Trail Monster Running

Visit the official TRAIL MONSTER RUNNING website for information on upcoming group runs, local trails, trail races and more, including the Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival and the Bradbury Mountain trail Running Series.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

2008 - Year in Races

As 2008 comes to an end I've been reflecting on my races from this year and thinking about what I want to do in 2009. I put together a list of all the races I participated in during the past year, and have included Fat Ass and other non-paying events in an effort to see where my strengths are, thus helping me make better decisions about the events I participate in in 2009. For each race I listed my time, place and a "place-percentage". This information turned out to be useless.

I can say that my best finish was at the Stone Cat Trail Marathon, and that was one of the most satisfying races of the year. But every race has a different feeling. My first 100 miler was satisfying just for having completed it, although I came away thinking there were many things I could have done differently that would have allowed me to do better. The Bradbury Trail Running Series races were great, even though I never raced particularly well because I was always worn out from everything that went into putting on each of those events.


GAC Fat Ass 50K 31 miles

5:24:01 (11/27 - 40%)


Mid-Winter 10-Mile Classic 10 miles

1:08:42 (92/692 - 13%)


TMR Fat Ass 50k 32 miles

6:49:01 (1/3 33%)


Bull Run Run 50 Miler 50 miles

10:13:45 (83/265 31%)


7 Sisters Trail Race 12 miles

2:33:28 (60/241 25%)


Back Cove Weekly 5k Series 3.1 miles

0:21:24 (14/109 13%)


Back Cove Weekly 5k Series 3.1 miles

0:21:20 (23/142 16%)


Bradbury Scuffle 6 miles

0:47:53 (14/62 23%)


Back Cove Weekly 5k Series 3.1 miles

0:20:24 (23/150 15%)


Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run 100 miles

22:54:04 (44/266 17%)


Bradbury Mountain Breaker 9 miles

1:21:59 (17/67 25%)


Back Cove Weekly 5k Series 3.1 miles

0:20:37 (21/103 20%)


Back Cove Weekly 5k Series 3.1 miles

0:20:15 (27/109 25%)


Bradbury Bruiser 12 miles

1:47:40 (18/73 25%)


Vermont 50 Mile Ultra Run 50 miles

9:27:06 (42/205 20%)


New Beginnings 5k 3.1 miles

0:30:35 (96/143 67%)


Stone Cat Ale Trail Marathon 26.2 miles

3:46:19 (13/184 7%)


Blackstrap Hell Trail Challenge 6 miles

0:54:48 (12/26 46%)


Fat Ass and other Free Miles Raced (8 events) 81.4 miles

Paid Entry Miles Raced (10 events) 281.4 miles

Pavement Miles Raced (2 events) 13.1 miles

Trail Miles Raced (16 events) 349.7 miles

Total 2008 Mileage Raced 362.8 miles

I was hoping for something that would say "you finish higher up the field in shorted distance trail races so that's what you should focus on!" But there was no consistency or patterns in the numbers I came up with. So what I took away from this information is that I should focus on events that are fun. I remembered that running is supposed to be fun, and it is fun when you don't take things too seriously.

This past fall I started to get the road marathon bug after seeing friends taking part in a number of fall marathons, so I started to look for a road marathon to do in the spring. When I looked at a schedule of all the races I wanted to do in 2009 I realized that a spring marathon would conflict with too many of my favorite trail races, and I also realized that running through 14 miles of mud at the Muddy Moose, or 12 miles of treacherous rocky hell at 7 Sisters is far more enjoyable than trying to PR at a road marathon. So I scrapped that idea and decided to stick to trails.

