Friday, October 30, 2009

This Weekend on the Trails

Race season in winding down but there are still a few races out there if you havent had your fill yet. I couldn't find much information on these races so the rest is up to you. Go to for more info unles I provided a race link.

Saturday, October 31

Wachusetts Deer Run, Boylston MA  - a 5 or 10K trail run through Wachusetts Reservoir Land.  Pine needle covered trails is all you need to know about this one.

Autumn Onion Trail Run, Montpelier VT - another 5 or 10K run option on The Morse Farm property. A hilly trail run through a maple forrest. Prizes for costumes.  Let's get scary!

Black Mountain of Maine Trail Race, Rumford ME - a 5K cross-country trail run starting at the Black Mountain of Maine Ski Lodge.

Sunday, November 1

Busa Bushwhack 10M and 5.3M Trail Run,  Framingham MA - Run on natural conservation land trails of Callahan State Park. The 5.3 miler is a flat and double-track course with one steep hill; the additional 4.7 miles for the 10.0 miler has four additional hills with both double and single-track.

Templeton Trail Race 7M, Templeton MA -  wide trails with a stream crossing, sandbank hill climbs, and scenic New England trail running.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Breakheart Calls

On Monday I went for a run in Breakheart Reservation. A clear, bright blue sky, cool air, tacky trails and a lot of solitude are what I found there. It was a day made for running, or so I thought. Although past its peak, the colors of the forest demanded more of my attention than wisely given while running. I decided to make this trip into the woods more of a run/hike so I could enjoy the beauty at a more leisurely pace.

Still waters reflect the colors of autumn. If I were an artist I would like to paint this.

Green, orange and yellow ring the calm blue water of Silver Lake.

Clear, cold and alone in the woods.

One of my favorite spots for a lunch break.

For all you moss lovers.

Mushroom caps suspended in air with a little help from a friend.

Ranger Station shows off its fall colors. There's a warm fire blazing in the field stone fireplace inside.  It's a great place for a post-run cup of hot chocolate.

I'll be back....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Groton Town Forest Race

This past Sunday I made my way North-West to the lovely town of Groton for 22nd race in the 2009 Grand Tree Trail Race Series. I’ve want to run this race ever since I took up trail running three years ago. The 12:30 start time is what kept me away for so long. I could never get excited about the thought of running a mid-day race. I like to get my pain and suffering out of the way in the early morning hours! This year, I had an incentive to finally make the effort. Fellow Stone Catters Trail Pixie, Trailgrrl, and KZ would be there with an added bonus of a post-race gathering at Trailgrrl’s pad when the dust of the race, I mean mud had settled.

The course is a constant up and down, twisting, turning confusing mess of fabulous single-track with brief stints of wide trail. There are enough rock and roots to make it interesting but overall I’d say it’s one of the less technical courses in the series. But that doesn’t make it any less fun. On the contrary, the terrain is constantly changing, up one minute, down the next. Pine needles cushioning your feet at one moment give way to rocks or slippery roots aiming to give you a harsh wakeup call if you fail to notice the change in a timely fashion.

I wanted to run hard at Groton so I took off at fast pace (for me) down a flat road of crushed-stone in hot pursuit of my fellow dirt dogs. I was wearing my Inov8 320s and they didn’t offer much protection from the stones under foot. After crossing over two sets of railroad tracks and fields of tall grass and weeds, the single track running began. My feet were thankful for the change. Once onto the trail I made a decision to run as hard as I could for as long as I could, and to RUN all the hills. I also said to myself, “Do not get passed.” That worked for 9.3 miles. Unfortunately, the race was 9.5 miles and two heavy breathing, loud snorting, fleet- footed psychos blew by me in the home stretch.

Typical Groton (

Overall I was happy with my race performance. I passed several runners during the course of the race, ran all of the hills except for maybe 10 hiking steps (most of the hills were short and steep), and I even beat some people I usually don’t. I finished about 5 minutes faster than expected and I had NO kick in the end so I know I gave it 100%. OK, maybe 98%. We can always try harder! Post-race relaxing, and eating and drinking ;-) with the about mentioned suspects, plus Bill, Stas, Garry, Nancy, John and Bob (I hope I remembered everyone’s name) capped off a perfect autumn day.

