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WOW!  The Crooms Fools Run was the most physically and mentally challenging race I have ever completed! 

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By the end of the 15.4 mile course, I was absolutely SPENT (and really, really dirty!). 

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The trail itself was one of the most difficult aspects of the race.  With rolling rolls and varying surfaces (like compacted pine needles, squishy sand, and plain old dirt), I spent a lot of energy maintaining a steady pace and stabilizing my body.  My legs hurt in ways I never knew possible! 

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In addition to the trail, I found the DISTANCE and DURATION to be extremely challenging.  The race ended up being 15.4 miles, which is 1.4 miles further than I have ever run in my life.  And since it was a trail run, I ran for a longer time period than I’m used to (trail runs are notoriously harder than road races).

 

Here are my final statistics (based on Meghann’s Garmin):

 

  • Duration:  2 hours, 56 minutes (15.4 miles)
  • Calories Burned: 1,600 (approximate)

 

Let’s go back now to my 5:30 AM wake-up call!…. After a nervous night’s sleep, I woke up eagerly anticipating the race.   I fueled with my traditional pre-race breakfast:

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Two slices of whole wheat bread, a banana, PB, and a coffee.  This meal always sits well in my tummy.  Meghann had her traditional breakfast, too (a bagel with almond butter and fruit):

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We drove to the race start, stretched out, and got all of our gear ready, including our CamelBaks:

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The race only had three aid stations for the entire 15.4 mile course, so bringing our own water was absolutely necessary.  Meghann’s sister Kelly is on the left.  If you don’t already know, Kelly was hit by a car on her bicycle last month and miraculously survived with no serious injuries.  This race meant a lot to her!

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We lined up at the start and did last minute gear-checks:

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And…. then we were off!

 

The first mile of the trail was squishy, ankle deep SAND.  I freaked out a little bit because I was so afraid the whole course would be sand.  It was very, very difficult to run in — my feet would sink down with every step, and my ankles began to hurt almost instantaneously.

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I’ll admit that I struggled a lot emotionally during this race, especially in the beginning.  I even admitted out loud to the other girls that I was in a poor mental state.  The distance and trail kind of psyched me out a little bit, but luckily the sand segment was short-lived.  The rest of the way was mostly firm pine needles.  That surface was a lot easier to run on and I felt more enthusiastic. 

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The four of us (Meghann, Abbie, Kelly, and I) stayed together the entire race!  It was great.   In most places, the trail was only wide enough to run in a single file line, so we took turns leading, bringing up the rear, and running in the middle of the pack. 

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One cool aspect of a long-distance trail run is that people do not take their time very seriously.  It is extremely difficult to set a personal record on a trail run because you are focused more on climbing hills, avoiding roots, and jumping over logs than you are about going as fast as possible.  As a result, all the runners were very laid-back and fun, and we spent a lot of the run chatting with each other and strangers.  I think I only listened to music for a grand total of 45 minutes.

 

The other runners were even willing to stop and take our picture!  :)  That would NEVER happen in a road race!

 

Here’s Kelly and I at Mile 4.0 (we thought it was Mile 5.0):

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Meghann adjusting her socks at the first aid station:

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Kelly and Abbie at the aid station:

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I didn’t eat anything at the first aid station because it was so early in the race.  I did grab a CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE at the 9.5 mile aid station! It was delicious! :)

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Mmmmmm …. chocolate….

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Mile 10.0 was very exciting because that’s when Kelly reached a new personal distance (PD) goal.  Mile 13.1 was a new PD for MeghannAnd Mile 14.0 was a new PD for me!  Each time one of us set a new PD, we cheered like crazy. 

 

My body felt physically challenged throughout the entire race.  Each hill I climbed, every log I jumped over, all the roots I hopped around… they added up FAST and by Mile 9.5, I was definitely feeling the PAIN in my butt, thighs, and anklesTrail running is a different animal than road racing… it’s a more grueling on your muscles.  But, I felt like my knees handled the race pretty well (since I wasn’t pounding into concrete).

