Reflections on a Half Marathon: Kit

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since my half two Sundays ago, trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t – before, during, and after the race. Now that I’ve started to realize that I’ll likely run another someday (inevitable?!), I want to make sure I improve what I can, and stick with what’s tried and true.

This was originally going to be one simple post in which I outlined what did work and what didn’t, but – me being me – I rambled out of control, didn’t want to edit it down, and decided to break the post up topically. So it goes. First up:

What worked? My kit.

I debated with myself for a long time about what I was going to wear for this race! Part of me felt strongly that I should wear what I had been wearing for my long runs – long-sleeve tech tee and shorts with double-layer socks – since I was used to that, but I had actually hated dealing with long sleeves during those runs (I could roll the sleeves up when I got warm, but they tended to roll themselves back down and drove me crazy) and didn’t want to be driven crazy during my first half. I also really wanted to wear my run club singlet, but was worried I’d be too cold. I thought about a light long-sleeve tee underneath, but knowing how hot I get when I run, I didn’t want too many layers (see also: sleeve comments above), even though a light singlet over a light tee probably wouldn’t have been too much.

I tried to think about races that had gone really well and that I had felt comfortable during, figuring I’d replicate whatever outfit I had worn then. My mind went immediately to the Old Port 5K back in July, where I remember feeling fantastic:

My kit at the Old Port 5K

My kit at the Old Port 5K

Okay, brilliant. Sorted. But now the question came back around to the issue of sleeves and whether I’d be warm enough running in upper-40s/low-50s temps in that same kit. I toyed with the idea of arm warmers, but something just seemed silly about those… why not just wear a long-sleeve shirt? Then Colin brought up a good point when I asked him for advice – if I got too warm wearing the arm warmers, I could just push them down and wear them as sweatband-type-things, whereas a long-sleeve shirt would be way more difficult to remove if I got too warm. I figured I’d give them a go.

Now that that was settled, what about how to hold my crazy hair back? At the Old Port race – and at many other races this year – I had worn my Buff headband and it had done its job at taming my flyaway hair. I planned on rocking the Buff again, and bringing my sunglasses, until my FIL planted the idea in my head that a hat would be better at protecting my eyes from glare. (Fair point, especially since my cheap sunglasses aren’t polarized and I still squint when I wear them.) I’ve rocked a few different hats in previous races, but they tend to make me feel really hot and God knows I didn’t want to faint during my first half. I needed to be extra cautious! Enter Julie with her magic visor. It would block more glare, protect my face from the sun, but wouldn’t hold all the heat in. Perfect. Throw my new knee bands into the mix and I was ready to go:

Modified kit for the half

Modified kit for the half

It ended up being a perfect combination. It was kit I knew I could be comfortable in for shorter races, and turns out it works for 13.1 miles as well. Nothing bothered me, nothing chafed, everything stayed in place*, I didn’t get blisters (credit also due to Body Glide for this!), and I ended up being fine temperature-wise. I was questioning the arm warmers a few miles in but, despite being thermal, they didn’t make me too hot, and I was super glad I had them once the sun went behind the clouds and the wind started whipping off the lakes. I might have gotten too warm with a long-sleeve shirt on (an extra layer is an extra layer) so they were a great solution.

*I guess this isn’t entirely true. At one point my knee braces rubbed against each other and the velcro caught, loosening them both a bit. I stepped off to the side to re-tighten them and they managed to behave themselves for the rest of the race. So they stayed in place for the most part!

So what, exactly, was this kit? (I feel like I want to write something cheesy like “you, too, can have this look!”)

-Asics Core* singlet (bought through my run club… I’m unsure of the exact style)
-Fila Core Essential High-Impact sports bra
-Nike Racer Dri-FIT Double-Layer shorts
-Wrightsock Cool Mesh II double-layer socks
-Saucony Guide 7 shoes
-Nike Thermal arm warmers
-Shock Doctor Knee-Patella support straps
-Nike visor (specific style unknown)
-Sunglasses (brand forgotten)
-Garmin Forerunner 15
-Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Insulated water bottle*

*I gave this bottle a pretty negative review a few months ago, vowing to not use it anymore, and yet I still keep using it. I’m still not a fan, to be honest, but desperate times…. Anyway, I plan to write a follow-up review soon.

