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.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pemi Loop

Not much of a report here, more like a collections of stats, but I figured I better put something down for the sake of record keeping, that way I'll have something to compare this to when I go back and do this run/hike again. (This is from a little while ago, but I'm only just getting around to writing about it.)

David Albeck
does a good job describing what the Pemi Loop is so I won't bother going into detail. Jamie Anderson has run/hiked this a few times and it's his fault that I went out there to do this 33 mile one day adventure in the White Mountains with Chuck and Jim. Jamie is the one that put the idea in our heads that the Pemi Loop makes good training for a 100 miler, and even though I'm in the early stages of training (my 100 mile race isn't until the end of September) the timing worked well for Chuck who is doing the VT100, and Jim just likes to punish himself in the mountains whenever he can.

Eastern half of the loop

Western half of the loop

Elevation profile highlighting the peaks above 4000', even the unofficial ones.

Route: Counter-clockwise starting from Lincoln Woods. Since a 31 mile hike with eight 4000 footers wasn't enough we added the side trips to West Bond and Galehead which brought the distance up to 33 miles.
Total Elevation: 9760' gain (19,520' gain + loss)
Peaks (in order): Bondcliff (4265'), Bond (4698'), West Bond (4504'), Guyot* (4580'), South Twin (4902'), Galehead (4024'), Garfield (4500'), Lafayette (5260'), Lincoln (5089'), Little Haystack* (4840'), Liberty(4459') and Flume (4328')

* Mt Guyot and Little Haystack are not considered official 4000 footers by the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Peak by peak summary:

Section: Lincoln Woods to Bondcliff
Miles: 9.1
Time: 2:13:00

Section: Bondcliff to Bond
Miles: 1.2 (10.3 total)
Time: 34:00 (2:37:00 total)

Section: Bond to West Bond
Miles: 1.0 (11.3)
Time: 21:00 (2:58:00)

Section: West Bond to Guyot
Miles: 1.3 (12.6)
Time: 31:00 (3:29:00)

Section: Guyot to South Twin
Miles: 2.0 (14.6)
Time: 34:00 (4:03:00)

Section: South Twin to Galehead
Miles: 1.3 (15.9)
Time: 29:00 (4:32:00)

Section: Galehead to Garfield
Miles: 3.4 (19.3)
Time: 1:49:00 (6:21:00)

Section: Garfield to Lafayette
Miles: 3.5 (22.8)
Time: 1:35:00 (7:56:00)

Section: Lafayette to Lincoln
Miles: .9 (23.7)
Time: 21:00 (8:17:00)

Section: Lincoln to Little Haystack
Miles: 0.7 (24.4)
Time: 13:00 (8:30:00)

Section: Little Haystack to Liberty
Miles: 2.2 (26.6)
Time: 46:00 (9:16:00)

Section: Liberty to Flume
Miles: 1.2 (27.8)
Time: 33:00 (9:49:00)

Section: Flume to the Finish
Miles: 5.5 (33.3)
Time: 1:23:00 (11:12:00)

time: 11:12:00 (including all stops)
distance: 33.3 miles
pace: 20:10

weather: overcast, foggy, cloudy, windy (40 mph+), rainy

conditions: rocky, wet

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315, Balga socks, shorts, t-shirt, waterproof jacket, Camelbak Mule

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Twin Brook Mudfest

A lot of rain recently meant that normally wet Twin Brook was exceptionally muddy this evening, and still a lot of fun. We had another big group that included Jim, Jeff, Tom, Blaine, Erin, Shauna, Yana, Erik, and Mindy. Jeff commented that we really must bring a video camera next week to record the now infamous river crossing, although the run up to the river is turning out to be more of a challenge than getting across the river. I hope I remember the camera next week.

The pace started out slow and gradually crept up throughout most of the run. I ran two of the three sprint lines and discovered that I still have some recovery to do from my recent mountain running efforts before I can really run fast again. I had noticed a little tightness in my hamstrings throughout the day and a funny pain like feeling behind my knee but neither bothered me during the run, I think the easy first mile helped, and I feel much better now. Perhaps a recovery run yesterday would have been better than taking the day off from running (Blaine might agree).