 

I bonked for the first time ever as a runner on a hill at Mile 13.5.  This large hill was the last climb in a series of smaller hills, and it was such a long vertical climb that my legs were SCREAMING towards the end.  My vision began to swim.  I was literally biting down on my lip to keep myself from screaming out loud in utter pain.  Then, I started to chant  my mantra: "PAIN IS TEMPORARY, QUITTING IS FOREVER!"  Just when I felt like I could not go on, I reached the top of the hill! 

 

We paused to walk a little bit and take a picture:

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We heard rumors during the run that the 15.0 mile loop "wasn’t exactly" 15.0 miles.  Only in a laid-back trail race would this happen!  People who had run the course the year before told us that we were really looking at a 16.2 mile run!

 

Not knowing exactly how much longer I had to go really got to me emotionally.  When I heard Meghann’s Garmin "beep beep" at Mile 15.0 and the end was no where in sight, I kind of started to freak out.  I pulled ahead to the front of the line, put my head down, and buckled in for the long haul.

 

By the time I crossed the finish line at 15.4 miles, I was completely and utterly spent.  I do not think I could’ve run another 100 meters.  I’ve never finished a race that exhausted before.  My legs felt like Jello!

That’s when I looked down and realized how disgustingly dirty I was:

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There was even dirt INSIDE my socks (how did that happen!?!):

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Abbie had signed up for the 50K race, so she kept going at the finish line to do another loop (I really do not understand how that is physically possible).  Kelly, Meghann, and I hopped into my car and drove back to the hotel as fast as possible — we needed SHOWERS and FUEL!

 

I drank a MyoPlex shake on the way back to the hotel:

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After showering (which made me feel so much more human), we drove to Cracker Barrel to load up on carbs.   I started with a biscuit:

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And ate 1/2 of these egg beaters + 1 turkey bacon patty:

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And ate 2 out of these three pecan pancakes:

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Incidentally, this is exactly what I ate after my Marine Corps Half Marathon in October.

 

Now…. we’re back in Orlando, and I’m ready to SLEEP! And EAT MORE FOOD!  I have to chow down about 3,500 calories today, so I’ve got my work cut out for me (best thing about running, hands down).

 

I feel so happy and so proud when I think about the race.  This was truly a great personal accomplishment, and I’m glad I had great friends to experience it with!  Not to be corny, but that made the race even better.  :) 

{ 74 comments }

 

Leave a Comment

  • VeggieGirl April 11, 2009, 11:30 am

    You guys are troopers – kudos for enduring the challenge and rocking the race!!

    Reply
  • d.a.r. April 11, 2009, 11:32 am

    Oh my gosh congrats!! That is seriously so awesome, especially if you were struggling that much mentally. It sounds like you won the battle though :) Congrats to a great run and enjoy some down time now!

    Reply
  • Mica April 11, 2009, 11:32 am

    Great race, Caitlin! That’s amazing that you pushed through at the end. Congratulations!!!!

    Reply
  • rediscoveringlauren April 11, 2009, 11:35 am

    congrats! you guys are awesome :) i love hearing about your runs and its great you can do it with friends to make it more fun! it sounds like the run was challenging mentally and physically so its really an accomplishment you did so fantastic!

    Reply
  • Erin April 11, 2009, 11:37 am

    Congratulations Caitlin! Not only did you go the farthest ever but you did it during a trail race. Such an inspiration!!!

    Reply
  • Amanda @ Fake Ginger April 11, 2009, 11:39 am

    You did amazing, girl! So proud of you guys! You really are such an inspiration.

    Reply
  • Angela (oh she glows) April 11, 2009, 11:39 am

    LOVED the recap!!!
    Im so proud of you girls!! CONGRATS!

    Enjoy the eating today…HAHA!!

    Reply
  • Michelle April 11, 2009, 11:39 am

    Wow, congrats on the great race Caitlin! It sounds like it was awful at times, but doesn’t it feel great to reach that new distance record? Way to go!

