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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Name our Sheep Mascot

Hello All,

Our little friend "the sheep" is a bit saaa-aaad right now because the poor thing does not have a name.  Shoot, right now it doesn't even know if it is a dude sheep or a chick sheep.

Since it took me several months to come up with the name for the website / company, it certainly behooves me to enlist support from all my virtual friends.  It will certainly get named much faster that way.   So rather than doing it on our own, we are requesting that all of our customers, fans, followers, and readers take a shot at naming it and potentially giving some sore of idea what gender it is.  We are offering a $100 gift card to the winning contestant.  If there is more than one person with the winning name, we will randomly choose the winner from those people.

We obviously won't accept anything nasty, so please refrain from those.  While I will admit that I do enjoy the relatively funny things that people enter in the "sex" field of our email newsletter signup form (which if you have not already signed up for, you really should, before you forget); I can't let those types of comments out there for all to see.

So that is it for today.  Please head over to our Facebook page and submit your entry to name the Sheep.  And don't forget to tell all your friends so they can like us and be cool like you already are if you are reading this.

Happy Naming!

The Shepherd....and "The Sheep"

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ouch! Tender Foot Meets Big Rock... Rock Wins.

Hello All,

Shepherd here again.  This isn't a new activity, but one I thought I would share.

I want to preface this post by saying I love my Vibram Five Fingers shoes.  So much so that I currently have 3 pair.  So certainly don't want to come across as being negative towards them.  But those thin soles sure can cause some pain in the right circumstances.

I had been running in my Bikilas for quite some time and were loving them. Since the weather was getting a little colder I decided I wanted to try out the Flows since they are neoprene lined.  One thing I did not notice about them as I was buying them was that they have a 2mm sole.  This is 2mm less than the Bikilas.  Now, at first glance you might say so what.  Let me tell you, that 2mm makes a big difference.

The first few runs I noticed my calves were much more tight and tired when I finished.  The thinner soles forced me to run even more up on my mid / forefoot causing the increased work for the calves.  No big deal.  I actually liked the change...until I hit "the rock".

I didn't look back after I stepped on it.  I just yelped (probably off beat with my iPod) and kept cranking along.  After another 50 yards I hit another one with the other foot.  At this point I am hobbled.  I finished my 4 miles sporting a new grimace with each step.  When I got home and removed the shoes, I realized the damage I had done on two "little" rocks.

 Let me just tell you how much fun it was not trying to walk with a bruise on the bottom of BOTH feet.  Needless to say, I took a couple of days off after this little incident.

It is obvious that this was caused through my misuse of the shoes.  The Flows are not made for road running.  I had never and never have had any issues out of my Bikilas or TrekSports on the road.  Their soles are built for it.

So my suggestion to you if you are running in the cold with Vibram Five Fingers and want to keep your tootsies warm, simply get some Toe Socks from Smartwool.  They are great.

Also, check out my little miniseries on how many times you can wear a pair of wool socks without washing them before the start to stink. 

Now get off your computer and hit the road.

The Shepherd

Do you wear minimalist shoes for running?  What are your favorites?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Light My Fire Lunchboxes and Meal Kits

Hello All,

Here is a blast from the past from an old contributor.  Sheepish is his name and he made some great posts I think it is worthy to share again.

Anybody who has had the pleasure of using Light My Fire’s ingeniously designed spork which combines a full, functional spoon on one end, and a real, noodle-grabbing fork on the other end, knows that Light My Fire clearly thinks outside the box.

Speaking of boxes, you might want to give some thought as to what you will be eating your lunch out of when you’re out there in the great outdoors. Sure, for the committed thru-hiker, eating right out of the dehy bag is fine dining, but getting your family and kids to follow suit may not be as appetizing. That’s where the Light My Fire Meal Kits and Lunchboxes come in.

The Lunchbox is a rounded triangular shape made of durable and heat-resistant polypropylene, you can’t cook with it obviously, but it handles boiling water for your dehy meals, ramen noodles, or oatmeal packets just fine. The Lunchbox is available alone, or forms the basis of the Meal Kit which adds a clever spill-proof cup, a waterproof sealable container, a cutting board with integrated strainer holes, and the legendary spork which all nest together inside the lunchbox.

The Light My Fire Meal Kit comes with everything you need to turn your roughing it experience into a fine dining experience for those more inclined to appreciate such things. An optional harness straps the Meal Kit together and has an integrated biner to attach to your pack, and the tiny spicebox allows you to bring three of your favorite spices along with you to add a little zest to your picnic.

