Sunday, June 30, 2013

Leadville Heavy Half Marathon Race Report

Executive Summary:
1st overall in 1:58:03, 8 minutes ahead of the previous course record, 4 minutes ahead of today's second place (Boulder Track Club's Kyle O'Brien), and 15 minutes on 3rd place (pro trail runner and 1500m All-America at Texas Erik Stanley). The Leadville Heavy Half is 15.5 miles long, going from Leadville at 10,200 feet elevation to Mosquito Pass at 13,185 feet. Hmmm....that was an awful lot of numbers in those first two sentences. In response, Scalia dissents from the beginning of this race report, holding that all of those numbers are progressive argle-bargle. Roman numerals are more in-line with the original understanding of how we should count. Gosh, even Roman numerals are indicative of liberal societal progression with undeniable benefits for everyone. So, to be inclusive of the society envisioned by the Conservative members of the Court, my time in today's race was the same as the movement of the sun during the sacrifice of two virgin, female sheep, without which the celestial orb would not rise each morning. Of course, the virgin, female sheep are not gay, because that would be disgusting and unnatural.

Addie says equality for all. Also, please drop more pizza.

What can you say that hasn't already been said about DOMA? Metaphors involving virgin ewe killing, hopefully.

Anyway, I have been working on lazy narrative transitions. However, I am not getting very good at it. In conclusion, heretofore.

Actually, I have been studying for the bar exam in the mountains of Colorado. Colorado mountain law: If a person's beard does not reach their Adam's Apple, you are legally entitled to use their most precious family chattel as kindling. The law is gender-neutral.

While Addie has not helped much with the studying part, she has helped with the Colorado mountains part.

The two weeks in CO have been really fun. Before that, in early June, BaseTrace had some really exciting developments. And even earlier, I graduated! This paragraph is a reverse timeline, like the movie Memento. I initially tried to write it in the style of recent M. Night Shamalayn movies, but my laptop computer rebelled and jumped into the bathtub. Then its ghost haunted an iPad.

Wearing awesome inov-8s while flag-bearing for Duke Law.

Running has been going awesomely, with zero injuries, many adventures, and a moderate number of man v. puppy sprints. The game is to throw a tennis ball a short distance, then sprint in the opposite direction after she gets to it. It is humbling to know that an 8-month old spaniel/retriever mix can whoop my butt without breaking a sweat. That last part was meant as an in-your-face to the puppy. can't break a sweat? Who's the athlete now? Why don't you find some poop to eat to drown your sorrows.


On Friday, the no-sweat poop-consumer, the lots-of-sweat poop-producer (me), Mom, and Dad traveled to Leadville for the race. It is so amazing to spend time with my parents before I hit the real world in September, and I owe them everything. Unfortunately, after 7 years of school, anything I owe them will first be taken by student loan creditors as collateral. So I use this blog post to form a contract with my awesome parents--in consideration for their awesomeness, I bestow upon them past and future excess dryer lint and suggest we call it even.

Early morning meal (including 2 one year-old Mr. Goodbar's and a pickle), a quick jog, and we toed the line in front of a raucous crowd in historic Leadville. One of my life goals is never to be beaten by someone wearing a camelback, so my work was cut out for me. AND THEY'RE OFF!

What do you see first? The options are an old woman, a young lady, or a nipple.

Leadville begins at 10,200 feet, then starts the inexorable climb up. Egged on by the cheers of the awesome Lucho (who was coaching 7 athletes in the marathon!), I began a bit too friskily in town. Starting quickly at altitude is a sure way to be disabused of delusions of grandeur, and by mile 1 I was already feeling it. The pavement of Leadville turned into winding dirt mountain roads outside of town, and pawing the ground with my inov-8 Trail Roc 245s, I tried to get into a rhythm.

If Wendy Davis had been wearing Trail-Rocs, even Texas Republicans would have seen the futility of protesting the filibuster.

However, like my dancing, the rhythm was similar to that of a newborn baby antelope straddling an electric fence. By mile 2.9, we had climbed 1,200 feet. Suddenly, the course turned down and the baby antelope was able to wipe away the still-wet amniotic fluid and find its legs. Unfortunately, a lion was stalking, and when the antelope made a wrong turn at the bottom of the downhill, the lion pounced. In this metaphor, the lion is really cool and nice and just doing his thing, and he roared to the antelope, "Bro [Ed. Note: brotelope? antelbrope?], doesn't the course go left here?" The antelope squealed back "Sorry!", reversed course over the 30 seconds of trail, and began chasing. The predator had become the prey. And this metaphor had become difficult to follow.

