Wednesday, December 11, 2013

One Epic Run – Only a Mothers Love

      This was the 3rd year for this event and as they say out with the old and in with the new. Angela took over Epic this year and knocked it out of the ball park.

      3.1 mile rocky, rooty trail loop. This year there was some mud thanks to all the rain but still an amazing event and a great time on the trails. My goal when putting this thing together was to make it something at the end of the year where Ultra runners can come run with friends and bring their families to enjoy the weekend with good people. It was quoted this year as “ultra tailgating party” among other cute names. There are even rumors of a pink pony named Lola that finished 5 loops. 
      I named this “Only a Mothers Love” because people were calling me the “father” of Epic I don’t have any kids so being the dad of an ultra seems kind of cool. Angela being the “mother” and only a mother’s love could have done what she did. She truly made this One Epic Run. Seeing every runner with smiles on their faces and giving high fives every second of the day and night. So many runners hit PR goals. First time running trails, first time Ultra distance, running longer than they ever have and I even cut an hour off of my 50 mile time. She had a rough week before and after Epic but was still able to make this something so special. Family friendly laid back no pressure event but still having a competitive side to it. Everything your average runner could need or want at the aid station (people have some strict diets these days) and it’s hard to have everything.

      I have cried because of this event every year for one reason or another  and yes this year was no different. Seeing people that I don’t get to see but maybe once or twice a year, seeing people that I met earlier this year and meeting so many new people. This was truly the happiest I have ever been running. To be running in the event with people that helped create this event was something that will be one of the all time greatest memories of my life.

      There were so many memories going through my head on every loop. Jason getting the stickers the first year, Bo in the woods in the middle of the night helping me mark the course and then staying there half way through the loop while I drove to Lows to get more flagging so we could finish. Billy Gordon coming back the 2nd year and seeing him come up to the finish reaching his goal of 100 miles with his family surrounding him. Jason finding out he got into Western States while on the trails the first year. The Shot/beer loops (add name here) that a few people took part in the 2nd year. John and Bo daughters huddled around the “fire” the first year out on the road helping with the aid station. Rob letting me snuggle up in his car. John setting his butt on fire. Doug F’s family helping in the way they did. Lura coming out to help and then making a “memories” book from the first year to bring to the 2nd one. Viktor running in 30* temps with no shirt on. If I had any low mental spots out there they did not last long. This list could go on for days of all the people that helped and I’m sure Angela’s list could too.

      I am so thankful that she kept Epic alive and brought it to a new level that I only dreamed about. I normally have 3 levels when it comes to my goals for a race. Epic was no different. 1 no matter what have fun and enjoy as much of it as I can, 2 get over 100 miles and 3 just run the whole 24 hours. I was staying on a clean 11 min mile pace with tight legs until around mile 38ish. About that time my legs opened up and I thought wow I don’t see anything stopping me now. WRONG!! Around mile 40 my gut went all kinds of sideways. I spent the next 10 miles trying everything I could to fix it. I was still running well but I was running scared. I hit 50 miles and decided that if I took an hour break I could still reach my goal of 100 miles without any other problems. About 20 min into my break I started cramping in my lower abs area and knew that if I continued to run that I would just spend the night fighting the pain. NUMBER 1 GOAL. Enjoy every mile. I put in a strong 50 miles and enjoyed the day on the trails. I’m going home. I did set my alarm for 1am, 4am and 6am in case I woke up feeling better. That did not happen it has still been jacked up 3 days latter but I did head back out to see the finish and help Angela if I could. There was no way I was going to miss the end of the event.

Angela putting on my finishers medal this meant the world to me. 

    I can’t wait to run it next year and see what Angela has in mind for us. I cannot think her enough for taking it over. I know that it can be hard at times and people don’t see how hard you work but you can know that you will touch so many lives and so many people will touch your heart and in rich your life just by knowing them. I can speak from experience. Thanks to this event I have met so many wonderful people that have all played a part in one way or another to make my life a better one.  

      I did not add many pictures but here is a link to the facebook page. Pictures and videos and testaments to her hard work covering the page.

Angela and Jason are putting on a 100 miles race at Croft next April (The Blind Pig) i am stoked to be running it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pacing Pinhoit- It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.


     Going to keep this simple and easy. I feel like I helped a lot of runners when I could but one of the runners I was there to get to the finish did not make it. She dropped at mile 70 and I kept going with my other runner. I felt like a complete failure as a Crew/Pacer and selfishly told myself that I got her better it had to have been in her head. I did my best to keep Jason and myself moving hard for the long night ahead of us. I be dammed if he was not going to make it. Once I finished my pacing duties at mile 85 I got back in the van and seeing Annie sitting there with a fake smile on her face (you know the one “I’m ok but I’m really not”) a guilt hit that sent me into a rage. She stopped because she had to. She was sick and hurt. She made the right call. Who was I to think any other way? I was so upset with myself thinking of all the things I could have done differently. That I lashed out at Bryan and got snippy with him on the way to the next aid station. After all the hard work he put into planning, crewing and taking care of everyone the last thing he needed after almost 30 hours is someone being a brat. I said I was sorry and he just chocked it up to me being tired and beat down as well. Jason and Annie both put it all out there leaving nothing on the trail. The last five miles that Annie did was something to see. She pushed it so hard despite everything that the trail threw at her.