What is your favorite outdoor meal or piece of camp cookware?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Do wool socks REALLY not stink after wearing several times? Episode 8

Hello All,

Wear 8, March 14, 2012.

This was a short 3 miler at an easy pace.  We followed up this run with a nice P90 Ab Ripper X workout to make sure we concentrate on core strength.  As it turns out, this was the best idea we had.  I was nearly crippled the next morning.

This may be the last post for a while as my foot is pretty sore and I will be nursing it for some time so as not to miss the race.  With only a few weeks left to train I doubt my time will be what I want, but I am going to finish regardless.  I am too dumb to go to the doctor to figure out what it may be, and it doesn't much matter because no matter what it is, chances are the fix will be to rest it for 6 weeks or so.

I am not sure how I forgot to take a picture of the socks this week, but probably because my body stunk so bad I could not wait to get in the shower.  Funny how my whole body can stink, the socks still smell like the BodyGlide I put on them the previous day.

So since I don't have a picture of the socks that refuse to smell, here is a picture of my new Yoga partner.

That is my buddy Big Grey.

The Shepherd.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Milestone at Sheepleg

Hey All,

Today was a good day.  After literally weeks of pain, we sent out our first real email newsletter today.  What may seem like a relatively simple and probably annoying marketing tactic to most people has been driving me crazy trying to figure out the last few weeks.
First of all, let me just say that I have no skills at anything graphic.  So after testing as many "free" programs as I have fingers and toes (19 7/8, but that is a whole other story), I decided on using PixelmatorIt isn't free, but had a trial period of 30 days and is relatively inexpensive after that.  For the features it has, it is perfect for me.  I have used Photoshop in the past, but I have found that no matter how expensive the program, they don't fix a constitutional allergy to being creatively inclined. 

I would be remiss if I did not own up to having some help.  The fine young gent who designed the original graphics for the site sent me some cleaned up files that I could use.  I'd give him a shout, but he is too shy to take the credit. 

While my shopping cart platform has email functionality, it does not have templates that are user friendly enough for me to figure out; I checked out and decided to use MailChimp.  I mean, between the chimp and the sheep, we are halfway to starting a zoo.  How could I not use them?

I'll spare you the rest of the boring days of fiddling with stupid graphics and fonts and figuring out all the other details that anyone who is good at it spends about 15 minutes doing.  Hopefully I can start sending out 1 email per week.  That is, if it doesn't keep taking me 2 weeks to create one. 

Wish me luck.

PS.  scroll back to the top of this blog and sign up for the emails.  Goodness knows I don't want all this hard work to go to waste.  :)

Happy Hiking,

The Shepherd

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Do wool socks REALLY not stink after wearing several times? Episode 7

Hello All,

Wear 7, March 13, 2012.

Intervals.  Ugh.  I am not sure if I have ever expressed how much I don't like intervals, but I really don't like them.  Thank goodness I knew I was going to be pushing hard today.  So I slathered on the BodyGlide before putting on the socks.  

We pushed so hard I am pretty sure I messed my foot up bad.  Most likely from losing my form and just trying to power through the fast laps.  Either way, it sucked.

As for the socks, they held up like troopers.  The combination of the super comfy socks and BodyGlide was great.  If it weren't for the lightning bolts shooting through the top of my foot, I would feel like I was in heaven. 

But as good as they felt, I was sweating like a meatloaf and just knew I was going to be smelling hot garbage when I took them off and held them up to my nose.

EUREKA!  A smell!

But much to my chagrin, it was the sweet lubricative (yeah, I just made that up) smell of BodyGlide.

Seriously, there is no way they will ever stink now.  Sheesh.

Until next time...

The Shepherd.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Do wool socks REALLY not stink after wearing several times? Episode 6

Hello all,

Wear 6.  March 11, 2012

It is a nice 55 degree day with a light breeze to take a 3 mile recovery run.  I took this one pretty slow to make sure not to put too much pressure on my recently rested foot.

This was a pretty uneventful run.  Nothing too exciting to talk about.  The socks held up great and I was home in no time at all.

It is funny how this works though.  The last few times when I took the socks off, the held the shape of my foot as if they were molded like that.  This time when I took them off, they totally collapsed.  I am not sure if that was because it was warmers yet again today and they were just more wet than before or if I am finally reaching some sort of nastiness threshold.

There is a bit more of wear showing on both sock bottoms now.   I wonder if washing them would stop that?

Nasty looking or not, the @#$@# things still don't smell!

Maybe next time.

Now go out and do something outside!

