Croom Fools Run (50 miles) 2016

Croom Fools 2016  Run

“Did you expect this when you showed up today?*”-Andy Croom

“Hellllllllllllllllll no.”- Me

That sums up my Croom Fools 2016 run; I expected shit to go down (it is an ultra after all), but not exactly like it did.

I’d like to thank Vicki, Richard, my coach, Joe Uhan,  the race director Andy and all the volunteers for them making this an awesome race.

The plan was to beat my PR that I thought was “9:40 ish” (it was actually 9:20ish). While we were driving there I said I’d be really happy with a sub 9 hour race given the cool weather.

Croom Fools run is a five mile loop followed by three fifteen miles loops. This first .7 or so is on asphalt and then turns down a fire road until it hits single track. The plan was to run the first mile or so hard (but not red line!!) so that I didn’t have to fight hard past people on the double track/single track later on. It started before dawn, with 50 or so runners.

I move to the side and very front of all the runners and set my Polar to my heart rate range for the day; 160-170 heart beats per minute. My max heart rate is around 212, so this is around 70-80% max heart rate. I’m allowed to run faster than this only for short periods, and this range is supposed to be “sustainable” and efficient.

In a short time I’m running next to Andy Barrett, Brent Hunt, Samantha Reilly and a few other people as we leave the asphalt for the double track; I’m a little worried here that I’m going too fast but it’s an easy pace and it’s pretty cool, so I relax into the run. I focus on my hip hinge, arm and foot turnover, foot push off and easy breathing to help my running efficiency.

“I’ve  seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.”

Shortly after hitting the double track, I smell fire, and a few minutes later I see the sparks in the distance, as we start to run through a smoldering section with a few trees still smoking and popping in the night. A tall tree near the trail, still standing, drops embers in the night.  The trail is a white sandy path through black ashes. I followed the headlamps of the race leaders, completely at rest in motion.

Loop one- 5(?) to 20

After a few miles we reach the Start/Finish. I grab my shirt, bottle,  visor and waist belt (which has rain jacket, cellphone and espresso beans). The lead group has taken off down the trail and I bomb through the downhill focused as best I can on hinge, turnover and breathing.

I catch up with the back of the lead pack and watch them all; several are just gliding down the trail,very little bounce and little apparent effort.

I eat what I think should be about 100 calories worth of espresso beans and the rest of the section to mule camp is me following the group and staying in my range, focusing on hip, turn and breath.

I eat more espresso beans after mule camp and we float through the woods. I transition through several aid stations quickly and I think we lose several people out of the pack along the way. At the last aid station before start/finish Andy Barrett says “Great work Ted!”. This meant a lot to me as I really look up to Andy!

Loop two- 20-35

My shoes are starting to rub pretty badly on my heel so I change shoes from my Lone Peaks to my Torins at Start finish while drinking a very heavy calorie drink. I set the drink down and take off my shirt, dump phone,since its cooler and overcast and looks like it’ll start to rain soon. I put on an ice danna, even though it’s cool. I feel *really* well and transition here quickly. It’s at this point that the “pack” has basically broken up; I know I’ve passed some and some are still ahead, but don’t have a good idea of what place I’m in besides top 10. Heart rate is in range, so it doesn’t really matter. I focus on hinge, turnover and breath.

So far I’ve been drinking coke or Mountain Dew at the aid stations, and continue this for the rest of the race. I pass a few people in the next few aid stations, but with 50k runners mixed in it’s hard to tell where I’m at; I just focus on the important things and enjoy running my favorite trails.

As I’m running the technical section right before the start finish I pass a runner from the pack; he says “Congratulations, you are now the lead male and second place. There’s a woman up there in front of you somewhere.”

Loop 3 – 35-50

I hit the aid station for some coke or dew but they only have Gatorade (which I know from experience gives me GI issues). I go to the cooler for my heavy calorie drink…and see I left it out. It’s perishable and has been sitting out since the last loop :/

I take a chug because I’m going to be really behind on calories if I don’t….it wasn’t my favorite thing and I gag a bit. I shake it some and then drink much more, probably not enough, but I need something. I take a chance here, and drop my belt which has my rain jacket. It’s raining and cold out, but as long as I’m running I can generate heat. I make a plan to practice my Wim Hoff method if I can’t run. So, with shorts and a water bottle I run. Get in range. Hip, turn, breath.

I run for a while and trip and fall hard while getting my espresso beans back in the bottle’s pocket. I consider just laying there, but don’t really know why. I’m not sure if I passed the female at the start finish so I urge myself on. There’s lots of miles left, so I prepare myself mentally to get passed by someone surging late. It’s a training run, just stay in range and focus on form.

At mule camp they aren’t sure about the woman, it was either along time ago or I’m in the lead. Richard is walking the loop backwards so I figure that I’ve got maybe six or seven miles until I see him,which will be a big boost mentally. I push a little now to keep at the top of the range. Time to bring it home, a little less than a half marathon left.

I get to the next aid station and pass a few 50k and 16 mile runners on the way, asking about the woman. No data.

At the next aid station I figure it’s a 5k or so until I see Richard and ask how long until the end. They tell me 7 miles. Ive been sticking with the plan to this point, running mostly in a comfortable range, but I decide that I’m going to push keep it pegged in the top of the range, and if I see someone about to pass I’ll start hammering. This section includes several hills and I run them, meeting Richard just before the other Aid station. The leader is 30 minutes or so ahead :/

I slam some dew at the aid station and we take off, I’m pushing the edge now, running the hills. My legs start to twinge like they do before cramps kick in, so I push and ease, push and ease, confident that the hills in this section will give me a heads up from anyone closing in. I’m running 10 minute miles, so anyone closing would be doing sub tens 47+ miles into a race and would see me running the hills. Probably wouldn’t encourage them trying to attack.

The last half mile or so this advantage goes away as the trail goes through tighter trail,and I push, up the hill to the finish. The clock says 8:21 which is a crazy crazy crazy crazy number. 2nd overall and first male.

I immediately sat down, I’ve never run this far consistently, and I’m more than a little behind on calories. I talked to a lot of people after but it was all a whirl. Thank you everyone for your kind words.

Thanks everyone for an awesome day in the woods!

Ivan scale: 4

Shoes: Altra Lone Peak and Altra Torin

Goal: Sub 9:21


*At least this is how I remember him asking 😉


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