Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in Pictures

2014 was a year that came with many tears and just as many joys.  I was able to start and end the year running which was only made possible by the Grace of God and with the support of Rachel.

Most amazing part of the year was when I got engaged to my best friend on the most romantic trip ever.  Don't believe me?  Ask Rachel the story!
  • 2,136 miles running
  • 6,679 miles cycling
  • 7 wins (73 career)
  • 12 top 3 finishes (159 career)
  • 22 total races (341 career)
  • 4th overall at Mountain Mist 50k after tearing the meniscus in my knee
  • Repeating as winner of McKay Hollow Madness six weeks after knee surgery
  • 12 donuts eaten (during a race) and 15 minutes of fame as the 3-time Donut King
  • Asked one amazing woman to marry me
  • Cycled across Alabama in under 10 hours
  • Paced 1:30 at Bridge Street and Huntsville Half marathon
  • Vocal cord surgery (no pictures taken)
  • Paced 3:35 at Rocket City Marathon

The year started off with a strong performance at Xterra Monte Sano 15k splashing in the puddles like a kid and hanging on for 2nd place overall.  This is also a race that I co-direct along with Dirty Spokes Productions.

At the end of January I had my best ever Mountain Mist 50k, finishing 4th overall.  I fell four times on the land trust and ran the last 10 miles with a torn meniscus in my left knee.  I managed the 2nd fastest second half split and was the fastest local finisher.

Within days after Mountain Mist, I had knee surgery to remove the tear in my meniscus.  Having surgery was no guarantee of being able to run again,  so this was the most terrifying month of my life.  A week after surgery I was able to walk 400 feet, on crutches and cried the entire time.  After two weeks I was able to get on the trainer and start my comeback.

Just 4 weeks after surgery, I was able to run and win the Care Center 5k in New Hope, for the 4th consecutive time.  This was a very emotional race for me at it marked the paramount of my comeback.

The goal race of my spring and my comeback was McKay Hollow Madness 25km, which was just six weeks after my knee surgery.  I was unable to run any trails leading into the race and had no idea how my knee would react to the twisting motion of trail racing.  I was able to run with Rob for the first 10 miles and then slowly pulled away for the overall win and repeated as winner.  The look on Eric Fritz's face, who stood at the top of Death Trail and was expecting to see anyone but me appear in first, was priceless.  One of the best races of my career.

In April I entered my first multi-sport race and didn't suck. Well I ran well but had no chance of competing on a road bike against guys with time trial bikes but I tried something new!

Lingering knee pain started to surface in late April and despite following the doctor's suggested plan, I made a bad decision by racing the Lake Guntersville Duathlon on Saturday then running the final day of Grand Viduta Stage races. Originally I was going to race all three days but I was nervous about three days of trails but I still ran the final day. Despite the fastest time of the day, it was foreshadowing of days to come with setbacks.

In early May I decided to go to the Lake Guntersville Triathlon Festival and try the trail race and hill climb. Having a road bike and strong climbing legs paid off as I was the fastest to the top of the hill on the bike! Totally stunned! Pictured here with Nathan Graves who was second on the climb.

Photo courtesy of KatieBeth Pierson

In May while in Seattle, I asked Rachel to marry me!

In June I had another MRI on my knee and though results were inconclusive, I still was having a lot of pain and unable to run.  I decided to take the months of June and July off from running and just focusing on cycling which did not hurt.  I switched training to focus on riding 180 miles across Alabama on the 4th of July, which meant many long training rides on the Arsenal.

Photo courtesy of KatieBeth Pierson

On July 4th, I road 181.11 miles across Alabama from Georgia to Mississippi along the same route as Eric Schotz, Jon Elmore and I ran in 2009 to honor Elliott Schotz, who was suffering from Tay Sachs. 5 years. Starting in the dark at 5:00am from near Mentone, Alabama there was 16,624' of elevation change on the east to west route that finished in Red Bay, Alabama. I averaged 19.4 miles per hour for a total ride of 9 hours 20 minutes and 25 seconds. Finishing at 2:50:10pm I spent less than 30 minutes off the saddle all day and averaged 18.41 mph including rest stops. Rachel Cochran was my crew for the day, providing tremendous support, especially late in the day when I was starting to fall apart in the mid-day heat. I just hope that my efforts are a difference maker, even to a single person.

I had the good fortune in late summer to summit 6 more peaks along the I-90 corridor east of Seattle. This was the pinnacle, standing atop Granite Mountain with a clear view of Mount Rainier in the background.  A cortisone shot in my knee helped to take the edge off the pain and made running possible.

In September I had the good fortune of going to New Zealand for work, traveling from the north end of the north island to the south end of the south island over a three week period.  I was able to run everywhere I went, including the Tongariro Crossing.

In late September I entered my third duathlon at Racin' the Station on Redstone Arsenal.  I fought back on the second run to overtake 3rd place.

In 2014 I tried to volunteer more and part of that included helping friends realize their goals.  In October I helped Susi Bowermaster crush her personal best in the 15k.

In October I ran Liz Hurley 5km for the time and posted a season best 17:34.

In November I got 15 minutes of fame after giving an interview with the Huntsville Times that got picked up by a nationally circulated newspaper as the two time defending Krispy Kreme Challenge. Though facing a sub 2:30 marathon, I was able to out-eat friend David Wall to repeat at winner and take the title of Donut King for the 3rd time.

In early December after a second cortisone shot in my knee, I ran the Galaxy of Lights 5km chasing teammate and friend Jim Clemens and with a final uphill surge, finished 3rd place overall.