The Shepherd

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Do wool socks REALLY not stink after wearing several times? Episode 5

Hello all,

Wear 5.  March 10, 2012

Ok, so I totally broke my training schedule this week.  I was supposed to run Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  But my foot was hurting so bad from Saturday, I decided to take the week off and rest it.  Plus I had a soogie scheduled Wednesday.  If you like getting a massage and also like yoga, then I highly recommend getting a Thai massage.  I know, ha ha, happy ending...whatever.  There is no such thing as a massage that ends happily.  I mean, it is over for goodness sake.  How is that happy?  Now that the jokes are over, have you ever been in a yoga pose and wished you had help getting that extra stretch?  Well that is Thai massage; lazy man's yoga.  That is why I schedule 90 minutes with my girl Deborah as often as I can.  If you are in the Louisville area, I suggest you give it a whirl.  Just don't book in front of me.  :)

Sorry, I got a bit off track.

Today was wonderful  About 50 degrees at the start with 5-10 mph winds.  A perfect day for a run.  We had an 8 miler ahead of us.  I put the socks on and they felt like I just took them out of the package.  I can't express how weird that is. 

As the run wore on, I noticed something I had been worrying about as we piled more miles on.  Those hot spots that form on the long runs compound with the warmer weather and longer run.  I started to get a really annoying spot on the side of my big toe.  It was probably from my feet swelling a little (which they always do when I run), but whatever the cause it affected both my partner and I.  He stopped at one point to adjust his Vibrams.  It is important to note that he was not wearing socks.  SO it looks like both of us are putting BodyGlide on our feet next time as well as our other "rubbing" areas.

We are in uncharted territory with Vibrams for us now.  Neither one of us had run more than 7.5 miles in them before.  So I am sure foot fatigue will begin to take its toll at some point.  But that is what training is for. 

Here is the after shot.  You can actually still see some sweat on the bottom of the sock on the right hand side.  I know I am no photographer, but trust me, that is sweat not a shadow.  One other thing to note is that there is a bit of wear starting to form on the bottom of that right hand sock.

The real question still they stink.  Nope.

Maybe next time the stink fairy will visit, but not today.

Happy Hiking!

The Shepherd

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Do wool socks REALLY not stink after wearing several times? Episode 4

Hello all,

Wear 4.  March 3, 2012

Another long run day.  7.52 miles at an easy pace.  It wasn't too chilly today (41), but the wind sure was cold.

The socks were very easy to get on today since they were still in the shape of my feet.  I didn't have to coax my toes into any of their respective slots, they just slid right in.  Surprisingly, even though the socks were shaped, they were still quite soft.  No crusty, crunchy grossness at all.

The run was easy (except I think I may have strained my foot) and I did not notice any performance deficiencies with the socks as I trudged along.  I grow more impressed with them each time I wear them.  I have a feeling that normal socks would have nearly disintegrated at this point in the testing.  You will have to test that one out on your own though.  My feet would smell so bad after the second wearing that I would have to run like The Flash to get away from the dogs chasing the rotting carcass smell emanating from my shoes.

Here are the pics.

These things still don't stink.  They are amazing.  I am going to keep giving them a run until I can get some sort of a smell out of them if it kills me...or my poor flat feet.

Get out there and run for fun.

The Shepherd.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Do wool socks REALLY not stink after wearing several times? Episode 3

Hello again all,

Wear 3.  March 1, 2012

I actually got a bit ahead of schedule on this one.  I think I was supposed to do a 4 mile tempo run and ended up doing a 6 mile pace run, but who cares.  It felt good.  The weather was nice.  It was warm and I was in shorts, a tee, and of course my trusty Bikila / Smartwool combo.

These runs are always tough on the feet.  Trying to keep a race pace really gets my feet sore as I lose the posture from Chi Running and revert back to trying to power run.  The socks really helped keep the hot spots from forming as quickly as they normally do.  That said, they did form near the end.  Nothing major though.  All that said, the socks are still performing very well and they do not seem to have lost anything yet.

So here is the picture.  Aside from the lighting being off from the previous picture and my friend Maggie would probably beat me if she knew I was posting them online and they were shot on a workout mat with a window open in the background.  Sorry Mags.  :)

 After removing the socks today, the one thing that stuck out to me was that they stayed in the shape of my feet almost to the point it looked like they were starched in that position.  The heels did not seem to be any dirtier than the previous run.

And the moment you have all been waiting for....

Still no stink.  I have to say I am very impressed so far.

Happy Hiking,

The Shepherd

61% off Snugpak Sleeping Bag

Hello All,

I just wanted to let you guys know of a great site we came across.  It is  It is like Groupon except it is only for outdoor gear.  They are great folks to work with and we are running our first deal today!

