U.H.T.P.: Urban Hippy Tripster Pack

I have two bags from Orange Mud, the Modular Gym Bag which I failed to review (but will one day), and the newly released Urban Hippy Tripster Pack. The UHTP was in the pipeline for a long time. We kept hearing whispers of how awesome this pack was, and finally we saw a picture of the prototype. We were awestruck and couldn’t wait it’s release. Josh took it to an expo in Texas, and  while it was in his car, some jack-hole broke in and stole it, along with his Mac book. Que setback.

Anyway production finally picked up and the UHTP started shipping earlier this month. Like all the OM products, the UHTP is an over-engineered beast. It’s not your typical backpack with chintzy zippers you hope will last the school year, or low-grade canvas that will rip by brushing a rose bush. This thing is made of high quality 1680 denier nylon. (Truth, I had no real idea what that was until I Googled it, but rest assured it’s Quality.) I have no doubt you could really beat on this bag and it would hold up without issue.

The straps are a thickly padded material that doesn’t allow digging into the shoulders when the pack is fully loaded. There is also a padded section on the lower back area. Anyone who has ridden a bike or skateboard with heavy, hard objects in a backpack knows the genius of this aspect of the bag. The straps also have two plastic D-rings that let you clip on gear. (I have a dog leash clip because strays are the rule down here.) You can also clip or hook things in on the straps as I’ve done with that bright orange thing. (I’ll explain it at the end.)

The last sweet external feature of the pack is the cup/bottle holders on the outside. There are two – one on each side. They easily hold my kids water bottles, and I have no problem stuffing mine in on the other side – I use a glass spaghetti sauce jar. According to the website they can hold a 25oz water bottle or a big beer. I’m not sure you could get a 40oz in there, but a 22oz tall boy is a for sure fit.


Beverage pocket.

Quality taken care of, it is time to move into the pack. Again, familiar to all OM fans, there are pockets and sections galore and if you didn’t have a guide book, you wouldn’t find them all. The main section is quite roomy and allows for any number of things. I keep a running ‘go bag’ inside that includes a pair of shoes, socks, shorts, shirt, and buff. Along with my gear is usually a book ranging in size from a Bible to slim paperback. (You never know when you’ll find the perfect place for a run and God forbid I get stuck somewhere with nothing to read…). While I don’t have a laptop of any sort, if I did, the UHTP comes with a built in case. It’s a super padded, zippered envelope like case that velcros into the pack. I use this for delicate things like my tablet or the current issue of UltraRunning magazine.(When visiting the PT I brought three pairs of shoes in the pack and had room for more.)wp-1448853175496.jpg

If you look at the picture you can kind of see the bottom of the main pocket. It’s built with a foam type liner. It gives the pack a little bit of shape, and allows items to be a bit protected while not being too rigid.

In the top of the pack is a soft stretchy pocket that – according to the website – provides enough room for two pairs of sunglasses. I would disagree and say that unless you’re wearing dinner plate glasses you can easily fit four or five pairs in there. The pocket material reminds me of the same shoulder pockets familiar to users of the Hydra Quiver or the Vest Pack2.


Below the sunglass pocket is the coolest pocket on a a backpack – ever. Most backpacks have a back pocket that becomes a trash receptacle of broken pens and pencils, melted gum and candy wrappers, and any other assortment of lint and broken paperclips. The UHTP comes with a ‘pen panel’. It’s essentially an organizing system for your pens with room for electronic devices. (Check the website for specs. I’m not into all the fancy-schmancy pods and electronics and such…). I like to keep a couple of pens handy along with hair ties (me or my daughter), and some snacks. This pocket can fit a box of granola bars with plenty of room to spare.

But the best part of the pen panel? It’s velcroed in. What? Yes, velcroed. When the pen panel is removed a secret compartment is revealed. It’s big enough to fit an 8×12 document. Think passports, cash, etc.


Now, earlier, I mentioned that Orange thing in the picture. It’s a parachord bracelet which is pretty nice. Rope is always good. If you look closely at the buckle you’ll see on one end there seems to be something strange on the buckle.


That strange thing, that’s a whistle. A very loud whistle if you want it to be. Take my word for it. Or ask my five year old…

Now the parachord bracelet doesn’t typically come with the UHTP, but for Cyber Monday the folks at Orange Mud are giving it away with any purchase, free shipping on orders over $40, and 20% off. And all you have to do is enter the gift code CMON20GIFT.

The pack comes in black with orange straps, or olive straps. (I chose olive.) There’s also a camo version with orange straps that looks pretty dope. And starting to ship on 12/4 is the black with pink strap version. Should look pretty schnazzy.

Also going on today, SKORA Running is having a sitewide 25% off sale, plus a Soleus GPS watch for only $50 with every order. Can’t beat that!