    Reply
  • redheadedjournal April 11, 2009, 11:41 am

    Congrats!!!!!

    Reply
  • ashley (sweetandnatural) April 11, 2009, 11:43 am

    AMAZING! Each and every race you complete is inspiring, but this is my favorite so far! Congrats to all of you!

    Reply
  • BethAnn Caputo April 11, 2009, 11:43 am

    Wow! It’s awesome that you stuck with it even though you were going a little crazy. Just think about the kind of shape you’re body must be in so that you were able to finish the race! Good job!

    Reply
  • girlrunningaround April 11, 2009, 11:43 am

    Awesome race report, and way to go! What a great mental, and physical, challenge! You’re totally my hero for the day! ;)

    Reply
  • Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) April 11, 2009, 11:45 am

    Congrats!

    Reply
  • Ashley April 11, 2009, 11:50 am

    Congratulations on a job well done! This morning my fiance and I did a NYRR 10k in Central Park and it was POURING rain, 40 degress, and windy! I didn’t PR but I actually had fun!

    healthyhappierbear.blogspot.com

    Reply
  • Mara @ What's For Dinner? April 11, 2009, 11:50 am

    Congratulations!!! I hope you’re all clean now… I’m beyond impressed with you!

    Reply
  • A Toronto girl out West April 11, 2009, 11:51 am

    Awww look at you!!:o)

    Congratulations on finishing the race and doing it in such style! I’m sure it’s made all the more sweeter by the challenges you faced along the way!!!!

    http://tobethewholepackage.blogspot.com

    Reply
  • jane April 11, 2009, 11:53 am

    congratulations and welcome to the world of trail running! fabulous, isn’t it?! i like it so much better than road running.
    you should feel really proud of yourself for achieving a new PD and taking on a new type of running adventure. Enjoy treating yourself today and relaxing! :)

    Reply
  • Nicole (anotheronebitesthecrust.wordpress.com) April 11, 2009, 12:18 pm

    Congratulations! You must be so proud to have finally finished after all that. Way to go!

    Reply
  • wholefoodswholeme April 11, 2009, 12:34 pm

    huge congrats caitlin!! you girls are absolutely amazing! get some good rest and eats :D

    Reply
  • Kailey (SnackFace) April 11, 2009, 12:40 pm

    I loved that you took us through your mindset throughout the race. Congratulations on a new distance record! It looks like you guys had a blast. You’re all stunnas for running that long and in those conditions (trails and longs and sand–eek!). I need a biscuit now after seeing the cracker barrel pics! Ooo have fun making up the 3500 cals for the rest of the day!

    Reply
  • skinnyrunner.com April 11, 2009, 12:46 pm

    awesome job! i love all the fun pictures. way to power through it, looks like a tough course!

    Reply
  • *Andrea* April 11, 2009, 12:52 pm

    congrats congrats congrats!!!!! great job.. you and kelly look alike by the way lol

    Reply
  • Ryan (Chase Daylight) April 11, 2009, 12:53 pm

    Wowww, great job Caitlin! This is such an accomplishment, especially based on how you were feeling at certain points during the race. Way to PUSH THROUGH! Congratulations :D

    Reply
  • Holly April 11, 2009, 1:08 pm

    You are a rockstar! I’m so glad you had your girls with you and weren’t all alone for that mental challenge. Sometimes those are the hardest! Plus the physical on top of everything else.

    What a high note to “end” on as you take a little step back from running!

    Reply
  • Amy April 11, 2009, 1:20 pm

    Amazing race report!

    Way to go. :)

    Reply
  • Lynne April 11, 2009, 1:21 pm

    You are such an inspiration. As a fairly new runner, I can only one day to achieve what you have. Congrats!

    Reply
  • iowagirleats April 11, 2009, 1:33 pm

    WOW! That is just incredible!!! You all should be so proud – what a neat thing to say you’ve done!

    Reply
  • Jen April 11, 2009, 1:35 pm

    SO amazing!! That trail looks absolutely nuts. Great job!

