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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.)

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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.

Black Friday Blog

As much as I hate the whole Black Friday shopping thing – I’ve never actually done it… – I’m going to post this here. Links to reviews of some quality products from Orange Mud and SKORA Running. Both companies are having some sweet Black Friday deals and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your desk chair. Check it out:

Orange Mud is giving away free LED lights and 25% off with the code BKFRIDAY14

HydraQuiver Review
Vest Pack Review
Handheld Review
While I haven’t reviewed their wraps, I have had one for a while, and I’ll tell you it’s more handy than you’d think.

SKORA Running is also offering 25% off sitewide. No code needed. I haven’t written a review for the FORM, but I tell you, it’s better than all the others. True story.

PHASE
CORE
FIT

And finally, over at Dead Skunk Racing, we’re having a sale on coaching! We’ll cut all our prices in half if you sign up with us by December 1st. Great deal for two coaches.

Indoor Laps

I’m kind of in the ‘planning-for-2015’ mode, but haven’t gone all out yet. I have some key races in mind, but a lot depends on the Achilles and how it’s recovering. Of course it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped running. I still train lightly and have been perusing the race listings.

One of the problems with New England is that the winter has next to zero races. There’s a few frozen 5ks here or there but for the most part it’s a snow shoe race or a XC ski race. Not my thing. (There’s also the Winter Wild Series, which I think I’ll try out this winter.) The other day, I was turned onto the Arena Attack event happening down in Hartford, CT. There’s a handful of events happening at the Arena Attack, including a half-marathon, a marathon relay and a marathon.

Unfortunately, I was too late for the marathon, and all that’s left are slots in the half-marathon race. I emailed the RD and have had my name put on the wait list – #7 – not too bad, but as I perused the open slots, I noticed that the 11:15 half-marathon had a three hour time limit (the earlier one was a 2:10 time limit). Of course my wheels start turning, and I asked the RD if I could use the entire three hour time limit to run a marathon. He replied and told me I could, and that he’d feel hard up making me stop at 3:00 if I only had a little bit to go, but he can’t give me too much extra time because vendors will start charging. How awesome is that!?! I have no plan of taking anymore than three hours. If I hit the marathon in three, awesome, if not, it’s no big deal. The plan is to use this as my first real long run and sort of a test run (to see how a 3:00 marathon feels) once I’m back from the off-season. 130 laps, here I come!

The Answer in My Hand

When my love affair with Orange Mud earlier this year, I was quite intent on the Hydra Quiver being the only hydration system I would need. I had no idea that Orange Mud would continue to pump out phenomenal products and that I would find a need for all of them. Soon enough I found myself gearing up for the VT100 (Parts I, II, III) and realized I’d need something with a little more storage room and a bit more in terms of fluids. Que the Vest Pack. Sadly – for my wallet – I loved the VP and couldn’t imagine utilizing orange mud’s awesome return policy. While the VP isn’t my everyday goto, it is supremely useful for longer treks.

My Orange Mud.

My Orange Mud arsenal.

Being content now with both the Vest Pack and Hydra Quiver, I thought my journey withy Orange Mud would be done. Of course, I was wrong. Not too long ago they released their version of a handheld. Unlike packs, handhelds seem to have more of a polarized following. People can take or leave a pack, but a handheld is different. You either love handhelds or you hate them. I put myself in the camp of the latter.

I can’t really explain why, but for some reason I like to have my hands free. My wrists clean of any accoutrements. Bracelets fluster me. If I hold onto something for longer than five or ten minutes, my fingers start freaking out, screaming at me to let go. I want to wiggle them and free them from their bonds. I imagine my hands feel like someone suffering from claustrophobia stuck in a coffin. So for me, a handheld was a no brainer bad idea.

Sweaty October.

Sweaty October.

Of course, after reading some reviews, and knowing how much I love my VP and HQ, I had to give the handheld a try. The price was right at under $30, and I knew if I wanted to send it back I could. (I also knew if I didn’t want it, I could probably sell it to someone who did.) And here we are today.

