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, February 28, 2012

Two for Tuesday

For a few reasons that I don't need to completely get into right now I've decided to skip a long run next weekend and instead pack a few longer days in at the beginning of the week. I guess it has mostly to do with the snowshoe race next weekend, since I've had two good races so far this winter I don't want to go into the final race of the series feeling too tired. I'm hoping to get in another 50k the following week so I guess that's another reason I don't feel the need to go too long this weekend.

Anyway, Jeff was looking for some company on his long run this morning so I joined him for two laps around our local Blackstrap Hill on the roads. He had advertised this run at an 8:00-8:10 pace which sounded pretty easy for Jeff, and I shouldn't have been surprised that it turned out to be quicker than that. That's OK, it was a beautiful day, bright sun and bit breezy, but not too cold. My right calf had been feeling a bit tight after the weekend's long runs but thanks to my compression socks it wasn't bothering me at all during run even though there were some long uphill stretches. It was nice to catch up with Jeff and  having his company made the miles tick by quickly.

time: 1:28:06
distance: 11.5 miles
pace: 7:40

weather: mid 30's, sunny, breezy
gear: Saucony Kinvara 2, socks, compression leg sleeves, shorts, 2x long sleeve shirts, 2x gloves, hat

And since it's Tuesday I wouldn't miss the regular TMR TNR, and the dogs definitely needed to get out for a run. I knew the trail conditions at Pratt's Brook would be pretty icy so I wasn't expecting this to be a great workout, I was glad to have gotten a decent run in earlier in the day. Despite what turned out to be very icy trails, with a few muddy spots we (Jim, Nathan, Scott and I) were able to move along at a decent pace, quicker than I had expected. In fact, this was one of the quicker Tuesday Night Runs we've had in a while.

time: 49:01
distance: 5.3 miles
pace: 9:15

weather: low 30's, clear and calm
gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315 with screws, wool socks, tights, 2x long sleeve shirts, 2x gloves, buff

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekend Warrior

Immediately after yesterday's long/hill workout I felt surprisingly good, and I actually thought about joining Emma on her 10 mile road run that she had planned for the afternoon. Luckily she was already out running by the time I got home so I sat down and ate and the reality of my run started to sink into my muscles. An hour later everything was getting tight and fatigue was setting it. If I had been foolish enough to head out with Emma I surely would have crashed and burnt. Later in the day I stretched and rolled, which is rare for me, but it helped keep things from getting worse.

My plan for today was a 15 mile road run, mostly because my local trails are in a dreadful state of iciness. Since I'd had such an easy week and was feeling pretty good today I decided to make this a fairly hard effort. I did wake up with a tight right calf and achilles, so I waited a few hours for that to loosen up and for the temperature to warm up. I was a little concerned about the calf since it has been on off and on issue for over two years, but I put on compression socks and that seemed to do the trick.

After an easy first mile I picked up the pace a little bit and cruised along very comfortably. The wind, as long as it wasn't in my face, wasn't too bad and since the sun was shining bright it actually felt pretty warm. When the wind was in my face it was pretty cold but luckily I didn't have too many miles directly into the wind.

Everything was going very smooth and consistent until I turned onto Hurricane Road, into the headwind and began a long climb that lasted for 4 miles. This is when I started to feel the hills from yesterday. My first uphill mile was dreadfully slow, granted it was the steepest, so I worked hard to keep the next three uphill miles at a more respectable pace. Luckily it wasn't all into the headwind. When I finally crested the hill I had about 2.5 miles to go and I really put the hammer down as I headed down hill. Mile 14 came in at 6:58 and mile 15 at 6:42. Of course this has a lot to do with running downhill with a tail wind, but I was pleased to be able to get in another good workout this weekend at a pretty quick pace.

time: 1:56:51
distance: 15.56 miles
pace: 7:31

weather: low 30's, sunny, very windy

gear: Saucony Kinvara 2, compression socks, socks, tights, 2x long sleeve shirts, gloves, mittens (off and on), hat, Fuel Belt

Saturday, February 25, 2012

6x Lunchbreak Hill

A few of us had 18 miles on the agenda for our Saturday morning run and I had a couple ideas for how to get there:

Option 1 - 1.5 mile warm-up, 10x Lunchbreak Hill, 1.5 mile cooldown
Option 2 - 9 mile loop, 6x Lunchbreak Hill

Option 1 seemed a little too ambitious and not a lot of fun, so Jeremy, Zak and I agreed on Option 2. We had done 4 repeats on Lunchbreak Hill a few weeks ago so 6 seemed like the obvious next step. The rest of the group, consisting of Jim, Jamie, Blaine, Mindy, Val, NJ Dave and Jordan, were all up for heading out on the Bradbury-Pineland Corridor on the loop I described. I had heard, courtesy of Xar, about a new bridge recently built over Thoits Brook between Bradbury and Tryon and I was anxious to check it out.

