CROOM ZOOM 50K (32.2M) - Brooksville, Florida

January 1, 2022 - It never fails to impress me just much hard work and dedication goes into putting on these small races. In many cases the organizational help and long hours are put in by people that are not even runners and sometimes by folks that don't even have friends or family that participate. They're just generous people, and it does not go unnoticed. The race director here was out on the course checking directional markers at 0300. With a 100K as one of the day's events, some of these volunteers were out there making the experience better for total strangers for nearly 24 hours. It reminds me that I need to take my turn in support of others in a sport I have spent my life enjoying. I cannot thank them all enough. I had a great time, and they made it easier to enjoy.

Driving to the race venue I parked right by the start/finish line to sleep the night before the race, whether I was allowed to or not. After having trouble sleeping in the car, someone came by late after all the fireworks and noise for the New Years Eve revelling had concluded, shining a flashlight in my windows, checking me out, along with a couple other cars parked along side. Though I woke up, I feigned sleep and planned not to budge unless someone rousted me and chased me off. No one said anything. While the car next to me started up and drove away, I fell back asleep in my usual nonchalance and caught a few hours of sleep before it was time to get up and get ready to race.

Perhaps I was a bit tired from poor sleep, or perhaps from the thirteen hours driving here the day before, but I sensed I was not on my game entirely as I readied in the dark for a 0600 start with lights. My friend Holly and her friend Teresa came early for hugs and to see me off before they would start their own 25K race an hour later. So good to share a smile and a hug so early.

After a week of rest my knee was good, but soon reminded me it was still injured after a few hundred yards of running in the sand. I had a good race here eight years before, so was acquainted with the lay of the land, but was not here to prove anything this time. With three one hundred mile races on my immediate calendar I was here to start the year off right and experiment with some pacing and eating ideas I have been working on. So I was looking forward to a relaxed day without any pressure to compete or get unnecessarily tired.

The course consists of three ten-mile loops after an initial 2.2M loop to start in the dark. I managed to complete the first 12.2 miles in under two-and-a-half hours with a run time of the same two-and-a-half hours for each of the other two ten-mile loops, plus twenty minutes for getting of course a bit in the third round trip. I started faster than I needed to, but once I slowed down to a 4 mph tempo I got into hundred-mile mode. My thinking is that if I can run a third of a flat hundred mile race at 4 mph in about 8 hours, I should have plenty of cushion to slow as the race progresses, allowing me to finish under time constraints without pushing too hard and striving with sore muscles. The plan seemed to work well as I was able to cover the distance in this race comfortably without causing undue muscle fatigue. This approach bodes well for my upcoming efforts.

The other thing I experimented with during Croom Zoom was only eating food off the aid station tables. During the effort I ate no gels, which is a first for me. I seemed to do fine eating only PB&J and potato chips. By running slower I experienced absolutely no stomach distress as I have before while running faster.

While my finish time was nothing to brag about on a really fast course, I learned a couple things that should serve me well in my races this spring. As the temps pushed into the eighties my noggin was beginning to cook, so I was just as glad to be running at a slower tempo under the blazing Florida sun. It was a good time, and a good way to start the new year.