Gear Review: LL Bean “Ascent” Packaway Jacket

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I’ve been an LL Bean fan and customer for years. As a matter of fact my life contains a vast majority of their clothing and gear. In my opinion LL Bean’s customer service is legendary, so when I needed a jacket for layering I turned to Bean. February here in New York has been extremely cold, with Jack Frost nipping at the noses of most in the Northeast. In retrospect a perfect environment to put my new remarkably light LL Bean “Ascent” Packaway jacket to the test.

The Jacket: 

This jacket boasts 60-gram remarkably light PrimaLoft One insulation. Ultralight ripstop nylon shell is treated to shed water and block wind. A highly compact alternative to fleece, packing into its own hand pocket.

Improved fit is trimmer through the body and upper arms with the ultralight ripstop nylon gliding easily under layers for a smooth fit that won’t restrict your motion. Shell resists wind and weather, has a drawcord hem and elasticized cuffs to seal in body heat, rated at -15 degrees.

Center back length, size L: 27″. Imported. Machine wash and dry.

Fit

Slightly fitted, best with lightweight layer, falling at hip. I wear a size large but decided to order an extra large for additional layering as I plan on using the jacket snowshoeing in the High Peak’s of New York’s Adirondack Park. Here weather conditions could change within minutes.

Test Dates:

Friday February 13th 2015 was sunny and cold with the temperature at 3 degrees and a wind chill of -13 degrees. With the wind at a moderate 11 mph I snowshoed around the local park for 3 miles averaging 2.9 mph. This particular park is open with no shelter what so ever. The jacket performed flawlessly. It did what it said, blocked the wind and kept me extremely warm, I was very impressed and extremely excited. I thought the jacket fit just right, I was unrestricted in my movements and after the first mile or so I had to slightly unzip it as I began to sweat a little.

Sunday February 15th 2015 was sunny and cold with the temperature at 0 degrees and a wind chill of -22 degrees. The wind was howling at 22 mph today and I went for a 5 mile snowshoe hike at a place called the “IBM Glen” where I averaged 3 mph. The first and last parts of my hike were .35 miles each across an open wind swept and snow drifting golf course. The wind was pushing at me so hard I had to use my poles to keep me upright. Again this jacket performed flawlessly! In truth I was utterly impressed because it was brutally cold out. Once in the woods I did receive some shelter from the wind. Like I said the jacket fit just right and I was unrestricted in my movements.

On both days I wore the exact same clothing to make sure this test was as accurate as possible. The layer closest to my body consisted of an Under Armour Cold Gear compression long sleeve shirt, followed by an LL Bean “Expedition Weight” base layer, topped with LL Bean’s linden green Ascent Packaway jacket.

Conclusion:

I truly love this jacket and its versatility. I felt very warm during the weather conditions on both days. I like the fitted style and feel of this jacket and I strongly believe it does what it says it does, blocks the wind and sheds water. This jacket is perfect for layering during the winter and can stand alone during the Spring and Fall months.

I have no affiliation with LL Bean or was I given this jacket. Just like you I am a consumer and I think I should get what I pay for. With that said I highly recommend this product.

If you are looking for a light weight versitile jacket look no further than LL Bean’s “Ascent” Packaway Jacket. http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/86465?feat=ascent-SR0&page=ascent-packaway-jacket

Sunday February 15th 2015.

Sunday February 15th 2015.

My New Journey

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46-R

November 2014 I complete a life journey, the New York City Marathon. A two and a half year adventure that took my life in an amazing direction. A direction that without the love and support of my family in particular my wife and children might have not been realized.

In a blog post I penned after my marathon https://adirondackjoe.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/2014-new-york-city-marathon/ I made mentioned of looking forward to what my future had in store.

Today I know where my future is headed and that is up. I started the paperwork to become an “Aspiring” Adirondack 46-R. In New York States Adirondack Park there are 46 high peaks with the tallest being Mt. Marcy at 5,344 feet or 1,629 meters for those on the metric system. I plan to summit them all over the next several years.

Aspiring_Member_Letter_2015-2

This summer my son Michael and I will summit 4,865′ Whiteface Mountain and 4,239′ Mt. Esther. My goal is to hike all 46 high peaks during all four seasons with the bulk being summer and fall. Who cannot resist fall color in the Adirondack’s!

Image: Michael Melford/National Geographic

Image: Michael Melford/National Geographic

Just recently I purchased a pair of MSR Lightning Ascent hiking snowshoes for the purpose of summiting a few high peaks during winter. These particular snowshoes are designed for exactly this. Looking forward to putting them to the test either this winter or next.

Winter hiking on Algonquin. Image from Google.