     Here is a link to Jason’s report to get more detail into their run.  Every runner out there if you finished or not was amazing. To take on a challenge like that is something not many will do.

Monday, October 21, 2013

WC-50 – Where did I go wrong?

This was the first year for the event held at the US White Water Center. The event was a 50k held on 2 loops and a 50 miler held on 4 loops. The Packet pick up and panel featuring Karl Meltzer was held at the WWC that Friday. I got there early to hear the panel. It was a treat to hear from such a big time runner the Ultra world but I have to say I’m still sticking with the runners I look up to now and hearing him speak just confirmed that I look up to the right runners. The things he said really stuck with me all night and into my run the next day. I look up to runners like….. time to name drop…. Ray Krolewicz, Richard Schick and Lester Farmer much more than any hot shot out there right now. These guys have been kicking ass and taking names running Ultras for a long time and when they show up to an event young guys still have to watch their back because these runners will come around the corner and pass you before you know it. (their like 50 years old if you have never heard of them… Google that crap).

     A small group got together for dinner and Phil “Ransom” Sustar a friend of Jason’s that I met at the Jewel said something that stuck with me even more. “why worry about it if it does not change your race?” even more stuff that just stuck in the back of my head.

     When I got to my hotel I almost could not sleep not because I was concerned about the race but because off all that I heard that night and everything I was reflecting on. I knew it was going to be a long run. I was still feeling weak after running FATS and thought hell I’ll cross the finish when I cross the finish.

     The morning of the run we all got out to the start and I spent some time talking with everyone and just getting my mind ready for the race. When people would ask what time I was planning on finishing I was quick to say 8 hours and 20 min. knowing good and well it was going to be a 10 hour day. (people just like to hear that crap) truth be told I did not expect anyone but Karl Meltzer to finish in that time. FYI no one finished it that time.

     As the run started the front pack took off while Doug and I settled into our pace for the day. It was not long before Doug decided that pace was to slow for him and he was gone. I was running about an 11:30 pace and my legs were still having trouble but I knew I would be able to stay in this ato-run for the whole day and that it would give me a 10 hour finish and I was more than happy with that.

     The loop was very windy and came next or over itself many times so when I came to the end of the loop 12.5 mile loop and my Garmin read 13.67 miles I was a little upset. Garmins always run short on trails that have lots of bends and come over on themselves like that so I knew that this was more than a 50 miler close to 55 miles and as big of a production as this event was and with all the trail sections to chose from there was no excuse for this. It would not have taken any time to lay out the course with a bike to get the true distance. I asked other runners and their Garmins read anything from 13.2 to 13.8. One local runner that was running with me for a bit said that the loop we were running was not the loop that was mapped out and he had been training on. Another local runner said the same thing to Doug. That could have been the problem but who knows. I started my 2nd loop thinking well fuck it; it will just be an 11 hour day I guess. Not long after I started my 2nd loop I came up on Doug and he was over it. He had been having problems and was calling it a day when we hit the next Aid Station. As we came close I said I would see him in a bit and he called it a day. I just kept shuffling along down the trail thinking about all the stuff I had heard the night before thinking why am I running a 50 miler two weeks after running a 50k? Why am I running another freaking loop course? I am so over loops it’s not even funny after Epic latter this year I may never run another loop course for the rest of my life. I don’t even remember the next 7 miles but I did notice my Garmin read that loop a little shorter than the 1st one. As I’m sitting down changing my vest out for handhelds and talking with Doug;
  Anji comes running up. I just sat there with my jaw on the ground. When did I pass her?!?!?! I asked her and she said I started in front of her. Bull shit. I know I started behind her and I know I never passed her. Doug made a joke and said not to worry about it and down the trail I went. The next 3 miles went about the same as the rest of them but then I started thinking I cut the course somehow. The trails were marked really well and I made it in the dark how could I jack something up in the daylight? Was she taking a bathroom break and I passed her? No way she was running to strong and I was just on autopilot. I cheated the course somehow.  I walked the next 2 miles or so just down on myself trying to think back on what I could have done. I thought well Ill just finish but just stand at the finish for about 15 min before I cross the finish line. I know I was 15 min give or take behind the pack of runners she was with around mile 18 so if I do that I’m good right? I knew I would not feel right about finishing so I dropped half way through my 3rd loop. Jessica Willey was working the AS so it was good to see a face I knew. She asked me if I was sure I wanted to drop and why. I just said yes and that today was just not my day. She gave me the look that she understood and offered me a seat. We talked for a bit and I said something along the lines of just wanting to go home and rub some Vaseline on my balls. The fact she knew me it came of no shock to her that that came out of my mouth but boy the looks I got from the other people around. The other woman working the AS well I thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head and one of the runners eating a sandwich about spit it out. That made my day right there. One of the WW staff came and picked me up and took me to the finish. I got a shower and stuck around to see some friends finish their 50k and headed home.

