"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Old Goals and New

2012 was the first year that I set some goals to try and achieve.  I will spare you the suspense I only achieved one of the three.  My thoughts on only being successful in one goal are a mixed bag that I will explain in full.  The first goal, while technically being a failure, was sort of a success.  The second goal I totally dropped the ball on.  Whoops!  My bad.  The third goal was very much a success, and I am proud of my efforts.
Goal #1:  Get 12 bag nights
I got ten.  Several times I could have gone out and picked up the other two but I always opted to stay home and spend time with Beth.  So while this is technically a failure to meet the goal, I failed on acceptable terms.  It is also worth noting that ten bag nights is way more than I normally get in  a typical year.  Some of the nights I spent outdoors were terrible, and others were enjoyable.
Campsite on Two Branch
Here is a list, in no particular order of where I spent my bag nights this year:
3 nights spent out on the Katy Trail.  During these 3 nights everything was conspiring against a good nights sleep.
1 night camping at Carlyle lake.  The day of our arrival the lake was too choppy to have any fun paddling, the next day it was smooth as glass.
1 night camping on Two Branch island.  My nephew and I paddled down the Cuivre to the Mississippi.  Horrible stretch of river after we left.
3 nights during the Kayak100+ (MR340).  I have never been so exhausted in my life.  Paddled 340miles in 76hours.  Very little sleep.
1 night on a random boat ramp on the Missouri river.  100miles from Jefferson city to St Charles, we decided to take a nap.  Bad idea.
1 night camping on Two Branch again.  I enjoy paddling out to the river islands.  Last time we were racing the dark this time a storm.  We lost.

During Kayak100+ I was trying not to look exhausted.

ROCK Racing teammates Chuck and Robin (among others) met me at the finish of Kayak100+
    Goal #2 Increase level of fitness
I think subconsciously I made this goal as vague as possible so that I could claim success in the end.  Even with a vague goal I have to admit to failure.  It wasn’t all failure though.  Leading up to Kayak100+ I was doing great.  Then the wheels fell off and I now at my heaviest weight (can’t weight to eat?) and feel like crap.  Epic fail y’all.  Being heavy is not the only area of failure in this goal.  I am also not any stronger, but that is probably because of all the workouts I missed.  As far as running goes I am doing okay, not great just ok.  I have a plan to correct all of this though because 2013 will be one of the most physically demanding of my life.
Goal #3 Build on the foundation of the 100+Project
I would call this one a success!  While the 100+Project is not widely known around the world, I have been working hard to spread the word and draw attention to the efforts put forth.  In 2012 I had a couple mentions in the media, completed Cycle100+ and Kayak100+, and also held a very successful 12hour run/fundraiser.
Cycle100+ was 240miles on the Katy Trail.  Gary Wilson and I rode the entire length in 4days.  What a great ride it was.
Kayak100+ was a 340mile paddle from Kansas city to St Charles along the Missouri river.  Cycle100+ was a joyride compared to this.
Page of the Health in the St Louis Post Dispatch section (below the fold) 

Blurb in a local Sunday magazine.
The 12hour fun run, was a just a great day all around.  This was something that I was doing as a training event for Run100+ and decided to invite people to join my friend Cheri and me for as much as they wanted.  I suggested a $5 donation.  We started at 6am and I don’t think there was one lap that we had to run alone.  In total 30people showed up and many donated a lot more than the suggested $5.  We raised a lot of money for a good cause.  My only regret is not keeping track of everyone’s miles.  I wasn’t expecting that many people to show up and it was difficult enough keeping track of my own miles.  Maybe I can reconstruct them.
Cheri (far left) and I with some of  the people that came out for the 12hour run.
I think in the goal department I broke even.  I’m not happy about #2 but can only blame myself.  I couldn’t be happier about #3 although I have some things that I need to work on in the future to make it even more enjoyable for everyone following along.  As previously stated I’m ok with how #1 turned out.  I didn’t get 12 bag nights but I did get 10 and that is pretty good for me.
Goals for 2013
I like these goals so I will keep them for 2013 but with a few modifications.
  1. Get 20 bag nights.  I will have 8nights associated with Hike100+ so 12 would be to low a number.  Increasing to 20 cancels out the hike nights and leaves me with 12nights to get on my own.
  2. Increase fitness.  This will be measured a success by meeting two of three minor goals.  Weight 170, pass the Army PT test according to the standards when I was still serving (pushups, situps, 2mile run), and break a running PR.  Within these there is certainly criteria by which success can be measured.
  3. Build on the success of the 100+Project.  There are big things in store for 2013.  Run100+ and Hike100+ will be two of the most demanding challenges of my life.  They both have such a slim margin of error, one tiny mistake could mean failure at both.  I am thinking about adding another 100+ mile journey but as of yet haven’t decided what.  More fundraisers apart from the big events might be a good idea.  I would also like to get the 100+Project on TV in 2013.  That a lot, but I assure you it is all one goal.
That is how my year went.  Hopefully 2013 will be much better and more successful, and I hope yours is the same!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Elevator Manifesto: Part 2

In part one of the Elevator Manifesto I introduced you to the most important rule of being a responsible and considerate elevator passenger.  Just to remind you that rule is, “Exiting passengers have the right of way”.  If you only take one thing away from my frustration with elevators I hope it is that one simple rule and not that I am slightly deranged.  There are however other rules should you be interested.
Rule #2 Don’t be a Space Invader.
I’m not talking about the video game from the 80’s, what I am talking about is people that stand way too close when it is unnecessary.  Seriously give people some room.  We are passengers in an elevator together not lifelong friends.  I like to maintain my personal space, and in doing so help you to maintain yours, but some people just don’t get the concept.  Now I fully understand that everyone’s personal space diminishes as the elevator gets more and more full.  I don’t expect everyone to be jammed into the corner to accommodate my needs.  However if the there are only a few people in the car then there is no reason that someone should be shoulder to shoulder with me.  Spread out and explore the space, enjoy the ride.  That’s how I feel.
Why would strangers choose to invade your personal space?  I don’t know.  Maybe they are lonely. Maybe they are conducting a psychological experiment (this happened to me once).  Maybe they just don’t know any better.  Whatever the reason it’s not cool. 
Space Invaders come in all shapes and sizes and you never know when one is about to strike.  One time I was riding the elevator and it stopped on a random floor that we will call the third floor.  A woman in a power chair came cruising in at a high rate of speed and did not stop until she made it all the way to the back where I was standing.  Sometimes people in power chairs do this in order to have enough room to turn around so they can exit the elevator facing forward.  I get it, looking ahead is easier than trying to look behind, and since we were the only two on the elevator I assumed it was her plan.  Nope.  She did however inch her chair even closer to me so that the chair was almost touching my shoe.  She stayed there until she reached her floor and then had to back up before she could turn around and exit.
Normally I step away from the Space Invaders if there is room and sometimes I will tell them they are a little close, but I couldn’t believe that the woman in the power chair purposely inched even closer after she was already too close.  I had to see what was going to happen. 
I don’t think it is rude to ask for a little space if you feel uncomfortable, but if there is room you shouldn’t  have too.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Who is? Dave Zaple

