Moon over Croom - 21 mile - 8-1-2015 - Details
The link above will take you to the Garmin Details page for my participation last night in the Moon over Croom 21 mile trail race in Brooksville, FL. I actually had signed up for this event several months ago, I believe in April. Several weeks ago, Jackie (like Onassis without the $$$$) from Jacksonville Running Company stated after one of the Sunday morning runs that she wanted to do the Moon over Croom trail race in Brooksville. I told her I was signed up and that if she wanted to go she could ride along.
We both had a room at the host hotel and arrived about 3 pm on Saturday after a 3 hour drive, mostly in the rain. We both ran into several people we knew and since Jackie knows most everyone who runs in Jacksonville, she introduced me to several that I didn't know. Later, as we were walking to the start of the 21 mile, one of the ladies that Jackie had introduced me to asked if Jackie and I were sharing a room. I quickly told her that I didn't think my wife would approve so Jackie and I had separate rooms.
We left early for packet pick up and drove to the race site. Again in the rain. As I was driving and reading the step by step directions, approaching the start area, I saw a note on the directions that said location of 22.5 mile aid station. As we were waiting in line for packet pick up I made a point of asking the race director why he needed a 22.5 mile aid station for a 21 mile race. Let's just say his answer was less than convincing.
Speaking of packet pick up. We were in a wildlife management area over 20,000 acres in size. For some reason the race management company brought like 5 little laptops and a stack of race numbers. The plan was to connect all the laptops by wi-fi, have the runner type in their name, take a race number and assign it to themselves. This might have been a good idea for an urban location but the best they could do on wi-fi was a very weak signal not strong enough to do what they wanted. Finally, after 45 minuets of ah....technical support......with runners standing in the rain, they got 2 of the laptops working and got the race numbers assigned. I hope this system is refined for next year.
As the announcements for the 21 mile race were being made the race director said the only technical portion of the trail was the first 3/4 mile. He suggested that if someone was comfortable with mud and roots that they might move to the front and that those less comfortable with this terrain might consider moving to the back for a slower start. I was already so far back I was near the Georgia state line, I didn't budge.
The start of the race was an air horn and off we went, on a short road section, into the park area and across the timing mat. I very gingerly danced my way through the opening technical section crossed a dirt road and was into a more typical Florida forest trail section. The course was mostly rolling with occasional roots, tree limbs and downed trees to keep it interesting.
At about the 3 mile mark, I started remembering the left over spinach roll ups from Zoe's Kitchen that I had for an early lunch. By 4 miles I was wondering how quickly my GI system could process spinach roll ups, if I would ever see an aid station and if there might be a portable restroom. At about 4.5 miles I finally viewed an aid station on the horizon. A quick survey confirmed what I expected. No portables. I passed one more water station on the way back to the start where I crossed the timing mat and immediately headed to the parking lot where I had seen portables prior to the start.
After an 11 minute pit stop I headed back to the start area where I changed out water bottles from my cooler in the drop area and then started lap #2 of 3. By the time I hit the technical area it was noticeably more muddy since most of the 21 milers had gone through for the 2nd time and the 14 mile run had started at 7PM.
Things were more spread out now but I could see 3 of the ladies from Jacksonville up ahead that I had met earlier. They were taking occasional walk breaks as was I but their walk breaks seemed less frequent and shorter than mine. Even so, I finally caught up with them and said hello. They thought I wanted to pass and I quickly reassured them I had no intention of passing. As we approached the 4.5 mile aid station I heard one of the ladies say to the other, well your just a dirty dirty girl, (everybody was pretty muddy by this point). I told them that was why I was trying to keep up with them which solicited a good laugh. Not long after they pulled ahead out of view. (note to self, next time keep mouth shut)
It was at this aid station that I pulled out my Petzl headlamp. My headlamp is several years old but it is high quality and was fully charged for this event. As the daylight started to slip away the light seemed quite adequate. As I approached the start/finish area it was now pretty dark. I heard someone shout finisher coming, when I crossed the timing mat, the timer asked if I was still going, I would have been very happy to stop; however, I had only run 2 of the 3 laps I was signed up to run.
I knew Jackie was still out on the course so I told the timer that I was going to give it a go on the 3rd lap. So by now, the technical section was pretty much a big mud pit with roots and rocks in it. I knew better than to try to run through this section. I was able to stay vertical and get through the mud pit, cross the little dirt road and get to the more typical Florida forest section. By now my shoes were so full of mud they felt tight and heavy and like I had rocks under my socks.
By now it was quite dark. I could see the glow lights in the trees which were used to mark the course. I focused my lamp on the trail a few feet in front of me and very carefully started a slow jog. Ok, jogging now, going well, and I was able to get in a fairly good groove. I don't know how long this lasted but before long, my right foot caught a tree stump which caused a more horizontal position eventually bringing me to a position where I could get a very up close view of the trail surface. Nothing new here, it was dirt.
OK, I got up, brushed myself off and started walking for a bit. Now this was going well and I may have even thrown in a few brief jogging intervals. I do know that I was walking when my left foot hit a gnarly root right on the left edge of the trail and again with the horizontal position. This time I kind of rolled on my back and got a cramp in the back of my left leg. I rubbed it out a bit and then remembered that I had told Debbie I would arrive home on Sunday in 1 piece. I decided that since I tend to have a somewhat difficult time staying vertical trail running in full light, that future running at night was not a good idea. From here on out, I walked until I got to the paved road.
As I approached the start/finish area for the 3rd and final time I could see Jackie wrapped up in her beach towel. When she realized it was me she started cheering. Probably because I had the key to the car and she was ready to go back to the hotel for a hot shower.
After a little chit chatting with the folks we knew, we headed to the car, hotel and shower. After eating my veggie burrito from Chipotle in the lobby I headed up stairs for a shower. After my shower I had to get the eyeglass cleaner from my car and by this time there was a crowd of the Jax runners gathered in the lobby. I sat down and chatted for a while and before long it was 1 AM. Way past my bedtime. I excused my self and headed for bed.
I got home today a little after noon, Jackie is already talking about moving up to the 14 mile distance next year and I have this new acronym (WTHWIT) bouncing around in my head. So, just What The Hell Was I Thinking.....maybe 14 miles wouldn't be so bad.
At the end of the day I had a new T-shirt, a moon pie and Croom trail flask to show for my efforts.