I got the handheld specifically for shorter-long events. For times when it might be nice to have a drink, but not necessary to carry a whole pack. When it first came, I was a little skeptical. It’s just a strap and a water bottle. But when I put it on, I realized the folly of my ways. It wasn’t just a strap, but a glove. It fit nice and snug around my hand, but let my fingers wiggle and move. The trapped, suffocating feeling I was dreading didn’t exist.

The mighty Mt. Ascutney.

The mighty Mt. Ascutney.

Knowing that I had a Six Hour coming up that I wanted to use the handheld for, I started using it on every run. I practiced switching hands mid-run, and even tried to fill it on a few occasions still stuck to my hand – not the best idea.

It holds my watch for me!

It holds my watch for me!

Taking it on a six hour was the first real test. I’d have the chance to fill it every 2.62 miles, and grab any food I’d need. At first, I just grabbed a couple of cookies, but I eventually ended up shoving a couple of Cliff Bar Gel things in there (they were foul…). In the end, I couldn’t have been more pleased with it. I like to run minimally, with just the basic things I need. On a 2.62 mile loop, I didn’t need much some water, and a bit of food, and the handheld did just that. It probably would have worked for me on longer loops too. I filled the bottle with water once every hour or so, and if I wanted, I could have used a bigger bottle.

To be frank, I’ve fallen quite in love with my handheld. The strap wraps around the meat of your hand and is connected to a gigantic pocket that holds the bottle. Your fingers are free. It’s genius and kind of deceiving, after all, your hand isn’t really doing any holding on.

If you’re a handheld kind of person, it’s time to give the Orange Mud Handheld a try. And if you’re scared of handhelds, this is the one to break you in.

Rain, Mud and Fog

Pre-Race

This past Saturday night, I had made the decision to travel down to Amherst, NH for the Joe English 6 Hour Twilight challenge. Initially, I wasn’t sure about the drive home. It was going to be late; I was going to be alone; I was going to be zonked. Thankfully, at the last minute, I found two local runners – one that I knew previously, and the other I met that day – who were also going. That meant I didn’t have to drive and could get to know some more local running people.

Thankfully, it didn't rain that much.

Thankfully, it didn’t rain that much.

Going down, it poured. The forecast called for rain – all night. In fact, one forecast called for a quarter of an inch of rain. That’s a lot of rain. My main concern wasn’t so much the mud, or the rain, but the temperature. Being constantly wet for six hours when it’s 50 degrees means you’re going to be cold, even if you’re running, you’ll be cold. Thankfully, the temperature didn’t drop that much and the rain only really came down for an hour or two block in the beginning.

I went into things not really having a ‘goal’. Sure, 40 miles would be nice, but training since VT100 had been poor at best. Most of it was just recovery 20-30 mile weeks with an 8.25 mile long run. My Achilles was still not 100%, but had been healing, and I was ready to ease up at a moments notice with thoughts of future races. Of course, tendonitis being what it is, it didn’t hurt until I stopped and then it started to stiffen up a bit.

The Course

The loop was a 2.62 mile loop. There was a turn around a quarter of a lap in to pick up a half loop at the end, time permitting. It wasn’t your typical single track mountain trail, but it was reminiscent of a groomed high school cross country trail. It is a horse trail and is a minimum twelve feet wide at all times. Some if it is gravel and dirt, some of it grass. Some of it is under tree cover, and some if it in open fields.

Drop bag. Easy access at all times.

Drop bag. Easy access at all times.

It started out quite nice, but as you can imagine a dirt trail with a number of runners running loops in the rain gets pretty sloppy, and it didn’t take too long before some of the steeper declines became slip and slides. By the end, even the herd paths through the grass had to be avoided.

The Race

Having never run a timed event before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but my mindset went something like this: “Go out comfortable until you can’t, then just keep moving forward. There’s no distance to be covered, just time to be eaten, move forward.” And so I went out and just ran. My splits were fairly consistent for the first six laps, and then slowly started to deteriorate.

