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 29, 2007


This never happens to me since Saturday trail runs are one of the highlights of my week, but today I just wasn't into it. The feeling probably had something to do with the rain, which usually doesn't bother me but there's something about waking up before the sun and hearing the rain that made me want to stay in bed. I had already decided that I wasn't going to do a long run this weekend, saving something for the Fat Ass 50k in Topsfield next weekend, so I guess I was wondering what the point was.

I made it to Bradbury a few minutes before 8 and Blaine was already waiting. Just as we got out of our cars Blaine commented that at least it wasn't raining any more, precipitation had now turned to sleet. Erik arrived and I suggested we go out for breakfast instead of running today but unfortunately these guys wanted to run so we took off on the Northern Loop Trail towards the summit.

This was the first time in several weeks that I decided to run without snowshoes at Bradbury, instead I picked a muddy pair of Inov-8's that needed a good cleaning. The trail conditions weren't too bad going up the mountain, a little soft, fairly wet with a few places where the snow was completely washed out. It took about 19 minutes to get to the summit, and then 10 minutes to get back down again. We then headed across the road for a loop of the Knight Woods trail where conditions seemed to be even softer underfoot and I found myself postholing quite a bit. Despite the difficulty Blaine and I managed to churn out a few miles under a 9:30 pace.

After about 40 minutes I was losing interest so I decided to head back. Blaine kept going on the Snowmobile Trail to work on getting his annual mileage over 1,900. At least I got my shoes clean.

time: 43:24
distance: 4.4 miles
pace: 9:52
heart rate: 163/182

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

11 1/2 miles and a cold six pack

Erik and I met at Bradbury this morning and set off up the Tote
Road Trail to the summit of Bradbury Mountain. Although it was warmer than last week it still felt cold when we started, but after a few minutes of uphill running we both began to warm up and it wasn't long before I had to remove a layer. I snapped a few photos at the top and then we made our way back down along the Northern Loop Trail. We then crossed the road and ran a loop of the Knight Woods Trail which only took us up to 4 miles even though we'd been out for over 45 minutes. There had been some snowmobile traffic on the trails but things were still quite soft underfoot.

Erik decided to head home, saying that he would attempt another run later in the day. I continued on with another loop of Knight Woods and then on to the Snowmobile Trail leading northwest out of the park. I was determined to get in at least 2 hours of running this morning, I made it as far as Brown Road in Durham before turning around and heading back. This was when I noticed a strange phenomenon: there was a build-up of ice on my shirt over my stomach. I'd never experienced this before. For some reason the sweat coming off me was concentrating on that part of my shirt and freezing solid. Weird.

On the way back I crossed paths with a few groups of friendly snowmobilers who were doing a good job getting the trails groomed for my final few miles. I attempted to pick up the pace but with the hills I was still getting some splits that were slower than 10 minute miles. I did manage to pull off my fastest split of the day on the last full mile: 9:21!

When I got back to my car and changed my shirt I noticed my stomach was bright red from the ice pack I had been wearing.

time: 2:05:08
distance: 11.61 miles
pace: 10:46
heart rate: 155/184

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday Night at TB

Monday night I was x-c skiing at Riverside Golf Course in Portland and after the rain/sleet crap that we got on Sunday evening the conditions were pretty lousy for classic skiing, but I still managed to get in 5 miles. Tuesday I brought my snowshoes to Twin Brook and planned to run a similar route as the previous week by heading over to Val Halla golf course. Chuck was there with his snowshoes, Andrew in trail shoes with Yak Trax, and Jim in his old pair of Flyrocs which I'm now convinced he wears just so he has something to complain about. There was a bit of debate about who had the advantage on the ups vs. the downs but by the end everyone seemed to agree that this snow running is tough business no matter what you've got on your feet. There wasn't much snowmobile traffic at Val Halla since the new fallen snow so our trail options were limited and we ended up turning back earlier than expected.
When we finished the run we noticed that Erik had showed up, apparently delayed in trafffic, and was still out there running. We also bumped into Floyd and Jeff who were meeting for a ski. It's amazing how many people show up to use these trails in the winter, too bad we all have to park outside the gate to avoid getting locked in.
I've been trying out some of the options for displaying GPS data from my runs. I haven't figured it all out yet but there is some cool stuff that you can do. The image above is taken from Google Earth, which is pretty cool in and of itself but when you overlay a run route you can view stats at each mile split, and if you were somewhere with real elevation you could do a fun fly-through. Below is a link to the Motion Based website where you can view stats from the run and watch the run in action on the Map Player. Well, you can watch a dot in action, you still have to use your imagination.

