6 hours after 62 miles

At 2am, I should not be blogging. I should not be awake. But here I am, starting my blog on my iPhone, laying here in bed with a sound asleep Troy and Annie. I am awake because the pain woke me up. Not that I was sleeping that well anyways. Tossing and turning, shoving my pillow between my legs, searching for a position that my legs would accept.

Ben asked me on lap 9 to explain the difference between the sprinters paincave and that of the endurance athlete. While the sprinter dealts with 100% all over mind degrading pain, the minute he or she stops it would take a small miracle to conjure up the severity of the pain. To the endurane athlete the pain is much like that of injury. Every single step hurts with searing sharp pain in the hips, knees, and ankles. But, you are there for it. There is no mentally escaping from the endurance runners pain. The pain does not stop when you stop and often times haunts you for days. The endurance athletes pain is almost a form of depression. And when it wakes you up at 2am, when you obviosly need your sleep, you feel utterly broken. That’s the difference.

So yea, I hurt. But as I said many times during my 62 miles of running yesterday, “I’m still me”. I’m still smiling, chatting, laughing, downplaying the effort, and just generally exicuting sound strategy. I’m still totally humbled by everyone who came out to run with me. Several of them, including X-stud quarterback Ryan, and his motorcross racing wife, Melissa, went father than they ever had before. They dragged Ryans sister Jen out, who doubled her longest run of 6 miles out to 12. She’s probobly feeling very similar to me right now.

As I lay here waiting for the Vitamin I (as Chucky calls it) to set in, my big thoughts of the day include.

– I am so supported by my running friends, I had someone with me every lap! I can not thank you guys and gals enough.

– My husband Troy continues to shock and amaze me and others with his ability to watch Annie in a boaring parking lot for 13 hours while keeping me refueled, doing a check on me every lap, being time keeper, welcoming runners there to pace me, and supporting all of us.

– The gear my sponsors have provided totally rocks. First Enduance, Nuun, Mix1, and Justins Nut Butter kept me fueled, Nathan provides the most comfortable running packs, Core Concepts clothes me in things that do not rub or chaffe, Trakkers hats keep me sunburn free, Saucony has created a shoe I never once wanted to change out of even when they were a soaking wet muddy mess, and Josh at Tri-massage with his fixing techniques and exercises kept me on my feet.

– Although most of the entire run hurt, I reached a pain plateau and it was one that I could manage.

– There are 38 more miles in me, I now know this.

– Do not sit down. Beware of the chair. Sitting is reserved for the port-a-pottie.

– Circus Animals (the pink and white ones) and yellow bunny peeps saved the day. These two things rocked my mouth!

With this thought, I will post this rant and get back to bed. The pain has gone from a 29 to a 16 and I think I might be able to sleep. I took video during my run, so tomorrow I will edit it and post it, along with a play by play report. Until then…yawn!

Devils Backbone

I hit up a new trailhead today that is just a few miles from Troy’s parents house. After a little research I couldn’t believe that this awesome of a trail had been this close to his parents house all along. Doh!

Troy dropped me at the trailhead and I took off on my way. We had added up the distances on the map and we thought that one way was about 8.5 miles. It turned out to be 9.5, so close enough.

Trail running alone is something I haven’t done a ton of, so I was extra careful to have my map with me, pleanty of calories/fluid, a second top, and I carried my cell phone. Troy met up with our good friend Chris and drove to the end of the trail and started running back towards me.

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I made my way through the trail system, taking a calculated left here, and a well researched right there. The entire trail was single track. Some of it extreemly technical, but most of it was the nice perfect dirt single track trail that I enjoy so much.

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6.2 miles in I saw the boys. They were having a blast running together and chatting it up. When we met, they turned and continued with me back towards their cars. It was awesome to have some company in the middle of my run for about 3 miles. I dropped them at their car, where they decided to go about a mile more on a different trail and I turned to head back.

