Sunday, August 16, 2015

Moon Over Croom race recap

14ish mile night trail race
August 1, 2015

Moon Over Croom is a 21, 14 and 7 mile trail race that takes place in Brooksville on the evening of the Full moon at the beginning of August. This is the second year for the race and my second time running the 14ish mile event. Last year Gina, Carolyn and I drove up, ran the 14 miles and then I drove us back that night. That was rough. Didn't get home until midnight. This year, we booked a hotel room, so we could hang around after the race and then get some sleep before heading home the next day.

Ready to hit the trails!

Gina, Sandi, Carolyn, Jo and I left Sarasota at 2:30 in the afternoon. We figured we would have plenty of time to get up there, check in to the hotel and hang out before the race. The weather was horrible. Lots of rain. We passed 3 accidents on our way north, which created lots of backed up traffic. Our trip took longer than we thought. We still got checked into the hotel, but didn't have as much time to relax as we thought we would have before we headed over to the race site. We got to the race area at about 5:30, picked up our goodie bags, then hung out by the car. There was a large group of us from Sarasota. We met up with some friends, took photos then watched the 21 mile runners go out at 6 pm. We ate a little something, then finished up our prep before we got started at 7 p.m. After some quick instructions, which included letting us know the direction we were running the loop this year had been changed, we were off!

There is a quick run down the road, before we turn right, pass over where the finish line will be, then head down the trail. We were warned that the first quarter mile was muddy. And it was! The trail was a single tract trail, so it was pretty congested this close to the start. Everyone was trying to stay to the sides, to keep out of the water. Some runners ran right through, but I wanted to keep my feet dry, at least for this first loop! At some point during this first section, Gina gets far ahead of us. We don't see her again until we finish the first loop. Just before we finish the first half mile, the trail becomes drier. Sandi, Carloyn and I stick together for the rest of the loop. Lots of up and down hills and pretty terrain. I love the first loop, because it's still light, so we can see everything around us. There are of course, lots of roots and branches down on the trail that we have to keep a look out for. I joke that we are going to be calling out "root" and "branch" in our sleep, with the amount of times we yelled it out to each other. I did twist my left foot and ankle on one root, but it wasn't bad enough to stop me. It did throb throughout the rest of the race. I was happy that I wore compression socks. I think it helped to keep the swelling down. The last section of the loop, is on the main road. Last year when I was here, it was still a dirt road. A few months ago they paved this entire section. Made for a nice break from the trails, but it wasn't a break from the hills. We had a long steady climb back up to base camp. We saw Jo cheering for us as we came in and found Gina there waiting for us. Jo got a few photos, we filled up our water bottles then headed out for the second loop.

Super sweaty at the half way point! That skirt was completely sweaty by the end.
It is now completely dark. We head out with our headlights and our little hand held flash lights. That first half mile is even muddier from all the runners trampling down the dry spots, We pretty much walk this entire section, going very slow. Once we make it through this section, we start running, but keep the pace slower, so that we can keep an eye on the ground and not trip. Even though the sun is down, it feels even hotter than before. The trees seem to be trapping the heat. It's very humid. Half way through this second loop, I can squeeze the sweat out of my skirt! Gross. Sandi leads us for the last hour or so, pushing the pace. We all manage to make it back to the main road without any falls. The last up hill is brutal for me. I struggle to keep up with the others, secretly hoping they will take a walk break. No luck for me. Gina picks up the pace as we close in on the finish. I find the strength to pick up the pace, too, following right behind her as we cross the finish line. With Carolyn and Sandi right behind. Gina and I luck out, getting the last two logo water bottles. We head to the car to get the cooler and finisher medals I made, before heading back to our chairs. Chips and beer never tasted better!

We are done!
So happy to be off our feet and drinking a beer! :)
I had hoped for a faster finish this year. It seemed like we walked a lot last year, but I guess the mud made us slower, because we finished the 14.7 miles in 3:19:04, which was about 10 minutes slower than last year! Oh, well. It was a good run and we had fun.

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