I stopped by the supplement store the other day, looking for Beta-Alanine (I hope to explain this in a future post). I wasn’t expecting to find the store was closing and everything in the store was half off. At the register counter, I noticed several boxes of Gu. Imagining what a great deal it would be if I could score several Gu for a dollar a piece, I asked the lady at the counter, “Are the Gu’s half off too?”

She replied in a strong cajun accent, “Mmmm, how ’bout two fa dollah?”
Head spinning over the awesome deal, I push my luck. “Even the Roctanes?”
“Shor, honey. I don’ eatem.”

SCORE! I left with an almost full box of Orange-Vanilla Roctane Gu that cost me a grand total of…8 dollars. WOOOO!

Custom Race Belt

Custom RacebeltHow do you carry 6 gels, 12 Endurolyte capsules, an iPhone and a race number bib for 26.2 miles? You COULD push a shopping cart but the race director might frown on that. A better option is an elastic race belt with lots of extra gel loops sewn in. Might as well get one with a special loop sized just perfectly for the small pill bottle that you’ll also want to include. Oh yeah, you’ll also want a neoprene pocket that is perfectly sized for your iPhone.

If you’re having trouble finding something that will do all of that, welcome to my dilemma. If you’re amazed beyond belief at the awesome contraption in the photo here, welcome to my solution.

No one would accuse me of being a seamstress, even if I do own a sewing machine. Really, I do. It’s cheap. It’s purple. It’s called “Pixie” something or other. It’s really hard to thread the needle (THANK YOU Google!). It’s not meant to sew two pieces of neoprene but why should that stop me? See, I’m a GUY with a sewing machine. Guys can make stuff work. Even purple pixie sewing machines.

Anyway, here’s my improved custom race belt. It holds 6 gels, a small pill bottle for E-caps, an iPhone and a race number bib. I torture tested it fully loaded for a full three miles. I think I’m set.

What do YOU carry on a marathon and how?

Camelbak Hydration Pack For Runners

Camelbak Hydration Packs
Rogue vs. Octane XCT

Back when I was training for my first half-marathon, I quickly realized the single handheld water bottle I was using worked great up to 5 or 6 miles. If I was going to go farther, I was going to need a better system.
My solution (We’ll call this version 1.0) was the Nathan Speed 4 Waist Pack. Version 1.0 worked well enough to get me through the Mississippi Blues Half-Marathon and through all the long training runs leading up to the Pensacola Beach Half and Renaissance Half.
There were a few technical issues with the 4 bottle belt that I’ll cover in a separate review. Probably the biggest issue for me was the coolness factor. If I ask, I know I can trust my family to give me an honest assessment of my poor style decisions. When I displayed my new neon green Kinvara shoes, Robin smiled and exclaimed “Wow! Those are … really … green!” When I proudly showed my daughter the crudely made (but highly functional) guaranteed-not-to-fall-out-of-your-ears wrap-around headphones I had fashioned out of coat-hanger and 5 minute epoxy, she asked “Are you going to go outside with that on?”

Maybe I value function over form or maybe I just have bad taste. To my credit, I knew better than to ask anyone’s opinion about how the bottle belt looked. But, I didn’t make it out of the house unseen. Somewhere in the midst of Robin’s hysterical laughter, was the comment “You look like you’re going into battle.” From that point on, the cool sounding “Nathan Speed 4 Waist Pack” has been known as “the grenade belt”.
While on a business trip to Atlanta, I was browsing through a Sports Authority store and came across a deeply discounted Camelbak Rogue hydration pack. I judged this to have a much higher coolness factor than the grenade belt and the price was right to give it a try. Welcome version 2.0. Where have you been all my life?
I love having the ability to carry a lot of fluid, a lot of gels, my cell phone and practically any other small item that might be necessary for a self-supported long run. I love the convenience of the always ready drink tube. I love the streamlined feel of a small backpack. I love that fluids stay cool inside the semi-insulated pack. I love the coolness factor. I love my Camelbak(s).
There is one big issue with the Camelbak Rogue that drove me to search for an even better system.   Continue reading