2009 Race Plans

01.01.09 Hangover Classic 10k

01.10.09 GAC Fat Ass 50k

02.01.09 Mid-Winter 10-Mile Classic

02.28.09 TMR Fat Ass 50k

03.28.09 I’ve been married for 10 years and my wife still doesn’t have a Fat Ass 50k

04.11.09 Merrimac River Trail Race

04.26.09 Muddy Moose Trail Race

05.03.09 7 Sisters Trail Race

05.24.09 Pineland Farms Trail Challenge - 50 mile

06.28.09 Cranmore Hill Climb

07.12.09 Bradbury Scuffle

07.26.09 Escarpment Trail Race

08.09.09 Bradbury Mountain Breaker

09.13.09 Bradbury Bruiser

09.19-20.09 Iroquois Trail Ultra – 100 miler

11.08.09 Stone Cat Ale 50 Miler/Marathon

Many of these dates still need to be confirmed. I'm sure there will be a few other events that come along through the course of the year. I hope Jeff leads us through more Hell at Blackstrap, and that Chuck gets something going at Hedgehog, and Peter has an easier time getting events off the ground in his neck of the woods, and that the Maine Woods Trail Marathon returns next year...

A Gray Day

I've been in a bit of a running rut lately. Numerous reasons, but suffice to say that I haven't been doing much running and when I have it hasn't been worth writing about. Today I was running solo at Bradbury, and the conditions really weren't very good for doing anything outdoors. It was warmish for late December, the snow was a mess, crusty some places but then like mashed potatoes is others. The sky was gray and there was a heavy fog. Despite the conditions it was good to get out for a solid 2+ hour run and spend some time thinking.

One of the down sides of an early season snow is that it covers the ground before the ground has a chance to freeze. The result is that you can be running happily along when all of a sudden one foot comes down, breaks through a layer of crusty snow and ice and plunges into icy water up to your ankle. Not only does this throw off your stride but you're left with a very cold foot and often a scraped up shin as you push forward through the jagged edge of the ice. Eventually your other foot will post hole and things even out.

time: 2:13:02 (2:21:19)
distance: 14.93 miles
pace: 8:54 (9:28)

weather: 38 degrees, overcast/foggy

conditions: soft snow covered trails

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315 with screws, wool socks, thin tights, 2 long sleeve tops, Source 1.5l hydration pack, thin gloves, buff

One of the things I was thinking about on today's run was my blog. A few weeks ago I ran with a few other people from somewhere to somewhere else, and then back again. When I got home I wrote a report about the run complete with a map, like I often do, and put it up here for everyone to read. The problem is that I forget that anyone can see what I post, and on this particular occasion it turned out I was running on private property and I didn't have permission to do so. I soon received an e-mail pointing out some of the problems with what I had done, so I immediately took down the account of my run and realized that I need to be more careful about where I run. It was brought to my attention that snowmobile trails are built and maintained by snowmobile clubs, and that those clubs have permission from the owners of the land they cross to use the trails. This does not, however, give runners the right to use those trails on private property.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stone Cat Marathon Revisited

In case anyone thought I was making up the part about the festivities at Al Cat's Lounge (aid station) 17.5 miles into the Stone Cat Marathon I found photographic proof.


Thanks to Lori for "letting" me use her photos.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blackstrap Hell, The Movie

Thanks to Blaine for stopping long enough during the run to capture all this video footage, and thanks again to Jeff for creating this event.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A week of runs and what I wore

All the wet weather we've been having lately has made a mess of all my shoes. I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, because I don't mind the mud too much, it's just that it would be nice to run on something else for a change. At least there is a lot of diversity in the mud on each of the trails I've been running lately.

Pineland Mud
15.7 miles at Pineland on 11.29 as I mentioned in my previous post. Very muddy by Pineland standards but the shoes came out looking relatively clean. There's a lot of sand in this mud so it doesn't stick too much. These are my "newer" Inov-8 Roclite 315's which I've had for over a year, worn them for two 50 milers and they're still holding up well.

Bradbury Mud

On Saturday 11.30 I met Chuck, Danielle and Ryan for a 10.75 mile run at Bradbury that included a lap of the Breaker course, the first half of the Scuffle course and finishing up by running the first few miles of the Bruiser in reverse. This was a fun run and my first opportunity of the season to bring out the screw shoes. The ground was partially frozen so the mud factor wasn't too bad, but it certainly was present. There wasn't much ice but just enough on some exposed rocky sections to make me glad I had the hardware in my shoes. These are the Inov-8 Roclite 315's I got in May 2007, they've seen many rugged miles and are starting to show it, but they still feel good. I'm amazed how well they have held up over the past year and a half, I'll probably wear them all winter.

