Trail Monster Running

Visit the official TRAIL MONSTER RUNNING website for information on upcoming group runs, local trails, trail races and more, including the Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival and the Bradbury Mountain trail Running Series.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Local Exploring

This winter I've been doing a lot of my mid-week runs from Hardy Rd heading north on snowmobile trails, but never really considered taking the trail in the other direction. Today Emma did some exploring on the southbound snowmobile trails and came back with a good report so I went out after work and attempted to follow her tracks.I studied the map of her route before heading out, and I thought I had it in my head pretty good, but once the sun set I pretty much lost all sense of direction and ended up going entirely in the wrong direction just after a mile into the run. Once I realized my mistake I got back on course and did pretty well for the rest of my run, although I didn't get as far out as Emma had.

Emma's Route - My Route 

Recent warm weather with rain, then a few cold nights has left the snowmobile trails in pretty good shape, hard packed and a little icy, but not a problem with Ice Spikes in my shoes. There was a lot of running water along this route, with bridges across small streams, but it was a reminder that the snow is on the way out for the season. I have to admit that I'm a little sad to see it go, I love running snowmobile trails and I'm running out of time for exploring this one that we just found. Looking at the map I figured out that I'd be able to make an 8-9 mile loop on these trails, and the whole thing could be connected up to the Jungle Run to make a big 18 mile loop. I hope the snow lasts long enough for me to give it a try.

I was pleasantly surprised with the pace for this run, not terribly fast, but anything under a 9 minute mile on icy snowmobile trails at night seems pretty good to me.

time: 1:02:36
distance: 7.28 miles
pace: 8:36

gear: Inov-8 Oroc 280 with Ice Spikes, wool socks, tights, 2x long sleeve shirts, 2x thin gloves, buff

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More Bloody Running

Conditions were good for this week's TMR TNR, except for a few booby traps created by the recent warm weather. The plan was to take our regular winter route out to Val Halla, but things got sketchy shortly after we crossed the RR tracks on the way to the golf course. I was running slightly ahead of Blaine, and Jim was right behind him. I headed straight for an icy patch on the trail but when I hit it my left foot broke through and dropped a few inches. To keep myself from falling I got my right foot out in front of me but it came down hard enough to punch deeper through the ice and push my ankle into the rough edge of the broken ice. Jim saw what was happening and in an attempt to avoid the same fate went off trail, which turned out to be an even bigger mistake as he double post-holed up to his knees, with both feet in icy water. His momentum carried his body forward and when he tried to catch himself both his arms post-holed through the snow and into the water below. 

We immediately decided to turn around, and thought Jim would be done but once we were back on solid trails he was fine. Just a little cold and wet. I forgot about my ankle until I got home and changed and was surprised at my bloody sock. That explains why my ankle was a bit sore on the way home. Spring running is dangerous.

time: 48:44
distance: 5.39 miles
pace: 9:03

gear: Inov-8 Oroc 280 with Ice Spikes

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bloody Late Winter Running

I had an idea for a modification of the Jungle Run that I wanted to try out today, hoping to find more consistent snowmobile trails that would avoid the long unpacked uphill through Blackstrap Preserve and replace it with a section of power line trail (with a hill just as good). I found the route I was looking for but it certainly wasn't easy.

The first 1.5+ miles of the loop are on road, but as soon as I hit trail things were in rough shape. Too much warm weather and rain recently meant the not well traveled trail was deep slush. This went on for half a mile, slow going but tolerable because I knew there was snowmobile trail ahead. But when I hit the snowmobile trail things took a turn for the worse. The section of trail along the gas line is wide enough that snowmobiles don't have to ride single-file so the trail doesn't get well packed, and the recent weather left the trails with 2" of slush over 1/2" of crispy-ice-snow over 12" of slush. My pace was slowed to just under a 16 minute mile as I post-holed along for a mile, and every time I broke through my forward momentum pushed my shin into the rough broken edge of the crispy-ice-snow layer. Why can't snowmobiles just ride in a single-file line?

Once I finally got off the gas line and into the woods the trails were in great shape. Actually they were pretty shitty, but compared to the horror show of the previous mile they felt great. At least I was moving at a sub 12 minute mile pace now. Instead of turning left and climbing up through the Blackstrap Preserve I turned right and continued down hill to the snowmobile picnic area (complete with fire pits and empty beer cans). I then began an excellent climb up the "Expert" snowmobile trail that gains 250 feet in half a mile. This climb is part of Jeff's Hell course and was just as much fun today as it was during the race.

The rest of the run was pretty much the regular Jungle Run route. Conditions were slow but I was happy just to be getting a decent workout in and it was nice to run in shorts again, at least as long as I wasn't post-holing.

time: 1:52:13
distance: 10.32 miles
pace: 10:52

gear: Inov-8 X-Talon 190, wools socks, shorts, long sleeve top, t-shirt, gloves, cap

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Beautiful Loop - Seasons Best

After two weeks of missing the Beautiful Loop (not for lack of running though) I was anxious to get back at it. My plan to run it every week didn't work out but this would be my 7th time around in 9 weeks this winter. Excuses: two weeks ago I did 21 miles at Linda & Val's Fat Ass, and last week there was 8" of fresh snow on the route one day and a snowshoe race the next.

I was surprised to see a relatively small group at the park this Saturday. Stephen and Jeremy were there to run the BL with me and Jim and Andy came along for 5 miles out and back. I set off with Andy and we compromised at a pace that was faster than I wanted to run for 15 miles and hopefully not too boringly slow for him. We cruised along at a good clip (for this loop) in conditions that were less than ideal but really pretty decent, about 2" of sugary snow over a packed base.

At 5 miles Andy and I stopped to let the others catch up, Jim turned around and Andy decided to keep going with Jeremy, Stephen and I. For the next 6 miles Jeremy chased Andy-the-Rabbit while Stephen and I ran at a slightly more comfortable pace. We'd periodically re-group when Andy was uncertain of the route, and then he'd pull Jeremy along the straightaways.

Shortly after turning from the power lines into the woods at 10 miles we bumped into Mindy and Val coming towards us, half way through their 10 mile run. They turned and joined us for a little while, but we were anxious to get out of the headwind and pushed on at a pretty quick pace. Andy soon disappeared ahead of us and Jeremy dropped back to run the last 3.5 miles with Stephen and I. We definitely slowed down in these last few miles, a later comparison of splits from when I ran this loop with Emma three weeks prior showed that although my time with Emma was about 6 minutes longer than today's our last three mile splits were actually slower today.

Regardless of the fact that I started out too fast and slowed down quite a bit towards the end I was pleased to run this route in my fastest time this winter, and in what was definitely not the best conditions of the season. I consider anything under a 9 minute pace on snowmobile trails to be a pretty quick pace for me, and for this distance on these hills I was psyched to average just under 9's.

time: 2:15:44
distance: 15.14 miles
pace: 8:58

weather: mid 30's, rainy, windy

conditions: sugary/slushy snow over firm packed trails

gear: Inov-8 Oroc 280 with Ice Spikes, wool socks, 3/4 tights, long sleeve top, t-shirt, gloves, buff, Nathan HPL #020