Winter hiking on Algonquin.
Image from Google.

My running is still a huge passion of mine, however in 2015 my goal is to focus less on racing and more on fitness. I do have two exciting races rapidly approaching with the first being the Syracuse half marathon on March 22nd which I had hopes of PRing. At this point I don’t even care! I look at what I have been given and just to be afforded the ability to run 13.1 miles is gratification enough. Next is my all time favorite race “The Seneca 7″ on April 19th. This is my race, the race I look forward to 364 days a year. This relay race is a 77.7 mile party around the beautiful Seneca lake in New York’s magnificent Finger Lakes Region. I love the camaraderie, team spirit and of course the competition. Throw in some good food, friends an adult beverage or two afterwards and you have storybook ending on a amazing weekend.

Cheers!

 

Scenes Along the Delaware

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The "Mighty" Delaware river as we cross from Pennsylvania into New York at Millrift, PA February 11th 2015.

The “Mighty” Delaware River as we cross from Pennsylvania into New York at Millrift, PA February 11th 2015.

Delays in our northern terminus forced my eastbound train to be delayed by eight hours. Instead of leaving at 6PM on February 10th we weren’t called until 2AM on the 11th.

Our railroad snakes along the Delaware River between Hancock, NY and Port Jervis, NY crossing in and out of both Pennsylvania and New York several times.

I took advantage of the daylight and created a few images, ENJOY!

Crossing the frozen waters of the Lackawaxen River as it empties into the Delaware at Lackawaxen, PA.

Crossing the frigid waters of the Lackawaxen River as it empties into the Delaware at Lackawaxen, PA.

Dropping cars at Narrowsburg Feed in Narrowsburg, NY.

Dropping cars at Narrowsburg Feed in Narrowsburg, NY.

Cresting the Shawangunk Mountains and entering mile long Ottisville tunnel in Ottisville, NY.

Cresting the Shawangunk Mountains and entering mile long Ottisville tunnel in Ottisville, NY.

Crossing from New York into Pennsylvania at Tuston, NY.

Crossing from New York into Pennsylvania at Tuston, NY.

Making our way through the "Onion Fields" near Craigsville, NY.

Making our way through the “Onion Fields” near Craigsville, NY.

Oakley Corners Snowshoe Adventure!

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Ruff on the frozen pond at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Ruff on the frozen pond at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Today I was back at it, snowshoeing at Oakley Corners in the town of Owego, NY. I decided to bring the mutt with me. Ruff is a rescue, a mix of a Brittany Spaniel and English Setter. We’ve had him for several years now and he loves the snow.

I met up with friends Jim, Gwen, Chris and Chris’s dog Ruby. Conditions are still prime here for XC skiing and snowshoeing and the temperature wasn’t to bad at 19 degrees. Our hike took us around the perimeter following the yellow trail for 3.46 miles.

This has been a nice break from running and some great winter cross training in my opinion. Hopefully this coming Saturday I will get my older son Michael out snowshoeing before the real frigid temperatures arrive come Sunday.

All in all another great day here in the beautiful Southern Tier of New York!

http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/694492128

http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/8144.html

Myself and Ruff at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Myself and Ruff at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Myself, Ruff and Ruby at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Myself, Ruff and Ruby at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Gwen, Jim & Chris at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Gwen, Jim & Chris at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Ruff along the trail February 10th 2015.

Ruff along the trail February 10th 2015.

Gwen making her way along the yellow trail at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Gwen making her way along the yellow trail at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Gwen, Jim & Ruff taking in the beauty of Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Gwen, Jim & Ruff taking in the beauty of Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Ruby & Ruff getting acquainted February 10th 2015.

Ruby & Ruff getting acquainted February 10th 2015.

Gwen at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Gwen at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Jim is angling for a slobbery kiss from Ruff February 10th 2015.

Jim is angling for a slobbery kiss from Ruff February 10th 2015.

Chris is getting ready for some XC skiing at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Chris is getting ready for some XC skiing at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Making our way through the woods February 10th 2015.

Making our way through the woods February 10th 2015.

Crazy mutt enjoying the snow February 10th 2015.

Crazy mutt enjoying the snow February 10th 2015.

New York State trail marker at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

New York State trail marker at Oakley Corners February 10th 2015.

Winter Play Land

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Joe Geronimo at Wolfe Park in Binghamton, NY February 9th 2015.

Joe Geronimo at Wolfe Park in Binghamton, NY February 9th 2015.

All my fusing, swearing and continued threats of moving to a warmer climate have done little to persuade Mother Nature to cease and desist her continued rampage of cold temperatures and snow. As a matter of fact its snowing right now. Going back to the old adage “If you can’t beat them, join them” I decided to embrace the beauty of winter in New York.