Photo of the new bridge by Val
With all the rain we received overnight I was expecting the trails to be a slushy mess, but it got just cold enough long enough for a few inches of snow to fall and there was a nice, tacky coating that actually left the trails in great shape. I ended up getting caught up with Jamie's pace which was pretty quick, always a risk when someone else is planning to run less than you are, but I felt good and was having fun so I just went with it.

By the time we reached the bottom of Lunchbreak Hill our group was reduced to Zak, Jeremy, Jamie and Blaine and we paused for a moment before heading up while Zak and I stashed our hydration packs. It felt great to lighten the load and we moved up the 3/4 mile hill pretty quick. Once at the summit of Bradbury Jamie and Blaine headed down to the parking lot to finish their run while Zak and Jeremy joined me for 5 more trips up and down the hill. When we got back down to the bottom of the hill Mindy and Val were waiting there for us to get some video footage of Trail Monsters in action, they planned to do two laps of the 9 mile loop and somehow managed to bring it up to a total of 20 miles.

For some reason the second time up was pretty slow for me, I guess just running conservative, but on the next time up I really pushed the pace. This coincided with a peak in the quality of the trail conditions, things were getting nicely packed and the footing was great. But then on the way back down it had warmed up just enough, and combined with all the foot traffic the trail conditions were quickly deteriorating into a very wet, slushy mess. The next three reps each got a bit slower, but I can't blame the conditions entirely, this is a big ass hill to be running up and down over and over again and I was feeling it. I felt good overall, but each time I headed back up it got a little bit harder.


1 - UP: 10:09, DOWN: 8:08
2 - UP: 10:32, DOWN: 7:56
3 - UP: 9:39, DOWN: 7:25
4 - UP: 10:14, DOWN: 7:32
5 - UP: 10:21, DOWN: 7:23
6 - UP: 10:34

I do plan to work up to 10 repeats of Lunchbreak Hill, but all in good time. I'm thinking 8x on March 17, and 10x on April 14. Got to keep these crazy hill workouts well spaced out.

Brought home a stick in my shoe, I had it stuck in there for the last 3 miles
time: 3:09:14
distance: 18.17 miles
pace: 10:25

conditions: 1-2" of fresh sticky snow turning to slush
weather: mid 30's, sunny, windy

gear: Inov-8 Oroc 280, sock liners, wool socks, short tights, long sleeve shirt, gloves, buff, Nathan HPL #020

Friday, February 24, 2012

Easy Week

I'm a big fan of rest and recovery and days off from running. Following last week's nearly 60 miles I wanted this week (at least the middle part) to be easy, and I ended up only getting in two runs for a total of almost 12 miles. I wound up taking an extra day off due to busy worky stuff, but it meant that I'm going into the weekend feeling well rested and ready for a couple good workouts.

Trails were super-icy this week which was a good way to ensure that the runs were kept to a slow, easy pace.

Tuesday -Pratt's Brook Park
time: 50:43
distance: 5.3 miles
pace: 9:35

Wednesday - Twin Brook
time: 1:02:21
distance: 6.58 miles
pace: 9:29

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Recovery Run

I really had to fight the temptation to base the mileage for today's run on getting a nice round number for my weekly mileage. Following yesterday's 50k I only needed 8.7 miles to get up to 60 for the week. That's not high mileage for a lot of ultra runners, but it is for me. Although I'm sure I probably could have gotten myself through the miles needed to reach that number it seemed pretty pointless and arbitrary, so I went with a convenient 7 mile road loop from home.

I was pleasantly surprised not to feel any significant ill effects from yesterday's tough conditions when I got up this morning. A little stiff all over, but nothing major. The most noticeable sore spot was my right glute, but a few minutes on a tennis ball took care of that. I was definitely moving a bit slow in the morning, so Emma and I took the dogs out for a nice long walk on some of our local trails which helped to loosen everything up. By the time the afternoon rolled around I had lost most of the motivation to run, and even though it was another beautiful day I found it hard to get myself out the door.

