Thursday, April 8, 2010

CROOM Race Report April 3rd. 2010

CROOM Pre-Race April 2nd

So in January my family planned an Easter 2010 beach vacation for Sarasota, FL with my mother in law and brother in law’s family. Also as I always do in January I also plan my annual goals and dream races.

What if there happens to be a nearby race in Florida Easter week that is accessible from I-75?

What if ultra Mike (from my GEER Race Report) is the co-race director and there is a 50K option for my less than in shape, (or more of a shape) winter self?
What if I now stop with the hypothetical’s and get to the race report?
The CROOM 50 Mile Fool Run takes place in the Withlacoochee State Forest near Brookville, FL just north of Tampa. For me, there is a 50K (I’n not a fool) option and also a 15 mile fun run option too.

What is in Brookville, FL? Not a lot, which means my dining options were Burger King, Mickey D’s Waffle House, Denny’s or a local Tex Mex called Enchiladas. .. So care to guess what my pre-race fare consisted of along with my crew Aunt Ginger and Uncle Ron from the nearby Villages? At least Enchiladas had great service and Michelob Ultras!

The positive forces of an early to bed at a quiet newer Hampton Inn just outside the forest is offset by the negatives of the dreaded 4:30 wake up call. A in room breakfast yielded early returns from Enchiladas and I was off for the ten mile drive to the forest. The early am air was in the low 50s but day temps were to hit the mid 80s.

The CROOM races all follow the same 15.5 mile loops, one two or three times depending on whether you are a 15 miler, a not a fool 50Ker or a 50 mile fool. The trails consisted of loose sand, to pine needles to ash from newly burnt land to eradicate dead trees and undergrowth.

For those who are curious about the park and how trail running and terrain impact your running, check out this awesome race report and trail descriptions posted by a new ultra trail runner healthy Ashley along with great pictures.

The 50 mile “FOOLS” set off at 6am in the dark using the miner headlamps described in my GEER report. Upon their departure I enjoyed a leisurely pre-race routine, drinking Gatorade, readying my aid drop bag and of course some more quality time in the Port-o-let complements of Enchiladas!

Race Start 7am 1st loop Miles 0-15.5

At 7am the 50K I’m NO FOOLS!, set off with the 15 milers. I got off to a fast start down the gravel road for the 1st mile. I learned at GEER that once you hit the single track trails it is tough to pass slower folks. While that is OK during a 100K mountain race, here on a flatter course I wanted to be free to run my own sub 9 minute pace from the get-go . Also as the road was downhill and it was cool out, why not push it a bit, no?

After a mile or so we turned onto a sandy access road for the next two miles and then onto the single track accurately described by Ashley with her awes pictures on her post. However I did note the differences between the three sets of runners. Generally speaking the 15 milers sported your usual running shoes, shorts and a t shirt or maybe a technical half marathon tee. Also very few carried any food or water bottles with them.
Conversely, the 50 milers had trail running shoes, or even in some cases Vikram Five Fingers or comparable minimalist footwear. Everyone had a bottle, or camelback, and many had gel belts or food sources. FINALLY, I observed lots of COMPRESSION SOCKS!!! Yay! My kind of folks! I am not a freak, I am not a freak! unless all of these folks are freaks too . . .Hmmnnnn . . .uh oh! Well if the running shoe fits . ..

The first six miles of the course flew by. I was drinking and cruising by slower 50 milers. By my estimate there were only 15 or so 50Kers and 15 mile folks ahead of me, though I was unsure how many of each ilk. The landscape was pretty open but still the trail had sand and roots that would trip you up.. . .and yes, an hour in I was actively seeking the shelter of some bushes. Friggin Enchiladas! I finally found some cover including a nice predug animal hole and then quickly returned to the course. And yes, I had planned ahead with some TP too! I am now an officially seasoned trail runner. Score!