About 5 years ago I tried snowshoeing. I bought a pair of traditional wooden snow shoes from LL Bean. I didn’t do my homework and the experience was miserable. The pair of snow shoes I bought were 30″ and rated at 160 lbs. I did not know that because I failed to read the description. Well, stick a 300+ lb guy at the time on a pair of snow shoes rated for 160 lbs and the experience gets ugly. I was pissed to say the least and threw the shoes into my garage and swore they would become decorations in a future remodel of our basement.

Recently on social media outlets I’ve been seeing all these wonderful images of my friends cross country skiing, snowshoeing, skiing and just enjoying the outdoors. The images that really set off my desire to make a second attempt at snowshoeing was that of some friends who recently hiked the high peaks in the Adirondack’s. In late January they hiked 5 peaks with the tallest one being Algonquin at 5,115 feet. This is the second tallest peak in the park next to Mount Marcy which towers at 5, 344 feet. I myself love to hike and have done some really awesome hikes in the past. Two of my favorites so far are 2,864 foot Mount Willard in New Hampshire’s White Mountains and the 1,260 foot Breakneck Mountain in New York’s Hudson Valley. Don’t be fooled by Breakneck’s elevation this is a category 1 hike. In the back of my mind I thought I want to do this!

This past weekend I made another attempt and went snowshoeing locally here logging 5 miles at the “IBM Glen” http://www.watermancenter.org/the_glen.htm trying out a pair of MSR “Lightning Ascent” snowshoes http://www.cascadedesigns.com/msr/snowshoes/ascent-snowshoes/lightning-ascent-snowshoes/product. This time these were the proper shoes for me and the task of hiking. I had a wonderful experience this time around, that I bought the pair. These bad boys will take me anywhere I want to go. From the hills and fields of the Southern Tier to the high peaks of the Adirondack’s these babies are awesome.

Early this morning the snow and ice had been falling as myself and a few friends made our way over to Wolfe Park in Binghamton to snowshoe, snowboard and run. The hardest part today was trying to get my car up some of the roads to the park. I think I might need a snowcat! Again these snowshoes did not disappoint at all as I logged 2.40 miles today. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s adventure out in Oakely Corners in the town of Owego and I will experiment a little and bring the dog. Wish me luck! http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/8144.html

Friends Jim, TJ, Chris & Ruby at Wolfe Park February 9th 2015.

Friends Jim, TJ, Chris & Ruby at Wolfe Park February 9th 2015.

Friends TJ and Jim at Wolfe Park February 9th 2015.

Friends TJ and Jim at Wolfe Park February 9th 2015.

Cross Country is for Wimps, or so I thought!

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Joe Geronimo during the Southern Tier Cross Country series at Binghamton, NY University. Image © Sheila Cordi

Joe Geronimo during the Southern Tier Cross Country series at Binghamton, NY University.
Image © Sheila Cordi

Growing up in suburban Long Island as a child I was drawn to the sport of soccer. Rightfully so as I was pretty good at it. I was especially drawn to the keeper or goalie position at which I excelled at and soccer in general for years. Once in Jr. High as there were no “Middle Schools” back then I continued to play on a travel team and not for my school team. Honestly I cannot remember if we even had a JV soccer team?

Over the course of the next several years and as I entered high school I was fascinated with the more higher profile sports such as football and lacrosse. Only briefly did I give a thought of running cross country. My thought process was this ‘Cross Country is for Wimps” and I never looked back until October 12th 2014 when I competed in my first ever cross country meet 24 years after graduating high school. Was I ever wrong about my assumption of cross country.

I’d always assumed cross country was for the nerds, geeks or the weak. How dare you call cross country a sport especially that there is no contact involved. Cross country is for wimps!

Our first ever meet was through the newly formed Southern Tier Cross Country or “STXC” in partnership with Confluence Running of Binghamton, NY. The days meet was held in conjunction with the Binghamton University Runners Club or “BURC Open” on University campus in Vestal.

Our competition this day would be the 5K open with about 150 runners total. The weather was spectacular, the canopy of fall color radiated throughout the course. With gun going off at 11:00AM runners ascended a one mile hill called the “Pipeline” before cresting in the the Universities nature preserve.

Making our way through the preserve and back out onto campus you could hear the thunderous heartbeat of the other runners. Lastly descending the “Pipeline” back towards the finish this new thrill in my running adventure would soon be coming to a close and a new passion for sport nurtured.

