Following last week's disaster at Muddy Moose as we sat around commiserating with burgers and beer I suggested that perhaps a long road trip to do the 7 Sisters Trail Race might not be as much fun as we originally thought. There was no reason to expect the weather in Amherst, MA to be as hot as it was on the day of the race in Wolfeboro but the thought of racing again so soon didn't appeal to anyone. Instead we concocted a plan to get our asses kicked much closer to home and a trip to Camden Hills State Park was planned.
Jim, Floyd, Jamie, Ryan, Jeff and Stephen joined me for what was intended to be a 20 mile mountainous loop, and Shauna, Cacky, Kelly and Danielle doing their own thing hiking and running within the park.
We met at the base of Mt. Battie and the "run" started with a 550 ft climb in the first half mile. I think I drank as much water from my hydration pack during that first climb as Floyd took with him for the entire run. The first 4.5 miles took us over an hour and it was becoming clear that it was going to be a very long day if we were going to complete the entire 20 mile route I had planned. I hadn't accounted for the fact that the downhills are so steep and technical that it's impossible to increase the pace enough to make up for the slow uphills, therefore everything was slow going.
Well, not everything was slow. One of the few trails I'd never been on before was the Sky Blue Trail which I worked into the route per Ryan's recommendation. Luckily we took this trail going down and it was one of the few stretches that was entirely runnable and so much fun.
We reached the summit of Bald Rock Mountain after 2 hours and about 8 miles. I needed to get back to where we started in another 2 hours and there was no way I was going to cover the remaining 12 miles in that time so I decided to head back here. Jeff, Floyd, Jamie and Stephen joined me, Ryan and Jim decided to press on with the original plan.
The weather was great for running, cool air with a slight ocean breeze, overcast sky but with plenty of brightness. By 10 miles we had reached the top of Cameron Mountain, 5 miles to go and an hour and a half to do it in. Shouldn't be too difficult but there was a big climb up the backside of Mt Megunticook, and then up and over Mt Battie again. The ups were starting to get tiring and the downs frustrating. The terrain was so technical that in places we were slowed to a walk even while going downhill.
Even though we didn't run it like a race the overall workout was comparable to a 7 Sisters effort, slower pace but longer distance over similar terrain. I sometimes forget what a great place Camden Hills State Park is to run, I wish it was a little closer to home for me. I also wish Emma could have joined us today but she was working. We'll have to go back again this summer, it will be a great place to train for the Escarpment Trail Run.
I kept my watch running the entire time even while we were stopped at the summits, so the moving time is a bit less and the actual average pace a little faster.
distance: 15.3 miles
weather: 50s-60s, overcast
conditions: mostly dry trails, very technical
gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295, wool socks, shorts, singlet, Nathan HPL #20