ACROSS THE PENINSULA

Posted: March 17, 2015 by smrtnsasy in Race Reports
Tags: , , , ,

Race Report:                                                                                                                                                                           Florida Route 40 Romp – 116 Miles,                                                                                                                          March 7, 2015                                                                                                                                                           Yankeetown, FL to Ormond Beach, FL

            When I read the race information, it seemed like a good idea for an adventure run and a race all wrapped up in one bundle.  That would be the Cross Florida Route 40 Romp – all 116 miles of it.  It would start on the Gulf of Mexico at the end of the road west of Yankeetown and end at Ormond Beach on the Atlantic Ocean.

            In Yankeetown, that road which is county road 40 (CR40) also has the moniker of “Follow That Dream Parkway.”  By reading the roadside marker, I found that the name is because the movie, Follow That Dream, had some location shots made there with Elvis doing his thing.  That means that I will have to find that movie and watch it to see if I recognize any of the locations.  That is, if I still have that curiosity after this thing is over…maybe, I’ll just want to forget all about this event and anything connected with it.

            7:32 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, March 7, 2015 saw the start of the 116-mile race.  After a few minutes of gathering final details and preparing for the start, the eleven runners toed the starting line between two stop signs with the gulf at our back.  Unfortunately, we also had a headwind to run into, and it would last all the way to Ormond Beach.  But, fortunately, the wind was not so formidable as to greatly hamper the running, but it did make the starting miles colder than I would have liked.

            One of my goals in this race was to run efficiently for as long as I could.  I wanted to use that efficiency to bring me to a comparison of 100 miles in a 24-hour framework to see what I needed to make it better.  My last 24-hour effort yielded 73.03 miles, and that was almost a year ago.  My parameters for my efficiency would be form and pace.  Secondly, another primary goal was just simply to run as much as possible through the distance, especially the first 100-miles.

We all started conservatively in the cold morning air and headed out on the two-lane asphalt toward Yankeetown.  From the start, David Krupski, age 38, took the lead and kept it all the way leaving the rest of us behind.  Any challenge to his pace was short lived.  I saw this happening as I concentrated on my goals from back in the pack. 

            The pack was jovial as we headed east.  Myself, not liking to talk during a race, just listened and analyzed the other runners’ pace, form, and effort.  That told me early on who might run a good race and who might just crash and burn.  All the while, I was trying to be patient and true to my goals.

            The only one I knew in this race was Salt Shack who was a Vol-State runner last year.  Also, I knew Scott Maxwell who was probably the most laid-back race director I have experienced.  I knew Scott from the Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic where he ran with me this last December as he was running the 50 kilometer while I was running the 50-mile race.  Scott didn’t give me a chance in that race.  I had to talk to him along the way…he wouldn’t go away and would not shut up.  So, I talked.  With him, it wasn’t so bad.

            We spread out quickly with several runners racing ahead of me.  I fought the urge to go with them which would force me to abandon my pace and effort.  I let them go.  Some stayed behind me and slowly dropped even more behind.  But, I was aware they were there and that they may come back on me at any point.  One cannot ever underestimate a runner.

            The first runner I gained on was Salt Shack, still in the early miles before Yankeetown.  A sidewalk started at the approximate five-mile mark and Shack was moving away from me.  He had upped his pace to catch the pack ahead of him.  I thought then that his move may be to my advantage in the later miles of the race.

            I was comfortably dressed in shorts, layered long-sleeve garments, and gloves.  I was dancing in Hoka Cliftons which felt great.  But, the shoes always feel great early in the race.  I’ll wait and see how they feel at ninety miles.  I felt confident that they will feel just as good then as now.

            The course was typical Florida…virtually flat with an occasional gentle hill here and there.  The route was on county road 40 which eventually hit state road 40.  This was across the peninsula in the more northern half of the state.  This part of the state has beautiful agricultural areas through which we ran.  This western part of the route had us on a two-lane highway.  A Saturday morning presented no traffic problems as we approached Dunnellon.

