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, February 28, 2009

TMR Fat Ass 50k

There's nothing like an epic run with friends.

Back: Alosaurus, Matt, Blaine, George, Fezzik, J-Rock, Stephen, Floyd
Front: Dave, gIANt, Top Cat, Danielle, Gnarls, Dora, Ryan, Mindy

Chuck e-mailed me on Friday to say that the route for the Fat Ass 50k he had planned from his house was impassable and in no way runnable, not even by the heartiest of Trail Monsters. The snow storm earlier in the week had deposited more than a foot of heavy wet snow in the area causing trees to bend under the weight and block the trails. This meant that the snowmobiles that are usually out grooming the trails for us runners couldn't get through and the trails had received no traffic of any kind. Luckily Chuck had a back-up plan and after work (and after an 8 mile run earlier in the day) he went out to scope out a 5.2 mile route for us all to run Saturday morning.

His description of the route started with: "It is not going to be an easy run in more ways than one, but it is very doable." No one goes into a 50k run in the middle of winter, or any run with the Trail Monsters, expecting it to be easy so this sounded okay to me.

For the first lap we agreed to stick together so everyone could learn the course since we didn't have time to put together a new map and Chuck was the only one who knew where to go. The route started out with a short stretch of paved road, then into the forest on snowmobile trails, across an open field, back into the woods on not-well-traveled-foot-trails that lead to a loop taking us up and over Hedgehog Mountain, then back the way we came. After a week of easy runs I was feeling good and looking forward to a wicked long run, for no particular reason other than to see if I could get through 50k in the middle of winter.

The weather turned out to be not very winter-like at all and made for comfortable running conditions. The problem with the warmer than usual weather (which followed a lot of rain a few days before) is that it made the snow not very comfortable for running on. The section of snowmobile trail was quite firm and perfect for running, but the open field we ran through twice per out-and-back lap was soon named the "Field of Death". There was a lot of post-holing and three wet spots that were virtually impossible to avoid. 15 minutes into the run we all had cold, soaking wet feet.

The section of trail leading to Hedgehog Mountain had received foot traffic at some point during the winter but not much recently and was pretty sluggish for the first time around. We soon learned that straying off the middle of the trail lead to serious post-holing in snow that was about 3' deep. Not fun for the members of the group who aren't much over 5 feet tall.

The climb up to the summit was not so steep that it couldn't be run and offered a nice change of pace even if it was more effort. Once at the top of the Hedgehog we took a moment to catch our breath and enjoy the view and then set off on the fast downhill.

On the way back of our first lap Chuck had the idea of an alternate route through the field that would hopefully be firmer and drier. After a few steps along this route Alan and I decided it would be better to go back the way we came out but everyone else followed Chuck through what was later described as "post-holing hell". Even though the original path was difficult this other route was far worse.

It had been just cold enough over night to create a thin layer if crusty iciness on top of the deep snow which meant that as your foot sunk in and you moved forward your shin was ravaged by the jagged edge. This was repeated over and over with each step through the "Field of Death". After we all made it out of the field we paused to assess our wounds, those wearing shorts obviously fared the worst:

If you ain't bleedin' you ain't tryin'

We all finished the first lap together and from there the group spread out and thinned with each successive lap. For most of the route the more we traveled it the easier it got to run, with 16 people on an out-and-back we did a pretty good job of packing things down. The one exception was the 1/4 mile descent off the top of Hedgehog Mountain which just got churned up with each pass and became more loose and slippery with each time around, but was still a lot of fun to cruise down.

Watch out for snowmobiles!

After the 3rd lap most people decided to call it a day. I paused for a moment when I realized I was only half way through the run, at least in terms of distance. I had been running for 3 hours and although I felt good it seemed unlikely that I would be able to run the next three laps in another 3 hours. Prior to starting the run this morning, and without knowing the course, I arbitrarily said to myself that I wanted to get this done in under 6 hours.

When I set off on the 4th lap Alan had already gone on ahead, Emma, Jamie and Jim were a little behind and Floyd was the only one ready to go when I was so we took off together. We ran the next two laps together and thankfully Floyd was willing to go at a pace that I could hang onto. Having him there helped keep me from slowing down, which I'm sure I would have done had I been on my own. We managed to knock off the 4th and 5th laps in about the same time as our previous ones, and we moved in and out of the house to refuel after each lap a little quicker each time.

