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, September 19, 2009

West Falmouth Trail Marathon - Getting Lost in Windham

After Thursday's evening run around Back Cove in Vibram Five Fingers I was left with hot spots on the balls of my feet and shin splints that ached all day Friday. The shin splints were bad enough that I started worrying about stress fractures, which was strange because I'd done longer runs in the Vibrams before, at TB and around Back Cove so not sure what the problem was. Anyway, I felt bad enough that I decided to scrap my plans for a run right after work on Friday in hopes that I'd go into my Saturday run feeling good.

My original plan for Saturday was to head up to Sunday River for another run on the course of the Mountain Epic, but at the last minute when I realized no one else was going, and that 4 hours of driving was not the best way to spend my time, I decided to scrap that plan. Instead I decided to join the other TMR Saturday run which was scheduled to meet at Lowell Preserve in Windham, and to ensure I got in a long run I decided to run from home along a 7.6 mile route there and back. I'd never been to Lowell Preserve before but I had heard Blaine mention it several times so was looking forward to finally checking it out for myself.

I left home a little before 7am and had about 1.7 miles of relatively flat pavement before turning onto powerline trails that took me up part of Blackstrap Hill to the top of Leighton Hill. A few wet spots and one overgrown area but generally the trails were dry and in good shape for running. The terrain was all kinds of rocky, from gravel to big loose rocks to sheer rock faces. I wished I had brought my camera, the views were great.

After 4 miles of powerline trails I came out to Blackstrap Road, which I had crossed earlier, and followed this to Babbidge Road which lead to the East Windham Fire House where the trail head for the Lowell Preserve is located. About 2 more miles of road running although I managed to run much of it on the dirt shuolder, a total of 7.6 miles from home. Here I met Jamie and Jeff and after a short break (for me) we set off exploring.

Hard to believe that the squiggly bit at the top of the route map represents over 11 miles, and the long tail is 7.6 each way.

Our route in (and out of) Lowell Preserve.

The terrain in the Preserve what somewhat varied, with the most consistent feature being large rocks scattered everywhere. It was clear that this land had never been cleared for farming. The trails are a mix of double and single track, laid out with many short segments that come together at a lot of intersections with multiple ways to go. There are numbers at many intersections as well as maps, which obviously helps in finding your way around, but makes for a lot of stops during the run. I'd say it's much more difficult to find your way around here than compared to Bradbury, because the trails here are shorter with more options for which way to go.

After a little more than 5 miles Jamie decided to head back due to shin splints flaring up, glad to see that he is being smart in his return to running and not pushing too much too soon. Luckily for me I wasn't feeling any of the pain that I had been the day before. Jeff and I continued on for another 6 miles, covering much of the ground that we had already, in both directions thinking that we must have covered every inch of trail in this place. Jeff pointed out later, however, that we had missed one rather significant trail. At least we'll have something new to explore the next time.

Jeff ended his run at about 11.3 miles, I took a little break to refill the bladder in my hydration pack and take a few bites of a protein bar. My jaw was still sore from a dentist appointment on Thursday which made chewing very difficult, but my energy level was good so I didn't mind not eating much. I had been running for a little over 3 hours and thought briefly about asking Jeff for a ride home, but that thought quickly left my mind when I thought about how much I'd suffer at the Stone Cat 50 miler if I didn't get in some good long training runs.

I took the same way home that I ran out, was tempted to do a little exploring but really didn't want to extend the run longer than a marathon distance and hadn't prepared nutritionally for much more than a 4 hour run. Although I had felt pretty tired when I finished running with Jeff I perked up a bit with the faster pace and easier terrain of the first few miles of the return run. At about the time I reached 20 miles I began to feel a slight twinge of shin splints coming on but it never got to the point that it was actually painful.

With about 4 miles to go I hit the hill known as the Three Bitches. I expected that I would have to walk most of this hill but I actually felt pretty good and ran the whole way. The way down on the other side was pretty slow though as I didn't have a lot of strength left in my legs for fast downhill running. When I got to the paved road that lead the last 1.7 miles to home I picked the pace up as much as I comfortably could and ran the very last mile of the run at just under an 8 minute pace, my fastest of the day, albeit the easiest mile.

time: 4:16:43
distance: 26.5 miles
pace: 9:41

weather: low 40's to low 60's, beautiful

conditions: mostly dry trails, a few swampy spots

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315, Balega socks, shorts, long sleeve shirt, hat, Nathan HPL #020


Blaine Moore said...

Sounds like a fun run. Lowell Preserve is pretty easy to get lost at but it is pretty easy to find your way out again too. I don't have too much trouble getting around by myself, but Erin gets us lost every single time I let her choose the way we go (which is any time I run there with her. Getting lost is fun.)

We don't always stay in the preserve, though. GPS and breadcrumbs is nice for that.

Looking forward to being back on the trails in a couple weeks.

mindy said...

Great miles, Ian! The distances and speed you're racking up are fantastic - you're going to slay that Stonecat course!!