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I had covered 9.5 miles in 1:36. I wondered whether it was mostly down on the way back. Shortly after I turned a hit a low point and realized that I had done a poor job fueling on the way up. I downed two gels and a cliff rope chewy thing that they make for kids and low and behold about 5 minutes later I was flying down the trail, singing, and happy as a jay bird.

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The way back flew by as I made all the requisite turns with ease and confidence. At one point I spied some mountain bikers ahead. I was close to catching them as they stopped for a break, but they took off before I could get to them, I assume because they didn’t want to pass me back. When I came over the top of the hill they were far ahead, enjoying the downhill.

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On the following up hill I was running strong and I caught them. I heard one of them say “How did she do that”? I got a kick out of that. I didn’t hang around to rub it in, but these boys on mountain bikes had just been officially chicked by a girlee runner. Sorry boys, better luck next time.

I enjoyed the technical single track again, although a little less than on the way out since my legs were getting sore.

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I enjoyed a bomber long downhill and pulled back into the parking lots at 3:06 on my watch, 6 minutes faster than it took to go out. Troy and I had agreed that I would just run back to his parents from there, so without a pause I headed for the road home.

Man that was harsh, running on asphalt after all that glorious single track, but I couldn’t expect Troy to know when I would be done. I cranked up the tunes and settled into a pace that would get me home quick.

I’m starting up the final hill before his parents house, thinking to myself “one more hill” when I see the trusty VW come pulling out of the driveway. Ahhh, Toy was coming to pick me up, he had just been too late. He picked me up 100 yards from his parents place and drove me back.

It’s the thought that counts, and it was nice to hear from him “You were faster than I thought”.

20.5 miles today enjoying the scenery and the fact that my legs love the trails. Also, this was the first run that I tried out my new Sprint Zip Neck from Core Concepts. The last one of these they sent to me was a prototype and I cut the sleeves off it in the Grand Canyon (see video here), and then wore it for the entire Run Rabbit Run 50 miler (video here).

Core Concepts was so kind to send me the new model, and this one has sleeves! It did not disappoint. Apparently they took my “alteration” in the bottom of the Grand Canyon to heart and put in a front zipper (such a better option than my knife was). It breathes wonderfully, and to know that I don’t have to store it in my pack if I take it off because it converts into a little fanny pack (not the lame 80’s kind) is a major perk.

You can get your own Sprint Zip Neck here. You can also follow Core concepts on Twitter and Facebook. They like to do lots of contests for free gear and deep discounts, so keep an eye on their pages!

R2R2R Movie Night

Have you been good? Did you do your homework? Are you ready for my Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Movie? It’s 17 minutes long, and I hope you enjoy it. Pop some popcorn and have a great Saturday Movie Night.

Please let me know what you thought about it by commenting here afterwards, I’m curious.

Enjoy:

Watch it HERE.

Grand Canyon Double Crossing R2R2R

The day has come. The alarm goes off at 2:45am. It’s pitch dark, and silent out. A quick call to the Beeson’s room and Michelle agreed to come over and watch Annie while Troy takes Dave and I to THE RIM (Thank You again Michelle). I walk outside into the dark and it’s warm. No need for tights or much extra clothing. I decide to just wear my Core Concepts long Sleeve Convertible Top and do the sports bra thing when it gets hot. I grab a Mix1 and some Trader Joes snacks and Dave and I get in the car. We are buzzing with excitement. Both of us are jittering and can’t wait to get started. The SPOT is on and in tracking mode.

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Troy drops us at the Bright Angel Trailhead and with a quick kiss Dave and I are off into the canyon. The stars were amazing. There was no moon and it was pitch black. You knew there was a huge HOLE just off the trail but we couldn’t see a thing. When Dave and I would stop for potty breaks we would turn off our headlamps and check out the Milky Way. We took our time going down and hit the 3 mile rest house at 4:30. 20 minute miles downhill, now that’s slow!