Following the normal 5.5-ish mile route Jeff, Tom, Blaine, Jim and I headed out for a barefoot lap of the playing fields and adjacent grassy trails. The barefoot running felt great and I noticed how easy it was to let the pace creep up, nothing particulary impressive though. Since I know I'm still recovering from Saturday's run at Sunday River (and something else) I won't be racing the Back Cove 5k tomorrow night but I may run it easy in my Vibram Five Fingers.

time: 1:01:18
distance: 6.89 miles
pace: 8:54

weather: mid 60's, very humid, overcast and light showers

conditions: mud and puddles

gear: Inov-8 Mudroc 280, socks, shorts, t-shirt, hat

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sunday River Mountain Running

On Saturday morning Erik, Blaine and I headed up to Sunday River to check out possible courses for the Mountain Epic races which Erik is putting together for this fall. We were lucky to have Dan Crooker, a teammate of Blaine who works at Sunday River, running with us. Dan knows the mountains very well and was a big help finding good trails and stringing together a good route.

We started out on some sweet single-track that's part of the mountain bike trails making a gradual ascent up North Peak. From there we followed wider and still gradually climbing ski trails (Lights Out and Kansas) up to the summit of Jordan Bowl. We paused here for a while to figure out the best way down and then back to North Peak, and finally decided upon descending on Lollapalooza which drops over 1300 feet in 1.5 miles. This was a pretty crazy stetch of running on loose gravel and rocks. I stopped a few times along the way to take photos and video, and to give my legs a break from the pounding.

We took another break at the Jordan Grand Hotel to refill our hydration packs and then set off on a long uphill climb to Spruce Peak. In the context of a race a lot of this stretch would be runnable but we were all taking it easy today and hiked most of the way up on State Fair, Cyclone, Aludra and Sirius. We back-tracked a little and then took Lights Out back down to North Peak where our group split up. Erik and Blaine continued on to Barker Mt, Locke Mt and White Cap (ending up with more than 15 miles total) and Dan and I headed back down the mountain via some more single-track. Some of these mountain biking trails can be hard to find but Dan knows where to go and once you're in the woods it's a whole different world from the wide open ski trails.

What Dan and I ran is close to what will become the middle distance race taking in 5 mountain peaks. There will also be short and long versions taking in 1 and 8 peaks respectively. Check out the video, this is going to be one hell of a race...

time: 3:19:26 (including all stops)
distance: 10.64 miles
pace: 18:45

weather: mid 60's, overcast, very humid

conditions: mix of gravel, rocks, grass, dirt and mud on big frickin' hills

gear: Inov-8 Mudroc 280, Balga socks, shorts, t-shirt, hat, Nathan HPL #20

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Changing Twin Brook

The Tuesday Night crowd is growing and the trails at Twin Brook are getting some work done. Last night we had a god sized group that included Jim, Erik, Blaine, Erin, Jeff, Four, Tom, Nicole and Shauna.

Despite a lot of rain recently the water level in the brooks isn't particularly high, although some of the trails are particularly wet, especially the one leading up to where we jump across (or into) the brook. Last week we found a number of trail closures on the northern section of trails, no signs of any new work being done but we were still able to get in the same distance without violating any of the closed trails.