     This was a very well put together event with a lot of hi-end aspects. Big name sponsors, big name runners and great trails. Great volunteers and staff. I do think a little more could have been put into getting an accurate distance because I don’t believe that a Garmin is ever a good way to get the distance of trails like that. From my experience running at croft which is a lot like the trails there a Garmin just does not work. 12 miles at croft can really be 14 depending on the day.

     Looking at my Garmin data for the 1st and 2nd loop I did some back and forth ziz-zag deal the last 4 miles of the loop so I did jack the course up in some way and it was only right for me to drop. I have heard that people think other runners cut the course in some way but still finished. With a loop course and the way the trails stack on top of each other there is really no way to prevent that from happing out there unless you have people standing at every turn.

With all that I am looking to sell my entry into Mad Marsh Saturday November 22, 2013 presented by Lowcounry Ultras. It is a $50  entry fee but I need time off to let my legs rest and I am already pacing at Pinhoti so I’m looking to part ways with it for $25. If you would like it just post why you should get it and I’ll let my coworkers vote on it. If no one reads this blog then I’ll just keep the race swag for myself. Pretty sweet hats.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

FATS 50K – Not So FATS Course

Note from the RD
“My first ultra as a Race Director is under my belt. Overall, I'm very happy with the turn out, the relocated course and the runner comments. I couldn't ask for a better set of runners, friends and volunteers! From what I've heard; everyone had a blast and liked the temporary course. I could not have gotten the race off without the awesome support of Tommy and Margie for allowing us to use their land and an amazing group of volunteers headed up by Mellisa Davis Warden who I owe the world to for coming through on finding the course location in a hurry! I saw so many first time ultra finishers and couldn't help but to think back to October 2010 when I finished my first ultra at the 2010 FATS 50K. I was honored to be able to watch race director emeritus finish her first FATS without the stress of being the RD. I love my ultra running community.”
As many of you know, the government is currently going through a shutdown process. Due to these circumstances which are beyond my control, the Forks Trails that the FATS 50K is normally held on are officially closed and I cannot hold the race out there. Because of the shutdown, I have had to consider options that I normally would not consider this close to race day. One of those options was to relocate the race for this year only.”

     When this hit it was hard for me to go to the race. I was using this as a last long training run to get ready for WC 50. Much of the trails are alike in many ways and would help me see where I was at in my training. I still went down with that mind set and with the idea in my head that I was going to support David the RD. It takes a lot of work to put on an event and now he had to deal with the government shutdown.
Loved the fog

     I was planning on running about a 10 min pace and just staying smooth the whole race but thanks to a dead Garmin that could not happen. Luckily Doug was there and I could just go off his pace (after all I am using his training plan for WC) well Doug gets it in him to kick everyone’s ass so I just tried to keep him in sight the whole race and that plan was working out just great until the fog lifted and the sun started beating down on us. The course was half wooded trail and half open field (4 mile loop). I have been staying out of the sun as much as I could since the last 50 and was not ready for that to hit but I still pushed on. As the laps piled on the heat started beating me down. As one runner I passed said “the mind will go long before the body” boy was he right. Loop 6 I was so confused I did not know what lap I was on and really started to wonder and lost sight of Doug. I started getting a little down on myself but still able to push hard. I knew Andy was not far behind me and knew it would not be long before he passed me. During the 7th loop I decided to just try and stay in front of him as long as I could and that when I Started my last loop to drop my pack and just take my bottle/IPod. I had not had it the whole race and was hoping it would drown out some negativity that was building up. About half way through the 7th loop Andy was right behind me. Ok I told myself just keep one turn ahead of him. I did not care about beating him and did not think I would I was using him as a bench mark so to speak. I knew he would finish under 5 hours and that would help push me to the finish. As we came to the end of the 7th loop and hit the open section I knew then that on the last lap I would crumble right there. I knew when I hit that sun again that I was going to have a hard time.
Can you see the pain in them eyes?

Lap 8 then end of me. I had the Jack Johnson song Breakdown stuck in my head.
“I need this
Old train to breakdown
Oh please just
Let me please breakdown
I need this
Old train to breakdown
Oh please just
Let me please breakdown
I wanna break on down
But I cant stop now”

     I love the song but this was not the time to have that going through my head so I put on some of the most hardcore metal I had on my IPod and just pushed. My brain felt like it was on fire. At the half way aid drop I just took a knee and put water over me and sat there for what felt like 10 minutes. I finally started moving again and just wanted to heat to go away. Thinking where the hell did that amazing fog go that we had that morning? Not long after that Andy was behind me again and I was doing that whole run when someone comes close to you deal and started running again but not before Andy dumped same water on my head. I think he knew the heat was knocking me down a few pegs. As we hit that last open section again I just started running hard down that hill knowing I was not going to last much longer. I was right; as we started the last 100 yards up to the finish I went down. My brain had all the heat it could take. Andy stopped and picked me up and told me that I was not going to stop. I asked him to just keep running that way I could chase him to the finish. I felt like it was taking longer to run the last 100 yards then the whole freaking race took. I was done. Andy came back down the hill from the finish and said that if I just ran I could make it in under 5 hours. I gave it everything my head had and sprinted…. Well what felt like a sprint… across the finish. It took about an hour for me to get my head right and cooled off but once I did I felt fine.

