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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I've Been Married For 10 Years And My Wife Still Doesn't Have A Fat Ass 50k

What better way to celebrate 10 very happy years of marriage than with a 50k run in hellacious spring conditions.

Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate with us!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Recovery Run

Last year I decided that (for me) one of the keys to ultra training is the run on the day after the long run. When I was training for my first marathon in 2003 I would usually take a day off from running after my long run, or at best do an easy couple of miles. Last year I started doing runs of about 8 miles on the day after a long run, usually on easier terrain and at a faster pace. This year I'm trying to make my day-after-long-runs closer to 10 miles, and not necessarily on easier terrain. So I guess its more like long run part 2 rather than recover run.

On Sunday, the day after doing almost 20 at Bradbury, I returned to meet Blaine and Floyd for another run. Not exactly the best guys to run with if you're looking for a slow and easy recovery. We all agreed to "take it easy" by skipping the worst (best?) of the hills and headed out for an out-and-back on the Snowmobile Trail to the power lines.

We decided to throw in a little loop at the turnaround that brought our distance up to about 10.5 miles. I was surprised to find that I actually felt better today than I did during my run the day before, not sure why that is. Apart from slipping and falling on my ass at a big stretch of ice the run went well and I finished feeling surprisingly good after a pretty big week for me in terms of total mileage.

time: 1:31:40
distance: 10.49 miles
pace: 8:44

weather: 31-36 degrees, cloudy becoming bright and sunny

conditions: firm packed snow, lots if ice

gear: Inov-8 Mudroc 280, wool socks, short tights, 2x long sleeve tops, gloves, buff

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring is Coming

Spring is coming but it isn't here yet. That's my opinion. There's still too much snow and not enough mud to feel like spring.

Saturday morning I met Chuck, Blaine, Erik and newbie Trail Monster Carter at Bradbury. Although it had been pretty warm all week the previous couple of nights were cold enough to freeze things pretty solid so at 8 am we had good firm conditions for running. Emma had been out at Bradbury a few days before for a 24 mile run and found the trails to be much like cold mashed potatoes, but we got lucky today.

We started the run with a lap of the Fat Ass course on the mountain, and despite my original plan to start out easy we actually ran the loop faster than any of my other attempts during the previous few weeks. This was partly due to good conditions, but we also blazed down the 1/3 mile Terrace Trail at a pretty aggressive pace.

From there we crossed the road and headed north on the Snowmobile Trail out of the park to the power lines. I had wanted to get in 20 today so planned to turn at 8 miles out (12 total), but we reached a convenient spot to turn just before then and I didn't feel the urge to be that precise today. Maybe because Blaine and Carter were pushing a slightly faster pace than I would have set myself for that distance.

On the way back we could definitely feel it warming up but the trail conditions didn't deteriorate too quickly, I was thankful for this since the 2 mile gradual uphill back to the park can be cruel if the trails are too soft. I had thought about throwing in another lap of the Fat Ass course when we returned to the park but felt done by the time we got there. With only a week until the FA I dind't want to push too hard if my body was telling me not too, I'll save that for next weekend.

time: 3:04:30
distance: 19.61
pace: 9:24

weather: 23-33 degrees, clear sky, cold to start, felt very warm at end

conditions: hard packed snow, some ice

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315 with screws, wool socks, tights, 2x long sleeve tops (1 removed), thin gloves, buff, Nathan HPL #020

Monday, March 16, 2009

Easing Back Into It

I guess I'm pretty lucky. After developing plantar fasciitis a few weeks ago, then trying to deal with it aggressively while taking a week off from running I was supposed to be careful not to return to running too aggressively. But after Saturday's 11.5 mile run I was feeling great so I decided to join Emma on her long run. I guess I shouldn't call it just her run since Jim was also part of concocting the plan for the day.