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As we pulled into Indian Gardens at about 4.5 miles in we saw some runners just heading out. We were shocked to see other runners since it was Monday. Another mile or so and we realized those runners were Michelle and Keith. We hooked up with them and ran down to the mighty Colorado River. It was teal green and gorgeous. We crossed the Bright Angle footbridge as a group and continued on towards Phantom Ranch. The Cantina at Phantom was closed just as we expected so we watered up and headed out at 6:15am. It was warm enough to loose my long sleeve top.

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The next 9 miles were insane. The box canyon lived up to it’s accolades and it was just like I remembered it when I was 17. The reverberation of the water off the steep canyon walls made it loud. Rather than making our way up as a group of four, we traveled as two groups of two so that everyone could run at a pace they felt comfortable. I could feel my pack start to chafe my back, so I put my top back on.

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At the end of the box canyon we ran by Ribbon Falls, it’s a separate jaunt over to the falls which we did not take. We encountered the infamous water crossing which we though would be high due to recent rains. It was a joke, barely ankle deep. There is a little six foot waterfall directly under the crossing and I can see how someone might get skittish if the water is deep.

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Onwards through Cottonwood campground (very cute) and up to the Roaring Springs Ranger Cottage. This was the water stop that I was so worried about. I wasn’t sure if the water would be hard to find or what. Luckily as we rolled in the first thing we saw was a sign that said drinking water. It was very clear, and obvious. We stopped to refill. I did a little doctoring on my top (sorry Core Concepts) and shoved down some beef jerky. Michelle was feeling her knee and made the wise decision to turn around and head back to the South Rim, she was in for a 36 mile day.

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From here it gets steep. It’s 5 miles to the top, and you go from 4,650ft to 8,250ft. It’s steep, and up up up. About a half mile into it Dave’s achilles started to act up and there was a popping sound involved. He was feeling so good, but made the wise decision to turn back. He’s headed on a big backpacking trip to alaska soon and I would have been so bummed if he compromised that trip.

So, it was Keith and I. We were feeling really good and having a blast and we just pushed onwards up the canyon. The climb to the North Rim is amazing, red canyon walls all around and at times the trail is cut out of the wall. You look in front of you and you have no idea where the trail goes, it’s hidden. Each segment is revealed in its own time. We ran into a trail crew that told us Andrea was about a half hour ahead of us and that we had 2 1/2 miles to go. It was actually about 3 1/2!

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We finally hit the Supai Tunnel, which is the two mile to go mark. We were so jazzed about it, mostly because we felt so good. Both Keith and I were really on top of our nutrition and hydration. We were both still peeing, and downing calories every 30 minutes. We were also keeping a pace that was very maintainable for the both of us. All was good.

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Then we ran into Andrea! She was coming back down from the North Rim and she told us we were about 1/2 mile from the top. She looked great all decked out in her trail running gear with camera, SPOT, and coats hanging off all her stash spots. She was running down at a great clip and looked very alert and within herself. We pressed on and sure enough, just a short time later we were at the top. Lots of hoots and hollers happened. We took some pictures and about 5 minutes after we got there we headed back down. There really is nothing to see up there, no view, just a parking lot and a bathroom. It’s all about the journey, ya know?

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Back down we went and after running for 10 minutes we ran into Anthony and Steve. Anthony was looking a bit out of it and Steve looked good. I pushed some beef jerky and almonds on Anthony, and watched him wolf it down. They were close to the top so we let them head upwards and expected to see them on the downhill where they would probably catch us. Keith and I then enjoyed a very quick rip roaring descent. Towards the end I started to get a blister on my left foot and it was one of those really painful ones. Most blisters don’t even bother me until the running is over, but this one was very painful. I stopped immediately and changed to a clean sock and put a blister Band-aid on it. When we got back to Roaring Springs I washed my foot, dried it thoroughly, put a fresh blister Band-aid on it, put the clean sock on it and loosened my shoe. That did the trick and it didn’t bother me the rest of the run, although even today it’s still painful, and oddly, its quite tiny, but deep, more of a tear in my foot than a blister.