So at mile 4.4, the course turned straight up, with Kyle O'Brien (the majestic lion king) 20 seconds ahead and what already seemed like 80 feet in elevation higher. The Mosquito Pass Trail is rocky and relentless, gaining over 2000 feet in a few miles. On a climb like that in a longer race, massive efforts only gain a few seconds, so I decided to sit in and save energy for the rip-roaring descent. Or as it is called in the real-world, I compromised! I closed my eyes and just settled, settled, and I had a bad feeling about that. In case you couldn't tell, the teenage-punk of Taking Back Sunday just speaks to me!

Post-race dead fish speaks to Addie.

Perusing through the discographies of unintended, random 90s songs that popped into my head, I made the way up to Mosquito Pass slowly and surely. Stunning panoramas of the 14,000 foot Collegiate Peaks enveloped the course. Sometimes, feeling small is the perfect antidote to self-doubt. By the turnaround, Kyle had a 30-second lead, and I did not give a shit. Not caring is a powerful drug.

Turning around at the summit, I felt fresh and relaxed, as if the first half was a warm-up for a 5k race. Within a minute or two, I passed Kyle. A few minutes later, eventual 3rd place Erik Stanley came into view. Kyle and I had put over 11 minutes into the chasers on the climb, so I knew I could stay ahead by staying focused. And by having a reckless disregard for the well-being of my ankles.
Addie added a degree of difficulty to pre-race stretching.

Near the base of Mosquito Pass, I saw Dad powering up the trail (on the way to a podium finish for his age group!), and his scream gave me another wave of adrenaline. On the final 1.5 mile climb in the sun (where I had made the wrong turn on the way out), I tried to keep it around 6-minute pace to keep the gap swelling. Finally on the final run-in to town, I tried to open up the stride a bit more, hitting the penultimate mile in 4:55ish.

Thoroughly knackered, I came into town to the cheers of an excited crowd and an amazing mom. Oh, and a very energetic puppy. After crossing the line in 1:58:03, I did the post race interview with Addie in my lap. She stole the show. And by stole the show, I mean peed on the race director.

Kyle and I post-race. Addie is nearby eating potato chips off the refreshments table. 
Thanks so much to inov-8 for their support (everyone should buy 800 pairs!), Lucho for the cheers, Mike for being great, and everyone at Leadville for such a cool experience. And thanks to you for reading, and for everything else. You all are awesome :)


  1. No, Dave, you are awesome. Well done! That profile looks like a dog premolar tooth. Totally appropriate for this post.

  2. Wow! What a good catch, that profile is a dog premolar tooth. You are a genius.

  3. a move to Colorado? this is a thrilling development! many a CR is trembling in fear (or excitement?) right now. HOORAY, LIFE! HOORAY, DAVE ROCHE!!!

  4. Congrats! Congrats! argle-bargle!

  5. Pat! Only the courses that have a fair amount of down. I think I run like a very overweight person. My biggest skill may be falling in a slightly controlled manner.

    You're awesome, still my favorite writer around.

  6. Thanks so much Dylan! I talk to you...I run well. Definitely connected. My gut says it is true. Or that could be giardia.

  7. I have a recording of myself saying "Amazing race, David" because I simply got tired of saying it in my head every time I read your terrific race reports. It was great seeing you after the race. Nice job showing the mountain folks how it's done.

  8. Impressive. Break the BTMR record and the beer is on me for as long as you can swill it.

  9. Tim! It was amazing seeing you afterward. It is always a bit surreal seeing someone I read so much about. Like talking to Kanye after participating in a rap battle or something.

    You killed it! Can't wait to follow your epic journey! Thanks for the conversation :)

  10. Haha GZ. I am a lightweight to an extreme level so that would cost you a beer a day. Or an IPA a week. Who has the course record? If it's MC or someone like him, your beers are safe by about 10 or 15 minutes.

    or (for a listing of the fastest times all time).

    And it was Carpenter who put that db-list together.

  12. Let's just say your beers are very, very safe.

  13. Way to burst onto your new home state's 2013 trail racing scene. Must be the shoes.

  14. Thanks so much Jim! I put on inov-8s, and I was able to dunk like Jordan. Granted, 40-year-old Wizards Jordan, and the basket was 6 feet high. Really appreciate the comment and all of the support since our run way back when I was first getting into this stuff!