We caught up to Alan on the 5th lap but as we neared the end I stopped for a bio-break and Floyd kept going. He grabbed a quick handful of m&m's at the pit stop and took off like a shot, I think a little anxious to get this finished. You never would have guessed that he had already run 26 miles. I refilled my Camelbak bladder, grabbed something to eat and headed out with Alan right behind me. Although having company is great on a long run we were all getting tired and I think we each decided that we had to do our own thing to get through this last lap. I was definitely feeling the physical effects of all the miles, my hips were getting a little sore, my shins were scraped raw and my ankles had taken a serious beating from 5 hours of uneven terrain. As I headed out on my final lap I met Emma who just finishing her fifth lap. This was her longest run since last September, and even though she looked like she could have kept going I think she did the right thing by stopping at 26 miles. We paused long enough for a kiss and I was on my way.

There was a noticable drop in temperature and it was now getting into the afternoon, the desire to keep warm was helping to move me along at a reasonable pace. Just as I was approaching the beginning of the uphill loop around Hedgehog Mountain I saw Floyd flying down the hill. Halfway through this lap he had already got about 3/4 of a mile ahead of me, WTF? I didn't think I was slowing down that much, it turns out he was just going incredibly fast. We stopped and chatted briefly, I congratulated him on his first ever ultra distance run and we went on our ways getting this thing done.

I didn't mind being alone in the woods, it was a beautiful day and I felt lucky to be able to spend most of it outdoors doing what I love.

About a half mile from the end Emma met me on the trail and cheered me on as she ran me in. It was definitely nice to have a little company again.

1:01, 1:01, 0:59, 0:59, 0:57, 1:01

After the run we all hung around at Chuck and Katy's working on calorie replenishment. Thanks to them for being such good hosts and to everyone who came out to make the second annual TMR Fat Ass a lot of fun.

time: 5:58 (did not subtract out for stoppages)
distance: 31.2 miles
pace: 11:28 (average pace not actual moving pace)

weather: 31-38 degrees, clear sky, light breeze

conditions: soft wet snow

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295, wool socks, short tights, long sleeve top, singlet, Moeben sleeves, thin gloves, buff, sunglasses, Camelbak Magic 2L

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Can't Get Enough

Back to Bradbury again today for another run, this time almost 10 miles. I feel pretty lucky to be running pain free right now without anything holding me back. After a stretch of low mileage in late December and January I'm finally getting back into a steady routine of solid runs. The weird this in I don't have any big race plans coming up this spring to focus my training on. After getting into running ultras two years ago it's feels strange not to have a big race to prepare for, but I'm still planning to put in a lot of long runs over the next few months, and I'm having a lot of fun.

I guess my spring goals will be to try to do well at a few "shorter" distance trail races, the Merrimack River 10 miler, Muddy Moose and 7 Sisters, and then look for something longer in the early summer.

As for today's run I met Jim, Danielle and Ryan at Bradbury without a specific plan. We eventually agreed upon an out and back to the powerlines to the northeast of the park. I seem to remember that it used to be 5 miles to the turnaround point, but this year I always come up a little short. I suppose it's possible the snowmobiles are taking a slightly shorter route this year, or maybe the Garmin is a little off. Either way, when we came to the powerlines and my watch said 4.8 miles I didn't feel like adding on to bring it up to 5, nor did anyone else so we turned there and headed back.

Trail conditions were pretty soft today and a few early rising snowmobilers actually seemed to fluff up the snow rather than pack it down.

I've departed from Emma's 50 mile training schedule, that I had been following for a while, by adding 10 miles onto one of the runs. Oops. This brings me up to a little over 50 miles for the week which is more than I've done in quite a while, but like I said, I'm feeling good so why hold back?

I'm definitely going to take it easy this week so I'm well rested for the TMR Fat Ass 50k next Saturday. 50k is a big step up for my long run, but as long as the pace is conservative I should be able to get through it okay. The big unknown for this event that will effect everyone's run is what kind of condition the trails are going to be in. Since we are dependant on snowmobiles to groom the trails for us any last minute snowfall could have a major effect on running conditions. Currently there is rain forecast for Friday night which may not be such a bad thing, as long as it's not too warm overnight the trails could be nice and firm first thing in the morning. I can't wait!

time: 1:38:12
distance: 9.72 miles
pace: 10:06

weather: 15-25 degrees, overcast, calm

conditions: loose packed snow

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315 with screws, wools socks, tights, 2x long sleeve tops, gloves, mittens, buff

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Grossest Feet?

Probably not. But it's worth a shot.

