Hydration was always a tricky thing during training for the Gore-Tex TransRockies Run. We were out on both pavement and trails for hours upon hours, and while during long runs in the city we were able to stop at any gas station and simply refill our reservoirs or bottles, we didn’t have that same luxury in the mountains. During a few trail training runs, we ran out of water. So advice for anybody training is to go with a pack with the bigger reservoir during training and opt for something a bit smaller during the race as aid stations are close together.
CamelBak Ultra LR (MSRP $130)
We saw a lot of the unisex hydration CamelBak Ultra LR packs at the TransRockies Run, one of which was on my teammate. Though I’d been training with the pack since April, I never could quite get used to it. Though it’s a unisex pack, it seems more appropriate for men rather than women. Though there were a lot of great features that I liked, like the great storage capacity, the whistle, and the lumbar reservoir, however the torso was too long for me and I could never synch it so it wouldn’t bounce and chafe my neck and shoulders.
My teammate has never used a hydration pack that covers his back while running because he said it makes him too hot, but he gave the Ultra LR a chance. He didn’t like using it the way it was designed to be used, but he did find a way to use it as a waist pack and said it worked for him that way (photo, left).
The reservoir holds 70 ounces of fluid, and there are two areas on the front straps to put two additional water bottles, but despite all this liquid-carrying capability, there were a few times out on the trail when we ran out of water long before the run was done. That’s just our cue to get faster.
CamelBak L.U.X.E. 100 (MSRP $100)
Since I couldn’t get used to the CamelBak Ultra LR, I made a trip to the store to purchase a pack that would fit me comfortably. I bypassed all the running packs because they were just too small for all the things we were required to carry plus the extra things I wanted to carry. I saw the women’s-specific CamelBak L.U.X.E. 100 and even though it was a mountain biking hydration pack, I thought it would be perfect for me.
I’d never used it before the run, but I was confident it would work because when I tried it out in the store, and again at home before leaving for Buena Vista, Colo. (where the race began) it felt comfortable. Plus, it carried 100 ounces of liquid, which made me feel reassured that I wouldn’t run out of water. This came in handy on Stage 6 when my partner ran out of water and I was able to keep him hydrated.
Though the pack was a bit heavier than the Ultra LR, the weight was distributed differently. The lumbar reservoir was great, but I prefer carrying the weight on my upper back, versus my lower back. Perhaps it would have been different had the torso length of the Ultra LR not been too long for me.
With the L.U.X.E. 100 my back never felt overheated because it didn’t rest flat on my back, rather air was allowed to get through because of the Air Director back ventilation system.
Plus, because it was women’s specific, the torso length was perfect for me and the straps never chafed my shoulders or my neck. I was able to synch it to fit my body perfectly. The pack was spacious enough to carry the required items such as the space blanket, beanie, gloves and jacket, plus the additional stuff just for me like my extra snacks, chapstick and big roll of duct tape.
Nathan QuickDraw Plus Water Bottle (MSRP $20)
Though all the runners got one of these prior to the race, I’d been training with during most of my runs this past summer so I was already used to it. I liked the mesh hand strap opposite the pocket because it was comfortable, adjustable and you could tighten the strap so it fit perfectly and you didn’t even have to hold the bottle, just let your hand do its thing, because it was secure.
The pocket was nice, as you could fit an iPod, chapstick, a few keys and a Gu packet in it, though the fit of all that stuff (which I simply must carry with me on every run) was kind of snug. The problem with the snug fit is once you opened the pocket to take out just one thing, almost always something else would fall out. I lost a set of keys this way. I would like to see a pocket on this product that’s just a bit bigger, or maybe a separate slot for just keys so they are not in danger of falling out when you need some Gu.
During the TransRockies Run, I used this bottle in addition to my hydration pack so I could put Gatorade or other electrolyte replacement drinks in it. I don’t like to put anything other than water in my reservoirs.
Vapur Element Anti-Bottle (MSRP $12)
I tote this bottle with me everywhere, mostly because I can empty it then roll it up and put it in my purse or bag.
This was the bottle I toted with me around camp to keep myself hydrated before the start and after the finish. I would drink all my water, roll it up and stuff it in my drop bag to take out after the race and fill up again. It’s the perfect bottle for travelers and campers as it doesn’t take up a lot of space.
Garmin Forerunner 305 (MSRP $200)
It seemed everybody had a Garmin Forerunner 305 at the TransRockies. In fact, the La Sportiva-sponsored “Rejuvenation Station” for charging accessories was full of them every night.
Both my brother and I used to have Garmin 205’s but in my case, it was destroyed by a dog, and in his case, he retired his because his girlfriend gave him the 305 as a present. After the incident with my 205, I copied my brother and got me a 305 with a heart-rate monitor.
I loved the 205 and I love the 305 even more. It’s kind of like a mini personal trainer. You can program workouts for speed in them, and the GPS watch will beep at you to slow down or speed up. You can track the workouts you do and store them so you can do them again (particularly handy for an inexperienced trail runner such as myself who might want to go back and run any of the stages recorded in my Garmin). You can check what elevation you’re at, pinpoint where you parked so in the event you get lost, Garmin 305 will help you find your way. You can change the sports to anything from running to biking to hiking, so it records all types of workouts.
Plus, the battery life is amazing. It lasts for seven to eight hours straight without needing a charge, which for the normal runner I used to be was up to five days of runs without needing a charge. Don’t forget to power it down, though, because it will drain the battery within that same time period.
My only nitpick is the adapter is too big and takes up two spots on a surge protector, so before you head to the Gore-Tex TransRockies Run with your 305 next year, get yourself a skinny adapter so other people can charge their stuff too. We shared my brother’s skinny USB phone adapter to charge our Garmin 305s so we could share the power.
Moji 360 Massager (MSRP $60)
We can't always spring for a massage after long, hard runs, so we all know about other stick-like self-massaging options, but I'm telling you it's time to open up your massage possibilities with the Moji 360. The product has one side that has omnidirectional balls that can penetrate the deepest knots and work them out, imitating the stokes of a massage therapist. If you want a lighter massage, you can flip the product over to its flat side and use that to help to help massage in some Icy Hot.
This massager has been my go-to make-me-feel-better product after every long run for just over seven months. It's easy to use on my legs, my lower back and my neck and helped me during every one of the six stages.