Marathon training is in full swing, and since humidity levels have settled around the “Must Possess Gills to Breathe this Air” mark for the past week or two, hydration has become one of the most important parts of training. Having grown up in New England and spent my young adulthood mainly in the Northeast, I had never experienced a tropical summer before moving to Hawaii and could not have imagined how sticky and hot it is. As I settled in to my new island life, my hydration belt quickly became one of my favorite pieces of equipment.
I bought my hydration belt earlier this summer at Be Fit Kailua. I had stopped by the store merely to browse, but as I turned the belt over in my hand, I realized that I had been using the heat and threat of dehydration as an excuse to keep my runs short, so I bought it. The belt I have is made by FuelBelt and is fastened around my waist with velcro. Two small water bottles (maybe 6 ounces?) sit behind me, one on each of my love handles, and a small zippered pouch sits, easily accessible, on my hip. The bottles rest in a holster and can be slid out and replaced easily so that I can continue running while I sip.
Wearing the belt took a little getting used to. At first, I found the bouncing of the water bottles annoying and, even now, I occasionally think I hear someone or something coming up behind me when I’m actually just hearing the sound of water sloshing. Any issues I have with the FuelBelt are erased by the benefits of wearing it. The obvious benefit is that, like a camel, I have a source of easily accessed, guaranteed fresh and clean water with me at all times. I watch others in my running group struggle with hydration- will there be water fountains? Can I find a good place to stash my water bottle when I get tired of carrying it? Will someone think my stashed water bottle is an orphan and will it be adopted by the time I return for it?- and I’m glad I’ve eliminated this from my list of marathon training worries.
I saw somebody with a backpack style hydration pack, but I like that the belt covers very little surface area so that I can catch whatever breeze is available. A few people have the hand grip water bottle which features a strap you put your hand through so that you aren’t actually carrying your bottle, but it is firmly attached to you, but I like that my hands are free for more important things like wiping sweat from my brow, picking wedgies, and clasping together, raising them to the sky, and pleading with whichever deity sees fit to end my suffering.
This week, our Tuesday run focused on building endurance with hills and Thursday’s run was geared toward increasing our speed. Each run was a little less than 4 miles long, but, as they both focused on things I am neither particularly fond of nor excel at, I found them just as challenging as the longer runs. Today’s long run was grueling but fantastic. We met at the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden in nearby Kaneohe and ran through the garden, to the Ko’olau Golf Club and back again. Although the hills were more difficult than I thought they would be and the 7.5ish miles make this my longest run to date (!), the scenery was so green, so lush, so indisputably tropical that I really enjoyed today’s run. I need to go back and take some photos (the zippered pouch on my FuelBelt has space for keys, chapstick and money, but not the iPhone 6) to share with you, but imagine a place where a non-animated version of the movie Fern Gully could be filmed, and you’ve captured the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden perfectly.