1st overall in 39:03. When a race is sponsored by LaSportiva, you know a bunch of pro/sponsored athletes will be at the start line. Luckily, I don't think I've ever been beaten by someone wearing LaSportiva shoes. Correlation always equals causation. ALWAYS. In that spirit, after doing okay on one law school exam, I now accidentally poop myself a little bit from nervousness before every important life event. Anyway, that statement probably ruins any chance I ever have at sponsorship. It's okay, though, because student loans mean the U.S. Government has my back. Which, ever since that law school exam, is a particularly bad place to be.
|Toughest part of the race: ab-flexing. It appears that I refused to breathe whenever cameras were in sight.|
Yesterday was the last day of work, and I am heading back to North Carolina tomorrow! This is exciting for multiple reasons: one, I enjoy it when running through the ambient air is a full-contact sport. And for people that pass me on the trail, my humidity-induced projectile sweating makes the experience feel like they are rioters being suppressed by fire hose.
|Dear lord I hope those aren't nipple metaphors.|
Two, there is a beautiful girl at the other end. In an example of fate smiling, the medical term for her sweat rate is "Niagra Falls". Also, birdwatchers in Duke Gardens can attest to her acceptance of a little bit of poop when the mood is right. Or, more appropriately, a lot of poop. It smells like roses though. Though that may just be the Garden.
Anyway, this is kind of my home race, and it always attracts amazing runners. I was super-excited all week, and woke up today feeling like a million bucks. (Note: After the financial happenings this week, a million bucks now buys 6 lead-based children's toys. In the aftermath of Tea Party America, the "Made in China" stickers will be considered a pledge of allegiance) (Double note: China is now proposing carbon cap-and-trade, and is rapidly becoming the world's most progressive nation on climate change. In America, Republicans fight every single piece of clean energy legislation, backed by billions of industry dollars. Conservatism is funny.)
Drive up to 9,000 feet for the race start, jog around checking out the haunches of skinny men, expose my own haunches to the start-line sunlight, AND THEY'RE OFF!
|Kill it! KILL IT WITH FIRE.|
The Eldora 10k begins above 9,000 feet, and gets close to 10,000 within a mile. Going anaerobic at altitude is dangerous (thanks to Lucho for teaching me everything I know about racing up here), so I was set on relaxing up the climb. Awesome guy and pro-triathlete Tate Behning changed those plans though, as he bolted up the opening jeep trail. We opened up a gap on the chase pack by the top, and loped down a gradual descent. Taking all the tension out of my hips, I tried to extend the stride and drop below 5-minute pace, knowing the course would soon become technical and steep. Just as we rounded a switchback for the next climb, Tate glanced over his shoulder at the chasers. That gesture of fatigue added urgency to my stride, and I attacked the single-track uphill to gain a few second gap. As the trail turned down into old mining road, my brain fired urgent signals, blaring that this move had to stick. Back down onto technical single-track, Tate's metronomic breathing no longer lingered at my shoulder. In what seemed like an instant, I was out of sight.
Running alone on rooty, rolling trails, I felt like myself for the first time since the injury. And by "felt like myself", I mean I was awkwardly flailing in a general direction, with an exertion-face that would scar small children. Possibly by turning them into stone. Leaving toddler-sculptures in my wake, I bounded down the trail to the final climb. And by" bounded", I mean I looked vaguely like a wacky inflatable arm balloon man outside of a used car dealership.
|Fabulous gangsta lean.|
The major climb came around mile 4. As the uphill progressed, I leaned into the mountain to sap every ounce of forward motion from my now-sapless legs. By the top, it probably looked like I was missing several essential vertebrae, or that there was something very important on the ground in front of my feet that required IMMEDIATE ATTENTION. After completing the observational study of my shoelaces, I reached the crest and accidentally glanced back. Second place (Geoff Williamson, formerly 26th at the World Trail Running Championships) was dangerously close. Spurred by his effortless-looking stride, I attacked a flat section with aplomb. Then I attacked a sheer descent with aplomb. Then I redundantly attacked a short climb. WITH APLOMB.
Coming through the final aid station, I heard no cheers in my wake. With a wide gap heading into the final descent, I excitedly fell toward the finish. This race has been won by national-class studs every year, so the spectators at the finishing chute were undoubtedly disappointed to see what appeared to be a zombie actively having a stroke (they said the course was extended from last year's mud-shortened race, so the time is hopefully comparable to Ryan Hafer's 36:36). Second was Geoff, followed by LaSportiva athlete (and great person!) John Tribbia, then Tate. Doing post-race interviews, I felt so lucky to be in that particular moment. After the injury, and with the Colorado exodus around the corner, it was definitely an important life event. With that in mind, I pooped all over myself and the interviewer.
|Gradually learning the best way to present myself.|
Thanks so much for reading, and for everything else. I am so lucky to have you guys in my life, whether you're a close friend, someone who just happens to check the blog occasionally, or an on-duty member of the Sanitation Department. You're awesome, and I hope your August is off to a perfect start!