Friday, December 25, 2009

Running again?

Yesterday was 8 weeks since stopping running and I'm tired of being a couch potato and I'm not getting much skiing mileage in so I've decided to start running again. It's amazing how a 3.5 mile run around back cove can result in an achy body! Too. Damn. Old!

Today my son Will and nephew Ben and I did a burn-off-the-beef 5K. Not a race, just a 5K run at easy pace. It took some convincing to get the boys to go with me and nothing could get Tom off his butt. Why do people think a holiday should be a vacation from running? Holidays make the best running days!

Anyway, my plan is to sloooooooowly ramp up the mileage so that I'm in shape for Pineland this year, unlike last year. Then actually marathon train. Not sure I will actually run a fall marathon but I'm going to train as if I will. I'm going to avoid the fast interval stuff and stick to tempos, MP, and progression runs. I'll probably chicken out on the 'thon though. I'm not going to run one until I really feel ready.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

skate skiing is evil

7 weeks ago I stopped running. In that time I've done (in reverse chrono order)
6 weeks ago I ran 7 miles with the TMs on the River Trail and roller skied (skate) three out of 5 days
4 weeks ago I walked about 3 miles flagging a trail and I roller skied again once (skate)
3 weeks ago I walked about 3 miles cutting a trail
2 weeks ago I walked about 5 miles marking Blackstrap Hell and about 7 miles over two days picking up Blackstrap Hell
This past week I ran/walked three different times, between 2 and 4 miles.

That's not much activity for 7 weeks. The skate roller skiing aggravated my butt so I stopped. One of the days that I picked up Blackstrap Hell aggravated my butt. But the run/walking this past week was fine. I really felt like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Then I skate skied 9 miles yesterday at Pineland. It was great to get out. But within 1-2 hours of finishing, my piriformis was on fire. And it's been on fire all day today. Skating seems to be the absolute worst activity for this injury. This really sucks.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Now I've done it. I've decided to make it official and co-coach the Falmouth High School Nordic team with James. "Kids, do as I say, not as I do"! Should be fun. Great bunch of kids.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Blackstrap Hell - The Way Running Should Be

click on image to enlarge
Reports: Ryan, Jamie, Ian, Danielle

About the race
Winner: Shaun Durfee (prize)
Fastest Male: Peter Keeney (prize)
Fastest Female: Shauna Baxter (prize)
Best Guess: Ryan Triffit (6 sec difference) (prize)
Most Injured: Susannah Beck (prize to be given next week)
Most Lost: Katy Hazzard (took home the most injured prize)
Most Found: Bob Poirier (no sight of him at start, but he finished!)

Results also at Cool Running.

Finish Order - This is the order of finish. The higher up you are, the better you ran relative to how you ran at Bradbury (or some other race). "Start" is the number of minutes after the first runner that you started. "Finish" is your finish time; the clock started with the first runner. "Net" is your actual race time. "Diff" is the difference between your predicted time and your actual time. Negative is good! Click Image to enlarge.
By time. Results in order of Net time.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Join your local land trust!

Many of the trails that we run are brought to you by non-profit organizations that can use your help. Become a member. Volunteer for trail days. Or join their boards and help protect and build for the future!

Portland Trails
Falmouth Land Trust
Chebeague and Cumberland Land Trust
South Portland Land Trust
Cape Elizabeth Land Trust
Scarborough Land Trust
Windham Land Trust
Friends of Bradbury Mountain
Freeport Land Trust
Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust

Did I miss yours?

Blackstrap Hell - Race Home Page

What is it? Blackstrap Hell is a reverse pursuit race. Racers are seeded by predicted time (based on results at Bradbury races, previous hells, Pineland races, and road races if trail race times aren't available). Runners start in reverse order, slowest first, with the goal that all runners will finish at the same time! To win, you've got to have a good race, relative to your expected race.

Why? Because it's there

When is it? Sunday, November 29 at 10AM, snow or shine.

Where is it? Blackstrap Community Forest, Hurricane Road trailhead

How do I find the start after I park? By following this map

What does it cost? A little skin, a little ego, and lots of ATP

What if I feel guilty not paying? Then protect and build more trail by joining your local land trust

Is there a course description? Read about it, or watch it here, or here.

What are the award categories? 1) first across the finish line, 2) fastest man, 3) fastest woman, 4) closest guess

Are there aid stations? There are no aid stations in Hell.

Are there t-shirts? No, this is a free race.

What charity do the proceeds go to? None, see above.

How to do it
? RSVP at the Facebook event page or send an e-mail to walker at maine dot edu

Are there results from previous years? Of course

If I don't read your blog, then how do I keep up with local trail running? Follow the Trail Monster Running blog or facebook.

How to get to the start line!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Done, done, and done

Blackstrap Hell II - course description

The Blackstrap Hell II course is not flat. It runs up and down Blackstrap Hill 4X. Unfortunately, there is another 100 feet of the hill that we cannot use without running the race along Blacktrap road. The course is a climbers advantage. All the uphills (except the climb up the pinnacle) are wide open snomo trail. The downhills tend to be singletrack or less fast logging road.

The amount of mud on the course will depend on how wet that fall has been. The snomo trails have ATV ruts that can hold knee deep water. There are several creek crossings but the one that sent most runners in BHI to a spectacular faceplant has been bridged. One creek crossing is more of a drainage ditch. In addition to mud, there will be wet leaves, wet roots, loose wet rock, open ledge wet rock, and wet clay.

The tear drops on the map above are mile markers. On the dynamic google map, these markers can be clicked to get which mile it is. You can follow the direction of the race using these markers.

Mile 1 is flat for the first 3/4. The section (blazed orange) runs along the west branch of the Piscataqua River. The two creek crossings that were flooded during Hell I are now bridged. About 3/4 mile in, the orange trail climbs a short, very steep, very slippery hill. Hands will likely be required. At the top of this hill, the course turns right onto snomo trail and takes a long steady climb up.

A few hundred yards in to Mile 2, the course exits the woods and turns left onto a powerline trail and climbs a very steep pinnacle of ledge. Only about 5 feet of this requires hands. Above the pinnacle, the course turns left back into the woods and continues on snomo trail, crossing a couple of pretty creeks. The first part of mile 2 is steeply uphill, the second part very gradually drops part way then climbs back up blackstrap hill.