Today I am eating my words. Cross country is definitely not for wimps as it takes quite the stamina to run competitively at a sustained distance. I think what really opened my eyes was my oldest son Michael who ran modified cross country for two years. The sport itself took on a different meaning for me and I saw the effort these kids put into it. Me as a runner, one who loves distance running now knows better.

Running, Hydration and Nutrition

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Long before I was inspired to be a runner I never really drank, water that is. To be honest I cannot even tell you why. I’ve been running now for almost three years and my hydration habits are horrible. Research shows that an average male weighing 200 pounds needs 70 ounces of water per day to replace just every day water loss. That does not include any extra effort or exercise. I can tell you this I don’t think I’ve drank 70 ounces of water on a hot summer day. Throw in my running routine and my potential date with disaster.

I have a rule, its my own and I think it needs some modification to say the least. If I was running or racing anything less than a half marathon distance I would not drink water during. I never liked the “Sloshing” feeling. After my run or race I might have a 16/20 ounce bottle of water and that is pretty much it, then it was beer me! Like I’ve stated I really have not been a water drinker. During the New York City marathon I carried no water but did make it through a few water stops along the course.

Over the past year I have been battling muscle injuries in my lower half, hip flexors, gluteus & calfs. I attribute a lot of this to my change in running shoes. I went from a stability shoe “i.e.. Brooks Adrenaline” to a more minimal drop neutral shoe as in the Brooks Pure Flow. I’m a big boned guy who hits the pavement hard when I run so I believe that lack of stability did some damage. It also didn’t help that I rarely took a day off over the past two years and I ran 99% of my runs hardcore with barely a slow run. Yes I over worked myself and I am paying the price. Fall 2013 through winter 2014 I was running 200+ miles a month in bitter cold temperatures before I fell to my injuries. My last race the 2014 Binghamton Bridge Run half marathon I was in so much pain I think I was crying crossing the finish line.

Recently and I mean in just the past few days I’ve been looking at how I am truly feeling. Muscles constantly tired, achy and sore. It hit me like a freight train, hey dummy something else is going on here. I thought to myself I wonder if my lack of hydration is play an integral part of my issues? Some online research, conversations with my wife, friends and trainers pointed me in the direction of hydration as a huge culprit. Over the past several days I have been working very hard at hydrating myself and as of today I feel pretty darn good. My muscles don’t ache and I feel quite considerably less sore than I have in a long time. This revelation of hydration came to me after my long run this past Sunday and don’t ask me why. Is it the end all cure all, no but its a start in the right direction.

Over the last 20 years my nutrition had been terrible. This is why I weighed over 300 pounds before making some life changes. I never met a drive thru I didn’t like or a foot long sub that was too big, pass me a 55 gallon drum of soda with a side of fries.

In 2012 I ditched the Whopper with cheese so to speak for a more thoughtful and healthier lifestyle and it changed my life forever. I won’t bore you with the details but a 3 ounce serving is VERY small. I’ve never been really good with nutrition and how could I be. I work for the railroad and we were on call 24/7 365 with only a 2 hour notice to come to work. We’d work 12, 13, 14 hours a day rest for 10 hours and right back at it. We were zombies and I remember packing enough food to make sure I could stay awake for those long hours. Sometimes that wasn’t enough and we’d find a Mickey D’s or a diner. That poor nutritional lifestyle finally caught up with me and I needed to make a change.

As I mentioned I’ve never been really good with my nutrition but I have managed to keep my weight off with good choices and exercise. Lately though I have had this idea wrestling around my head that since I’m a runner I can eat whatever I want, WRONG! I’ve let things slide as of late, eating way to much candy “Damn you Chocolate & Peanut Butter”, pizza, burgers, beer, etc. I love my family to death but I know when we all are together its going to be days of eating like crap, hey we’re Italians and we like to eat. It takes my body a full week, yes 7 days to recover from an eat-a-thon. I’ve gained several pounds over the last 9-10 months using this “I’m a runner mentality” and its time for me to get back on track.

Its ok to enjoy that burger, pizza, beer and so forth but I am now making it a once in a while deal rather than more routine as it has been.

I’d like to ask you this, do any of you struggle with hydration or nutrition? If so I would love to hear about it.

Cheers!

Joe

Connecting Our World

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Greetings,

I’m not sure if any of you know this but I am a postcard junkie. I have a major addiction to postcards both new and old with the later being my favorite. There is just something about sending and receiving postcards that I truly enjoy. Maybe it’s that mystique of what I might find in my mailbox or that surprise in yours. Whatever it might be I truly enjoy it.