Brain melting
     I very happy with my run and so thankful for everyone that helped bring this together. It was a great event and a special thanks to the home owners that let this happen. I am excited to see what happens at WC in a few weeks.
Beer makes everything better

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Georgia Jewel 35 mile – Learnin Stuff with the Crew of ill Repute

     This was set out as a training run and a way to learn something about 100s from some 100 mile runners during a 100 mile race. I have been looking at maybe doing a 100 miler next year and what better way to learn what you need to do? O I know…. run as much as you can during a 100 mile race. I have been lucky to crew for a 100. Well what about the start? How does that need to “go down”? Jason was running the 100 and win win for me and hopefully him. I get to learn some things and he gets somewhat of a “pacer” for the first 17.5 miles of his race.

Well what did I learn?

Pay attention to the weather and prepare for it AND every other thing that could happen. A poncho is NOT the best for a rain storm.  It dropped rain for 10ish hours so yea that kind of sucked. The fog was crazy real zombie weather.

Spend the money on a good head lamp. Refer back to the first lessen.

Hike, Hike and Hike. I need to spend days hiking for hours not just running. I don’t want to be at mile 70 ready to drop or die because I lack the skill to hike with speed.

Start out easy. I understand what they say by “the race starts at mile 50”.


      Anything that can happen just might happen. The rain got out of hand fast and God bless the RD and the team that held this race together. A river crossing got to be a real danger like let’s take some runners and maybe even a truck downstream DANGER. The Race team worked fast to hold the runners and find a way to divert the race. This made it 113ish miles in total BUT runners were able to finish what they came to do “get jeweled”. I hope and believe that everyone understands how hard it is to do something like that and have no hard feelings for it. Some runners got off course during this time and like I said God bless everyone involved with this event. Everyone was found, put back on course and given the chance to finish what they trained so hard for. This speaks volumes for this race and the commitment of everyone attached to it. Aid Station volunteers sitting in the rain for 10 + hours holding it together. Rain coming down so hard at times, wind blowing everything they have over, having to chase down runners and gear. Not only did they hold it together but were still able to make it a great event. As I sit here eating pizza and drinking a beer I can’t help but think what the RD and the race team has going through their heads right now. The event is over for us but not them.

OK now let’s get with the getting.
The Start
     Nice morning to start a run other than the MONSOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We started going up like really UP a road. Taking it easy in the back sucking up everything I could from not just Jason but the pack of about 6 - 100 mile runners all talking about past experience and planning. I just kept my trap shut and tried to take it all in. After we got to the “rock garden” I started to open up a little bit and joke around hoping to keep the conversation going between everyone. I was so excited to be running back through this on the comeback. I love rocky/rooty tails and this was my own personal heaven.  I thought boy I will be able to move like the wind when the sun comes out. We moved at a pretty steady 16 min mile with some running but the majority was hard/fast hiking and joging and every couple minutes I would have to run/jog to keep up or catch up with everyone. They were hiking like it was nothing and I was struggling to keep that moving pace without running. As we started seeing the 35 mile runners coming back after the turnaround some quite took over. I tried to get a conversation going but no such luck. I was not sure if they were just getting into the zone or if they were just tired of hearing my voice. Either way I just shut up. Thinking back on it after 4 hours of rain and the sun finally coming up I think it was just them accepting the fact that it was going to be a long day, it was going to rain, it was going to be cold and this was a hard trail. There was nothing they could do about it and they just had to accept that this was going to be their day/night/day. No complaining just moving forward. We hit the 35 mile turn around in 4hours and 30 minutes and I got ready to start my race. Jason went off with his crew of Nick, Annie and Bryan while I started tearing ass down the trail.
Chris at the river.