Shortly in to Mile 3, the course turns left onto singletrack. The trail will be very difficult to see but the blue blazes on the tree will keep you on course. This section of singletrack is very flat but slow. About 1/2 way into this segment, the course turns right onto the waterfall trail. The course, marked with a purple blaze, follows a little creek straight downhill. After a few hundred yards, the trail ends but the course continues straight downhil following a line or orange flags. The course crosses the creek at the bottom and turns left onto a gas pipeline trail. The segment is a roller coaster pair of low but steep and slippery hills. At the top of the last hill, the course turns left back into the woods onto snomo trail. Mile 3 is largely down the entire hill but you cannot really take advantage of this because of the narrow (or lack of) trail.

Mile 4 continues the snomo trail in the woods with a short downhill before crossing a creek and beginning the climb part way up Blackstrap Hill. The course u-turns onto an old logging road and returns back down hill.

In Mile 5 the loggin road re-joins the snomo trail and continues the down hill all the way to the river level. The last section of downhill to the river is very steep, slippery clay. The course follows the river for a hundred yards and then turns left for a long, gradual climb back uphill. This is likely the hardest climb because you'll be tired. And it's long. At the top of the climb, the course turns right and re-enters the powerline trail for a long, mostly downhill to the finish.

In Blackstrap Hell I, Mile 6 was a long, open-it-up downhill on the powerline with expansive views of the runners in front of you. I left this finish from 08 on the map but only a short section owill be used in BHII. In BHII, the course will exit the powerline trail to the left and enter the new singletrack in the Blackstrap Community Forest. This is about 1 mile of singletrack that snakes through ledge, crosses creeks, and winds along steep ravines. It is a net down hill but it does drop and climb a little.

Last 1/2 Mile. A little past the Mile 6, the singletrack turns right onto a logging road, which will provide a very fast finish, if you have anything left in the tank.

Monster Miles: about 6.5

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Falmouth's Newest Trail

Portland NEMBA has assisted the layout and cutting of a new trail in the Blackstrap Hill Community Forest off of Hurricane Road. The current trail is only 0.7 mi long, but the first section of this cuts through ledge and took a bit of rock hauling and bench cutting. The trail is accessed via the powerline and immediately moves along the ledge, then crosses a beautiful little creek. The trail then swings down low before rising again to cut through more ledge. A tight series of switchbacks carries the trail back down the hill. The trail then follows a shallow ravine moving through patches of deciduous and hemlock, before crossing the ravine using an old skidder trail. The trail then turns back uphill, snakes through a striped maple patch ad makes a sharp U-turn to flow back downhill on the edge of a deeper ravine. The trail ends at another skidder trail crossing. The goal is to cross this ravine then meander back uphill before intersecting with an old logging road that will return the hiker/runner/biker/snowshoer back to the trailhead. The last section will be completed this weekend or next. Then next summer there is another section of the forest that we will add a loop of trail. Hooking up the two loops will be difficult as there is a very, very deep ravine between the sections of forest.

For those running Blackstrap Hell II, the race will end using this new trail.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


This morning I roller-skied the 10th mountain division trail with James and Jesse (who have switched coaching positions for FHS Nordic). It's been two weeks since wrecking my elbow so I continued to no pole. About 2 miles in, I was working hard to catch up with Jesse James and trying to emulate Jesse's strong lateral push and I lost balance. Worse then falling, a rivet that attaches the plastic gizmo that stiffens the boot at the ankle gave out. I had been really ratcheting down this gizmo because my boots are a wee big and stiff ankles are key for roller skiing. Obviously too much stress on the rivet and it popped. I turned around and skied back, slowly, but at a higher stride rate because I couldn't do long balances on the ski with the broken boot. Now I can really appreciate what a stiff boot does. I skied a bit past the trailhead and got about 5 miles in. Remarkably, I did not Garmin this ski as I forgot to bring my watch. I didn't even think about it until I got to the trailhead. I have been on vacation too long!

How long? It's been 4 weeks since I've run. Well except for the 8 miler along the river 3 weeks ago. It had been 10 days since roller skiing. Didn't matter - the rolling today aggravated my butt. I'm sure it will recover quickly enough but it's another reminder of how long these soft tissue injuries take to heal.

The 10th division trail is really quite nice. The ultimate goal is to get to Fryeburg. And part of it has now become part of the Sebago to Sea trail. It was a spectacular morning (50+ degrees) and I passed 1 women walking a dog, 1 runner, and 1 biker. Wow where was everyone?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rolling to Twin Brook

I roller-skied again today from the FHS on Woodville road to Tuttle Rd, immediately accross from Twin Brook. This was made possible by two connections. The first connection is a little paved path between two neighborhood streets, one off of Woodville Rd., the other off of Rt. 9. These roads are less than 75 yards through the woods but about 4 miles by road. The second connection is a little dirt road, less than 100 yards long, from Rt. 9 to Harris Rd. in Cumberland. Remarkably, with these connections, it's almost a straigh shot from FHS to Twin Brook! I did have to walk the dirt road - no my aeros didn't roll very well on it. And the dirt road was posted, probably to keep cars from cutting through. So I don't know how much I'll use this route in the future but it was fun to explore nonetheless.

The roller skiing is definitely a good lower body workout because I'm not using poles (because of my roller-ski-elbow). And I didn't fall today! Total Distance: 8.12 miles, Total time: 1:08:05 (including time to de-ski and walk).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Skiing (sort of)

After years of unsatiated desire, I've finally purchased a pair of roller skis - used V2 aero 125s from Peak Performance Multisport (may they RIP) rental fleet. I love them. The V2 aero skis have pneumatic tires, which makes the ride much smoother, especially on the cracked, bumpy roads that we have here in coastal Maine. Indeed, these skis are supposedly usable on packed dirt trails/roads.

