How To Clean Your Handheld Water Bottle

After my recent post about handheld hydrations systems (fancy words for running water bottles), I got several questions about how to clean the bottles. I like things clean, so no one who knows me will be surprised that I have a set of steps for optimal bottle cleaning.

Here it is, Rachel’s step-by-step guide to bottle cleaning. Note: This method works well with all types of handheld bottles and the tiny bottles that are a part of hydration belts (i.e. Fuel Belt, Nathan).

  1. Remove the cloth-like bits. To remove the strap on your Nathan Quickshot, remove the lid, squeeze the bottle part with one hand, and lift the dark grey rubbery ring up off the neck of the bottle. I say “lift”, but I mean wiggle, pull, and slide. It will take a little maneuvering. If it doesn’t seem to fit, squeeze the bottle a bit harder. I basically flatten mine, then fold it a bit to make it shorter so the dark grey ring will move. Once you slip the dark grey rubber part off the neck of the bottle, the rest of the strap will slide right off. Set aside. The remove the strap from your Amphipod Hydraform handheld bottle, remove the bottom loop of the strap (the part with the logo on it). The rubber top ring should then slide right off. If yours has a thermal cover like mine, that comes off after the strap.
  2. Soak the bottles to remove dirt and germs. For this step, I use denture cleaner. The denture cleaner will disinfect and will remove any residual odors or tastes (important if you perhaps left a Nuun disc in a little bit of water overnight – not that I have ever done that). Be sure to get the unflavored – NOT mint – denture cleaner. I use a half tablet per bottle. Put the half tablet in the bottle, fill with warm water, shake to dissolve the tablet, and allow to soak. I soak at least 3-4 hours, sometimes overnight, for optimal freshness. I wash two bottles at a time because then you can rest the bottles against one another in a bowl for easy soaking. 
  3. Dump the denture cleaner out of the bottles and wash the bottles and caps with soap and water. Set aside to dry.
  4. Wash the straps and cloth-like bits. I toss mine in the washing machine in a garment/lingerie bag. I suppose you could hand wash the straps, but I am a fan of machine washing everything that can possibly be machine washed. My bottle straps have tolerated repeated machine washing with no adverse effects.
  5. Hang the straps to dry. Do not dry the straps in the dryer – the rubber might melt.
  6. Reassemble the whole bottle, using the same method as you used for strap removal (squeeze and wiggle the straps).

Follow these easy steps for fresh and clean handheld bottles.

Run Streak in Progress

I am working my way through the month of June on the Runner’s World Run Streak – a challenge to run at least one mile every day between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. I’ve run in the morning, at night, in the rain, and in the blistering heat. I’ve run on trails, roads, sidewalks, and grassy hills. It’s been crazy, challenging, and generally a good time. All this running has meant that I’ve run at strange times and in unusual locations. As part of the streak, I’ve run in a few races.

Bolton Summer XC Series

Loyal readers will know that I am a fan of the Bolton Summer XC Series. I featured this race here and here. The series began on Wednesday, June 20th in 90+ degree heat. It was sunny, humid, and hot hot hot. I plodded along and finished the challenging course. The course is a two-loop design, with two gradual uphills and one big hill. It’s really a tough course, but tough in the way that most runners like – you know how fit you are (in my case, not very) after running. The elevation chart is a bit deceiving, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

This week, the weather was much more cooperative, with 80 degree temperatures and a light breeze. The group of runners are always friendly and the race was fun to run. The views from Rose Farm were particularly lovely.

XTreme Scramble #1

I also recently ran the Hartford Marathon Foundation Extreme Scramble #1. This race was really not fun. The XTreme Scrambles are usually a good time – interesting courses (though not always 5k), and good music at the finish line party. The running husband and I decided to run this race together after work. Not the best decision ever. First, it was 96 degrees at race time and sunny. The organizers promised “extra water stops” and a “mister on course”. What they meant was a water stop 200 yards from the start/finish and then one in the middle of the course. The “extra” water stop was basically at the start/finish line. It wasn’t that useful to me at that point because there was water at the start/finish line. The mister was also at the start/finish line, not on the course. Not useful. If that weren’t enough, the course was almost 4 miles long (3.8 by my Garmin, and 3.8 as reported by the announcer at the awards ceremony). I know that course measurement can be off a bit and that GPS isn’t always reliable, but being off by .7 miles is unacceptable. There is no way anyone could have thought that course was a 5k distance. It was an out-and-back design. We were still going out at 2 miles. It was obvious it would go long. I don’t mind running 4 miles in most circumstances, but when it’s 96 degrees, that extra distance is miserable. I felt especially badly for people who might not have been prepared for the extra distance. For someone doing their first 5k, and extra .7 is a big deal. The back of the pack looked like a death march the last half mile – 96 degrees, no water, extra long course. I usually accept HMF races for what they are and know that they will have limitations. But the XTreme Scramble really crossed a line into the Not Fun category.


