Trail Monster Running
Saturday, December 29, 2007
I made it to Bradbury a few minutes before 8 and Blaine was already waiting. Just as we got out of our cars Blaine commented that at least it wasn't raining any more, precipitation had now turned to sleet. Erik arrived and I suggested we go out for breakfast instead of running today but unfortunately these guys wanted to run so we took off on the Northern Loop Trail towards the summit.
This was the first time in several weeks that I decided to run without snowshoes at Bradbury, instead I picked a muddy pair of Inov-8's that needed a good cleaning. The trail conditions weren't too bad going up the mountain, a little soft, fairly wet with a few places where the snow was completely washed out. It took about 19 minutes to get to the summit, and then 10 minutes to get back down again. We then headed across the road for a loop of the Knight Woods trail where conditions seemed to be even softer underfoot and I found myself postholing quite a bit. Despite the difficulty Blaine and I managed to churn out a few miles under a 9:30 pace.
After about 40 minutes I was losing interest so I decided to head back. Blaine kept going on the Snowmobile Trail to work on getting his annual mileage over 1,900. At least I got my shoes clean.
distance: 4.4 miles
heart rate: 163/182
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
When we finished the run we noticed that Erik had showed up, apparently delayed in trafffic, and was still out there running. We also bumped into Floyd and Jeff who were meeting for a ski. It's amazing how many people show up to use these trails in the winter, too bad we all have to park outside the gate to avoid getting locked in.
I've been trying out some of the options for displaying GPS data from my runs. I haven't figured it all out yet but there is some cool stuff that you can do. The image above is taken from Google Earth, which is pretty cool in and of itself but when you overlay a run route you can view stats at each mile split, and if you were somewhere with real elevation you could do a fun fly-through. Below is a link to the Motion Based website where you can view stats from the run and watch the run in action on the Map Player. Well, you can watch a dot in action, you still have to use your imagination.
(From the Motion Based site click on the 'PLAYER' tab)
|Check this out! You can view this activity online at MotionBased. The Map Player is especially cool because a 'Dot' simulates the movement on a map (You just need to download the Adobe SVG Viewer).|
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Emma will write up her own report which will be posted here soon.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Given the potential for freezing water, which has happened to me before, I wore a light jacket over my Source hydration pack. I also planned to try a trick I read about which is to blow a small amount of air back into the tube after taking a drink, thus clearing out any water that might freeze. I learned not to blow too much air otherwise you end up with half air and half water in your pack and it sloshes around, which isn't really a problem, just annoying. About half an hour into the run Blaine asked how my hose was doing, I was happy to report that my hydration pack was functioning well but my other hose was frosty. Luckily I was wearing glove liners and mittens so I tried a trick that Jim taught me, I removed a mitten and shoved it down my pants. This did a great job of warming up one area but left me with a cold hand, and for the rest of the run I kept switching the mitten from one hand to the other.
Apart from the addition of the Knight Woods trail at the beginning of our run we were following the same route that we ran last week. Six miles into the run, when we reached the power lines, Blaine decided to turn back, and Erik was a little ways behind me so I continued on my own towards a nice big hill. When I got closer I was disappointed to find a fork in the trail and the "groomed" path avoided the hill so I decided to stick to following the snowmobile tracks. "I'll get you on the way back" I said to the hill.
The time seemed right for a package of Shot Bloks, which after more than an hour in my pocket were actually flavored ice cubes. I discovered that slipping the package into my mitten (the Shot Blok package and the mitten on my hand, not the other one) did a good job of thawing the Shot Bloks without freezing my hand, and the same is true for packets of GU.
Things were going well until I came to a small river that wasn't frozen enough to cross and the snowmobile tracks turned back. I managed to break trail through 8" of powder into someone's back yard, then on to what I would later discover was Poland Range Road, across a bridge and then back onto the power line trail. Unfortunately from this point on I was breaking trail which is really hard work on hills in small running-style snowshoes. I made it out to Allen Road in North Pownal, did a lap of a huge electrical sub-station and turned back the way I came.
By the time I reached the back side of that hill I had seen earlier I had been running through powder for about 4 miles and I was starting to feel pretty tired, but I decided to attack the hill anyway. It turned out to be a very tough climb and I could see why no snowmobiles had attempted it, but I was glad to be the only one to make tracks up to the top. The view from the top was worth the effort but the 20 mph wind prevented me from lingering and I continued down the other side. By now I was feeling pretty much spent and even returning to the packed snowmobile trails didn't provide much relief.
As I counted the miles on my way back and looked at the time I knew that I was going to have to repeat the Knight Woods loop and maybe a little more if I was going to bring this run up to 4 hours. The problem was that in order to do that I was going to come within 0.3 of a mile from the parking lot where my car was, and the temptation to stop early was going to be there. I have discovered that one of the great challenges of long distance running is being faced with the opportunity to stop but being able to make yourself continue. Today I was weak, I took the opportunity to quit early.
