Today’s race was the most challenging, hardest race I’ve ever ran. It was 31 miles of dirt, hills, and sun. I fell, I walked, and may have even shed a tear or two.
I’m not going to lie – running a 50k is hard!
But you know what? I also made new friends, conquered fears, had the time of my life in the middle of nowhere, and oh yeah.. there’s that whole title of ultra-marathoner.
Who cares about that other stuff – today freakin’ rocked!
It all started early this morning with an apple and bagel slathered with almond butter (heavy on the almond butter).
If you’ve ever run a trail race then I think you know how important camelbak’s really are. Each 15 mile loop of the course only has 3 aide stations with water. It’s basically everyman for themselves out here.
A group divided:
We headed to the start and at 7:00am we were off!
The Crooms course is made up of one giant 15 mile-ish loop (it’s more like 15.4 miles). The 15 mile group runs the loop once, the 50k run it twice, and the 50 milers run the loop 3 times as well as an extra miles at 6:00 am.
Throughout the day fellow runners wouldn’t ask which race you were going, instead they asked how many laps you were doing or how many laps you had left.
It’s amazing how much had slipped my mind regarding the terrain of Crooms. I could recall the sand at the beginning, but all the hills and steady incline had somehow been forgotten.
This was not a flat course! The first 15 miles went up and down, up and down!
Honestly though the hills are what made it fun! It added a new challenge to the run and kept everyone on our toes.
Crooms has a total of 3 aide stations: One at mile 5, another at mile 9, and the last at mile 11.
I LOVE the relaxed feel each aide station has. We stopped and took breaks at everyone and the volunteers working that station were always very helpful on making sure they get you what you need.
The best part is the eclectic amount of snacks they have for all the runners. I saw everything from goo to candy and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.
On my first lap of the course I stuck with Heed at the aide stations, but on the second loop I took handfuls of M&Ms and orange slices when I could. At two of the stations two separate volunteers took my camelbak and refilled it with water for me. I loved that.
The laid back attitude did not just go hand in hand at the aide stations either. Runners along the trail weren’t bothered with us passing them or them passing us. They never minded a good chat and were super sweet when we asked to take a photo.
Honestly the first lap of the course was a complete blur. The four of us girls stuck together and took out sweet time. We talked, we laughed, and we fought the hills as a team. It was a great experience and once that I was glad Kelly and Caitlin could join us on.
With only two miles left of the final loop, Kelly and Caitlin ran ahead in hopes of improving their time from last year. I stayed back with Ashley and could tell the hills were starting to take their toll on her. We started to walk more than we were running and our paces was drifting lower and lower.
It was almost bittersweet to see the finish line as we completed her first loop and have to run right by it.
See ya in 3 more hours finish line.
This was when things started to get tough.
Mine and Ashley’s running to waking ration was still leaning in favor of walking and Ashley’s urging of me to go on was sounding oddly familiar to that of Gasparilla. This time she didn’t have to fight me to hard on it. She had to do this on her own and deep inside I knew I had to run my first 50k on my own too.
Around mile 17 Ashley and I said our good byes and I was on my own.
As soon as I left Ashley, I paired up with a volunteer who was running the course to collect trash. We ran for a good 2 or 3 miles and talked about running, our love for Orlando, and Track Shack. Turns out he was only volunteering for the race because he had run a 100 mile race the week before! We went up and down some hills and he taught me the proper form to tackle the hills on a trail run. I appreciated the lesson from the seasoned vet!
The volunteer and I split up right after the first aide station of the loop. I kept the strong pace he had left me at, but I could feel myself getting weaker as the miles increased. I was starting to feel pain and I still had well over 10 miles left!
The portion of the race between the first and second aide stations of the second loop were the worst of the whole run. I was completely on my own at this point and the trail was a little creepy at certain points.
I was also second guessing myself on the marked trail I was supposedly following. Thank god for these little streamers to guide me along the way. It’s a miracle I never got lost!
It was such a relief when I hit the third and final aide station of the trail. Hearing one of the volunteers inform me there was only 5 miles left was music to my ears!
The final third of the final loop was also made easier by a couple of new friends I made along the trail. I started running along side two guys who were going my pace and was able to strike up a great conversation with them.
We discussed races, trail runs, and my blog. I love how easy it is to make friends on the trail!
Together the three of us conquered the final hills of Crooms and cheered each other on to the end.
That’s right! 6 hours and 19 minutes after I started, I crossed the line to my first 50k!
The whole finish was a little anti-climatic. You walk through the finish corral and that’s it. There’s no announcers, no fans, and no friends and family. You just kind of finish. :/
The good news is I finished 33rd out of 67 runners and was the 2nd female out of 5 to finish in my division ( 20-29 females).
Those statistics were enough to earn me this cool mug.
I can’t wait to drink out of this at work on Monday.
I hung around the finish to drink some water and have a couple of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies on the snack table before heading back to my car.
The walk to the car was PAINFUL!! My legs were NOT happy how I had treated them today. They were cramping and needed ice that I could not provide.
They were also really, really dirty. Run Dirty or Run Home, right?
It was a little after 1:30 when I finished and I was STARVING! I immediately headed to Cracker Barrel for a very belated breakfast.
I walked in to Cracker Barrel still in my race outfit, dirty, and covered in sweat. A manager came over to greet me and asked how I’m doing today. I told him I’m tired and he goes ‘let me guess… you only got tp sleep in until 11:00 today.’ I kind of stared at him for a second and respond “You have no idea..” I wasn’t going to try and attempt to explain to him what I just accomplished. lol
My heart was set on pancakes anyways.
Pancakes covered in blackberry preserves – yum!
And two eggs on the side covered in protein.
The meal didn’t stand a chance.
The 90 minute drive back to Orlando by myself was absolute torture! My legs were killing me, all i wanted to do was sleep, and did I mention I was still dirty and sweaty? Yuck!
All I could think about was the nice hot shower waiting for me at my apartment. The drive was awful, but that shower was glorious.
After my shower I made myself a smoothie for the road.
- Almond Milk
- Frozen Pineapple
- Frozen Berries
- Cocoa Powder
- Chia Seeds
- Peanut Butter
Looks gross – tastes awesome.
The smoothie held me over until I got to my parents and headed out to dinner at a new place in town.
The hole in the wall restaurant had plenty of impressive veggie items on the menu, including a veggie burger with all the trimmings.
I was expecting a plain ole veggie burger, but what was delivered was gorgeous.
It tasted great as well!
The table also shared a basket of sweet potato fries that I had my share of.
After dinner my Mom, Sister, and I saw The Last Song with Miley Cyrus.
I know Miley Cyrus gets a lot of crap for her acting skills, but I thought she did really well in the movies. I read The Last Song a couple of months ago and thought Miley played an excellent Roni.
Overall I thought this was one of the better adaptations of a Nicholas Sparks book I’ve seen. It was pretty true to the book and enjoyable to watch. I give it two thumbs up!
I ended my night with some Peanut Butter Fro Yo with Reeses.
I still can’t believe I ran my first ultra-marathon this morning!
31 miles? Me? What?
It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything else in the world.