I received an e-mail newsletter from Inov-8 this week, they are holding a Grossest Feet contest:

Grossest feet contest
Mail us a pair of your stinkiest socks or e-mail an image of your bruised and battered feet after a 10 mile run. Three lucky runners with the grossest feet will win a free pair of shoes. (The f-lite 300, flyroc 310, roclite 315, roclite 282, or terroc 308.)

Also, inov-8's warehouse holds a number of shoes without boxes that we are selling at up to half-off rates. If you're interested in the range of styles available that may fit you, e-mail with your shoe size.

I'm in need of some new shoes so I figured it's worth a shot at trying to get some free ones.

I wasn't sure what I'd be up for today since I did a long run on Thursday, and my knee has been bothering me a bit since slipping on the ice and falling on it earlier in the week. I came prepared to go long if need be but decided I would wait to see what other folks were up to. When I arrived at Bradbury at 8 Jamie, Stephen and Blaine, were already out running (4 miles). They returned in time to meet me and Lily and I think it was Stephen who suggested we head out on the 15-ish mile loop that we had run a few weeks before.

This time we decided to run the loop in a clockwise direction which meant a lot of steep ups and downs early in the run and more gradual hills at the end. We kept the pace pretty conservative, as would be expected for a long run. Lily turned at about 3 miles to bring Echo back to puppy class, Jamie turned at about 4 miles which would get him into double digits for the day, and I carried on around the loop with Blaine and Stephen.

It turned out to be a beautiful morning and we were lucky that snowmobiles had been out last night over the entire loop. Thursday's storm continued into early Friday and had it not been for our late night groomers this loop wouldn't have been possible to run.

My knee was sore during the middle portion of the run but by 11 miles it felt fine. Overall I had good energy and didn't feel like I was recovering from Thursday's long run. Not sure exactly what the point is of all this long running but I'm having fun so I'll keep it up.

time: 2:23:17
distance: 14.69 miles
pace: 9:45

weather: 9-24 degrees (didn't feel that cold), mostly sunny, calm

conditions: packed snow, soft in some places

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315 with screws, wool socks, tights, t-shirt, 2x long sleeve tops, gloves, mittens, buff, Camelbak Magic

Friday, February 20, 2009

Muddy Moose Confirmed

Today I got an e-mail confirming the date of this year's Muddy Moose Trail Race (April 26th). This was the first trail race I ran in this country after moving back to Maine in 2004 and it has always been one of my favorites. I was also psyched to see that Emma is featured in one of the photos!

Xterra Xduro
Muddy Moose Trail Races

Announcement Newsletter- February 20, 2009

Goopy Goop
Dear Ian,

Mark your calendar: The 2009 edition of the Muddy Moose Trail Races, sponsored by Xterra Xduro, are scheduled for Sunday, April 26 at 10 a.m.
Online registration is now available.
Please forward this notice on to your running buddies - click the "forward email" button at the bottom.

The Crazy Things Runners Do for Fun...

DunhamThe 10th Annual Muddy Moose Trail Races are well-organized, but low frill. The races start and end at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, NH.
We are very proud to be sponsored again by XTERRA this year and to be part of the XTERRA New England Trail Series.

Both the 4 mile and the 14 mile races start together, then two paths diverge in the woods, and which one you take makes all the difference. These are trail races, not road races. Dirt roads, logging roads, single track, and snowmobile trails. The 14 mile race involves short steep hills, logs, roots, water, and mud. The 4 mile race is on flatter (but uneven) and somewhat drier (but often still muddy) terrain. Water stops at 2, 5, 9, and 12 miles. Proceeds benefit the Kingswood Regional track and crosscountry teams. Awards (one deep in both races) in the usual age groups. Lots of baked goods following the race. Hoses and showers available after too.

Directions to Kingswood Regional HS (396 South Main Street (Rt. 28) in Wolfeboro, NH):
From Boston or Portsmouth, NH (about 1 hour from Portsmouth): Take I-95 North to Exit 4 to Rt. 16 North / Spaulding Turnpike. Continue on the Spaulding Turnpike to Exit 15 to Rt. 11 West, marked to Lake Winnipesaukee. At the Alton Traffic Circle, continue straight on Rt. 28 North to Wolfeboro.
From Concord, NH
(about 50 minutes from Concord): Take I-393 East to Rt. 4 East to the Epsom Traffic Circle, then go North on Rt. 28 through the Alton Traffic Circle and continue on Rt. 28 North to Wolfeboro. Kingswood Regional High School will be on your right as you come into Wolfeboro.

