All of my siblings swam competitively growing up. I started racing on the European Forces Swim League when we lived in Germany and I attended JFK school in Berlin. I tried baseball, football, soccer (indoor and outdoor), wrestling … I never ran cross country or track; and was never very good at team sports (or sports involving balls).
In college I started cycling and working at bike shops in College Park, MD. I did a few road races in college, but preferred long road rides in the farmland on the outskirts of Montgomery County, MD. Regular college rides were in the National Agricultural Research Center in Greenbelt, MD. I did a few crits and the weekly road races at Greenbelt Park. When I started working at REI in College Park I started doing a mix of road riding and mountain biking.
REI sent me to Barnett’s Bicycle Institute In Colorado Springs for their Master Technician program and I came back to run the shop at College Park REI for 2 years while I saved money to go back and finish school. The first race during that time was a 24 hours of Canaan in West Virginia on a 5 person mixed team.
I did a few sprint triathlons around this time as well… so was running a little bit, but not much. All of my friends were spending a lot of time training and racing. Lots of time in the saddle during those years. I bonked the first time on a 70 mile road ride. Very interesting when your body says “all done”.
I did a few more 24 hour races on 4-person teams, then a handful of 12 hour solo mountain bike races, then continued on to Shenandoah 100 (100 miler) twice, and raced Leadville 100 in Colorado. I got lost in the last 10 miles, went down a hill and had to climb back up it to get back on course – not sure how much time it cost me, but I finished in 12:15 – so just a medal, not a buckle. That race was so fun (fun #2 , not fun #1).
I was also doing a lot of rock climbing during this time – trad climbing at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia – a 3 + hour drive from D.C. We would leave Friday right after work, set up the tent in the dark, crash and then climb all day Saturday and Sunday before driving home. Afternoon bouldering at Carderrock and at Great Falls, VA. I climbed at New River Gorge, Seneca Rocks… and made the pilgrimage to Yosemite to climb in the valley and hike around Tuolumne Meadows.
I also started mountaineering and ice climbing during this time. We were awarded a grant to make a winter attempt at Kahtahdin in Maine. 23 miles skiing and pulling sleds back to Chimney Pond in February. We had a lot of fun – the climb didn’t go well, but it was a great experience. I climbed ice in Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont, Crawford Notch in New Hampshire and in Keene Valley, New York. I met Alex Lowe there – at Chapel Pond… just passed him on the trail and gave him a smile and a hey. Contagious energy that guy had. I ran up (in snowshoes) Mt. Marcy solo on a Potomac Appalachian Trail Club trip to the Adirondacks. There was a break in the weather and had to take advantage. We climbed Mt. Washington in New Hampshire in winter a couple of times (Lion’s Head route).
When I started working professionally, time was at a premium and I started to run more and cycle less. Mostly trail running. I hooked up with the VHTC (Virginia Happy Trails Running Club) in Northern Virginia and ran some Fat Ass races (50K’s), volunteered at Massanutten 100 twice at the 50 mile aid station. Such strange things people say after they’ve been running for 50 miles and have 50 to go. I raced my first 50k at Capon Valley in West Virginia… then raced Bull Run Run (50 miler).
When we moved to New Mexico, our house was about 4 miles from the Albuquerque Open Space… so with the Sandias as a backdrop, I ran all the trails in the mountains – running up Piño trail to the Sandia Crest, continuing across the ridge at 11K feet and then taking the tram back down to the car (or just running home). The 365 is still one of my favorite trails to run – I have favorite sections… really just 15-20 foot sections, curves with a view. I also started to ski mountaineer at Sandia Ski Area. In the spring after the area closed I would take my dogs and do laps up and down under the still lifts. We had the mountain to ourselves most days. Lots of hiking in the Needles outside Durango. I got lost with a friend and my dogs trying to get to Ruby Creek in Noname basin (one basin over from Chicago Basin). We ended up hiking all the way back out to the Purgatory trailhead in a (long) day.
I took my Avy level 1 course at Silverton Avalanche school… and skied Red Mountain Pass and Purgatory and climbed ice in Ouray. Nothing beats climbing ice all day and then sitting in the lobster pot at Orvis Hot Springs (nada).
I also raced the La Luz trail race in Albuquerque 3 times when I lived in New Mexico – 9 miles of up to the Sandia Crest. Good fun – and beautiful trail. New Mexico is the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived.
In 2007 my little brother planted the seed to come out to Hawaii and swim the Waikiki Rough Water Swim with him; so we did that and I finished just over 2 hours. So amazing being out in the open ocean in high surf when you can’t see the shore because you’re down in a trough. We’re such little inconsequential beings on this amazing planet.
Moving to Portland in 2008 I brought my bikes and primarily just commuted to work. I made the drive from Albuquerque to Portland 3 times. The first drive I stopped at Snowbird in Salt Lake and had an extended powder day before continuing on to Portland.
I began to run more in Forest Park and at Mt. Tabor in 2012. Mileage has been ticking up as I hit middle age. My theory is that endurance events are better suited to people with experience. Everyone is hurting the same way when racing and maxed out; I didn’t really understand that when I was younger.
That concludes a short history of sport and me. I think it’s called “lifelong (non-traditional) athlete”.