Hash Run
Later on Saturday I participated in my first ever Hash Run. It was brilliant. We started out by meeting in a bar and knocking back a pint before heading out on to the streets of Portland to follow chalk marks on the sidewalk in search of the correct route to lead us to more beer. Emma and I lead the way for much of the run which meant taking a few wrong turns and then doubling back to the back of the pack. Things worked out well with our group of about 16 people coming together at the beer stop, then again coming together right at the bar that was the finish of the run. Apart from a few dribbles of beer the Brooks Cascadias that I was wearing stayed pretty clean. I alternated between 3 pairs of these shoes for the VT100 this summer, since then I use these shoes for mostly road running, they're a bit too bulky for trails and not as flexible as I would like.

Twin Brook Mud
Tuesday nights at Twin Brook have proven to be the muddiest of all. That place has miserable drainage with many puddles of standing water that have been there all summer and a general saturation that just won't quit. My shoe of choice for this kind of stuff is the Inov-8 Mudroc 290. I bought a pair of these in 2003 when Inov-8 only made one shoe. I got my second pair in early 2007 and was delighted to find that the shoe remained unchanged in 4 years. The only reason I got a new pair was because I realized that the first ones were too small, apparently they're not supposed to fit like climbing shoes. These are some amazingly durable shoes, especially for something so lightweight. I suspect I'll still be running in these 3 years from now.

Hill Repeats
Wednesday I was in the mood for hill repeats. That means I was in a bad mood and needed to take out some aggression on the road. I decided to wear my racing flats for this workout. I bought these Asics DS Racers in 2005 when I thought they would make me fast. Turns out you have train to be fast and shoes don't make that much difference. I stopped wearing these shoes because trail running made my feet a lot stronger, thus wider and they didn't fit so well. I took the insoles out of these and they fit a little better, but still not something I would do more than 3 or 4 miles in.

Grocery Shopping
Thursday night I wanted to get in a 7 mile run and I needed to pick a few things up from the grocery store so I decided to combine the two. Working on the "less in more" premise for footwear I'm trying to do all my shorter runs in minimalist shoes. I picked up these New Balance 790's about a year ago because I thought they looked kinda cool. They didn't fit so well when I tried to run in them so they haven't seen much use, but after removing the insole recently they feel pretty good. For a shoe that's intended for the trail they have a useless tread, but they work fine on the road, nice and soft, more comfortable than my racing flats and probably a bit lighter. Two pounds of steak and a couple cans of beans made the run a little more of a workout.

More Bradbury Mud
Friday I ran home from work, about 2 miles and I wore my newest Inov-8 Roclite 295, the same shoes I wore for the VT 50 and Stonecat Marathon this fall. These shoes feel fine on the road, but they excel on the trail so I took them out to Bradbury on Saturday for a good 13 mile run. They were much happier there and so was I. We ran out of the park along the Snowmobile trail, hit the power lines and stormed up a nice hill. From there we spotted a nice looking sand pit and decided to run around in the sand for a while, up and down the piles. For any onlookers I'm sure it would have appeared strange to see 4 adult men playing in a sand pit, but it was a lot of fun. From there we cut though a campground, bushwacked a bit and then eventually got back onto the trail we had run out on. Blaine took the lead as we got back to the park and the pace picked up, I think he likes to see whether or not the rest of us can hang on to his speed. We did our best and I had a lot of fun winding around on the single track trails.

Snowy Roads

Sunday (today) I planned to go to my parents house for lunch and decided to run there. There was about an inch of snow on the ground when I left and it continued to fall for the entire 16 miles from Portland to Freeport. Luckily it wasn't too cold or windy so the run was quite pleasant. The snow wasn't too slippery but it did make things less efficient than a road would normally be, the Cascadias felt like a good shoe for these conditions. I will probably end up screwing one of my 3 pairs of them for icy conditions. Despite the weather I managed to maintain a pace just under 8 minute miles, but I was pretty tired when I finished. Ready for a big tukey dinner and some birthday cake.