Once I was running, of course, I was glad to be out there. Even though I felt good I wanted to be sure to keep this run under control and easy, I really wanted it to be a recovery run and not another workout. I felt lucky that yesterday's run hadn't beat me up too much, but I did feel pretty well worked over.

The miles actually ticked over pretty quick, but I tried to focus on what felt like a comfortable pace rather than getting too caught up in what my mile splits were. Emma had warned me to take it easy when I left the house, she knows that I have a tendency to push the pace a bit too much on my recovery runs.

It's worth mentioning that this was my second run in my new Saucony Kinvaras, only my second road run in the past three weeks. Both times I've worn these shoes I have felt a pinch on the little toe of my right foot, which surprised me because the shoe looks really wide in the toe box. I hope this is something that goes away once the shoes are broken in. The toe wasn't an issue at all during yesterday's 50k, and I was wearing a relatively narrow shoe then (Inov-8 Oroc 280). Maybe this was the result of swollen feet.

time: 55:48
distance: 7.01 miles
pace: 7:58

weather: mid 30's sunny

gear: Saucony kinvara 2, wool socks, short tights, 2x long sleeve short, 2x gloves, hat

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mockingbird Lane Fat Ass 50k

Val and Linda really get it. They know how to put on an event that truly captures what Trail Monster Running is all about: good people, good food, and a course that kicks your ass.

Coming into this event I had dropped my mileage back for the two weeks leading up. I guess you'd call that a taper, but really I was just trying to make sure that my ankle, which I had rolled few weeks ago, was sufficiently well rested before tackling a 50k on what was sure to be challenging terrain. No one really knew what to expect for conditions given the minimal snow fall we'd had so far this winter, but we knew it was going to be some mix of ice, snow and bare ground. Luckily everything was feeling good by Fat Ass morning, but I had no intention of racing today, just a nice long run with fiends. I rode up to Lisbon with Jeremy and Zak who were both planning to run the full distance, and Emma followed a little later since she was only planning to run 3 or 4 laps of the 5+ mile course. When we arrived there were quite a few people there already, and a steady stream of cars rolled in over the next few minutes. By 8:30 we had 38 people gathered for the start and a big table filled with all kinds of good food and drinks to serve as our aid station between laps.

Photo of the course by Ryan Triffitt

We let Val take the lead for the first half of the first lap, even though the course was well marked it just seemed right to have her show us the way. I bounced around the group as I paused to get a few video shots along the way (not sure if I'll get around to editing it...), and eventually settled in with Jeremy, Zak, Jamie, Jim and Dave, while Blaine and Nate were out in front. Since it was still just below freezing the trail conditions were pretty crusty where there was snow cover, icy in some spots, and where there was bare ground it was rock-hard and lumpy. It was clear that despite the flat terrain this course was going to be hard work.

As we finished the first lap Emma was ready and waiting to join us, she was worried about being able to keep up but I assured her that she wouldn't have any trouble with our pace. Our first pass through the aid station was a pretty quick one since we were just getting warmed up and still feeling very fresh. I just grabbed one of the homemade bars I brought and we moved on. Since I was carrying my Nathan pack with about 2 liters of Nuun I didn't need to grab any drinks at the aid station.

Trail conditions were dramatically different on lap 2, not surprising after 30+ people had run the course and the temperature was starting to warm up. What had been crusty snow had turned into sugary snow, ice was getting weaker and wet spots were showing up. Despite the variation in conditions we actually maintained a very consistent pace over the next three laps, although our stops in between got progressively longer.

We ran, we talked, we laughed, we post-holed, slipped, fell, farted, joked, threw snowballs, threw a wiffle ball (I nailed Jamie between the shoulder blades with an amazing throw into a headwind), and high-fived our friends coming the other way. Of course, as the day went on there were fewer and fewer runners out on the course, and even our group started to get smaller due to blisters and smashed-up knees and plans to "only" run 15 or 20 miles.