I bought them Friday morning, just after PPM opened, but then had meetings all day so didn't try them. On Saturday, I took them out for a test run along Brook/Hillside roads from my house. My skis have no speed reducers, little devices that are used to maintain a safe (slow!) speed down hilll (speed reducers are on the skis in the image above), and no brakes (used to stop) so I was a bit nervous about any terrain other than the smallest hills. Brook and Hillside roads were perfect. But not my skiing! Actually, the skis felt quite stable but I'd occasionally overshift my weight and do a Bode Miller before regaining my balance. I fell twice.

Poling was very weird. It was ok during V2 alternate but in V2, my poles bounced along the ground (instead of digging in) which would send a wave a vibration up my limbs. I completely wrecked my right elbow, and now have a painful case of roller ski elbow, which feels alot like tennis elbow. Total time and distance - 6.3 miles, 52:40.

Today I skied Woodville road, and Woods road, and The Woodlands. It was wonderful. I carried my poles but did no poling because my elbow is still wrecked. I was way overdressed in my patagonia loosies and Sporthill top. It was 60F; I should have had shorts and SS tee. I fell once and did fewer Bodies than on Saturday. Definitely an exhausting workout - an hour of no pole skiing with (relatively) heavy roller skis. Total time and distance: 8.06 miles, 1:02:19.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I've taken a forced break from running since the Great Pumpkin 8 days ago. I did fall off the wagon on Saturday and run the River Run, but only because it was followed by blueberry pancakes and bacon at Bernies. I've been unusually relaxed about this, as I'm typically a bitter whinebot if I'm not training. More remarkably, I really haven't replaced running with anything, because I really do want to rest my glutes/hamstrings.

I managed to get H1N1 (the CDC states that the only flu going around now is this) on Sunday. It came on very quickly; at 12:25 I was relaxing after a gorgeous walk along the river with Cacky and neighbor John & Sarah and was catching up on the NYC marathon results and getting ready to go mountain biking (trail exploration not exercise). At 12:30 I started to feel chilled and a little achy. By 12:40, I felt like my face was on fire. I cancelled mountain biking. I had a raging headache and was feeling flu-ish (chills, body aches, feverish), so around 2PM, I went to bed but mostly played around on the computer because I wasn't tired. I had a 102.3F fever. By 5PM I was feeling much better and by 7PM I felt close to 100%. I was expecting to go to class today but Cacky convinced me that this wasn't the appropriate action in the middle of an H1N1 pandemic. So I stayed home today, which is only the 2nd time in my life that I have missed class (either as a student or teacher) because of illness).

I'm not sure when I'm going to start training again or what activity that will be. I have a nice Concept II erg but that would be huge stress on my glutes/hamstrings. I don't see biking as a real alternative in November/December. So I'm hoping to pick up a pair of roller skis. Which means I may not run again until April. Or maybe I'll run a couple of days/week after I'm confident the ass is better, so that I'm more fit for Pineland in May.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I got Altenburged...

at the Great Pumpkin 10K this morning. I also got Panaccioned, Bottomleyed, Dugased, Ryaned, Wued, Goetteled, Deckered, Weatherbied, and Gooded. But I Walkered 240 runners.

This morning was a race directors dream. Ok maybe this is. Regardless, the weather was absolutely perfect for a race. Bluebird skies, peak fall colors, indian summer temps, good breeze. Nevertheless, I almost didn't run it. Last night at 11PM, I was contemplating driving to North Conway for the White Mountain Milers half-marathon. I really wanted to, but then I realized that I've done exactly zero road runs > 8 miles in length this year and my handful of trail runs longer than this have been at easy paces. So a half-marathon wouldn't have been pretty. I really wanted to do the Franklin Park 5K at the Mayor's cup, but I had to be in Gorham at 12:30 for a USM open house for HS students. So I stuck to my plan and did the Great Pumpkin 10K.

The Great Pumpkin course is flat. Very flat. But it's very open and there always seems to be a good breeze. I don't really race road races. I time-trail them with the Garmin 305 as my rabbit. McMillan gives me my expected time and pace and I take of like a very steady robot. It's not pure but it gets the job done.

Over the first 3.5 miles, I steadily passed a few runners, more from them slowing down then me increasing my speed. I felt great and in control. Somewhere after the 4th mile was where I got my side stitch last time I ran this course (2006) so I really focussed on my breathing at this point. Near the end of the 4th mile I could feel a very slight stitch but I kept it under control. I picked up my pace after mile 5 and passed my last runner. At 5.2 miles, I looked at my watch and saw that I had exactly 6 minutes to break 38 flat. This assumes that there really was 1 mile left and not 1.0xxx miles. I was running as fast as I could and paying a steep price in oxygen debt. Turns out I had 1.03 miles to go, which at a 6:00 pace should take 6:11. My time crossing the finish line was 38:10 or maybe 38:11 but my official time was 38:12.

I'll take it - 38:12 is a 51 sec PR. 11th overall, 7th age-group (wtf?). And for the 1st time in my life, in a Portland-area race, I was the first masters runner not running in a Dirigo singlet! So I guess I got Dirigoed.

And my glutes-hamstrings have staged a coup.

5:50 (for .23 mi)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ready for Rest, Ready to Race

I have tended to focus more on trail reports, the occasional race report, and weird training minutiae over the last couple of months rather than day-to-day training summaries. But I am happy to report that I've done my last (ok maybe 2nd to last) threshold run of the season. Fast running over the last two months, especially at Twin Brook, has taken its toll on my ass and it needs a break. In fact, the soreness has spread down into my hamstring. So, I need some rest, which may be actual days off, or maybe just easy five mile runs to stay mentally sane.

But first, I've got to run a 10K and I think I'm going to dip my toes into the Great Pumpkin in Saco this Sunday. Given this is the morning after a big Fall party :) maybe this isn't the best choice. But my the only other 10K is the Great Osprey in Freeport 2 weeks later. I just don't want to keep running fast for another 2 weeks.

Plus the pumpkin course is supposed to be faster than the Osprey course and I'm trying to log a solid 10K time. What time? Well McMillan claims my time should be 38:11 (6:08/mi), at least based on my Dan Cardillo 5K. I'm not sure I'm trained for a 10K, given that I have a lot of 5-7 mile runs in from this summer and fall but very, very few over 7 miles. Indeed, I felt sore-ish during the last mile of an easy 8 mile run yesterday - my body is not even used to 8 miles! That and my ass injury is spreading.

