Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Gear Review! Salomon Agile 7 Hydration Pack

I had a few goals in purchasing this pack; find a pack that would fit a woman's frame well, hold 2L of water, and give me some extra space for whatever I decided to throw in it. It took a few days of comparison shopping online, reviewing forums, what other trail runners wear and like, and finding a pack that ships to Canada. Finally success, the Salomon Agile 7.

Salomon Agile 7

The Pros:

  • Ample Space: For my first run with this pack I used it for what it was designed to do, hold 2L of water and a few other trail essentials. The space in this pack is not an issue. The bladder (sold separately) gets its own compartment for easy access and the space available for other essentials is more than enough for food, my galaxy phone and a light jacket.
  • Fit: Wow. Just WOW. With my pack full I couldn't believe how light it felt on my shoulders. The arm and waist straps are adjustable giving the runner a cozy, supportive fit. I've run trails and navigated city streets with this pack, going over all sorts of terrain and never felt like this pack held me back or made me change how I would navigate a landing on rough terrain. It becomes part of you!
  • Flexibility: The straps give a great fit but the Agile 7 also has a bunch of loops and cords available on the side that are perfect for trekking poles, a light jacket or clip-on supplemental water (as if it doesn't hold enough!).
  • Safety: One surprise I didn't notice when I bought the Agile 7 is the attached safety whistle on the left shoulder strap. Nice Salomon! Now I haven't had to actually use the whistle yet but it has crossed my mind when I have to cross 6 lanes of traffic... But seriously, if I ever get hopelessly lost in the woods-see last year's Cuddly Coyote report....well, lets just say it might come in handy.
  • Breath-ability: The honeycomb vents along the back of the pack make this pack one of the more sweat-free of hydration packs I've tried. 
The Cons:
  • Lack of Front-sitting bottle holders: yeah I know Salomon has this feature on other packs but it'd be nice to see it on a pack that holds less than 5L of water, and for less than $150.00. Just sayin'.
Overall: This is my go-to pack. I use it for my trail runs of course but it is also an excellent run-commuter pack that successfully holds my gigantic wallet, office badges, phone cord, phone, pair of shoes, a complete work outfit and a light jacket (if I hook it to the exterior loops). Salomon hit a home run with this pack and I'd highly recommend it to any runner, walker or cyclist looking for something that holds more than a liter of water.

These are the runs that make other runs AMAZING

Maybe it was the turkey the night before, or maybe my shoe was tied too tight, or maybe my calf was strained and THAT is what cause my left foot to be numb for half of my run this morning. Ugh. Either way I tell ya, it wouldn't keep me down!

Okay, let me backtrack. I got up surprisingly alert for 5am this morning and after taking Peanut out for a pee break I got ready to go for my first morning run in over a week-hubby's home-yay! I grabbed his running jacket for its additional reflective highlights, set my phone to play a podrunner tune at 180bpm and headed out into the frosty air.

My legs were stiff, more than I really expected after taking a luxurious 2 days off this weekend to rest and rehab my hamstring a bit. So I kept it conservative, really conservative and went off sloooow for the first couple of miles. Once I got to the top of Briarwood I was feeling looser so I picked up the pace as I carefully trotted downhill in the dark. At about the same time my left foot became a bit numb, then totally numb after another mile. Running on a numb foot feels strange but in the dark it can also be a recipe for a twisted ankle so I stopped and adjusted my laces. That seemed to do the trick for another mile then my foot went numb again. This time I walked it out longer than before and noticed my calf became more strained as the blood seemed to rush back into my foot. WEIRD. Maybe it was that P90X Plyometrics session I did Saturday?? I was able to find some kind of happy medium just as I came to my favorite section of road, just to be almost hit by a sleepy driver too anxious to pull out onto an adjoining street (so much for those additional reflective strips on hubby's coat!)-thankfully I was paying attention and scooted around the startled driver. I checked my watch and found I was a good 7 minutes off my regular slow morning run pace. Ah well, I guess this run was my "slow 10k" on my training plan for the week. I gutted it out and got it done. It wasn't pretty, it took what felt like forever and I still have no solid answer as to why my foot decided today it wanted to run numb, but these are the runs that make other runs amazing.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Humming Hamstring

I've managed to strain my hamstring-well one of them. Ugh. Thankfully the first advice I got on how to treat it was NOT to stop running, just take smaller steps. Whew! I feel like I've dodged a bullet in the injury department. My doctor of course spent the first 10 minutes of my appointment going over my latest races, talking about how far I run weekly, shared my disappointment at missing the next couple of big races because of my hubby heading out of town, what my race plans are for next year...I love having a runner-doctor, it really helps me feel like she "gets it." So, of course when I tried to increase my speed over the past few weeks I've also increased my stride length and apparently that can lead to exactly what happened, a strained hamstring. Grrr. I feel like such a rookie. So I've got my phone (yes I run with my phone) programmed with a few podrunner 180 bpm tunes (check out www.podrunner.com) so I can stick to taking tiny steps and live with the fact my running looks closer to Ray Zahab's stride than Ryan Hall's. Ah well, at least I'm running.

I snuck in a run this morning, which was the first early morning run in a loong time, but I knew I wouldn't be able to do it for another week since hubby is heading out of town. Me and my treadmill are about to become besties again. lol. I managed to get stuck in a big downpour-you know the kind where you can barley blink because the rain is pelting your face? Yeah, well I ran for about a half a kilometer with one eye closed it was raining so hard. I stumbled into the gas station and thankfully met a nice attendant who saved my phone by donating a bag to my running cause. Ah, the things you do as a runner :-)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Should kids be allowed to run ultras?

This month's blog symposium topic is: Should kids be allowed to run ultras? I know that children do run ultras and there is alot of debate about whether or not race organizers should permit those children to participate. As a mom, a runner and mom to a little budding runner I have alot of mixed feelings about this idea. First, full disclosure; my daughter is 6, soon to be 7 years old. She started running 2 miler races when she was 4. Soon after that she wanted to try a local 5k race, then another. On average she races about 3 times a year with her longest distance so far being 5k. She loves it, usually. She's had her low points in races, just like all of us, when she questions why she wanted to run a race if it isn't going well, then I've watched her pull herself up and run her heart out and place in the top three in her age division. During these races I think she learns some pretty important life lessons (whether she knows it or not right now) about perseverance, following through with something you set out to do, self-motivation and determination.

So, what if my little 5-ker suddenly wanted to run a half, full or (gasp) an ultra? At her age now it would be a firm no, given her age, stamina and the long road of training she'd have to put time into. That's too much for my child, right now. But what if she asked when she is 10? or 13? Then I'd give it some thought. For me, it would totally depend on how much running she would be doing on a regular basis, her overall physical and mental health, and if she had the desire to take on this kind of challenge. The same things I would ask any adult if they were considering an ultra. If my child wanted to run an ultra though and she was already running 20-30 miles each week, was healthy physically and mentally, had a solid nutrition plan and was under frequent doctor supervision I think I could be okay with it. My husband on the other hand already thinks I'm nuts for running ultras so I can only imagine the horror on his face if our child wanted to run one. 

I truly think that the decision to allow your child to run an ultra needs to be a discussion between both parents, their family doctor and the child. I think with the physical demands of an ultra you can't give the same advice to a child as you would an adult. Pushing through the pain of a tough ultra shouldn't be an option for kids, in my opinion. The child should always be allowed to pull out if they don't feel they can continue. I also think if a child is going to run an ultra a parent or trusted family friend should accompany the child the whole way, for safety, security and the experience of being able to see the signs of a child pushing themselves too hard so if need be they can step in and call it quits.