This is the last post outlining my race plans for the Across the Years 48-Hour Run. Today, I discuss footwear, clothing, other gear and travel plans.
This is the area where I need the most improvement. It’s my biggest concern. The running surface is mostly dirt. The soil is clay that breaks down into fine particles. The climate is dry. Every footstep raises dust, and the dust gets into your shoes. Last year I didn’t wear gaiters. That was a HUGE mistake. In the past, I’ve only needed them to keep gravel and small rocks from getting into the back of my shoes. I didn’t realize how much dust there was or how bad my blisters would be.
I use double layer socks to prevent blisters. For a race, I always wear a new pair. I brought a few new pairs of socks last year, but I only had one pair of shoes. Once the dust had permeated my shoes, I didn’t see much point in changing socks. Within a few miles, the socks would pick up dust from the shoes, and I would lose the benefit of wearing a new pair.
This year I’m wearing gaiters. That should keep dust from entering around my ankles, but the dust can still work its way through the fabric of the shoes. My worst blisters last year were on the back of my heel and on my big toe. The gaiters will help with the heel area. To keep dust out of my toe box, I’m going to try covering the front of my shoes with duct tape.
I’m bringing at least two pairs of shoes. I may bring three. I’d bring more shoes, but every pair I wear will probably get ruined. I’ll also bring multiple pairs of socks. I’ll start the race in a new pair. I’ll bring other new socks, but if I change socks frequently, I’ll probably wear used socks, since any socks I wear will have to get tossed. Once you get dust between the layers, they’re never the same again.
Besides blisters, I have another concern about the dust. Last year, my shoes and socks picked up dust during the day. During the night, the dust in my socks mixed with sweat to form a paste. As it warmed up again the next day, the paste hardened. My shoes and socks were both stiff. It was like I was wearing an ankle cast. This may have contributed to my ankle problems. At the time, I tried to stop and adjust my shoes. I couldn’t, because the laces wouldn’t move through the eyelets of me shoes. The dust caused too much friction.
The gaiters will help keep dust away from my ankles, but some dust will still get through my shoes. If I ever feel like my socks are getting stiff, I’ll change them. I ran 52 races this year, and I wore a new pair of socks for each one. I have no shortage of old running socks. I plan to bring quite a few pairs. My unsolved dilemma is that I need to take off my shoes to change socks. I’d like to change socks frequently, but I’d like to limit my shoe changes.
Daytime temperatures will be comfortable. The last time I checked, the daytime highs were forecast to be 64 degrees on Tuesday and 61 degrees on Wednesday. It’ll be warm enough to wear shorts and short sleeves, but I won’t have to worry about getting too hot. Because I’m taking frequent walking breaks, those temperatures will feel much cooler than they would if I was running the whole time.
The temperature drops significantly during the night. Last year, it got down into the low 30s. I saw frost in the grass where sprinklers had been running earlier. This year, the overnight low for the first night is forecast to be 42. The next night it will get down to 39. After the sun goes down, I’ll need to add extra layers.
I’ll have a variety of different warm layers that I can add during the night. They’ll include warmer shirts, a wind shirt and a couple of different jackets. I’ll also have various hats and gloves.
I’m hoping I can get by with a warm hat, gloves, and extra layers on top. I can add or remove those layers quickly. Last year, I changed into tights during the night. The problem with tights is that you have to take off your shoes to put them on. You also have to take off your shoes to remove the tights when it warms up again. Once dust gets into my shoelaces, changing shoes will get more difficult. If I’m changing shoes and/or socks anyway, I’ll be more apt to wear tights at night. If I find it’s too difficult to get my shoes on and off, I’ll go without tights for the first night. If I wear enough layers on top, I can probably get by with cold legs – provided I’m doing enough running to stay warm.
During the second night, I may be reduced to walking. If that happens, I’ll need to wear something warm on my legs. Changing into tights the second night isn’t as bad, because I’ll only need one shoe change. I won’t need to take off the tights until after the race.
Besides tights, I’ll have a pair of Zubaz and these all-weather pants that I just bought. I saw these when I went to Running Room to stock up on GU packets.
For years, I’ve used Zubaz as warm-ups, because I can pull them on or take them off without removing my shoes. I’ve never tried to run wearing Zubaz, but I’m pretty sure they’d be OK for walking. My new pants will also make good warm-ups, and they give me another option for the second night, if I’m mostly walking. For a long time, I’ve wanted a pair of warm-up pants that I could wear in wet conditions. They have wide ankles with zippers, so I should be able to get them on and off without taking my shoes off.
For $25 dollars, I was able to rent a tent. The tents will be set up before I arrive. When I check in for the race, I’ll get a name plate that I can attach to a tent with Velcro. Then I’ll pick out a vacant tent. I‘ll try to find one as close to the course as possible, so a trip to the tent won’t take too long. I can store all my gear in my tent and have a place to change clothes.
I’ll have a sleeping bag in my tent, in case I need to take a nap. I could have rented one, but I’m just bringing one from home.
I won’t be traveling light for this trip. Besides shoes and running clothes, I’ll bring compression wraps, ace bandages, heel lifts, and various items for coping with injuries. I’ll also have a flashlight, a folding chair, and a large cafeteria tray. I’ve found the tray to be useful if I need to put my feet on a clean dry surface.
Basically, I’m bringing everything but the kitchen sink. If I could, I’d bring that too, so I could wash the dirt out of my shoes. Delta will let me check up to three bags for free. I will. I’ll need one just for my sleeping bag. I’ll also have a carry-on bag and a computer bag.
Airfares can get expensive around the holidays. This is the fifth consecutive year that I’m doing a race around New Years. It’s also the fifth consecutive year that I booked my flights with frequent flier miles. Although the race ends on New Year’s Day, I won’t fly home until January 3. After going two nights without sleep, I’ll need more than one night to catch up.
There are hotels close to Camelback Ranch, but they tend to be more expensive than hotels in Phoenix. Last year I stayed in Phoenix to save money. This year, I opted for a hotel that was closer to the race. I plan to keep my room for the five nights I’m in town, even though I’ll be running overnight for two of those nights. I saved my hotel points to I could get a free stay. I was able to get five nights for the same number of points as four nights. That make me feel better about keeping a room that I’m not always using.