Lots of good deals and it’s all pretty easy, so enjoy your Cyber Monday, ya’ll!

Turkey Trots and Sales

Kind of strange still being injured. This was the first year in a long time – maybe a decade? – that neither me nor my participated in a turkey trot of some nature. For the last few years there was a Trot in New Hampshire that I had run – a 10k the Sunday before that always seemed to be freezing, before that was the Troy Turkey Trot in Troy, NY.

Here, locally in Georgia, there were a couple of races, but not much. On Saturday there was a 4/2 mile. I helped out at the finish line, mashing buttons as folks crossed; my wife opted to stay home and prepare for her sister’s arrival on Sunday. (I met and had a wonderful conversation with Dolly, an 83 year old walker, but that’s another story for another day.)


Helpingg out at the Jingle All the Way 2 and 4 miler. (After my morning mile of course...)

The next local race was the actual day of Thanks and it was a half marathon. My wife showed some interest until she learned it was only a half marathon, at which point all interest was lost.

Instead we ended up running in our backyard, in circles on the grass track. She did 20, I did 12. It was a gamble for me, and while my Achilles has yet to flare up from it, there was some fullness in the days following. But hey, three miles, its the farthest I’ve run in months.

Of course after Thanksgiving comes Black Friday and while there’s a big push for folks to get outside instead of shopping, there wasn’t much different in our house. (Except that the lounging outside was in shorts and included some sun block.)


The views from my Black Friday.

Of course just because your outside doesn’t mean you can’t still peruse the sales online. Check out the 25% off sale over at SKORA running. The sale goes all weekend and I’m sure they have something special planned for Monday. The same goes for OrangeMud.

I also have some discount codes for anyone who might be wanting one. 10-15%, just ask.

Rose Tinters

I think I can say, without much dispute, that the majority this blogs audience are runners, or other athletic types of some nature. Anyone who has been way-laid from their sport of choice, has an idea of what happens when we aren’t able to walk outside, close the door behind us, and disappear for an hour, two, three, or even more. I don’t think there is any one single reason we need to venture off for fractions of our day, but for me, it has something to do with exploring.

Zipping around in cars, on the same roads every day, we forget to see things. We stop looking. We might see the oncoming cars, or the roadkill that wasn’t there last night, we might even notice a field slowly turning colors as the seasons plod on. But on foot, we see more. We have more time to admire the little flourishes of God’s paintbrush all around. We can truly examine the natural world; see colors once thought unnatural outside of a Crayola box, witness purples melding into creams, greens turning to orange without border – we can see things we can’t see from the comfort of our bucket seat or the swivel of our desk chair. On foot we see things few others do. We are privy to a world that only a select few take the time to admire.sunrise1

Not running, I started noticing that I was missing these things. I was focusing on how not being able to cruise for 15 miles at a clip was forcing me to stay in a tiny sphere (there are only so many routes to go when you’re running a mile at a time.) I began noticing how much noise there was in my head and how impossible it seemed for me to escape them. All these things started adding up, and driving me nuts.

It’s taken a while, but I’m starting to get over all of the missing. I’m starting to realize that while I can’t get out and cover 20+ miles at a time, I can still explore. That there are smaller things to see. That walking lets me see things I might not on a run. That sometimes a walk with the family can be just as enjoyable and mentally quieting as a 60 minute jog in silence. Sure, these sunrises would be better seen from the road with miles behind me, but they can be just as awe inspiring from the comfort of my porch, coffee in hand, dog at my feet, child on my lap.sunrise

I’m not done. I will continue to plug along, and hopefully someday – soon – I’ll be back on the road, putting down some miles. And if not, it’s the little things that will have to suffice.

The New Long Run

Things have been quiet here – the blog, not real life – and while I have a lot of reasons for the silence, the main reason, the overwhelming problem pertaining this blog is this: my Achilles. I put it through the wringer – knowingly and not. I had an idea of what I was doing, but I had my goals in mind (VT100) and that was all I could see. I knew I would have to take sometime easy, but no clue how long, or what the process would be like.

The last time I raced was the Arena Attack in January. After that, I started to take it easy, though not easy enough. I found myself caught up in my mileage. I had scraped my yearly mileage goal of last years miles, but tried to stay on pace for 2000. When my Achilles didn’t seem to get better, I opted for the “at least 100 miles a month” program. Still, things didn’t seem to get better. The stiffness in the morning was less, and every time I lowered my mileage, the discomfort would go away for a couple of weeks, and then show up once more. It was a slow downhill game of cat and mouse.