Just a little watter

Nick making some lunch
I got a really good look at the runners before the turn around and I thought that if I pushed it I could pass a good number of them. I did not really see a “mid pack” Just the fast group and then the pack right before the turnaround. I thought I would hit a pack of runners the first hour of the turn back then the “mid pack” the last hour.  I was hoping that I would make the return trip in 3 hours. The first hour I just zoned into the trail and passed 10 or 11 runners before I hit the 10 mile aid station. I restocked and asked how far behind the next runner was I? He said that he thinks the lead pack was crossing the finish right about then. At that point I started thinking hell there does not seem to be a mid pack. I was just 2 miles away from the rock garden and I knew I would really be able to make a move then. As I got to the start of the rocks it hit me that this is going to be a really hard end to my day. The rain got even harder and the trail was smooth with water. It was not the rocks that were the problem it was the fact I could not see any rocks. The water was up to 6 inches deep in spots. I said HTFU (thanks Bo) in my head and just pushed as hard as I could. That luck lasted for about a mile before I ate it. I ended up ripping one of the lugs on my running shoes but the fact that the lug ripped and bent stopped my ankle from going sideways so I started walking and clearing fallen trees from the trail until I felt comfortable running again. This lasted till mile 28.45 on my Garmin. At that point the wind kicked and a tree fell along the trail right next to me. I looked up and said “really bro” and thought dude this SUCKS for the 50 and 100 mile runners. I just moved at a safe pace for the next 2 miles until I got to a point that I could get moving again. My hip started hurting long before this point but again I told myself HTFU it’s pain from running and either you can keep bitching about it or just accept the fact it’s going to hurt and keep hurting until it does not hurt anymore. “stop being a little bitch” “remember you had some manhood at some point In your life where did it go?” So moving as hard as I could again it hit me that for this 35 mile run I had only drank 60oz of water. I thought WTF??? That’s not right? That’s not good at all but I have been peeing every hour. (am I absorbing water through my skin?) As hard as it was raining I would not doubt it. O well lets finish this beast. As I was getting close to the finish I started walking a little to “fix myself up” just in case there was someone taking pictures. I did not want to look to beat down crossing the finish. I came around the turn at a nice hard pace to the finish and yep. It was just an Ultra finish. 4 people under a tent yelling “what’s your bib number?” hahaha I love it.

     Total time from my Garmin was 7:59:57. So 4:30:36 out and 3:29:20 on the ride back not quit the 3 hour return I was looking for but extremely happy considering the conditions.

     When I hit the finish they told me that there was a sandwich in a box if I wanted it. As I’m stuffing my face a guy pulls out a camera and takes a picture and all I could think was “really? You’re taking a picture now?” Well hell. I told everyone thinks and started walking back to the FJ. One of the men yelled “do you want your award?” O cool we get something? The race bag was sweet and we got a great zip up hoodie AND now I get a finish award “hell yea” I replied. He yelled back and told me “you see that van driving away? Better catch them” so I took off as fast as I could chasing this van down. I thought I just ran 35 miles and now I’m doing a 100 yard sprint for some finish award. I just stopped and looked at the guy and yelled “really?” hoping he was just joking with me. “YES it’s in the van” I just looked down and said the hell with it. I came for a good run and learn some stuff and I got that in spades. I was more than happy and now I just want to take a shower but just then the van turned around and drove back to me. O HAPPY DAYS O HAPPY DAYS. It slipped her mind that the awards were in her van. I’m sure the problems with the flood and course reroute and all the tents blowing away the last thing on her mind was the box of jewels.

     Everyone did an amazing job. Phyllis got first female in the 35 mile race, Rachel, Angela and Katie all finished the 50 miler with some extra miles. Nick, Bryan and Annie did a great job crewing and pacing Jason to his fifth 100 mile finish. Got to see a lot of Ultra friends. All in all a great event and a great weekend spent on the trails. I will be running this bad boy again. Maybe the 100 if I do get a wild hair up my butt.
Crew of ill Repute picture taken by Bryan. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ultimate Direction Signature Series Anton Krupicka Race Vest - Product Review

As advertised: 
Minimalism comes to the world of hydration with the AK Race Vest, designed by the apostle of the "less is more" philosophy, Anton Krupicka.  Weighing in at a feathery 6 ounces, the AK Race Vest is the world’s lightest hydration pack.  With all the features you need and none you don’t, the AK Race Vest offers twin bottle pockets, a main compartment for gear or a reservoir, and several smaller pockets easily accessed on the go.  The Power Net Mesh holds small items securely while expanding out to a full 4 liter capacity.


Features (Front):
A Smart phone compatible pouches (2)                    
B Bottle holsters tighten to carry camera, ect.
C Hose loops for optional reservoir (3)
D Electrolyte or valuables pocket (2)
E Fully adjustable Sternum Straps (2)
F Super soft edge banding

Features (Back):
G Bungee Cord for extra capacity
H Secure Lat Pockets 
I Interior bungee to secure load or reservoir
J Hex Mesh for maximum breath-ability
K Side straps for size adjustment

Volume Capacity: 23 in.3 / 4.5L
Fluid Capacity: 2 x 20 oz. bottles / 2 x 591 mL
Weight: 6 oz. (11.5 oz. with bottles) / 170 g (326 g with bottles)
Height: 12 in. / 30 cm
Width: 9 in. / 23 cm

Sizing At Chest (Unisex):
Use the average of your chest (at nipples) and natural waist (where you bend)
S/M: 23 - 34 in. / 58.4 - 86.4 cm
M/L: 27 - 39 in. / 68.6 - 99.1 cm

Vest Design: A wide range of loads is carried with comfort, stability, and ease of access
Hex Mesh: The structure of the vest is totally breathable, while also being extremely strong, lightweight, and will not absorb moisture

Power Mesh: All pockets and super stretchy, so small loads won't bounce and the vest expands as you need it to.


