option, and hopefully it wouldn't be too bad for two miles. I was feeling a little pressed for time, but kept running into friends and had to say hi. I had plenty of time in the end, and of course I like seeing my friends, but I was a touch frazzled.
Like most triathlons seem to be doing, this race has changed from a wave start to a time-trial start, so there was some clear water at the start, but even over 300 meters there's plenty of overtaking. I didn't really pay much attention to the other people in the water other than a bit of a pileup at the second turn and again at the exit. My swim time was slower than slower than previous races. I would say it might be because the swim exit timing mat was closer to transition, rather than being right at the water's edge, but that would mean I was slower getting on my bike because my T1 time was slower as well.
Somehow I had my best bike split, however. I'll give credit to my fancy bike and to chasing my friend. This was my second sprint tri with the bike I bought from a pro triathlete after Ironman Wisconsin last fall. I'm sure its aerodynamic advantages over my old bike make a miniscule difference over 11 miles, but it is lighter which does make a difference on a rolling course. My friend David passed me as I was getting strapped in coming out of transition, but didn't just zip away like every other race. I actually caught up and passed him briefly before he passed again. He never did get too far ahead of me, and psychologically dragged me along with him.
My run was my slowest yet at this race, but I amazed myself by running a steady 8-minute pace for two miles. I did get a small blister on my left instep, but it hasn't been problematic.
I hung around for quite a while after the race, long enough to see a few friends and teammates get awards. I could have used a nap in the afternoon, but wound up going to my friend's house for a post-race party.

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.