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, September 29, 2009

A Solid Training Week

No long run last week, but it was a good week of training. Probably a good thing to step back a notch after my trail marathon training run last week, and hopefully this week I'll be able to step it up again and get another marathon distance run in. I'm feeling pretty good about how my training for the Stone Cat 50 miler is going. Here's what the week looked like:


Not a lot of time tonight, so I just did the "regular" part of the run without the barefoot afterward. No watch so I don't know what the time or distance was, probably about 5.6 miles at somewhere around a 9 minute pace. I was definitely feeling a little tired from the previous weekend's efforts, no problems luckily, just feeling the effects of the miles. It's started to get dark noticeably earlier now, it won't be long before we need to start bringing headlamps to the TNR.

Thursday + Friday

Thursday morning I got up before work to run the 5.6 mile Mountain Loop (road) from home. I was feeling bit sluggish, mostly due to the fact that it was early and running uphill for the first 3 miles. The downhill side of the run felt better but not terribly fast, still in "recovery" mode.

Friday was the same loop, different story. I didn't get out the door until about 7pm and it was pretty much dark, I was also getting hungry for dinner so I decided to go hard and get back home as soon as I could. Finally - not that it had been that long - I was feeling fully recovered from last weekend's runs and was ready to run fast. I didn't start out too fast but I did really push it on the uphill miles of the run and then let loose on the down. Unfortunately since it was dark and I was running on a fairly busy rural road without a paved shoulder I found myself stepping off into the dirt shoulder every time a car came at me and blinded me with their lights. This made it hard to run consistently fast when I couldn't see my footing, but I still managed a pace that I was very happy with.

Thursday AM

time: 44:49
distance: 5.65 miles
pace: 7:55

gear: Saucony Grid Sinister

Friday PM

time: 39:58
distance: 5.65 miles
pace: 7:04

gear: Brooks Cascadia

Saturday AM

I thought briefly about running the Pathfinders 5k at Pineland on Saturday, but realized that wouldn't do much for my 50 miler training so I decided to get there early, get in about 12 miles and then watch the race. It turned out to be (probably) the coldest morning so far this early fall and there was a frost on all the grassy fields. Very pretty.

I had hoped someone else would show early to join me for the run but perhaps it was too early (or cold) for anyone else. I started with the Oak Hill trails for 4.5 miles and then ran the first part of The Race course minus the overgrown fields and got in another 8.5 miles. I wasn't pushing the pace too much, but probably a little faster than my usual Pineland pace. Although this was also a little shorter than my usual Pineland distance so that's probably to be expected.

I got back to the Visitors Center just in time to see the start of the race and jogged around a little bit to see runners a few places along the course and then at the finish. After seeing this small group of runners working hard and getting very out of breath I decided I'd rather do a 50k here any day than a 5k. In a 50k you get to run slowly and walk up the hills. In a 5k you have to run fast the whole time.

time: 1:49:33
distance: 12.92
pace: 8:28

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295

Sunday AM

Sunday morning Emma and I met up with our Trail Monster neighbors, Jeff and James, for a local trail run (with a little road at the beginning and end). It was a little cold and there was a steady rain but it was so nice to be running with Emma again that I really didn't mind.

I thought this was a fairly hilly route, but James assured me that it's not. Either way we were taking it at a pretty easy pace which I was happy with. I had to remind myself that this was as "easy" week and that next week I'd step it back up with another long run.

This 11+ mile loop has a great mix of terrain, and once again I wished I had brought my camera, although the rain wouldn't have allowed for very good photos.

time: 1:58:29
distance: 11.37
pace: 10:25

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295

As I look ahead to this upcoming weekend I'd like to get another marathon distance training run in and it just so happens that there is a marathon happening in Portland this weekend. Unfortunately it's a road race. It's still very tempting to sign up, I just can't decide if it's the best thing for my training or not. I'm a little concerned that a road marathon would take too much out of me and that it would take too long to recover from. It's been 5 years since I last ran a road marathon (this same one) and even though I had a pretty good race I decided after that race that I didn't ever want to do a marathon again. Hmmm.

