A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

In my pockets on race day (and official race photos!)

on March 15, 2014
I spent a ridiculous amount of time fine-tuning my list of what to carry in my pockets/SPI belt during the half marathon. I’m horrible about over-packing (ask my husband) and I certainly didn’t want to carry anything I didn’t need with me for 13 sweaty miles. I also didn’t want to be stuck without something important, though. Looking at the suspicious bulge around my waist in some of my race photos, I thought this would be a good topic of conversation to help out other over-packers like me. 🙂
Pre-race: I wasn't expecting a photographer there!

Pre-race: I wasn’t expecting a photographer there!

What I did carry this time & actually used:

Salted caramel Gu packets: I carried 5, to have to use before the race and then one every 3-4 miles like I’ve done with training, plus an extra for emergencies (like needing a boost or dropping one). I ended up using only 3, because I skipped the pre-run Gu and didn’t use the extra one. I contemplated bringing only 4 and using the Clif Gel offered on the course (and I had practiced with a Clif Gel – don’t use anything you didn’t practice with!) but decided to stick with I’d used most often. Of course, I did end up taking the Clif gel anyway, so I had 3 gel packets in my pockets when I crossed the finish line. I kept these in the waist pocket of my SparkleSkirt and they were readily available.

Ziploc bag containing Starbucks napkins: I sweat horribly, so the baggie was necessary to keep from soaking the napkins and the napkins served two purposes. 1) Toilet paper if needed on the course – didn’t need for this purpose, thankfully; and 2) Blotting paper for a slightly less sweaty finish line picture. Starbucks napkins specifically are great blotting paper in a pinch (as opposed to other napkins or tissues that might stick to your skin and leave bits of paper) and I used them quickly as I was coming out of Epcot. I carried these in one leg pocket of my SparkleSkirt.

My phone: Carried in a leg pocket of my SparkleSkirt, which tends to get less sweaty than my waist pocket.

My iPod Shuffle: Clipped on, with the headphones I use for all my runs in one ear and the other earbud hooked through my bra strap (and yes I practiced this way so I would know it worked and didn’t chafe – practice everything!).

RoadID bracelet: I always run with it and since I pinned my bib on before I actually got around to filling in my emergency contact information, I definitely needed to wear it. We never want an emergency to happen, but just in case, help your emergency responders as much as possible and give them the info they need like your name, age, allergies and emergency contacts!
Garmin: No question for me that I would wear it, just so I could keep an eye on my pacing and not head out too fast and burn out.
MagicBand: I needed it with me when I left the room, because I wanted to be able to get back in without waking my husband & son in case I forgot something and I didn’t want to leave it in my checked bag. *Thanks to a tip from the Expo talk I attended, I was sure to body glide under all of the things on my wrists!
This is me running down Main Street and it cracks me up, especially when paired with the very blurry pic that ended up on my phone in this moment.

This is me running down Main Street and it cracks me up, especially when paired with the very blurry pic that ended up on my phone in this moment.

What I carried & didn’t use (but would carry again!):

Eye drops: I wear contacts and sometimes have issues with them if I put them on super-early in the morning, so I carried eye drops in my SPIBelt just in case.

Spare phone: I have a second iPhone for my job and I actually carried it in my SPIBelt as well, in case the battery ran out on my primary phone between using it for GPS tracking and for pictures/texts during the race. My primary phone did fine, but I’m still happy with my decision to have both phones giving the large amount of time I was using the phone between the pre-race festivities and the race itself. For a half marathon with fewer hours of busy work before the race, I would probably have only one phone.

Lip balm: I hate having dry lips. I don’t think I actually used it in this race, but have used it on long runs before and always carry it along.

So cool to actually run through the castle!

So cool to actually run through the castle!