Hello! That's me, DZ. I'm big fan of bright shorts. I was the team medic/photographer on Dave Cornthwaite's most recent expedition Swim 1000.
The final farewell photo as I left the team to head back to the UK to start working on these:
I'm a paramedic, scout leader, photographer and general adventure nut...
I haven't always been those things though. I was lucky enough to be part of the inaugural Prime Ministers Global Fellowship where I spent 6 weeks in China. It changed my life. I worked in an engineering office for a year but I wasn't that good at it. So I saved my money, worked 3 jobs to then travel the world. Then I really got the bug, the travel bug (and a significant stomach bug in India but we won't talk about that). I went to university to train as a paramedic and now I'm here, writing about myself for the wonderful Patrick Albert.
I have the best job in the world and some big plans to see it all from a bicycle. Myself and Em Bell are are planning to cycle around the world. Nearly Naked. For MCAC and Coppafeel!
I'm super new to all this technical website making stuff but stay tuned on www.davezaple.com for updates on everything. Providing I can work out how to update it!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Wife of an Adventurer

The Life Wife of an Adventurer

Often times storytellers start off by declaring that their most recent grand adventure was profoundly enhanced as the result of unplanned or unexpected happenings along the way. This too is the case in my tale. Once upon a time in a not so far away land (O'Fallon, IL) a typical tale of boy meets girl unfolds. Little did I know then that twenty plus years later boy and girl would still be as goofy and happy together as ever, having shared our own zany family adventures along the way.
It was not until recent years that my husband's passion for real life adventures flourished into what it has become today, which I'm sure is only a fraction of what it will be in years to come. I suppose the old adage "opposites attract" is true since on most things we are complete opposites. He is fearless and I worry enough for both of us. He is always dreaming up, or perhaps more appropriately scheming up, some new crazy endeavor to pursue while I quietly sit back, usually roll my eyes and wonder "what is he getting me into now". He loves being outdoors while I hate dirt and bugs and will break out if anyone around me just speaks the words poison ivy. Given that last difference, my involvement in his real life adventures is somewhat limited but I've found other ways to support and encourage him on his quests. I have been his pit crew and chief resupply officer on many an adventure. However in the end I'm typically left feeling like the biggest wimp in the world as I usually show more signs of wear and tear than he does even though he is the one who has been physically challenging himself.
My husband and I have been engaged in an open ended discussion the last couple years...I allege that he did not fully disclose his true identity to me before we married so that I could make an informative decision as to whether or not that was the life for me, while on the other hand he asserts that I knew what I was getting into. In my eyes I had met Peter Parker, a smart, loveable, relatively normal, somewhat nerdy guy. Little did I know there was much more underneath the surface. And while he is no Spiderman (...yet, no telling what will happen in the future from all the spiders he comes in contact with on the trails) he definitely has an alter-ego and will always be a Super Hero to me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Who Is?: Em Bell – the oddball adventurer

I am short. Slightly odd. I have eyes that change colour. I have hobbit sized feet. I can fall asleep anywhere. I have an impressive appetite. I love penguins. I am gullible. I have been likened to a troll. I am allergic to desks. I am Em Bell. And I am about to become a full time adventurer.
After quitting my job in headhunting back in 2009, I searched the world for my "dream job". I represented the UK on a game show, became a stand-in contestant on Ant and Dec's game show, moved to Cape Town to present a music festival, organised Bat Mitzvahs, cleaned my friends houses, worked on a McFy documentary and then landed a job writing full-time for a magazine.
Life was good. I had a super pad. I had a cracking job. But my head started wandering again. And after Dave Cornthwaite came to load magazines for his next book, he offered me the spot as the blogger on his upcoming adventure - to swim 1000 miles down the Missouri River with a support team stand-up paddle boarding alongside him.
I was in.
On it, there was a 15 minute moment with Vanessa Knight. We were paddling like nutters to reach an Indian reserve where the rest of the team were waiting; and I suddenly realised, that I wanted to become a full time adventurer. I would be able to write about adventure. I would be able to film adventure. I would be able to do adventure. Every day. The female version of Bear Grylls if you will.
So I am now living on a mattress next to my parents bed. With a train covered sheet and duvet. Working round the clock to save every penny. And planning, planning planning.
Next summer I am set to rollerblade 2000 miles around Italy. Then I'm off to Australia in November 2013 with Vanessa Knight (who you have already met) to become the first people to stand-up paddle board source to sea of the Murray River. Then I am set to cycle round the world with Dave Zaple. Lots of plans. Lots of adventures. All for CoppaFeel breast cancer charity. So watch this troll shaped space...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Elevator Manifesto: Part 1