By lap 3 there were significant wet areas on the course that couldn't be avoided so our feet were constantly getting re-wetted and chilled. Although some parts of the course were getting well packed, most of it just seemed to be getting churned up with the additional foot traffic. By lap 5 our group was reduced to Emma, Jeremy and myself. Very reminiscent of our 100 Mile Wilderness adventure last year. By now we were definitely starting to grow a bit weary, and the additional effort required to try and maintain our pace caused us to get fairly quiet at times, but it was still great to be running in each others company. We also caught up to Nate on this lap and had a little back forth with him for a few miles. Blaine was still somewhere out ahead, but far enough that we never saw him on any of the out and back sections.

Emma hadn't planned to run more than 20 miles today since the longest she's run n the past few months was 17 miles, and since it was on roads it didn't take her much more than 2 hours. Today was not surprisingly taking a lot longer due to the trail conditions, but she was feeling good and made a last minute decision to join Jeremy and I on our 6th and final lap which would bring her up to 25+ miles. I was glad to have her keeping us company and psyched that she was feeling good enough to keep going longer than expected, especially on a day when the conditions got the better of some people.

On this last lap Jerry fired up his helicopter and was giving rides those who had already finished which was fun for us to watch as we made our way around. The highlight of the day was getting an aerial escort as we ran the final 1/4 mile to the finish.

Photo by Jamie Anderson
Although I felt pretty good consistently throughout the run I crashed pretty hard as soon as I stopped moving, but luckily there was plenty of good food and drink to get my energy back up. I realized that even though I was eating between laps I probably needed more since I wasn't eating anything during the laps. My fueling strategy for the day was to avoid gels and manufactured energy products and stick to real food. For the most part I'd say this worked since I was able to run all 6 laps without a significant slow down, I just need to work on getting a little bit more in me, probably smaller amounts on a more frequent basis.

Lap 1 - 52:00 + 1:00
Lap 2 - 51:00 + 3:00
Lap 3 - 51:00 + 4:00
Lap 4 - 51:00 + 6:00
Lap 5 - 53:00 + 5:00
Lap 6 - 55:00

Big thanks to our hosts Valerie, Rick, Linda and Jerry for making this another incredible TMR event.

time: 5:32:01
distance: 30.45 miles
pace: 10:55 (including stops)

conditions: messy, snow, ice, dirt, nastiness

weather: mid 30's, mostly cloudy, windy (but not too windy for helicopter rides)

gear: Inov-8 Oroc 280, wool socks, shorts, long sleeve shirt, t-shirt, 2x gloves, hat, Nathan HPL #020

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lunch Time Hills

Zak and I made a tentative plan to get together for run at lunch time today, and with about 15 minutes notice I got the word from him that he was ready to go so I quickly got ready. Not having anything specific in mind he picked me up and we headed to Hardy road to get in a few miles on Blackstrap Hill. Totally by chance we timed it perfectly to meet Jeremy who was there getting ready for some hill repeats so Zak and I decided to tag along with his plan, which included running hard on the downhills and easy on the up.

We decided to start on the Three Bitches, a series of hills along a power line trail that includes 2 small hills and one really big one. I like running hills this way and conditions were pretty good for this type of workout. Most of the trail had a few inches of snow coverage, which was the consistency of sugar due to the relatively warm weather, and any ice spots had softened enough that we got pretty good grip with screw shoes. The soft snow helped absorb the impact of speeding downhill and provided enough of a buffer to remove some of the fear that comes along with it. The ups were run at a very easy pace and I was a bit surprised to find that I was breathing harder (i.e. working harder) on the downs than the ups, although that was the plan.

After two times across the Three Bitches we decided to run along the ridge and drop down through the tree farm. That was the last of our fast descents since by the time we reached the bottom of the hill we realized that Zak had very little time to get back to work. So we looped through the tree farm, back up to the ridge and back to our cars. It was great to do this kind of workout with others, Zak and I both agreed that neither of us would have run at that level of effort if we had been alone. Not surprisingly Jeremy went back out for a few more hills after Zak and I left.


time: 59:55
distance: 6.29 miles
pace: 9:32

weather: overcast, upper 30's

conditions: 90% snow coverage

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 315 with screws, wool socks, shorts, 2x long sleeve shirts, gloves, cap

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bradbury White Out Race Report

My preparation for the second race of the Bradbury Mountain Snowshoe Series began about a week and a half before the race, when Emma and I went to run the course. We made it all the way around the course without snowshoes, and even tacked on a few hill repeats on the Terrace Trail at the end, and it was clear that we would not be snowshoeing on these trails unless we got at least 6" of new snow before the race. I talked to Ryan about holding the race on the usual course as a trail race (without snowshoes) but given the amount of ice on the trails this wasn't looking like a very good option. All we could do was wait until we got a bit closer to race day and hope we would get a lot of new snow.

