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How Much Gear Do You Take?

Exactly how much gear does one take to a  race?  Sure you have shoes and some sort of body covering (unless it’s a naked mile), but how much gear does one really need? Marathons and Ultras aside (where food and hydration factor in), do I really need to pack the kitchen sink when I leave the house for a few hours?  My “problem” is that I’m a bit of a boyscout, I pack a tonne of stuff that should cover any and every possibility but more often than not doesn’t get used.

Below is a pic of everything I took to Saturday’s trail race (minus my coat, a banana and a coffee), did I go overboard?  Some think so, but let me give you a little background information before you make your decision:  The weather was calling for 20-40% isolated showers, an afternoon high of 8C but an overnight low of -2C; possibly wet, possibly dry, possibly cold, possibly warm….essentially a crap shoot.

1.) Running Shorts
2.) Ruez Compression Boxer Briefs
3.) Nike Running Pants
4.) Clif Builder Bar
5.) Clif Bar – Peanut Butter
6.) MP3 Player
7.) Deodorant
8.) Nike Running Gloves
9.) Micro-Fleece Running Gloves (heavier)
10.) Long-Sleeved Tech T
11.) Short-Sleeve Tech T (MEC)
12.) Skins Calf Compression Sleeves
13.) New Balance MT101
14.) Asics Running Socks
15.) Brooks Running Hat
16.) Brooks Toque
17.) Bandana
18.) Light-Weight Running Toque
19.) Easy Reading
20.) Sun Glasses
21.) Garmin Forerunner 305
22.) Tensor Bandage
23.) Back Pack

Let’s see:

  • A set of long clothes for cold weather, a set of short clothes for warm weather, and the right combination that I could mix and match as necessary (long sleeves and shorts anyone?)
  • And what about hats & gloves?  Without them you are freezing but if they are too heavy then you have to carry around extra unnecessary gear.  I honestly didn’t think I’d need the winter hat & gloves but the lighter set definitely came in handy.
  • Calf sleeves? Since I was planning on running the next day, I put these puppies on as soon as I got back to my vehicle.
  • What about food?  A Clif Builder’s bar, for post race recovery and an extra pre-race Clif bar in case I got hungry.  I don’t see the problem.  Yes races provide post-race food, but you can’t always be guaranteed to like what they have so I (almost always) carry extra food.  Plus some people gave me dirty looks when I dove face first into the chocolate chip cookies, but that was only once …(maybe twice).
  • MP3 player and a book.  Last year’s RSP race was delayed when some douchnozzles moved course markers overnight.  You don’t have to use these to pass the time, but it’s nice to have them if you’d like to.
  • Tensor bandage and a bandana.  Stuff happens, so…you know…just in case.

In the end I went with the long pants and shirt with a t-shirt overtop, and light gloves/hat but shed these by the 3km mark (thank you pants with zip pockets!).  By the end I was pretty warm, but within minutes of finishing I was back in my hat and jumping into my heavy jacket and could have easily been in the heavier hat/gloves had it been a few degrees colder.

Sure it takes extra planning and effort to pack all that crap, but there’s nothing worse  (for me) than needing something  and knowing that I simply didn’t take the time to prepare.


Rattlensnake Point Trail Race 2012 & My 50km Weekend

What a great weekend!  The Rattlesnake Point race went off without a hitch, and the weather co-operated in spades.

The course for the race offers a little bit of everything; winding single & double track, easy & technical descents, rolling hills & steep uphill slug fests, scrambling rocky ascents, technical rock gardens, fallen logs, and even a couple crevice jump/crossings!  There had to be something for everyone on this course, and if not I’m at a loss what else they could have been looking for.


My race went really well, in the early going I was forcing myself to slow down and relax, this wasn’t a “race” merely a training run on my way to the Ottawa Marathon at the end of the month.  Sure, I wanted to do well, but most of all I was paranoid I wasn’t going to crash and hurt myself.  After the initial double-track section form Rattlesnake Point, down through the valley, you venture towards Crawford Lake and into the technical rock gardens and severely single-track portion of the race.   This area is difficult to pass in, and with my injury paranoia looming I simply found a groove and recouped as much energy as possible. (Photo credits to:

(stolen from –

Once through this technical section, you start heading back down into the valley and onto easier running.  Through here I was able to slowly pick people off and do my own thing with much interference from (or interfering with) others.  My quads were starting to feel the burn and I knew that I was probably running too hard but it was too late, the competitive bug was in my ear now and it was my job to hunt down those in front of me. 

The only goal (other than not creating a crater with my face/body) I had for the race was to beat my time from last year, and long story short(er), I did it!  1:05:02 this year vs 1:10:05 last year!!  All in all a great day!