McMillan also says that I should be doing my tempo (or subthreshold) runs at between 6:13 and 6:29. Last week I did 5 back cove miles at 6:19/mi and it felt pretty easy. Today I did 3 back cove miles at 6:12/mi and this was much harder. Back Cove is a surprisingly slow course (given its flatness); regardless, running 6:08 for 6.2 miles seems optimistic.

My strategy will be to take it out slow and see how I feel after 3 miles. If ok I'll ramp it up and reassess at 4. Ditto at 5. Unfortunately, 10K is the distance where sidestitches have hurt me. I can run through piriformis, plantar fascitis, osteitis pubis, morton's neuroma, and posterior tibialis tendonapthy with little pain, but a sidestitch stops me in my tracks. Like a knife in my side. And I've got the stitch in 2 of my 5 10Ks.

Given that my 10K PR is 39:03, I think I'm in good shape to beat that, unless I get the stitch. But I'll be disappointed if I don't break 38:45. I'll be happy breaking 38:30 and ecstatic breaking 38:15. I'll wait till next year to attempt sub 38 : )

Monday, October 19, 2009

Piscataqua River Trail

The Piscataqua River Trail from River Point Conservation Area to Community Park is now connected thanks to a hardy crew of volunteers who set a big aluminum bridge across the River on Saturday. There is still more work to do, but stage I of a major trail corridor is nearly completed.
I thought briefly about running the Physical Therapy 8K Sunday morning but I was too excited to run the new 7 mile loop from my house, on to the Presumpscot River trail starting at Blackstrap Rd. then to the River Point and Piscataqua River trail, then to Community Park, then 1.75 miles home along the roads. I finished the run with a good 1.25 mile at 10K pace.

After a quick shower and breakfast, I headed up to Brunswick to cheer Ian on in his last lap of the MTC 50K. Actually I didn't cheer much because I didn't want to pressure him to do the last lap - he wasn't looking to good and he's got a big race coming up in a couple of weeks. But he persevered and won the race! Erik and I got to hold the tape (toilet paper) for him to run through. Awesome run Ian.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blackstrap trail report

I've been avoiding Blackstrap hill this fall because 1) hard downhill running aggravates my butt and 2) Ian & Emma reported back from their Bitch to Bacon warmup that the trike trail was being logged. But I was in the mood to run with Rodney & Sasha so we ran the Blackstrap Heaven side of Hardy Rd. I was pleasantly surprised. The trail was widened, certainly, and there is some slash on the trail but overall it wasn't nearly as bad as, say, the Bitch to Bacon side of Hardy Rd. Indeed most of the trail was left untouched (the west side of the three little loops) and a (logging) road that I didn't follow may connect up with the east side trails, which would be a big box of positives! A little work clearing slash this weekend and these trails will once again be my goto dog runs until the snow flies.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Connecting Falmouth's Trails

A long term goal of mine has been creating connections between the different trail systems in Falmouth. In west Falmouth, this is greatly facilitated by powerlines and the snowmobile trail network but the town has also been able to make some key parcel purchases in the last year precisely to create open space corridors. East Falmouth is too built up to completely connect the in-place trail systems. Several groups are working on connecting these with purchases/easements but I'm also trying to figure out the shortest road route between each system.

Yesterday, I walked Maine Audubon's lovely trail system with my parents and Cacky. Then they took off in the car and I took off in my New Balance 790s. I did the mile long North Field loop then ran along route one until I ducked into a short, very squishy trail that connects route one and a new development called Tidewater Farms. The Audubon trails, both woods and fields, were in remarkable condition given the rain. The US1-Tidewater trail was cut last year by Portland Trails as part of their vision of a Presumpscot Estuary loop. I'll blog more about this as it progresses and the trails go online. Just across US1 from the connector trail is a nice little trail network in Pine Grove cemetary. I've not run these but hope to sometime this fall.

From the Tidewater Farms I had to take about 2.5 miles of road to the Summit St. trailhead of the Presumpscot River Trail. I ran this all the way to Blackstrap, where I was only 1/2 mile from my house. The section from Rt 100 to Blackstrap is part of a Sebago to Sea vision and the proposed public trail may go on either side of the river. There are advantages and disadvantages to each but the ultimate decision will come down to where we get easements.

Actually, the whole run is part of an envisioned Falmouth/Portland section of the Sebago to Sea. There will be a public meeting discussing this section of the Sebago to Sea project on Wednesday October 21, 5:30-7PM, with a place to be determined.

Run distance 10.5 miles. About half trail/half road.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Way Running Should Be - The Craig Cup

This a little over 1.5 miles into the race. That's Mike Payson in front of me, who was running easy because of recent ankle surgery.

Clearing skies, wet grass, and some mud greeted runners at he 7th Annual Craig Cup xc race yesterday at Twin Brook. I both ran and ran the race. Since I was running the race, I was pretty stressed about it's execution but this was greatly facilitated by a big group including Steve Ballou, Mary Ballou, Bill Landis, Cacky Sexton, Tom Bottomley, two Greeley HS runners, and trail monsters Jamie, James, Stephen, Carter, Kevin, Christine, Blaine, and Val. Four was also on the course taking photos including the one above. And since I was running the race I didn't have any time for a warm-up prior to running the race.

I finished 14th, 6th in Age Group. My goal time for the race was 19:23 (1 minute slower than Dan Cardillo) and my official time was 19:35. That's a 6 second PR but I admit to being slightly disappointed. There's an interesting 1 minute gap between the slowest Dirigo masters runner and the rest of us (ignore Garth Sukalot, a pseudonym for a guy out on an easy run with friends). That's a big gap to try to close!

Because of the wet grass and mud in sections, I raced in my inov8 mudroc 280s instead of the NB 790s. They performed well, but I'd really like a pair of x-talons.