Next up was 9 miles of gentle rolling downhill and Keith and I were ready to do some real running. We picked up the pace, kept up with nutrition and let our legs run run run. This section’s highlights were passing Andrea and getting to see her running strong, the temps heating up to near 100 degrees, and me taking a fall. I was filming and I didn’t hop high enough over these “speed bumps” that they have million of in the trail. I clipped my foot and went down. A little scrape to the hand and ankle, nothing big at all. We were off and running 15 seconds later.

We arrived at Phantom Ranch 87 minutes after leaving Roaring Springs. Keith and I were pretty pleased that we ran sub 10 minute miles for the last 9 miles and that we enjoyed it and felt good. I downed some lemonade, bought some M&M’s and pretzels, and mailed out a postcard. We spent about 15 minutes here regrouping and then we headed off to climb the South Rim. Keith and I were happy and peppy. It was so hot, but we continually dunked our hats in the water. We did a lot of hiking up the first steep part of the South Rim, but when the trail became runnable, we ran. And we just continued to run. We hit Indian Gardens at the twelve hours running mark and refueled. I slipped 3 NUUN tabs into my bladder, I love those things. At Indian Gardens we started thinking about the clock. All day we ignored how long it was going to take us, but at Indian Garden we started setting goals. Keith had started at 3:15 and wanted to beat the 14 hour mark.

I knew we could do it if we kept a hard pace and ran when we could. So, that’s what we did. It look us 30 minutes to get from Indian Garden to the Three Mile Resthouse (1.5 miles, pulled in at 4pm). I knew then that if we did a push like that two more times we would be at the top at 5pm, putting us within our goals. We hiked so hard, we ran whenever we could. We hit the 1 1/2 mile resthouse at 4:30, right on track. Then it was the final push and we were still running.

We start to hear the shouts and cheers of lots of people. It was Troy and the support crew. We were visible to them at the top. We ran the rest of the way from that point on. We were so excited and both of us got a major adrenaline rush. Then there it was, the top, and everyone was there waiting: Troy, Michael, Michelle, Dave, Michelle B, and the three kids.

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They had this great spot on the top that we hung out and waited for the rest of our group:

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Andrea came up right about 6pm, and the boys hit the top at about 7:15. I let out a big sigh of relief. Everyone was safe. I think Steve and Anthony had a bit of a death march, but they were safe, and unharmed, and for that I was very happy.

In retrospect Keith and I had an absolutely phenomenal day. Just amazing. We never had a single down period. Some parts were harder than others but our attitude remained positive the entire way through. We both felt very lucky to have this experience. Having Keith with me throughout the day made my experience so grand, I feel very lucky to have such great training (and adventure) buddies.

Lastly, Troy, oh my goodness. This man takes care of me like no tomorrow. I am the luckiest woman alive. I am constantly coming up with all of these new “dreams” and he always helps me make them happen. He is my rock and if I didn’t have such a stable man to come back to after these adventures, I would be sunk. A big hug to Annie too for being such a good girl the entire trip, we are very proud of her, and although I doubt she will remember the Grand Canyon, we’ll be sure to take her back!

Also a big thanks to Core Concepts who supports me and keeps me clothed, even though I continually put their items through the ringer.

Items that made this trip great were: NUUN, Spot, HEED, Clif ShotBloks, Strawberry Clif Gels, PowerSox, and Second Skin Blister Pads.

Let me guess, you have been stalking my blog for a week because you are waiting for the video….? Your homework…make sure the most recent version of QuickTime is on your computer. The video is 17 minutes long, and it has music and thus YouTube won’t let me upload it. So, you are going to be viewing it on my MobileMe Gallery, and your gonna need an updated QuickTime.

Leave me some comment love, and if I get enough love, I’ll think about posting it for a Saturday night movie for you all.