This manifesto is a response to a general lack of consideration and presence of common sense that I have witnessed while riding the elevators in the hospital where I work in the maintenance department.  Maybe these things are indicative of changes to society on a larger scale and just become more obvious in the microcosm of the elevator ride.  Maybe my place of work has been overrun by the inconsiderate and the oblivious, and the behaviors I see on a day to day basis aren’t the norm.  I doubt this is the case though.  While this is a manifesto about elevator rules, it is also a guide to living in polite society.  Having some consideration for others can go a long way to making the world run more smoothly.
Before addressing topics like, Space Invaders, Up Downs, Down Ups, Door Holders, Elevator Operators, and more I think I should address the most common source of my elevator frustration. 
Rule #1 Exiting passengers have the right of way.
Such a simple rule. 
So simple I will use an analogy to explain it.  Lets say you were filling a jar with red and blue marbles and you mistakenly fill it to the top with the red leaving no room for the blue.  You have to get the blue ones in there somehow.  What do you do?  Do you try to cram the blue marbles into the already full jar like a dummy, or do you take some of the red ones out to make room for the blue?  Most people would choose the latter rather than the former of the two options.  Why then do so many people rush onto the elevator as soon as the doors open?  Is it because they lack a basic understanding of common elevator rules of etiquette, or do they think the world revolves around them and we should all step aside and let them do whatever they want.
This simple rule and its violation is what finally lead me to writing this manifesto that I have been threatening to write for years.  It was a Thursday, a day not unlike any other day.  I was pushing a cart with some supplies and had to bring them to the the third floor.  I boarded the elevator with another person and we both got off at the third floor.  I motioned for him to disembark first because the room I was going to was next to the elevator bank and he would have had to walk around me had I exited first (consideration: it’s easy).  I followed directly behind him not wanting to leave a gap allowing someone to jump on before I could make my exit.  Seriously I was right on his heels, but that wasn’t enough to stop the woman who had been waiting for the elevator.  Without looking she tried to walk right on as in her peripheral vision she saw the first guy exit.  When she finally noticed I was coming off with the cart she had to do a jump back maneuver that almost made the guy behind her trip.  As the elevator door was closing I could hear her mumbling to the guy whom she almost tripped that it was rude of me to not have announced I was coming off the elevator.  I was rude?  Really?  I don’t believe I was, but if I was please tell me.  She said some other stuff too that was hard to make out.  My first thought was to abandon my cart and run up the stairs to explain to her the error of her ways but I knew better than to leave the cart unattended.  It was a teachable moment, and I had to let it pass, very unfortunate.
Rule #1 is simple, easy to follow, and is applicable 100% of the time.  If you have been waiting “forever” for the elevator to arrive at your floor, exiting passengers still have the right of way.  If you are only going up or down one floor, exiting passengers still have the right of way.  If you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant, if you are in a power chair, if you are rich, if you are poor, if you suspect you may have gotten that lady pregnant when you hooked up at your ten year high school reunion, remember Rule #1 and let the people off the elevator before you make things difficult for everyone.
Stay tuned for part 2 and until then be sure to put rule #1 into practice. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Who Is?: Super Kate

I actually tried to write a post like this a few years ago and failed miserably. Back then pretty much everything about me was defined in terms of others…my roles in life and the things I did. Jeff’s wife, Daniel/Nathan/Jacob’s mother, my students’ teacher. If you asked me what I did outside of those roles, I’d tell you, “Um….I read a lot.” I didn’t have my own “thing”. We watched a lot of sports and movies. We camped. While I liked to do all of those things, I was just fitting myself into what my husband enjoyed. I can’t blame him; when he’d ask me what I wanted to do I didn’t know. I wasn’t so much an individual as a mirror.

We subscribed to National Geographic Adventure and Outside magazines. I read them cover to cover, dreaming of a life of adventure that seemed as out of reach as a date with Brad Pitt. Back then, I saw life mostly in terms of what I couldn’t do. I was afraid to try new things. Without someone to lead the way I hung back, bored but comfortable with the familiar. And then, at 35, I fell in love. Yes, I was already married, but it’s ok because I fell in love with bicycling.

Thanks to a lousy sense of direction I accidentally rode my new bike 15 miles, a distance that seemed astonishing to me at the time. That ride – to another town! – was the first time I ever understood the sense of accomplishment that comes with the journey. 15 miles turned into 30, then 60 and later 100. Later came the decision to train for a 5K with my sister-in-law. I didn’t even like running; it took almost a year before I’d call myself a runner, but I did love the challenge. Running friendships led me to adventure racing and a whole host of new things: orienteering, mountain biking, paddling, bushwhacking, racing through the night.

Somewhere in all of this, I made a shift that has truly changed me life. Instead of saying “I can’t”, I started wondering, “Can I?” And for me, the process of answering that question matters infinitely more than the actual answer.

Can I run a marathon? Yes.
Can I race for 24 hours straight? Yes.
Can I rappel for the first time ever at night? Yes.
Can I ascend a 100-foot rock wall? Eventually.
Can I ride my bike 200 miles in a day? Not yet.

I don’t like to fail, but I’m no longer so afraid of failure that I refuse to try things that call to me. My circumstances haven’t changed, but my world is much bigger. I’m still a wife and a mother and a teacher and a reader…and a runner and mountain biker and adventure racer. I like a good challenge, can often be found jumping in over my head, and can probably be talked into joining your hairbrained scheme. I’m living the same basic life, but now it’s filled with adventure and adventurous people, and when I say “I can’t”, it’s most often to tell you “I can’t wait!”

I’m Kate. Who are you?
You can read more about Super Kate on her blog by clicking here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

One project finished as another begins

I actually finished a project! 
It was an easy one but I finished it just the same.  Beth wanted to install some lights on the mirror behind the dresser.  My first instinct was to schedule it for some later date that would probably never arrive, but instead I decided to make it happen.  After all being married to me is a lot of work so installing some lights is the least I could do.  She told me what she wanted and I immediately knew what to do.  Off to our local home supply superstore we went.  We grabbed a light, power cord, and bulbs, checked out and headed home.  I gathered some tools and realized that I forgot to grab some wire nuts, but luckily I found some in the back of a drawer.  With everything ready to go I realized the part of the mirror on which I was planning on attaching the lights was not made of wood but instead a masonite material.  Not cool.  If I didn’t have any nuts and bolts to go through I would have to make a run to the store again.  I know that sounds like a small thing but I was determined to not let anything derail this project.  Fortunately I scrounged up something that worked and I got the light installed.  The 60W bulbs we bought were overkill, so as they go out they will be replaced with 40W bulbs.  Finishing the project made me happy, because it was something for Beth.  I was glad to bring a little light into her life, she deserves much more but it will have to do for now.  If you read my Who Is? feature you know finishing this project is a big deal regardless of how small and easy it was.  As one project is completed another begins.
Berryman Marathon 2010 finish
Finished the Berryman marathon.
A new beginning!
The training cycle for Run100+ has officially begun.  Run, run, run.  The Kettle Moraine 100mile trail run will be here before I know it, and I have miles and miles to run.  In order for me to cross the finish line I will have to work harder and be more serious about running than I have ever been.  Riding high off the light project I feel like I am up to the task but sustaining the momentum has been problematic in the past.  One thing I know for sure though is that the trail doesn’t care if I skip training runs and slack off, likewise it doesn’t care if I train harder than ever.  To the trail I am insignificant.
I know what I need to do.  All that is left is for me to do it, and do it according to plan for the next 6months.  I haven’t failed in a 100+Project challenge yet, and I don’t plan to start now. 
The END!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Who Is?: Ness Knight