Finally, congratulations to Sara Hellstedt who finished 3rd overall among women.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Been there done that

Cacky and I have been in Seattle for a few days and have missed all the fun at home, including the BruBreakerUffle or whatever it's called, the final DINK memorial run, the Trash run, and the pain in the rain. But we did enjoy Pike and Elysian brew pubs, one 160 draft taproom, coffee eden, Gearhead Nirvana, and much else. My three runs along the waterfront were uneventful if not forgettable. On Friday, I was up and in the lobby surfing the internet by 4:30AM. I waited until 6:30 to sneak out for a run. In the cold rain. The way running should Seattle. Saturday and Sunday were more of the same except that it wasn't raining. The run to the waterfront is down a big hill and with lots of zig-zagging through the city while trying to catch green lights. Cities suck. The first mile on the waterfront was on concrete. Just past the really fun SAM sculpture park, the concrete turns to blacktop and winds through a narrow grass park. We did have a gorgeously sunny afternoon today after I got out of my meeting and we had lunch at a little park at Pike Place with a stunning view of Mt. Rainier and the Olympic peninsula. I found it hard to not keep looking at Rainier; it's simply stunning in it's isolation.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Garmin 305 HR monitor...

is really annoying when it does this sort of stuff. That's not a HR spike lasting a few seconds but a HR FUBAR lasting nearly a mile. This was at Back Cove. On the non-bridge side. And my breathing was invariant - one breath every 3 stride cycles - throughout.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A trail race (almost) without Trail Monsters

The Pathfinders 5K XC race was held this morning at Pineland Farms. Absolutely. Stunningly. Gorgeous. Cool, dry air, bluebird skies, and fast trail conditions were enjoyed by all. Roller coaster hills and long climbs were enjoyed by at least me. The race, starting at the "stadium" in front of the visitor's center and using the campus loop, is the toughest 5K XC course in the area. Fast running on tough courses is almost as fun as fast skiing on these courses! And the prizes are pies and pineland cheese. Sweet!

As much as I've run at Pineland, I've never run fast there so I wasn't sure what to expect. The first mile is a net downhill but over some rollercoaster terrain. I hit the mile in 6:11 in (what I thought was) 4th place. Mile two starts with the end of the roller coasters and then begins the long, gradual climb; the net climb is about 130 feet. I hit the 2 mile mark with a 6:40 split and was (what I thought was) 3rd place. At this point I was well ahead of my guestimated pace and at the top of the hill. Mile 3 is back downhill and I hit the mark in 5:50, still in (what I thought was) 3rd place. My splits are based on my Garmin 305 so when I hit the 3 mile mark well short of the finish, I knew the course was long. My official time was 20:55, in what I thought was 3rd place but the winner was actually far enough ahead that I didn't see him on the windy course and so quickly forgot about him! Just ahead of me was 13 year old phenom Will Shafer, so I got schooled by a middle schooler (check out his mother's day 5K time though). I took home a delicious apple pie but I'm more thrilled about my average pace, which according to my watch was 6:11. My average pace (again according to my watch) at the Craig Cup last October was 6:22.

All the racers were cheered on by Ian (where was Mindy?), who was there running long, and Stephen (who was with his kids trying to find Kelley, who was at Back Cove). It was also nice to finally meet Dave Howard, Jim Gott, and Lonny Reny (the winner).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Heart Rate

I dig number crunching. Which is why I have fun throwing together stuff like yesterday's post on my running goals. Today's post is really part II to that post. It's another way of quantifying improvement. The data above are average heart rates and pace over mile segments at back cove from this summer. The top graph is pace as a function of HR. Pretty simple, my HR sets limits on how fast I can run, so the faster the HR the faster I can run. I fit a quadratic polynomial curve to the data. Some of the variation off the curve is due to things like coffee status, time of day, heat, humidity, wind direction and speed, etc. But I'm interested if the speed that I can run at a certain HR has increased over the summer. So in the bottom figure, I took the residuals from the curve in the top figure and plotted them against day of year (DOY), with Jan 1 =1 and today being 266. I then fit a linear regression to these data. It's pretty crystal clear that today I can run faster at a given HR than I could early in the summer (the first datum is from May 27). In fact, the curve suggests that I can run about 50s/mile faster at any given HR. That seems like too much. Indeed, it would mean that on May 27 my 5K speed was about 20:53. Certainly I coulda run faster than that! Although maybe it explains my bonking at Muddy Moose, Pineland 25K, and the Clam Festival. Another possibility is my little analysis doesn't work so well for predicting the extremes. So I redid the analysis using only HR>155, which is a fast tempo run. With this subset of data, I find that I'm running 32s/mile faster at the faster heart rates. So that's a 19:59 5K. Still think I coulda beat that on May 27. Maybe next year I'll run the Mother's day 5K just to see how well my HR retrodiction works.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Running Goals

Whenever someone asks me "what are you training for",  my usual response is "the Craig Cup 5K". This is another way of saying, I am training "to get faster". That is my goal. And the Craig Cup is a race that I do every year so, as a consequence, I can monitor my speed increase. I also do this with a yearly road 5K and 10K. I don't really even have an ultimate time goal. Because when (if?) I reached it, what would I then do? Maybe my goal is to break 18:00 in a road 5K. But then I'd just move the bar to 17:30. Or to 18:30 for the Craig Cup. So my goal remains to get faster. That is, to keep training for the Craig Cup. At some point age will catch up with me and I'll start getting slower. That's when I'll re-assess some new goals.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Trail Monsters attack Lowell Preserve

(as always, click picture to enlarge)

Jamie, Ian, and I had a blind-leading-the-blind run on a stunningly beautiful morning at the Lowell Preserve. Actually our 11+ mile run was only the middle of Ian's run, but I'll let him tell you about that.