Plenty of parking on the grounds of the school.

Past Results Posted Here


Online Registration Now Available

The online, pre-entry fee is $22 (and that includes all credit card fees, so you aren't going to get dinged extra for that). While we've always been generous about shirts I can't guarantee shirts for more than the first 100 finishers. To enter now, go here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The run that almost didn't happen

My office has a few "floating" holidays which we are allowed to take on the traditionally observed day or any other day we choose. Emma had to work on President's Day/Washington's Birthday so I opted to work that day too and take today (Thursday) off instead so I could run with Emma on her day off. The original plan, before we knew about the nasty weather that descended upon us last night, was to go out to Bradbury and do a 16 mile run. When we learned that we were supposed to get 3-7 inches of snow overnight we decided to do an Erik* and run multiple laps of Back Cove. Certainly not the most interesting run but the BC is usually quite reliable even after a storm.

Not so much. I'm guessing we got about 4 inches of snow before the rain started, and then we got enough rain to turn that snow into 2 inches of slush. It was not fun to run in. After less than 1/2 mile we turned around and headed back to the car. We've both run through some pretty horrific conditions in our time but the idea of doing 16 miles in this crap was unbearable. So we went back home, put on dry shoes and clothes and headed to Maine Roasters Coffee in Falmouth for a run on the roads in hopes that they would be in better condition.

The roads were in better condition but still not good. The rain was falling steadily and the sides of the road were either covered in slush or puddles. We just gritted our teeth and got on with it. Once we got a few miles out of the way we were warmed up and got used to the conditions so it didn't seem all that bad.

I intentionally planned a long route that had several bail out points along the way in case we wanted to cut it short but we passed each of these by without much consideration. When Emma is following a training schedule nothing will stop her. After 8 miles headed north into a driving rain and headwind it was a relief to turn around and head back south to Falmouth. By this time the rain had turned to snow and was falling fast enough that it soon piled up in the road.

The uphills were a little slippery and sluggish but overall we maintained a pretty good pace considering the weather and even managed to pick it up for the last mile. Granted it was downhill but we were pleased to run our fastest mile of the day (7:45) for the last one. Immediately upon finishing we went inside the coffee shop for a few big mugs of dark roast to warm up from the inside out.

time: 2:16:24
distance: 16.24
pace: 8:23

weather: 35 degrees, constant rain and/or snow

conditions: wet, puddly, slushy, snowy, messy roads

gear: Brooks Cascadia 3, wool socks, short tights, t-shirt, long sleeve top, gloves, baseball hat, headband

* During his training for the 2008 VT100 Erik ran 14 laps of Back Cove in one day (50+ miles)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Should Have Worn Screw Shoes

Due to concerns over an unreliable car I decided not to drive to Twin Brook tonight, instead I ran from home and did a lap around Back Cove. Emma had been out around 4:00 and said everything was wet with the only stretch of ice being on the south side which is in the shade all day. I didn't get out until a little after 6pm and by that time the temperature had dropped to just below freezing and all the puddles Emma had been running through had turned to ice.

I didn't intend for the run to be a fast one but it turned out to be pretty quick.


8:03 - getting warmed up, mostly downhill, one street crossing and one pedestrian encounter, some ice
7:32 - 2 street crossings, lots of ice
7:16 - first full mile on Back Cove, some ice
7:13 - very little ice
7:31 - tons of ice and 2 street crossings
8:07 - mostly uphill, one street crossing, some ice (enough to take me down)

In the last mile I was running uphill on Deering Ave, just as I started to reach the top of the hill I hit a patch of ice on a dark corner and went down pretty hard. I bounced back pretty quickly and kept running, but with a bit of a limp the rest of the way home. I hit my right knee pretty hard and bent a few fingers the wrong way. Ice on the knee helped keep the swelling down and it shouldn't be a problem, I think I sprained my middle finger though.

time: 45:46
distance: 6.01 miles
pace: 7:37

weather: 30 degrees, calm

conditions: many icy patches

gear: Brooks Cascadia 3, wool socks, tights, 2x long sleeve tops, gloves, buff

Monday, February 16, 2009

8 Hilly Miles

Emma and I, once again following her 50 mile training schedule, planned to do an 8 mile run at Bradbury on Sunday with Jim. Before leaving I noticed via Facebook that Danielle and Ryan were also planning an independent run at Bradbury so we agreed to run together.

