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.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


This week finally had the right combination of dry weather and me actually remembering to bring my camera to capture the brook crossing at the TMR TNR.

Since finishing Escarpment on Sunday my lungs had been feeling a little weak from all the heavy breathing of humid air, but they were fine tonight. I didn't do any of the sprint lines since this was supposed to be a recovery run but I did let the pace creep up (or is it down) getting slightly faster with each mile. After a little more than 5.5 miles Jeff and I ran 1.25 miles barefoot through the playing fields which always feels great.

time: 1:00:04
distance: 6.98 miles
pace: 8:37

weather: sunny, 80's, no humidity

conditions: very dry by Twin Brook standards

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Escarpment Trail Race 2009

This is just a preliminary report here, hopefully I'll find the time to do this race justice and write a real race report.

Emma and Jim warned me not to run on Saturday before the race, but I attended our regular run at Bradbury anyway. I got in a nice, easy 5.5 miles. It wasn't the physical act of running that was a problem for my race preparation, it was the amount of time that it took and the fact that it lead me to do a half-assed job of packing for the 600 mile round trip to the Catskills in NY for Escarpment. Jim and I left Portland at 10am Saturday morning and it was only after driving for 5 hours and getting to Jim's friends house that I discovered I had forgotten to bring my glasses, I had not packed my Trail Monster singlet or any other shirt suitable for running in, and I did not bring the screw-on closure for my hydration pack bladder. This was not a good way to get me in the right frame of mind before a big race.

photo by Emmy Stocker

The trail conditions on the race course were very wet, incredibly muddy, and littered with slippery rocks. But after the spring and summer that we've had here in Maine I was soooo prepared for running in those conditions. What I wasn't prepared was the heat and humidity that left me feeling like I was functioning with only one lung, not good when you're trying to run up mountains.

elevation profile

Based on my training - months of mud running experience and a lot hills and mountains - I felt like I should have been able to complete this race in well under four hours. Nope. I suffered a lot and finished in 4:22.

time: 4:22:38
distance: 18.7 miles
pace: 14:02
place: 43/188 starters

weather: mid 70s - mid 80's, humid, mixed sun/clouds

conditions: wet, muddy, slippery

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295, cycling socks, shorts, borrowed shirt, hat, Source hydration pack

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A day off work

Last Friday I took the day off work, originally planning to head to Vermont in support of Emma running the Vermont 100, however her knee hasn't been right ever since her amazing run at the PFTC 50 miler in May and she decided against going into a 100 mile race in less that perfect condition. Smart. We decided to take the day and go for a hike in the mountains, but since Emma had an appointment with Dr. Raymond first thing in the morning I decided to get in a run before we left. Jeff recently reminded me of how much fun the Presumpscot River Trail is in Portland so I headed over there for about 5.5 miles. The trails were in great shape, pretty dry, and I felt like I was going fast. Turns out I wasn't going fast but it still felt like a lot of fun.

time: 50:11
distance: 5.52 miles
pace: 9:05

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315, socks, shorts, t-shirt, hat

As soon as I finished my run we packed up the greasecar and headed to the White Mountains to do the Baldface Circle Trail. I've run this trail for the past two years on July 4th, but had never been there with Emma so it was nice to finally share this trip with her. One of the great things about this trail is that there isn't much of anything else around so it tends to be pretty quiet.

The photos do a better job of telling the story than I could do, so I'll just say that it was a great day.

time: 4:27:06 (including all stops)
distance: 9.8 miles
pace: 27:15

weather: partly cloudy, mid 70's

conditions: wet at low elevations, drier up high

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315, Wright socks, shorts, singlet, hat, Nathal HPL #20

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yeah, it's still muddy at Twin Brook

Apart from when the trails are completely frozen and covered in snow Twin Brook has been muddy for at least the past 2 years. That's just the way it is, and we're okay with that.




Joining Emma and I tonight were, James, Jim, Four, Erik and Nicole. Nice to see that people weren't put off by the rain. It was actually pretty good weather for running, and it's not like we weren't going to get wet anyway.

As is now the standard we did our 5.6 mile loop and then took off our shoes for about 12 minutes of barefoot running around the playing fields. We've been doing this for about a month now and I've been doing a little running in Vibram Five Fingers which is helping to both strengthen my feet and toughen up the skin on the bottom. I find that I'm not bothered so much by running on the short gravel stretches, the grass is much nicer though.

time: 1:00:22
distance: 6.93 miles
pace: 8:44

weather: low 70's, light rain

conditions: wet, muddy

gear: Inov-8 Mudroc 290, cycling socks, shorts, t-shirt, hat

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bradbury Scuffle Results

Results for the Bradbury Scuffle are now posted on the race website


Thanks to everyone who came out to run and thanks to all the volunteers who helped make it happen.