It’s good to be in Groton….

Friday, October 23, 2009

This Weekend on the Trails

So many races, so little time!  

Saturday Oct 24th:

CSU SKYLINE SCRAMBLE 8M – Middlesex Fells Reservation, Stoneham MA – A challenging loop with many rocks, root and steep climbs and descents.

Run For The Trails 5 & 10 Miles - Devon Glen Farm, Hamilton MA - This is your chance to run on some beautiful, privately owned trails not generally open to the public.

Sunday Oct 25th:

Cider Mash 5K Orchard Trail Run - Cider Hill Farm, Amsbury MA - A flat start through the apple and peach trees in the orchard gives way to muddy bogs. The course twists through rows of apples trees and up the infamous, and dreaded, green hill!  This hill is a real grind. Nothing says fall in New England like cider doughnuts, fresh apple cider and apples for all participants. Yum!

Ghost Train Rail Trail Race 15M - Brookline, NH - Race along the old railroad tracks that were used in the late 19th and early 20th century to ship granite from Milford and ice from Lake Potanipo to Massachusetts.

Groton Town Forest Trail Race 9.5M - Groton MA - A combination of narrow dirt roads and winding single lane trails, with lots of roots, rocks, leaves, uphills, and downhills. The hills are not large (though some are steep) but they offer a distinct challenge.

Stone Tower Trail Challange 15K - Lynn Woods, Lynn MA - Seasoned trail runners raved at the challenging 15 k course which tours the heights and under-trails in a moderately grueling fashion! You will need to be fit to take on this tour as you run along the fire roads and single path trails. You will be ascending rocky and hilly terrain,  past reservoirs, rose gardens, and scenic vistas.
Go knock yourself out!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Weekly Training Update - Oct 12 -18

This was my second consecutive week of 50+ miles and my 3rd in the past month. Training has been progressing well and my speed and endurance are improving, slowly, but improving none the less. The only thing I am not happy with this past month is my long runs. I’ve been doing them, but feel they have not been long enough for racing the 50 mile distance. I’ve run 22, 23 and 22 the past three weekends. I would have preferred to see something like 22, 25 and 28 or even 30 but I got lazy and/or tired and I cut the last two shorter than planned. Still they were loads of fun since I ran all of them with friends. Three weeks until Stone Cat so I be tapering down the miles slightly and running a few shorter races between now and race day.

I ran the Ravenswood Trail Race this weekend [results], the day after my long run.  The 4.3 mile course is a nice mix of technical single-track with enough rocks and roots to keep you on your toes and carriage roads where you can really fly without worrying about footing.  It was cold, wet and windy and my legs were a little stiff.  I didn't do a warmup run due to the pouring ran so I started out slowly until I had a chance to warmup.  After about 2 miles of easy running I loosened up enough to start pushing the pace.

I was picking off runners one by one, mostly on technical descents where everyone was being cautious and I was not. I almost wiped out one time and decided it was best to take the downhills a little slower. I didn’t want to sprain an ankle, or worse, with a 50 mile race looming on the horizon. I passed about 20-25 runners during the race and was never passed by anyone after the first ¼ mile.  It was another day of fun in the mud.

Total Miles: 53
Long Run: 22.4
# of Runs: 6
Avg. Run: 8.8
Trail Miles: 74%

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Stone Cat 50 Course Preview

On Saturday I met up with several friends at the parking lot at the Doyon School in Ipswich MA. We are all running in the Stone Cat Trail Races (50 mile or marathon) and wanted to get a feel for the course prior to race day. The plan was to meet for a group run hosted by the race RD from GAC. There was a very large turnout despite the chilly morning. The RD explained this would be an easy run (about 12 min/mile) but if anyone knew the course and wanted to run it faster they were encouraged to do so..