Lap Time Pace
1 20:55 7:59
2 21:15 8:06
3 20:24 7:47
4 20:34 7:50
5 20:33 7:50
6 20:35 7:51
7 21:19 8:08
8 21:10 8:04
9 22:17 8:30
10 23:02 8:47
11 24:04 9:11
12 24:26 9:19
13 26:56 10:16
14 27:31 10:30
15 28:02 10:41
15.5 10:54 8:19

Things started to fall off around the tenth lap – about three hours in, just before I hit the marathon mark. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but there are a variety of things that I can and will blame. Starting with the thing out of my control:

The Weather

Two things here – firstly the course was getting sloppy and shoes were getting wet. Gravel had entered shoes at this point and was getting uncomfy. The rain and mud made things an uncertainty so running down the hills took a bit of precaution. Secondly, the fog. Sometime in there the fog became super dense and there was a bit of a mist. If you’ve ever driven in the fog you know that the reflection off the fog can reduce your visibility pretty good. Well, the same holds true for runners. I’d be willing to guess – no exaggeration – that visibility was 20-30 feet for a while, at points even less. There was no cruising, lots of slowing down around turns to make sure you were following the flags.

Decided to go with my FIT. Excellent choice.

Decided to go with my FIT. Excellent choice.

And now for the real reasons:

Food

Being the genius that I am, I left packing until the last minute. In doing so, I managed to forget my sweet potato mix at home which meant, I had no food. Around two hours in, I realized I needed to start eating and grabbed a couple of Nilla Waffers off of the aid station. The next lap in, I realized I couldn’t make it on cookies and grabbed a couple of Cliff Gels. Over the next hour, I consumed the gels and started to feel kind of gross. Not crampy or anything to really stop me from running, but my guts just weren’t happy. I asked one of the volunteers for a burger and they kindly obliged, so I ran the last 2.5 hours of the race with my Orange Mud Handheld in one hand and a burger in the other. Not an ideal source of calories, but it worked – to some degree.

Mindset

I was awake for the start, but as the day wore on, waking up at 6:00 AM was finally catching up to me. My body felt okay, but mentally I started to drift. I lost track of laps and just kept going forwards and that was good enough. My legs were feeling fine, but my back was sore and the head lamp and fog was really starting to give me some tunnel vision. I won’t say I threw in the towel, but I wasn’t really hell bent on pushing it either. If you look at the pace of my last half lap, you’ll see that I had plenty of gas left in the tank and probably should have been pushing a bit harder. Had I shaved a couple of minutes off my last two laps, I might have been able to eek out a full 16 laps instead of 15.5.

In the end, I can blame it on some extraneous variables, but it was really the head that broke on this one.

The Final Hour

Coming into the final hour I had lost count of laps and asked on the way in how many laps I was on. They told me and off I went. While I’m not the world’s greatest mathematician, I quickly tried to do some mental gymnastics to figure out how many laps I needed to hit that magical 40 number. No matter how many times I did it, I feel tragically short. There was no way I was going to hit 40 so what was the point in pushing on? (Not my everyday mindset, but the mindset I was in at that given moment.) As I ran I slowed down and tried to think about how many laps I could get done in the allotted time. There was no way I could do three, so I slowed down and planned on doing 2.5. In the end, I probably could have picked the pace up a bit and nipped three laps. I guess this is where a crew of some sort might come in handy. It’s hard to think sometimes…

Coming into the barn off my final full lap, I looked at my watch and saw I had sixteen minutes left. Through out the race I used the 1/4 turn around as a point to check my time. I’d been making it to the turn around the last two laps in around seven minutes. If I hustled, I could pick up another mile plus. I tossed my burger and handheld to the side and headed out of the barn. Knowing I was close to the end and having that deadline in front of my nose pushed me on. There was no more I had to do, when I got back, I could be done, so I pushed. I guess you could call it a kick, though kicks are generally associated with speed. There was no speed in this. I finished and was glad it was over. I wasn’t totally trashed as expected, and after chatting with my carmates, and checking the splits on my watch, I realized I had run 15.5 laps, and not 14.5. I had cracked 40, and with that I was stoked.

Pros of the Timed Event

Being my first timed event, I figured why not share what I liked and didn’t. One of the big pluses with a loop is the familiarity you can gain with said loop. After the first two or three times through, you know the tangents, you know when big hill is coming, or where the rock hiding in the grass ready to send you sprawling is waiting. It’s also quite helpful to never be far from an aid station or your stuff. It means you can carry less, and if you forget something, you don’t have to hold on long before you can get to it.