Following the 'usual' 5.5+ mile route Jim, Tom, Blaine and I headed out for a little barefoot running in the playing fields. It seems like everyone (except myself) has been reading Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run and is jumping on the barefoot running bandwagon. This was my first attempt in more than a year at running without shoes and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it felt. I think that doing a lot of my running, and all of my long running, in Inov-8's has helped me develop good strength in my feet and throughout my legs to be able to handle barefoot running. I still didn't want to jump into doing too much too soon but I got in about 1.25 miles at a 7:43 pace.

time: 59:18
distance: 6.96 miles
pace: 8:31

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sore Ass

After the Ultra Xtreme Bradbury Badass run I needed a nice easy recovery run. The weather was lousy and I was busy around the house so I decided to go for a loop from home around the Portland peninsula rather than venturing out to the trails. I actually don't mind running in the rain but it does make the brick sidewalks of Portland slippery. About a mile into my run I stepped on a manhole cover going downhill and took a nice fall landing on the right side of my ass. Nothing major, just some road rash and a bit of dirt. I actually thought it was funny that I could run for 5 hours at Bradbury without incident and 8 minutes into my run from home I end up slipping and falling on my ass.

Apart from the fall this was just what I needed to get my legs losened up.

time: 52:41
distance: 6.45 miles
pace: 8:10

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ultra Xtreme Bradbury Badass

We did it. Chuck, Jeremy and I ran all three courses of the Bradbury Mountain Trail Running Series on Saturday morning, earning us each the title of Ultra Xtreme Bradbury Badass.

Scuffle: 1:02
Breaker: 1:36
Bruiser: 2:19

Jim, Alan, Scott, Lily, Mindy, Valerie, Erik, Rachel, and Dave all joined us at 7am for a run of the Scuffle course. Despite being significantly wetter and muddier than last week we completed it in almost the exact same time. So much for taking it a bit slower this time around. I guess I was proceeding under the plan of getting in as many miles as possible before it got too warm. I did want to try to make our stops back at the car between each race course as quick as possible but not sure that we managed to do that.

Yana joined shortly after 8am as we headed out to do the Breaker, a few others went back out for a longer run on the West Side trails. I made sure to take it a little easier on the big uphills this time, I think last week I wasted too much energy early on by running too many of the ups. Both Chuck and I were really taking advantage of the downs, it's just not as much fun when you put the brakes on. I was reminded of the advantages of doing speed work (5k's) relative to trail running, it really helps to be able to have a quick turnover of the legs when you're going down hill. Short but very quick strides means less braking and less impact on the feet and legs.

We finished the first 4.5 mile lap in about the same time as the week before. Although less than half way through the planned distance I felt a lot better than I did at this point last week and I knew finishing the whole run wouldn't be a problem. The big difference is that I was drinking Sustained Energy today, in addition to taking gels and S!Caps, whereas last week I drinking plain water with the gels and S!Caps. I don't know what I was thinking last week.

A few people stopped after the first lap of the Breaker and there were about 6 of us that headed out on the second lap. This time around it took us about 50 minutes, a little slower than last week which was probably a good thing. By now we were doing a little more walking, not because any of us were that beat, it just seemed like the smart thing to do.

After finishing the Breaker Jim, Lily and Yana decided to end their run, Chuck, Jeremy and I took a few minutes at the car, probably our longest break of the day. Since we were heading out for 12 miles, our longest stretch without the chance to refuel, we all needed to be sure we had enough to get us through 2+ hours of running in temperatures that were starting to warm up quite a bit. Luckily the single track of the West Side trails is shaded enough that we never felt the heat too badly.

One of the toughest parts of the Bruiser course is all the tight turns that slow you down. No matter how good you feel or how fast you want to go the switchbacks limit the speed and the harder you try to go (or the more tired you are going into it) the more of a full body workout it becomes. So we chugged along at a pretty easy pace knocking down the miles. Our legs were definitely starting to get a little tired and our feet a bit sloppy. This was my longest run in my Mudroc 280's, I've always thought of them as better suited to shorter faster runs but they were perfectly for the gnarly muddy trails of Bradbury and they had no problem hanging in there for the distance.

This was Jeremy's first visit to the O-Trail and Chuck and I had been trying to prepare him for the final 2.5 miles of this run as we approached. The O-Trail is bad enough at the end of the 12 mile Bruiser but as far as we knew no one has ever tried it after running 25 miles.