Check them out and don't hesitate.  You have to get them before they are gone!

Happy Hiking,

The Shepherd

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Do wool socks REALLY not stink after wearing several times? Episode 2

Hello all,

Wear 2.  February 28, 2012

The weather was much warmer this day.  Again I am not sure of the actual temperature, but I ended up being sweaty and that is all that matters. 

Today we have 400m intervals.  Before I get into the stink factor let me just compliment how well these socks keep my feet from grinding when I am pushing through the uptempo portion of intervals.  When I am not wearing them and I run flat out, I tend to get hot spots on the balls of my feet as I push.  The socks act as the perfect liner and keep those hot spots from forming.

On to the stink.  Once I got home, after my shake of course, I went upstairs and de-socked.  As you can see from the photo, you can't even really tell I had them on.  They were not nasty sweaty or dirty even though I was burning up.  The only thing I can say (and I am not sure it is a negative thing) is that they felt thinner than the first time.  It did not alter the performance of them that I could tell, but it was just something I noticed.

One thing to note is that the heel looks a bit dirtier than the rest of the sock.  I think that is mostly from the ink on the bottom of the shoe coming off.  Look at the picture on the previous post and you will see smudged ink from the brand logo.

So far the lore of wool repelling the evil stink spirits is proving to be true, but we are not even close to done putting these bad boys through the test.  Stay tuned for more updates.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stories from The Shepherd

Hello All,

It is probably only fair that I contribute on occasion to our blog.  Since I am certainly not a qualified expert in the field of survival and at times in common sense, it is probably best for me to teach our readers what not to do.  I'll leave the expert advice to Red Fox.  And if you are wondering why we let a fox around all these sheep...well, she's house trained so it is safe.

This story begins on a summer day a couple of years ago (before I started Sheepleg).  As a bit of a back story, I was recently placed back on the market by my former lady so I had ample time to do what newly single guys do.  I actually have no idea what that is so I decided to heed her advice and take a hike.  At this point the longest hike I had been on was about 3 miles on semi-groomed paths.  Did I mention I was also about 25 pounds overweight at the time?

So I grab my trusty CamelBak Bottle two Kashi Bars and hit the road.  I live about an hour drive from Mammoth Cave National Park so that was my destination for the day.  I get to the park and pick up a free map from the visitors center.  My eyes honed in on what seemed to be a perfect back country trail, not caring about the distance of 14 miles.  So back in the truck to the trail head.

Once at the parking lot, I noticed the ice had already melted in my bottle, probably a combination of the AC in my truck not working too well and the fact it was already 91 degrees outside and it was just past 10 am.  At the time I thought nothing of it.  I just grabbed the bottle and hit the trail.

Yes, you are right.  Two granola bars and .75L of water for a 14 mile hike in 90+ heat.   I also have never really thought about wearing bug spray in the past.  My ultra manly pheromone stink glands always seemed to ward off bugs...and women it seems.  They would literally jump off of me to bite someone else.  And lastly, I left my hat sitting in the passenger seat. 

 So after spending the first 2 miles walking for 50 feet then running 50 yards to keep the gnats out of my ears I was pretty hot.  After the 5th mile the water and Kashi bars were gone.  As you can imagine the next 9 miles were filled with total misery.  At times I had contemplated asking the people on horseback I saw to just drag me out of the woods.  I was so desperate to cool off I was pulling some crap I saw on Nat Geo where Cheetahs lay in the dirt to cool of from the ground.

I had a GPS with me, but it was so old and useless I won't embarrass the manufacturer with providing a link to them.  It worked so badly that there were stretches of the hike that were not logged because it did not get a signal for several miles through the trees.  But one thing I did notice as I reached the end of the hike was that I had 150 feet of climb in the last half mile.  And so it was only fitting that I basically crawled out of the woods up the hill to end my day of pain.

I drove top speed (25 MPH in the park) to the closest gas station and bought the largest bottle of water I could find.  I was hungry but figured I would wait until I got home to eat something.  1 hour back home and I swung through the drive-thru to Eat Fresh when I got home.

I hit the door and smelled so bad I decided to take a quick shower before I ate.  Would you believe that the shower could have been the WORST part of my day?  Well it was.

As I was in the shower I noticed what seemed to be mud specs on my legs presumably from where I had to jump a few small muddy ditches.  I scrubbed my legs to get the dirt off and as expected it started to run...but how often does dirt move up your leg in the shower.  It was at this point I realized I had no less than a hundred (it seemed like a thousand) ticks on my legs below my knees and they were all heading up where the sun never sees the light of day.  What a dilemma.  I decided to take drastic measures to ensure they did not make it to their perceived destination and shut the water off, ran downstairs, and grabbed a can of Raid Ant Spray.  It was the closest thing I had to tick killer.