Features (Front):
A Smart phone compatible pouches (2)   (You are not fitting a smart phone in these pouches. Holding capacity 1" thick / 4" tall / 2 1/3" wide. A small camera or 2 Gels.)                  
B Bottle holsters tighten to carry camera, ect.
C Hose loops for optional reservoir (3)
D Electrolyte or valuables pocket (2)  (Holding capacity 3" long / 2" tall with a little stretch)
E Fully adjustable Sternum Straps (2)
F Super soft edge banding

Features (Back):
G Bungee Cord for extra capacity
H Secure Lat Pockets (2) (Holding capacity 4 1/2" tall / 2 1/2" wide. (3 Gels.) with a little stretch)
I Interior bungee to secure load or reservoir (velcro loop) 

J Hex Mesh for maximum breath-ability
K Side straps for size adjustment

Main compartment holding capacity after adding a Reservoir - 4 1/2" thick / 6 1/2" wide 8 1/2" tall with a lot of stretch. 

I use a Camelbak 50oz reservoir and it fits very well. I am not a fan of how the UD reservoir opens. 

This is a really great compartment that can hold a lot of stuff if you need it to. It feels great on your back with or without anything in it. It sits up high so you don't have any problem with it rubbing your lower back and does not cause any chafing. The bungee allows you to tighten the gear inside down so it does not bounce around. When adding of removing gear or when the reservoir gets low you do need to loosen or tighten the bottom strap. 

The bottle holsters are well placed but the UD bottles do not feel comfortable and the "nipples" Ultimate Direction bottle kicker valves are a bit of a pain in the butt to use. I took my 20oz Amphipod bottles and used them and the curve that the 
Amphipod bottles have feel good and the holster tightening cords hold them in place just fine.


There is a sloshing sound that I have heard some people complain about but to tell the truth it is no loader than a water reservoir in the back or the sound of your handhelds in your hand. I have no problem talking to other runners and hearing them. It does take some getting used to (hearing it at your chest) but that's about it. 

Other than the bottles and reservoir (which have nothing to do with the vest) and the fact they promote a Smartphone being able to fit in the top pouch I really enjoy the vest. It is small and fits well. It did take about a week for me to tighten the vest down to where it felt good on my body. I have run all week in the vest without a shirt (log run being 4 hours) and have not had any chafing problems. My nipples bleed after 8 with a shirt so that’s saying a lot. I live in the south east with high humidity and heat. The vest does hold sweet around the edge banding on the bottom but nothing crazy and a lot less than any other system I have used in the past.

For you handhelds only runners. I myself only used a pack when I had no other choice but this is small and functional. I have been putting a camera in the upper left pouch but if you are going to do that you would need to pad it. I used a Sport Shield packet.  

If your a runner that does not need a lot most days but do go on those long "alone" runs this is the vest for you. It holds everything I need for race day and I can add the reservoir and put items into the back pouch for those long training runs. No more looping back to the car or carrying a big bulky pack for this runner. 

Some things I think would improve the vest. 

1. The top Sternum Strap has an elasticity to it. I think that would be great for the bottom one and the side straps. That way you could tighten the vest down tighter but still be able to breath with comfort and not have to make any adjustments when adding or removing gear from the back. 

2. I wish that the top pouches closed the same way the bottom ones do. 

Over all I think this is a great product for a "minimal' type runner that can do a verity of running task. 


Monday, September 2, 2013

Yeti Snakebite 50k – The trail of fate cuts a strange and winding path.

       What a weekend. Great pre-night at Annie and Bryans place. Thanks to them for putting us up. Jason, Rachel, Bo Katie and Myself.


This was the first year for this race and I got some problems with the websites “What” section.
50 mile and 50KM races designed to help runners achieve a new distance and allow veteran runners to run a speedy time or tune up for upcoming fall events. Both races utilize a variety of relatively easy trails, including weaving single-track and broad open fields, as well as narrow trails along the Chattahoochee River. With moderate hills and trails, the course is designed for fast times and for those looking to try their first trail ultra.

      Just let me pick this apart for a sec before I go into how amazing this event was. “veteran runners to run a speedy time” yea freaking right maybe in fall but not in that weather. “and those looking try their first ultra” yea go ahead if you have a death wish.

      Ok now that I’m done with that. What a great trail that the RD Jason Green set up. Great mix of everything. Single track trails with climbs and fast drops, rocks, roots, open road (mix of gravel and pavement). Rivers, streams, crazy castle in the middle of the water.  There were some fields of high grass and whatever grows 10 feet tall that I could do without but great trail well the sections I saw.
We all got talked into the 50 mile the night before and HUGE props to Bo and Rachel for finishing it and Rachel for her first 50 miler in that kind of heat. Jason went down to the 50k and the rest of us well we were there. Haha

     I started out at a 12 min pace looking to use this as a training run for a race latter this year.  As I got to the 3rd mile I said the hell with that this is going to get hotter than Cremator so I picked up the pace a little to avg out to an 11 min pace. I still did not want to move to hard my hips have still been acting up a bit and I would have a 7+ hour drive the next day for work. It was hard to keep that 11 min pace due to the fact the heat was really getting to people and anytime we hit single track I would be stuck behind a long line of people walking. I started getting a little ticked off because I would say excuse me or on your left and they would say ok but not slide over. It is single track people with shit footing (big rocks and such) slide the hell over like normal people and don’t just say “OK” never seen that before in a race or well ever.