I have just woken up to the rustling noises of some fat geese waddling through the leaves right by my tent, gabbling on at one another (rather disconcerting when you are still half asleep and have no idea what is going on, mind) whilst making their way to a bubbling creek just a few meters away. The morning sun is glistening through a multitude of condensation droplets all around my tent, making me feel like I'm surrounded by a thousand little suns. This is why I am an adventurer. This is why I do what I do. It is quite likely that those stuck in the traffic and fumes on a highway just 200 meters away have absolutely no idea that this idyllic little haven even exists. It reminds me of some lyrics from a Cat Empire song I listened to yesterday which really struck a chord, "Do you ever look around and find what is here to be found?".
I'm Ness. At the moment you will find me cycling 2000 miles across the USA. Everything I need to get me across this distance fits on my bicycle.
Many have asked me why I decided to be an adventurer. There are 3 reasons, 1.) I get to challenge myself physically and mentally through endurance expeditions, pushing my limits and finding the depths of what I am capable of. 2.) I want to make sure that in 50 years time I can look back and say that I truly lived, having gathered thousands of brilliant experiences to show for my achievements, and not just a house full of stuff. 3.) We live on a phenomenal planet. My expeditions allow me to see the world from a very unique perspective. As I cycle these 2000+ miles I am taking in every single brilliant aspect, meter by meter, mile upon mile.
Next year sees me SUPing the length of the Murray River in Australia source to sea with the brilliant Em Bell. A Thames River source to sea swim is on the cards and plans are in the pipeline for a Pacific Ocean row.
I'm Ness, a dorky geek who found her passion in adventure and is living every single minute to the full. Who are you?

Find out more about Ness on her website NessKnight.com

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Accumulation: It’s a real problem

Lately I’ve been realizing that the accumulation of stuff isn’t making me happy.  I have accumulated loads and loads of crap that I rarely ever use.  On a recent TEDx talk I watched on collaborative consumption the speaker, Rachel Botsman, asked the audience how many of them owned a cordless drill.  Most of the audience raised their hand.  Then she said the average lifetime use of a cordless drill is only 13minutes.  Clearly if you are a contractor or avid do-it-yourselfer you drill usage will be much higher, but for the average person that might be pretty accurate.  The speaker went on to say, it’s the hole that you want not the drill itself, and wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to conveniently source a drill when you needed one.
The story of the drill is relevant because we accumulate so much stuff because we think we need it, again we need the hole, not the drill.  I currently own three pneumatic nailers for no reason whatsoever.  If I ever decided to build an addition to my shed or house, I have the nailer for the job.  On the off chance I felt an urge to redo all of the trim work in my house, I have a nailer for that job too.  While we are at it if I wanted to do some more detailed trim work, you guessed it I have a nailer for that also.  I bought all these for small jobs I did years ago that would have been just as easy to complete with a hammer.  At the time though, I convinced myself that a pneumatic nailer would be something good to have just in case I ever needed to use one.  That makes no sense to me whatsoever but at the time I thought I was being smart. 
Lately I have been trying to get rid of a bunch of stuff that I have accumulated over the years.  Beth and I have been selling things on E-bay, and Craigslist to recoup some of our wasted money.  Today I sorted through all of my clothes, and was shocked to discover the full extent of my wardrobe.  If anyone is paying attention to what I wear, they know that I only have a few items of clothing that I actually wear on a day to day basis.  What I found was I had 30lbs of clothes (apologies for the odd frame of reference, I didn’t realize I would be writing this post before they were already bagged up and sorted according to their fate.) that I just don’t wear for one reason or another, and another 30lbs of old race shirts that I have been saving to have made into a quilt one day (not likely to happen, quilts are expensive to have made, and I have been saving them for years).  Sixty pounds of clothing sitting idle in closets and dresser drawers, crazy right?
The stuff I have gotten rid of already is only a small dent in the amount of useless crap I own, but with every item I get rid of I feel a little better.  Happiness is an empty shelf! 
What have you accumulated over that years that makes you wonder what you were thinking?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Who Is?: Dave Cornthwaite

Who Is Dave C

I am Dave Cornthwaite, and this is the strangest thing I've ever been asked to do. How can I sum up who I am in just a few words? I'm not sure it's possible but I'll try, because that's what I do.
Although my life, my personality, my lifestyle, my ambitions and my temperament (which wavers) intertwines completely with my work I hope I'll not be defined by the things I have done, so I won't mention them here. I am not an adventurer nor an author, a motivational speaker or a world traveller. I am simple. I travel light as often as I can, although I will always carry too much. Where once I talked and didn't do, now I do things and then I talk about them, but usually only when asked to.
I find myself funnier than others think I am, although sometimes people laugh at my jokes out of sympathy. My worst habit is tickling my nose hair with my tongue. Yes, I can reach my nose with my tongue. I'm still trying to work out the meaning of life, but have got as far as understanding that my interpretation will belong to nobody else. I struggle with the value of what I do because my life is unconventional, but shards of light appear when I see folks embarking on adventures for which they claim a meeting with me was the catalyst. If that's all I can offer it's enough.
I dislike doing something I don't enjoy just for money - happiness is more important. I become impatient when people believe in something enough to preach or vote for it based purely on inherited expectation. We live in a time where sitting on the fence is unnecessary, we have no excuse to base our opinions just because we read or heard somebody else's.
If I had to sum myself up in three words, they would be Say Yes More. I am Dave Cornthwaite, who are you?
To find out more about Dave go to DaveCornthwaite.com.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Fear

As each weekend draws to a close I always find myself stricken with Sunday Fear.  I have suffered from this condition for as long as I can remember but it wasn’t until recently that I learned it had a name.  Sunday Fear is the anxiousness that builds with the approach of the coming work week  as the sands in the hourglass of the weekend run out.  The symptoms include restlessness, irritability, depression, nervousness, and  helplessness among others. 

