Wednesday, March 17, 2010

fighting a losing battle....

I just wanted to throw this out there:


when I ran track/ xc in high school ( and one year of college) I had ONE adidas duffle bag I packed it every evening for practice and meets the next day. Same deal with road races and marathons as an adult.. ONE BAG.. I had trainers and flats... extra pair of socks, a change of clothes for when I finish running, hat, gloves maybe a pair of tights and a bottle of water-- This worked really well for me!

I am really overwhelmed by gear-- I LOVE gear ( don't get me wrong. I love all the gadgets and gizmos associated with this crazy sport I am falling absolutely in love with-) but seriously when it comes to trail running or trail racing ( ultra racing.) I find it IMPOSSIBLE to put all my running gear in a single bag. So I end up with a couple of duffle bags full of EVERYTHING ( for all the "what ifs") I am so terrified of not having something I need or forgetting something and it messing up my race. afraid of being too hot/too cold/ chaffed, bugbitten, sunburnt and catching poison ivy.. afraid of not having enough gels, salt tabs or motrin to carry with me or the little tiny plastic bags I place them in so they won't get wet from me sweating on them.
I usually have a couple different pairs of shoes in my bag because I always decide what I need the morning before the race, short smart wools and knee socks ( in case it's cold) a small first aid kit, maps, sunglasses, nuun, gels, hand helds, nathan vest, nathan pack( I always am on the fence about those too-- HANDHELD vs. NATHAN PACK-- it's a maddening question-- I am learning more and more though-- TRAIN with the Nathan pack.. RACE with the Hand held... ) salt tabs, blister shield, tights, a couple singlets, a pair of shorts, gloves, glove liners, yak trax, hats, go lite jacket etc.. etc..
I find it impossible to keep it organized.. so I just end up digging and digging until I find what I need, and it kinda drives me crazy! literally, annoys me to NO END. :oP

and then I have a separate bag just for "recovery purposes" I always have baby wipes ( they are great for getting mud off your legs! a change of clothes, a plastic bag for my shoes and socks I ran in and one for my running clothes, jacket, and a protein shake to drink because if I have it in the other bags I won't see it and therefore won't drink it post run. and a pair of chacos or crocs and towel so if there is a river or lake I can go sit in it post run and ice bath my legs some.

Surely, there is a far superior way to do this than what I'm doing. I am open to any and all suggestions. PLEASE HELP!!!
I registered for Cheat Mtn 50 miler this week ( YAY!!!!) and I feel as I embark upon longer races, for efficiency sake I have GOT to learn how to manage my gear and get more organized.

and even if only Rick, Frank, and Sean D post.. I think that would be swell because I know you guys are ALL VERY experienced runners and welcome any advice anyone can lay on me! :o)



The Sean said...

I keep all of my stuff in the spare room. Then based on the conditions take a duffle bag with me, with reusable bags stuffed in for dirty stuff.

The car is a locker room also. Usually 5 pairs of shoes and extra everything in the trunk... the backseat filled with stuff I might need during the week, between wash cycles.

The best thing I can think is to just go with what I am most likely to need depending on weather.

So- I don't have much help to offer except for maybe it is just the condition of the want to be comfy, especially AFTER you are done with a long effort.

jenn said...

I'm DOOMED to have a mtn of shoes in my closet and 3 duffle bags full of running clothes in my car!! :oP

Rick Gray said...

Jenny, Just saw the post, but I need to head to the house as it is after 6:00pm. I will respond to this in the morning and I will try to keep it abreviated. We can talk in more detail when we run this weekend.

Triple F said...

Believe me, you DON'T want organizational tips from me! I'm a walking disaster. My philosophy is, if you forget it . . . oh well!

I bet Johnathon Savage has good ideas! He totes around something that looks like a super-size mechanic's tool box, complete with drawers and wheels. And he's got EVERYTHING! I mean EVERYTHING!

jenn said...

well, if anything I guess I'm finding solice in the fact that I'm not alone! Perhaps it is just the plight of every trail and ultra runner. maybe the multiple duffle bag method 1. for clothes, supplements, hydration bottles, etc 2. for shoes 3. recovery bag

I just hate digging for things.:O( but I love my gear just too much to be a minimalist:o)

Rick Gray said...

Part 1

Jenny, First off let me say I am so proud of you for taking a big step and registering for Cheat Mountain. Not only is it a tough, but reasonable 50 miler, but it starts at 9:00pm. If you are a speedster, then the whole run is in the dark. For me, I finish in the new light of day. We will have a ball and hopefully we can get a couple of night runs under our belt beforehand.

Now to your ISSUE of FIGHTING A LOSING BATTLE. As you already know I am anal and when I first started trail running I had the same issues (still do). I am an overly organized creature and when I kept accumulating stuff, I kept getting more and more frustrated. When it came to traveling to a race, I was a total wreck.

