Sunday, June 8, 2014

Rothrock Challenge 30k Race Report

Executive Summary:
1st overall (my first La Sportiva Mountain Cup win!) in 2:32:49, a 7 min course record and 18 minute lead over 2nd place (Jason Bryant, an awesome guy and Mountain Cup/international stalwart). Probably the best way to describe this race is through my internal monologue from the start line forward:

this is nice ... pretty ... yipeeuphill ... country music lyrics ... she thinks my tractor's sexy ... it really turns her on ... oh wait that's a lot of rocks ... even more rocks ... where's the trail? ... THAT'S the trail ... No, THAT is a cliff ... ahhhhhhhCRAPcrapCRAPcrapCRAPcrapOUCHcrapCRAPcrapCRAPcrapPOOP (continues for 19 miles)

This is a typical section of trail.

Basicallly, it was rocky. Oh so rocky. I should have known because it is right there in the race name. RothROCK. My guess is that Roth also means rock in German or something. After yesterday, I am no longer a huge fan of Dwayne Johnson. I think the Rolling Stones should play more soft jazz. If I have to go to Radio City Music Hall around Christmas, my ankles will have a Pavlovian swelling response.

*If anyone under 25 gets that last reference, kudos! Also, if anyone under 25 is reading, Hunger Games Justin Bieber #vampireabstinence

In very exciting/humbling news, Megan and I were profiled in Running Times! The awesome author, Justin Mock, wrote a great article, and our puppy Addie made an appearance as well. Being pictured next to 2 beautiful girls probably does not help how I look by comparison. However, if Running Times had smell-o-vision, it might be slightly more even because one of those girls smells perpetually like pee, and the other has her post-run moments.


Anyway, 4 weeks ago, Megan and I traveled to Montana for another La Sportiva Mountain Cup race called the Don't Fence Me in 30k. On a downhill at mile 12, I decided to get intimate with a few boulders, and they loved me back like Lennie in Of Mice and Men. I came away with 2 broken ribs, a possibly cracked sternum, a pathological fear of sneezing, and a convenient excuse for not having the strength to open some pickle jars.

Megan, however, DOMINATED. My girl is incredible--she won by 7.5 minutes over two top international trail runners (the great Maria Dalzot and Megan Kimmel) during the middle of medical school. Seeing her finish, fresh as a daisy with a big smile, is something I will never forget.

A couple weeks later, we did the China Camp Trail Half Marathon, where Megan again beat a world-champion trail runner (the incredible Megan Lund-Lizotte), this time by 7 minutes. I only beat my fiance by 1:45. We are getting married in August after a run up a mountain to the altar, and I just hope the wedding officiant (my dad! another kindred spirit in that he also smells perpetually like pee) waits for the groom to get started. Fortunately, after that day in August, even when she beats me in races, a Roche will still win.

Weak piggy-back form to protect the ribs.

I also formally launched my coaching service, Some Work, All Play (website with all info here). We have 13 amazing athletes (from recreational runners to Oly Trials qualifiers), and I'd love to work with a few more awesome people if anyone is interested. The service is all about daily dialogue, plans that are responsive to your life, and a goal to have some fun (and fast!) adventures. Contact me anytime at if you might be interested :)

Finally, this week I was on a career panel put on by the D.C. Bar called "Introduction to a Career in Environmental Law & Policy." It was so surreal to be up there with 5 amazing, accomplished individuals. I really love my job. Primarily because no one says anything when I smell like pee. After all, it runs in the family.

The night before, Addie and I saddled up the Suzuki and made the 3 hour drive from DC to State College, PA. My dinner consisted of an entire jar of pickles and a shockingly large amount of chunky peanut butter. Did I have a little bit of Addie's dog treats when we were playing fetch? Perhaps. But they are from Trader Joes, so the ingredients are way better than anything I eat. Don't hate my nutrition game.

The morning dawned beautifully. Addie and I did are typical race warm-up, consisting of sprinting after squirrels and other forest critters. Then resting to smell things. Then doing yoga contortions to rub our backs in animal poop (only one of us did that last thing). After parking the car in the shade 1/2 mile up the course, and telling Addie I loved her, I ran down to the start.

Rothrock is known as one of the toughest courses in the U.S., and my plan was to go at the gun to make up as much time as possible before the first nasty downhills. Before the 1 mile, 1,100 foot climb began about 0.5 miles in, I ran by the car and Addie let out a few barks of encouragement. I am so excited about one day in the somewhat distant future when my human daughter comes to races and does the same thing, yelling at me from her crate in the backseat.

Wait...that's not what I meant. No time for edits though because the course was about to turn up. Straight the crap up. I love these types of inclines, and I tried to move my weight forward and bounce up the climb. Next was the dreaded, infamous Kettle Descent. It drops 600 feet in 0.3 miles down a boulder field. I had Megan's pre-race advice coursing through my head: "David, I don't care if you win or lose. Just don't fall off a cliff and die."

Another section of trail!

I gingerly descended, walking when I had to, butt sliding at other times. As the trail ran along the valley for the next few miles, I reached a bit of a mental low-point as I realized that the rest of the race was going to be all rocks. Then, I had a caffeinated gel (my first time taking in fuel of any type at a running race). Everything changed.