People. I’m not always a big fan of people. I like my quiet. I like my solitude, but people also give you something to chase. On a loop course, there’s always carrots, always someone in front of you ready to be hunted down. It also means that you can chat it up and meet people when you want/need and breaks up some of the monotony.

Cons of the Timed Event

In crummy weather conditions a wet loop can get beat up pretty bad.

Yeah, that’s about it. I really liked this loop.

Misc.

I’d also say that as a first year event, this thing rocked. It’s one I’ll probably do again, and one I’d suggest to others. It’s cheap. It’s an excellent setup. The people who put it on were some of the most helpful and pleasant I’ve met.

Results

Full Results

Full Results

Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 2 Review

Some months ago, before it was warm enough to wear shorts, I purchased the Orange Mud HydraQuiver. I had tried it before, so I was ready for all the love. As time went on, and I thought about doing longer runs in the warm weather, I realized I might need to carry more water with me for those runs that didn’t go by semi-potable water. For a while, I contemplated buying the Double Barrel (a HydraQuiver with two bottles), but around that same time, there was talk about the new Orange Mud Vest Pack 2. I decided to wait, and I’m glad I did.

The chest strap, pocket, and shoulder pocket.

The chest strap, pocket, and shoulder pocket.

Essentially, the Vest Pack is a Double Barrel with chest straps that come down the front of your chest with straps to connect running parellel to the ground. The two shoulder pockets from the HQ are still in tact, but the chest straps also allow for two large pockets that sit lower on your chest. The VP is also designed so

Chest pocket.

Chest pocket.

that a third water bottle can be stored between the two existing water bottles, or an extra storage bag can be purchased from Orange Mud.

Like the HydraQuiver, the VP carries the water high on your shoulders, almost

Because three is better than two.

Because three is better than two.

between the shoulder blades. At first it may seem like it sits rather high and might be a bit awkward, but as far as packs go, this is by far the easiest place I’ve found to carry water. There’s no bouncing, even with the VP fully loaded with 72 ounces of liquid, there’s no smashing into your back. Instead it seems to stay glued to your back/shoulders. This also leaves your lower back open, which for me, is preferable when running in the heat.

The shoulder pockets are made of an elastic material that expands quite well. I used just the two shoulder pockets for a 50 miler, and had no problems with space. At Vermont 100, I used the shoulder pockets to stash my flashlight, keys, cell phone, and other non-essentials that might have proven to be useful. This left the chest pockets to be used for food. The shoulder pockets have an elastic band to synch the front of the pocket and then a velcro strap that covers the opening. Things falling out is of little concern. The shoulder pockets sit on top of the pack so there is no digging in; it’s hard to tell they’re even there.

Huge chest pocket.

Huge chest pocket.

The chest pockets are quite large. Large enough to stash a whole cheeseburger, or my fist. (I’ve tried both.) I also kept drink powder, and sandwich bags of sweet potato. I was never once concerned about filling the pack up. At one point, I put a cup of ice in one of the pockets, synched it off, and had ice for a couple of miles which was pretty nice. Towards the end, I also stuffed a bunch of tater tots in there which proved to be difficult when it came time to get them out – I don’t recommend it, maybe if you put them in a cup but… One of the chest pockets also holds a key clip if you’re worried that the shoulder pocket is inadequate.

Me and my boy!

Me and my boy!

The pack itself is incredibly light weight and made of a high grade medical quality mesh. It’s breathable, lets sweat wick away, and can ride on bare skin without any problems. There are three adjustable straps that run paralel to the ground that connect the chest straps/pockets to the back of the pack and also in front. The two side straps do the major adjustment for size, while the front strap makes the minor adjustments.

I’m not sure I’d use this pack for a 50 miler, or even a heavily aided 100 miler like Vermont (my VT100 expierence Part I, II, III) – for those I think the Double Barrel would be adequate – but for events that aren’t buffets, this is certainly the pack to have. You can check them online at Orangemud.com.

Like the do-dah man.

Like the do-dah man.

Twin State 50: The Run

No one but my mother ever called me a genius, and even then, I think she was referring to my brother. Back in November I made one of those genius decisions: to go for a 50 mile run. Ultra’s – especially 50ks and 50ms aren’t really hard to come by, but I don’t like to travel and I don’t like to pay ridiculous sums so I decided to cook one up myself, throw it out there into cyber space and see what suckers I could catch. I caught a few, and we had a blast (I’ll throw up an RD’ing post later.)

