Long Run Essentials

One of the nice things about running is that it is one of the few sports where you don’t need a ton of gear to partake in it (unlike football or hockey). Actually though, if you get into serious running, you will discover that that is actually not true. Here is a list of my long run gear essentials:

iPhone Armband: For the first month of my running career I held my iPhone in my hand the entire run. It would get sweaty and gross and as my friend Nina once said, it could possibly be making one arm stronger than the other, thus there was a constant need to alternate which hand I held it in. Needless to say, this was unbelievably annoying, so I went down to Nike (any sports store or online store carries a million different brands and designs) and got myself a running armband. It was one of the best investments I’ve ever made because now I truly feel like a free woman, waving my hands wildly about as I run (because I can dammit!), and looking hardcore like I know what I’m doing (ha!).

Nike E1 Prime Performance Armband, photo from www.achillesheel.co.uk

Nike E1 Prime Performance Armband, photo from http://www.achillesheel.co.uk

Performance Socks: This was a recent revelation and I now understand what it must have felt like when archaic people discovered Christ. Before I discovered performance socks (BPS) I was wearing cotton socks to run in, or as close to 100% cotton as I could find (did you know it’s near impossible to find 100% cotton socks anymore?). Anyways, I have hyperhidrosis, so my feet are often sweaty and cotton is just more uncomfortable on them. Little did I know that cotton chafes, especially with shoe inserts, and gives you nasty blisters. After coming back from a 5-mile run this week, with blisters on the arches of both my feet, my dad marched on down to Marathon Sports and came back with these fine pieces of cloth: The Balega Drynamix Hidden Comfort Sock. I don’t know why they’re named “Hidden Comfort” because the comfort has been pretty obvious to me. No more blisters, just cushion and wicking from here on out.

Handheld Water Bottle: I used to have a water belt but it was wicked uncomfortable so I opted for a small oval-shaped handheld water bottle with a strap, which although not actually palm shaped, is manageable enough on a long run. The best part about it is that the strap mine came with has a little zipper pouch that can hold a gel or keys. I’d also recommend finding a bottle with a soft rubbery top, because they are more comfortable to bite open while running.

Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Pocket, photo from www.amphipod.com

Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Pocket, photo from http://www.amphipod.com

Fuel: Don’t run far in the heat without fuel. You will feel depleted and gross afterwards. Burning this type of body energy requires quick replenishment. Upwards of 7 miles and I will eat a gel at 6 miles. I bought a ton of different brands to try out, but so far I’ve only tried one product and just stuck with it because it worked so well the first time. That product is Gu Energy Gel in Chocolate Outrage and Espresso Love. I actually like the taste so much I look forward to getting to eat them. When you’re tired and hot during a run they taste like manna.

Running Connections

So I’ve been a little AWOL recently because I had to take a week off training due to injury. In order to actually follow through with taking time off, I decided not to blog because it would make me feel guilty for not training and this was something I really had to do to allow my body to heal and continue training for the half. Thankfully the pains I was (/am) having were a couple strains that could be trained through, with proper PT, which I am diligently going to bi-weekly. Any who, in my time off I went to Lollapalooza, the beach, and got a tattoo. During all of this, something really cool happened. I made connections with total strangers based off of our shared love of running.

 

Okay, so Lollapalooza really doesn’t have anything to do with running connections…I only brought it up because 1) I wanted to brag (seriously most unbelievable experience) (for those of you who don’t know what it is, it is a three day music festival in downtown Chicago), 2) It is another reason why I took time off running, and 3) Chicago was unbelievably beautiful and I would have loved to have gotten to run there. Next time I’m there I plan on running in Grant Park and by the lake. Any other recommendations of places to run in Chicago?

 

As for getting the tattoo, this was a very momentous occasion. My mom is one of my very best friends in the world. She and I were born on the same day and it has created an extremely special bond between the two of us. For a while now, we’ve been toying with the idea of getting a tattoo. We decided to get our birthdate with a tree and two birds, one flying and one resting in the tree. It’s based off of a saying that I wrote a poem about last year that says you give your children roots, then you give your children wings. The whole point of the tattoo is to be a reminder of the bond we share and representative of how to be together when we are apart. At the bottom of this post is the poem I wrote.

969098_10151877739197289_1908679848_n

After extensive research, we decided to get our tats at Redemption Tattoo, a place that had come highly recommended, and we were certainly not disappointed. We worked with the artist Josh McAlear who took the concept we had in our heads, and turned it into a reality. He is a true artist and extremely professional and accommodating. I could not have asked for a better experience, nor could I be more happy with the outcome.