I had worked out an out-and-back route to the west of the park on snowmobile trails that is filled with steep little hills. The icy conditions made it a bit tricky going both up and down but it was another beautiful day and we were having a lot of run. Near the end of the run I had an idea that I described as "cruel" but Ryan misheard as "cool" and decided it was worth doing. We left the well packed snowmobile trails and headed up a long climb on a snowshoe trail that took us to the summit of Bradbury Mountain. The climb was tough but the clear view from the summit certainly made it worth while. And the sprint downhill to the parking lot was a blast.

The elevation profile really doesn't do justice to the hilliness of the first 7 miles of the run since the climb up Bradbury at the end dwarfs the rest of the hills.

time: 1:23:20
distance: 8.2 miles
pace: 10:10

weather: 28-31 degrees,mostly sunny, breezy

conditions: crusty hard packed and icy snow

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315 with screws, wools socks, tights, 2x long sleeve tops, gloves, buff

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sun and Ice

After last weeks solo run it was nice to have the company of Emma, Stephen, Alan, Chuck, Jim, Lily and Echo for this Saturday's run. The plan, based on Emma's 50 mile training schedule, was to do a 14 mile run from Bradbury to Pineland on the powerline/snowmobile trails. After the past week's warm weather and rain, then freezing temps the snowmobile trails were firm and great for running on. Icy, but manageable with screw shoes.

This was the first time trying out this route so I wasn't sure exactly how the distance would work out, but it turned out to be just right.

I was a little worried that the two rivers we would have to cross wouldn't be frozen enough, but we all made it safely across. I was glad though that we weren't returning on this route. We had all worked out various ways to get back from Pineland after the run there. Chuck and Alan each ran back home, taking different routes, Emma, Stephen and I stayed to watch Jeff's ski race. Jim, who only ran out with us for 25 minutes at the beginning of the run had driven to Pineland to participate in the race, gave Emma and I a ride back to Bradbury but not before meeting up with Mindy and Pete for breakfast at Stone's. Unfortunately they don't serve breakfast after 11:00 so we had to settle for lunch.

We managed to keep up a good pace for the run, although there were several short stops along the way. The last mile or so of the run was on paved road, mostly uphill to Pineland but we managed to churn out the fastest split of the run at 8:29.

time: 2:11:41
distance: 14.14 miles
pace: 9:18

weather: upper 20's, clear and sunny

conditions: crusty hard packed and icy snow

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315 with screws, wools socks, tights, 2x long sleeve tops, gloves, buff, Camelbak Magic

Thursday, February 12, 2009

That Was Wet

As I attempt to make Thursday morning runs part of my regular routine I wasn't about to let a little rain put me off today. However, it turned out to be a lot of rain this morning. With the recent warm weather we've had the streets and sidewalks are finally in better shape for running but Back Cove is a mess. There was still a lot of ice on the path, in many cases submerged under standing water from all the rain. It was kinda fun running through the puddles and sections of mud, I missed mud.

I had considered doing the same 9 miles that I ran last Thursday but my back has been a bit sore for the past week and although it's starting to feel better I didn't want to over-do-it. I'll wait until the weekend to over-do-it on the trails where it will at least be more fun.

time: 51:43
distance: 6.05
pace: 8:33

weather: 37 degrees, steady rain

conditions: wet, icy, puddly, muddy

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315 with screws, wool socks, short tights, long sleeve top, windbreaker, gloves, baseball hat

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another Early Morning

Since Emma has become a licensed RN and started working full time early shifts I've made an effort to get up early and get a run in before going to work. It's not easy for me, and the runs are a little on the slow side but I think I could get used to it. It is nice being able to see the sun rise over Casco Bay.

This morning I did a loop from home to the Western Prom, down to Commercial Street for it's entire length to the East End Beach, up to the Eastern Prom and then back home along Congress Street. There was a lot of ice on the roads and sidewalks but my screw shoes kept me upright.

time: 52:38
distance: 6.49 miles
pace: 8:09

weather: 18 degrees, clear and calm

conditions: icy roads

gear: Brooks Cascadia 3 with screws, wool socks, tights, 2x long sleeve tops, t-shirt, gloves, mittens, buff

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bradbury Snowshoe

Jim and I met at Bradbury this morning for a snowshoe run and we confirmed that Jim's snowshoes are too big for running. They are good at breaking trail though, unlike mine which are too small for that. After 2.75 miles we returned to the cars so Jim could swap snowshoes for screw shoes, we then ran a lap of the mountain along the Boundary Trail. The trails were firm enough that snowshoes weren't necessary but I kept mine on and worked hard to keep up with Jim.