This is how you fit 2.5 miles of single track within a 1 mile loop:
Despite the distance we had already covered going into it the O-Trail turned out not to be too bad. We were all ready to be done and pushed the pace as much as we could, to the point where I felt like I was getting sea-sick from all the switchbacks. Jeremy had run out of water before entering the O-Trail and when I stopped to give him some of mine Chuck took off and really picked up the pace. From that point on we kept seeing Chuck ahead of us, or sometimes behind us. Sometimes running straight at him before the trail sent us on a sharp turn that had us running the opposite direction. It all became a bit maddening, but we weren't actually trying to catch him. Finally we crossed the fallen birch that marks the almost end of the O-Trail, one more rocky outcropping and then the craziness was over. Jeremy and I put in a little kick at the end and found Chuck sitting down with a fresh bottle of water when we returned to the parking lot.

After last weeks disappointing attempt at this run it was great to get back out there and kick it's ass. Thanks Chuck and Jeremy!

time: 4:57:57
distance: 27.2 miles
pace: 10:57

weather: mid 60's to mid 70's, mostly sunny

conditions: wet trails, many puddles, plenty of mud

gear: Inov-8 Mudroc 280, Wright Socks, shorts, sleeveless shirt, hat, Nathan HPL #20

Friday, June 12, 2009

Blackstrap Night Run

As part of his final prep for the Western States 100 in two weeks Jamie planned a night time run to get in some training on unfamiliar technical terrain in the dark. I met him at Blackstrap Hill in Falmouth along with Stephen and another Jamie and we headed out just after 8pm as the sun was beginning to get low in the sky. There was still plenty of light at first but as we ran up and down some nice rocky hills we were treated to great views of the sun setting behind the White Mountains.

We kept the pace pretty easy, no one wanted to try to run fast in the limited light, and I certainly wanted to save plenty for my long Saturday run. I attempted to skirt around or jump over some of the many puddles that we came across but they just kept getting bigger and bigger and it was pointless to try to stay dry.

After about 4 miles I headed up the famous Three Bitches hill to finish my run while the rest of the guys continued on to get in 10 miles. By now the last remants of daylight were fading quick and I got to see a few things that i don't normally get to during day time trail runs. Like fireflies and bats. During my last mile through the woods there were numerous bats (or one really aggressive one) that kept swooping down from above right in front of me. Pretty cool.

Last year as I was preparing for a long stretch of night running at the VT 100 I devised a pretty slick lighting system. I took my Petzl MYO XP headlight that has an external battery pack, removed the head strap and attached the lamp and battery pack to a triathlon number belt. The advantage of the tri number belt is that is has a plastic closure that makes it easy for taking off and on. I've found that wearing a light lower on my body is similar to the effect of carrying a flashlight but your hands are free, and having a steady light shining on the ground right in front of you makes navigating technical terrain a lot easier. I also wear a smaller headlamp directed straight out in front of me for spotting further down the trail.

time: 54:05
distance: 5.32
pace: 10:10

weather: upper 60's, overcast

conditions: wet trails with big puddles

gear: Inov-8 Mudroc 280, Wright Socks, shorts, t-shirt, hat, Petzl MYO XP, Petzl Tikka Plus

Thursday, June 11, 2009

5k's, Triathlon, Bike Ride??

Things are getting unusual on the workout front for me.

I've never been good at incorporating speed work into my training so the Weekly Back Cove 5k Series each summer is as close as I ever get to doing regular speed work. In the past 15 days I have now done 4 5k's, each one was getting progressively slower until last night when I managed (thanks to cool and damp weather) to pull out a slightly faster time for a new Back Cove PR of 19:33. Official results haven't been posted yet, but even if that's not quite the right time at least it's not slower than all my previous ones which is the direction I seemed to be going in.

7:27 warm-up
0.1 mile @ 5:24
cool down

race time: 19:33
distance: 3.1 miles
pace: 6:18
place: 18/187

total time: 52:06
distance: 7.0 miles
pace: 7:24

Although the race felt fine I had a particular slow cool down run due to having eaten way too many eggs (they were about to expire so I ate as many as I could in one day, bad idea) and had to make a pit stop along the way. In fact, my stomach felt pretty rough all day so I was lucky to have a good run.