 

Let me just say, my mother and I are not your average hardcore tattoo types, and yes we know stereotypes are changing blah, blah, blah, but still. After my mom had gotten her tattoo she said, “I feel like a real rebel” as Josh stifled a laugh behind her back. I responded, “No one wearing a shirt from Talbots can be a rebel.” We were rather intimidated by the tattoo-covered artists and felt a little silly and noobish. When we got there though, there were two other people getting tattooed, both pretty vanilla in my book. I felt right at home. The guy getting tattooed next to me had brought his girlfriend along. She struck up a conversation with me after my tattoo was finished and my mom was getting hers.

 

She asked me about the meaning of my tattoo and told me that once you get your first, it becomes pretty addictive. I mentioned how I’ve already thought about possibly getting a running related tattoo, perhaps the distance of the farthest race I run. Her face lit up when I mentioned I was a runner and she proudly popped her foot in the air. She pointed at the black lines on the top of her foot and told me that it was the time from her first marathon in Roman Numerals. When she removed the laptop from her lap, I saw she was wearing a shirt that said Bahstan Runnah. We talked for a while about running, races, running clubs, injuries, and then fitness blogging came up. Turns out she does social media for an organic beer brewery called Peak Brewing. While I am under 21 and thus cannot try the product, I think that what they’re doing (i.e. all local and organic) is unbelievably cool. It was an absolute pleasure meeting her and it was so amazing to make a connection with a total stranger, in a tattoo shop of all places.

 

Yesterday, my parents and I went to the beach. Right after we had set up camp, I started hearing tid-bits of very familiar words coming from the group of adults sitting right next to us. A little backstory, there is a relay race in Oregon called the Hood to Coast, it is a 12-person, 195 mile relay race from Mt. Hood to the Oregon coast. My dad has run it around 10 times and I have been there every year to cheer him on. I’m hoping soon to run it with him, but that’s a story for another day. Anyways, I’m familiar with the lingo that accompanies the race and realized the people next to us were talking about it. I told my dad, who of course was already lost in his book, and he went and talked to them about it. Turns out only one of the guys had run it, but the entire group of people was full of marathoners and triathletes (my favorite was the mid-thirty year old mother of 4 who has done several Ironmans).

 

The point of all of these ramblings is that running has the ability to unite people from all walks of life, in all kinds of situations. When I started running, I was in serious Track and Field withdrawal. I really really missed the community that the sport brought with it and what I love so much about running is the incredible community it breeds. You have to be a little bit crazy to be a runner. And that crazy streak is what unites such an unbelievably diverse group of athletes. People run for all different reasons. There is no stereotypical runner. The thing we all have in common is this need to move and find our inner strength outdoors. Be it at a tattoo parlor, or on the beach, the power of running is strong and pervasive. The community can find you anywhere and the opportunities running provides you with for connections are limitless, much like the feeling it provides you with while running.

 

Here is the poem I wrote about the phrase that my mom and I’s tattoos are based on:

 

Departures

 

I.

 

You give your children roots

Then you give your children wings.

We don’t know what to do,

with our bodies springing loosely from the ground, reaching

for the sun.

 

Caked in the rich soils of our past,

our feet ache

to remain here

in fertile familiarity.

But out heads

see horizons undiscovered

and ache to fill each cavity

with

all that, out there.

 

Our hearts, right here,

right in the middle,

yearn for the answer.

The freedom to fly,

But strength

to carry our homes along for the ride.

 

II.

 

I once tried to fly away

too soon,

my feet caught among the brambles,

my skin stretched too thin across my rib cage.

Familiar hands tickled my sides

with rounded nails slightly too long.

I fell back to earth.

 

As the date crept ever closer,

I tried to burrow deeper,

Thought

maybe I’d like to be a seedling

again.

But I dirtied my wings,

and scraped my toes along the bedrock.

 

III.

 

One day,

our roots loosened,

wings strengthened,

ready to weather the weight

of hearts grown heavy as rocks.

 

We took flight.

Mud dripped from our feet

to the grown-ups on the ground like toy figurines

shrinking in the final rays of day.

 

Wind will toss our bodies like rag dolls, tatter

our fragile wings.

Our feet will yearn for stability or permanence.

It’s departure time.

We’ll take what we’ve been given,

And figure the rest out

along the path.