We summited Bradbury twice, not bad for a short run.
time: 1:12:58
distance: 5.5 miles
pace: 13:10

weather: 38-40 degrees, overcast

conditions: soft packed snow, wet

gear: Altas DT Snowshoes, Inov-8 F-lite 300, wool socks, tights, long sleeve top, t-shirt, gloves, hat

4 Beers and 20 Miles

I don't want to be too hard on the snowmobilers since I love to run on the trails that they create, but on my run today I found four empty beer cans on the trails. Now drinking and driving is bad enough but leaving trash on the trail, especially trash that proves that you are drinking and driving, is just incredibly ignorant. And it's Bud Light, they aren't even drining decent beer. Anyone who has run one of my races should know how I feel about littering on the trail... Check out the Maine Snowmobile Death Counter and the Snowmobile Fact Sheet on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website. These sites give stats and details about accidents and fatalities involving snowmobiles.

I'm not trying to suggest that all people who ride snowmobiles drink and drive, some of them are kids as young as 10 years old and I'm sure the parents who let them ride wouldn't let them drink beer at the same time.

Anyway, apart from the trash I had a good run today from Bradbury. Thankfully most snowmobilers have the courtesy to drink and drive after dark so I didn't have to worry about getting run over on my run. My plan for the day was to do a 15 mile loop that I ran a few weeks ago with an out and back added to bring the total mileage up to 20. I had hoped to have company for at least part of the run but no one else showed up so I was on my own.

I knew it was going to be warm today but at 8am it was still pretty cold, about 0. I felt a little underdressed to begin with but running up the steep hills to the west of the park helped get me warmed up.

I get a little concerned crossing bridges like this when I'm on my own, seems like a good way to break your ankle if you make a wrong step.

About 4 miles into the run I took a detour from the loop portion of my route and for the first time ever I crossed Chandler Brook and headed southwest along the power lines. Every other time I have approached this portion of Chandler Brook it hasn't been frozen enough to cross, but it appeared to hold the weight of a snowmobile so I figured I'd be okay. I ran out until I crossed Rt 231 in New Gloucester, about a mile south of Pineland, went a bit firther to the top of a hill so I could get a view.

After seeing that the powerline trail went on for miles I turned around and headed back to return to the loop. It had been two miles of uphill to get to this point so it was nice to get two miles of downhill back to Chandler Brook.

It seemed to take a while for the temperature to rise and the mouthpiece of my CamelBak kept freezing. Luckily I was able to keep the whole tube from freezing by blowing a little air back into it after each time I took a drink, but for some reason there was always a little liquid left in the mouthpiece.

This is one of my favorite stretches of powerline trails with plenty of rolling hills, twists and turns.

There are a few hills that are short but very steep and make for a fun change of pace once in a while.

At 9.5 miles I took off my mittens (still had gloves on), removed a buff that had previously been covering my face and took off a t-shirt. It was definitely warming up.

About 11 miles into the run I came across a huge electrical substation.

There's one stretch that makes a pretty straight shot of 1.5 miles and is relatively flat. I usually see coyote tracks through here but not today. About 12 miles into the run I really started to notice that it was getting warmer, this section always feels warm.

Since I was alone I had to amuse myself.

Not sure if this is a convenience or litter. I didn't dare get up too close but it appears that others weren't afraid. Perhaps next week I'll see a toilet paper holder mounted to the side of the powerline pole.

By 15 miles I was off the powerlines and headed back towards the park. This also coincided with the wind picking up which seemed to negate the benefits of the warmer temperatures. I guess it was good that the next 4 miles were mostly uphill, that kept me warm.

As I neared the link trail which would have taken me back to the parking lot via the shortest route possible I realized that I was going to be under 20 miles for the day so I decided to continue along the Snowmobile Trail to Knight Woods and then pop out on Rt 9 about a quarter mile from the park entrance. The last uphill along the road used the last little bit of remaining energy I had but it got me over 20.

time: 3:12:49
distance: 20.3 miles
pace: 9:29

weather: 0-27 degrees, up to 11 mph wind, sunny

conditions: firm packed snowmobile trails

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315 with screws, wool socks, OR gaiters, tights, 2x long sleeve tops, t-shirt, gloves, mittens, 2x buff, CamelBak Magic

Thursday, February 5, 2009


For some reason I got out of bed at 5 this morning, left the house at 20 past and ran down to Back Cove to meet Jim, Shauna and Roland for a few laps. I don't know how these people do this on a weekly basis. At least Jim's stories provided a distraction from the cold, and I can say that I got in more miles than there were degrees in the temperature at that time.