If I'm going to get through this 100 miler I'm going to have to keep putting myself in these situations until I know that I'm strong enough not to give in.
distance: 18.93 miles
Friday, December 14, 2007
THE VERMONT 100
VERMONT ADAPTIVE SKI AND SPORTS
CONGRATULATIONS! This is to confirm that you are entered in the 2008 Vermont 100 to be held July 19 and 20 in West Windsor VT.
On behalf of Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports (VASS) and the race committee we welcome you to the 20th annual Vermont 100 Endurance Run. July will be here soon and we look forward to seeing you. This year the VT 100 offers runners a choice of 100 miles or 100 K. See the website for more details.
This letter also serves as your campsite confirmation. Please remember that our campsites are open ONLY from Friday morning until Monday noon. Please do your part to keep Vermont green and leave your campsite as you found it.
We are looking forward to our fifth year at the Silver Hill Meadow site. We have used this site through good and bad weather and it really has become home for us. Our very sincere thanks go to the property owners for their continued generous support. The consensus seems to be that the revised trail is slightly tougher than the original but retains the character of the old route. The VT 100 continues to uphold our tradition of having horses and runners compete on the same course at the same time. This combination brings great comments from both runners and riders every year.
All proceeds from the VT 100 go to support the programs of VASS. Your participation helps to provide year-round recreational sports opportunities to people with disabilities. The VT 100 is one of the largest fundraisers for VASS each year. To further this key fundraising effort we have changed our pledge program to offer prizes and incentives for raising additional money to further the mission of VASS. More details can be found on our website. Note that VASS is a 501 (c)3 non-profit and all contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Our website (www.vermont100.com) has several pages of race information available. More pages may be added if needed and pages will be updated from time to time. Included is a list of this year's entrants. This list will be updated within a couple weeks as entries are received. Please be sure to check the website for updates as race day nears.
We look forward to seeing returning runners again and to meeting those of you who haven't run VT before. The race committee, the volunteers and the community as a whole regard this event as a high point of each year. We can make no promises about the New England weather but we will hope for the best.
As always, if you have any questions don't hesitate to contact us at (email@example.com).
Jim Hutchinson, Race Director
Julia Hutchinson, Assistant Rd/Admin Assistant
PS You didn't specify a shirt size on your application. If you could let us know which size you need we can make sure you're well dressed as well as tired at the end of the VT 100.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
When I arrived at Twin Brook this evening Jeff was already out doing laps of the field on his skate skis, I could see the light from his headlamp moving back and forth in the distance. Andrew and Jim arrived next and we got ready to head out. I could hear some clattering from Andrew's direction so I went over to see what was going on. He was strapping on some wicked gnarly crampons, which seemed a tad aggressive for Twin Brook but that's the kind of guy he is. Like last week I wore my snowshoes and Jim was in his Flyroc's.
In the interest of preserving the well groomed trails for skiers we decided to skip the more southern part of our usual route and stick to the northern loop which isn't as well maintained. Unfortunately for Jeff this meant the skiing wasn't so good, and for he rest of us the running was actually more difficult but we don't do this because it's easy. When we got to the most northern part of the Twin Brook property we decided to cross the railroad tracks and take the trail that leads to Val Halla golf course. Once on the golf course we found there had been a lot of snowmobile traffic that created a great network of trails and included some nice little hills.
We only covered a fraction of the trails at Val Halla so I'm looking forward to exploring them more in the coming weeks.
distance: 5.09 miles
heart rate: 173/185
Saturday, December 8, 2007
As I was throwing my snowshoes in the back of my car, just about to head over to Bradbury I heard someone call my name, it was Randy who had run over to my house to catch a ride. He didn’t know exactly where I live but just took a chance since he knew the street and he arrived just in time. When we got to Bradbury we met Erik, Josh and Blaine and we agreed to attempt 10 miles. Erik also brought snowshoes but the other guys didn’t so we decided to go in just our trail shoes with hopes that the snowmobiles would have been out during the week to pack down the snow on the trails. This seemed to be the case until we got 100 yards onto the trail and the snowmobile tracks veered off into the campground. We decided to stick to my planned route which meant blazing trail through soft snow along the Link Trail, but after less than half a mile we joined up with what is referred to as the Snowmobile Trail and that had seen some traffic so we were back to somewhat easier running.
As we headed northeast along this wide trail towards the park boundary and eventually beyond the snowmobile tracks disappeared and we had to break trail again, but I think we all agreed that despite the difficulty it was actually a lot of fun running through the snow. The deer also seemed to enjoy it as there were tracks everywhere. At one point I looked over my shoulder to make sure everyone was close behind and when I did I slipped on a snow covered rock and went down into the soft powder.