As the streak continues, I’m sure I will continue to run in strange places and at strange times. It’s been fun, but as I see the temperature climb on my thermostat, I might not miss it when it’s over…

Lucy Goes on a Group Run

Today Lucy the Running Dog went on her very first group run. Having engaged in a rigorous training program, she was fit enough for my usual Tuesday 4-5 mile group run. The real question was how she might respond to running with other people on a new trail. We learned a few things.

First, I learned that Lucy does not like running on rocks. Part of the trail we ran today has large, moss-covered rocks that stick up in slippery, sharp rock fields. This worries Lucy. She tries to avoid the rocks, often dragging me along with her. After slipping and sliding down the first rocky decline, we took the other hills a bit slower. He confidence grew a bit as we went on, but she seemed a bit uncertain as she scrambled here and there.

Lucy really seems to enjoy running on flat, smooth, cross country-type trails. She likes running right by my side and does not like single track. She can’t seem to figure out how to run behind me on the single track and when she’s in front she can’t maintain a steady speed. I am always worried I might kick her or step on her foot, so she’ll need to work on her comfort with single track.

Lucy likes her new running friends. Just like people, Lucy likes running with a group. She had fun with her new friends and, I think, liked showing off for them. She finished just over 5 miles, her longest run to date. She’s spent most of the rest of the day asleep on her favorite chair. She stretches occasionally (must keep those hamstrings loose) but has generally been asleep. You know it’s been a good run when a nap is required.

I’m sure once she wakes up, she will be ready for her next run.

Giveaway Results

In other news, the winners from my WarmFX giveaway have been selected. Thanks to a random number generator, the following people are the luck winners: Emily, Patty, Sarah, and Deerae. Congratulations, ladies!

Tips for Race Spectators

Yesterday I ran with a running friend and we talked for a while about the strange world of running, and, specifically about the spectators at running events. As in running, good race spectating takes some practice. Here are my tips for good road race spectatorship:

1. Cheer! I know this one seems obvious, but I have determined that most race spectators are there to see their sister/dad/cousin/boyfriend’s roommate run, but there are likely lots and lots of other runners (most of whom have no one at the event) who would like you to cheer for them. Rather than standing on the side of the road mute and looking bored until your runner comes along, cheer, or at least occasionally clap, as runners go by. If a race prints names of runners on the race bib (hint: it’s usually below the number), use names. It’s pretty cool to hear someone I don’t know cheering for me by name. If you don’t want to cheer, bring a noise maker of some kind and make some noise.

2. I’m not “almost there”. I appreciate the “almost there” sentiment, but unless I’m .1 miles or fewer (read: can see the finish line), I’m not almost there. This is particularly true if there are 10 or more miles to run. Runners like to hear encouraging cheers and, to many non-runners, I’m sure our language is very strange. It’s not as if one can yell “defense” or “nice play” at a race. What do runners like to hear? This varies by runner, but I like “stay strong”, “nice work”, “you’re awesome/cool/amazing”, and “looking good/strong/fit”. The old standby of “woohoo” also works. I once ran past a group of high school cross country runners cheering at a race. Their cheers of “I know it sucks, but you can do it”, and “work hard” were very encouraging. Ask the runner in your life what they like to hear. Chances are that will work for other runners, too. A special note from my speedier friends – runners at the front of the pack like to know where they are. For example, the first lady might not know that she is the first female. If she is, tell her. The second female might like to know how far ahead the first female is from her current position (i.e. “second female, first is 10 seconds”). It is useful to tell front-of-the-pack runners where they are in terms of time and place. The start of a race is chaotic and runners beyond the first likely don’t know who or how many are in front.

