Hot trails (and Zoot Icefil review)

Saturday was National Trails Day, and every year on that day RVRR puts on a non-competitive run called the “Train”ing Run along the D&R Canal. The way it works is you pick a “train” (7:30, 8:30, 9:30, 10:30 pace trains), pick a “station” (equating to the distance you want to run) and take a bus out to join the train at the appropriate time. In theory everyone arrives back at the bus departure point, the end of the line, at the same time for a BBQ and picnic.

It was my first time doing this run as I couldn’t make it last year, but as I’ve been increasing my distances I wanted to do at least 20 miles. I had originally decided to try the 8:30 pace group, but as the day approached I started to doubt whether I really wanted to push that hard, and then when the weather forecast showed how hot it was going to be I made a last minute change to join the 9:30 group. To compensate I decided to run for a mile or so in the opposite direction to meet up with the 9:30 pace group that had been running since much earlier and intended on completing 34.1 miles from Trenton (there were also a couple of people who went even further, running through most of the night to complete a total of 70 miles – we’ll call those the “really crazy ultra people”).

My pace group decision was probably the right thing given the heat, but the regular food and water stops (the stations) were invaluable. I also carried a couple of small bottles on my belt (no idea what brand mine is so no mention here – as far as I can tell they are all pretty similar anyway) along with some Shot Bloks which I’m sure both helped out greatly. Ultimately I ended up slightly faster than the 9:30 pace – I think we stayed too long at one of the stops so after that I ended up going a bit faster, and then with about a mile and a half or so left to the end I got caught by some of the 8:30 pace group (who must have been slightly ahead of schedule) and I managed to hang on with them until the end despite the fact I was worried a little earlier that my legs weren’t going to find it easy to get me to the finish. We were supposed to arrive at 11, and I believe it was 10:59 when I arrived – by this point I think the group I had started with were strung out quite a way along the path.

It was definitely a fun event, and I had no adverse effects (other than just being tired for the rest of the day but perhaps that was partly from the beer at the picnic). I’m sure the free massage at the end helped with that a bit though. Many thanks also to all the volunteers who made sure we had plenty of water etc. and kept us motivated (and the other runners for the motivation too).

Me stopped at a station rehydrating.

Me stopped at a station hydrating

One other thing from the run leads me to this mini review:

I was a little worried about sunburn during the run so I carried in my pockets some arm sleeves I had bought a couple of months ago – these Zoot Icefil Arm Coolers. I must admit to being skeptical about the “cooling” aspect, but figured they were at least good for some protection against sunburn.

I didn’t put them on until about half way in to my run, by which point my arms were really dripping in sweat. I was instantly surprised as my arms felt cooler as soon as I put them on – I’m guessing the way these work interacted with my sweaty arms as I don’t think it lasted too long, but it felt great. At various other points in the run, when there was a breeze, my arms did get cooled again (the breezes were brief though so it was short lived).

So, they did seem to do something, and at the very least they may stop me getting sunburn, so I will definitely wear them again in hot weather.

For the record, the hat I was wearing was of the same material. I wore that from the beginning so I don’t have as much of a point of reference, but I don’t recall thinking that my head was ever overly hot – hot, yes, but it would have been whatever hat I might have worn and perhaps it was cooler than it might have been.

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