Every Friday we are presented with two days of freedom from the workplace.  For those suffering from Sunday Fear this can mean two things, it can make you want to jam pack as much activity into those two days as possible or, it can make you want to do as little as possible because as we all know ‘Time flies when you are having fun’, and the last thing a person suffering from Sunday Fear wants to do is hasten the approach of the coming work week. 

For me the Sunday Fear begins with a feeling of dread.  Then the mental list of all the things I wish I had done over the weekend that I tell myself that I will do the next weekend begins.  It is not uncommon for me to complain of boredom.  I am often heard saying “I want to do something”.  These last two symptoms directly led to me going kayaking for the first time.  Beth got tired of my self-pity and pretty much forced me to go and I had a great time.  Resisting the Sunday Fear is not impossible but it takes so much effort that sometimes it is just easier to give in to it.

"Only the rush hour hell to face"

There are thousands, dare I say millions of sufferers.  A simple solution would be to quit our jobs and find something we love.  Unfortunately some will never discover this simple solution and go on thinking this is the way life is supposed to be, work at an unfulfilling job until most of your life is gone and if you are lucky have a modest retirement.  There are even common sayings that are meant to reinforce this idea.  “That’s why it’s called Work, it’s not supposed to be fun”.  I think work can and should be fun.  Spending most of your life on toil and drudgery is no way to live.  How many lives do we get anyway?  That’s right just one.

Others, like me, see the answer clearly enough but because of the decisions that led to this point are stuck until they can dig themselves out.  Some are fortunate and see things sooner and therefore have an easier time finding a way out.  Whatever stage you find yourself in, know that there is a way out.  Everyone’s path is different but there is a path, you must however, make the decision to take it.

I am moving down my path with an end in sight but I still struggle with the Sunday Fear.

I was firmly locked into the career path with head down moving day by day toward my retirement age.  With 15years to go I had a countdown clock running on my desk top ticking away the seconds until it was time to be free.  One day I realized the absurdity of being a square peg in a round hole for the next 15 years and decided to make a change.  I am still at my job for now and for how long is a difficult question to answer as I get some affairs in order, but there is one thing I know for certain it won’t be another 15years.  It is an extremely frightening decision but living the next 15years with the Sunday Fear is far worse.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review: Guerrilla Tags

Recently I responded to a poll in a LinkedIn group I belong to about how often I carry a form of ID while out riding, running, etc.  The truth was not very often.  When I do carry something it is usually my driver’s license with Beth’s phone # written on the back.  The guy who added the poll was the owner of a new company called Guerrilla Tags.  He asked if I would be interested in trying one out to see how I liked it.
I went to the website and made my selections.  G-Tags come in two varieties, the wrist band and the dog tag style that you wear around your neck.  I wore dog tags for eight years so I new that style wasn’t for me.  I selected the wrist band and added the information I wanted on it and hit submit.  This seems like a good time to say that Kyle, the owner sent me a code that made the G-Tag free of charge.  A week or so later my G-Tag arrived in the mail.
I was eager to try it out and while I was getting ready to go for a run I showed it to Beth who said, “It’s pretty cool but the information is wrong.”  At first I was upset but then remembered when I ordered it thinking I should double check the information for accuracy but being in a hurry I didn’t.  I went back and checked the receipt and sure enough the mistake was mine.  Kyle and the  Guerrilla Tags team engraved exactly what I told them I wanted.  Shame on me for not being more careful.  Let this be a warning to anyone ordering a G-tag!  Luckily the mistake was minor and fixable.
The Guerrilla Tag is a leather bracelet that has two snaps for fastening and an engraved tag with your information.  Being a vegetarian I had to think long and hard about using a leather strap, but ultimately came to the conclusion that if I was so concerned about it I wouldn’t have leather work shoes and a leather belt (also for work).  They offer different types of leather, brown was the most durable according to the website so it was an easy choice.  The amount and type of information you can have put on your tag is fully customizable.  I chose to keep things simple with a couple emergency contacts and that I suffer from asthma.  I only have attacks when I am around cats but I figured if I were found unconscious on the trail that information might be medically relevant.
                                               photo (4)                                                            photo (5)
The size of the wrist band was perfect for my wrist (your wrist size may vary) and the leather was soft and pliable making it comfortable to wear.  Out on the run I didn’t notice it at all which is good.  The G-Tag seems very durable and made to last.  My only concern is that the leather might get nasty constantly being exposed to sweat.  I will have to wait until it gets warm again to find out though. 
G-Tags are a good alternative to other items that serve a similar purpose.  Whether you choose a G-Tag for this purpose or another product comes down to personal preference.  I like my G-Tag, and I will continue to wear it, and if it wears out or the information changes I would likely buy a new one.
Here is a link to a video of a G-Tag being made!
           photo (2)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Who Is?: Patrick Albert

In the introductory post of the Who Is? feature I will be placing myself under the microscope for a little inward reflection to determine Who Is?: Patrick Albert.  First though an explanation of this new feature seems in order.
I find people interesting.  The idiosyncrasies that make us different are what makes us interesting as individuals.  If we were all the same everything would be boring, and there would be no need to dig any deeper than the surface because what we would find underneath would just be more of the same.  Thankfully, we are all different and it is a worthwhile endeavour to see what is below the surface, sometimes we might be shocked by what we find or even horrified but in the end it was worth a look because we  also run the risk of being pleasantly surprised or overwhelmed by compassion and that is a risk worth taking.
Who Is? is an attempt to get at a little something below the surface by simply asking the question, Who Is?: "insert your name here".
I will pass this question around and all I ask is that it be answered in a meaningful way.  That is my only guidance.  It can be answered in any manner, words, video, photograph, painting, etc.(all of the work should be your own though).