time: 1:19:32
distance: 9.1 miles
pace: 8:44

weather: 2 degrees, breezy, damn cold

conditions: snow covered footpath, some ice

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315 with screws, sock liners, wool socks, tights, 2x long sleeve tops, jacket, gloves, mittens, 2x buffs

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Twin Brook Snowshoe

After the 10 miler the other day, which I will finish writing a report about soon, I was talking to Peter about snowshoe racing so I'm thinking about heading down to Adams, MA on February 21 for a snowshoe half marathon. I have never raced in snowshoes before but I've always wanted to. This looks like a good one, 2500 feet of elevation gain (and descent) presumably up and down Mt. Greylock.

So with this in mind I decided to run in snowshoes tonight at Twin Brook to get some training in. I was still feeling sore from the 10 miler, particularly my calves but the conditions were good for shoeing, groomed trails with a little light powder on top. BTW, I felt about as bad after the 10 miler as I did after the Stone Cat Marathon, roads suck.

Jim and Blaine were also there tonight, sans snowshoes so they were sinking in a bit more than me as we made our way around the "normal" winter loop with a few slight variations. There was a fair amount of snowmobile traffic through Val Halla golf course but there is one section they still need to work on to get our loop in better condition. Come on guys! A strong and very cold wind blowing tonight, and some light snow but while we were in the shelter of the trees it wasn't bad at all.

I want to get some more hill work in before this snowshoe race so I'm cooking up a real killer route for the run this Saturday.

time: 52:40
distance: 5.31
pace: 9:55

weather: 23 degrees, 20 mph wind, 3 degrees with wind chill, snowy

conditions: soft packed snow

gear: Altas DT Snowshoes, Brooks Cascadia, wool socks, OR gaiters, tights, 2x long sleeve tops, t-shirt, gloves, mittens, 2x buff

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mid-Winter 10-Mile Classic

I got up on Sunday morning and read Ryan's blog which got me in a pretty nervous state about the 10 miler. I had thought about hanging onto him during the race and having a nice casual run, but then he started talking about fast times and I knew he meant business. My plan was modified to set out at a fast pace and just see how long I could hold it for, and try not to embarras myself. I have run too many races where I set off at an unrealistic pace and ended up feeling like crap midway through and even worse at the end. I know that I have pretty good endurance, at least by mid-winter standards, but I haven't been doing any fast paced training since the snow started falling in December so I wasn't sure what to expect. Basically I decided a while ago that running is supposed to be fun and when it isn't then I won't do it. Speed work isn't fun, so I don't do it. Running up and down big hills in the woods on snow covered trails is fun, so that's what I do.

During the week before the race I made a spur of the moment decision to buy a new pair of shoes that caught my eye in hopes that they would make me run faster. I'm a big believer in the psychological effects of preparation on running. Mental preparedness and toughness is an important part of ultra running, and getting yourself in the right frame of mind to race any distance is important. So I believe that buying new shoes and convincing yourself that they will make you run faster can actually pay off on race day (a little bit).

I arrived at the Cape Elizabeth High School about an hour before the race which left plenty of time for catching up with other runners. I used to do about 15 road races a year but since I only do like 2 a year now there were plenty of people I hadn't seen in a while to catch up with. There was also a good showing of Trail Monsters: Peter, Tom, Brett, Sara, Ryan, Danielle, Mindy, Dave, Blaine, Kevin, Lily, Dom, Dora, Floyd, and a handful of TM volunteers including Emma, Valerie, Shauna, Randy... and probably more that I'm forgetting. Of course there was Erik doing a great job of directing the race.

The temperature seemed about right for a February morning in Maine and thankfully there wasn't any wind. I brought with me 3 different pairs of tights, about 5 shirts and a variety of hats, gloves and mittens. It can be hard to get the layers right when the temperature is cold but you're working at a higher level of effort in race conditions. A brisk warmup with Blaine confirmed that I had made the right choice in clothing. The one outstanding question was how the new shoes would feel since I never got around to wearing them for more than the short walk to and from work one day last week. Probably not the best idea really, I think it's actually considered a bad idea to try new things on race day, especially shoes.

I caught up with Danielle and Ryan and the start line and gave Ryan a little grief for the nerves that I was feeling on his account. We couldn't really hear what Erik was saying but before I knew it the cowbell was ringing and the crowd started shuffling forward. I was immediately trapped behind someone still trying to find the right song on her iPod and Ryan took off ahead of me. I shouldered this annoying person out of the way and weaved through the crowd trying to catch up. I could write quite a lot about my personal feelings about running with iPods but I'll just say that when the bell rings you better not be holding up a crowd of 600 runners because you're looking for just the right song.

