Orange Mud Endurance Pack Review

Before I begin, for your comparison I am a 5’3″ female weighing 105 lbs. My chest below my bust is 27″ bust is 31″waist 25″

As I was packing for my trip to Telluride a month+ ago, I realized that my single bottle Hydraquiver wouldn’t be able to carry enough water in the heat and dry air of Colorado, fortunately for me Josh had just created a new pack; the Endurance Pack, that was finally in stock and ready to order.  With my fingers crossed for it to arrive before my departure I ordered it.  Here is a link to how Josh Sprague comes up with some of his ideas, and how long they take. (bad wordpress won’t link; http://makersrow.com/blog/2016/08/idea-to-product-orangemuds-hydration-pack/?utm_source&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=blog_content

It came with just a day to spare, I packed it into my luggage and headed off to Colorado.  First, like all other Orange Mud products it has the breathable and durable mesh backing, and the stretchy pocket material that allowed me to fit all sorts of things into the front pockets for easy access.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well this video is worth more.  It explains how to move the adjustable straps around, how to synch the sides down first, and where to put your poles.(WordPress is misbehaving and not letting me link so here is the link you can copy and paste to the video;  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55XcZkstgWo

Endurance Pack - BPVP-70 - Orange Mud, LLC

The very stretchy 4 front pockets.  I stashed my poles in the bottom two.

 

I opted out of the pole upgrade (mostly because I don’t own poles) but on the Hardrock course I borrowed a friends and found that in a pinch I could break down the poles and they fit in the front pockets.  I couldn’t run too far with them in there, but while I was scrambling or climbing up rope and needed my hands for a few minutes I could stash them in there.  I bet with some creativity and some small bungee cords you could make a hook on the top front straps for the poles if you did want to use the front pockets as pole holders.

At one point I tried to fill the pack with as many items as I could before a hike just to see what I could fit in there.  I got about 7lbs of stuff in there (including the full 2 L bladder.) That was a jacket, gloves, headlamp, extra batteries, 5 bars, 7 gels, an extra collapsible water bottle in the front, sunblock and extra lube.  As seen in the video if you get the upgrade the bungee cord allows for more gear to be bungee-d onto the back.  Also I used my own bungee cord and made the upgrade myself.

So onto fit.  I’m on the far end of the scale, I had to tighten all the straps as far as they went.  I believe Josh said his 7 year old can wear the pack, so I guess that means I am the size of a young boy.  SO I am guessing this pack would fit some of the smallest torsos-I’m just above 100lbs.  I haven’t tried it on my 6 foot husband yet, but it seems like it would fit him too, its quite adjustable.  I didn’t notice any bounce anywhere, and haven’t lost any items out of the pack even running hard down technical east coast trail.

It comes with a 2l bladder that has a removable hose.  This is nice because when you want to keep it from growing mold you can take the whole thing apart and let it air dry, even the mouth piece comes on and off easily for cleaning.   My biggest complaint about this hose is that its Looooong!  I had to thread it through the left shoulder loop then over to the right shoulder loop and tuck it down into the chest strap.  If I didn’t loop it left to right first it basically dangled down to my groin which was annoying.

There is an outer zip pocket on the back that is also made from the stretchy material allowing it to hold more than you would expect. Then in between the bladder slot and the outer zippered pocket there is another vertical pocket.  Last week I got caught in a late summer thunderstorm and stashed my phone in that middle pocket afraid it would drown in the deluge of rain.  It stayed nice and dry while I got soaked!  FYI none of the pack is waterproofed if you are looking to keep something dry long term.  I am not a heavy sweater but sweat through this pack on some long runs in the 115 deg humidity here in NC this summer.

Endurance Pack - BPVP-70 - Orange Mud, LLC

At the bottom you can see the clip, that is for your poles, I also clipped a hat to it, my dog’s leash to it, and a water bottle to it on a hike. The top loops are for the bungee upgrade holding your poles.