PHOTOS by Don Penta

Congratulations to all the Trail Monsters who turned out good performances at the race!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Scuffle Prep

This morning at 7 am I met Blaine at Bradbury for a run on the Scuffle course. We pretty much ran the second half of the race in reverse since I wanted to check out a few bridges that were reported to have been damaged. One had been fixed already and the other was still in bad shape, but the park staff assures me this will get repaired before the race tomorrow. We ran to the park boundary on the Snowmobile trail to where the aid station is going to be located and then checked out a shortcut for the volunteers to take to get there. We decided to take the quickest way back to the parking lot to get back by 8 to meet the other volunteers who were going to help us mark the course. We got in a 5 mile run and got to see what I have to believe is the wettest, muddiest most puddliest part of the trail in the whole park, and the race course is going right through it!

Jeremy, Jim, and Dave showed up at 8 to help mark the course, we split up and got the whole thing done in about two hours. Thanks for your help guys!

Although I wanted to run the course to check up on the marking (not that I don't trust them, I just like to be sure it all flows together well) Jim wanted to run a lap of the mountain so I decided to run the race course later and joined Jim for some hills. The Boundary Trail definitely has some excellent mud but still not as good as what's on the Scuffle course.

I'll go back out later this afternoon to run the whole race course to make sure none of those bikers riding on closed trails mess with the course marking. I'm looking forward to the race, with a little rain expected overnight tonight things should be nice and sloppy for the run. Chris would love it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Back Cove 5k

The only good things to say about the weather recently is that it hasn't been too hot. I'm not a big fan of heat when I'm running and it's actually been very comfortable running temperatures lately. I had hopes that the cooler temps on Wednesday evening would help me run a fast time around Back Cove in the Weekly Back Cove 5k race. I had a good warm-up of about a mile and a half and bumped into a bunch of Trail Monsters including Lily, Jeff, Randy, Blaine and Alan as well as a few other friends.

I didn't wear my Garmin so I don't know what my splits were but I suspect I followed my usual pattern of setting off a little too fast and finishing a little too slow. I tried to pace off of Randy for a while but he either sped up or I slowed down, I suspect the latter. He ended up running the race that I wanted to coming in just under 19:30. I was happy with my time of 19:46, not my best time at Back Cove but still pretty good.

time: 19:46
distance: 3.1 miles
pace: 6:22
place: 22/142

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wettest Run Ever.

This week's Trail Monster Running Tuesday Night Run (TMR TNR) was, without question, the wettest run ever. As if the steady rain wasn't enough the mud pits, knee deep puddles and river crossing ensured there wasn't a dry spot on anyone. Despite the "bad" weather we had a good turnout that included Emma (making her first appearance at a TNR in months), Jim, Chuck, Jeff, Alan and Four.

Emma, Jim, Alan, Four and I followed the regular 5.5 mile route with 1.25 miles of barefoot running through the playing fields. There's nothing quite like the feeling of mud between the toes to put a smile on your face.

time: 1:01:43
distance: 6.9 miles
pace: 8:56

weather: steady rain, low 60's

conditions: saturated muddy trails, big puddles

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

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mt A Nonuple

(Backtracking quite a bit here to June 27th)

Last Saturday I headed down to Mt Agamenticus in York to take part in the annual Western States 6 Hour Commemorative Run. I drove down with Jim, we met fellow Trail Monsters Chuck and Jeremy along with a good group of local runners (who organize the event) and a bunch of friends from GAC. There must have been at least 30 runners starting at 7am.

Last year Emma and I ran together and completed 10 laps of the 3 mile loop in just over 6 hours, and this year I hoped to be able to finish 11 laps in under 6 hours. I knew it was ambitious but I was feeling good going into the run and didn't think it would be any problem.

The route we take starts with about a mile of gradual downhill on a quiet dirt road, then turns off onto a flat old jeep road for 1/4 mile. We then turn onto single-track that climbs to the summit of Mt A with 3/4 of a mile of very steep rocky terrain. From the summit it's a mile downhill on some beautiful single and double-track trails with tight switchbacks and lots of rocks.

The group of Trail Monsters stuck together and ran near the front of the pack. The strategy I tried to use to ensure that I'd be able to get more laps in this year was to run the downhill single-track faster and to take less time at the aid station between laps. We finished the first lap in 31 minutes and were the first ones to set out on our second lap. Just as we were setting off we bumped into John O'Connor who had arrived late and was just getting started. I hadn't seen John since pacing him during his Quad-Boston run in April so it was nice to run with him again and get caught up on what he's been doing since then.

