32.94 mi, 6:21:40, 11:35 avg
Chilly 36 degrees at the start.
With not very many long runs or many trail runs and only about 4 hours of sleep the night before, I embarked on my first ultra since this race last year (where I was feeling much more confident despite not having done many long runs before that, but was running faster and had done a few good half marathons).
First couple of miles were slow 11:30 and 11:09, then slightly faster, followed by mile 4 in 14:17 because I walked part of it while talking on the phone to Cynthia (she was going to try and meet me about mile 16 but the course had been changed this year and it was iffy if we could figure out a good spot to meet so she called it off, rightly so and went back to sleep instead of driving out). I think there was an aid station in this mile (I stopped and asked for some TP "just in case" as I was feeling like I might not make it to Tucker Hill where there would be restrooms.
But, I did make it ok, with next few miles being uneventful. After the bathroom break, slowly descended down the back side of Tucker Hill and at some point tripped and fell, nothing broken or even bruised (almost jabbed myself with the key fob in my pocket but didn't) - still, a humbling experience. As I collected myself, a few more people passed me and I was pretty far back in the pack at this point.
Got going again and had some better miles, some even in the 9:00's.
Dropped off my long sleeve shirt and hat at the mile 16ish aid station as I was no longer cold.
Overall, miles 16-23 were pretty pleasant, more 9:00's and 10:00's, however mile 23 was 11:51, and then things started getting slower.
When splitting off from the usual Croom "C" loop trail to head to Silver Lake we don't take the trail with the sign that says Silver Lake, but instead we are sent on a trail running along the river. But this year, we were routed on the trail to Silver Lake which is part of the "Florida Trail" - a hiking trail that I think covers the entire state. On the way back, in the middle of the Florida Trail was a cactus that I almost tripped over. I was not expecting to see one but there are some native Cacti species in Florida (varieties of prickly pear). And in my slightly delirious mind all I could think of was telling people that I had almost tripped over a "Cacti" despite the fact that it should be cactus since there was only one, but I just really wanted to say "I almost tripped over a cacti".
The next aid station was at mile 23. There is usually one at mile 26, where I would take my "Second Surge" gel and then feel pretty good for the last 7 miles. But, I didn't get to the feel good for the last 7 miles feeling that I love about this race.
Miles 23-26 were a little rough. At mile 27 I felt like walking and was already over 5 hours into the race (about 5:13 when I glance at my watch), but I thought that if I walked the whole remainder it would take me two more hours and no way was I going to make this a 7+ hour race, so decided to just do the best I could. Things did get a little bit better and I finished the last mile with a 9:13 pace.
I was 59 minutes off of my PR for this race, but it was quite a leap up from the one 20 mile run I had done and gave me enough confidence to sign up for the Croom Fools run (50 miles) on 3/31