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.