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.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Upcoming Mt. Aggie Run - June 27

The 2009 edition of the Western States Commemorative Run will be held at Mt Agamenticus in York, ME on Saturday, June 27th starting at 7:00 am.

Every year on the same weekend as the Western States 100 a group of guys in Southern Maine have been organizing a Western States Commemorative Run at Mt Agamenticus. This 6 hour, fat-ass style run also serves as a good opportunity for folks planning to run the Vermont 100 in July to get in a last long run on some very hilly terrain. The course is a 3 mile loop that people run as many times as they can, or want to, between 7 am and 1 pm.

Check out the report from last year HERE

2009 Western States Commemorative Agamenticus Mtn. Run
Saturday, June 27th, 2009
Start time – Suggested 7 AM or any time convenient (short 3 mile loop makes it easy to join other runners later in the morning)
Time Limit: 6 Hours
Distance - whatever suits you
Course – 3 mile loop, elevation 691 feet, 600 foot vertical rise. Unmarked.
Course description:
Mountain trail map:
    • Start at bottom of summit road on Mountain Road at beginning at tandem yellow center lines. Pavement ends in about 1/10 mile.
    • Follow the gravel road which drops to lowest point of course, 90 feet. Mile marker 1 is at dead and rotting but still standing 30 foot tree on right edge of road within sight of low point of course and the parking area where the course leaves the road for the mountain.
    • At 1.1 miles turn right at parking area on proceed down narrow road to base of mountain.
    • At 1.3 miles turn right and pass foundation remains of old chair lift
    • Proceed up Moose Trail which later becomes Vulture’s View Trail for the 691 foot summit. This trail is steep in a number of places. It is Craig’s favorite approach up the mountain since it is the most direct and the steepest. Relative to Mt Washington Road Race which has an average grade of 11.5%, the average grade from this point to the summit is 15.8%.
    • At 1.66 miles the course crosses the Ring Trail
    • At 1.86 miles as the course nears the summit it passes on the left a concrete foundation of the old chair lift which has information display boards mounted on it.
    • Aim for the entrance stairs of the lodge to stay o n the measured course.
    • The entrance stairs are at mile 1.93.
    • Continue straight towards parking lot and turn right, passing through parking lot, heading towards paved summit road.
    • Summit road is mile marker 2.
    • Cross road and head right (left side of old stable building) toward Horse trail visible by post with notice board.
    • Horse trail heads into the woods and has several switch backs before intersecting the Ring Trail
    • At 2.28 miles turn left on Ring Trail
    • Keep straight traversing the mountain on Ring Trail…avoid multiple trails and lookouts on the right.
    • At 2.82 cross summit road and continue straight back into the woods on Ring Trail.
    • Take right at next trail intersection and proceed about 1/10th mile to parking lot/aid station
    • Note loop on log sheet, enjoy aid, repeat loop.
    • Crossing starting point completes 3 mile loop
    • We’ll have water and Gatorade. Also, there is water at the top of the mountain on the east side of the lodge. Feel free to contribute fluids and food it you like.
    • Weather and skies permitting views of Mt. Washington, White Mountains, Atlantic Ocean and the 3 states.
    • The company, friendship, wisdom of the Mt. Aggie Team, other invited participants, and special guests
    • Post race barbeque at the Collins’ home at 6 Old Mountain Rd in Cape Neddick. There will be burgers, dogs, and beverages. You might want to bring a lawn chair and a dish or goodies to share.

Hell Repeats

As Mindy and Jeff are preparing for the Mt Washington Road Race in a few weeks, and now that Pineland is over, they decided a good hill workout was in order. Since Jim and I are now training for the Escarpment Trail Race, James for Hardrock, and Don... not sure what Don's plan is other than maintaining his status as fast and strong, but anyway, we all met at the Blackstrap Hill Preserve in Falmouth for hill repeats. The mile long hill Jeff planned for us to run on was part of the Blackstrap Hell Trail Challenge last fall so the workout quickly became tagged Hell Repeats.

I had the idea of doing a ladder workout so on our way down to the bottom the first time we defined spots that roughly broke the hill up into thirds. The plan was to run 1/3 of the hill up, back down, 2/3 up, down, all the way up, down, 2/3 up, down, 1/3 up, down, 2/3 up, down and finish with a full ascent back up to the top. Apart from a wrong turn on one of the descents I managed to stick to the plan. Everyone else pretty much went at their own pace which meant even though we weren't all running together we saw a lot of each other going back and forth.