(From the Motion Based site click on the 'PLAYER' tab)

Check this out! You can view this activity online at MotionBased. The Map Player is especially cool because a 'Dot' simulates the movement on a map (You just need to download the Adobe SVG Viewer).

View Activity
If you are experiencing problems with links above, copy and paste the following URL directly into your browser:

Everest Marathon

Honorary Trail Monsters Mary and Peter, who came from Scotland to run the Pineland Farms 50k this year, recently completed the Everest Marathon. Read about their adventure and see some incredible photographs HERE.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Racing Santas

Emma has returned to Scotland to visit her family for the holidays, and like a good Trail Monster ran a trail race with a few hours of arriving in the country. We set a precedent last year by competing in the Manor Water Hill Race a few hours after I arrived in Scotland on vacation. The Falkland Trail Race had a unique component of handing out Santa costumes to the first 100 registered runners, unfortunately Emma was unable to make the cutoff.

Emma will write up her own report which will be posted here soon.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Winter Running Lessons

This week I signed up for the 2008 Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run and I've been watching The Runner, the story of David Horton's 2,700 mile run of the PCT, so I had long running on the brain. I had hoped to do 4 hours at Bradbury but I knew that all the snow we got this week was going to make it challenging, I didn't think there was much chance of snowmobile traffic between the time the last storm ended Thursday night and our run this morning. To complicate matters even more the temperature wasn't expected to get above 20 degrees until the afternoon, it was 13 when I arrived at Bradbury. Erik and Blaine showed up and I made them wait in the cold while I fitted my snowshoes, they both decided to stick with just trail shoes.

Given the potential for freezing water, which has happened to me before, I wore a light jacket over my Source hydration pack. I also planned to try a trick I read about which is to blow a small amount of air back into the tube after taking a drink, thus clearing out any water that might freeze. I learned not to blow too much air otherwise you end up with half air and half water in your pack and it sloshes around, which isn't really a problem, just annoying. About half an hour into the run Blaine asked how my hose was doing, I was happy to report that my hydration pack was functioning well but my other hose was frosty. Luckily I was wearing glove liners and mittens so I tried a trick that Jim taught me, I removed a mitten and shoved it down my pants. This did a great job of warming up one area but left me with a cold hand, and for the rest of the run I kept switching the mitten from one hand to the other.

Apart from the addition of the Knight Woods trail at the beginning of our run we were following the same route that we ran last week. Six miles into the run, when we reached the power lines, Blaine decided to turn back, and Erik was a little ways behind me so I continued on my own towards a nice big hill. When I got closer I was disappointed to find a fork in the trail and the "groomed" path avoided the hill so I decided to stick to following the snowmobile tracks. "I'll get you on the way back" I said to the hill.

The time seemed right for a package of Shot Bloks, which after more than an hour in my pocket were actually flavored ice cubes. I discovered that slipping the package into my mitten (the Shot Blok package and the mitten on my hand, not the other one) did a good job of thawing the Shot Bloks without freezing my hand, and the same is true for packets of GU.

