1st overall in 44:49 in what is becoming one of the bigger trail races in the region (7 waves!). I was visiting my brother's house in Richmond, and had eaten my last Clif Bar the night before as my dessert appetizer (aka "dinner"). That was followed by dessert (ICE CREAM!) and dessert dessert (children's cereal). On a positive note, there was no dessert desert. That's the metaphorical meal describing the emotional desolation of eating an entire pint of Chunky Monkey alone in your New York City apartment during freshman year of college.
|Overweight Primate thinks Bloomberg's Soda Ban is fascist.|
So I did not have my usual breakfast at hand, and had to round up some sustenance from the house of 4 twenty-something bachelors. After making a pot of coffee using a paper towel as a filter, I sat down for breakfast: two handfulls of chocolate chips and two handfulls of Reeses peanut butter chips. Not actual Reeses, but just the fake peanut butter that is usually in the middle, in chip form. During the race, my stomach felt great. I am becoming more and more convinced that nutrition is a liberal hoax perpetrated by Michelle Obama to socialize our children through school lunches.
Last Monday was the big event of the semester, when my law journal held our Symposium on "Conservative Visions of Our Environmental Future." While the cynical devil on my shoulder asked why I included at least 2 oxymorons in the title of the event, the conference actually turned out really well and taught me a lot. For example, the free market can solve any problem. After hearing the speeches, I am pretty sure that the invisible hand could reverse global warming, arrange an infinite number of Rubix cubes, AND give everyone on Earth an especially sensual massage, all before dinnertime.
|Corgi Michael Jackson. The market has spoken.|
To be serious, it was eye-opening and shifted my perspective a bit. We got some local and national press, so hopefully we can help move the environmental debate past bumper-sticker slogans. Strategically tailing a Prius should not count as studying all of the reasons and methods for environmental protection.
However, if you are in the Whole Foods' parking lot, strategically rear-ending a Prius will always count as tax-deductible public service. Anyway, after getting to know the amazing speakers and doing some interviews, I was ready to get back to racing! Training has been awesome despite some lingering shin issues, so I was looking forward to getting in a blow-out before a couple huge races over the next month.
Fortunately, there was a big trail race in Richmond, where my brother lives. After a hectic week of catching up on job applications and interview practice ("Fries you that would like with. F**K"), I drove up on I-95 on Friday night, passing my favorite ever road sign: "Exit now for Richard Bland College." His parents clearly did not have high expectations.
Upon glancing at my brother's face, I hope my parents did not either. Just kidding, of course. Jesse is awesome and has all of the looks of one of Mitt Romney's sons with the added benefit of probably not being a WASP cyborg. I say 'probably' because he owns at least one pink polo and cannot pass through a metal detector without setting it off (braces seem like too convenient an excuse).
|My shirt says "Your Face...3 million people dislike this." Yes, it was a gift from my brother.|
The race started early, and my dad (who just entered the 60-64 age group!) and I traveled to Maymont Park just before 6 AM. My goal for the race was to go over the red line as many times as possible, especially on hills. Don't let Benjamin Netenyahu know about that last sentence, or he may tell the UN that the time has come to bomb my strategic locations.
Speaking of bombing strategic locations, I toed the line mere seconds after doing a "butterfly stretch" in the bushes lining the park. If you are playing race report bingo at home, you can put a chip down if your card has "Poop reference." There is a good chance that is Free Space.
STRIP (clothes), SIP (water) and RIP (farts)!
The race began with 3/4 of a mile on roads before plunging onto single-track. Second and third place kept distressingly close on the road (who are these guys?), and my competitive juices were flowing as we hit the rocky trails. As you could probably guess: rocky, muddy trails PLUS competitive juices EQUALS faceplants.
I hit the mile marker in 4:43 and was both muddy and bloody at mile 2 when we crossed the bridge over the James River. I have a hard and fast rule that I never, ever turn around in races, so I do not know where the chasers were, but I thought I heard footsteps echoing over the footbridge. Whether they were there or not, the tellltale heartbeats on the pavement led to a furious sprint over the last few meters of bridge, followed by a 5-step-at-a-time jumping down the 4 flights of stairs.
|I panicked and hit the extreme button. It has a picture of Channing Tatum on it.|
Back onto trails, in my element, I got in a mid-race zone, where my mind blanked except for the 5 seconds of a random pop song that played over and over in my head on repeat. My inadvertent mental playlist during races is basically designed by Ryan Seacrest with amnesia. Or Casey Kasem with amnesia if the start line speakers are playing oldies.
Around mile 5, we hit a stretch of bridle path and I was able to get in a road running rhythm for just over a half mile. I felt awesome with only the occasional synthetic peanut butter burp, and was really happy to be running as I traversed the bridge one last time. After one more section of technical trails, and one more fall, I was running toward the finish line.
Or, rather, perpendicular to the finish line, but down the wrong chute. The race announcer panicked and started screaming NO! NO! NO! as I went further down the high school XC finishing chute. Adding to the legend of my going-off-course abilities, I was creatively increasing the distance I would have to run while simultaneously getting closer to the finish.
|Does this mean I have a friend??|
Stumbling over the barrier, the few hundred spectators suddenly had a much clearer explanation for why I was covered in blood. Doing my best Carrie impression, I crossed the line in 44:49, around 5 minutes under the previous course record. Dad ran an incredible time in his first race after the surgery, and seeing him accelerate over the last 800 meters made me so happy. Afterward, sitting with my family having a slightly more proper meal (so real peanut butter and dark chocolate chips), it was really clear what is important. Friends. Family. Neosporin. Korean Rap Videos. Hidden Cameras at Political Fundraisers. Not Hitting Your Head on Rocky Trails. Skaddish forty-seven banana.
Thanks for reading, and for everything else :) You guys are awesome!