When we got to Georgia in June, I forsook my shoes and went barefoot for at least a month. Just as things started to feel better, the feline of pain caught up. In a final effort to save any sort of future running – and playing with the kids as they get older – I bought a pair of the Iguana Racers from Carson Footwear, cut up an insole from a pair of SKORA Tempo and shoved the makeshift 5mm heel lift into the Carsons. I also gave up on any mileage goals, (but am still hanging on to my runstreak) and started running 1-1.5 mile days. It’s been like this for over a month now – 8 mile weeks, a 37 mile month, a long run that doesn’t pass as a warmup. It’s my hope that tomorrow the slope takes a change and starts to head back towards the sky.


Tomorrow is my first “long run” in over a month. It isn’t far. Nine laps on the quarter mile loop I mowed info the field: 2.25 miles. I have no idea how it will feel. I’m hoping that I won’t be cussing myself out on Friday morning. I’m hoping that this is the way to recovery – along with lots of other p/t type stuff – and by the two year anniversary of this injury 2/4/14 – I’ll be slowly building and maybe even signed up for some races.


So in short, the main reason its been quiet here: there has been a serious lack of running.

The Strays

We were always two dog people. We had two dogs, then we had two kids, and despite the two kids there were plans to replace the eldest dog when her time came. We enjoyed her, but the balance between enjoyment and senility had been tipping for sometime – poop on the floor, “let me in, now let me out, nope I want to come back in again,” the pacing across the tile floor, the standing in the corner waiting for something to happen.

We weren’t set on a ‘replacement dog’ just yet, and in all honesty we were only remotely planning one. We love our two dogs but neither were really ‘dogs’ by the whole man’s-best-friend definition. The younger dog was malnourished as a puppy and subsequently her hips aren’t the greatest. Long walks or hikes leave her whimpering and sore the next day – forget running. And of course the older dog. She has always been a bit standoffish – uninterested in affection and just more of an overall lone wolf than best friend. Neither really listen to commands and so can’t ever really be off-leash.

I always thought it would be fun to have a running dog. Something that could lope along aimlessly with me over hill and dale. Preferably something big and young, something trainable. In Vermont, something big was key as it could have helped against the mythical Catamounts. Down here in Georgia the biggest predator you have to worry about is a coyote or maybe a stray black bear; all the same, something bigger was my hope.

Unfortunately, one of the bigger issues I have with the South is the lack of people who alter their dogs. Couple unaltered dogs with lots of loose dogs and you end up with a whole lot of dogs. And of course when dogs have puppies and people don’t know what to do with them, they set them free. Drive enough back roads and you’ll find yourself a stray. This all leads to a very dangerous formula that looks something like this: stray dogs + sappy wife + kids = new pets

Needless to say, one early morning while my wife was driving to work, a mother dog and her yearling pup throw themselves in front of her car. She tried to scare them off, but of course that didn’t work so she brought them home to stay in the yard until we could get them to the pound. Long story short, we now have two more dogs added to the collection.

Ginny Dog

Ginny Dog

Mama Dog

Mama Dog

Combined, they aren’t the size I was hoping for. Both about twenty pounds and maybe twenty inches tall. The younger one is a little taller, lean and wiry. She doesn’t mind a little running here and there, and while she isn’t leash trained yet, she’s not bad. I’m not sure she’ll ever be able to run far, but I guess it will have to do.

New Home

So it’s been a while, that’s okay. Life has been busy. Since I last posted, I hosted another kick ass fat ass. Sixty-five plus people that all astonished me. Some awesome volunteers who braved the cold and stood around outside making sure people knew where they were going and were happy.

I’ve also managed to keep plugging at 20-25 miles per week mending my achilles. It’s long and slow, but I think things are getting better. Think.

I’m also hosting – sort of – another ultra on 8/22 in Paradise Park in Windsor, VT. Just a six hour, but a hell of a 2+ mile loop. Lots of up and down, technical trails, some not so technical. Should be fun. Register here: Six Hours in Paradise.

Unfortunately, I won’t actually be there to put it on. I’ll be in my new home in Dublin, GA! We finally did it. Not that we didn’t love Vermont, but between the price tag of Vermont Life and the dismal weather, we decided to go elsewhere. (Don’t worry, Six Hours in Paradise will still go on, I just won’t be running the show directly.)
water tower

Hopefully, I’ll be keeping up more with this thing. Sharing new adventures and red dirt. Hoping to host some ultras down here, and start to find a new community. Woooo sweat!

Sale or Giveaway?

Every once in a while a really good sale comes a long. So good it’s limited to one per household. A sale we can’t really call a sale, but a give-away.

Well, the fine folks over at SKORA Running have done it again. A shoe give-away masked by the word ‘sale.’ Until the end of today, all purchases over $109 will get a free pair of FIT. Free FIT. That is a deal.

Sale ends 11:59pm PST, so get on it.

New England Weather, Snow Plows, and 130 Laps

A month or so ago, I was alerted to a marathon happening in Hartford, CT. I’d only run two marathons before, and since this was an indoor marathon, it seemed like a good chance to go for a long run and give the Achilles a nice little test run. Sure I could go for a long run and see what happens, but it just made more sense to do it when the furthest I would ever stop from the start would be a tenth of a mile.