I had planned the race for early April to give everyone a taste of Vermont during Mud Season. Lots of snow melt and run off, cool mornings, warm afternoons, and muddy back roads. As April 6th approached, I was a little worried my plans would be way-laid by the tortuous winter we expierenced, but as luck would have it, spring finally came. There was still snow on the ground and the course had to be rerouted to avoid a mile and a half of post-holing through a foot of snow, but spring came. The morning started at a brisk 26 degrees but once the sun came out the southern slopes started to warm nicely. Of course, that was probably only half the time I was out there as the course is built on hills. After all it is Vermont, and some of the course coincides with the VT50 and the fabled VT100, so the flats were minimal. Fortunately, the course was 80% hard pack dirt road and only 20% asphalt, so while it is technically a road ultra, it’s not.  (A link to the course; it might take a bit to load).

Going into this thing, I had some ideas of what to expect, after all, I’ve run a couple of marathons, a handful of halves and did a fair bit of talking/reading before I decided to have a go at it. Some of my expectations came to fruition and others were left a bit wanting.

tsLeg Strength

It may sound presumptuous, but I was fairly confident I could run the 50 miles in its entirety – no walking up hills – even if it was atrociously slow. The Twin State course proved this tragically wrong. I managed to make it through the first 35 without walking, but by Gap Hill (about 325 feet up over half-a-mile), I was walking. I’m not really sure how much it saved me, but I was still able to go strong on the flats – though they were few – and hobble the downhills. One thing no one tells you when you ask how to take on an ultra: The Down Hills Will Kill You. Maybe this is a rule kept secret to punish ultra virgins, but by the end, I preferred a little incline to a little decline.

Nutrition

I was also fairly confident I would blow up. Since most of my long runs this winter can’t really be termed as ‘long,’ and I neglected toying with nutrition on the run, I was sure this would be my downfall. I have been training with HoneyMaxx, and am very comfortable with how I react to it, so I knew it was my drink of choice, but food, well forget it. It was a pretty big crap shoot, but I think I crapped it pretty well. I ended up mashing a baked sweet potato with two tablespoons of coconut oil, a dollop of honey, and two tablespoons of dried ground rabbit meat (I raise rabbits). I packaged them in five sandwich bags and stuffed them in my HydraQuiver, which had plenty of room for more. I started sucking them down about 1.5 hours in, and consumed about one bag in an hour. It seemed to work, though I think I might need to find a way to boost the calories per serving for longer runs. By 45 miles I could tell I was hungry and started to want food.

Shoes

I’ve been running in my Skora Phase for a while now, but nothing close to this far. Being zero drop and having an 11mm stack – I put the insoles in for this – I wasn’t sure how my feet would feel afterwards, as I’ve heard you need more cushion for these long events. Thankfully, and as I had anticipated, this wasn’t a problem. My feet were quite comfortable in terms of my shoes.  I did, however,  get some grit in there that gave me a few raw spots, but that’s a gaiter/sock thing, and I’m not sure I really want to go that route.

The Pain

Having run a couple marathons, I was ready for some pain. My marathons have left me totally wiped. A puddle of unrecognizable humanity. My legs are fried. My upper body is tired. My brain is mush. I expected this to be no different – it was. Somewhere around 33/38 miles, my legs started getting really tired and sore. To be precise it was mostly my quads. As I took in the discomfort and took mental note of the rest of my body, I was pleasantly surprised to see I could still think remotely clear and even whistle a few bars of Dr. Hook’s Queen of the Silver Dollar – it was in my head the whole time… I’m not sure if this is normal 50 mile feeling: sore legs, but otherwise okay, or if this is my legs not being fit enough to keep up with what my brains and cardiovascular system could pull.

Miscellaneous

A lot of race recaps are really long – and I tried to avoid that, but here I am at near 800 words like the verbose bastard I am. Apologies. I’ll save all my ramblings of how gorgeous and hilly the course is, my complaints about the jack-hole RD that marked it, and the praises of the ultra community for my RD post to come later… I also managed to take one of those snappy pre-race photos of all my get up – I even wrote the post. Unfortunately, when I went to upload the picture, I buggered it up and lost it, so you’ll have to pretend you can imagine me in my white and brown cotton gloves, camouflage bandanna, orange tech-t, bright orange HydraQuiver, massively short shorts, and fluorescent orange and blue Skoras gingerly slogging downhill (or don’t, it’s probably better if you don’t).