Things were going well until I came to a small river that wasn't frozen enough to cross and the snowmobile tracks turned back. I managed to break trail through 8" of powder into someone's back yard, then on to what I would later discover was Poland Range Road, across a bridge and then back onto the power line trail. Unfortunately from this point on I was breaking trail which is really hard work on hills in small running-style snowshoes. I made it out to Allen Road in North Pownal, did a lap of a huge electrical sub-station and turned back the way I came.

By the time I reached the back side of that hill I had seen earlier I had been running through powder for about 4 miles and I was starting to feel pretty tired, but I decided to attack the hill anyway. It turned out to be a very tough climb and I could see why no snowmobiles had attempted it, but I was glad to be the only one to make tracks up to the top. The view from the top was worth the effort but the 20 mph wind prevented me from lingering and I continued down the other side. By now I was feeling pretty much spent and even returning to the packed snowmobile trails didn't provide much relief.

As I counted the miles on my way back and looked at the time I knew that I was going to have to repeat the Knight Woods loop and maybe a little more if I was going to bring this run up to 4 hours. The problem was that in order to do that I was going to come within 0.3 of a mile from the parking lot where my car was, and the temptation to stop early was going to be there. I have discovered that one of the great challenges of long distance running is being faced with the opportunity to stop but being able to make yourself continue. Today I was weak, I took the opportunity to quit early.

If I'm going to get through this 100 miler I'm going to have to keep putting myself in these situations until I know that I'm strong enough not to give in.

time: 3:47:25
distance: 18.93 miles
pace: 12:00

Friday, December 14, 2007

VT100 Here I come!

I got a nice e-mail today:


CONGRATULATIONS! This is to confirm that you are entered in the 2008 Vermont 100 to be held July 19 and 20 in West Windsor VT.

On behalf of Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports (VASS) and the race committee we welcome you to the 20th annual Vermont 100 Endurance Run. July will be here soon and we look forward to seeing you. This year the VT 100 offers runners a choice of 100 miles or 100 K. See the website for more details.

This letter also serves as your campsite confirmation. Please remember that our campsites are open ONLY from Friday morning until Monday noon. Please do your part to keep Vermont green and leave your campsite as you found it.

We are looking forward to our fifth year at the Silver Hill Meadow site. We have used this site through good and bad weather and it really has become home for us. Our very sincere thanks go to the property owners for their continued generous support. The consensus seems to be that the revised trail is slightly tougher than the original but retains the character of the old route. The VT 100 continues to uphold our tradition of having horses and runners compete on the same course at the same time. This combination brings great comments from both runners and riders every year.

All proceeds from the VT 100 go to support the programs of VASS. Your participation helps to provide year-round recreational sports opportunities to people with disabilities. The VT 100 is one of the largest fundraisers for VASS each year. To further this key fundraising effort we have changed our pledge program to offer prizes and incentives for raising additional money to further the mission of VASS. More details can be found on our website. Note that VASS is a 501 (c)3 non-profit and all contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Our website ( has several pages of race information available. More pages may be added if needed and pages will be updated from time to time. Included is a list of this year's entrants. This list will be updated within a couple weeks as entries are received. Please be sure to check the website for updates as race day nears.

We look forward to seeing returning runners again and to meeting those of you who haven't run VT before. The race committee, the volunteers and the community as a whole regard this event as a high point of each year. We can make no promises about the New England weather but we will hope for the best.

As always, if you have any questions don't hesitate to contact us at (

Happy Trails

Jim Hutchinson, Race Director
Julia Hutchinson, Assistant Rd/Admin Assistant

PS You didn't specify a shirt size on your application. If you could let us know which size you need we can make sure you're well dressed as well as tired at the end of the VT 100.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Golf Course Running

When I arrived at Twin Brook this evening Jeff was already out doing laps of the field on his skate skis, I could see the light from his headlamp moving back and forth in the distance. Andrew and Jim arrived next and we got ready to head out. I could hear some clattering from Andrew's direction so I went over to see what was going on. He was strapping on some wicked gnarly crampons, which seemed a tad aggressive for Twin Brook but that's the kind of guy he is. Like last week I wore my snowshoes and Jim was in his Flyroc's.