A week later, without any snow, Danielle went out to survey the race course and confirmed that there was no way we wanted to set foot on the mountain, so Ryan and I met on Friday morning to see if we could come up with a decent course on the east side trails of Bradbury. New England snowshoe racing has really suffered this season due to lack of snow, and we desperately hoped that the White Out would not be the next race casualty. I ran about 7 miles, Ryan hobbled for a couple and we found that the east side had pretty good snow coverage, enough that we could piece together a 4+ mile loop. With the weather forecast for Saturday calling for a few inches of fresh snow to fall we figured we'd be in great shape for race day.

sharpening my worn-down cleats for the ice
I returned to Bradbury on Saturday morning and with help from Jim, NJ Dave and Jordan we ran the race course and set out the arrow markers at each of the trail intersections along the way. The course was a bit convoluted, but we tried to piece together the trails that had the best snow coverage and avoid the worst of the ice and exposed rocks. While it wasn't possible to avoid ice and rocks altogether I figured we'd be OK with a fresh layer of snow. Once we finished on the race course Jim and I decided to run a lap of the mountain to see how bad conditions really were. It was bad. Extreme ice treacherosity. The warm weather we'd had all week had melted a lot of snow, which ran downhill and turned to ice overnight. This served to confirm that Ryan and I definitely made the right call to move the race course.

Despite what appeared to be snow falling from the sky for several hours on Saturday nothing stuck, and at the end of the day there was no new accumulation at my house. I was hopeful that at the high elevations of Bradbury Mountain it might be a different story, but when I arrived at The Brad on Sunday morning to finish the course marking it looked just the same as the previous morning. When I met up with Ryan there was a moment of "What are we going to do, we can't snowshoe this!" but as we made our way around the course trying to jab pin flags into the thin layer of crusty snow we realized that there was just enough snow to make it work. There was ice, and there were a few exposed rocks and roots, but all-in-all it wasn't a bad course, and at least the conditions would allow for some fast running.

So with all the uncertainly about the race - what would the course be and would we even be running on snowshoes - I had a hard time mentally preparing to run my own race, although admittedly I had it easier than anyone else since I was the only person participating in the race who had actually run the course. For some reason my head just didn't feel like it was in the right place to get me through a hard race effort today. I had been taking it easy all week trying to look after a sore ankle that I rolled two weeks ago, so at least I was relatively well rested going into the race. I usually bounce back from a rolled ankle pretty quickly, like somewhere between 2 minutes and a few hours, so the fact that this has been lingering for two weeks has me a little concerned. Two years ago I had to withdraw from a 100 miler because of relatively minor but chronic achilles pain that hampered my training. I certainly don't want to go down that road again.

Enough sandbagging... with the course marked Ryan and I went about setting up registration, the start/finish, brewing coffee and starting a fire and before we knew it runners were showing up. I almost forgot about my own running until just after 10:30 when Emma suggested it might be a good idea to get a warm-up in before the race. By the time we got our snowshoes on and a few layers stripped off we only had about 10 minutes but that seemed like just enough, it doesn't take much running around in snowshoes to get warmed up. This was also a good chance for us to talk a little bit about strategy and get focused before the race.

When Ryan shouted GO! I was amongst a pretty thick crowd of strong runners near the front of the pack and I immediately got one of my snowshoes stepped on and almost when down when that foot didn't respond to my attempt to move it forward. My reaction was to get away from the pack as quickly as possible to avoid further contact and within a few more paces I was in third place behind Judson and Jeremy, but of course it didn't take long for them to disappear out of sight. The trail remained wide for the first half mile so I expected someone to challenge my position, and although I could hear the clatter of many snowshoes on hard snow and ice behind me no one made a move. The next half mile was on tight single-track and I knew no one would want to pass on this but I could tell that there were several people right on my heels. As soon as we came out onto the wider Snowmobile Trail Eric cruised around me and powered up the gradual hill ahead. I was surprised he had stuck behind me for so long, I guess stuck is the appropriate word. I didn't even think about trying to hang with him, I knew it would be a futile attempt and a sure way to burn out.