Hopefully we'll make these hill workouts, or some variation, a regular feature. It was fun in that painfully rewarding kind of way. This hill isn't too steep, but it's long and has some technical sections which make it great training both up and down.

time: 1:23:47
distance: 9.04 miles
pace: 9:16

weather: high 60's, clear sky

conditions: mix of wet, muddy, dry, rocky, grassy. Always hilly

gear: Inov-8 Mudroc 280, Wright Socks, shorts, t-shirt, hat

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lost on the Stone Cat course

Erik and I headed down to Ipswich, MA this morning to return 4 empty kegs of Ipswich Ale that was served at the PFTC last weekend and to go for a run on the Stone Cat course. Both of us have run both the 50 miler and marathon versions of the Stone Cat trail races so we expected to be able to find our way around the course without too much trouble. It turns out that things look very different this time of year (race is held in November) and when there aren't any course markings it gets a little more difficult to follow the course.

Luckily we didn't have to go through the swamp.

We made it to the location of Al Cat's Lounge around mile 4 of the course without any trouble, we hit the single-track that immediately follows but shortly thereafter we went wrong. After about 1.5 miles of wrongness we got back on course and made it to the location of Fast Fred's Cafe around mile 8.

We screwed up again and went way, way off course. The trails were still great for running but we knew we were off course and after a little back and forth and running in circles we decided just to head back in the general direction of the start/finish.

Eventually the trail started to look familiar and we knew we were back on course. We ran the last 2 miles correctly and ended up with a run that was just a little bit longer than the 12.5 miles of the real course.

We almost trampled a couple of big frogs on the trail but luckily didn't scare them off and I was able to get this picture. They were amazingly camouflaged so I tweaked the photo.

Coming down the final stretch to the finish.

Below is the route we ran (red) overlaid on the actual race course (cyan) from when I did the marathon last year. We really screwed it up, but it was a fun run all the same.

time: 2:15:06
distance: 12.7 miles
pace: 10:38

weather: high 60's to low 70's, clear sky

conditions: generally dry with only a few puddles, trails in great shape

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295, Wright Socks, shorts, t-shirt, hat, Nathan HPL #20

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Post Pineland - Back to Running

In the two weeks leading up to Pineland I think I ran less than 30 miles. Just no time/energy to get out and run. I had hoped to run the whole course a few days before the race but only managed the first 10 miles and ended up covering the rest of the course on a 4-wheeler.

I'd love to write an RD's report of the race, and maybe I will at some point, but there's so much to say I don't know if I can filter it down to something concise. Generally speaking I am extremely happy with how the race went and I think it was our best year yet. This is in large part due to all the volunteers who helped make it happen, particularly those at the aid stations. I heard a lot of positive feedback from runners and that's makes it all worth while. I was also very impressed with all the fine performances by Trail Monsters with many PR's and several people running their longest race to date. We also took home the team prizes for both the 25k and 50k races. And of course I'm wicked psyched for Emma who improved by more than half an hour over last year's time to finish the 50 miler in 7:52 which was good enough for 2nd place female and 11th overall.

Now that the race is over I get to focus on my own running goals, but first I need to figure out what they are. A lot of people at Pineland were asking me what my next race is and I didn't know what to say, I don't have anything big coming up any time soon. My long term goal is the Iroquois 100 is September, so I guess it's time to start training for that. Before Iroquois I've got Escarpement at the end of July so gnarly terrain and lots of big hills are going to be in the plan.

There was a small group at Twin Brook on Tuesday night, I assumed most people were home recovering from Pineland. James and Jeff showed up to run, Emma and Jim to walk and I understand that Erik and Yana came a little bit late but we never crossed paths with them. James was running like he had not just PR'd at 50 miles two days before and was teasing us by hitting all the sprint lines. Jeff was working to keep up (and doing a pretty good job) and I, supposedly the freshest one there, just maintained a steady pace at the back. I guess I still wasn't caught up on my rest and just wasn't feeling like running hard.