In the interest of preserving the well groomed trails for skiers we decided to skip the more southern part of our usual route and stick to the northern loop which isn't as well maintained. Unfortunately for Jeff this meant the skiing wasn't so good, and for he rest of us the running was actually more difficult but we don't do this because it's easy. When we got to the most northern part of the Twin Brook property we decided to cross the railroad tracks and take the trail that leads to Val Halla golf course. Once on the golf course we found there had been a lot of snowmobile traffic that created a great network of trails and included some nice little hills.

We only covered a fraction of the trails at Val Halla so I'm looking forward to exploring them more in the coming weeks.

time: 49:37
distance: 5.09 miles
pace: 9:45
heart rate: 173/185

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Snow Run @ Bradbury

As I was throwing my snowshoes in the back of my car, just about to head over to Bradbury I heard someone call my name, it was Randy who had run over to my house to catch a ride. He didn’t know exactly where I live but just took a chance since he knew the street and he arrived just in time. When we got to Bradbury we met Erik, Josh and Blaine and we agreed to attempt 10 miles. Erik also brought snowshoes but the other guys didn’t so we decided to go in just our trail shoes with hopes that the snowmobiles would have been out during the week to pack down the snow on the trails. This seemed to be the case until we got 100 yards onto the trail and the snowmobile tracks veered off into the campground. We decided to stick to my planned route which meant blazing trail through soft snow along the Link Trail, but after less than half a mile we joined up with what is referred to as the Snowmobile Trail and that had seen some traffic so we were back to somewhat easier running.

As we headed northeast along this wide trail towards the park boundary and eventually beyond the snowmobile tracks disappeared and we had to break trail again, but I think we all agreed that despite the difficulty it was actually a lot of fun running through the snow. The deer also seemed to enjoy it as there were tracks everywhere. At one point I looked over my shoulder to make sure everyone was close behind and when I did I slipped on a snow covered rock and went down into the soft powder. Blaine was right behind me and seemed delighted in my little mishap, we’ve both seen a number of people fall while running at Bradbury but this was the first time I’ve done it with a group. I dusted off the snow and we continued in pretty much a straight line northeast, across Poland Range Road, then Brown Road and I think we were in the town of Durham.

After almost 40 minutes but still not even 4 miles into the run we came out to a big open corn field that had seen a lot of snowmobile traffic and we were able to pick the pace up for a bit. This lead to a sand pit and then back into the woods along a section of trail with a lot of water under ice where we had to tread lightly and weave around the obviously thin spots in an attempt to keep our feet dry. Finally we came out to the power line trail running east-west and my Garmin told me we were at exactly 5 miles so we turned around and made our way back the way we came. You can see from the elevation profile that most of the way back was uphill, not a major hill but in 6” of snow it was hard work.

The run back took us 3 minutes longer than the way out, which wasn’t too bad considering the hills and the snow. I was glad to have my OR Flex-Tex Gaiters during the run which did a great job keeping the snow out of my shoes and allowed my feet to stay nice and warm and dry. Although the temperature was still below freezing we were all working up a good sweat which of course lead to a major chill a few minutes after finishing.

time: 1:39:46

distance: 9.97 miles

pace: 10:00

Friday, December 7, 2007

Inov-8 and GoMotion

Friday I decided to leave work early and head down to Southborough, MA with Emma for the Inov-8 open house. Hanging out with other runners and checking out some cool trail running shoes was much more appealing than work, as it would be any day, but this was my birthday so I thought I deserved to skip out early. We were among the first to arrive and I didn’t hesitate to get right into the beer, there were 3 kegs on ice and plenty of snacks.