Almost there!

3. Runners like funny signs. Consider making a sign for passing runners. This saves you having to cheer or clap all the time and gives the runners something to look at. When racing with friends, we enjoy reviewing the signs that caught our eye after the race. Little signs are fine – just make sure the size of font is appropriate for the speed of the runners so that we can read it while we pass.

4. Please don’t cross the race course right in front of me. Please, please don’t cross the race course right in front of me near the finish line. A friend once ran into a spectator just feet from the finish. Don’t let this be you. Wait  to cross, cross on corners, and please move quickly out of the race course. Keep these simple rules in mind when you leap out into the race to take a picture of your runner. No one likes dodging you and your pictures will look terrible with my ear in half the frame.

5. It’s ok if your kid wants a high five, but don’t expect every runner to offer one. I see lots of kids on race courses who want a high five from the runners. This works and I’ll give kids a high five if I’m close to the child and running a long race (thus not going too fast). Your child probably won’t get too many high fives in short races, as runners are just moving too fast. Keep an eye on your cute kid to avoid runner-child collisions.

There you have it – my top 5 tips for road race spectators.

So, runners and spectators, what other tips do you have? Share your best race signs and spectating tips in the comments.


Run the Bolton XC Series!

I have featured and reported on the Bolton Summer XC Series and, at the risk of over-promoting, I am again highlighting this great race. Today, I ran with, and interviewed, the awesome race director, Dani. You can hear the audio on the Pace Per Mile website.

This is race by runners and for runners. It’s well run, family friendly, challenging, and a great time. What more can a runner want? All the details can be found on their website.

Bolton Summer XC Series, Bolton, CT, Wednesday, June 20 through August 8, 2012 (no race on the 4th of July), 6:30pm – The Bolton Summer XC Series races are held on Wednesday nights at the Bolton Heritage Farm (the Rose Farm) on Bolton Center Road. The Bolton Summer XC Series is a race series dedicated to getting the whole family out to run. The races are fun and extremely affordable and run entirely off road. All profits go to the Bolton High School Track team. There is a 100 meter toddler race at 6pm, a 1 mile kids’ race at 6:10pm, and an adult 2.3 mile race at 6:30pm. The toddler race registration is free, the kids’ race fee is $2, and the adult race fee is $3. There is a maximum family charge per night of $10. These are outstanding races, organized by a great race director. Expect a no-frills approach to running, with great people and a fun course. I love this race and I’ll be running it every week.

Friday Favorite: Handheld Hydration

It’s hot. Hot hot. Too hot for any sane people to be out running. But, being not all that sane, I have been out and about running (and some walking, I must admit) this week. I’m a weakling. I hate being hot, get lightheaded easily in the heat, and am generally dying of thirst every minute I’m hot. In order to survive my recent hot weather running streak, I’ve been relying on my water bottles. I love my little handheld bottles for short runs in hot weather. Sure, they might change my gait, but I’m pretty sure passing out would change my gait more. For those of you interested in trying handheld hydration bottles, here are my picks.

1. For short runs, and people who are sensitive to weight in their hands, try the Nathan Quickshot. Aside: I just saw that there’s an insulated Quick Shot. It’s a must try.

The Quick Shot is a little 10 ounce flask with a wicking mesh thumb/hand strap with velcro closure. It has a “race cap”, the kind that you squeeze and water shoots out, for easy sipping. It has reflective details and an ID pocket. Be warned – the only thing that fits in the pocket is the tiny ID card. Don’t plan to carry any extras. The strap part cleans up easily. I don’t know if it’s meant to be machine washable, but I’ve washed mine many times and it’s still fine. The best part about the Quick Shot is that the strap loops over the thumb and holds securely. When I’m running I can hold my hand naturally without worrying about the bottle falling off.

2. If you are looking for a bottle with a pocket, try the Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Lite (with optional thermal cover, which I have). This 12 ounce bottle has an added pocket for storage. The pocket holds a Gu plus a tissue, or a packet of sport beans with a little space left over. The great thing about this bottle is the ergonomic shape. It’s slightly curved, so it fits right in the nook of my hand when running. It stay put and is bounce-free despite its larger size. The strap is soft on the hand side and it features an adjustable strap for custom fit. The strap’s soft side does absorb sweat, so this bottle can get a little gross. I suggest frequent washing.

