Vests are handsome…

Nathan HPL-008 Race Vest
This doesn't make my butt look big.

Put on approachable airs this summer in our dapper Brisbane Vest, a breezy and brilliant choice for the 19th century gentleman’s mild-weather wardrobe. ~Gentleman’s Emporium

Since I am all laid up, I thought I’d provide a gear review for all you runners out there just dying to know what I think about stuff. So for this installment of Stu’s Reviews™ I bring you (drumroll)… The Nathan HPL #008 Race Vest. (You can stop drumrolling now.)

I had been trying to move exclusively to a bottle system for hydration but found that either I would start to chafe  from my running belt on longer runs or would simply not be able to carry enough water to get me from station to station. After talking with Charles Corfield, I decided to give the Nathan HPL #008 a try.

First impressions:
From the very first run, the 008 felt incredibly natural and comfortable and immediately felt like “my” vest. The reservoir holds 1.5 liters of water (about 2.5 regular bottles) and rides well in the pack. Little details make the 008 work really well with a small stash pocket on the back (big enough for a light jacket and gloves); a mesh pocket on the front for energy gel and a zippered pocket up front as well for a camera, extra food, etc.; and a cool reservoir retention system to help keep the bladder upright and kink-free.

Overall impressions:
After using the 008 for over a month, I have come to really appreciate the benefits of the Nathan vest system. So much so that I purchased a second vest (the larger, HPL #020). Occasionally, I will get some light chafing under my arms but this, I think, can be attributed more to using arm warmers than the vest. One note, do not cut the reservoir tube until you have used the pack a couple of times. What seems like ample length when empty, turns out to be just about right when the reservoir is full. Overall, the vest is unbelievably comfortable, keeps my hands free, provides ample storage and is a great addition to any ultra runners go-to gear.

This puppy should set you back ~$80 and can be found both online at a variety of vendors and through many local shops.

~stubert.

No business like snow business…

Cause one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor ~ The Beastie Boys

There is just something exciting about a snow storm… particularly one that comes whistling in and pounds you with fresh flakes during your long solo run. Not that 2.5 hours is particularly “long” but conditions do play a major role in how long that feels and how fast one can cover the distance during the planned time.

I used this handy tool for judging what to wear, added a couple of items for backup and to combat what I knew were going to be challenging conditions, and headed out the door under heavy clouds, falling temps and intermittent snow showers that quickly turned to full-on blizzard activity. I was in the zone, however… so much so that I blew through one important turn that I missed due to the trail being covered with fresh pow and my not really paying attention. So I went another way.

The beauty of running familiar territory is that when you do blow a turn and find yourself staring at an adamant “no trespassing” sign, you can just take another route, knowing that eventually, you’ll be back on common ground. So I dropped down an old mining road that eventually spilled me out with minimal bushwhacking to the Beav’. Crisis averted, on with my run.

So instead of doing the planned, clockwise loop, I modified my game to roll counter-clockwise – actually the more familiar direction of the two. I power-hiked up to Little Hope then dropped off the back side and into the system of mining roads and singletrack trails which have become my regular stomping grounds. Little Hope feeds to Ski Thing which then heads around the shoulder to Sofa Spring and Funky Boss. A quick, steep climb follows to the shoulder summit and I dropped down Tupperware, fed back to the Casa Trails on which I started (but now hooked into a different section) and headed up to try to find Dan the Man without success. Too much fresh had fallen between my last venture in these woods. So plans changed again, I hit the Fire Station and worked my way back around to Saddlebend, Diver Down, then back up to the other end of Dan the Man to Ladybug then home. I am sure that other people have names for these trails, or perhaps they just refer to them all as one bulk item. Either way, they are a blast.

I actually felt great for most of the run. At times, the going was slowed a bit due to the conditions and by the end I was tired and getting pretty chilly. Temps throughout were in the mid 20s and I was relatively comfortable most of the day with just long pants, a long-sleeved Patagonia Capilene 3 Crew, and gloves but donned a hat and my Patagonia Houdini Jacket when the snow was really coming down. One interesting equipment issue I had early on was with the gaiters (which actually look a lot more like spats) I was wearing. I actually really like them for times when I am sure that dirt and debris are going to be a problem but the string that runs under my foot (to keep the gaiters in place), kept collecting snow, ice and detritus. Eventually, one broke and I removed the other one without further incident. Makes me better understand why some manufacturers go with a Velcro attachment.

All in all, it was a pretty awesome day for a run.

In other news, we got a new kitty about 3 weeks ago. She is a Siamese short hair, is nuts (though that may be redundant) and her name is Nino. She likes to drink out of the faucet and is slightly less aggressive about it than this kitty. I’ll post photos soon. We also are saddened by the death of one of our long-term foster bunnies, Rosie le Rose who died late last week. She was a sweetie and will be very sorely missed. Rach does such an awesome job taking care of the little guys and providing them with lots of love and tenderness. Rosie responded in kind and was a welcome addition to our family. We’ll miss her tons.

~stubert.