The Lowell Preserve is behind the firebarn on Falmouth/Babbidge road in Windham. Part of the Falmouth/Windham snowmobile network scoots through there but the Windham Parks & Recs has been improving many of these and adding single track. Its a crazy crazy network that will be fun to get to know. Most of the snowmobile trails are very rocky. Not loose rock but big buried boulders. The single track has great geometry, not super tortuous like Bradbury, but fun, freeform, flow. In the map above, our run is the navy blue track. Somewhere just north of the network is Atherton Hill, a local 500+ foot hill with a network of old snowmobile trails that I've not explored. The red diamond is a parcel that the Town of Falmouth just purchased. The western border of this parcel is the Lowell Preserve border, so Falmouth will hopefully work with Windham to extend the single track toward and into the red diamond. We ran part of the snowmobile trail east toward Blackstrap Rd. After crossing the road, this trail goes downhill to Blackstrap Hill/Wilshore Preserve. So yes, you can run from these trails to pretty much anywhere, including all the way to the Presumpscot River Trail. We're going to do this in early November after a key bridge is built!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Check out the e-mail that I just got from a friend...

"I found a pair of sunglasses yesterday on the trail at Ridgewood... I seem to recall that you lost a pair when we were walking there last Fall with the a larger group. Does that ring a bell?"

Woohoo! My photochromic Optic Nerves are returning home!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I've had an easy weekend - my sister and brother in law are visiting from Florida and we've been visiting Peak's Island, Portland Headlight, Mount Battie, and, of course, the Wiscasset Bay Gallery. But I got out for a short 5 miler with Sasha and Rodney yesterday. No long run because I needed to get back and eat a relaxing breakfast before rushing downtown to make the Peak's Island Ferry. And no long run because I didn't want to completely tire myself before a PR attempt at the 5K this morning. While I couldn't escape long enough to do the Bruiser (what with all the socializing afterwards), Sam, Tom, Will, and I did got out to our local 5K, the Dan Cardillo.

The Dan course is pretty flatastic, but maybe not as flat & fast as Eliot. When I decided to run the Dan a couple of weeks ago, I thought I'd use it as a tune-up to check my fitness level before a fall 5 & 10K. My Clam Festival race was a big drain on my confidence, but over the past few days I thought I could at least match my 5K PR of 18:45. So that was my goal time. Goal pace: 6:02/mi. My first mile was 6:00 and I felt fine. My second mile was 5:58. Again fine and I knew that I had a small downhill ahead (very shallow but I'd take anything). So I pushed it a bit and ran 5:45 for my third mile. The finish is on the Falmouth track (one half lap). I don't have much of a kick but I gave it what I had and finished in official time of 18:23. Sweet. Even though this is a small race (only 260 runners or so) I only finished 7th in my AG (14th overall). What does it take to get a podium in a small 5K in Portland Maine? (the answer for this race was 17:14 for 3rd place in 40-49 AG). 17:14 is the low end of "National Class" according to my WAVA calculator. Anyway, it's a great race and I'd highly recommend it, especially if we can figure out how to get it and the Bruiser on different weekends.

Not long after I finished, I watched for Sam and Will (Tom decided not to run because of sore feet, so he too photos). I could hardly recognize Will running down the track because he was running faster than I'd ever seen him run. Will finished in 21:24 smashing his 5K PR by 4 minutes or so (the 2008 Dan)! Man he looked good. Sam didn't have such a good race. He plays soccer, so doesn't run much, and typically goes out faster than he can maintain (typical HS kid). So he got in a world of hurt but was a good sport when Will passed him. Sam finished in 21:59. I had meant to register us as a team but didn't. Shoulda because we would have placed 3rd, ahead of the Maine Track Club!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Portland Trails Trail to Ale

This is a week of missed group runs. Last night at Twin Brook. Tonight at the Back Cove 5K. Saturday marking the Bruiser course. And Sunday at the Bruiser race. Tonight I did run Back Cove, but a 10K not 5K. I helped Mark Goettel, the race director of the Portland Trails Trail to Ale 10K locate the mile marks. The race in the past has started at East End Beach and finished near the end of Thames St but this year that will be reversed. We managed to enter the Back Cove 5K course at Tukey's Bridge just before the first 5Kers whizzed past us. Mark could have schooled them, but he had work to do.

I've not been whining enough about my injuries so I'll make up for that now. I currently have, count 'em, FOUR injuries! I have my L. piriformis, which has been nagging me since the week before Pineland. I've had very, very mild plantar fascitis for maybe a month, but it's gotten noticeably worse the past few days. Not even close enough to even think about slowing down my running, just worse. Then Monday I awoke with a really sore R. hamstring, from my ass to back of knee. Jim thought this might have been from doing my 8X400 on the roads. Then last night after my 3X1600, my left calf was a little sore. I'm making up for last season when I didn't have the slightest pain. I really hope the snow comes early and deep.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Missed TMR TNR

I just missed my 3rd TMR TNR @ TB since my first post-snow TNR on April 13. I had to be at a "mandatory" meeting for FHS XC parents. Did you know there are 70 something kids on the FHS XC team?!?! Anyhoo, I wanted to be at the meeting, but not sure it needed to be mandatory. So instead of the smooth trails at Twin Brook, I did 3X1 mile on the Woodville Road loop while Tom & Will were running with the team.
Total distance 7.14 mi
Total time 52:39
Pace 7:23/mi
Shoes Asics Piranha

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Piscataqua Trail work

The East Branch of the Piscataqua River in Falmouth runs through a conservation corridor from Rt. 100 to Community park. Two of the parcels were acquired by the Falmouth Land Trust long before any vision of a conservation corridor. But some key work by the Falmouth Open Space ombudsmen Bob Shafto has filled in the gaps and a motley crew of Falmouth Conservation Corps and Falmouth Trails Advisory Committee members have been out this summer cutting trail and building bridges. A key bridge (over the W. branch of the Piscataqua) still needs permitting and a couple of short sections of trail still need cutting.

Sam, Tom, Will and I were joined by Ted Asherman this morning to attack these uncut sections. Ted attacked with the chainsaw while Sam followed, clearing the cut trees/branches. They completed the uncut section on the McCrann section. Tom, Will and I did the more tedious clearing of the small woody plants and perennials that could be pulled off the treadway, as well as clipping of branches that extend into the trail corridor. We through maybe 1/4 of the uncut section. But given the clearing done by Ted and Sam, even the unclipped part of the trail is easily passable, unlike a couple of weeks ago when five of us bushwacked through this section on our jungle run.

