Runner of the Month: September 2018

Jeff Rome has had an incredible year of running. He followed up a 2017 top 10 Hardrock finish with a 2018 second place result. Then he showed up at the Rut, won the VK, and then smashed the trifecta record with two more top 10 finishes.

Name: Jeff Rome

 
Age: 29
 
Number of years running: 7
 
You’ve had an incredible year of running this year. 2nd at Hardrock. Rut VK win. Rut Trifecta Record. Plus a bunch I’m probably missing. Did anything change this year with your training or mental approach?
No, you’re not missing anything!  Except for the Hardrock Depletion Mile, but that’s pretty informal (a mile run on a track after finishing Hardrock the day before).  I feel like I owe more to my mental approach than to my training this year.  Before each event this year, I was lucky enough that I had the time to relax.  I read books about running to keep myself excited, was around good company, and did some yoga, drank a lot of tea, and soaked in water a good bit (cold and hot).  I also napped a lot, and ate a lot of ice cream.  I ran, too, but I feel like I was able to hold back my energy and really nail the taper each time.  I’ve had similar approaches to taper weeks before, but this year I tapered a little more aggressively (which means I ate more and napped more).  There are so many variables, though, that it’s hard to know what helped most.  My training went well, but it was largely the same as last year except for slightly bigger blocks and more hours put in.  I also lived above 6,500′ for most of the summer, and spent some weeks above 9,000′.  Maybe I was imbued with the magic of the San Juan mountains and kept that magic after I left, who knows.  I just started doing the whole Strava thing a month ago, and prior to that I really didn’t keep a log of any sort except for what’s in my head.
What was it like going from Hardrock, a 100 mile race where pacing is everything, to the Rut VK where it’s less than an hour? 
 
Well, there’s no time for chatter in the VK!  At Hardrock, you go out and make buddies or chat with friends you already know.  You tell trail jokes, really bad ones.  And the vibe is about spending a magical day or two in the mountains and enjoying as much of it as possible.  The VK is much more of a sufferfest, and much more tactical.  You drool and spit up phlegm and don’t care if anyone notices.  In the weeks between races, my training changed to shorter, faster runs with a few test runs of pushing myself hard on the uphills.  Were the runs closer together, like what Mike Foote did with the Sentinel Hill Climb last year the week after Hardrock, I don’t think I could have pulled off a win.  There’s still pacing in both, though.  I definitely saved some energy for the “running” on the flat sections going up Bonecrusher, and I think those two flat sections and the technical section is where I got my first hint of a gap on the field.
 
We all want to know. Where do you draw inspiration from for your dance moves, and costume selection? 
 
Alcohol.  No, actually I’ve had that Elvis/Evel-Kneivel outfit for about 7 years now and it just always lives in my car, because I use it at every available opportunity (which also means I’ve never washed it).  I originally had the idea of three layered outfits to celebrate three races in three days, but it gets hot on the dance floor and the other two outfits didn’t last long.  I’m really not too sure what my dance moves look like, it’s always a little hard for me to imagine.  But I try to just dance without a care of what others think, and it seems to work out okay in most crowds.  I couldn’t dance the way I do in a country bar, though.  I think my favorite dancer is David Byrne, and I’d like to think I’m able to draw some of my creativity from the same well he draws his from.
 
What’s next for you?
 
I really couldn’t say.  Graduating from PT school, I guess.  As far as racing or running plans, I’m pretty bad at planning in general.  I’m not even sure what day the Hardrock lottery opens, but I know it’s sometime in November.  There aren’t too many races that appeal to me, so if I don’t get into Hardrock I might just come up with something to do on my own for a summer goal.  UTMB seems appealing, but it has this whole points system to get into, and I don’t think I’d pursue it unless whatever races I do just happen to get me enough points, which doesn’t seem likely.  I really just want to be in the mountains moving quickly as much as possible and mountain races are a way to make that seem like a somewhat logical decision.  The only concrete plan I have right now is setting up an aid station this weekend at the top of Katahdin for hikers finishing the AT, but I’m not too sure if Baxter State Park would be okay with that.  I suppose the aid station shouldn’t have alcohol, which really isn’t something that would ever be considered in Montana.