On Sunday Emma and I met Jim, Ryan and Blaine at Bradbury and started with a loop of the upcoming Fat Ass course. Conditions were pretty good, the snow was firm and there was only a little ice, of course this was on the steepest climb of the route but it was easy enough to get around.

We then headed out for 6 miles on the Snowmobile Trail out of the park. We hit the power lines, turned right and ran out until we "reached the top of the nearest hill AFTER 10 miles" and then turned around to run back the way we came.

As is the case with most of our runs this time of year the snow is nice and firm at 8 am but it doesn't take long for things to warm up and the snow gets softer and more difficult to run in.

Although I was aware of some tightness in my hamstrings and anchilles everything seemed to be working fine and my energy level was good.

We returned to the park having completed a little more than 16 miles (except for Blaine who had started at 7am and got in a few more miles already) and per Jim's plan headed out for another loop of the Fat Ass course (except for Blaine who was done). There was a lot of blame going around as we tried to figure out who was responsible for this sinister plan, I think Jim and Emma were equally at fault, I'm pretty sure it had nothing to do with me. Anyway, this second lap was much more difficult than the first. By now it was a lot warmer and the snow was incredibly soft. I felt like I was spinning my wheels on all the uphills, and on the downs I was sinking in a lot. It's all good prep for the Fat Ass, I hope conditions improve over the next week because 8 laps of this course could be hell if they don't.

time: 3:35:35
distance: 20.57 miles
pace: 10:28

weather: 24-46 degrees, sunny and calm

conditions: firm packed snow, progressively getting softer

gear: inov-8 Roclite 315 with screws, wool socks, short tights, t-shirt, long sleeve top, thin gloves, buff, Nathan HPL 20

Monday I took a much needed day off from running and could feel the PF flaring up. Stretching seems to work the best for dealing with the pain but I've also been icing (thanks for the advice Jamie). At lunch I walked down to the Maine Running Company and picked up a Strassburg Sock. I had been trying to make my own version of the sock but couldn't come up with anything that struck the right balance of comfort and getting the right stretch so I went for the real deal. Even though I feel like I'm recovering from the PF I'm still running and don't want to let up on the treatment until its completely gone.

The sock really helped, at least on the one foot I was using it on and when I woke up early Tuesday morning I was feeling good. I left the house at about 5:15 and ran down to Back Cove to meet Jim for our annual St. Patrick's Day tradition of running to Ri Ra for a pint of Guinness. There was a crowd of about 15 people assembled and we casually made our way along Back Cove and the East End Trail to Commercial Street. We got there just after opening time, had a quick pint and then ran back - via a shorter route since we all had to get to work.

After work on Tuesday I went to Twin Brook for my first evening run there since the clocks changed, it was great to be able to run in the daylight again. I met Jim, Blaine and Jeff and we ran a 5 mile loop covering pretty much all of the trails. Starting next week we will return to the Tuttle Road side of TB and start using the main parking lot again.

Wednesday evening I wasn't feeling very ambitious when I got out of work and wasn't even sure I would get out for a run since I had done a double the day before. The weather was no nice I couldn't really resist and after an easy mile warm up I hit Back Cove at a pretty good pace and turned out a couple of quick miles. 5.5 miles at a 7:25 average pace with a fastest mile time of 7:05.

Thursday I met Jamie at Back Cove right after work, he had already completed one lap when I bumped into him and we planned to do another 2 together. I had thought this might be a nice easy run but Jamie was cruising at a good pace and I had no trouble keeping up so we just went with it. I ended up with about 8 miles again at about a 7:25 pace. I don't know the details for sure since Emma had the Garmin on her 24 mile at Bradbury during the day.

