I Bought a Pack

10 04 2013

I’ve recently been doing a fair amount of reading about Alaska. Not because I’m sick of the Florida heat (it’s only JUST begun! 😉 ), but because I’m planning a trip there! This summer, I’m going to spend about a week in the Last Frontier, hiking the famous Chilkoot Trail.

Chilkoot Trail

During the Klondike Gold Rush, the Chilkoot became one of the main routes of transportation to get to the Yukon River. The stampeders, as the gold hunters were called, would start in Skagway, head up to Dyea, and then make the make 33 mile trek up to Bennett, in hopes of finding gold. Unfortunately, few found gold and many others gave up on their dreams because the journey was just too miserable. Today, the trail is like a living museum- there are discarded tools and other artifacts still laying by the side of the trail!

chilkoot historic image(source)

I’ve never been to Alaska, so I’m super excited (though I’m not too stoked about the flight). I’ll be meeting Bill out there and we’re going to hike the trail together. 🙂 We’re still working out all of the details, but since the trip is only a few short months away, I’ve got to get a move on getting my gear!

Well, first things first- I actually got my learn on. At the recommendation of the owner of Adventure Outfitters here in Tampa, I purchased the Trailside Guide: Hiking and Backpacking.

Trailside Guide

Being that I know virtually nothing about backpacking, this book was perfect for me. It gave me lots of really basic but important information about hiking and backpacking. If you know even the slightest bit about hiking, this book might not be a worthwhile read for you, but if you’re looking to learn some foundational knowledge, I’d say go for it. I also bought the book because I didn’t want to rely solely on Bill’s hiking knowledge (though extensive!).  I wanted to learn on my own and bring a little something to the table.

One piece of gear I knew I’d need was a pack. I probably could have found a pack to borrow from someone, but I’m hoping that hiking/backpacking is something I’ll do more of, so I decided I wanted to buy one. I also know that fit is really important, and finding someone who has a pack that would fit me just right might be a challenge. In my book, I learned about the different kinds of packs and how to properly stuff your pack:


I also learned about the different sizes and weights of packs- and how even just a few ounces matter. So when Bill and I went to a few different hiking stores this weekend, I knew I didn’t want a “Monster” like Cheryl Strayed’s pack in Wild but rather, something that would be light and fit my needs. Bill was recommending a 40L pack, but all of the 40L packs were over 3 pounds. (Who knew >3 pounds was “heavy”?) Then we stumbled upon the Granite Gear Blaze 60. The 60L pack weighed 2lb, 14oz, which was lighter than any of the 40L packs! And even better, it fit me well and was surprisingly comfortable! We stuffed it with about 20lbs of gear and I walked around the store for a little while- btw, if you aren’t used to walking with weight on your back, 20 pounds feels a lot heavier than you think!

I decided that this would be my pack for the Chilkoot. 🙂


Now that I’ve got my pack, my next step is to buy some footwear and then walk around in them with my pack on and stuffed. I’m currently on the fence about what kind of footwear to get. Bill thinks I could get away with some running sneakers. I looked at the Saloman Mission XR trail running shoes and I kinda sorta fell in love with them. My biggest worry is that these won’t be enough shoe for the trail. Anyone with experience want to chime in? Should I get a more substantial boot (a light to mid) or will I be okay in trail runners?

I’m getting really excited about my trip, even though it’s 4 months away. Once I get my footwear, I’ll be ready to “officially” start training-aka walking around everywhere in trail shoes and my pack!

Who’s got backpacking tips for me??

Marathon Checklist

25 04 2012

It’s Marathon Week!!! EEEKKK! I can’t believe it is T minus 4 days til my marathon!

I figured I’d share with you a few of my marathon essentials (and sort of use this post as a way to double check that I’ve got everything packed!)

1) Running Shoes

I have been a Mizuno’s gal since I started running tris in 2008. I’ve got super narrow feet and these seem to work the best for me.

I bought this pair about a month ago so I’d have enough time to break them in before Nashville.

2) Running Clothes

The weather for this weekend is looking pretty stellar:

(I just hope it doesn’t hit 82 ’til later in the day!)

So I decided to go with my Nike Tempo Shorts that I wore at the Rock N Roll USA Half, and I’m my Lululemon tank. I’ll probably bring an old long sleeve tee to keep me warm at the start, and then dump it along the way. Look for me in something really similar to this:

(just pretend that tee is a tank!)

I found these shorts at Ross and I thought they would be perfect for a race on St. Patty’s day. I actually really love ’em, and they make me stand out in the crowd.

As for the tank, I couldn’t find a picture of it on the Lululemon site, so I’m not sure if they make it anymore 😦 It’s really comfortable, has elastic on the bottom so it doesn’t ride up, and it has a pocket with a zipper on the back!

3) Nathan’s Quick Draw Hand Held Water Bottle

Mine’s hot pink, and I’ve been using it for pretty much my entire training. I really love this thing. Yeah, it a little heavy when it’s full, but it didn’t take long for me to get used to it.

4) My Garmin 405 CX 

I got this as a Christmas present and now I never go for a run without it!

5) SpiBelt

I bought a SpiBelt at the Gasparilla race expo. I had been running with my iPhone in my hand since the day I got my phone. Yes, I know, weird/stupid. I know I could have bought an arm band, but I just thought it would be too bulky. I decided that holding it in my hand wasn’t too bad.  At the time, I was also using my phone to track my pace and distance, so I could deal. However, when you’ve got one hand holding a water bottle and one hand holding an iPhone, it gets really awkward. Since I didn’t want to give in and buy an armband, I figured a SpiBelt would be a great solution. And, I love it! The phone fits perfectly and I can still run the earphones through the small opening at the end of the zipper. It stays put and doesn’t rub. WIN!

6) Nutrition

I certainly want to make sure that I have enough energy to get me through the race, and I want to try to prevent headaches so I’m bringing some peanut butter Gu, some vanilla AcellGel (which I just got in the mail!), some Acellerade Powder (which I also just got!) and some salt tabs. Anyone know if I need to pack my gels in with my liquids? 😉

(Yes, I was so excited that I opened the package in the car.)

And, because I’m really picky about my peanut butter, I’m bringing a few packets of Justin’s to spread on toast on race morning.

8) Aquaphor

Instead of Body Glide, I’ve started using Aquaphor. I think it works just as well, and I can put it on my lips if they are chapped.

9) Hat and Sunglasses

I  just got this new hat at the IronGril Expo. I have a TINY head (I can wear kid’s hats), so finding a hat that fits me is always a challenge. I bought the hot pink one that you’ve seen on me in pictures:

But I hate the way it fits my head. I bought it back when I did my first tri so that my parents could pick me out on the run. Not sure it it helped, but it helps block the sun and soaks up a little bit of the sweat.

It’s probably not smart to use a new piece of gear for the marathon, but I don’t think it will be a problem.

I’ve had those sunglasses for a VERY long time. They’re polarized sunglasses I got at a surf shop in New Jersey when I was still guarding. A small head makes it hard for me to find sunglasses too, but this pair of Bolle glasses gets the job done!

10) Sunscreen

I use the Sport line of Neutrogena. I actually just grabbed a new bottle this week, since it was on sale at CVS!

I think that’s it! Now time to pack! Anything else I’m missing?

Question of the day: What are your running essentials?