 

I have taken it many miles with me now.  A full week of running and hiking in the San Juan Mountains, day hiking with my husband in Asheville (carrying enough food and water for the both of us, plus the dog,) On several super hot 7 hour runs, I did have to refill the bladder twice on one particular 7 hour run in the extreme heat.  I have even used it at the gym as a sort of weight vest for uphill hiking on the treadmill.  Its quite nice having a hydration pack double as a weight vest.  I just filled the bladder up and then threw in some small plate weights into the other pockets while I hiked.  A bonus was I could keep my phone in the front pocket for easy access to answer emails while I hiked at the gym.  This is definitely going to replace my Hyraquiver for unsupported training runs and races that have long breaks between aid.  Overall I would say I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the pack, I haven’t owned a bladder pack since the old Nathan pack I purchased in 2012 which I always felt was so much pack but could carry so little.  The Endurance Pack did not disappoint… if there is anything this girl loves its her pockets, and the EP had more than enough pockets and storage for all sorts of back up things one might need out on the trails!

If you are curious to try this pack, or any other item from Orange Mud, use the code wispfriends and get a discount at checkout!

Happy Trails all!

 

So Many Things to Catch up on.

Well I had my last two back to back long weeks before a type of taper I am going to try.  Due to the super hot and humid weather, I have abandoned “mileage” for now and am going by time on feet.  Two weeks ago I ran 21 hours with about 14k of vert (which is huge living here in the flat lands of NC.) and then last week I ran 25 hours with 13k of vert, all during the hottest and most humid weeks of this summer.  I think I did speed work one afternoon in 115 degree weather! Phew!

Now that my brain is finally starting to recover and I find myself with more time, I have started to turn back to catching up on my blog.

First will be my taper I am trying.  Following two big weeks, I will take an off week this week..really easy running and body work, to work out any imbalances I may have picked up in the last two weeks.  Then bring my mileage and intensity back up, not quite as much as last week, but to 70% of my longest training week, and do a typical 3 week taper from there to Run Rabbit Run.  (so it sort of becomes a 4 week taper-ish.)

Second, I have been reading and listening to different people talk about brain training, and coping mechanisms for the pain we feel during ultras.  In the past I feel like I was pretty good at suffering, having practiced it while trying to keep up with faster runners… and probably doing too much anaerobic, and “grey” area running.  This year I decided to try a MAF approach to my training, allowing me to do much more volume, and consistent training, but there isn’t a ton of “suffering” involved… unless you think 7 hour runs are mentally suffering… and then I would question why you were ultra running… but I digress🙂. To practice a little suffering I got the idea to sit in a sauna from a mixture of books read and podcasts listened to.  For a period of time during the last few weeks of my training I’ll be working up to an hour in there.  These sauna sessions are less about real heat training, because I can sure get my fill of that just by walking out my front door, and more about getting closer to my “central governor,” and pushing past what my brain feels is an unsafe amount of time in the sauna.  (I will blog more on this later in the week.)

Third; I have two new reviews I need to finish.  One for the Endurance Pack from Orange Mud, and one for the new Topo Athletic minimal road shoes.

OK, things to look forward to in the next two weeks folks!

Run Rabbit Run 100 mile Training; 7 Weeks out, Don’t Break the Egg!

Why a reference to an egg?  Well, I will tell you why.  Have you gotten to that last 7 week period before your big “A” race and all of a sudden you start to question all the training you have done up to this point, and all of the plans you have for the last few weeks? I have/am, and it feels like I am holding onto an egg.  Like if I don’t hold on tight enough(train enough) then the egg will drop(fitness won’t peak.). However, if I squeeze too hard(overtrain) then I am showing up to the start with a broken egg, or Achilles, PF… or other over training issue du jour.

I feel like I have been somewhat good about prioritization this year.  Base this winter peaking around 140 mpw.  Speed for a hilly 50k in the spring, long hot road runs and a 50 miler, a super fun week in Colorado with tons of vet…. and now?!?!…..

Sheesh, sometimes I feel like I’m not even able to hold onto the egg, and I am just juggling it… maybe I should just smash it against the wall.  Nah, this egg is too precious.

7 weeks out, what do I do next?  More long runs in the heat with strides at the end? Skip the long runs, its 7 weeks out-focus on speed work and turnover and hills?  Last year I squeezed too hard and broke the egg with a really hot hilly training run that led to near heat sickness and a two week loss of training while I recovered.