While I don't feel like I'm totally out of the woods with the PF I don't think that's it holding me back. I'll continue to stretch, ice and wear the Strassburg Sock. Today I'm getting a massage which should also help things along. I need to figure out why my hamstrings and achilles are always tight, strange that they don't seem to affect my running but I always feel them afterwards. Another long run is planned for this weekend at Bradbury, I'm still trying to keep up with Emma's 50 miler training schedule, if for no other reason than so we can run togther for 6 hours on our 10 year wedding anniversary on the 28th. I'm looking forward to it!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

There Was Mud, and So Many Beautiful Shoes

After taking a week off to try to deal with the plantar fasciitis that hit me after the TMR FA 50K I thought it would be a good idea to make a slow and careful return to running. But then we got this excellent spring weather and the slow and careful thing went out the window. I may have done a little too much too soon by running about 32 miles over the course of the weekend, but I felt good. Well rested. And actually I did run slow so I at least stuck to that part of the plan.

We recently learned that once a month the Inov-8 headquarters in Southborough, MA opens it's warehouse doors to the public for a little shoe show and then leads a group run in a nearby park. For a big fan like me this opportunity was too good to pass up so Emma and I met up with Randy and Chuck and drove down to MA together on Saturday morning. We wanted to get in at least 10 miles that morning and Lisa from Inov-8 was nice enough to to meet us with one of her friends at Callahan State Park in Framingham before the open house to lead us on a run.

It was great to get to see some new trails, but what was even better was the fact that there was almost no snow on the ground. For the first time in months we were able to run for miles on dirt! Oh what a beautiful thing. The trails were mostly single-track through fairly dense forest with a nice mix of flatter sections and rolling hills.

There was also a nice mix of terrain which was such a pleasant change from all the snow I've been running in for the past 3+ months. A little bit of snow, quite a few short stretches of ice, mostly hard packed dirt and a few mud puddles. We all got our feet wet a few times but the weather was warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt so cold feet really weren't an issue.

Lisa apologized for the slow pace but it actually felt very comfortable, not too slow at all, but was easy enough that I didn't feel like I was pushing myself more than I should. I was somewhat surprised but very relieved to find that I didn't have any lingering pain from the PF and generally everything felt good.

time: 2:00:56
distance: 11.51 miles
pace: 10:30

weather: upper 30's to low 40's, sunny

conditions: DIRT! MUD! and some ice and snow

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315 with screws, wool socks, shorts, t-shirt, long sleeve top (removed), gloves, buff, handheld bottle

After the run we followed Lisa's directions to an excellent bagel shop where we had lunch and then headed to the Inov-8 warehouse just a few miles away. This wasn't my first time here so I sort of knew what to expect, but it was still pretty awesome to walk in and see a big table full of shiny new trail running shoes.

Here I am holding the X-Talon 212, softer than a slipper but with big gnarly teeth. (photo by Katy) I was considering these shoes since Chuck has had good luck with them but when I thought about running a race like 7 Sisters in them I decided against it. I like to have just a little more shoe between me and the rocks. Besides, after seeing Chuck win first place in the Grossest Feet competition I didn't want to follow too closely in his footsteps.

I decided to get a pair of the Roclite 315 which have probably been the most reliable shoe I've ever run it. I wore these for my first two 50 milers, for numerous shorter races and for the bulk of my training over the past 2 years. I've been very impressed with how they hold up to all the abuse that I put them through. In my opinion they're the best all around trail shoe for any distance, on any terrain that you'll find in New England.
For some of the shorter races (less than 15 miles) I have planned for this year I wanted to get a lighter shoe. Back in 2003 I got a pair of Mudroc 290's when that was the only shoe that Inov-8 made. I still have a pair of them from 2007 I but wanted to try something else since I had the opportunity. I started with the Roclite 285, this has the same tread pattern as the 315 but is built on a performance last as opposed to the endurance last of the 315. Something wasn't right, hard to explain but it just didn't feel that good when I flexed my foot. I next tried on the Mudroc 280 which is also built on the performance last. This immediately felt good and I knew it was the shoe for me. They feel was the same as the 290's, the main difference being that the shoe upper is made from a lighter, more open mesh.