time: 47:20
distance: 5.49 miles
pace: 8:38

On Wednesday I was struggling to stay awake at work and worried that I wouldn't have any energy for a run afterwards. I left the office at 5:45 and had just enough time to get down to Back Cove and register for the weekly 5k series. It was in the upper 40's and raining and after a half mile warm-up I wasn't feeling particulary fast. I wasn't wearing my Garmin and I didn't bother to take any of my splits along the way, in fact I didn't look at my wach at all until I crossed the finish line. I just ran a pace that felt like I could just barely hang onto for about 20 minutes and hoped that it would get me in close to there. It turned out to be better than 20 minutes which really caught me by surprise. Since I don't really do much speedwork, although I have been trying to work it in a little more recently, it usually takes me a while to get used to running 5k's. Maybe this is an indication that the Twin Brook sprint lines are starting to pay off since this is the fastest time I've ever logged around the Back Cove 5k course.

time: 19:35
distance: 3.1 miles
pace: 6:19

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bradbury Repeat

On Saturday I had to miss the scheduled Pineland run due to a family emergency. This past week there have been a number of things going on that took priority over running so going into Sunday I had a weekly total mileage of 6. Between work, getting things organized for Pineland next weekend, something else and a few other things there was no time to run.

Sunday morning I had a window of opportunity and Jim let me know about his plans to run at Bradbury to do the same route that we had run the previous weekend. Joining Jim this morning was Catherine, whom I had only met once before when she passed me during the first Bradbury Bruiser in 2007.

It had been raining a lot over night and fairly steadily on the drive over to Bradbury but the rain let up just as we set off onthe trails. The ground was wet and the trails were puddly but not too bad and it was fun jumping and dodging the water holes as we went along. Or in some cases running right through them.

The funny thing I noticed about not running for most of the week is that I started the run with tight hamstrings that never really let up during the run. It wasn't really a problem and we were able to move along at a reasonable pace. It just seems weird that during my week of lowest mileage, like ever, I would start feeling tightness. I guess I need to run more to keep things loose.

Presumably due to the heavy cloud cover my Garmin ended up giving me a total distance for this run more than 1/4 mile shorter than last week even though it was the exact same route. On single track trails there really isn't much room for varrying the route so I'm going with last weeks distance which results in a faster pace.

time: 1:37:50
distance: 10.21
pace: 9:34

weather: cool and rainy

conditions: wet and muddy trails

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295, Inov-8 debrisock, shorts, t-shirt, hat, Nathan Handheld bottle

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Back to Bradbury

Following our Saturday run at Pineland Emma and I met Jim and Shauna on Sunday morning at Bradbury Mountain State Park for a run. I hadn't run at Bradbury since the I've Been Married For 10 Years And My Wife Still Doesn't Have A Fat Ass 50K at the end of March so it was nice to get back. I had really been missing the singletrack trails.

We all agreed on 10 miles and decided to start by running the 6 mile Bradbury Scuffle course on the east side trails and then do a lap of the Fat Ass course on the mountain.

The pace was very relaxed and it felt great to go for an easy run through the woods with all the bright spring foliage surrounding us. I already can't wait for the Bradbury Mountain Trail Running Series.

time: 1:46:47
distance: 10.21 miles
pace: 10:28

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pineland Race Course Check

For various reasons I'm finding that I don't have a lot of time for running these days and even less time to write about it. A lot of my time outside of work is spent getting ready for the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge on the 24th.

Last Saturday I decided to do a complete run of the race course to make sure there weren't any surprises lurking out there in the fields. I've been running most of the trails at Pineland over the past few weeks but skipping out the fields. Since the grass is starting to get tall I needed to get out there before it got too hard to run through.

We started out with a big group from the YMCA and went out just as the race goes. When we got to the Yurt and the first major field section a few folks decided to stick to the trails but most came along exactly as the race course goes. Since the fields tend to be most peoples least favorite part of the race I think it's good to remind yourself exactly what to expect out there, but I guess some want as little field running as possible. I have to say that I really don't think it's bad. The crew at Pineland did a great job mowing last year and even picked up all the grass cuttings with a bailer on the back of their tractor.

I was glad to find the whole race course in great condition. The fields were pretty wet, but that was to be expected with the recent rain we'd had. No big problem. Most of the trails are totally dry. The Valley Farm loop, 4.5 to 6.5 miles into the 25k loop, is more rugged and muddy than in previous years and will probably stay that way until the race.