All the stuff.

All the stuff.

Gearing up I didn’t really have a plan. I had an idea, but no real plan. My hope was to go out, run some seven minute miles and see how things felt. If nothing else I could slow down, but ideally I wouldn’t go faster than that. But of course, as things go, this would certainly not be the case.

As race day approached, the forecast started warning of a snow storm for the Hartford area Friday night into Saturday. As Saturday progressed, the snow was supposed to worsen. It sounded like getting to the race would be easy enough, but coming home might be a struggle. I checked the weather the night before and figured two-and-a-half hours for a normal two hour ride would be fine. It was all down at least two-lane interstate and I wasn’t supposed to hit snow until at least halfway there.

The 'clean' roads of Massachusetts.

The ‘clean’ roads of Massachusetts.

About a half hour into the ride, the snow flakes started falling. Not heavy, but they were coming. As I got closer to half-way, the snow really started coming down. Speed slowed from 80 to 40. At points I couldn’t see the lanes – 6:30/7:00 on a Saturday morning, no plows in sight. At a couple of points I almost turned around, but convinced myself that I had already paid my money and things couldn’t get that much worse. I was sort of right.

Vermont does something funny with their roads. I’m not sure what it is, a lack of salt, sand, no plowing, something; for as soon as I hit the Massachusetts border, the roads cleared up. What was once unidentifiable as a road quickly became a skim coat of slush on top of pavement and we started driving a little faster. We were still going slow, but I still had almost two hours until race start. I was a little behind schedule, but would be okay.

I’m not sure where I was when it happened, I recall seeing a sign for Hartford, CT 44 miles, but don’t’ know if I was infront or behind. Slowly traffic in front of me started building and we started slowing down quickly. It reminded me of rush hour traffic getting off of NYC. As we got to a long downhill, I could see the hold up, three plows across two lanes of traffic driving 20 MPH. There was no way around them and it looked like they were making the roads worse. As I rode behind the snow plows it started to dawn on me that I would not make the race on time. I convinced myself it was okay. It was just laps.

Lap Number...

Lap Number…

Finally the plows pulled off at an exit and I was on my way to Connecticut. Not having clocked mileage I had no idea how far it was to Hartford. I knew the exit, but no mileage. And of course, the kind folks in the Connecticut DOT don’t feel it’s necessary to put up those signs, so once again, I was driving blind with a timer running out and no sense of how far I had left to go. Finally about five minutes before race start, I pulled off the exit. The arena, which I assumed would be well marked with road signs, was not. As I looked skyward to the top of the buildings, I saw a big ‘xl’ on the side of one, surely that was the xl Center. Wrong. But they did give me directions to the right xl Center.

At 9:15 I showed up, grabbed my bib, got changed and hit the track. The adrenalin from rushing around and being late had managed to push all sense out of my head. My 7:00/mile race plan vanished. There were people everywhere on the track and I just went. I clicked off the first couple of laps in 1:20 (it was 5 laps to a mile) and knew I was too fast. I tried to slow down and I managed to for a few laps here and there, but it was a constant battle. I had found a rhythm and with people all around and a DJ who thought he was hosting a roller skating dance party in 1994, it was all but impossible to break out.

When I run, I talk to myself. Sometimes I whistle or sing. It’s all out loud. Usually outdoors, this doesn’t matter, I’m relatively alone and no one can hear me. Inside is a different situation and I got more than a few looks as I tried to talk myself into slowing down, mostly by cussing myself out and using a litany of derogatory terms.

I rolled through the first half in a 1:27ish and knew I was going to be hurting by the end. I could keep the pace for a while longer, but I wasn’t sure how much longer. By mile 17 I had stopped carrying my Orange Mud Handheld for a couple laps at a time and carried it consistently. By mile 20 I was shot. My quads were beat and I knew I was done. I stopped at the water station a couple of times and chatted to the girl while she filled my handheld. All sense of urgency was gone and I was hitting 8:00 miles.

It was the first time I used Gatorade during a race. Usually I’m just a rinse and spit kind of guy, but as it was indoors, there was no spitting. Surprisingly, I didn’t mind it, and while I didn’t feel any difference in energy, it did taste good.

SKORA Form, Orange Mud duffel and Handheld. First time my name is on a bib!

SKORA Form, Orange Mud duffel and Handheld. First time my name is on a bib!

I ended up finishing third in an official time of 3:19:52 but if I had showed up on time, or if the clock started when I started it was a 3:06:28. Given that I’ve been running 30mpw since July, I’m pleased. I will add that the DOMS are killing me. I recovered faster after the Joe English 6hr than I did this marathon.