Chuck, Jeremy and John

Although it wasn't all that warm, the sky was very overcast, it was incredibly humid and I always find humid weather the toughest for running in. The effort didn't feel particularly difficult but I noticed that I was sweating a lot. I usually sweat more than a lot of other people, but today it seemed an unusual amount even for me. Initially I wasn't too concerned, I just drank a lot and took S!Caps regularly. For the first few hours of running I was averaging about 16 ounces of fluid every half hour and taking one S!Cap every 45 minutes. What I found strange is that I didn't have to pee. I usually am able to use that as a guage of how well I'm hydrating, and if I don't pee I usually need to drink more but everything I drank seemed to get sweated out immediately.

Chuck, Jeremy, John and GillyNot looking so good.

With each lap there was a little more walking.

This was shortly after Jeremy told me I looked bad.

The first three laps (9 miles) went very well and we were having a lot of fun. When we set off on the 4th lap I was starting to feel the effects of extreme sweating and felt like I was starting to fight a battle to stay well hydrated. I think it was the start of lap 7 when Jeremy told me I was looking pretty pale and generally not right. Now that I've seen the photo of myself I see what he meant. I didn't feel that bad but something wasn't working. I did eventually pee during this lap (3.5 hours into the run) and the color was not good, perhaps suggesting that I had taken on too many electrolytes. It was after finishing the 7th lap that I realized finishing 11 laps was pretty much out of the question.

We had slowed down a lot on lap 7, picked it up a little bit on lap 8, mainly on the run down from the summit. On the way up the mountain we had started talking about how hot it was getting and how much everything sucked. Not a good sign. Chuck complained about loosing his mojo, but after hitting the summit I think he stole a little bit of mine and took off quickly downhill. Jeremy was still running well, but I struggled to hang on to the faster pace. Actually the pace wasn't really faster, it's just that we were no longer slowing down as much as my body was telling me it wanted to.

Chuck decided to stop at 8 laps, Jim had stopped after 4 hours (7 laps?) and was on his second beer by this point, John and Gilly were also kicking back drinking beer and it was hard to find the motivation to keep going. Jeremy wasn't showing any signs of slowing down and we bumped into late arrival Heather and set off for what was to be my final lap. Jeremy and Heather talked about their experiences at the Jay Marathon and I lagged behind. When we reached the summit I told them to keep going while I refilled my water bottle from the tap at the old ski lodge. By now I was drinking about 16 ounces in the first two miles of each lap and refilling at the top. I knew that trying to continue when my body just wasn't working properly was a bad idea so I slowly made my way down off the mountain.

Splits (time includes stops at the aid station):
1 - 31:37
2 - 31:49
3 - 30:44
4 - 32:10
5 - 34:09
6 - 34:52
7 - 37:17
8 - 34:41
9 - 38:08

This was a weird experience. I never felt all that bad and it's not like I was really suffering, but something wasn't working right and it just wasn't my day. I blame the humidity. Bastard! After the run we all went to Rich's house for a big refueling session (BBQ) which helped pull me out of my funk and set me up good for the next run.

time: 5:05:27
distance: 30 miles
pace: 10:10

weather: high 60's to low 70's, overcast, very humid

conditions: mostly dry trails with a few small muddy spots

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315, Wright Socks, shorts, singlet, hat, handheld bottle

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Going "Barefoot"

Tonight I decided to try out my Vibram Five Finger Flow's for the Weekly Back Cove 5k. Chuck gave these to me about two years ago, they were too big for him and I think they may be a tad too big for me but they worked out okay. I've never run more than half a mile in them before, and that was more than a year ago, but after a few short sessions of real barefoot running at Twin Brook I felt okay about attempting a 5k virtually barefoot.

This gave me a good excuse for running "slow" tonight, not that I was completely taking it easy but I didn't want to over-do-it since I didn't know what it would feel like to run in them for more than a mile. The warm-up felt great and the first mile of the 5k was fine. Early in the second mile I could feel that the combination of no heel lift and a faster pace was causing my calves to feel overstressed and therefore tight. The tightness never got too bad but it did prevent me from going as fast as I would have otherwise.

I also noticed the sound of my feet hitting the ground, more like slapping. I was trying to analyze the way my feet were landing but I couldn't figure out what to do differently to avoid slapping my feet with every step. It wasn't uncomfortable, just a bit odd. Oh well.

Probably some more short distance runs at a slower pace would be a good way to get my calves and achilles used to barefoot running, racing can't be the best way to start out.

12:24 (1.5 miles) warm-up
0.1 mile @ 6:34
cool down

race time: 21:05
distance: 3.1 miles
pace: 6:48
place: 36/188

total time: 41:55
distance: 5.56 miles
pace: 7:32