I don't really like the first mile of this race, it's all downhill and everyone goes too fast, myself included. I passed the first mile mark at about 6:40 and thought "there's no way I can keep this up, time to slow down." Ryan was setting the pace and Ellie was right there with us, I'd never beaten her in a race so I was already thinking that this could be a mistake.

We reached the first uphill stretch at 1.5 miles which leads into a series of rolling hills that pretty much continues for the rest of the race. My pace slowed quite a bit when we hit the up but not as much as many other peoples and I started to work past other runners. When the next downhill came I realized that I don't have the quick turnover needed to take advantage of potential for speed and I lost a few of those places I had gained on the up. This pattern would continue for most of the race but overall I was picking up more places than I was losing.

Plenty of short hills, no killers but enough to make things interesting.

I decided not to look at my watch after the first mile. Most of my best races have come when I wasn't too stressed about time and I just ran what felt right. This has also lead to me kicking myself afterwards when I finished a half marathon a few years ago 5 seconds away from a PR but had no idea I was that close until I saw the clock at the finish line and by that time it was too late to do anything about it.

I was working hard but the pace felt sustainable and I was actually enjoying myself. There were plenty of people around but the pace was not conducive to conversation so things were pretty quite. The 5 mile aid station provided some pleasant relief and I saw Randy and Shauna there. Unfortunately there was a big clock at the halfway mark just beyond the aid station, I really didn't want to know what my time was but couldn't miss it. I saw 34:00 as I approached and just a few seconds over as I went past. Oops! that seemed a little too fast.

Just as I was beginning to stress over the fact that I had probably gone out too fast Ned from the Portland Hashers sidled up next to me and provided a distraction. He was dressed as Lt. Dangle from Reno 911. Enough said. We chatted for a few minutes and Ned revealed that he had run the first mile in 7:40. A little quick math, I was a minute faster than that and he caught me at 5 which means he did the last 4 miles about 15 seconds per mile quicker than me. For a goofy looking guy he runs very well. I tried to tell him that he must be a pretty serious runner to be running like that, he disagreed "competitive, but not serious." I'll give him that. I got a little ahead of Ned on the next uphill but he pulled away on the next down and I think he was back on track running 15 seconds per mile faster than me. If Ned actually looked as good as Lt. Dangle maybe I would have been able to keep up.

By the time I reached the aid station just before mile 8 I was starting to feel a little tired, but not too bad. I didn't feel like I was slowing down but it felt more difficult to maintain my pace. After this point the course turned and we were headed north into a slight headwind, not enough to start making excuses for slowing down but enough to make you feel the cold in the air. Around this time I started to notice some tightness in my calves. My new shoes are flatter than any of the road shoes I've worn before which means they stretch my calf muscles a little more and I was starting to feel it. This surprised me since I do most of my long running in Inov-8's which are very low, maybe it also has something to do with the hard ground surface. Roads suck.

The first time I ran this race in 2005 I just about died when I reached the final uphill of the race which peaks in the middle of the last mile. I actually felt good when I reached it this year and was able to pick up the pace and pick off a few runners on the way up. What I was dreading was the downhill sprint that follows, I wasn't sure if I'd have enough speed left in my legs to hold off those folks I passed on the way up. It turned out that I had just enough to hold onto my place and when I rounded the final bend and caught a glimpse of the finish line I saw the clock just ticking over to 1:08:00. Those last few yards seem to take forever when you're watching the clock.

I was pretty surprised with the result and very happy with the fact that I was able to run consistently without slowing down. Only a 1 second difference in my 5 mile splits.

Mouthfull of Pizza, Faking a Smile, Genuinely Happy

It didn't take long after I finished for the pain of the roads to set in. I'm glad that my road racing season is over.

splits: 6:37, 6:56, 6:53, 6:48, 6:44, 6:51, 6:50, 6:54, 6:53, 6:31

time: 1:08:12
distance: 10.0 miles
pace: 6:50
place: 77/691 - 11%

weather: 18-20 degrees, overcast

conditions: mostly dry roads, some ice patches

gear: Saucony Grid Sinister, wool socks, short tights, long sleeve top, Moeben sleeves, singlet, gloves, buff

Photos by Erin Moore, David Colby Young and sidzmum