As far as all of the organizing all of the gels, bars, blocks, baby wipes, anti-chafe, batteries, cafeine pills, pain pills, stuff for nauseousness, plastic bags, etc., what worked for me is something you have already seen. I purchased two containers from Lowes that have removable dividers in them to make compartments of different sizes. Each of these to "kits", as Tammy and I call them" are about the size of a thin briefcase. You can see everything through a clear plastic lid and it is easy to find stuff and it is easy to see when you need to restock. This is what Frank is talking about in regards to Jonathan's tool box.

In regards to clothes, I have one antique dresser in a spare bedroom that is totally devoted to MY CLOTHES. It is perfect. It has two small drawers and two big drawers. One of the small drawers contains my headware (beanies), neck gaitor, buff and arm sleeves. The other small draw contains my gloves and mittens. One of the big drawers contains my warm weather type of clothes, which includes shorts and short sleeve shirts. The other big drawer contains my cold weather type of clothes, which includes tights and long sleeve shirts. One of the problems with running trail races is that lots of times you will get not only a t-shirt at an event, but you will also get a finisher's shirt or shorts. My extras that will not fit into my drawers and that I do not seem to wear get to go to a stack in the closet. As far as t-shirts go, I have a dresser in our master bath that has a drawer for short sleeve t-shirts and two drawers in a chest in our bedroom contains long sleeve t-shirts. I still have all of my ultra shirts, but all of the road race t-shirts have been given away to Goodwill.

Rick Gray said...

Part 2

Now to my garage. Trail running gets so complicated. In our garage we have an old antique barn ladder. On this ladder I have attached hooks. These hooks contain things like gortex jacket, wind jackets, hats, YakTrax, gaiters and down jackets. Also in the garage I have a large (tall and upright) big hard plastic storage bin with shelves. These shelves contain backup gels, bars, drinks, powders, waist packs, hydration bladders, handhelds and spare bottles.

In the garage I also have a couple of hooks for Tammy's and my main hydration packs so that they will dry easily. I also have a coat hanger that I will loop over empty bladders so that they will dry easily.

Now shoes. Tammy has alot of shoes. I purchased two of those white partical board type of shoe shelving units just for her. They are stacked on top of each other in our garage. My spare shoes go under the steps leading from the garage into the house. The trail shoes that I normally run in are on a small work table I have in the garage. This is a perfect table for me to put our shoes on after we come in from a trail run. I take the inserts out of the shoes and this allows everything to easily dry on the table. In the winter, the drying is slower, but in the summer it is supper fast in the garage.

Now for the final part. Heading to a race and how to transport all of your stuff. As you already know, I typically get to a race with way too much. This has come in handy a couple of times. Doug once forgot his shorts and he used a pair of mine (bit shorter than he liked). Dan one time got to the start of Hellgate and had left his bottles back at the camp. I had some spairs. I still struggle in this area, but I have been venturing towards two duffel bags. One for hydration type stuff and shoes. The other for clothes. Fall, winter and spring races are harder for me to pack as I take so much. Summer is pretty predictable. Even if it rains all day, you are still in shorts. In a gym bag I struggle with finding stuff. I have been working on putting small stuff, like liners and beanies in a plastic grocery bag and putting underware and socks in another plastic grocery bag. So much of my winter stuff is black and it is hard to find in a dark duffel bag.

I am sure that I have forgotten some other anal thing that I do, but we can certainly talk over details as we run on the trail.

Have a great day and I hope you enjoyed reading my "abreviated" comment. Rick

jenn said...

WOW!! thanks rick!! I really appreciate that! ( and the time and effort you placed into answering!) I have a long way to go with organization. but looks like I need to start by getting me the tackle box contraption for my smaller, loose items.

I agree, I think running in the summer will be easier as far as your clothing and gear choices. :o)

see you saturday for our bear tree gap run!!!

We'll have fun @ Cheat mtn for sure!! WOO! we'll definitely do some night runs this summer! ( we can do my birthday run at night if you want!) I really want to feel like running with a headlamp is a little familiar to me. :o)

Rick Gray said...

Jenny, Your welcome. As you will find out, each race is a bit different and organization for each race is a bit different too. The organization part of trail/ultra running is ongoing. It never ends. We just keep fine tuning it. What worked last race might not necessarily work this race. That is one of the things that keeps our sport so exciting and non-boring. Beth and JJ love night runs, so get your headlamp and we will be ready to go. We can always do a night run on a Friday night after the kids go to bed. See you Saturday morning. Rick

jenn said...

Rick: that would work really well for me! I'm always VERY consistent with the kids schedules and bedtimes ( haha wonder why that is?? ) I think it's just my personality and the kids seem to do VERY well because we have a routine. I always put them to bed about 8-830.. so Friday night run sometime would be FUN! and brock would have ZERO work to do other than man- the- fort! :o) So he'd be ALL about that!! :o)