The other thing I need to consider is that the following weekend is the Mountain Epic race at Sunday River. "Only" 12 miles but it's going to be one hell of an effort. Then the weekend after that is the MTC 50k in Brunswick, another road race! What's happening to me? Is this road running really going to help me at Stone Cat? I do think that getting in long runs at a faster than trail race pace could help me achieve that 50 mile PR I'm looking for. The question is could I do just as well with all trail training and with less abuse on my body? I haven't comitted to either of these road races yet, but there is a good chance I'll do one or both of them.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Running On Tired Legs

Yesterday's run left me feeling pretty tired, but I did a good job of refueling afterwards and I woke up feeling good this morning (no signs of shin splints). I decided to wait until the afternoon to do my run, partly to allow it to warm up a bit outside but also because Emma and I still have a lot of unpacking to do, and yardwork. For some reason I had the hardest time deciding what kind of a run I wanted to do today, I knew I wanted to get in about 10, but couldn't decide where to go. In the interest of time I eventually decided that I would hit the roads, I figured a 10 mile trail run could take me close to 2 hours. So I decided on a 9.6 mile road loop from home, which from now on I will refer to as the K-9 loop because the map reminds Mary of K-9 from Dr. Who.

I didn't intend for this to be a difficult workout, since I got one in yesterday, but once I got going I was feeling pretty good and I decided that in the interest of getting in some solid training for the Stone Cat 50 miler I would push the pace a little bit to get used to the feeling of running on tired legs. I was really surprised to find that after the second mile I was feeling really good and there were no lingering effects from yesterday's marathon effort.


7:52 - downhill, getting loosened up
7:52 - uphill, hard work
7:30 - flat
7:23 - flat, comfortable cruising speed
7:09 - downhill
7:23 - killer uphill
7:15 - flat, but recovering from mile 6
7:03 - downhill
4:41 - 0.6 mile uphill
6:55 - up, then downhill finish

This run really left me with a good feeling about my training, I just hope I can hold it together for the next month. I really want to do well at Stone Cat, and being a relatively flat course (for a trail ultra) I figured that the road miles would help. I also plan to run the MTC 50K race that Erik puts on in October, it's a road race, but should be a good last long run before Stone Cat. If all goes well I should be able to turn out a good PR for 50 miles, Stone Cat was my first 50 two years ago, I ran 10 hours 10 minutes and I'd like to think I could take at least an hour off of that time this year.

time: 1:11:09
distance: 9.65 miles
pace: 7:22

weather: 70 degrees, clear sky, beautiful

gear: Saucony Grid Sinister, Balega socks, shorts, t-shirt, Fuel Belt

Saturday, September 19, 2009

West Falmouth Trail Marathon - Getting Lost in Windham

After Thursday's evening run around Back Cove in Vibram Five Fingers I was left with hot spots on the balls of my feet and shin splints that ached all day Friday. The shin splints were bad enough that I started worrying about stress fractures, which was strange because I'd done longer runs in the Vibrams before, at TB and around Back Cove so not sure what the problem was. Anyway, I felt bad enough that I decided to scrap my plans for a run right after work on Friday in hopes that I'd go into my Saturday run feeling good.

My original plan for Saturday was to head up to Sunday River for another run on the course of the Mountain Epic, but at the last minute when I realized no one else was going, and that 4 hours of driving was not the best way to spend my time, I decided to scrap that plan. Instead I decided to join the other TMR Saturday run which was scheduled to meet at Lowell Preserve in Windham, and to ensure I got in a long run I decided to run from home along a 7.6 mile route there and back. I'd never been to Lowell Preserve before but I had heard Blaine mention it several times so was looking forward to finally checking it out for myself.

I left home a little before 7am and had about 1.7 miles of relatively flat pavement before turning onto powerline trails that took me up part of Blackstrap Hill to the top of Leighton Hill. A few wet spots and one overgrown area but generally the trails were dry and in good shape for running. The terrain was all kinds of rocky, from gravel to big loose rocks to sheer rock faces. I wished I had brought my camera, the views were great.