I guess just keep up the fitness, do what I have been doing. Sleep lots, eat healthy, recover smart, sprinkle in the speed-not too much, and don’t be so hard on myself.

AHHHH….Don’t break the EGG!!

 

The San Juans; Day Two-Sneffels Highline

Feeling good, and confident after the run up to Blue lake on Day One I thought I would try a loop, rather than an out and back.  I never know exactly how I will feel going from sea level to running/hiking up to 13k with no real time for acclamation, and because the first day went so well, I felt a bit better about doing a looped trail where there were fewer people.

I contemplated the See Forever Trail, that connects the gondola trails over to the Wasatch Trail, or the Mt. Sneffels Highline Trail.  After seeing pictures of the wild flowers and views from the Sneffels Highline Trail I was sold on it! (Seriously the wild flowers were taller than me!!)

 

I started from the house again, running up a block to the trailhead for the Jud Wiebe Trail.  I followed it away from town and then took the right up the Sniffles Highline Trail running the trail counter-clockwise.  The trail begins by meandering through a field of amazing wildflowers and aspen groves.  Seriously, there was some flower that looked like Queen Ann’s lace, but was the size of a dinner plate!

After the aspen groves and flowers it follows up some steep switchbacks that take you to and then away from several amazing views overlooking the town and the mountains across the way. Up and Up until 4 miles have gone by and you reach 12,300 feet.  I think this was mile 6 for me since I began at the house.  I might add that with no oxygen and no hiking poles I may have struggled a little bit.Sneffels Highline Elevation Profile

The views were worth every gasping breath, and I found that if I stood tall enough and breathed with my diaphragm I was ok to keep moving at a pretty good pace, passing several of the early morning hikers on my way up.  Beyond the meadow the trail leads to Pack Basin, which apparently used to be called Park Basin, but a typo ended up changing its name permanently, but I digress.

The saddle descends steeply via rocky switchbacks, which would be the theme of my week as it turns out.  It drops into Mill Creek basin, where the wildflowers were back up to my waist again as I crossed several creeks on my way back down the mountain.

The saddle you cross from one basin into the next

 

Unlike going up, the altitude didn’t seem to have any affect at all on the way down, and the smooth trails made for a really fun, winding, 8-mile downhill run.  I, of course, had to stop a little along the way for pictures.  I tell myself that the pictures can never actually capture the grandeur of the mountains, but I take them anyway.

It seems like everyone hikes in the same counter clockwise manner, after passing one last couple going over the saddle I didn’t see another soul until I was back on the Jud Wiebe trail once again.  The MSHT ends in the same manner it begins, down a switchback trail, through the aspen tress and flowers, and back to the Jud Wiebe trail once again.  I would recommend this trail to everyone staying in Telluride.  It can either be taken as a nice slow day long sightseeing loop with its views of all the mountains around the town, or a speedier trail run.  Only the descent over the saddle is tough to run on, the rest of the trail is quite non technical.

Round trip it was 14 miles and took this flat-Lander right around 4 hours, with picture taking and a few stops to admire the views!

Of course another bonus, the mountain stream at the end to soak my happy feet in!

The San Juans; Day One

I want to share my experience so I am going to try to recall each day of my trip one by one; beginning with Monday.

After a solid Night’s sleep, which was a little weird since Telluride is at around 8,500 feet, I popped out of bed unable to contain my excitement. Let’s hit the trails!  I only had a dinky little rental car for the day, so rather than try to get it up and over a mountain pass, I opted for a run from the house.

According to a guide book I found at the Scott’s house, Bridal Veil Falls is a must see.  It was on the way up to Blue Lake, and I could hit it from the house on foot.  The run began on the road, which turned into a dirt road to Bridal Veil Falls.  It was beautiful and swollen from the snow melt and the rain the previous week.  The spray felt good on my hot, dry skin.The dirt road continued up and eventually turned into beautiful single track.  The trail was quite runnable, but as I got further up, the lack of oxygen forced me into a fast hike.  UP and UP to Blue Lake.  This was quite a popular trail, if you had a car with some clearance you could drive up and only have a 2.5-3 miles to hike so I passed many families out enjoying the day.  This particular area of Colorado was once bustling with miners, and there were still leftover buildings and mining debris all around the trails.