Backtracking to the TMR TNR at Twin Brook, I arrived a bit late and we started out with a pretty big group that quickly got broken up. I ended up running most of the way with Jim at a comfortable pace with a few up-tempo (but not sprint) sections thrown in. There is some kind of rail rebuilding going on in the notoriously wet area on the north side of TB, someone has finally realized that some of those "puddles" have been there for years and are probably wetlands where trails never should have been built in the first place. We avoided all the closed sections of trail and still managed to get our usual distance in even on an unusual route.

time: 48:23
distance: 5.62 miles
pace: 8:36

Monday night (still working backwards here) I went for a bike ride through South Portland and Cape Elizabeth. The weather was perfect for riding, about 70 degrees with a light breeze, and the roads were in great condition. There has been a bunch of repaving of the shoulder along Rt 77 and now it makes for fast riding. It was a great way to loosen up after the weekend running.

time: 51:15
distance: 15.53 miles
pace: 3:18

On Sunday I went to Point Sebago to compete in the Pirate Tri as a team with two of my co-workers. I was of course doing the running leg, but after having run 22 miles at Bradbury the day before I wasn't feeling particularly fast.

Despite setting off in the novice wave our swimmer Katherine proved that she is anything but a novice as she beat almost everone in her wave and even passed several swimmers who had started in the previous two waves. After a quick transition Kenji headed off on the 14 mile bike course and I went out for a warm-up on the run course. I figured that doing the whole 5k route would be a good way to loosen things up that were still feeling a little tight from the Bradbury run. I got back, stretched for a few minutes and it wasn't long until Kenji came in with a solid bike time. As soon as I set off I could tell that today's 5k pace wasn't quite where it should be. No problems, just a little sluggish. I had hoped that being on roads (as opposed to Back Cove) I'd be able to log a faster time but that wasn't going to happen.

I was happen to finish in 20:04. Our team ended up finishing second out of 5 mixed teams, and we beat all the same gender teams. The only team to beat us was anchored by another Trail Monster, Tom Whitaker who wasn't slowed down by the beer and pizza he had eaten the day before.

Full Results

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bradbury Badass

At the finale of last year's Bradbury Mountain Trail Running Series I presented all the runners who had completed all three races of the series with shirts declaring them each a "Bradbury Badass". My plan for this Saturday's run was to become an Ultra Xtreme Bradbury Badass by running all three race courses in one day, in order, for a total of 27 miles, and of course ending on the O-Trail.

Unfortunately it turns out that I'm not as much of a badass as I thought I was. It's not that things ever got that bad, it's just that after about 4 hours of gnarly trails stopping seemed like the right thing to do. I could have sworn I was that badass, but apparently not.

Katy, Chuck, Brooke, Emma, Ian, James, Jim, Alan, Stephen, Rick, Valerie
Thanks to Blaine for letting me steal his photo.

Emma and I were surprised to see so many people show up at the earlier time of 7am for this run, especially some of the notoriously late sleepers. It's nice to know the company we keep is so badass. At this relatively early hour the weather felt perfect for running and we set off on the Scuffle course at an easy pace. Apart from Alan sprinting off within the first few hundred feet of trail the group hung together for the entire race route in a single file line weaving through the single-track.

We finished the Scuffle in about 63 minutes and returned to the parking lot to refuel and found Dave, Mindy and Lily waiting. A few people decided that the Scuffle was enough and stopped here and the rest of us continued on to run the Breaker course. In my opinion this is definitely the most challenging of the three races even though it's shorter than the Bruiser, and this is definitely what took the most out of all of us. Emma decided to stop running midway through the first lap of the Breaker, the steep descent off of the South Ridge really aggravated her knee which has been in bad shape ever since running a very fast 50 miles at Pineland two weeks ago.

