Monday, October 31, 2005

Waist pack supplies in marathons

Mica asks another good question: What do I carry in my waist pack for a marathon?

I have to qualify my answer a bit. I'm a back-of the pack runner, so I have to plan to a) be out there a LONG time, and b) figure that the aid stations will run out of stuff before I get there. I've run lots of races where the aid stations were dismantled before I arrive. I try to be dependent for the aid stations for nothing besides water, and even then as I've described I try to carry a little water bottle along for emergencies. I read the race website carefully to know what to expect, but I also don't rely on race management to keep their promises. Better happily surprised than sorely disappointed.

That said, any added weight slows a person down when running. So I have to strike a compromise between added weight and being prepared for anything.

For a full marathon, I wear:

* A bandana around my wrist or tied on my waist strap. This is mostly for wiping sweat or washing off salt, but I'm also prepared to abandon it in a portapotty should that become necessary.

* A gel flask filled with my home brew clipped on my belt, or I carry 5 sports gel packs (for every 4 miles).

* ID is velcroed on my shoe

* Sunglasses and a visor to reduce eye strain/fatigue

* A waist pack with my essential supplies (everything that will get ruined by sweat is inside plastic):

  • A pace chart covered with clear tape and safety-pinned on the outside
  • 1 car key - safety-pinned in so I don't drop it
  • $20 in a ziplock - safety-pinned in so I don't drop it (plus a subway pass, etc., depending on the race location)
  • 10-12 salt capsules inside a plastic canister (a mini M&Ms container)
  • A copy of the race map inside a ziplock (for emergencies or meltdowns)
  • A few hard candies and/or glucose tablets to fight off the wall at bad stretches of the race
  • Chapstick (can double for sunblock or temporary lube in emergencies)
  • Eyedrops (I wear contacts and when you're dehydrated they can get bad)
  • A few emergency drugs (NOT more than the maximum I think I need, because I tend to lose track of what I've taken when my thinking gets foggy late in the race), including:
  • two 8-hour Tylenol
  • two ibuprofen
  • two Rolaids or Tums or a Pepcid AC
  • two Benadryls or other allergy drug in summer

Lots of people have other strategies, and if I were faster I wouldn't be on the course so long and wouldn't need so much stuff, but for marathons I'm equipped more or less as a self-supporting ultrarunner. I've found out through long trial and error that this works for me!

Perhaps I should add: I almost always go to races alone - which means I don't have someone to meet me at the finish line, or to take my warmups, or hand me some Gatorade at the halfway point, or carry the car keys for me, or that I can phone to bail me out if I have problems. Everything I carry is something that I've really, really needed at one time or another that has turned out to be a life-saver on a race course. I may be able to pare it down a bit if I get faster and/or I'm at a race where I know that I can count on the aid stations being well-stocked.


TxSkatemom said...

for yesterday, I had my belt pack with my 20 oz bottle, and carried a gatorade bottle -- I drank about half from the metro stop to Runner's Village and then while waiting for the start, and dumped the bottle itself by mile 6 or so. In my beltpack I had two packs of gummy fruit, tylenol, liniment rub (needed it badly at mile 17) and chapstick. I had my road ID, but I checked everything else at the UPS trucks.

FreeThinker said...

Excellent planning. I recommend one more thing: a plastic grocery bag or two, folded down tight. Takes up negligible space and weighs next to nothing. You never know what you may need to carry back home. (We get lots of goodies after races here in The City.)

Oldman said...

what no sunscreen?

tri-mama said...

I think I'll start carrying moleskin-it works much better than band aides.

Good luck Sunday and do you know how you're signing up for Florida?

nancytoby said...

No sunscreen - I take care of that before I ever leave the house!

And I haven't had any luck with any kind of bandaid sticking during an actual race. I think my feet are way too sweaty for that. In a tri when I wouldn't mind taking a few minutes I might put some in a transition bag, though.

My husband has strict instructions about IMFL. :-)

Shelley said...

now where did you leave that kitchen sink??'ll have a blast Nancy and it sure sounds like you will be prepared for anything...I just hope you take lots of pics along the way..I've never been to NY, only seen it on TV, sure looks like fun!!

Keryn said...

I love these posts. Your advice really helps and I found that walking with a waist pack this summer made all the difference. I felt more confident knowing I had what I needed. I do need a hand held water bottle thing though. Just carrying it is rough on my hands.

trifit said...

Nancy, you are so prepared! I guess I need to figure out what I'm bringing this week. I have never tried salt pills, but I don't think marathon day is the the time to start experimenting.

I'm in the orange start too. I'll look for you in SI. I think we are going to be satnding around for a long time with nothing to do.

Comm's said...

Pretty close to what I carry on me though not in a waist pack. I just jam my pockets. I'll carry all that in a camelback for my runs.

Holly said...

Where is the sunscreen?? By the way ... Nancy's candies rock! She gave me a SPREE hard candy as I waited in the Port-O-Potty line at MCM.

Thanks Nancy!