I’ve spent a lot of time going over that last ultra marathon and I think it goes without saying, I have been bitten. I think I was bitten that same day when I crossed the finish line: tired, muddy, sore and thought “huh I think I could do another 20 kms…”
So was I happy with my performance? I was happy that I finished and did it under the cut-off time even though I was way slower than I had wanted to be. But that is easy to fix for next time: more hill training and more consistent running.
I was actually really happy that I didn’t have any issues with my equipment. I had none of the usual problems: no chafing, no blisters, no malfunctions.
First my clothes and I have to explain something here: I live in an area with incredibly hard water and a little while ago my water softener broke which is why you see such bad staining on my shirt and shorts. I was able to cover up some of the staining on my shorts with my bib but why wear such badly stained clothes?
The shorts were made by Salomon. Unfortunately I cannot remember what style they are. There is a large zippered pocket on the back waistline but there is another feature that is even more important. The shorts are a little bit longer than my other shorts. See I lack that thing that so many people obsess over, that being a thigh gap. As luck would have it, all of my other shorts fall so the hem is smack dab in the middle of where my thighs touch which can result in some very unpleasant chafing and there is no amount of Bodyglide that will prevent that. The longer shorts means that the hem falls below the chafing zone. I could have worn tights but then I would have to wear my bib on my shirt since it would not have been quite as comfortable to pin it to my tights. And with wearing a pack having a bib pinned to my shirt it would be awkward.
The shirt, a Sketchers Sport that I bought at Costco, is so light and comfortable that I can barely feel it. Even better though is that when it is soaked, I actually can’t feel how wet it is it unless I touch it with my hands.
My desire to not have skin rubbed raw obviously trumps the appearance of my clothes. That and I was running in the forest for a very long time. Odds were good I was going to get dirty anyway.
The socks are by Injinji and I am now a HUGE fan of them. Initially I had thought they were gimmicky but after a couple of long runs with no blisters between my toes I realized how amazing they were.
Along with the socks, I have also become an Altra snob and I wore a pair of Altra Olympus for the race. Ever since I gave them a try, I noticed a huge improvement with my hamstring issues. Altras are known for making “zero drop” shoes, meaning there is no height change from heel to toe as there are in most shoes. They also have a wide toe box which allows the toes to spread out. Combine the wide toe box with the toe socks and it allows the feet to really spread out. Maybe that also helps with the old hammies. It could be all in my head or better training techniques. Either way, I can cover more distance than I used to be able to with less discomfort.
My pack is a Zycos by Ultraspire. Technically they call it a race vest but I’m not really sure what the difference is between a pack and a vest. There weren’t a lot of options when I went shopping for a pack and this was the most comfortable one that I tried on. I am quite happy with it. It’s very light with ample storage and a two litre bladder. The only complaint I have is that the pockets on the side can be a bit difficult to unzip but I’m not sure how it compares to others. However the only time it really matters is when I’m doing self-supported runs and need to get at my fuel over the course of several hours. You can see in the picture above, the front pockets have soft flasks that I kept filled with my drink (that white powder). The beads on the shoulder straps are not standard. They were good luck charms that my nephews made for me. I had wanted to wear them but those beads are a little big especially with everything else on my wrists. Speaking of….
I wear a Suunto Run watch on my left wrist and a Road I.D. bracelet on my right. The bracelet has my name as well as my next of kin info so I do not have to carry any kind of identification when I run and there are a couple of reasons for that: identification can be lost or stolen but even if someone jumped me and stole my pack, the odds are slim that they would take a nylon bracelet. Or if I was injured and someone tossed my pack aside, it would be misplaced. Morbid I know but these things happen.
The watch does have a heart rate strap but I didn’t wear it for the race since I wasn’t too concerned about my heart rate and I was a little worried about chafing since it would be underneath the pack.
At the start of the race, I had a pair of arm warmers. I had not realized how much of a difference a thin sheath of fabric could make but it kept me from having to wear the jacket the rules dictated I carry. Once the day warmed up, off came the sleeves.
I brought a pair of Zizu sunglasses that I wore but they spent most of the time on my hat which is a Headsets trucker cap. And a Petzl headlamp was the last piece of the ensemble that got me over the finish line. The race rules listed several other pieces of equipment to carry: because it was supposed to be a cup-less race, I brought a collapsible cup and some baby food and dates stuffed with almonds, a jacket, emergency blanket, and whistle.
I hope you found my equipment information helpful. If you have any questions please let me know.