I use the Handheld Lite when I need an extra pocket. It’s also great for races in hot weather and I’ve been known to rock it in half marathons.

Those are my top two picks for handheld hydration bottles. Being prone to mid-run thirst, I’ve tried everything and these are my clear favorites. Stay hydrated!

WarmFX: Product Review and Giveaway

The nice folks over at BodyGlide have done two great favors for DrRachelRuns. First, they selected this humble blog as the Blog of the Month. Yay! They also offered to send me a sample of their new product, WarmFX, to review. Keep reading for a chance to win your very own WarmFX prize in a great giveaway.

BodyGlide, makers of the anti-chafing balm we all love, recently added WarmFX to their lineup. The product was designed as an anti-pain balm to be used for relief of minor pain and soreness in muscles and joints. Warm FX can be used prior to workouts to speed the warming up of tired or achy muscles. The packaging says it’s safe for daily use and helpful with over-exertion, backache, arthritis, bruises, strains, cramps, and sprains. It sounded like the perfect product for runners.

WarmFX comes in an easy-application tube just like their regular anti-chafing stick. It’s a .45 ounce tube, perfect for travel. It’s important to note that though the packaging is similar to the anti-chafing stick, the cap on WarmFX is red, making it easy to tell the products apart.

I decided to test WarmFX first for recovery on a spot on the outside of my hip that’s often tight and sore. The WarmFX is easy to apply. It is the consistency of deodorant so it goes on smoothly and easily without a sticky feel. The menthol in WarmFX gives it a minty, slightly medicinal scent. It smells like original Double Mint gum and the scent fades upon application. The scent does linger, but it’s quite light and I didn’t find it bothersome.

Immediately upon application, the WarmFX feels smooth and dry. It starts to heat up after about a minute and reached full strength for me in about 3-4 minutes. Given that the more product that’s applied the hotter it gets, I was conservative in my fist application. One easy swipe was noticeably warm, but not quite at a therapeutic level. I tried a few more swipes. One hefty swipe, or two thins coats was plenty for me. After four thin coats it got quite hot and I concluded my test. The heat lasted about an hour in the location I used it. I enjoyed the warming sensation and thought WarmFX did a nice job of relaxing the cranky muscle.

Next, I tried WarmFX on my calves before a run to warm them up. I stayed conservative with one thin swipe of product – there weren’t many options for removal out on the trail if I overdid it. Just barely warm, I liked the heat on my calves. They were noticeably looser on the early hills on the route. It is worth note that the heat of the direct sun plus the WarmFX created a significant warming effect. Use caution if you intend to apply WarmFX to body parts that will be warmed naturally by the sun, or will be warmed under thick clothing. I left my tube of WarmFX in my car during a hot and sunny day and just like the anti-chafe stick, it didn’t melt.

Overall, I liked WarmFX. I liked the scent, I loved the ease of application, and I enjoyed the adjustable strength of custom application. It is a nice product to keep in a running bag for pre- and post-workout use.

Note: Though I was provided the sample to review, I was not otherwise compensated for this review and it represents my honest opinion and experience using the Warm FX product.

Grade: A

Retail price: about $6 for the .45 oz size

And now for the giveaway!

WarmFX Prize – BodyGlide will give away a .45 ounce tube of WarmFX to three followers who comment on this post. To enter, comment on this post with a comment related to sore muscles, WarmFX, or Body Glide. Each commenter will be entered to win and the winner will be selected randomly from all who enter.
Grand Prize – To win a great prize pack which includes all of the BodyGlide products plus a hat, do the following:
1. Like me on Facebook OR follow me on Twitter AND
2. Like BodyGlide on Facebook OR follow them on Twitter AND
3. Comment on this post (in a separate comment from your WarmFX Prize comment) indicating that you followed/liked (or already followed/liked) us.
One lucky winner will be randomly selected to win the prize pack.

CT Race Report: End of June Races

In this Connecticut Race Report for June 15 – 30, 2012, I am featuring several races across the state that will be perfect for enjoying this nice summer weather. I hope you’ll consider one of these races!