In Short,

(You could have just skipped down here, and no one would have known the difference. Hell, you probably did you cheeky monkeys…) I managed to keep my pace fairly consistent until I started to walk a bit on the uphills. I did a bit of course maintenance mid-run because some d-bag decided to pull down my surveyor tape. I even fielded a phone call from a lost runner around mile 43. But I had a great time, and things went well. My goal at the beginning of the year was to be somewhere in the 8:00 hour range for this, and in the 7:00 range for VT50. I ended up running 6:58:16, just nipping under 7:00 on what I’m gathering is a fairly rugged course. Pretty stoked with that.

HydraQuiver Review

This post has been a long time coming, and for that, I apologize, but a stellar product deserves a stellar review. So here it is.

While back, I mentioned that I do not run with much in the way of ‘gear.’ I have a $20 watch from Wal-mart and a pair of Phases from Skora. However, delving into the ultra world, I quickly realized that I would need some sort of hydration system which I was not pleased about. A couple of years ago my father-in-law got me some hydration belt. It vaguley resembled a fanny pack which was something of a false start, but I decided to give it a go all the same. The results were awful. It rode up, it chaffed, it was impossible to get the bottles back in without a huge slow down. I threw it in the back of the closet and gave up on hydration on the go.

Cue tri-athlete friend sporting a HydraQuiver. I kept complaining about hydration packs and could not contain my disbelief that h

Wide shoulder straps.

Wide shoulder straps.

e had found something that was comfortable and actually worked. He let me borrow it, and I was hooked.

Since there are so many quality things about the HydraQuiver, I will start with what works for me: comfort. I do not care how well a product works, if it is uncomfortable and causes any sort of chaffing, I am out. With the HydraQuiver, this is a non-issue. It goes on like a small back pack and rides between the shoulder blades in a naturally created pocket. The straps over the shoulders are wider, slightly padded and because it is so lightweight, it is barley noticeable when it is on. I was a little concerned about the straps going under the armpit, but because of the angle in which the meet the bottom of the pack, the straps want to go away from the body and end up not getting nestled in the armpit ripping you to shreds. On top of all this, the bottle holder is set in a perfectly reachable space at the top of the back/bottom of the neck, kind of like a quiver full of arrows (get it?). Try it out. Pretend you have something on your back and reach to get it. Easy to get, and just as easy to get the bottle back in. The bottle holder is wider than the bottle at the top and funnels the bottle into the holder. The bottle holder also has a Velcro strap that allows you to change the depth of the holder – have a bigger bottle, lower the

Longer bottle, deeper hole.

Longer bottle, deeper hole.

bottom, have short arms, raise the bottom up. It is pretty fool proof and essentially a one-size-fits-all solution.

For me, that is all I need in a pack, but there is so much more to the HydraQuiver, and not telling you would be an injustice. Let  us start with another piece of the comfort picture. Where it sits on your back there are two, big pieces of foam with a massive channel between the two. This helps to allow for maximum air flow and breathability. There is no overheating, and normal sweating that does occur has someplace to go.

Easy access pockets.

Another big plus for a lot of people is the amazing storage space in this little pack. It is as if Orange Mud figured out how to make black holes and put them inside all their HydraQuivers. Firstly, there are two packs on the shoulder straps for quick access. They are made of some stretchy elastic type material that will hold any number of gels or Gu-s or homemade sweet potato mix. In case you needed more space there is zipper access to the space between the back pads and the bottle holder. The Orange Mud website says that there is 54 cubic inches of cargo space. What is 54 inches of cargo space, well, if you needed to use it all, you would not be running, maybe packing your bags and getting out of town?

For me, the only question is: HydraQuiver or Double Barrel. So go on and get yourself one. And if this review did not sell you, these are designed and made right here in the USA, it is your patriotic duty to get one. Seriously folks, check them out. Lots of good, quality products for runners and they are ever expanding.