Oh my gosh if I were a psychologist, I would encourage my patients to have a caffeinated gel whenever they were feeling down. They make everything a million times better:
The Health Care roll-out didn't go as planned? /takes gel/ OBAMA IS CREATING I.T. JOBS YES WE CAN.
Russia is being a jerk? /takes gel/ WOOHOO MORE OPTIONS FOR JAMES BOND MOVIE VILLAINS.
Rain on your wedding day? A free ride when you've already paid? /takes gel/ I NOW KNOW THE DEFINITION OF IRONY DOES NOT INCLUDE THINGS THAT JUST HAPPEN TO SUCK HOORAY VOCABULARY.

Supercharged by legal drugs, the rocks suddenly became fun opportunities to run joyfully, completely in the moment. The course was awesomely challenging--rocks everywhere, straight up and down, full of twists and turns, with informal trails across boulder fields marked by blazes. It was like being a kid, sprinting through the woods, eluding imaginary foes and coming back home with a few scrapes. Speaking of kids and Google hits, #vampireabstinence

Our Easter celebration!

3 gels later, I reached the most infamous section of all...Shingletown Gap. It goes straight down and up, over 350 feet in 0.13 miles. They anchor ropes to the rock, and I grabbed the first one as hard as I could and scurried down. Unfortunately, I treated the rope like a firehouse pole, and I paid for the rookie mistake with deep red burns in my palms. Fortunately, on 3 caffeine gels, I couldn't feel a thing until hours later. I LOVE PAIN IT MAKES ME FEEL ALIVE /caffeine twitch.

The rest of the race, I was running scared, trying to escape pursuing apparitions who might bound by me on any downhill. Running my fastest few miles in the final section, motivated by ghosts, I crossed the line in 2:32:49, a course record in a hotly contested Mountain Cup race. After a journey like that, Addie's licks meant so much. And a beer or two helped counteract the caffeine buzz.

Strategic porta-potty placement.

Thanks so much to the PA running community (especially PA's Integrity Sports) for being the best, La Sportiva for putting these races on the national stage, and all of you for being awesome and supportive. I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH LET ME LICK YOU. That was Addie. Or David on an extreme caffeine high.


  1. Glad to see success has not taken your sense of humor. Well done.

  2. Thank you so much, that really means a ton. Mostly because you said I've had success. The only thing I consider myself successful at is an ability to draft legal documents while running. They might not be good, but I'm hoping that lets me bill training hours :) You're awesome!

  3. This is one of your best writeups yet! Go Caffeine! Go David!

  4. Sweet heyzeus. 2 broken ribs, a cracked sternum and a daughter in a crate? My my, you are active.

    Congrats on the win, your hard fought CR, and most of all your upcoming marriage Mr. Deakins.

  5. Dylan, you are the best. THE BEST. Bestbestbestbestbestbest. -David, brought to you by afternoon coffee

  6. GZ, I was thinking about you so much yesterday! During the race, I was actually like "I really really wish I had GZ's gloves." One of my favorite moments of all time is at Barr when you wiggled your fingers and said "These are the moneymakers." :)

  7. Awesome as always! I'm so excited for you guys and can't wait to hear about more of your running adventures. Hope you guys can find your way to the east coast for a race or two :-) Congrats again, you guys are amazing!

  8. Yum, Pickles... I might try those before my next 70.3, with Nutella.. Sounds like a healthy pre-race feast to me! Honestly, if anything can make me run half as fast as u, I'd be smiling & high too, no Gu needed!!! CONGRATS on another super race! Watch those ribs, did the same a few seasons back, now I have a great excuse to hug myself when I cough. :) Hi 5!

  9. This is an incredible and extremely amusing race report. You killed the race, you deserve to lick whomever you choose.

  10. Full Definition of ROCHE
    dialectal, England
    : any of various rocks, stones, or geological strata

    you really rocked it hard, david!
    (i hear they are thinking of changing the name to rocherock)...

  11. Jules, your high 5s mean so much! But seriously, I hate pickles. But I generally don't get much sodium in my diet, and I've found that loading up on the salt = better performance. Or possibly I am just a nutritional masochist. You should try olives and nutella. Report back :)

  12. Thank you so much Keely! I chose to lick Addie and give her a taste of her own medicine. Her own medicine tastes like poo. You are awesome, thank you!

  13. Everyone that reads these, it is important for you to know that Meira WON the race :) But I guess MinardRock doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Thanks so much Meira! You are famous in that community for being a great runner and equally awesome person. So funny on Roche, I totally didn't know that. Can you walk today? I absolutely cannot :)

  14. apparently, "minard" means "rocks for brains"....
    and i am definitely not rocking the walk today....:)

  15. OK, finally managed to sit down and read this race report. Stupendously awesome work! Also, yay caffeine! Also, you might have gone faster if you hadn't stopped, changed into a button-down shirt, taken a picture with Addie, then resumed running. Just a suggestion. Congratulations on a tough, exciting race, and on not falling off a cliff!

  16. Meira, I think that is everyone's name that attempts that course :) Also, my supervising attorney just asked if I was okay because of how I was walking. I showed pictures of the course to explain myself.

  17. Robyn, there is no way in heck I could have gone 20k further like you did. YOU ARE EPIC. Also, you know that picture with Addie is not from mid-race, because I do not look like the zombie of the award-winner for world's ugliest man, who had died from an acid wound to the face before coming back as one of the undead.

  18. i'm sure it makes approaching the bench a bit of a challenge....

    and we'll all be in big trouble if the zombie apocalypse discovers caffeine gels....

  19. It's so cool that when you respond to comments, your comment count increases. I love America. Nicely done, Runner Boy.

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