(un?)Fortunately, my weekend of pain wasn’t done there.  Actually after the RSP race I felt pretty good, but I could tell my quads were fatigued and I needed to carbo load if I had any hope of surviving Sunday’s 30km sufferfest. 

5am Sunday, my bladder shot an electrical signal to my brain telling it that there was going to be an imminent evacuation if I didn’t get my ass out of bed.  As I trundled to the bathroom I realized that regardless of the 5:20 alarm I had set the night before, I was indeed awake enough to go get dressed and get out the door (grumble).  My main concern was meeting up with my speedwork partner SpeedyDan halfway through my run for some much needed motivation and companionship.  Coffee, water, peanut butter toast, banana, clothes, pack fuel belt, start watch, tie shoes… and I was off; another pre-dawn long run.  One of the reasons I wasn’t going to do another marathon this spring was the monotony of continual long runs; 2 hour runs weren’t bad, and even the occasional 3hr one isn’t that bad, but once you get into week after week of 30+km trudging the fun starts to fade, and they simply become means to an end.  As you can tell, I’m not the biggest fan.  The run itself was uneventful, but I was glad to see it done.

One thing I had forgotten to consider when planning my grand adventure was the two neighbours I have been coaching recently in preparation for a fall half-marathon.  Although they were impressed my athletic feats they seem uninterested in my excuses when it was time for our evening run. Eventually they wore down my resolve, and I ended up pacing them through another 6.7km that night.  Now, I like to consider this heroic, but I’m sure there is a line-up of people ready to tell me that I’m a complete idiot (and they are probably right)..still there’s something pretty cool about being able to say “I ran 50km this weekend, what did you do?”

Have a good one kids!

Impromptu Marathon – Decision Made!

Before we begin, a quick bit of business:  I’d like to extend thanks to all those who responded to my Impromptu Marathon – What Should I Do, What Should I Do? post, whether it was on here, on dailymile or other forum/social online communities that I belong to.

As promised, I took everyone’s comments and weighed them carefully…so what’s the final verdict?

You know, I thought about dragging this out…spinning a witty yarn discussing my race history, expectations, the weather, and even the ethical ramifications of purchasing a race bib post sell-out….but I won’t do that…why would I?  What kind of person does that?…What’s that?…oh…right…

Without further adieu: I am going to run the 2012 Ottawa Marathon!

After reading all the responses it was pretty clear that the majority of your thought I should get off my ass and go for it, so just for you guys I bit the bullet and grabbed the entry.  It’s going to be a hefty challenge, but life is an adventure and I’m sure I’d be kicking myself more if I didn’t take the opportunity.

So where do we go from here?  The race is officially 28 ½ days away, and things are looking…ok. I cranked my mileage back up this week, but had my speedwork session rained out which may have been a blessing in disguise 😉  As for this weekend, I’ve had Saturday’s 5Peaks Rattlesnake Point trail race on the calendar for a while now and I’m really looking forward to it.  A technical trail race that had a great vibe when I ran it last year, although I don’t’ think the weather could much more different; hot & humid last year – temps near freezing and wet trails this year?  Sunday is the day that scares me…I need to put in a long run of some degree but I have no idea how long to go; Too long and I could injure myself, too short and it’ll hurt more on race day.  Right now I think I’ll be aiming for 30km, if I’m still upright after 3hrs I’ll give my situation/location/condition a look and decide at that point.  The other concern is trying to long run after a hefty trail race on Saturday…this could get ugly.

Aside from all the training business etc., I still have one small detail that needs to be sorted out before race day.  In fact, I need to decide this one pretty soon so I’m going back to the well, back to the trusted source that got me here in the first place; you guys.

In your opinion, Which shoes should I break in for the race?  Red & Black or White & Blue?

Have a great weekend kids, enjoy it!

Run for the Toad Recap

Yes, our car blew up in mid-Ohio this past weekend

Yes, we bought a new one on the fly and kept going

Yes, it’s bullshit, but sometimes life’s like that

Sometimes you just have to roll with things, and keep moving forward

Now back to our regularly scheduled race report…

Run for the Toad Recap:

Two weekends ago, I rolled out of bed on Saturday morning was greeted by single digit temperatures and light drizzle…(grumble)…I knew the forecast was calling for rain, and cold temps but this was ridiculous. I had my race clothes set out the night before, but am I ever glad I grabbed my hat/gloves when packing my back pack. I usually go the Boy Scout route and pack everything but the kitchen sink, and this was yet another time that it’s come in supremely handy. As I stood at the start line visibly shaking, fingers going numb, blood abandoning my appendages, I was convinced that the only thing keeping me alive was that thin microfiber hat.