     I hit the first Aid Station and went looking for GUs and they did not have any. Not uncommon at Ultras but I have only been using them and not real food and was scared what “food” would do to my gut. They did have everything a runner could ask for in the way of real food so I ate a little something and took off. About a mile latter; Yep, I’m fucked. Gut got jacked up and hips started hurting BUT that sweet castle in the water was right there and I stopped and got a nice look at it. I was not expecting it to get that hot and humid and was in no way ready for it. That on top of the hip pain starting and only 11ish miles in I knew I was not going to run the 50 miles and would just turn around at the 50k turn around. I want to be 100% for a run latter this year and don’t need to compound injuries. When I hit 15.5 miles I thought where the hell is this aid station? I saw the 1st place runner but no one after that for about 3 min. I knew I was not that close to the lead pack and that they should all be passing me like a long time ago. I hit 17 miles and thought O hell now I’m lost. It was that tall 30 foot grass with a path cut out. I yelled “AID STATION!!!!!! WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU!!!!!!! Hoping someone would hear the cries of a lost child in the woods and come to help. Then I see Andy come racing down the hill. A quick high five and I was good. I knew then that I was still on the trail and that the leader was just kicking the shit out of everyone. I still thought crap where is this aid station? I’m in some neighborhood in little kid shorts and that’s all. Dirty, sweaty with a little limp. Any self respecting parent would kick the crap out of me and tell me to get out and stay out. At that point I hear a little party going on. 18ish miles there was the 50k turn around. I got there and said how many miles back? And is this 18 miles? Thinking my Garmin was just off by about the distance of the price of a new one. “Yea 18 miles you cut out a 3 mile loop on the way back” the girl with the clip board said. Well think God I would like to spend my $ on a vest and not a new watch.

     I stayed at the aid station for about 20 min thinking of what I needed to do. 50m/50k/drop? One of the Aid station workers (Ultra runner) I know because of how he was talking to me. “what you still doing here?” “O no you came to run the 50 so you need to get going THAT WAY” “here suck on this pop sickle while you move down the trail” “you hurt? You don’t look hurt”…. You can’t pay money for good support like that. That only comes from having good people helping at an event that has been through some real running pain. It’s not just the words it’s the tone in them. I said to myself I would just wait for Rachel and Bo before I made up my mind on what to do. I knew I was not going to run the 50 and I knew that I could finish the 50k and still get some rest for the work drive the next day but at what cost? I want to be 100% latter and if I keep going Ill just keep the hip messed up. I know I can go 20 miles with little to no pain after last weekend but the pain started at mile 10.I saw runner after runner drop down to the 50k or DNF. I talked with Richard and Kurt who both were DNFing and thought it’s best for me to do the same.

     I sat there for a little over an hour thinking I would just reset my brain and keep going but I could not stop singing this in my head.

On a warm summer's mornin' on a trail bound for nowhere,
I met up with the race; we were both too tired to speek.
So we took turns a starin' out the window at the darkness
'Til boredom overtook us, and it began to speak.

It said, "Son, I've made my life out of readin' people's faces,
And knowin' what their hearts were by the way they held their eyes.
And the race got deathly quiet, and my face lost all expression.
it said, "If you're gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your miles when you're sittin' at the aid station.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the runnins done.

Now Ev'ry runner knows that the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away and knowing what to keep.
'Cause ev'ry races a winner and ev'ry race a loser,

There'll be time enough for runnin' when the healin's done.

     Once Rachel and Bo got there I let them know I was dropping and got a ride back to the start. I knew that Bryan would be getting to the 50 mile turn around soon and would just give him Rachel’s stuff out of my car. Once I got to the 50 mile turn around I did just that but saw Rachel and Bo pop up. Both of them looking strong and I knew she would be finishing her first 50 mile. She asked for one of my handhelds and they headed back down the trail.

     I think a lot of people were not expecting that heat and dropped down to the 50k or 50 mile because they have plans of other runs latter in the year and did not expect this first year event to be so well organized. Well we were wrong. Jason and his crew did one hell of a job with this event and I know that next year that 50 miler will be on a lot of people’s hit list. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hot to Trot – It lives up to its name

The description of the event…. 
     “8 hour run on a 1.1813 mile loop course. No wimps, no whiners. But lots of other stuff. PREVIOUS ULTRA/ENDURANCE EXPERIENCE IS REQUIRED! This is NOT a good first ultra due to the potentially extreme heat. Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lithia Springs, Georgia.
Race HQ: Picnic shelter #7. The course is 1.1813 miles long, almost entirely trail. Being trail, you should expect roots, rocks, sand, and wildlife. There is also a very short section of pavement each loop, but you'll barely notice it!”

     These are the “rules” but I’m pretty sure every one of them was broken. Haha I would say that this really is not a good event for someone just starting out in ultras. Not because it was not well run but just because of how hot and sick a runner can get.