            A few rolling hills leading north of Dunnellon had us taking our third and last turn on the course.  All three turns were in Dunnellon or close proximity.  Leaving Dunnellon had me at 24 miles as I turned right on state road 40.  Now, straight to Ormond Beach.  But, first it would be Ocala.

            I felt good as I slowly approached Ocala.  I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful vistas on my left and right.  I ran through majestic horse ranches and farmland.  In between were small thrusts of forests that splashed darkened green among the open landscapes of ranches and homes.  The highway was still two-lane.   

            I like running on two-lane roads even though a lot of runners prefer the larger four-lane and divided roads for safety reasons.  I have seldom felt endangered on two-lane roads.  Even with the smallest road shoulders, I seem to have enough room for safety.  The two-lane roads are more intimate and seem to foster a deeper feel for the surroundings.  It helps make me more of a part of the terrain I’m running through.  And, here, I was in my element…at least, for the time being.

            I felt like I was fairly efficient running with good technique and sustaining my run with only walking while taking aid.  This held through busy Ocala where I passed the 50-mile aid station and had a root beer.  Also, in Ocala I had a cheeseburger and medium Coke from McDonald’s and consumed it while walking a bit.  It would prove to render good energy later in the race.

            I entered the Ocala National Forest at some point east of Ocala.  I don’t know exactly where the forest started.  Darkness came while running through the forest.  The road had wide grassland between the road and the forest growth.  With the full moon, there was enough light that I would not have to use a headlamp.  Just before it got completely dark, I heard a rustling in the growth to my left.  I looked over and saw a black bear coming out of the forest.  Before I could decide what to do, the bear did a quick u-turn and retreated to the woods.  It might have been my 65+ mile odor that offered my protection.  Whatever…if it works, I’ll take it.

            I left the forest after about twenty miles.  It was a pleasant stretch with the only malignancy being the seemingly endless flights of motorcycles rumbling through in both directions.  Where were they all going?  I found out that it was Bike Week and the thundering herds were going wherever motorcycle riders go in such things.  Don’t they make quiet motorcycles anymore?

            Before the race, I figured I might have some trouble when I got past the 75-mile point.  Perhaps, this was because of my 73-miles in my last 24-hour run last May.  But, I felt really good wobbling along at my ultra pace.  I didn’t feel unusually fatigued.  Didn’t feel sleepy.  And, I was approaching the 100-mile mark. 

            I refused to look at my watch during the race because I wanted to run entirely on my biomechanical feedback.  The time would take care of itself.  But, I did check it at the 100.  I was surprised somewhat to hit the 100-miles in 23:57.  A little better than my 24-hour run last May.

The last sixteen miles was like a mental cool-down.  I just tried to keep my effort evenly metered in the last few hours.  I would get there and take what I had.  What I didn’t count on was some slight nausea in my gut.  I had this problem last May in the 24-hour race, but it was more severe.  Here, I figured if I could just lay down for five minutes, the nausea would subside.  At that point, a race monitor offered some ginger lozenges for the problem.  I took the ginger, reclined for five minutes, and everything was fine. 

            I would run on to the finish which was at A1A Highway right before the beach.  But, in this last mile, I managed to fall on the sidewalk after tripping over a protruding grate.  It seems like I’m going to fall somewhere in just about every race I run lately.  Five people immediately came to my aid.  I had to convince them that I was OK and had to keep going, get over the bridge, and to the finish line.  I appreciated their concern, but I had to go.

            I finished on my feet and kept going across A1A and to the beach.  The Hoka Cliftons which started with Gulf of Mexico water was now wet with the Atlantic Ocean.  I was fourth in a time of 28:42:36.  The race was done.

            The adventure completed.  Now, to find Follow that Dream.

(Richard Westbrook)

             

               

 

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s