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.
|Addie: THAT IS A COMPLIMENT THANK YOU|
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.