After almost 40 minutes but still not even 4 miles into the run we came out to a big open corn field that had seen a lot of snowmobile traffic and we were able to pick the pace up for a bit. This lead to a sand pit and then back into the woods along a section of trail with a lot of water under ice where we had to tread lightly and weave around the obviously thin spots in an attempt to keep our feet dry. Finally we came out to the power line trail running east-west and my Garmin told me we were at exactly 5 miles so we turned around and made our way back the way we came. You can see from the elevation profile that most of the way back was uphill, not a major hill but in 6” of snow it was hard work.
The run back took us 3 minutes longer than the way out, which wasn’t too bad considering the hills and the snow. I was glad to have my OR Flex-Tex Gaiters during the run which did a great job keeping the snow out of my shoes and allowed my feet to stay nice and warm and dry. Although the temperature was still below freezing we were all working up a good sweat which of course lead to a major chill a few minutes after finishing.
distance: 9.97 miles
Friday, December 7, 2007
Even though I didn’t need any new shoes - I already bought 3 pairs of Inov-8’s this year - I was curious to see what they had in the warehouse and maybe pick up something for next year’s VT100. It’s not that the shoes didn’t last long enough that I ended up buying 3 pair, I just really like them and I wear them all. The models I currently wear, Roclite 315, F-lite 300 and Mudroc 290, are all light-weight and relatively minimalist shoes but each is suited to a different type of terrain. What I was looking for was something with a little more cushioning, desirable during a 100 mile race, and a not-too-aggressive outsole. The F-lite 335 seemed to fit the bill but wasn’t quite right on my feet, and I don’t want to take any chances going into this race. I asked the advice of Thomas, an experienced ultra-runner who works for Inov-8 and ran the VT100 a few years ago in 18.5 hours (for anyone who doesn’t know: that’s freakin’ awesome). Thomas is better at giving advice than selling shoes, and he recommended that I wear my road shoes at VT rather than any of the Inov-8 trail shoes. I respect his opinion and appreciated his honesty so I think I may be in the market for a new pair of Asics, not sure which model but I’ll visit Maine Running Company this week and see what I can find. Historically I bounced back and fourth between the 2000 series and the Kayano, but for the past 2 years I’ve been running almost exclusively in Inov-8’s and I’m not sure if I really need all the structure of those shoes any more. We’ll see.
Emma was determined to pick up two new pairs of shoes on this trip, not that she really needed them but she had two gift certificates from winning the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge 25k and the Stone Cat Trail Marathon. After much deliberation and sending Lisa up and down the aisles of the warehouse numerous times to fetch different shoes Emma settled on the F-Lite 301 PK because they look cool, and the Terroc 330 because she’s worn them before and they’re awesome. The last pair of Terroc’s Emma got were purchased 3 years ago from a store in Scotland and it was great to see that the shoe hasn’t changed a bit. It seems that every other shoe company changes their product every single year but they don’t realize that most runners like consistency in their footwear. It’s refreshing to see a company get it right the first time and just keep it that way. I bought a pair of Mudroc’s in 2003 and another in 2007 and the differences are so subtle they would only be noticed by someone with a shoe obsession like me.
Also at the open house were the founders of a new company called Go Motion who brought in a bunch of product prototypes they’ve been developing over the past year. Basically what they’ve done is taken a powerful headlamp with external battery pack and integrated it into a small backpack with the lamp positioned on your chest and the batteries on your back. They have several models, the one I like best holds a 1-liter hydration bladder and has several pockets for stowing small bits of gear and energy gels, perfect for long runs in the dark. They even have a women’s specific design that fit’s Emma perfectly, a rarity in the hydration pack market. Their products won’t be available for a few more months but they are definitely worth looking for, hopefully at a local retailer.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
It turned out that most of the trails had been groomed, the town is very good about getting out as soon as the snow falls to look after their trails, and conditions were great for skiing as was evident by all the headlamps we saw gliding along in the distance. We had to break trail on a few short sections of the northern part of the route and we debated whether or not the snowshoes made it any easier, when the snow isn't very deep there isn't much benefit to snowshoes. But snowshoe running does give you one hell of a workout.
Lately I have been thinking about Gore-tex footwear for winter running. Generally I have always thought that it isn't possible to prevent water from getting into your shoes (at least not the way I run) so I want to be sure that whatever does get in can get out just as easily. The one place Gore-tex does seem to make sense to me is when running in the snow. My feet never got cold tonight but after I finished I noticed that my socks were wet from the melted snow. If anyone had experience with Gore-tex or other "waterproof" footwear I'd be interested to hear what you think.
distance: 5.7 miles