Bolton Summer XC Series, Bolton, CT, Wednesday, June 20 through August 8, 2012 (no race on the 4th of July), 6:30pm – The Bolton Summer XC Series races are held on Wednesday nights at the Bolton Heritage Farm (the Rose Farm) on Bolton Center Road. The Bolton Summer XC Series is a race series dedicated to getting the whole family out to run. The races are fun and extremely affordable and run entirely off road. All profits go to the Bolton High School Track team. There is a 100 meter toddler race at 6pm, a 1 mile kids’ race at 6:10pm, and an adult 2.3 mile race at 6:30pm. The toddler race registration is free, the kids’ race fee is $2, and the adult race fee is $3. There is a maximum family charge per night of $10. These are outstanding races, organized by a great race director. Expect a no-frills approach to running, with great people and a fun course. I love this race and I’ll be running it every week.

X-Treme Scramble #1, Hartford, CT, Thursday, June 21, 2012, 6pm – This 5k events part of a three-part series (other dates are July 26 and August 23) sponsored by Hartford Marathon Foundation. The first Scramble will feature music from the Beach Boys.  The course is always a closely guarded secret – and different each time – so runners never know what to expect. Some details are usually leaked on the HMF Facebook page a few days before the race, and it’s usually a creative course. Online and race-day registration is available and students and individuals registering for the series of 3 get a discount. There are usually burritos and beers after the race, but one never knows with the Scrambles. Buyer beware – the courses are occasionally not 5k (sometimes more, sometimes less) and are often not well marked. Overall, they’re a good time, but you might want to consider the downfalls of such a race.

Fairfield Road Races, Fairfield, CT, Saturday and and Sunday June 23 and 24, 2012 – The Stratton-Faxon Fairfield Road Races feature a 5k and half marathon run race festival style, with the 5k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. The races take place at Jennings Beach in Fairfield. The races benefit the Hole in the Wall Gang. Pre-registration is encouraged as the races will fill up and race day registration might not be available. Registration entitles the runner to a post-race beach party with food and drinks, chip timing, bands on the race course, a commemorative technical running shirt, and a finisher’s medal (half marathon only). There will be overall awards and age group awards, including cash prizes for some. Registration fees are $30 for the 5k and $55 for the half marathon.

Looking for races in another location, or interested in races other than those I have featured? Check out The Race Robot, a runner-created resource. Also, consider adding your reviews if you run one of the featured races. The feedback will help us all find great races.

Runners’ Tan

I’m on vacation in Florida and having a great time. My mom lives here and she’s fit – she walks every day for miles and miles. When I come I always walk with her. This trip I had the added bonus of the Runners World Run Streak. This means that I have been logging a lot of miles and a lot of time in the Florida sun.

It started out innocently enough. What was a shadow of a tan line around my neck got a bit deeper. Then a sports bra shaped pattern emerged on my chest and neck. Next it was the sock line. Pasty white foot, tan legs. Things got worse when the shorts line appeared, despite wearing shorts and skirts of different lengths. I had a serious runners’ tan. Had.

Yesterday I remarked to my mom that I hoped I could even out my pathetic tan at the pool today. I dutifully slathered on sunscreen. I came back from the pool with a sunburn shaped like the relief of my runners’ tan. Everywhere that was white was burnt. Now I’m half pink and half tanned. Not really an improvement.

So, I’ve decided to rock my runners’ tan with pride. Farmers aren’t ashamed of their tan lines. It’s the mark of hard work and a deep tan earned through hours in the sun. I can live with that. I earned this runners’ tan.

Friday Favorite: Socks, Part 1

Today’s Friday Favorite is the first of a series on my favorite socks. I am blister prone and running socks are of critical importance to me. I was thinking about my socks yesterday, when I ran in 100% humidity and rain showers. Good socks are vital to foot happiness, particularly in wet conditions!

My favorite thin socks are the Lululemon Ultimate No Show Running Sock.

I love several things about these socks. First, they have a thin, soft fabric. They are body-mapped (or foot-mapped?) with special support in the arches and curves around the toes. They are foot specific and fit snugly and securely. The socks never slouch and stay put even on long runs. They come in cute colors and last a long time. My favorite feature of these socks is that they have extra padding and come up a bit higher in the heel area. As someone prone to heel blisters, this is wonderful. I love these socks.