Without further adieu:

Skate100  crop

I am a person full of ideas, and half finished projects.  The Avett Brothers song Incomplete and Insecure starts out with this line, "I haven't finished a thing since I started my life, I don't feel much like starting now".  This lyric hit me like a lightning bolt the first time I heard it.  It made me think about many things in my life.  Just a simple turn of phrase and yet so powerful.
I don't know why I am this way, but I'm sure years of therapy could yield an answer.  It's not like I have never finished anything but there are many ships yet to sail into their bottles because of me.  Having come to this realization has really helped cut down on the projects though.  The other day I heard someone described as a "thinker, not a tinkerer"  and although they weren't talking about me they easily could have been.
Perhaps the string of unfinished business in my wake is what draws me to adventure.  When you announce an adventure to the world it is a declaration of self, a bold statement that I WILL______!  You can fill in your own blank.  Skate100+, the first of the 100+Projects started with a pit in my stomach.  This was the first time I ever announced anything to the world.  The first time it ever really mattered if I finished or not.  The truth was I wasn’t sure if I could ride a skateboard 100+ miles.  I couldn't back out though.   I made the announcement and the world, or at least my small corner of it was watching!   I was prepared to do whatever it took.  I skateboarded 107miles that day and felt a great sense of accomplishment.
I am still a person with unfinished projects and unrealized ideas but I realize that some projects just don’t fit and some ideas are never meant to be realized.  Just like things, ideas can clutter your life, and I have made a good start at getting rid of that clutter.  But just like the raft, the musical, the comic strip, the canoe, and the silicone impregnated nylon, all I have so far is a good start, only time will tell if I finish.

I am Patrick Albert.  Who are you?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Review: Ultimate Direction Access

I’ve been using the Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Plus for years and have found it to be the best handheld water bottle for runners on the market.  A few months ago I did a review of it for the Red9Runners monthly newsletter.  I sent the link to Ultimate Direction thinking they might post it on their Facebook page or something.  A week later I received an email from Buzz Burrell letting me know that they liked the Fastdraw Plus review and would send me one of their waist packs to review.  The timing was great because I was planning a 12hour run as a fundraiser for the AAFAStL and was looking for something to give away as an attendance prize.  I agreed, and a week later the Ultimate Direction Access arrived at my door.

                                                                                 Ultimate Direction Access                                                                    

I was excited to try it out because I love the Fastdraw Plus but sometimes when I am running I want my hands to be free and a belt made to carry the same great UD bottles really appealed to me.  My excitement was tempered with a touch of anxiousness because the last time I used a belt (from another company) having  it around my waist made me nauseous. 

The Access holds one 20 ounce bottle (included) that is positioned at an angle that makes it easy to remove and replace the bottle without stopping.  The UD bottles are BPA free and come with the Kicker valve which does not leak.  Seriously, with the valve in the closed position the liquid stays put.  The valve itself is soft rubber which unlike some other hard plastic valves is easy on the teeth.  If you have ever smashed a water bottle into your mouth while trying to get a drink then you know what I am talking about.  It is sort of like a baby bottle only better because baby bottles don’t fuel 20mile trail runs.photo (11)

It also features a bungee loop that when placed around the top of the bottle prevents it from falling out due to excessive jostling.  I never had to use the loop and the bottle stayed in place just fine.  Perhaps as the belt gets older and more worn in the bottle might come out so the loop is still a nice feature to have in case you need it.

Next to the bottle is a small storage pouch.  Overall I was not to impressed with this feature.  It could hold  a decent amount of stuff as long as that stuff didn’t include my phone.  My IPhone 4 in its protective case and Ziploc bag really pushed the storage pouch to the limit and when I tried to add my car keys (one key and a FOB) it took some real effort to close the zipper.  The pouch could be a little bigger in my opinion.  People are using their phones more and more to record their workouts, play music and as a safety measure if they need to call 911 so a pouch that accommodates today’s smart phones is a must.  If  you have the IPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy (both larger than my phone) I doubt they would fit at all.

photo (6)     photo (5)     photo (8)     photo (12)

Like I said though the Access holds a lot of stuff as you can see from the pictures above, and it even has a a slot for your headphone cord.  The tethered key hook is also a nice feature if you, like me, worry about dropping your keys out on the trail somewhere only to find out when you get back to the car.  

photo (10)The belt is fully adjustable on both sides of the buckle and has an elastic band to keep the tail end of the belt from flapping around while you run.  I just wish I had more of a tail piece to really test out that elastic band with but that is to blame on my waist size not the waist pack.  Getting the belt adjusted for you takes a bit of fine tuning and in my case I had to really cinch it tight.  I found that if it felt comfortable just standing around it would shake like mad when I was running.  Using a belt is something I haven’t done for a long time so until I got the belt adjusted correctly, which for me felt almost too tight standing still, I hated it.  The first run with it on was torture but I stuck with it and after I realized the belt was too loose I found that I barely noticed that it was back there and it didn’t shake around very much at all as you can see in the video below.

Black is slimming yo!

Overall I was happy with the Access.  There were some shortcomings though  so if you are the type of runner that likes to bring a lot of accessories when  you run then you might want to consider a belt with more storage, but if all you need is room for a couple gels, your keys, and an MP3 player then I highly recommend it.  Also it comes in 10 colors so you’ll be sure to find one to match your shoes!  Stop by the Ultimate Direction website and check all of their great products.

Tomorrow I will be running a 12hour training run as part of the 100+Project.  I have invited a bunch of friends to come out and run with me and I will be giving the Access to one of them.  FYI, I will be giving away a new bottle, not the one I have been using.  Truth be told I have enjoyed using it so much I hate to give it away!

If you are interested in joining me for the 12hour tomorrow details can be found here:


Facebook event page

Disclaimer: Ultimate Direction sent me this product free of charge for the purpose of this review.  There was no guarantee of a positive review.  If I thought it was garbage I would say so.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Run100+ : Kettle Moraine

Years ago before I started running and carrying on with all this endurance nonsense I saw an episode of Jeep World of Adventure Sports that featured the Badwater ultramarathon.  I was blown away.  I never knew people could run that far and in those conditions.  The voices in my head agreed that we should do that.  Not Badwater but that we should run 100miles.  The thought of doing it felt right.  I knew it would be difficult and physically demanding but it made sense to me for some reason.
I trained up through the usual distances and eventually ran a 50miler and a 50k, but then I got sidetracked and the 100miler was put on hold while I did some other awesome events.  I competed in several multisport events like Triathlon's and biathlon's,  I even joined an adventure racing team and competed in a couple 36hour races.  Eventhough I was distracted by all these other events the 100miler was still looming in the background but never forgotten.
I agreed to run a 100miler in 2013 with my friend Cheri and we chose Kettle Moraine for our race.  It fit with our timeline and has a reputation for being friendly to beginners.  Make no mistake my goal is to finish this race not attempt it, that being said I know that a lot can go wrong in 100miles and success is never a guarantee no matter how well you trained.  I am running this race as part of the 100+Project and I would hate to fail, so if I have to cherry pick a course and maybe run very conservatively in order to finish so be it.  I doubt very much that finish times will be on my mind when (if) I cross the finish line anyway.
I'm looking forward to all of the long runs that are coming up.  Some people like to hang out at bars with their friends but I prefer to do my socializing on the trail.

