Croom Zoom 50k Race report
Time: 6:06:21, 10th place overall, 4th age group
I was nearly 12 minutes faster this year compared to 3 years ago, however 3 years ago I missed a turn and added on about an extra mile and a half, so this year's pace was a tiny bit slower.
It was not easy running a race on new year's day at 6:00 am with an hour and 15 minute drive. I did stay up until midnight the night before but was in bed at the time so went to sleep right after the ball dropped (which I missed because TV was on the wrong channel).
The first mile of this race is the easiest because it is 70% pavement before turning onto a sandy fire road for another half mile then a right turn onto single track. I wore the same headlamp I wore for the training run a few weeks ago but did not have the handheld. This was a big mistake. I could barely see. I let a lot of people go past me and walked up the rooty section going up Tucker Hill. But, because of the paved section, the pace for the first 2.2 mile "starter loop" was 13:11.
Passing through the start area and then onto the first of three ten mile loops, the downhill side of Tucker Hill starts out pretty rooty and it was still dark out, so mile 3 came in at 16:09 - but fortunately that was the worst of it. Next mile still dark and still kind of slow at 14:21. As it got lighter out, pace got better and eventually started catching up to some of the many people who had passed me.
It was still pretty cool out while I was going slow, so I kind of felt chilly, but I knew it would warm up soon. Got into the 11:00's for pace and a couple of miles in the 10:30's before finally slowing down a bit for up and over Tucker Hill on the completion of the first big loop (mile 12 was 12:43).
The second big loop would be a lot faster than the first big loop and slightly faster than the last loop. I felt good starting out, continued to catch up to people. But somewhere into the second or third mile I felt something like a big needle in my shoe so stopped to take care of it. Took me a little more time than I cared to get my shoe off and back on but probably worth it. A guy I had just passed came by me and said "got a blowout huh?". (13:45 for that mile).
Rest of the second big loop went really well. The official timing said the average pace was 10:54. When I hit mile 16 (shortly after the shoe stop), my average pace was 12:05.
Going up Tucker Hill went pretty smoothly, went through the start/finish area and felt good going into the third loop.
Going back down Tucker Hill was a differnt story. Feeling good and trying to slowly make up time, and feeling more confident, was taken down a notch when my right foot caught a root, almost lost my balance but managed to stay up right. And even though I didn't fall, there was an instant of great pain. A second or two of thinking I might've broken a toe. Soon realized, no, basically just like stubbing my big toe. Hurt for a bit, then got better. With that little slowdown, mile 22 was 14:07.
The rest of the first half of the third loop continued on ok and I was soon at the Croom Road aid station, approximately halfway point of the loop. I thanked the volunteers and told them this was my last loop.
The next 5 miles were not too bad, but it was getting a little bit warm. I slowed a little for miles 30 and 31 (12:08 and 12:05), was not feeling too motiviated to push hard and my watch was on average overall pace and not lap pace so I didn't realize I was slowing down that much until hitting each mile. Then finally, last third of a mile, last climb up Tucker Hill and into the finish chute where I was given a cool looking pair of Croom Zoom socks.
They had a DJ at the start/finish area which was the only music I heard during the whole run. I had a pair of headphones on and my phone but I just never found a good time or place to start the music. I did however have a few songs repeating in my head.
Relaxed for a bit, had a towel with me, laid down on it and stared up at trees while listening to the DJ and clapped every now and then when another finisher came through. Eventually got up, had a hot dog and some potato salad before heading home.
So, overall it was good. I kept moving, felt fresh going into the third loop and never had to take any extended walk breaks. I took a few here and there on purpose (originally was going to take one minute sometime during each mile but it didn't work out that way). Long Haul course is much flatter which makes it easier in a way but at the same time you don't get those nice easy feeling downhill stretches. Two years ago before Long Haul I was on a cruise so missed this race. The longest training run before that race was only 18 miles, and I ended up suffering. I've got a few more long runs in this time, so hopefully will feel more like 2019 than 2020.