By now I was running solo through the trails. I hit the 9 miles aid station in one hour and 20 minutes. Right on 9 minute pace. I worked to get in and out of the aid station quickly and back to the trail. Yes, Mike, I have learned from you “Oh Trail Running Jedi Master!”
The second half of the loop carried us through several sinkhole depressions and even over several small hills on leaves covering sandy trails yes, but also covering roots. That being said as I jammed down a hill through an ash burnt out slope, bang, I was airborne after stubbing my toe on said root. I fell mostly on my right side and skinned my arm pretty good. Talking post race, many fell 2 or 3 times each!

2nd loop 9:30am Miles 15.5-31.1

After the fall I wet my mouth and set off and then poof I was right back at the starting area halfway home in 2 hours and 25 minutes at 9:30am. I quickly refilled water bottles, and also prepared a Perpetuem bottle. I was feeling fatigued and also noted that the air temp was already heating up even by now. I also assumed that no more than 10 or so 50Kers were ahead of me. However, since the GEER last September, I have run one 21 miler and my lack of training was now exposed. I focused on my mental strength, hydrating and eating on schedule. I popped in my favorite IPOD playlist too. Still I could feel the concrete building in my legs and feet.

As the photos attest, I wore my lightest weight track shoes, and also my compression gear to avoid cramping and allow cooling. But running solo is tough as your mind assails you with excuse after excuse to slow down and walk. I battled on and kept running to the 20 mile aid station coming through the Spanish moss Oak trees lane per Ashley’s great photo. Here, I did pause and regroup. The aid guy had a huge horn that trumpeted my arrival. I salt tabbed up, and also hit the Mountain Dew. Ok, less than 12 miles left. I reluctantly slogged out and back on course.
Now several 50 milers finally repassed me. I was slowing down. However I still hit the 24 mile aid station at approximately 4 hours. Here my crew of Ron and Ginger awaited! Yay! The aid folks refueled me. Ginger babywiped off some of my grime as she told me that a bunch of folks had gotten lost and appeared walking up the main road. As I told Mike and Andy the co-Race directors postrace, I was actually IMPRESSED with the trail markings and ribbons system.
OK, 7 miles home. I set off and managed to run the first three miles to the 27 mile aid station. I was still eating, drinking, and salting, but the sandy trails, the heat, fatigue, lack of training, any other excuse my brain could muster was winning the war over my mental resolve to keep running.

I left the aid station still in good shape standing wise and was told I was in 10th place. I hit the first of the five hills I had counted from the first loop and my mind justified walking to my body. As I crested the top, I saw three runners plodding on to the bottom. Giddayap time Tim! I ran down the other side and hit an Expresso Caffeine Hammer Gel. I mounted the next hill, then the next hill, staving off the pursuers. On the fourth hill the three guys caught me just at the top and passed me heading down. My morale and will also headed down. I bottomed out, both the hill and my will. My brain convinced me my left quad was cramping and I should not run anymore.
Where is the finish? I walked, ran a 100 yards, walked again. Two more guys passed me now. Then a guy and two girls. Finally I spied the large and in charge camera guy. He could not have ventured to far from the start and his parked car could he? Sure enough he relayed, only a quarter mile to go! I picked It up and nearly caught one of the gals at the finish. As it turns out, the walking took me out of 15th place in the 50K and dropped me to 20th place overall out of 68 finishers. Still what a fun race and a solid finishing time of just over 5 and a half hours or 10:20 pace. Yes, I missed a top 15 by less than 5 minutes, but I had put myself in a great position being in the top 10 with some stud trail runners.

CROOM Post Race

I hung at the park with Ginger and Ron, with their baby doggies Cuddles and Gracie. I downed a Coke and vaporized a cheeseburger as finisher continued to come in. The great part of being a two loop 50K I’m no fool, was to be on hand to greet the top 50 mile male and female finshers! Everyone was so friendly and supportive of each finisher. The volunteers are awesome and the race went smoothly due to the performance of Mike Melton and Andy Matthews. I will definitely return to CROOM soon. Maybe even acting the fool next time!