After 4 miles of powerline trails I came out to Blackstrap Road, which I had crossed earlier, and followed this to Babbidge Road which lead to the East Windham Fire House where the trail head for the Lowell Preserve is located. About 2 more miles of road running although I managed to run much of it on the dirt shuolder, a total of 7.6 miles from home. Here I met Jamie and Jeff and after a short break (for me) we set off exploring.

Hard to believe that the squiggly bit at the top of the route map represents over 11 miles, and the long tail is 7.6 each way.

Our route in (and out of) Lowell Preserve.

The terrain in the Preserve what somewhat varied, with the most consistent feature being large rocks scattered everywhere. It was clear that this land had never been cleared for farming. The trails are a mix of double and single track, laid out with many short segments that come together at a lot of intersections with multiple ways to go. There are numbers at many intersections as well as maps, which obviously helps in finding your way around, but makes for a lot of stops during the run. I'd say it's much more difficult to find your way around here than compared to Bradbury, because the trails here are shorter with more options for which way to go.

After a little more than 5 miles Jamie decided to head back due to shin splints flaring up, glad to see that he is being smart in his return to running and not pushing too much too soon. Luckily for me I wasn't feeling any of the pain that I had been the day before. Jeff and I continued on for another 6 miles, covering much of the ground that we had already, in both directions thinking that we must have covered every inch of trail in this place. Jeff pointed out later, however, that we had missed one rather significant trail. At least we'll have something new to explore the next time.

Jeff ended his run at about 11.3 miles, I took a little break to refill the bladder in my hydration pack and take a few bites of a protein bar. My jaw was still sore from a dentist appointment on Thursday which made chewing very difficult, but my energy level was good so I didn't mind not eating much. I had been running for a little over 3 hours and thought briefly about asking Jeff for a ride home, but that thought quickly left my mind when I thought about how much I'd suffer at the Stone Cat 50 miler if I didn't get in some good long training runs.

I took the same way home that I ran out, was tempted to do a little exploring but really didn't want to extend the run longer than a marathon distance and hadn't prepared nutritionally for much more than a 4 hour run. Although I had felt pretty tired when I finished running with Jeff I perked up a bit with the faster pace and easier terrain of the first few miles of the return run. At about the time I reached 20 miles I began to feel a slight twinge of shin splints coming on but it never got to the point that it was actually painful.

With about 4 miles to go I hit the hill known as the Three Bitches. I expected that I would have to walk most of this hill but I actually felt pretty good and ran the whole way. The way down on the other side was pretty slow though as I didn't have a lot of strength left in my legs for fast downhill running. When I got to the paved road that lead the last 1.7 miles to home I picked the pace up as much as I comfortably could and ran the very last mile of the run at just under an 8 minute pace, my fastest of the day, albeit the easiest mile.

time: 4:16:43
distance: 26.5 miles
pace: 9:41

weather: low 40's to low 60's, beautiful

conditions: mostly dry trails, a few swampy spots

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315, Balega socks, shorts, long sleeve shirt, hat, Nathan HPL #020

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Evening Flat

After work I headed out for my second run of the day, not feeling as fresh as I would have liked but I thought I could get in two laps of back cove. The weather was great, I love running when it's in the 50's. Everything was going well but about halfway around Back Cove I could feel a hot spot developing on the ball of my right foot, just behind my big toe. I've had this problem before wearing Vibrams on Back Cove, and it turned into full fledged blisters then, so I decided to finish after just one lap to keep my foot from getting messed up.

I wore my Vibrams to the TMR TNR this week, the second time I've done this and everything was fine then. It seems that the softer surface, and probably the irregularity as well, of TB is a lot easier on the soles of my feet. Back cove is too firm, too regular and leads to too much friction. Or something like that. I guess I'll stick to proper shoes on BC for a while, and wear the Vibrams on proper trails.

time: 29:00
distance: 3.8 miles
pace: 7:37

weather: sunny, upper 50's

gear: Vibram Five Finger KSO, shorts, t-shirt, hat

Morning Hill

I didn't manage to get in a run in last night so I decided that I would try to do a double today. It was tough but I got up earlier than usual this morning and was out the door by 6am. I know it's not that early really, but I've been used to sleeping in a bit later over the past few weeks. I picked a road loop, knowing that it was going to be up for the first half and down for the second...