Maybe…

Core Concepts Sale

It just so happens that the same day I received my most recent Core Concepts order, they issued a fancy email with a 40% off sale on base layers. the coupon code for their online store is: BASE0209

I ordered the Firefly Long Sleeve in blue and it’s super cute.
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I have been drooling over the Full Tilt Zip Neck for some time, so I ordered myself up one in Plum. I love love love the off center zippered neck. It’s cute zipped up or down. The fit is really similar to the Cadence Hoodie.
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Lastly, I thought their Bamboo shirts were super adorable, so I grabbed the one with the fancy little bike on it.
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Interested in some Core layers for yourself? 40% off is pretty sweet, the online store is here, the coupon code is: BASE0209

Sonja’s Christmas Picks

It’s December 2nd, the year has flown by, and Christmas is upon us. Wondering what to get the rock star athlete in your family? Here are my top picks for this holiday season…with a few perks along the way.

yhst-40534594257474_2031_81234.gifCore Concepts Clothing: Cadence Hoodie, Midtown, Carve, you name it and I love it. If fashion+function is a must have, these clothes hit the mark. AND, if some of your friends, or family members are a little TOO outdoorsy and a little LESS fashionista, then this is the perfect “hint hint”. Friends of my blog receive 20% off!!! Use coupon code at the online store: FF20OFF (that’s “20” as in the number, and “OFF” as in how much your saving)

beyond.jpgBeyond Technical Shells: Not everyone fits in normal sizes, especially lean and long (and hot) climber dudes (uhhh, and dudettes??). If you have an odd sized duck in your family, or need superb 100% guaranteed perfect fit, travel over to Beyond Clothing and design something for that odd duck…or duckette.

sigg.jpgSIGG Bottles: Now-a-days you gotta be using reusable water bottles and SIGG’s are the way to go. Especially for those kiddo hikers in your family, SIGG makes great children’s sippies. Right now they have free shipping on orders over $30, and they make the perfect stocking stuffer.

moons.jpgLuna Moons: These are really what every kick butt outdoor diva wants to train with. But, sometimes we just can’t rationalize blowing through 6 bags of them in a workout. So what do we do? We settle. We settle for other products, wishing all along that we had moons in our pocket. If you have a dirt diva on your shopping list, grab some moons for her stocking. She will smile, and you will see a little glint in her eye as she envisions her next trail run. Beware: do not stick Luna moons in your favorite dudes stocking unless you are the practical joking type, or your trying to hit on his girlfriend.

bpep.jpgZingermans Fantastic Bread: Mmmm. Bread! I was given a loaf of this YEARS ago as a Christmas gift and to this day it’s the most memorable gift I have ever received. They will actually ship a loaf of the most awesome bread to anywhere you need it to go. The Parmesan Pepper Bread is my favorite! Can anyone say “Carb-loading”?

Tufo Tubular Clincher Tires: They fit your normal clincher rims, you can stop dealing with the whole tire tube thing, and they are so stinkin’ resilient. I rode twenty miles on a MTB fire road on my road bike in these things. Say goodbye to flats, and build some muscle while you stretch these onto your rim for the first time. These tires are Ggrrreat!

pink.jpgZensah Pink Compression Legs: The recovery benefits of compression attire are proven. BUT, has it ever been this cute? These pink compression socks will make the endurance athlete that you snuggle up at night squeal with delight. Because seriously folks, the white medical ones you get from Rite Aid, well, they just don’t cut it.

left_bottles.jpgMix1 Drinks: These have saved my life. Okay, maybe I am stretching things a little bit, but (true statement) they have saved my workout. Some of those saved workouts have been quite extreme. 41 miles running on the Colorado Trail, 34 miles running in the Moab desert, 32 miles running on an Ultra Relay Team, these are “stay strong or suffer severely” events. I am a firm believer of incorporating protein into endurance events and Mix1’s are palatable and shelf stable. Besides, a case of them comes in a box and is easy to wrap.

Take care of your loved ones this season. Remember, when you have the right tools to train, you can chase your dreams. Give someone a gift this season that will encourage them to get outside. Cool Breeze, Fresh Air, that’s a happy life!

Cadence Hoodie Keeps the Ponytail Bobbing

Whatever you do, just don’t take my Cadence Hoodie.