    Reply
  • Bec April 11, 2009, 1:39 pm

    congrats, great work!

    Reply
  • Laura April 11, 2009, 1:51 pm

    Awesome job! It sounds like a very cool race. :)

    I love your mantra.

    Reply
  • Erica April 11, 2009, 1:53 pm

    CONGRATS on making it! That is so very exciting! You guys totally rock! Good luck with all the eating ;)

    Reply
  • emily April 11, 2009, 1:55 pm

    It was hard, but you did it! I am seriously so inspired by all of the runs, let alone the rockstar races; you are def. a part of my insane itch to get back to running!

    Reply
  • Siobhan April 11, 2009, 2:07 pm

    Great job Caitlin! I love the mantra & I think its so awesome that you all ran together- you must feel amazing! Enjoy catching up on those calories!

    Reply
  • Bula April 11, 2009, 2:08 pm

    Congrats on the race! It looks like a lot of fun. When’s your next one?

    Reply
  • teacherwoman April 11, 2009, 2:13 pm

    Sounds like a great race! Way to go to all of you! Boy does Kelly look like Meghann!

    “Pain is weakness leaving the body!”

    Reply
  • eatingRD April 11, 2009, 2:25 pm

    Congrats on finishing your longest race, especially how challenging those trail races are. You have to expend so much more energy. Have fun eating! woo-hoo, I think that’s the best part about intense events too!

    -kristen

    Reply
  • K from ksgoodeats April 11, 2009, 2:45 pm

    Wow!! Thanks for the recap – I’m in awe of all four of you!

    I still think Kelly looks like a mix of you and Meghann :) Have fun making up your calorie deficit!!

    Reply
  • Julie April 11, 2009, 2:51 pm

    wow, congrats! that looks like so much fun – what a great feeling it must have been to finish!

    Reply
  • Kristi @ Sweet Cheeks April 11, 2009, 3:25 pm

    Wow, I must say I am SOOOO impressed! Congrats, girl. That is an amazing accomplishment!

    Reply
  • Run Sarah April 11, 2009, 3:46 pm

    Awesome recap – sounds like a great challenge! :) Have fun relaxing for the rest of the day!

    Reply
  • lilveggiepatch April 11, 2009, 3:57 pm

    Congratulations Caitlin!!! GREAT re-cap. So nice you got to run with your friends. I love the picture of your dirty feet!

    Reply
  • thecleanveggie April 11, 2009, 4:20 pm

    your amazing!!!
    I love that even though the race as a challenge you never gave up!! awesome girlie!

    Reply
  • RhodeyGirl/Sabrina April 11, 2009, 4:25 pm

    CONGRATS!

    AMAZING!!!!!!!!!

    AND AMAZING RECAP TOO!

    Reply
  • RhodeyGirl/Sabrina April 11, 2009, 4:26 pm

    by the way i feel a bit like a nut job bc i was at a birthday party and i found myself wondering how you girls were doing!!! i was cheering you on from rhodey hahaha

    Reply
  • SweetPea April 11, 2009, 4:30 pm

    What a great race recap! I love how you were able to take so many great pictures. GO YOU for pushing through when it got rough. You should be so proud of yourself! :)

    Reply
  • Gena April 11, 2009, 4:41 pm

    Congratulations, Caitlin! You guys are amazing.

    Reply
  • melissa April 11, 2009, 4:49 pm

    Huge congratulations! You guys are rock stars. I somehow missed your blog transition and I just found yours again! YAY. It’s awesome, Meghann is one of my favorite bloggers, and now I have double the florida fun.

    Reply
  • Meg April 11, 2009, 5:03 pm

    You guys should be SUPER proud of yourselves! You all did such an amazing job!

    Reply
  • Chris of Fab Fit and 40 April 11, 2009, 5:55 pm

    Congrats…really something to be proud of!

    Reply
  • Zesty Cook April 11, 2009, 6:21 pm

    Awesome job girls!