I started out slowly as I was still trying to wake up and adjust to the cooler temps, but by the time I got to the top of Blackstrap Hill my legs were ready for a quicker turnover. Splits: 8:28, 8:11, 8:04, 7:13, 6:55

Twice I passed entrances to trails that run along the power lines and gas line, and it was tough to resist the draw to go exploring but I really didn't give myself enough time this morning.

I'll probably do a lap or two of Back Cove after work tonight, we'll see.

time: 42:58
distance: 5.6 miles
pace: 7:40

weather: cloudy, great sunrise, low 50's

gear: Saucony Grid Sinister, Wright Socks, shorts, long-sleeve shirt, hat

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Too Busy to Train

My 50 miler training isn't going to plan. Actually, I don't have a plan, but if I did then it would include more long runs than I've been doing. After scrapping the long run on Friday I hoped to get it in on Sunday, but since Mrs. Trail Monster and I just bought a house and are in the middle of moving I ended up with only a short road run on Sunday.

Sunday: roads - Falmouth to Portland
time: 57:00
distance: 7.8 miles
pace: 7:30

gear: Saucony Grid Sinister

Tuesday: TMR TNR
time: 1:18:22
distance: 8.8 miles
pace: 8:54

gear: Inov-8 Flyroc 310

Wednesday: roads - Falmouth
time: 1:12:30
distance: 9.6 miles
pace: 7:33

gear: Brooks Cascadia

Thursday: trails - Bradbury (Bruiser course marking)
time: 1:18:00
distance: 8.0
pace: 9:45

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295

No long run for me this week with the Bruiser coming up on Sunday. I may try to run the course on Friday, mark the course (with plenty of help hopefully) on Saturday, then run some or all of the course later on Saturday, then race it on Sunday. This should make for a good solid week of training, but without the long run. Hopefully next weekend I'll have the time for a good 4-5 hour long trail run!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cruisin' for a Bruisin'

To make up for yesterday's half-assed attempt at a long run I decided I wanted to run the Bruiser course at Bradbury relatively hard this morning. My goal was to break 2 hours, which I didn't think would be too hard to do, but I usually never run the 12 mile course that fast in training.

Emma and I were joined this morning by Valerie, Lily, Jeff, Brett, Sara and Owen. We stuck together pretty well for the first 2 miles but then we started to get spread out a bit and by 6 miles Emma, Owen and I pulled away from the rest of the group. Some of our slowest miles were the early ones, we were averaging slower than a 10 minute pace and I couldn't figure out how we were going to pick it up enough to average better than 10's. It's amazing how a 10+ minute pace can feel fast, and like a lot of work on those trails.

The middle section of the race course contains some of the easier miles and we were able to pick the pace up. Emma hadn't originally intended to run at my pace but she was worried about losing her way so she decided to stick with my plan. Owen didn't seem to have any trouble keeping up despite this being his first time running with us (and at Bradbury).

I had stopped checking my watch by the time we entered the O-Trail, didn't need any distractions, so I wasn't sure how close we were to meeting my goal. I was actually surprised that we did manage to break 2 hours, but relieved that what felt like a lot of effort actually paid off. I still don't understand how some people run this course as fast as they do, 1:29 was the winning time at last year's Bruiser!

time: 1:53:38
distance: 12 miles
pace: 9:28

weather: low to upper 70's, clear

conditions: unbelievably dry for Bradbury

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

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pineland Cut Short

Emma and I planned to do a long run together this week, and since she's working this weekend we decided to do it on Friday. Unfortunately this turned out to be the hottest day of the week.

I hate to say it but I've had enough of this hot weather. I miss the cool temperatures that we had last week. I'm sick of getting drenched in sweat every time I run. It's not fun any more.

We originally planned to do 22 miles, but a few miles into the run it became clear that a long run wasn't in the cards for us today. We decided to stop while we were still feeling good rather than push through uncomfortable conditions just to log the miles.