Now you would not think that tiny little tick bites would leave a hole big enough in your skin to cause any spray to sting when applied.  But as I was, you would be wrong.  As I sprayed my legs above the knee to keep a line of resistance against any invaders to the promised land the cloud made its way down to the battlefield where it seeped into each individual bite mark and proceeded to burn in a fashion I had never quite encountered before.  In my past I have been sprayed with pepper spray, and let me tell you that I would prefer pepper spray to this feeling any day of the week.

Confident the advancing enemy had been slowed enough to where I could figure out my next move, I ran back downstairs to look up the proper method of removing them.  After reading that burning them would cause a massive poison vomit fest in my body I decided that tweezers would be the way to go.

Back in the bathroom filled with the haze of Raid I grabbed a cup, half filled with water, got the tweezers, and commenced picking.  Not too bad on the first leg.  Most of the enemy had buried their heads back in and were relatively easy to get since they were not moving any longer.  They came up fairly easy.  As I continued plucking the ticks and the occasional freckle (ouch) from my legs, the days exhaustion and hunger start to settle in.  I am a naturally shaky guy, I have no idea why, but I have never won a single game of Operation in my life.  That coupled with no food and a short 14 mile hike causes trembling that would cause shaken baby syndrome in someone less thick headed than I.

Thank goodness for Yoga.  If it weren't for recently getting into the practice regularly I would have never been able to get all of them off my legs.  This was the time I really could have used my former lady.  Only someone that close to me was going to help/see me in that predicament, much less check my brown eye for ticks!  After nearly 2 hours of picking at my skin and double checking the nether-regions for any who made it that far (thankfully none did) I gave up.  I really wish I would have taken a picture of the carnage inside my cup of water.  It was so filled with ticks floating in the water you could barely see through to the bottom.

I did take pictures of my ankles later as they and my feet started to swell.

It is important to note that I was wearing socks during my hike so how the little turds got in my shoes all the way down to my toes is beyond me.  I still have a scar on my big toe just before the nail from this trip.  For two weeks afterwards I could not tie my shoes nor sleep without slamming Benadryl every night.  Partially for the pain and partially because it knocked me out.  Believe me, when it wore off, I woke up...immediately.

From that day forward I have a new best friend.

Happy Hiking!

The Shepherd

Monday, March 5, 2012

Do wool socks REALLY not stink after wearing several times? Episode 1

Hello all,

It is the Shepherd again with a mini series for all of you who are like me and really want to know if wool socks truly repel the funk from our feet.  So I am embarking on a voyage most people would not want to admit to, and truthfully I wonder if anyone really tests how many days you can wear stuff before it starts to stink.  I've heard all the sales pitches, but none of them include pictures of the testers, conditions, etc.  Since I am not the most scientific of people, there won't be any kind of rigorous control group testing alongside a highly sensitive stink-o-meter to see what the true funk values are.  You are just going to have to take my nose and word for it.

About the test subject:  I am what you would call...greasy.  The kind of greasy that leaves a sweat shadow on new sheets before the bed is even warm.  I am a two shower a day guy and if I time my workouts improperly, 3 a day.  I'd like to think I am not a walking Pigpen, but it sometimes feels like it.  My feet do have a tendency to get a little rank at times, especially in dark colored socks.  I have always found that odd, and in fact when I was a teenager one of my first entrepreneurial thoughts was to create the "stinkless sock" where it was a colored top and a regular white bottom.  Someone beat me to it and those are their millions to have.  In any event, and without further explanation of how gross I might be, suffice it to say I am a great test subject for this.

For even greater level of detail, here is the link to my mapmyrun profile if you want to follow along.

The Gear:  Running in Vibram Five Finger Bikilas and Smartwool Toe Socks

Wear 1.  February 25, 2012

My running partner and I are on a training plan for the upcoming KY Derby Mini Marathon.  Today was seven miles at an easy pace.  Temperature was not too bad.  I should have paid more attention, but my best guess was that it was about 40ish with a 10 mph westerly wind.  I did not think about doing this until my run on Tuesday when I didn't have any clean pairs of socks.  I thought to myself; "Self, what are you going to do now?  Why not see if you can get two runs out of these things?"  So I put them on and went for it.  The bad news is that I didn't have a picture of them after the first run.  Not that it matters, because they looked and smelled the same as before I put them on.  So here is a picture of the shoes I am running in.

Stay tuned for more updates as I catch up the blog posts with my actual training days.