Thanks to Ryder Photography for the pic of me freezing my nuts & berries off

The ironic part was that by the 2.5km mark I was so warm, that the gloves and hat were stuffed in my pockets, and my jacket was zipped up behind my back like a cape. I would have ditched them all, but 5 minutes after the finish I was jamming them back on to keep from going hypothermic. Now, don’t get me wrong…I enjoy running in the cold/snow/sleet but it does take me a few weeks to acclimate to it and this was the first cold snap of the fall. To top it off there was a nasty wind that seemed to suck the heat right out of your bones. Essentially, pre-race I was miserable.

The race itself went OK for me. During the first lap I was surprised at how quickly my quads started to register the fatigue, and then I really thought about it for a second and wasn’t surprised at all. 6 weeks off running with only one 5km training run the week before the race isn’t exactly fitness inducing, but my survival did attest to the benefits of all the cross-training I had done over the last month and a half.

For the most part I tried to take it easy on the up hills and relax and bomb it down the down hills, but regardless I ended up going out too fast for the long haul. I thought my pace would be sufficient to keep things even for both 12.5km loops, but in reality I was toast by half way through the second lap. I was fading so badly in fact, that in my stupor I caught my foot on a root and went for a tumble at the 20km mark, somersaulting up a slight incline…luckily I was alone at that point and didn’t have to formulate a witty quip to protect my fragile ego.

The course wasn’t terribly technical but the constant rolling hills definitely took their toll. With the cross training I did while off with my injury, I managed to maintain some fitness, but nothing I had done in preparation fore this race had readied me to climb hills…and it showed. If I can get a good, solid training base in next year I’d consider running this race again. The course varied from forested single track to 3-4 person wide meadow paths, and even a small portion of paved park roads; again, entertaining but not supremely technical.

The one down side for me was the multiple loop scenario. It’s great for spectators who are able to see their runners at multiple points in the race, but I could see how the repetition could get frustrating over the course of 50km.

Anyway, depending on what next year brings in terms of racing/activities etc. I’d consider doing the race again, but ultimately time will tell.

Have a good one kids.

What, Me Worry?

We are now officially 18 days out from the Run for the Toad 50km trail race, and I haven’t run a step in nearly a month.  This might worry some, but not me…not in the slightest.


  • It’s not like I’ve run at all in the past month when (ideally) I should have been peaking my mileage and putting in back to back 20+km long runs.
  • It’s not like I’ve done a run over 20km in past 4 months, let alone a long trial run.
  • It’s not like I’ve ever run over 42.2km, so why not try it without much training, it’ll be easy!

What’s there to worry about?

In fact if I HAD done any of these things in preparation for my race I might have an idea of how much pain I’m going to be in, but ignorance is bliss, and this is one blissful cat.

In reality, I’m not worried about this race for a few very good reasons; as suggested by a friend on dailymile I’m simply going to try and change my race distance on race day.  Yes, I know the notice on the website explained there were no more race changes allowed but I can always hope that my charm and charisma will sneak me into the 25km race.  Seriously, how can they resist?  If the organizers stick to their guns then I have no choice but to sob uncontrollably and create a scene…or just run 25km and DNF (shudder) the 50km portion.  Regardless, I’m not putting a whole lot of stock in the outcome, instead I’m going out for the experience…and the race schwag, I paid for it after all.

Moving beyond the Toad, I have signed up for the Road 2 Hope ½ Marathon in early November.  Initially I had debated doing the full marathon again as the course is a fast one (flat, downhill, then flat again) and the temps are usually cool enough to make PRing a definite possibility, however after running 50km race 4 weeks before this one I had serious doubts if I’d be recovered in time to crush the R2H course.  The clincher was when while having a few wobbly pops with the neighbours, my former running partner thought it’d be funny to tell me he was going to run the ½ marathon with almost no training (I think we settled on 4 training runs before race day).  Special K (my neighbour) and I started running a couple of years ago to get back in to shape, then after a few weeks he disappeared and I was left running solo.  It’s going to be a lot of fun to hit the road again with him…and watch him suffer.  What’s for dinner? Mmmm…Schadenfreude, my favourite!

 The situation isn’t ideal but this is where I’m at…have a good one kids

Rattlesnake Point – 12.5ish km Enduro Course Race Report

One word description of this race: FUN

Two word description of this race: Damn Hot…just kidding…sort of…not really though…

To say I was a bit apprehensive about running this race would be a massive understatement.  I can do the distance in my sleep but deep down there was definitely some left over paranoia about re-injuring my right ankle, and my bruised left foot (did I mention that it’s crunchy when I run my finger over the impact point?), and the heat, and my pre-race hydration/nutrition, and tomorrow’s half marathon in Death Valley-esque conditions, and the fact I was running late, and my vagina hurt…..okay maybe not that last one.  Still, I was convinced that at any point on the trail I might burst into flames and immolate a few innocent volunteers (sorry).