We tried a new drink today, Succeed Ultra. But I guess we didn't need it since we ended up with such a short run. I guess it was a good way to try it out though, seemed pretty good.

It also didn't help that a few sections of trail were closed. Not that this was a really big deal, but it kinda threw us off a bit.

time: 1:25:53
distance: 8.83 miles
pace: 9:43

weather: high 70's to low 80's, sunny, clear, hot

conditions: mostly dry, some light mud

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295, Balega socks, shorts, singlet, hat, Nathan HPL #020

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

8 Peaks of Sunday River

On Wednesday I headed up to Sunday River for a run on the 12 mile Mountain Epic course. I had run part of the course earlier in the year with Erik (the RD), but I knew very little about the first few miles that climb up from South Ridge Lodge to the summit of White Cap. As it turned out I screwed that part up pretty good and found myself on the top of Locke Mountain after about 35 minutes. It was only a short run over to White Cap, and then back again along the correct path of the course and I was able to follow the course without any trouble for the rest of the way.

So after White Cap it was a run along the ridge to Locke Mt and then Barker Mt, then a long downhill stretch that hit North Peak along the way and finished up at the base of Jordan. Then began the second big climb of the race all the way up to the summit of Spruce Peak. From Spruce there was a nice little stretch of Single track over to Aurora Peak, then a little drop before making another climb up to the top of Oz which is the highest point on the whole course. Unfortunately this peak has a lot of tree cover and the views aren't as good as many of the other peaks. Oz to Jordan was pretty easy, but I still took the opportunity to catch my breath here and get something to eat before continuing on.

The summit of Jordan comes about 8 miles into the race, and then it's 4 miles of downhill to the finish, and the first two miles are steep enough to trash your quads if you're running hard. I took it relatively easy, knowing that the last 1.5 miles are on gnarly single track I wanted to save something for the finish. Despite running conservatively I was definitely feeling a bit fatigued near the end and I took a good digger on a sharp bend in the single track. Luckily the ground was soft and I bounced back up pretty quickly. It will definitely be interesting to see how people handle these trails at the end of the 12 mile race.

I had somewhat arbitrarily decided that I wanted to run the course in under 3 hours, since no one has ever run it from beginning to end I wasn't sure what to expect but I was happy to finish a few minutes under the 3 hour mark. I'd like to think that in the race I could easily take 20 to 30 minutes off my time since I won't be stopping to take pictures and I won't have to try to figure out where to go. I was caught off guard by how hot it turned out to be this day, I was expecting temperatures in the mid 60's but it got up into the high 70's which made it a little more challenging when trying to run up mountains. I carried with me a hydration pack with 100 ounces of water, and surely the weight was somewhat of a factor that I won't have to deal with during the race.

I also took some video during my run and I hope to get that edited and posted this weekend.

For more info about the race coming up on October 11th visit the race website:

time: 2:56:35
distance: 12.32 miles
pace: 14:19
elevation: about 3,500' each way

weather: mid to upper 70's, clear and sunny

conditions: mostly dry, some wet patches, some overgrown areas, very mixed terrain

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295, cycling socks, shorts, t-shirt, EMS Mantis Hydration Pack

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I arrived a little early to the Tuesday Night Run this week to get in about 2.75 miles before everyone else showed up. Now that I'm finally focusing on and training for an ultra this fall (Stone Cat 50 miler) I want to step up my weekly mileage. I had hoped to get there early enough to run the whole Craig Cup 5k course but didn't give myself enough time. Which I guess means I was running too slow.

We had a good sized group tonight and I think for the first time ever had more women than men! Well, maybe it's not the first time, but it's still nice that we're getting some new people coming along.

I rediscovered an old pair of Inov-8's before heading out for the run, they were muddy but still in pretty good shape so I cleaned them up, and then proceeded to re-mud them. Between my early run, the regular run and the barefoot afterwards I ended up with a little over 9.5 miles, hopefully next week I'll get it up to 10.

time: 1:22:23
distance: 9.56 miles
pace: 8:37

gear: Inov-8 Flyroc 310, Wright Socks, shorts, t-shirt, hat