How I Registered for the Rock & Roll St Louis Marathon by Accident

In just over a month I will be running the Rock & Roll St Louis marathon.  Way back on National Running day (June 1st) RNR was offering a discount for registration.  In need of a Fall race to train for that would also be a springboard to running Kettle Moraine 100 in June 2013 I figured why not?  I hadn't run a marathon in a while and thought it might be fun to do a little PR chasing.
When I went to the website to register I was shocked by the cost.  Even with my $20 discount it was still $95!  Talk about expensive!  Now I wasn't certain if I wanted to run it anymore.  That's not entirely true.  I wanted to run it, but I didn't want to pay $95 for the priviledge.
I was sitting there with all my information filled out on the form.  Name, age, credit card, etc.  The debate in my head was going back and forth like a table tennis match.  Yes, No,Yes,No...and then it happened...my finger touched the track pad on my laptop and my fate was sealed. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Flatlanders Race Report by Jim Donahue

At the beginning of September my friend Jim ran the Flatlanders 12hour held by the SLUGS at Fenton City Park.  The course was a 1.4mile asphalt loop, that runners ran around for either 6 or 12 hours.

The following is Jim's report of the race.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sneak Peek!

After my review of the Fastdraw Plus, Ultimate Direction sent me one of their waist packs to review.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Welcome New Visitors

Thanks for dropping by stay a while and look around but if you came here because of the article in today's  St Louis Post Dispatch please click the link below and check out the actual 100+Project website.

In a couple days I will have completed the account of my experience paddling from Kansas City to St Charles during the MR340 paddling race.
Also look for announcements about other events like the upcoming 12hour training run on 11/11/12, as well as my future fundraising efforts.
  • Run100+: Running 100miles at the Kettle Moraine 100 in Wisconsin
  • Canoe100+: Canoeing the 300+mile length of the Illinois river from Chicago to Grafton
  • Hike100+: Through hiking the 200+mile Ozark trail section in Southern Missouri

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Anyone up for a 12hour run?

In case you missed the announcement, next year (I mean 8months from now) I along with a few friends (Cheri, Jim, Travis) will be running the Kettle Moraine 100.  One hundred miles up in LaGrange, Wisconsin along the Ice Age trail.  Run100+ will be the next installment of the 100+Project and probably the most difficult, most difficult to date anyway.  

Kettle Moraine finishers award.  Copper Kettle

In order to increase the likelihood of success I plan to train hard and stay focussed.  During this training I will be doing some very long runs and some back to back long runs on the weekends.  I will be running at night and when I am sleepy.  Don’t feel left out though.  Just because you aren’t going to run 100miles doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of the fun.  There will be opportunities along the way for you to join me for training events.  

The first public event will be held on November 11th out at the SIUE GORC trails.  Come join me for a little 12hour run on a 2mile course.  The run will start at 6am and end at 6pm.  You don’t have to run the whole time, that would be silly.  Oh wait...  The course will be trail #1 over and over again so just show up at the model airplane field and wait for me to come around.  Run as much as you want, or as little it’s up to you.  

Trail Map of the Gateway Offroad Cyclist trails at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Because I am trying to raise money for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation St Louis Chapter I ask that if you plan on joining me for this run you make a $5 donation to the Foundation.  You can give me the money or donate it directly how you handle that end is up to you.  If you wanted to donate more that would be great too. but since I am only an elite runner and local celebrity in my mind $5 seems fair to support a good cause.

So please come on out.  Join me to experience all the highs and lows that ultrarunning has to offer.  As an added bonus you might get to see me cry.  It happens.  No shame in my game homies.  Maybe I will offer a prize for the person who is running with me if/when I break down.

Pass this along to all your friends the more the merrier.  Lets raise some money!  As Epic Bill Bradley says all you have to do is “Show up and suffer”!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fancy a bit of a swim?

Why am I in a grocery waving a miniature Union Jack? You ask.
The answer is simple. Just sending a little love to Dave Cornthwaite and his team.
Dave once again had his passport stamped in the US. This time he is swimming 1000miles down the Missouri river. That's right swimming! He brought along a team with him this time to stand watch or more precisely paddle watch over him while he avoids all the dangers the river poses to a swimmer. The team is stand up paddle boarding on Lake Shore River Rovers (the same model Dave paddled down the length of the Mississippi river) and a Mad River canoe.
I've been following their progress and so far it has been interesting. They are doing this journey to raise money for Copp-a-Feel a breast cancer awareness charity.
Dave and the team still have a long way to go but they have grit as well as determination enough to see them through to the finish in St Louis.
You can learn more at swim1000.com.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cinco de Paddle-O: Preparing for the MR340

One in the morning there I was somewhere along the Missouri river between Jefferson City and St Charles, at some random boat ramp with my nephew Michael trying to get a little rest before continuing on our way.  Sleeping on concrete is always a bad idea because even though it seems warm at first, soon enough it will suck all of the warmth from your body along with your will to go on.  I swore I would never do it again after Berryman yet there I was.  As I lay there trying to get some rest going through the seemingly endless cycle of sleep, chill, wake I pondered the events that led me to this random boat ramp.

It all started with a Riverfront Times article in 2008 that ran with the title: Up Show-Me Creek: Blisters, hellish heat, a boatload of vomit and lots of painkillers. It's all part of the Missouri River 340 race.”  It seems like so long ago that I read that article that painted such a horrible picture of the race that runs 340miles from Kansas City to St Charles, Mo. At the time I happened upon the article I may have been in a kayak once or twice.  Beth had once suggested when I was in a fit of boredom that we go paddling in Grafton, IL.  I was down on the idea but since it was a better alternative than wallowing in the Sunday doldrums before returning  to work on Monday I reluctantly agreed.  We convinced Michael and his wife to join us and we all drove up to Grafton.