Less than a half mile later we were back on single-track. I was grateful that no one else had passed me but knew that there was at least one person right behind. I didn't know who it was and I didn't dare look to find out, this was not the kind of terrain where you could afford to take your eyes of the trail. That pressure of knowing that there was someone right there was enough to keep me focused on racing. If this person wanted to get past then they were going to have to work for it, I certainly wasn't going to let them by without a fight. And fight I did. I had to work hard to stay in front of this person.

Luckily I was able to use my knowledge of the course to my advantage, or so I thought. When I knew there was a particularly technical section coming up or a few tight turns I'd slow down just a bit to catch my breath, and then step it back up with a little surge on the easier terrain. This wasn't really working so I tried the opposite approach of relaxing on the easy parts and surging on the technical. This didn't work as well as I had hoped either, it looked like I was just going to have to run my ass off for the rest of the race.

At the three mile mark I tried to plan out my strategy for the last mile of the race. There was a wide downhill straightaway coming up on the Old Tuttle Road, I figured this was my chaser's best chance to catch me since I couldn't rely on trees or any other natural obstacles for blocking. I had to put in a surge of speed here to fend him off, if he got ahead of me here then I would have a very hard time getting him back on the single-track that followed. When we made the sharp turn onto Lanzo I slowed down to try and catch my breath. I knew that even if he caught up to me he'd have a hard time getting past. When we reached the entrance to the Island Trail I knew there was about a half mile left. With the last 1/10th on the flat, straight double-track of the Link Trail I had to get some more distance between us on the remaining single-track. I put on another surge and finally, for the first time in the race opened a gap of more than a couple of seconds. When I turned on to the Link Trail I was redlining, the only thing that kept me moving was the fear of losing my place in these last few seconds of the race.

Photo by Maine Running Photos
I collapsed after crossing the line, gasping, drooling, legs burning. 10 seconds later Scott came in, I congratulated him and thanked him for the push. He made me race much harder than I thought I could on a day when I didn't think I had it in me.

From everything I heard most people seemed to like the course, we were definitely lucky to be able to come up with a course that had enough snow coverage to be snowshoe-able. I hope we get some more snow before the next race though.

time: 32:32
distance: 4.0 miles
pace: 8:08
splits: 8:14, 7:56, 9:03, 7:38
place: 4/45


weather: low 20's, breezy, sunny

conditions: mostly hard packed snow and ice, some loose snow

gear: Atlas Run snowshoes, Inov-8 Roclite 315, OR gaiters, sock liners, wool socks, tights, 2x long sleeve shirt, gloves, mittens, buff

Monday, February 6, 2012

Redemption Run

I was disappointed in myself for not sticking with my planned mileage yesterday so I decided to get out for a long run today. It's not like I had any really good reason for cutting my run short, just wasn't into it for some reason. As a general rule I don't like to push myself too far past the point of enjoyment when I'm running (50's and 100's not included), and I knew that if I kept going it wouldn't be any fun, so why bother? But it wasn't like I was dealing with any major aches or pains, just my head. Since a lot of my friends were running the Mid-Winter Classic today and I really wanted to watch the race I decided to combine a long run with a lap of the race course so I could cheer them on.

The route I came up with started and finished at South Portland High School and headed into Scarborough before turning into Cape Elizabeth and picking up the race course at about 5.5 miles. It worked out to be just over 20 miles which seemed reasonable, although it's been a few years since I've run that distance on roads, probably not since the spring of 2009. I wasn't sure how I would feel today so I didn't have a plan other than to run at a comfortable pace and try to remain fairly consistent.

My right ankle was a little bit stiff when I started out so the first mile was pretty slow, but once I warmed up everything felt good and I moved along a decent pace. I was wearing a box fresh pair of Saucony Kinvara's that arrived yesterday, my first time taking them out so I hoped they would work out for me. I've heard a lot of good things about these shoes from a few other Trail Monsters who wear them, and my last pair of road trainers were from 2009 and showing their age so it was about time for some new shoes. My route offered a few bail-out options if for some reason I felt the need to cut the run short, but luckily I didn't need those options.

So I hopped onto the race course and started running the opposite direction of the runners, I caught the leaders at about 4.5 miles and soon after started seeing the steady stream of runners that included many Trail Monsters and other friends. The excitement of seeing all the runners coming past kept me moving at a pretty good pace, right around 7:30's and fairly consistent. Once the bulk of the crowd passed I stopped to visit a few TM's working an aid station at 2.5 miles, then continued backwards around the course to see all the runners again before they finished.