Some of you who are reading this may have been a recipient of one of my postcards from when I/we travel, a friendly hello or just a simple thank you. Yes I know what you are thinking I have to buy stamps and find a Post Office or mailbox when “I can just post a picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever is the new fad today”. I’ll be honest, I love your pictures, however I love even more when you take the time to send me something tan·gi·ble “That may be touched, real actual; evident.” Something that years from now I can look back on and re-visit your life, journey, event or day.

A look back to a postcard written in 1958.

A look back to a postcard written in 1958.

One of my favorite stories is of recent, about a woman from our running community, a friend who lives a good distance from our area. While on social media prior to the Christmas holiday I was raving about the local coffee shop and their “Christmas Blend” coffee roast. Katie chimed in with “We are serious coffee drinkers ” asking if I might ship her some, so I did. After a week went by and I heard nothing of her receiving my package. I sent her a message asking if it had arrived and her response to me was “I sent you an old fashioned thank you card in the mail”. It was a handmade card, I was elated!From Katie O'Regan

Lately I have been recieving postcards from all around the globe. Have you ever heard of the Postcrossing project? I have been a member now for just over two years and I love it. I get to send  postcards around the world and even better I receive them from around the world as well. Furthermore I have the added benefit of all different types of stamps from across the globe. Exciting, yes I know!

My friends I hope that you have a happy 2015 and who knows maybe one of my postcards will make it to your mailbox.

Cheers!

Joe

Received from Siberia Russia on January15th 2015.

Received from Siberia Russia on January15th 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Received postcard from Taiwan on December 23rd 2014.

Received postcard from Taiwan on December 23rd 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This postcard came from a friend who was recently on a Caribbean cruise.

This postcard came from a friend who was recently on a Caribbean cruise.

A little information about the “Postcrossing Project” in hopes it might peak your interest. http://www.postcrossing.com

The project

The goal of this project is to allow people to receive postcards from all over the world, for free. Well, almost free! The main idea is that: if you send a postcard, you will receive one back from a random Postcrosser from somewhere in the world.

Why? Because, like the founder, there are lots of people who like to receive real mail.
The element of surprise of receiving postcards from different places in the world (many of which you probably have never heard of) can turn your mailbox into a box of surprises – and who wouldn’t like that?

How does it work?

First, the short version:

  1. request an address from the website
  2. mail the postcard to the address
  3. wait to receive a postcard
  4. register the received postcard in the system

The first step is to request to send a postcard. The website will display (and send you an email) with the address of another member and a Postcard ID (e.g.: US-786). You then mail a postcard to that member.

The member receives the postcard and registers it using the Postcard ID that is on the postcard. At this point, you are eligible to receive a postcard from another user. You are now in line for the next person that requests to send a postcard. Where the postcard comes from is a surprise!

You can have up to 5 postcards traveling at any single time. Every time one of the postcards you send is registered, you can request another address. The number of postcards allowed to travel at any single time goes up the more postcards you send!

Welcome 2015

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It’s six O’clock AM December 31st 2014 as I sit by the light of our Christmas tree thinking back over some of the events of this year. I have to admit this year has been pretty good to me and my family despite being injured earlier in the year I did manage to run 1,098 miles in 2014 far shorter than the 1,500 miles originally planned.

Some amazing things happened in 2014. In April our team “Liar Liar Feet On Fire” placed sixth overall in the Seneca 7 competition. In the month of June my wife and kids flew to Chicago for her niece’s wedding and a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Unfortunately I could not go due to my work. The month of July our family took about a three week tour of New England where we visited Boston, Coastal Maine, Acadia National Park, New Hampshire and Vermont followed by a trip to Long Island in order to celebrate my fathers 70th birthday with family and friends. In early October I traveled back to New England to visit friends and for some fall color paddling in search of the ever elusive moose. Sadly the moose still remains elusive. Later in the month I had the honor of being my brothers best man at his wedding. Moving into early November I ran my first ever marathon, the New York City Marathon. What a life experience that was. Over the Thanksgiving holiday we were back on Long Island. In December however we celebrated Christmas right here in our home with family and friends. It was quiet just the way we like it. Several days after the holiday we were back on Long Island visiting my family. The boys love seeing their two cousins, add a trip to Nassau Coliseum “The home of four time Stanley Cup Champs” NY Islanders to watch some WWE wrestling.

Lastly 2014 also saw the birth of two beautiful babies. My wife’s nephew Phil and his wife Amy gave birth to the cutest baby girl. My cousin Chris and his wife Jenna gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Sadly in 2014 we have yet to meet these two beautiful babies. Another thing that saddens me is we did not spend any time with my wife’s family. Something I truly miss doing. These two things I hope to rectify in 2015.

With that said I wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2015, Cheers!

 

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