The big spikes in the middle of the elevation profile are from running up and down the mountain over and over again. The steep climbs felt particularly grueling today, not sure why but my energy level wasn't quite where I expected it to be. I was drinking plenty of water, taking SCaps and gels but the whole run felt like it was taking more effort than it should.

We finished the first lap of the Breaker in about 46 minutes and the second, slightly longer lap, in 48. A few more people decided to stop here so it was just James, Chuck, Blaine, Lily and I who headed back across the road to take on the Bruiser. Despite being quite flat in comparison to the Breaker course the pace didn't pick up much, if at all, on the tight single-track of the Lanzo trail. Even when Blaine took over setting the pace on the Island Trail we weren't going that fast, and it still felt like a relief when I took over leading the way again and eased the pace back a notch.

About 3.5 miles into the Bruiser course Blaine caught us by surprise and decided to take a shortcut back to the parking lot, about 2.5 miles back as opposed to the 8.5 miles we still had ahead of us. I think this planted a seed in the rest of our heads that cutting the run a bit short might actually be a good idea. In the past few miles none of us had really said a thing, and although it was actually quite nice running through the dense forest with only the sounds of nature and our own footsteps I think this was an indication that all our energy levels were getting low and we couldn't even spare enough to make conversation.

A mile after Blaine left the rest of us started talking about cutting the course short and finishing early. I suggested skipping the middle few miles of the course and still finishing on the O-Trail, which everyone reluctantly agreed to, but after another half mile I started to think that was a bad idea and when I suggested that we just take the shortest way out of the woods possible everyone agreed that was the best idea.

So even though I didn't complete the Ultra Xtreme Bradbury Badass run I still got in a solid 4 hours of rugged trail running on a beautiful day with a great group of people.

time: 3:56:50 (running time not including stops)
distance: 22.0 miles (average between my GPS and Chuck's)
pace: 10:45

weather: 60's to 70's, sunny

conditions: dry trails, occasional mud pit

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315, Wright Socks, shorts, t-shirt, hat, Nathan HPL #20

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Back Cove 5k

All day long I knew that I wasn't going to run as fast this evening as I did at last week's Back Cove Weekly 5k, which is probably the reason that I didn't. Oh well. It was warmer than last week, but not hot, very dry and dusty on the path which made breathing hard quite unpleasant. Ultimately the energy just wasn't there.

I did a mile warm-up, started out fast, then slowed way down, had a good sprint to the finish and then a decent 3 mile cool down run.

7:46 warm-up
0.1 mile @ 5:19
cool down

race time: 19:56
distance: 3.1 miles
pace: 6:24
place: 15/202

total time: 50:13
distance: 7.0 miles
pace: 7:10

This weekend I've got another 5k coming up as part of the Pirate Tri which I'm doing as part of a team with two of my coworkers. Should be interesting I guess. I've already run my annual quota of road races for the year, I got into this when someone else in the office had already signed up but then bailed out. Not sure what to expect for this run, especially since I plan to do 27 miles at Bradbury the day before.


We had a pretty big group at Twin Brook this evening, starting out with James, Chuck, Jim, Blaine, Erin and newbie Molly, who didn't complain after the initiation stream crossing so looks like she'll be a good fit. Later in the run late arrival Four joined us and then we passed even later arrivals Erik and Yana who were going the opposite direction.

Blaine and I were the only ones to take in any of the sprint lines, although we really didn't go that hard, especially Blaine who could have run away from me if he wanted to but chose not to. I was still feeling some effects of the Hell repeats from Sunday so didn't want to run too hard tonight, I'll save it for the Back Cove Weekly 5k Wednesday after work. My first one of the season went well last week, now I have to work even harder to see if I can beat that time. Ugh.

After the run James and I made a plan for Saturday, run all three races from the Bradbury Mountain Trail Running Series in succession. The O-Trail is tough enough at the end of the 12 mile Bruiser, it should be a blast at the end of a 27 mile trip around all three race courses!

time: 48:28
distance: 5.56 miles
pace: 8:43