Do you fret over your race-day kit as much as I did for this one? (Please tell me I’m not the only one!)

What are your tried-and-true pieces of kit?

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10 thoughts on “Reflections on a Half Marathon: Kit

  1. I definitely fret, and since I haven’t done a lot of longer races in different weather conditions, it’s hard to know what to do. This weekend was REALLY cold and windy, and at the start of the race I was glad to have worn so many layers (tank, LS shirt, light jacket), but there were also times when I was too hot. I may need to look into some arm warmers for in-between temps, because I get hot really easily too.

    • It’s SO hard to know, isn’t it? I’ve used the RW “what to wear” guide but it never seems all that helpful. Maybe it was designed for non-New-England climates πŸ™‚ The arm warmers ended up working really well for me, and there are some really reasonable ones out there!

  2. I’m like you…I’ve written a ton of posts on clothing and gear, and I obsess about my choices down to my underpants. I really love Feetures socks with the heel flap so they don’t slip down under my shoe line and cause heel blisters, and I like the Lululemon sports bras with the removable thin cups so I don’t have bullet nips (because really, who wants to see that coming? No one!). Other than that, it varies depending on the distance of the race and the forecast, but I do love the versatility of arm warmers and wear them often. Congrats again on that first half!

    • Thanks again! πŸ™‚ Man, I feel like I obsess over my outfit for every single race. I have a pair of Feetures socks that I love – the heel flap is key! And good to know about the Lululemon bra… I like to avoid beaming whenever I can πŸ™‚ I’m so glad I opted for the arm warmers, I think they’re going to come in handy!

  3. I always stress over what to wear, and something always chafes. But one hing I have stuck with most of the year are my shorts and tank. Most of my races have been in shorts from Abercrombie and Fitch. Weird but they are so comfortably and light, I ended up buying 6 pairs. I think I was the only who like their foray into athletic wear so I was able to get my last 4 pairs for 6 bucks each. I always run in the same tank- another cheapie from Jc Penney. I have it in like 7 colors. From there I just try not to match a previous race outfit too closely. As for handhelds? I usually run with whatever bottle I picked up the day before. πŸ™‚

    • I like it… it’s totally worth sticking with what works! When I find something that’s perfect I try to scoop up as many as possible too… like my favorite tank top that I got on Steep & Cheap, I got one in each color once I realized they were awesome πŸ™‚

      I need to figure out a better water bottle/gear carrying situation. I can only fill mine halfway or else it will leak all over me, but I really like the zipper pouch so I can stash my phone and chews and stuff. I should just take the pouch off and see if it fits on other bottles… that would save me some grief!

  4. I’m pretty lucky in that I rarely seem to have a problem with kit. I usually stick to shorts, a technical t, sports bra and my Saucony trainers. Nothing too fancy but it seems to work thus far!

  5. First off, calling it kit is funny to me. πŸ˜‰

    Secondly, yes, I always fret about it, especially if the temp will change from the time you start until you finish. I think you made a wise choice with the hat and arm warmers. Maybe look into long sleeved shirts that are more fitted at the wrist so when you roll them up they stay put? For the future maybe?

    • Haha yeah, it is a little weird. I picked it up from my stepdad when we’d talk about my soccer kit, and then it just kind of carried over to cover my running stuff as well πŸ™‚

      Temperature changes during races is definitely one of the reasons I fret so much! Fitted wrist shirts help a bit, but my problem (I didn’t really explain it well in the post) is when the sleeve flops down over the end of the shirt, even if the wrist elastic is technically holding it in place. Like, the extra material folds down over the wrist and is loose and tickly. That’s the worst!

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