All this pent-up anxiety manifested itself in a hundred different ways; I forgot to make coffee this morning and had to stop and get some or risk the pounding addiction headache, I forgot to get gas so I had to stop at a country gas station and pay a premium for it, I pooped 3 times before I left and almost pooped myself before the race started, grumbly stomach, and I continually adjusted and re-adjusted my shoes.

Regardless, everything went fine.  Despite cutting the time close (I hate being late), I was still an hour early…though that was mostly due to the asshats that decided to mess with the trail markers overnight.  The race organization/administration (parking/bib pickup etc.) was really quick and easy although that might be the nature of a smaller race.  The big thing that stuck out to me was the swag package.   A Clif Bar, Clif shot and a bag of Kickass Kickinghorse Coffee;  FINALLY a race package I can use!  I do use race shirts etc. provided at other races, but the luxury of not providing a medal or race shirt  means that organizers can keep the price down.  Win!  Good price and the great swag (have I mentioned how much I LOVE both the Clif and Kickinghorse brands?), awesome mix!

The race started in self-seeding waves which, for me, worked pretty well.  I was on the fence as to whether I should start at the back of the the 3rd wave or head of the 4th wave but after eyeballing the runners who lined up for wave 3 I decided (at the VERY last second) to jump in (yes, I judged people by their appearances, I also swim right after eating…deal with it).  It was the right choice.  I was still consciously trying to keep myself from going out too hard and ruining tomorrow’s run so I made sure to hang back quite a bit over the first 1/3 of the race.

Start/Finish Line

I really need a new cellphone for pics....

Overall I was really happy with how I ran this race.  I was really careful in the root and rock gardens, and although I let people gain a lot of ground on me the descents (ankle paranoia) I passed the majority of the people I was chasing on the uphills.  I power-hiked the big uphills, took it easy on the descents, and had great flow on the flats.  I’d do this race again in a second, and although it’s the most technical in the 5 Peaks SW Ontario race series, I’d recommend it to friends too.

Now…onto the Twenty Valley Half Marathon and hades-esque temperatures…woo?

Later kids, get out and enjoy the sunshine!

Ankle & Race Schedule Update

It’s coming up to 2 full weeks since I injured my ankle, and I’m getting the itch to get running again. At the moment it happened I instantly flashed back to 2004 when I sprained both ankles 6 weeks apart from each other. I still shudder each time remember that sickening pop as my foot went one way and my leg the other…creepy…sorry…where was I?…anyway, for both of those instances I was out of action close to 6 weeks and as I hobbled out of the forest this time I feared that my summer race schedule was about to be shot to hell.

A fortnight later, and I’m kind of in limbo, “should I run on it….or should I leave it to rest/heal a little longer?” I’ve been testing the ankle every so often, looking for progress, judging just how much swelling is acceptable and how much is cause for paranoia. As it stands, I do still have pain (to the touch) around the medial malleolus …you know, that big bony lump on the outside of your ankle…the one that’s the size of a baseball in my injury post pic? Ya, that part. Despite the pain, I think I’m good to go again, although it’ll be another few weeks before I brave the trails again…unless I roll it again…(shudder)

As mentioned above, I’ve signed up for a few races this summer which is primarily why I’m antsy to get back out training again. A solid summer of training would/should/could pave the way for a marathon PR in the fall, as well and keeping me out of trouble! To keep me motivated I’ve signed up for these three races, with hopefully more to follow:

31st Tim Hortons Peachbud 10k – l This race supports the Hospital that my speedwork partner works at. The race is 10 days away, so I really don’t think I’ll be “racing it”…more like “surviving” it.

Rattlesnake Point Trail Race –  After doing a full winter of road training, I’ve been geared up to get out on the trails. I’ve never done a trial race, but heard good things about the atmosphere, the races, and the racers. This one should be a blast, especially since this will be the first part of my “Kick-Ass Race Weekend”.

What is my “Kick-Ass Race Weekend”? Well, after racing the 12.5km version at Rattlesnake Point on Saturday, I’ll be waking up early on Sunday to hit up the Twenty Valley Half Marathon – Doing two races in one weekend might not be that impressive to some, but it’s going to be an awesome challenge, and a great way to ramp up my mileage going into August.

Moreover I’d just like to keep things fun and interesting, and I think this schedule will help…unless I get hurt again, but that shouldn’t happen unless I sign up for another race 😉

What are you doing this summer? Do you have any race suggestions?