Croom Zoom 2012

Sunday morning, at 4:00 a.m., my alarm went off.  I groaned and hit snooze.  Then I startled awake.  The Croom Zoom, my first 25k, started in 3 hours, and I had only a vague idea of how to get to the race site in the Withlacoochee State Forest (yes, that is totally a real place).

I scrambled into the kitchen to slurp down some coffee and eat a piece of peanut butter toast while I checked the weather forecast.  In the low 30s for the first part of the race.  Oh. my. Lord.  I put on the warmest running gear I have (which isn’t really all that warm until about 5 miles in) and zipped out of the house for the hour ride up to Brooksville, Florida.

I have driven by Brooksville about a hundred times headed north on I-75.  But when Google Maps told me to take a small highway road up to Brooksville instead, I just assumed the good folks at Google knew better than I did.  So, at 5:00 a.m., I found myself driving in the pitch black through areas that looked like they might have been the inspiration for Deliverance.  I had pre-race jitters; I had lost-in-the-middle-of-nowhere jitters.  And I really had to pee.  But there was nowhere to stop.  And I do mean nowhere.  All the gas stations were closed.  Even the Wal-Mart had so few cars that I felt sketched out about swinging in for a potty break.  And, remember, I had slurped down that coffee and a healthy amount of water before I left the house.  So, I spent the last 20 minutes of the ride praying that I wouldn’t pee on myself before I got there.

I turned off of the little highway onto a littler county road that my map said would lead me straight into the park.  I kept peering to the right and the left, into the pitch black, looking for a park sign.  It was already 6:15.  My race started at 7, and I couldn’t find the damn…

And, suddenly, I was on a dirt road.

I just kept driving, hoping I was headed in the right direction.  My dot on Google Maps was still on course–but did I mention I was on a dirt road?!?

And then I saw him–the traffic directing guy.  He was shivering in the cold.  Uh… that didn’t seem like a good sign.  I parked, opened my door… and shut it again.  DANG.  I steeled myself, opened the door again and hopped out just in time to be greeted by a string of profanity from the guy parked next to me… something about Florida…damn cold…someone’s mother…something, something.  As interesting as his diatribe was, I needed to pick up my race packet, finally pee, and strip off my warm sweat pants and fleece and stand around in lycra running garb.  And freeze.

I did all of those things.  In that order.  I have never wanted a race to begin so badly.  I was so cold that I forgot to be nervous.  No joke.  And I am totally valedictorian of being nervous.

The airhorn went off, and all the 25k runners set off down a limestone road.  We did 3.5 miles on that road.  At mile 1.5, I realized that my hands were achingly cold.  At mile 1.8, I felt like nails were being driven through my thumbnails, and I noticed–with great alarm–that it took tremendous effort to move my fingers.  At mile 2.0, I began to seriously concern myself with frostbite.  I thought for a few minutes about quitting then and there.  No kidding.  I don’t remember ever being in that much pain from the cold.

By mile 3, I didn’t remember that my hands had ever hurt at all.  But I did realize that my Gu was too cold to be gooey.  Instead, eating it was like breaking off pieces of chewing gum and swallowing them whole.  Thank goodness I had plenty of water in my Camelback to negotiate that mess.

I finished my Gu just in time to turn onto the trail and realize that my shoes were tied too loosely for trail running.  Oh, and I was running in my old running shoes that have next to no tread left on them.  Awesome planning.  I ran for a bit and found myself at the start point again, right before the start of the 10 mile trail loop, where I stopped to tie my shoes.  I hate stopping while I am running, but the retying of the shoes seemed like a necessity, lest I fall and bust my booty on this run.

Which I did.  At mile 7.  I swear, I have no idea what happened.  I was running; I must have drifted off into thought. Then I felt it… My feet tangled, and I knew I was going down.  I had just enough time to think,  “this is going to hurt,” before I hit the ground with a thud.  The guy running behind me (he was a ways back when I fell) asked if I was okay.  I hopped up to show him I was alright–I didn’t want him to break his stride too much for me–and took off running.  Both my knees were super sore.  I was dirty.  But I knew I could keep going.  Hey, it was either that or walk the last 8 miles.  No one was going to carry me out of that forest.

I hadn’t set a goal time for the run. But I did promise myself I would run all 15 miles.  And I did.  I finished the race in 2:47:21 with a Gu wrapper stuck to my hand (since mile 10) feeling like a badass.

BAD.ASS.

I am more in love with running than ever before.  Crazy, right?  And I am totally hoping to fit in another trail run during this running season… but maybe in April when it is just a smidge warmer.  I am totally a Florida girl, no matter how badass I am.

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2 Comments on “Croom Zoom 2012”

  1. Jennifer Smoot Says:

    Loved the blog on Croom Zoom. I did it as well. Sounded almost like I was writing this. I fell too about mile 9 and at mile 12. Great job on your run!!!!
    Jennifer Smoot, Brooksville

    • pensivepea Says:

      It seems that I have gotten over the mortification of falling flat on my face… I am considering doing the Fools Run in April. Are you coming out for that one?


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