A short-cut through the school parking lot allowed me to see the race winner coming down the final stretch and a little more than 10 minutes later I started to see some of my friends coming in. Seeing them in their final miles gave me another boost and I picked my pace up a little, but as the crowd of runners coming towards me thinned out my pace slipped a bit. Maybe I was pushing it just a little bit too hard for a long run, at around 14 miles I definitely felt a little tired. By 15 miles all the racers had passed and I was looking forward to wrapping this run up. I considered a short-cut that would have got me back to my car in about 3 miles, but I couldn't face a second failed long run attempt so kept to the long way back. I was definitely slowing down on the uphills but was able to maintain an OK pace on the flats and downs. While I was drinking plenty and eating what I thought was enough for this run I could feel things in my lower back, glutes and hamstrings tightening up over the last few miles. Maybe yesterday's miles were catching up with me.

It really was a beautiful winter day to be out running, relatively warm for a February morning, clear skies and only a slight breeze. The roads were dry and and there wasn't much traffic. I finished up with a little over 20 miles, and although I felt great about finishing this run my body definitely felt pretty tired. I forgot how much road running can beat you up if you're not used to it. Getting something to eat and taking the dogs out for a long walk on my local trails in the afternoon helped me to fend off some of that tightness that had initially started to set in. A good day and great to see so many people running well in the 10 miler.

time: 2:34:36
distance: 20.28 miles
pace: 7:37

weather: upper 20's, sunny, light breeze

gear: Saucony Kinvara (brand new), wool socks, tights, 2x long sleeve shirts, gloves, mittens, buff, Nathan HPL#020

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Good conditions, bad mojo

I'm pretty sure the weather forecast for today called for sun and maybe a few clouds, so I was surprised to find a heavy snow falling for the first hour of today's run. I certainly didn't mind the snow, it was about time this winter started acting like winter. Despite 2-3" of fresh powder over the trails conditions were actually some of the best we've seen all season.

I was uncertain about trail conditions going in to today's run at Bradbury so I didn't expect to run the Beautiful Loop, but I was hoping to get in about 22 miles by doing some repetition on the snowmobile trails close to the park. With a bunch of Trail Monsters racing tomorrow, and a few others having other trail adventures elsewhere there was a small group today, just Jersey Dave and Zak. Dave's plan was for only a few miles, and Zak was up for whatever so we set off on the snowmobile trails on the east side of Bradbury amidst quickly accumulating snow.

Zak and I were pleasantly surprised when we got to the power lines at 5 miles to find that all of last week's wet nastiness was frozen solid so we agreed to try to make it around the BL. The new snow was light enough that it didn't hinder our pace and we moved along at an average of around 9:30's for the first 7 miles. Despite the good conditions we didn't even consider the river crossing at 7.25 miles, instead following the bushwhack we did last week. From a distance the river looked frozen and snow-covered, but probably wasn't solid enough to support our weight. Once back on the power lines the terrain was a little rougher and a lot hillier and our pace slowed quite a bit. Neither of us were feeling very energetic today and the up hills felt like a lot more work than usual.

I was dreading Lunchbreak Hill at the end of the run, and even suggested an alternative route but Zak kept us on track and we charged up the hill. The view from the summit of Bradbury was really quite nice today, once the snow passed the sun came out and we could see clear out to Casco Bay. But we didn't linger too long, just headed down the Terrace Trail and finished the Beautiful Loop for the fourth consecutive week. I definitely wasn't feeling up for a 22 miler today, but was pleased to log our fastest time for the BL this season, even if it was mostly due to better conditions.

It's worth mentioning that my right ankle has been bugging me all week since rolling it at some point during last week's long run. Not a major problem, it doesn't seem to effect my running other than that I notice some minor pain on uneven terrain. Of course, I haven't actually given it a chance to rest so it's not surprising that it's still sore.

time: 2:32:04
distance: 15.35 miles
pace: 9:55

conditions: best so far this year, 2-3" of fresh powder over packed/icy base

weather: stow storm and sunny, low 30's

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295 with screws, sock liners, wool socks, OR gaiters, tights, 2x long sleeve shirts, gloves, mittens, buff, Nathan HPL #020