Emily (aka Trail Pixie) was running late and had not yet arrived when the group was about to leave. We decided to wait until she showed and hung around the parking lot as the group ran off into the woods. A short time later Pixie came bombing into the parking lot and was apologetic for being late. No worries! None of us cared that we were without trail guidance from GAC. We had a trail maps and could find our own way around. Plus, we like to act goofy on our long runs and the "strangers" in the other group may not appreciate our humor as much as we do. :-)

The trails were in good condition except for some low areas that were under water. We were able to pass most of the water obstacles without getting too wet. With the addition of Streph to the group, our navigation skills were much improved from our first run here last weekend. Still, we managed to go off trail once or twice but that was more a function of not really taking a good look at the map at some of the trail intersections. The detours were not much of a distraction. Miles are miles no matter what trail you run.

Steve, Emily and Streph rambling along.

Kevin and Paul were the speedsters of the group running ahead of Streph, Pixie, Steve (aka Cookie Monster) and me most of the time. Unfortunately (for them, not us) they didn't have a trail map and would often have to wait for the snails of the group to catch up and give them directions. We were still managing a faster overall pace this week vs. last week since we didn't need to check the map as often this time around. I also think we were just running faster when we weren't walking. Steve complained we weren't taking enough waking breaks. Although true, his objection fell on deaf ears, except for maybe the lone female in the group who showed him a little sympathy. Pixie has a thing for walking, and talking for that matter, especially about animals. On this run, she seemed to have a particular fondness for a certain primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent, but I digress here.

Streph, Steve, Paul, Kevin and Emily taking a break by the abandoned car.

After finishing a loop in Willowdale we head over to Bradley Palmer (sans Streph) for some additional miles. We did one loop each on the Fat Ass course (10K) and the 6 Hour Run course (5K). That gave us a little over 22 miles which was enough for Emily. Kevin, who was having hip issues, stopped at 19 and was resting in my truck. Steve and I had a plan to do 26 but once we stopped at 22 to say goodbye to Emily (and to refuel) the cold air and wet clothing got the better of us and we called it quits too. Paul was looking at a 30 mile day but once we all bailed on him (sorry Paul) he decided to finish his final 8 miles over at the Fells which is closer to where he lives.

I got off to a sluggish start but once I warmed up got into a good groove and felt strong. I'm not sure if it's the cooler weather or some faster mid-week running I've been putting in lately but my long runs are starting to feel easier. That's giving me a little more confidence as Stone Cat approaches but 50 miles stills seems daunting to me. Daunting, but doable.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Product Testing - Patagonia Release Shoe and Drymax Trail Running Sock Updates

When I last reviewed the Patagonia Release trail shoe I didn’t get a chance to test them under wet conditions. That all changed during the wet and wild Vermont 50 in September and on a recent training run in Willowdale State Forest. The shoes’ Vibram soles performed well on wet rocks and roots and the mesh uppers drained very quickly. They also provide effective traction in typical mud but were as useless as slippers in the 6 inch mud of Vermont. That’s not a surprise, nothing worked on that day. The Patagonia Release should be given serious consideration for your shoe purchase.

I had mixed results when I last reviewed the Drymax Lite Trail Running sock. Although I thought the socks were well made and fit and felt great I got a minor blister on my longer runs. In the socks defense, I was using power in the socks which limits their effectiveness to remove moisture from the skin. Thanks to Bob at Drymax I was able to give Drymax another real world test.

This time I tried the Drymax Trail Running sock with great success. This time, no powder and no blisters on runs up to two and a half hours long. I also like the extra cushioning of this sock over the lite version. These sock work great with my Roclite 320s giving them some additional cushioning and comfort on long runs. These socks fit great, are well constructed and are very durable.

I’ll be testing other Drymax models in the coming weeks and months so stay tuned for the results.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekly Training Update - Oct 5 - 11

I've gotten lazy with my blog posting (and reading) over the past few weeks. I don't have a good reason for it, just lost my appetite. I’ll try to do better going forward.