Once we got to the drop off point and out on the water though everything changed.  I was in heaven and as we paddled back down the river I had already made up my mind that owning a kayak would be way cheaper than renting one.  I had no real idea what the cost of a kayak was but I knew I loved being out on the water and if I didn’t buy one I would be wasting my money on rental fees every chance I could. Things didn’t quite work out that way though.  We rented kayaks a total of one more time, and that was it.  Kayaks were more expensive than I originally guessed, and finding the money was difficult.  It seemed like it would never happen.

When I saw the article about the MR340 I knew I had to do it, regardless of how awful it sounded.  It was a grand adventure one that I wanted to be a part of.  I showed my nephew the article and said we had to do it.  He agreed, and there it sat.  2009 passed and no MR340, 2010 was the same.  Now I had been busy doing other things in the time between, and the MR340 was constantly being put on hold.  In the interim however the word “adventure” was becoming a greater part of my life.  I competed in some adventure races and met some people who like me had outgrown the weekend 5k circuit and were looking for a real challenge, something with which they could test their mettle.  I even met some MR340 finishers.  I decided that 2011 was going to be the year!  If participation in the race was put off any longer it was certain to never happen for us.  I called my nephew and told him that we were really going to do it this time.  To my surprise he said that he had arrived at the same conclusion.  It seemed like nothing could stop us!  

I found a kayak on Craigslist, then a week later Michael bought a super crappy one from Costco.  We paddled together for a while and he eventually realized that he needed to upgrade to a better boat. My adventure racing friend Chuck decided that he was in too and arranged quite a few training runs for us.  Everything was on track.  We all had boats, and were training as much as we could. Then the flood came.  The message from Race Director Scott Mansker was like a punch to the gut.  The 2011 MR340 was cancelled because of unsafe river conditions caused by flooding.  Scott handled the cancellation like a true  professional, going above and beyond everyone’s expectations.  We were given vouchers for guaranteed  entry into the 2012 race.  So now it looks like 2012 will be the year, and it looks like nothing can stop us.  The flood did claim one casualty though.  Chuck will not be with us in 2012 since he has decided to train for an iron man triathlon instead.  Despite losing Chuck, a great training partner, Michael and I have carried on, continuing to train and move forward toward the goal of finishing the MR340.

That is what led me to this random boat ramp at one in the morning.  The concrete is so cold, I can’t sleep, and for a brief second I consider sleeping in my kayak but my behind is pretty sore from 16hours of paddling and I don’t think sitting in the boat would be a much better alternative than the concrete as far as sleep aids go.  

We have come a long way, not just today but in the years that led up to this, however the one thing we learned from our Cinco de Paddle-O adventure is that we still have a long way to go.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What's My Excuse? I Don't Need One, and Neither Do You

Hey, I don't need an excuse and you don't need one either.  I always regret missing a workout (well not always if you know what I'm sayin').  I try to get them all in but sometimes I don't.  Who cares?

Yeah I know that people that are a lot busier than I am find time to get their workouts in.  I also know that there are people out there in way worse shape than me that get their workouts done, and there are people that struggle daily with one condition or another that makes their workouts monumentally more difficult than anything I do on a daily basis.  That doesn't mean I need an excuse does it?

What about you?  I don't know you.  Do you workout?  I hope you are getting some form of exercise because I think it is important.  If you aren't I won't ask "What's your excuse?".  I would like to know why though.  You might have your reasons but like I said I don't know you and I don't know what they are.

The Sweet Life

Yesterday I took some time to catch up on several tasks that had been halting my progress. Once finished with all my computer work I moved to a much nicer office and finished up with pen and paper. I also got some reading done.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ultimate Direction Fast Draw Plus Review

The following review was originally submitted to the June 2012 Red9Runners News Letter.

The hot humid days of a midwest summer have arrived making hydration more important now than at any other time of year.  As the mercury rises runners use every trick in the book to take in fluids while out in the heat.  Some stage water at strategic locations, others carry a hydration bladder on their backs, and some even carry a regular plastic bottle full of water with them.  There are many solutions but the important thing is to find a solution that works for you.

I dare you to find a better handheld.

For the past 5years the solution that has worked for me is the Fastdraw Plus handheld from Ultimate Direction.  I have been so happy with this handheld that I have never felt the need to use anything different.   I did have a handheld made by another company before the Fastdraw but it leaked and the valve was not easy to use.  On a recommendation from another runner I tried the Fastdraw and have never looked back.

The Fastdraw is a 20oz 100% BPA free bottle that comes with a Kicker valve and a hand strap with a small pouch.  The bottle itself is semi-transparent allowing the user to keep track of how much liquid is left in the bottle.  The hand strap is useful to help prevent fatigue when carrying a handheld and the pouch has enough room to carry a gel, ID, and a car key.  It will carry what you need for a medium distance run.  The hand strap and pouch are easily removed when they inevitably get gross, and can be washed with the rest of your running gear.  

ProTip: For days it is really hot fill the bottle a quarter to a third full and put it in the freezer the night before then top it off before you go for a run. 

The feature that makes the Fastdraw stand out from other handheld bottles is the kicker valve.  The valve is a soft silicone rubber bite valve that is simple to use and does not leak whether it is in the open or closed position.  Using the Kicker valve is easy, simply extend the valve to its open position bite down on it and squeeze the bottle.  The water or your liquid of choice really flows well, keeping you hydrated without missing a step.

If you are looking for a way to stay hydrated while on the run give the Fastdraw plus from Ultimate Direction a try.  Many people have told me that they cannot carry a handheld when they run, and at first I felt the same.  It was surprising how quickly it became second nature.  Give it a try, you won’t be sorry.  Like I said before I’ve been using these bottles for five years, and they have performed exactly as they should, truly the Ipod of water bottles.

ProTip: Invest in a baby bottle brush to clean the bottle and the valve,  and don’t forget to rinse the bottle after each use.

*I have no financial interest in UD and was not asked to do this review. Furthermore I was not sent a free sample to review. That being said If the good people at UD were to feel like sending me a little something as a thank you for writing this review like a free sample to give away I  wouldn't turn it down.

Storage for keys, a gel, or maybe both.