What I took off the list & am happy I left behind:

Small container of vaseline: I was so terrified of chafing during my first 10K, since it was my first “big” race, that I carried a small amount of vaseline with me just in case I needed a touch up. That’s not an issue with the runDisney events as there is vaseline at the med tents and I knew that ahead of time, so I left the vaseline behind. I’m also really liberal with BodyGlide so I’m not as worried about chafing now anyway (knock on wood). For the DesMoines half marathon in October, I’ve heard they have fantastic on-course support including med staff on bicycles who traverse the course to be sure no one needs anything, so I’ll probably skip it then too.

Band-aids, carried for the 10K and left behind this time for the same reasons as the Vaseline.

Back-up charger: I have a small portable charger for my phone that could recharge the phone without a wall plug. I had that on the list originally, but decided to go the two-phone route instead and I’m happy with that choice. I did have the back-up charger in my checked bag and plugged my phone in post-race, although even that wasn’t needed as the Race Retreat tent had a charging station.

Camera: I considered bringing a small camera, instead of using my phone for photos, but ultimately didn’t since I knew I’d have my phone anyway for GPS and texting purposes. While the camera would have given me higher quality pictures, I loved being able to text photos to my husband from my walk breaks to make him feel part of the process.

I didn't get in line for the official photo in front of the castle, but there were photographers catching us in movement too (and videos!)

I didn’t get in line for the official photo in front of the castle, but there were photographers catching us in movement too (and videos!)

Ultimately, I think for my next half marathon in Des Moines, I’m going to stick with the things I brought on with me on the PHM course (with the exception of the second phone). Aside from the bulge in some of my photos, it didn’t bother me to carry any of the things I had with me thanks to the pockets of my SparkleSkirt and the SPIbelt. Yes, I probably still over-packed but it was a comfortable over-pack.

My arms are up in almost all of the photos for some reason :)

My arms are up in almost all of the photos for some reason 🙂

I cannot tell you enough how weirdly pleased I am with my race photos. All of the photos in this post are my official MarathonFoto pics. I’m not sure if they are really that objectively good or if I am just happy about them because they document such a happy experience for me.


It is an odd place for me to be, enjoying photos of myself. I have historically hated to get my picture taken because while I’m not unattractive and I know that, I’ve never felt like I was photogenic and I’ve honestly always hated being confronted with how fat I was any time I saw a photo of myself. At our wedding, I told my husband he was in charge of deciding on a photographer because I could not bring myself to spend so much money on something I knew I would hate. (Thankfully, I didn’t tell other people I wasn’t interested in a wedding photographer because that probably would have caused even more uproar than my suggestion of skipping a bouquet did!) We get family photos every year because I love having pictures of my son and my husband, but I’ve really never enjoyed pictures of myself, so liking these pictures is a new experience for me. I look at them and see a woman full of strength and joy and maybe I’m finally starting to believe that woman is me.

Crossing the finish line

Crossing the finish line



15 responses to “In my pockets on race day (and official race photos!)

  1. Looks like so much fun and you got some really great pictures!

  2. These are great race pictures! You looked like you had a great time. A Disney race is on my bucket list, I hear they are wonderful!

  3. tabethawells says:

    Your photos came out great! I bought a Handana for the Half, and I’m really glad I had it – it was a game-changer for wiping away sweat. That was one humid day!

  4. Theresa C. says:

    I am a total over packer. I have been nicknamed chipmunk because of how much crap I have stashed in pockets and my belt. I have, however, learned not to shove stuff into my sports bra considering that I stuck my head phones there during my long run and now have a lovely looped chaffed area. UGH… Live and learn.

  5. You look so happy and strong and gorgeous in all your photos Jess! They really turned out great!

    You really did over pack that little Spi Belt lol! I always carry chap stick with me too, just in case. Dry lips are the worst!

  6. Absolutely fantastic race photos! A beautiful way to celebrate your accomplishment. You are a woman full of strength and joy and you should be proud! 🙂

  7. […] re-packing my suitcase with race gear. I’ve looked back at my notes from Princess (see link here) and think I’ll stick to that plan for things to carry on race day (although fewer gels this […]

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