Monday – got in a good 11 mile effort in Breakheart on what was to be “my” race course. I didn’t get permit approval from the state DCR so it never happened. Too bad, it’s a good run. This will remain my hidden gem.

Wednesday – did some tempo running on the stone dust trail along the banks of the Muddy River. I felt smooth and I think some of my speed is beginning to return. Track work is out for me now. My plantar fascia told me so.

Thursday and Friday – some easy runs at lunch time along the Muddy River.

Saturday- met Emily, Michelle, Kevin and Steve at Willowdale for a preview of the Stone Cat 50M course. I did a poor job of reading the map so we stopped at several trail intersections to determine if we were heading in the right direction. That slowed our overall pace but kept us from getting totally off trail. There were several low areas underwater so we ran with wet feet and happy hearts.

Michelle, Steve and Emily wait for Kevin to "gear up"

Total Miles: 50
Long Run: 23
# of Runs: 5
Avg Run: 10
Trail Miles: 69%

Friday, October 9, 2009

Why We Run Trails

This video was shot and/or edited by Matt Hart. Watching it makes me want to pack my bags and head west for my next ultra race. I don't know why anyone would want to run roads after seeing this.

UltraRunning from Matt Hart on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

September Training Update

September was a recovery month for me and I ran about 10% less than I did the previous month. After competing in the GLER 50K the last weekend of August I needed a break. I thought my recovery would only take a week but it took nearly the entire month before I started to feel “normal” again. I didn’t race or do any really long runs during the month. I don’t think I could have even if I wanted to. Two weeks after GLER I went out for a 20 mile run but stopped at 12. I was just too tired. I was able to close out the month with a good run at the Vermont 50 (18 mile relay leg) and feel like my running legs have finally returned.

September Recap:

Total Miles: 166
Longest Run: 18
# of Runs: 20
Avg. Run: 8.3
# of Races: None
Trail Miles: 61%

Friday, October 2, 2009

This Weekend On The Trails

Autumn is my favorite running season in New England. Not only is the air cool, crisp and clear but there is an abundance of trail races on the calendar. This weekend is no exception. The battle of the trail series takes place on Sunday as both the Grand Tree and Eastern New England series are hosting events.

GT Series - Breakneck 20K, Union Ct. Starting in Bigelow Hollow State Park the course follows the Ridge trail to Breakneck Pond. Circle the pond via the Pond View and Nipmuck trails and then back onto the Ridge trail to the finish. About 2200 feet of elevation gain.

ENE Series – Houghton Pond 10K, Milton MA. A rolling course over dirt roads and forest paths in the Houghton’s Pond section of the scenic Blue Hills Reservation, a 7000-acre state-owned park just south of Boston. The course avoids steep hiking trails, but this IS a trail race, with plenty of small rocks and tree roots along the way!

Several other lesser known races are being held as well and may be worth checking out.


Millennium Park 5K, West Roxbury MA. A great first time trail run.

Twilite Hoot Owl Run 4K, Nashua NH. Runs on the well groomed and flat trails of Mine Falls Park. The first 200 runners get a colorful owl tee to add to their critter collection. (That means you Pixie!)


Ready, SEF, Go 5K, Shirley MA - This 5K run leads you through the beautiful trails of the lovingly maintained Holdenwood. The trail is simply gorgeous. Past runners have referred to this trail as the “Wimbledon of Trail running”! Come see for yourself!

Shawn M. Nassaney Memorial Cross Country Race, Smithfield RI. A 5k run through the Bryant University cross country course. This highly competitive course features a variety of terrain ranging from flat grassy stretches to rolling hills in the forest. Music and Barbecue too!

Graig LeClaire-Rich Vacca Memorial Trail Race 5K, North Grafton MA. The trail is mostly rolling hills with a few steep climbs.

The Laura Foundation 8K, East Madison NH. Trail run at King Pine Ski Area. This has to mean HILLS!
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