First let me direct you to meeting my entire team for Ragnar DC. That blog link just became active today. Winning a spot on this team will allow me to meet so many other interesting mother runners.
I have also been introduced to a lot of terrific running products because that was part of what I won. My winning entry scored me the opportunity to have and test out my very own Ultimate Direction – Fastdraw Plus water bottle.
Because I have been training for the relay, I had been breaking my weekend long runs into 2 or 3-a-days for the past couple of weeks. Yesterday I was looking forward to a little longer run. I hadn’t run over 10 since the local marathon and I was glad to have a reason to test out the new Fastdraw Plus as I would be needing hydration on this end of this 13 miler.
I can’t stand carrying anything in my hands when I run. Even at night I decided that I hate carrying the super helpful Knuckle Lights that Jim loves. Because of this, dear Jim frequently sets out hydration and fuel along our long running routes. With the exception of one hot day a couple of years ago, people respect the signs we have taped to the bottles and leave them alone. Old seltzer bottles with cleaned out dish liquid pull tops look pretty funky but they are replaceable when we want to ditch them into a garbage can along the way. Unlike a lot of my bike bottles, they usually don’t leak or splash out the top during the mile or less we tote them along.
Yesterday Jim ran a local 10 miler super early in the morning. I delayed my long run until closer to midday because it is when I foresee I might be running a couple of my relay legs. It allowed Jim to shower and drive me out to one of my favorite half-marathon routes, Poe’s Nevermore Half Marathon®.
I always wonder what drivers think when they come across me on the back mountain roads with little between hither and thither. I once had a woman pull up and ask me if she was going the right way to the one park that was still 7 miles away but my favorite story is about the beginning of my one run. Jim had just driven off to meet me 6 miles down the road and I hadn’t even gone a quarter of a mile when I saw a walker in the distance. I could tell it was a woman and that she was walking toward me. I got a wild idea and after I got close enough to wish her a “Good Morning” I then casually asked her, “Much farther to Poe Paddy?” She sputtered and gasped and I think managed, “Oh my,” before I laughed and told her that I knew it was 13 miles away. She then laughed and asked if I was training for a marathon. At that time all I could commit to was a grin and, “Someday.”
Years later and a marathon under my (SPI)belt, I still love this run. The leaves were just starting to change yesterday and the sky was a brilliant blue with a perfect contrast of fluffy white clouds. I powered up and over Sand Mountain. Kind-hearted Jim wanted to meet me at 6 and 9 miles even though I had fuel caches ready for him to just drop if he want to just drive to the end and take time to recover from his run.
At the 6 mile point my pace was good but I had a lot of mental demons I was battling, probably from lack of sleep. At one point around 4 miles I was thinking I should just stop at 6 miles because I saw no point in training for something I wasn’t certain of. Nothing is ever certain, I decided and I kept heading to Poe Paddy.
Just before 9 miles things took a decided turn for the good in my head. I was clipping along and could just see Jim waiting up a hill when I passed a tiny snapping turtle at the edge of the road. I looped back and saw it was ok and decided to take it up the hill to show Jim. It reminded me of a tiny Gamera and I gently held it out to my side as I made it “fly” over 1/10 mile uphill to meet Jim. He snapped a photo of it with a penny before making certain it was safe and headed in the same direction it had been when I found it (Very important for turtles).
A couple more miles and Jim handed me my new Fastdraw Plus to try out. Pluses for this product are mostly about the cool mesh fabric carrier. I love how there it a tension lock strap to tighten down the fabric loop where you carry it. It has a great and effective reflective stripe on it too (see top photo). The fabric also has a great zippered compartment for keys or a gel that I thought was pretty cool too.
The 20oz. bottle is BPA free and was indented in places just a bit for easing finger traction. This slight indentations also have a knobby texture that make it even easier for sweaty hands to keep a grip. It has an ingenious valve that toggles to shut down any liquid when not in use.
The valve system was not terribly intuitive for me and even after reading the directions I felt like I might be pulling the red rubber nipple right off the bottle. I was glad to have practiced it before I ran and gave it just the right tug to get some hydration. Slightly biting the valve had usually been successful for me to draw water prior to the run but I was pretty frustrated during most of the 2 miles I ran with the snazzy looking bottle. I could get sips but never a good long drink even with squeezing the bottle as I sucked.
I was able to successfully toggle the valve closed and have to say that it did not splash nor leak at any time during the run. What surprised me was the little test I ran on it as it road in the car. I placed it on its side in a cooler with the lid tight and valve closed. It seemed fine until it was turned upside down upon removal, it had actually leaked half a dozen drips over the hour and a half it had been idle.
I always have issues of carrying something as I run but the light weight of this bottle made it a bit easier. The finger dimples seem to have been made for hands much larger than mine so I couldn’t quite settle on how to hold it and forget about it. I cinched down the tensions strap and powered out my final miles. If it weren’t for the problem drawing liquid from it, I could easily see myself being able to tolerate it for 6 miles or so. Longer than that and I would need my hands free.