• Veteran ultra runners ONLY! If I do not know you, proof of worthiness is required. This is NOT a good first ultra due to the potentially extreme heat. Why? See WEATHER below.
• No dogs allowed on course (sorry, but leashes are a hazard on loop courses).
• Limited to 100 runners.

"At the Hot To Trot 8 Hour Race, our goal is to provide the race as advertised. As the name implies, you can count on it being HOT (we had a freak cold snap in 2004, but we're pretty sure that won't happen again). Temps are easily in the 90's this time of year in Georgia, with humidity off the scale. Hyponatremia and dehydration can be serious. Runners are expected to use proper electrolytes in order to stay alive! Ice is provided throughout the race for your use to keep that core body temperature down! The race director reserves the right to pull anyone whom he feels is putting themselves in danger. If you do not know how to manage your electrolytes, learn BEFORE this run, not during!"

     This was just a get back to moving run for me with a few great friends and some cool swag. I have only run 6 miles since Cremator and not all at once. "life" has taken hold and my stress level has made it hard to make time to get the miles in.  I have heard many good stories about this run and thought what the heck. I was not sure how I would feel about a about the 1 mile loop but it was not bad as far as boredom is concerned. Heck a day later I was looking at some of the pictures and thought (we ran over a bridge?) hummm.

     I went down to Beth’s house that Friday and a group of us all had dinner that Beth and her Husband cook. Top notch dinner and great to talk to everyone before an event. Kelley and Beth were talking about what their plans were and they were going for a win. I think everyone else was just looking to do better than what they did the year before. I was just planning on running a hard 20 miles and calling it a day.

Me, Kelley, Lisa, Beth, Pete
     Race morning Beth, Kelley, Andy and myself all loaded up in Beth’s car and headed to the start. After the first loop I was stoked. It starts out with this rolling fast downhill then some flat sections down by a creek then you cross a bridge and head back up this rocky, rooty climb. I was in heaven. I was able to hall butt down the hill and that speed would almost carry me all the way to the climb out. I call it a climb because after about an hour and hitting it every mile it gets to you. The race description is spot on. It’s not for wimps. It gets HOT even with the shade its bad and down by the river it is even worse. Rocks, roots, sand and wildlife yep it had all that too.

     I ran what I think was 20 miles it was hard to know because my Garmin was going in and out. There was a dead spot at some point on the loop and as we all know even on flat road with open cover a Garmin can be up to 25 feet per mile off so again what I thought was 20. This event was chipped timed but I never hold much stock in that crap working. When I saw the chips I made sure to ask if they were manually keeping track as well because if not I would have marked my arm every loop. People looked at me like I was crazy for not trusting the chips but guess what. They had problems so NANA NANA BOO BOO. They had to change computers and myself and some others had to get new chips during the run. Now this is in NO WAY a bad reflection on the event or the people putting the chip timing together sometimes that stuff just happens. It’s always good to have a back up when dealing with chips if you bend them just a little they won’t work right.

The Line of Tents
     It was hard for me to only run 20 miles after all it was an Ultra event. So once I did stop I thought hell I have four and a half hours I’ll just take a break and do 11 more miles latter. It was hard to stop running being there with the group I was with all of them being big time competitors pushing hard to get every mile they could but I was able to do what I needed to do and keep my plan of only 20 miles and help them in any way I could to keep them going. When I was running it only took 5 loops before the leaders would pass me. I thought Damn they are moving hard/fast to be running for 8 hours. After the heat hit I could tell they were trying to get what miles they could before it got to hot. Jim who was in the lead for I believe the whole day and was very kind and encouraging to everyone as he flew past heck everyone there was kind and encouraging until it got hot and then it got really quite. He was running by and asked if anyone would run with him. I jumped up and took off down the trail. Well I pulled my bib out of my bag and took off running. I thought hell if I’m going to do more laps better get them counted. I had taken everything off at this point but my shoes. He just needed someone to help him keep moving at the speed he was going. Not sure how much help I was. He was in front and I was just trying to keep him company. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Now I was feeling good the whole 20 miles I did but the two laps with Jim had my right side cramping like a mofo. I thought dang these guys and gals have been holding this pace out here in this heat all day. Just crazy. That “climb” gets harder and harder every loop as well. I’ve had a few runs where everything was spot on and just worked out my way every step and was able to finish smooth and happy but even with 8 hours I’m not sure on a good day out there if I would be able to make 40 miles which seemed to be a lot of people’s goal. At the 5 hour mark that heat really knocks you down and does not let up. 

Beth and her dad. 
Andy when I said I was done for the day
     I did those two laps with him and was done for sure. After it was all said and done and runners were licking their wounds Jim and Kelley were 1st male and female. Just amazing to see them and everyone there push it so hard. Maybe next year I will go back and try to hit 40 miles.
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     Now you want to talk about crazy try driving a car (not yours) with a jacked up GPS in ALT (where I know nothing) with 3 crazy people that just ran 8 hours.
Beth, Kelley, Andy, Me
This was a grate event that I really liked. It was nice to see old friends and make new ones. The 2nd SURGE Ultra Energy  all natural protein powered Gels they had i will never touch again unless i'm stopped up. Dear God they pack a mean punch.