The McCrann section of the Piscataqua trail will be a very fun trail to run, walk or ski when it's completed. The woods are beautiful and the terrain is very rolling. This will not be a loop trail. Short loops would require some road sections, for example Falmouth Rd. to Twin Ponds Rd back to Community Park. Or if we can bushhog the powerline, then a loop trail wouldn't need road at all.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Bruiser

Ian, Emma, Val, Lily, Brett & Sarah (Hellstedt), Owen (Lisa) and I had a beautiful run on the Bradbury Bruiser course this morning. Ian, Emma, and Owen ran the course in 1:53:xx while the rest of us cruised in in something like 2:07:xx. This of course meant the rest of us had to scratch our heads at a few intersections. Still, we were making decent time until the O trail, where the 11+ min. miles actually felt like 8 min. miles! And it was fun to see the bikers on the O trail looking at us like we were brothers from another planet. Unfortunately for me, I will be missing the bruiser next week (my sister and bro-in-law are visiting us from la Florida) and all the pain during and fun after.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What's up with goretex running shoes?

Inov-8 has just announced new fall 09 running shoes, including a lighter f-lite, which I'd like for roads. But what's up with the 275 GTX and 345 GTX? Why goretex in a running shoe? Goretex isn't going to stop water from entering from above - either from rain or any respectable sized puddle. But inov-8 also has goretex gaiters. Does this combination work in deep puddles or streams? The major problem that I see is getting the sock wet in winter from a deep puddle or stream crossing and then the goretex not allowing the sock to dry quickly (remember its made to keep water from crossing it). Ouch. Are there reviews of the gtx system that are especially relevant to cold and real water, from a real user?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lewis Maharam - bullshitter of the week

And the bullshitter* of the week award goes to the medical director for the New York Road Runners, yes that one, the one that directs the New York City Marathon. Dr. Lewis Maharam won this prestigious award for this gem: “In 95 percent of the population or higher, running barefoot will land you in my office”. And what evidence does Dr. Maharam have to make this claim? None that is published. I suspect it was a gut feeling. The distal part. From the male of the species Bos taurus.

*"[a bullshitter's] eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose." - Harry Frankfurt, in his treatise On Bullshit.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Trail Monster Tuesdays at Twin Brook (pics)

Trail Monster Tuesdays @ Twin Brook have been rocking the last couple of weeks. It has been especially nice to have more lady runners man up. It's also good to see the various pace groups. The racing side is, of course, in excellent shape, even with the deluge we had this past weekend. This is partly due to the huge work over the past few years to elevate the trails and increase drainage but also due to some new fill that was brought in sometime in the last week (can't have racers running through mud!). Regardless, the Craig Cup course is running fast. But the back (dog) side still has mud.

The creek is down so even I can jump it. Nevertheless, I caught Mary, Kelsy, and Dora feeling the waters before jumping.

Speaking of the muddy backside, check out Ian's racing stripeHeading over to the race side
Trail Monster
Peter taking it easy after his monster Bradbury Breaker race

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Camden Hills Pictures

Some lovely pictures of our Camden Hills run courtesy of Peter Buchanan (which is why he's not in any of these). Click to enlarge!
Foursome atop Maiden's Cliff overlooking Megunticook lake

Mary and Emma contemplating a jump in the lake (hey, it was hot and muggy). The cross was a good reminder that they likely wouldn't make it.

Sun, fog, and runners on the climb up Megunticook

Enjoying the view of Penobscot Bay

Our little version of Scottish hill running (with a few stops to eat blueberries)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

National Trail Running Day

Trail Monsters Ian, Emma, Peter, Mary, & I celebrated NTRD with an easy pace cruise through Camden Hills State Park. The forecast was for showers turning to thunderstorms but we had lots of sun instead. And humidity. We started at the base of Maiden's Cliff, then climbed to the Megunticook ridge, then down Zeke's/Sky Blue trail (Sweeeeet). Our pace had been leisurely to this point but the humidity was 200% and our water supply was low. So we decided to bag the Megunitcook ridge loop and do Bald Mtn. instead. Fast. What a great trail to run up as it is steep but not too, if you know what I mean. And the top has the money view of Penobscot Bay. All of it. Thick air prevented us from getting a clear view of Acadia though. When we arrived on the Bald Mtn. summit, there was no breeze in sight but the breeze picked up a little while we were there. We needed it. After a lengthy rest, we headed back down and took the Cameron Mtn. trail. This trail probably started out as a logging road but was essentially a straight stream the last two times I've run it. Well, the park staff has gotten in there and returned it to road. I have mixed feelings about that. It's very easy to run on but I miss the trail. Still, it will make a killer ski loop this winter (from Youngstown Rd. trail head, up multiuse trail, fork right on Cameron Mtn trail, down sky blue trail back to multiuse trail). We ran to the top of Cameron Mtn. and then spent some time gorging on blueberries and the occasional blackberry. Having little water left or energy to get back up and over Megunticook, we decided to take the long but flat route - which is out to Youngstown Rd, then to Rt. 52 along Megunticook lake. Following the run we had a nice swim in the lake before heading into town for Colorado BBQ Bacon Burgers from the Waterfront. I didn't take my camera so I'll rely on Ian and Peter to post pictures.

Equipment. This was my longest run in my NB790 and they held up great despite the lack of inov8 sticky rubber for all of the exposed rock. I love running in these.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Falmouth Trails

Picture above: The Piscataqua River Trail (about 4/10 of our total trail run today)

The Town of Falmouth has big plans for Open Space and trails. Part of this plan is a trail/conservation corridor along the Piscataqua River from where it joins the Presumpscot River to Community Park and beyond. Bob Shafto, the Ombudsman for implementing the Town Open Space plan founded the Falmouth Conservation Corps to help build the trail. The FCC has been busy these past two summers and the the Piscataqua Trail is nearly complete - only two uncut sections and a bridge remain. The Piscataqua Trail also links to the Presumpscot River Trail, which is now part of a big "Sebago to the Sea" vision.

Anyhoo, the Piscataqua River Trail now makes it possible to do a tour de Falmouth (at least W. Falmouth), nearly all on trail. Unfortunately, from the Community Park trails to the Blackstrap Hill Preserve Trails, the connector is a snowmobile trail that crosses private parcels. While this trail is open in the winter, there has been no effort to keep this accessible year round.

