Monday, April 9, 2012

2012 Croom Fools Run – Part I

Who would have ever thought that bonking on a training run was the best thing that could have ever happened to me in training for the Croom Fools Run.  Since the start of the year I focused solely on mileage and built up to a fairly significant weekly base.  I was pleased with my progress.  My body was responding well. I was staying healthy and uninjured.  I was confident . . . over-confident.  

Then I bonked.  

Less than a month out from Croom on what should have been a routine four hour trail run, I bonked hard.  It was bad but fortunately I was only two miles from the end of the trail when it happened.

I was initially in denial and considered it a fluke.  Luckily, something in the back of my mind kept nagging at me.  There was an element missing from my training, something that if I didn’t address, would result in disaster.  So I read.  I googled.  I jumped into online forums.  I asked questions, lots of questions, of anyone I could find with experience (Thanks Chris and Don!).

What I ultimately discovered was that I was neglecting race nutrition.  I was taking in way too few calories to sustain an entire day of running.  I also learned about the delicate balance between hydration and electrolytes.  I realized I was experiencing an electrolyte deficiency that was just beginning to display symptoms at training distances of 25-30 miles that had I not corrected would have spelled disaster in the race (something I witnessed personally at Mile 43).

I stumbled on an amazing resource for ultra runners – an online community called Trail Runner Nation.  Among other things they have podcasts featuring interviews with experienced ultra runners and experts on subjects like coaching and nutrition for endurance athletes.  I discovered products like Succeed S-Caps (electrolyte pills) and Hammer’s Perpetuem.   I cannot sing the praises enough of both of these products.

In my last few weeks of training I was able to test and tweak my caloric and electrolyte intake.  I nearly doubled the amount of calories I was taking in per hour.  I shunned Gatorade and Gels in favor of a miracle pill that I popped just once or twice an hour.  Bonking was the best thing that could have happened to me and these changes paid off – big time. 

I successfully completed the Croom Fools Run 50 Mile Ultra on Saturday with a time of 11:07:01.

The course is a 15 mile loop hiking trail through the CroomWildlife Management Area, part of the Withlacoochee State Forest in Brooksville, FL.  The 50 mile race included a 5 mile starter loop and 3 full loops around the hiking trail.

Here are the stats:

Race Stats
Starters:           77
Men:                52
Women:           25
Finishers:         61
Finisher ratio:  79%
(Interestingly out of 16 runners that dropped, only one was a woman)

My Stats:
Time:   11:07:01
Pace:    13:20
Overall Place:  39th
Gender Place:  24th
Age Group:     10th

Once again a mid-packer.  Out of 77 starters I practically had the median time.  Am I happy with that?  For my first 50 miler to finish middle of the pack when the pack consisted of athletes capable of running 50 miles – HELL YEAH!

Lap Breakdown

What I like about this chart is that although I slowed down with each loop, I improved significantly relative to the field – from 45th after the 5 mile starter loop to 20th for the final 15 miles.

I have so much to say about this race that I know it will turn into a book if I don’t restrain myself.    Suffice it to say for now that the race was an awesome experience.  From the organizer to the volunteers to the route itself.   I’ll post a complete blow by blow in the next few days.


  1. A book would be great! I'll buy the first copy.

  2. Huge congrats on your finish and the great experience. Thank you for the kind words about Trail Runner Nation. We are working hard!

  3. Congratulations Bob! Incredible accomplishment!