Sunday, September 30, 2012

James River Trail 8 Miler Race Report

Executive Summary:
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?? 
Putting Carly Rae on mute, I stopped, and pondered my options. Turn around and waste 20 seconds, or attempt to jump the 4-foot high barrier in between the chutes? Jump it was, and I got enough air to clear at least one phone book. From a smaller metropolitan city. Like Mayberry circa 1950. EXTREME.

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!


  1. Dark chocolate makes everything real. Like,really real. Good way to celebrate your victory, Dave. ;-) And, speaking of celebrating, I'm so happy to read that your dad is doing so well following The Surgery (title case intentional). Running a race already. He's clearly a 10th degree badass.

  2. R.I.P: Farts. Way to roll David!!!!!! Pretty pumped to see you in under a month!

  3. Damn... that's one fat monkey. But I'll bet you get that all the time.
    Your awesomeness is blinding. Don't ever look back David.
    Your dad is a rock star!

  4. Thanks for your grateful informations, this blogs will be really help for college symposium.

  5. Monday morning: I find a hidden, unopened packet of instant coffee AND I get a Dave Roche Race Report! My cup runneth over! When can we slavering, feverish fans expect a Dave Roche Food Pyramid? I need to know how many daily servings of Awesome and Radical is optimum. Thanks again for the D.R.R.R!

  6. Thanks so much Ash! Dad is a 98th Degree badass. That is what members of the "98 Degrees" fanclub call themselves. Dad is a sucker for Nick Lachey.

    You're great! Are you doing any local races coming up? I will be at Medoc!

    1. I didn't even realize that the degrees of being badass surpassed 10! Shows how much I have to learn about badassery.
      Anyway, I'll have to miss Medoc this year, unfortunately. But, that Eno River Run at the end of October looks promising.

    2. Ash, you can always turn it up to at least 11 :)

      Eno looks so fun! Those are my favorite trails ever. I don't run straight across the river, however :) Hope things are freaking amazing!

  7. Dylan! Why is there never a green dot next to your name anymore?? I check a few times a day. BRING BACK THE GREEN DOT AND RICHMOND TRACK.

  8. You're the man Tim, seriously. I want my kids to grow up to be like your kids. Except my kids will probably think fish are slimy and yucky.

    So excited to follow all of your journeys!

  9. Thanks Suresh, you know me too well.

  10. Pat! You are the internets' best writer. And coolest person. The base of the David Roche Food Pyramid involves lapping up your awesomeness.

    Crap, I think I just violated the second part of "Don't ask, don't tell." You rock Pat, thanks a ton!

  11. Woo hoo! Winnah! Thanks for making my Monday much less depressing with this entertaining race report. I just wish I could make my brain do the math of 8 miles in 44.xx minutes on trails. It simply refuses.

    See you at Medoc!

  12. I like that 44:49 becomes 44:xx. During the race, I ran a 4:xx first mile. Pretty much dropped a Roger Bannister out there :)

    Thanks so much Scott! Pumped to see you at Medoc! Smelling the air around my warm-up zone might make your Saturday temporarily more depressing.

    Hope things are awesome!

  13. Dave, what did you think of the course? Challenging from a technical perspective or what?

  14. Hi Michael! I thought the course mixed some super fast sections with some technically complicated sections. So nothing was overly slow, but it was often either dark or very slippery. I think it's about as fast as a true trail course can get, which makes it really fun :)

    Thanks for the questions!

  15. "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." Oh God, I thought I was the only one.

    In one of the most embarrassing 5K victories of my life, I apparently spent the entire race hauling like a scalded cat (don't ask how I know that sound and speed), made the last turn (ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED SOMEONE HAD STALKED ME STEP FOR STEP THE ENTIRE RACE AND WAS READY TO PASS!!!!!), dumped what tiny remains of energy I had (while alternately cursing the jerk for having drafted off me the entire time and wondering what my tombstone would say since I was clearly in the midst of having a cardiac arrest), crossed the line and just prior to puking looked over my left shoulder for the racer who had been shadowing me...paused...confusedly looked over my right shoulder...looked on the ground, up in the sky, over at a lovely Camry parked by the podium...and there was no one there. The next racer crossed about 2 minutes later.

    I've spent all my life being mocked for constantly being convinced that there was someone just behind me in races (and in grocery stores, the mall, at Belks in the young and tall slacks aisle, the Fifty Shades of Gray section of my local B&N, etc) and yet never looking (don't give them the satisfaction! Or in my case, don't take your eyes off the road, your dumb butt will trip) and now I finally have justification! A skinny liberal law-dog with bowel issues also suffers the same affliction!!! You know, said aloud, that's not quite as redeeming as I had hoped it would be.

  16. Holy crap that is the most epic comment ever. James Joyce printed it out and used it as a doorstop. Jack Kerouac took 4 weeks to produce that on his typewriter. Thoreau spent 3 years at Walden Pond, then said fuck nature and moved in to your basement.

    Congrats on the victory! Your fecundity is evident. If that is your Camry, at least. Also, I am behind you at the 50 Shades section. Don't worry, I breathe quietly.

    You're awesome Andrew! Thanks sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much!