Even though I didn’t need any new shoes - I already bought 3 pairs of Inov-8’s this year - I was curious to see what they had in the warehouse and maybe pick up something for next year’s VT100. It’s not that the shoes didn’t last long enough that I ended up buying 3 pair, I just really like them and I wear them all. The models I currently wear, Roclite 315, F-lite 300 and Mudroc 290, are all light-weight and relatively minimalist shoes but each is suited to a different type of terrain. What I was looking for was something with a little more cushioning, desirable during a 100 mile race, and a not-too-aggressive outsole. The F-lite 335 seemed to fit the bill but wasn’t quite right on my feet, and I don’t want to take any chances going into this race. I asked the advice of Thomas, an experienced ultra-runner who works for Inov-8 and ran the VT100 a few years ago in 18.5 hours (for anyone who doesn’t know: that’s freakin’ awesome). Thomas is better at giving advice than selling shoes, and he recommended that I wear my road shoes at VT rather than any of the Inov-8 trail shoes. I respect his opinion and appreciated his honesty so I think I may be in the market for a new pair of Asics, not sure which model but I’ll visit Maine Running Company this week and see what I can find. Historically I bounced back and fourth between the 2000 series and the Kayano, but for the past 2 years I’ve been running almost exclusively in Inov-8’s and I’m not sure if I really need all the structure of those shoes any more. We’ll see.

Emma was determined to pick up two new pairs of shoes on this trip, not that she really needed them but she had two gift certificates from winning the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge 25k and the Stone Cat Trail Marathon. After much deliberation and sending Lisa up and down the aisles of the warehouse numerous times to fetch different shoes Emma settled on the F-Lite 301 PK because they look cool, and the Terroc 330 because she’s worn them before and they’re awesome. The last pair of Terroc’s Emma got were purchased 3 years ago from a store in Scotland and it was great to see that the shoe hasn’t changed a bit. It seems that every other shoe company changes their product every single year but they don’t realize that most runners like consistency in their footwear. It’s refreshing to see a company get it right the first time and just keep it that way. I bought a pair of Mudroc’s in 2003 and another in 2007 and the differences are so subtle they would only be noticed by someone with a shoe obsession like me.

Also at the open house were the founders of a new company called Go Motion who brought in a bunch of product prototypes they’ve been developing over the past year. Basically what they’ve done is taken a powerful headlamp with external battery pack and integrated it into a small backpack with the lamp positioned on your chest and the batteries on your back. They have several models, the one I like best holds a 1-liter hydration bladder and has several pockets for stowing small bits of gear and energy gels, perfect for long runs in the dark. They even have a women’s specific design that fit’s Emma perfectly, a rarity in the hydration pack market. Their products won’t be available for a few more months but they are definitely worth looking for, hopefully at a local retailer.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Winter Makes You Strong

Tonight Ian, Jim and Erik showed up at Twin Brook for an attempt at the regular winter loop. Not sure what to expect with all the recent fallen snow I wore my Atlas Run snowshoes, Erik had his snowshoes and Jim was in his Inov-8 Flyroc's.

It turned out that most of the trails had been groomed, the town is very good about getting out as soon as the snow falls to look after their trails, and conditions were great for skiing as was evident by all the headlamps we saw gliding along in the distance. We had to break trail on a few short sections of the northern part of the route and we debated whether or not the snowshoes made it any easier, when the snow isn't very deep there isn't much benefit to snowshoes. But snowshoe running does give you one hell of a workout.

Lately I have been thinking about Gore-tex footwear for winter running. Generally I have always thought that it isn't possible to prevent water from getting into your shoes (at least not the way I run) so I want to be sure that whatever does get in can get out just as easily. The one place Gore-tex does seem to make sense to me is when running in the snow. My feet never got cold tonight but after I finished I noticed that my socks were wet from the melted snow. If anyone had experience with Gore-tex or other "waterproof" footwear I'd be interested to hear what you think.

time: 1:00:26
distance: 5.7 miles
pace: 10:35