Now we just need to get rid of some of this ice so I can try these babies out for real.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Next Fat Ass and The Bastard PF

A bit of a delay writing up my Saturday run. I'll keep it short. Incredible weather.

Part 1

time: 1:39:22
distance: 10.11 miles
pace: 9:50

weather: mid 40's, gloriously sunny and warm

conditions: firm packed snow on the way out, much softer on the way back

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295, wools socks, 2x shorts, t-shirt, long sleeve top (removed), gloves, hat, Nathan HPL 20

Immediately following that run I reset my watch and went out for a loop of the upcoming I've Been Married For 10 Years And My Wife Still Doesn't Have A Fat Ass 50K. Conditions here were even worse as far as sinking in the deep snow, but hopefully over the next few weeks people (including myself) will be out in snowshoes packing things down.



Part 2

time: 46:07
distance: 4.0 miles
pace: 11:39

weather: mid 40's, gloriously sunny and warm

conditions: very soft snow, much postholing, some ice

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295, wools socks, 2x shorts, t-shirt, hat, Nathan HPL 20

Although I felt great for the entire run afterwards I became certain that I have a case of plantar fascitis. Jamie gave me some good advice during the run so I plan to take a week off from running, use the foam roller, stretch, ice, and massage my feet. Hopefully that will do the trick and I'll be back at it again next weekend.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Oops, forgot to recover

I guess I forgot after last weekend's 50k run that I need to take a week to recover.

On Sunday, the day after the 50k I participated in the Pineland Farms Winter Triathlon as part of a team. I started the race with a 4k snowshoe run, Randy was going to bike, and Jeff ski. Unfortunately right before the start of the race Randy had a catastrophic bike failure. I decided to go ahead and run in the event that a miracle might happen and by the time I finished his bike would be working again. No such luck. I still had a pretty good run and was happy with where I finished. Despite waking up with a very sore right ankle it didn't bother me during the run. Overall I'd say I felt better after 50k on the trails than I did after the 10 mile road roace I ran in early February.

Monday I took a day off and on Tuesday went to Twin Brook. I brought my snowshoes and it turned out they were definitely needed following the recent late winter snow dumpage we received on Sunday night. Jim was the only other person to show and he had something that resembled surf boards strapped to his feet so needless to say the running wasn't very easy for him. After about 3.5 miles we decided to call it quits. I was feeling good and could have gone longer but decided there wasn't much point.

Wednesday I ran straight from work in the evening and did two laps of Back Cove. It was great starting an evening run with plenty of light in the sky, although it was dark by the time I finished. Conditions on the path were pretty good considering the recent snow, there were some clear patches of dirt, a little ice, but most of the path was covered in packed snow. Not fast conditions but certainly runnable. I was feeling good and did 7.44 miles at a 7:41 pace.

Here's where things start to fall apart. I got up early Thursday morning and less than 12 hours after starting my Wednesday night run I was back at Back Cove for a few more laps. This time I didn't feel so good. No major problems, it just felt a hell of a lot harder than it had the night before. Conditions were the same on the path but I struggled to maintain the pace that the group was running at. I don't know how I motivated myself to do two laps but after finishing I wished I hadn't. I finished this run with 9.23 miles at an average 8:23 pace. It shouldn't have been so difficult to run at that pace even in the less than ideal conditions. Immediately following the run my right ankle (remember the pain on Sunday morning) became very stiff and sore, and the bottoms of my feet were aching , especially the heels. I suspect I've developed a mild case of plantar fascitis, probably due to the imbalance of lots of running and little to no stretching. Dumbass.

I was in pain/discomfort all day on Thursday, even just sitting at my desk it hurt. In the evening I rolled my heel on a little spikey ball that Emma bought me a few years ago (per Erik's recommendation) and that seemed to help. I'll continue to roll it today while I'm at work and also ice it. I still plan to run at Bradbury tomorrow, will try not to overdo it, and will try to be better about stretching immediately after I finish instead of just standing around in the cold and then driving home. We'll see.