I had been dreaming about this trail for the last 9 years and today we did it. We is me, Ian, Emma, Peter, and Mary. We started at the Blackstrap Hill preserve parking lot and ran counterclockwise (south) to River Point (the start/end of the Piscataqua Trail). Some of the snowmobile trail was heavily grown over with vegetation. Some of it was beautiful and very near another large, newly purchased Open Space parcel (can you say mo' trail, mo' trail mo trail?). The newly cut trail is beautiful in sections, rough but runnable in sections, and (like I said above), flagged but uncut in sections. And we had to cross the west branch of the Piscataqua the old fashioned way. After exiting the Piscataqua trail on River Point, we joined the Presumpscot River trail which the mountain bikers ride regularly. Tall and dense vegetation lines the trail for most of the length. The vegetation is about shoulder high and the path is about shoulder width! This could use a little manicure to make it more runnable.

So, I apologize to Ian, and Emma, and Peter, and Mary for all the little cuts on their limbs (mine are all the way up to my shoulders, of course) but I've really been salivating to run that route for years and only since yesterday (or maybe last week) has that become possible.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bradbury Breaker fartlek filming

Trail Monster Running threw down another well marked, well organized, and wicked fun trail race Saturday, the Bradbury Mountain Breaker 9 Mile trail race. The weather cooperated if hot and steamy is your style. It's not mine so I'm glad I decided to not race it but instead, run it fartlek style with my new flip video camera (trying to not aggravate my piriformis too much). Two major problems with this plan: 1) even though the camera is easy to use, I hadn't really familiarized myself to its operation and 2) It only holds 30 minutes of video and I forgot to dump the approximately 15 minutes that I had on it before the race (although I hadn't thought about this until mid-race).

I started the race maybe 1/3 of the way to the front and ran in a thick pack of bodies for maybe 1/4 mile. The pack started to thin out and I just cruised along, filming both in front and behind me. About the point where the boundary trail turns SE (where it starts to climb), I picked up the pace quite a bit to see how close to the front I could get. The goal was to film the faster runners in the mad dash down the S. Ridge Trail. I caught up with the first place woman (Catherine Sterling) and then stopped to film runners do drop #2 (picture above). I filmed for a while, dropped downhill a little further and filmed more, only to discover that I hadn't been filming during my 2nd stop. One problem is that I thought you hit the little red button twice to start and stop filming. Once is correct. My other problem is the little red button is in the middle of 4 other buttons that sit at the major compass points (N, E, S, W) and my thumb is too big too hit the red button without hitting these other buttons (and I have gracile thumbs!). I'm not sure what the camera was doing; maybe playing an old video. I discovered this and started to film but there was a big gap between the runners that had just passed and those to come and I got bored waiting around so I ran again. Fast. So I could catch up.

This brought me to the hill. Yes that one. The summit trail. I stopped at the aid station at the base to drink some water and then decided to run the whole way up, with the camera rolling. This resulted in 1) really boring video of me passing racers walking up the hill (everyone walks that hill) and 2) one really hot, exhausted cameraman at the top. Indeed, running the hill after the hard run to the downhill section took away my mojo and I just kinda cruised for the next 3-4 miles. It was somewhere coming down from the hill that I noticed that the camera screen stated that I only had a few minutes of video left and I realized that I had forgotten to dump the old files. Ugggggh #1.

On the gradual ascent back to the top on the Northern Loop Trail, I was hot, sweaty, exhausted from running the summit trail, and disappointed about not having any memory left in my camera. Then I hit a root and went down hard. Kinda hurt everywhere, especially the knee, but no Camden-esque gashes. I felt a bit like a shaken baby so I was running pretty easy and Randy W. caught and passed me. I thought he was also running easy but he must have turned on the turbo at that point because he had a nice finish time. Give that my camera was out of action (I wanted to save the last few minutes for the finish) I handed off the camera to Emma just before the descent on the switchback. Bad move because that would have made great footage filming the runners descend back and forth from below. I briefly thought about running back up to Emma and grabbing the camera but my good sense had not been knocked out by my fall so I pressed on.

On the flat section of the boundary trail during lap 2, I was moving pretty slowly and even, gasp, walked the first tiny little uphill. Lily caught me at this point, which surprised me because I thought she had been ahead of me. Apparently she went for a tour of some other trails not on the race course. Anyway, we both seemed to not have much racing mojo. Karen S. caught me and I thought briefly it was her but then convinced myself it wasn't. It was. When the boundary trail started to elevate, I got some mojo back and ran a little harder on the uphill, passing Lily and Karen and some others. I took it really easy back down the S. Ridge trail to try to spare my buttocks. Lily passed me back. 2nd time around I decided to walk the summit trail to the top, even after a really long water break at the aid station and chat with Stephen W. When I got to the top, I had to dash off course for about 50 yards to retrieve my camera from Emma, dash back up and then re-enter the course. Thanks to Dora for keeping those behind me from following me off course! Down the Tote road at an easy pace (no hard pounding on the downhills!) but when I started to climb again on the Northern Loop trail, I picked up the pace and passed Nate P. and David D. but never did catch up to Lily. From the top, it was a nice, fast descent to the finish. I loved this section last year when I successfully held of James from passing me (woohoo), but like the rest of my descents today, I took this one pretty easy. I also wanted to get the camera rolling again. I started filming and ... within about 5s the camera read "memory full". Ugggh #2. So I stopped and figured out how to delete some of the old files so I could be sure to film the finish. Nate and Dave passed me yet again. And I think Karen passed me here too. I deleted a couple of files and took off again at an moderate pace, successfully passed bee corner without adding further bee toxin to my body, and finished the race in 1:28.xx, about 11 minutes slower than last year.

I'll make a video at some point. It won't be what I was hoping for. And about 1/2 of it will be sideways. I noticed that when I rotated the camera 90 degrees, the view on the screen rotatated, ipod like, so I thought the camera always knew what up was. Nope, filming sideways produced sideways video. Ugggh #3.