I  continued up all excited to take pictures of the unnaturally blue water of the lake, as my battery died….wah, wah.  This was the last picture I tried taking before the phone shut off.

 

So much for pictures!  The day was beautiful, and the run was awesome!  Door to door it was 16 miles round trip with right around 4k of elevation. (I think Blue Lake is officially at 12,500ft.)  The run back down was pretty awesome, and so much faster than the way up.  Quad trashing part uno.

 

July in the San Juans; Pictures

I had been to Telluride before, but only hiked the local trails.  This trip out I spent 23+ hours out on the trails all over the San Juans and I have to say I am still in awe of the beauty of these mountains. I will leave you with these pictures from Grant Swamp Pass, Virginus, and Handiest and write a more detailed post later.

 

Reflexology and Acupressure; A Personal Review

I often do shoe and gear reviews on this blog, but thought I would write a review about something a little different today.  I am interested in whole body health, not just running as a form of exercise, mostly because I am interested in ultra running longevity and not abusing my body into burnout.

Reflexology is defined as a system of massage used to relieve tension and treat illness, based on the theory that there are reflex points on the feet, hands, and head linked to every part of the body.  There is no scientific data specifically relating to this, however there are numerous studies about barefoot running and how all the neurologic pathways at the bottom of our feet can send signals to the rest of our body helping to correct our running gait.  It may be a leap to go from our feet telling our bodies how to move, to points on our feet curing us of illness.  All I can offer is my own personal experience.

Image result for reflexology

A friend of mine, Tom Griffen, reopened his practice just recently and offered a discounted session, so with my curiosity getting the better of me I signed right up.  I mean I don’t have any illness, per se, but if nothing else I LOVE a good foot massage! I mean, what ultra runner doesn’t?!

The treatment began by  soaking my feet in Epsom salts and lavender for 15 minutes as we chatted.  After the soak I hopped up onto a massage table and he visually observed my feet.  Its not only the parts of the feet that resist touch that “speak” to our health, but also things like callouses or cracks on the feet.  He noted one on my pinky toe, which correlates to my sinuses (I have had sinus problems ever since I began ultra running and pushing my body, coupled with an old broken nose I am.)  He also noted that my digestive meridians were blocked..yep, food allergies and bouts of poor digestion are a chronic thing for me.  As I stated earlier, I went to him more for overall wellbeing, so I wasn’t expecting too much as far as acute illness healing.  I went during my taper, a time when insomnia is a regular frustration for me.

He followed, what I assume was a specific plan covering my toes, and the spaces in between, the pads of my feet, the arches, and finally the heels.  I can’t tell you exactly the order because it immediately relaxed me and I might have fallen asleep… ok I did fall asleep.

Afterwards I felt really relaxed, but awake.  He said sometimes it brings different things up for different people.  Each experience is unique to each individual.  Some even have emotional responses to the treatment.  For me it just brought peace to my chronically over excited being🙂

He followed up with a personal write up.  I won’t get into too much detail, but will share a little excerpt as an example;

Your body is actively involved in change. There’s a gathering in of energy in preparation for movement (both literal and figurative). Growth and transformation are poignant in this meridian and, as such, you might find yourself challenged managing the fear that comes with it. The kidney/bladder is also strongly associated with personal will/desire and overall perception. Have confidence that whatever obstacles are on your path will be seen through. The contra-indicator is to give in to this fear and experience apathy and despair. But I don’t believe this applies to you.  Additionally your the pineal gland – the gland that secretes melatonin and whose regulation is necessary for deep sleep. Ultra runners are sleep-deprived more than “normal” people. Again, your feet are simply telling your story.

Growth and transformation and managing my fear and sometimes lack of confidence that arises as I try to push myself to grow is a theme in my life.  I will say, I know Tom socially, but this is something he wouldn’t actually know about me, this was purely the information he gathered from feeling certain points on my feet.

I had the treatment about 3 weeks ago and I have been having really deep restful sleep ever since.  Related? Maybe? Maybe not.  I’d like to think so because I never sleep well post race, and this has been heavenly.

Tom can be reached here on his website.  For now sessions begin at $50.  Send him a note!