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Core Concepts Cadence Hoodie has been the surprise HIT in my wardrobe this year. For a girl who tries desperately to make outdoor clothing look wearable anywhere, this hoddie has helped me immensely. It’s very cute, in fact, it’s the little top that all my girlfriends want.

The Cadence Hoodie did a superb job at passing the running and biking tests I put it through. I have run 18 miles on a chilly Spring morning, and the perfectly positioned thumb loops kept my hands warm. The ponytail pull-through (my favorite feature) in the hood kept my ears warm and my ponytail bobbing.

I biked 60 miles with some rip roaring descents, all sporting the Cadence Hoodie. The sneaky little pocket came in handy as a place to stash two Goo’s and the breathability is great, even after many washes. The top is a little longer in the back, perfect for cycling.

The one problem you will have with the Cadence Hoodie is finding it. Mine lives in the dirty clothes hamper and seems to make an appearance in every load of laundry I do. That’s what it gets for being my “Top of Choice” this year.

Okay girlfriends, your opportunity has finally arrived. Instead of drooling over mine, you can now get your own at the Core Concepts Online Store.

Midtown Jacket is Outdoor Luxury

Style and function, at it’s best.

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For several months I have had the luxury of putting Core Concepts Midtown Jacket through the ringer. It’s been fun, trying to thrash this jacket. Unfortunately, it still looks the same as the day they sent it to me, even after being washed and accidently dried numerous times.

When you see this coat, your first reaction is that it’s just for around town. You would be mistaken. The technical fabric makeup of the Midtown jacket puts it in a position to be worn anywhere you’re in the mood to do the wearing, which for me, was everywhere. It went hiking, it went biking, it went running, it saw some surprise rainstorms, and how did it handle all that? Flawlessly. The best part was that it is cute enough to head off to dinner in afterwards.

My favorite two parts of the Midtown jacket are the chest pockets and the fuzzy sleeves. The chest pocket fits my cell phone, my credit cards, and a power bar, all at once without changing the look of the coat, or making me look oddly, lopsidedly, well endowed. The sleeve is misleading. By the pictures you would think that it’s a rather wide sleeve that may get drafty. Not so, there is actually an inner sleeve that is made of soft, fuzzy, Plartec® Windpro® that hugs your wrist and keeps out the draft.

My only caveat: Beware of the waist straps when using the restroom. They have a tendency to take a dip!

If you are looking for a dual purpose, well fitting, stylish coat that has a great mix of fashion coupled with functionality, make your way over to the Core Concepts online store, and order yourself the Midtown Jacket.

Checking Out

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Troy, Annie and I are heading up to the cabin for a few days to check out of the world. I’m feeling the need to get in some solid training, just me, and my new red iPod (my old shuffle bit the dust). Troy’s brother and his girlfriend are coming in from Cali and Chi-town to hang with us, so it should be good old fashion mellow times. I have downloaded some new Pussycat Dolls tunes, so I’m ready to rock and roll. It’s getting so close to Nationals I just feel the need to be alone with myself, to process what is coming up, to check out of the daily grind, and to give my body a chance to train, rest, train, rest, etc. I am taking all of my Core Concepts clothing to get in some final product testing before my reviews go live on my blog. Exciting huh?

We will be back later this week, rested, rejuvenated, and ready for what lies ahead. Peace Out!

Core Concepts Shirts

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I just checked out the 2008 Men’s line of Core Concepts Clothing. I am totally in love with the mens shirts (especially the design above). The designs crack me up. Do you have a cyclist /climber/skier dude in your family? I have a few! Don’t worry ladies, women’s T’s are on their way! The Continental Divide Short looks bomber as well, I think I’m going to look into a pair of these for Troy being that I am super satisfied with the clothing that I am product testing for Core Concepts.

Speaking of testing, I have been wearing my Cadence Hoodie nonstop when the temperature gets below 70 degrees. I am lovin’ it. I have probably washed it 50 times and it hasn’t degraded one bit. It seems to have gotten softer with time as well. I have hiked with it and cycled with it extensivly and I’m diggin’ it!