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,

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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.