I wish I was running the race!!

time: 2:19:30
distance: 15.5 miles
pace: 8:59

weather: mid 60's, sunny

conditions: mix of dry trails, some muddy spots, wet fields

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295, wool socks, shorts, t-shirt (first 10), hat, Nathan handheld bottle

Friday, May 8, 2009

TB Sprint Lines

This week at TB we had a newbie show up which of course meant we had to take him through the initiation river crossing. I won't give away too many details for the risk of deterring any other potential newcomers, but I was pleased that we didn't hear any complaints so that means he passed the test.

The first 2.25 miles were at a pretty casual pace but then the real workout began.

A few people have really taken to the idea of "Sprint Lines" on our Tuesday night runs (TNR), although we're still in the process of figuring out how many there should be and where they start and finish. The problem with some people is that they don't really slow down between sprints and the whole second half of the run becomes hard work. At least this past week wasn't as bad as the previous. And by bad I mean fast.

Each of this week's sprint lines was about a quarter mile, definitely shorter for the first one, but that was uphill so it felt the worst.

I'm not sure how much I really trust my Garmin to give me accurate pace data for any specific point during a run. I believe that our typical pace for this weeks run was in the 9 minute/mile range, but after uploading the data to SportTracks I'm able to look at my pace for any moment in time during the run. Apparently I got down to about a 5:15 pace during the sprints, but that wasn't sustained for very long, certainly not for the entire 1/4 mile sprint. Whatever it was it was enough to bring the average pace down to 8:34 for the whole run. Not terribly fast but pretty good for the soft trails at TB.

time: 47:40
distance: 5.57 miles
pace: 8:34

Monday, May 4, 2009

Seven Sisters Substitute - Camden Hills

Following last week's disaster at Muddy Moose as we sat around commiserating with burgers and beer I suggested that perhaps a long road trip to do the 7 Sisters Trail Race might not be as much fun as we originally thought. There was no reason to expect the weather in Amherst, MA to be as hot as it was on the day of the race in Wolfeboro but the thought of racing again so soon didn't appeal to anyone. Instead we concocted a plan to get our asses kicked much closer to home and a trip to Camden Hills State Park was planned.

Jim, Floyd, Jamie, Ryan, Jeff and Stephen joined me for what was intended to be a 20 mile mountainous loop, and Shauna, Cacky, Kelly and Danielle doing their own thing hiking and running within the park.

We met at the base of Mt. Battie and the "run" started with a 550 ft climb in the first half mile. I think I drank as much water from my hydration pack during that first climb as Floyd took with him for the entire run. The first 4.5 miles took us over an hour and it was becoming clear that it was going to be a very long day if we were going to complete the entire 20 mile route I had planned. I hadn't accounted for the fact that the downhills are so steep and technical that it's impossible to increase the pace enough to make up for the slow uphills, therefore everything was slow going.

Well, not everything was slow. One of the few trails I'd never been on before was the Sky Blue Trail which I worked into the route per Ryan's recommendation. Luckily we took this trail going down and it was one of the few stretches that was entirely runnable and so much fun.

We reached the summit of Bald Rock Mountain after 2 hours and about 8 miles. I needed to get back to where we started in another 2 hours and there was no way I was going to cover the remaining 12 miles in that time so I decided to head back here. Jeff, Floyd, Jamie and Stephen joined me, Ryan and Jim decided to press on with the original plan.

The weather was great for running, cool air with a slight ocean breeze, overcast sky but with plenty of brightness. By 10 miles we had reached the top of Cameron Mountain, 5 miles to go and an hour and a half to do it in. Shouldn't be too difficult but there was a big climb up the backside of Mt Megunticook, and then up and over Mt Battie again. The ups were starting to get tiring and the downs frustrating. The terrain was so technical that in places we were slowed to a walk even while going downhill.

Even though we didn't run it like a race the overall workout was comparable to a 7 Sisters effort, slower pace but longer distance over similar terrain. I sometimes forget what a great place Camden Hills State Park is to run, I wish it was a little closer to home for me. I also wish Emma could have joined us today but she was working. We'll have to go back again this summer, it will be a great place to train for the Escarpment Trail Run.

I kept my watch running the entire time even while we were stopped at the summits, so the moving time is a bit less and the actual average pace a little faster.

time: 3:50:38
distance: 15.3 miles
pace: 15:04

weather: 50s-60s, overcast

conditions: mostly dry trails, very technical

gear: Inov-8 Roclite 295, wool socks, shorts, singlet, Nathan HPL #20