    Reply
  • Dori April 11, 2009, 7:17 pm

    Congrats!! I loved reading all about the race, it is really interesting. Sounds so challenging, you should be so proud of yourself!

    Reply
  • Amy April 11, 2009, 8:09 pm

    Congratulations!! You girls did amazing. :D

    Reply
  • Niki April 11, 2009, 8:13 pm

    Congrats!! Great job! Really enjoyed reading about the race!

    Reply
  • Thinspired April 12, 2009, 12:34 am

    CONGRATS!!! Great recap, you girls should all be so proud. I love that you all stayed together.

    Reply
  • Justine April 12, 2009, 5:02 am

    Wow, what a challenging (but fun) race! That’s definitely an accomplishment…congrats!

    Reply
  • ~Jessica~ April 12, 2009, 7:32 am

    Wow, is all I can say!

    So much of running is about keeping up that mental energy and to have pushed through so many psychologically and physical barriers is truly amazing. I ran a 10K where 1K was on sand (beachside) and that was tough enough, let alone as the start of a 15K trail race.

    My dream would be to run as far as you but sadly joint problems would make it very difficult: I’ll just have to live vicariously through your brilliance : )

    Reply
  • Kath April 12, 2009, 8:06 am

    Wow, such a cool race!!! Congrats on FIFTEEN miles!

    Reply
  • Angie Eats Peace April 12, 2009, 1:57 pm

    So awesome! Congrats! You did a great job!

    Reply
  • Laura in Pgh April 12, 2009, 4:45 pm

    First of all Congratulations!!! What an accomplishment Caitlin! 15 miles isn’t easy on the road – thanks for the awesome race recap -take care of yourself and get some rest! I recommend getting a massage tomorrow.

    Reply
  • Rose April 13, 2009, 6:28 am

    Congrats, girl! What a race. Thanks for the recap!

    Reply
  • lauren April 13, 2009, 6:51 am

    congrats caitlin! you did great…and should be SO accomplished! great recap…

    Reply
  • Elina April 13, 2009, 9:15 am

    You did it!!!!!!!!!! Congrats! Now enjoy a little break from running :)

    Reply
  • Beadie @ What I Ate Yesterday April 13, 2009, 12:54 pm

    Congrats on the race! Sounds like it was really challenging both mentally and physically, you are a trooper for toughing it out!

    Reply
  • Caitlin April 13, 2009, 1:44 pm

    I’ll admit I’m a lurker to your blog, but I had to comment because I loved this recap, honestly I felt like I was there with you guys! Congrats, you should be super proud of yourself.

    Reply
  • Jess April 13, 2009, 2:18 pm

    Nice job setting a distance PR. Your meal last night may have caused the bonking though.

    Reply
  • aron April 13, 2009, 2:27 pm

    CONGRATS!!!!!! amazing job!

    Reply
  • healthy ashley April 14, 2009, 6:31 am

    Caitlin, CONGRATULATIONS on finishing and doing so well! It sounds super tough but in the end you did kick that race’s butt. Good job!

    Reply
  • Amy April 14, 2009, 12:43 pm

    That looked so amazing that i signed up for my first trail run today!! It’s not until September, but i am so excited :)

    Reply
  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point April 14, 2009, 12:49 pm

    good luck amy!

    Reply
  • Holly Noelle June 13, 2009, 4:49 pm

    Reading about your races and how they make you feel makes me want to get into running! I'll probabl have to do a couch to 5K training program to begin with!

    Reply
  • Jenna October 29, 2009, 10:29 pm

    that sure does seem like the best thing about running! being able to chow down on nice healthy delicious food!
    jenna

    Reply
  • joseph October 14, 2011, 5:51 am

    Hi Caitlin

    The pics in your post
    Crooms Fools Run 15 Mile Race Recap
    are not available any more ?

    Can you help fix this ?

    Joseph
    I need this post to lose 10kg :)

    Reply
    • Caitlin October 14, 2011, 8:30 am

      I’m trying to figure out why some pics are broken – stay tuned!

      Reply