So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad* Training Specialist. Runner. Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) Certified Official, Category 2. RRCA Representative, Florida (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Three "Really Ought To Have" Gadgets

This morning, my wife is going to see her dentist, Dr. Roberto Maal. Until about a month ago she had little need to visit him, or any other dentist, for that matter. Suzanne is as mindful of her home care routine as I am when it comes to my training routine. It makes dental hygienists jealous.

However, she was assaulted while walking to her car on a Saturday evening in our downtown. Disoriented & confused, with a scraped-up knee & damaged incisor teeth, she walked nearly three miles (past the police station) to a friend's house. She tried calling my cell phone (which just happened to be sitting in my car) to have me come get her, & ended up spending a very chilly night on her friend's front porch.

I woke up early the next morning to no spouse. Panic immediately followed, especially after hearing the messages which provided no information other than "come get me." I drove into downtown looking for her car, then called her friends in the hope she was with them. One friend, awakened from a sound sleep at six a.m., suddenly realized Suzanne was out on the porch & had been knocking on the window the entire night, trying to get her attention.

Fortunately for us, & thanks to Dr. Maal, the story has an economic & emotional "happy ending." But all too often I read news articles of "horror stories," where solitary (female) joggers or walkers have been mugged, robbed, sexually assaulted, or killed because they were in the wrong place at a bad time.

I've always been a true believer of the running credo "travel light, travel fast." Go into a local running emporium (when I go to the one in my town, I feel this way...) & no doubt you'll see the latest & greatest accessories coming down the pike targeting the entry-level runner. Some are "nice-to-haves." Others are a complete waste of money.

Three items, in my humble opinion, should be in the equipment bag of every runner - and carried along for every run - regardless of ability level. A caveat: If I mention a particular brand it's because I've had experience with their product, not because I receive any compensation.

Identification. There are a number of portable identification & information-sharing devices on the market, ranging from the simple dog-tag or wrist tag to the complex USB-capable data wristband. I haven't tried the newer USB drives, though. I've worn three RoadID devices in the past ten years & prefer their simplicity. The latest models from RoadID provide a web address or toll-free number for emergency personnel to access pertinent user data; even the simple RoadID models are easy to read & can make the difference between a running partner or passer-by knowing who to call in an emergency & a news story about another John Doe hit-and-run.

Carry Pouch. Apparel makers, like RaceReady, have made their mark in the running community by developing clothes for (longer) distance runners who need to carry important "stuff" like gels or electrolytes with them. I have shorts, & even a few running tops, from some of the major athletic wear/shoe companies like Brooks & Mizuno, which have pouches & pockets built in. But an item I first saw a couple of years ago at the Crescent City Classic expo really stands out:

Spibelt, based out of Texas, makes several small personal item carriers. My wife & I purchased one at the last Rock n' Roll event, with the addition of a toggle to secure our race number to the belt. Spibelt is small enough to be hardly noticed in public (much like a traveler's money belt); the pouch - from personal experience - comfortably holds an iPod Touch & a smart phone, plus driver's license, credit card, folding money, & won't flap on the run like a fanny pack. If you can fit it comfortably into a single jeans pocket, you can probably carry it in a Spibelt.

If you want to keep your phone separate from your credit card, there is a two-pouch Spibelt. Both single & two-pouch Spibelts come in a variety of colors (basic black for me, pink camouflage for Suzanne) & have an adjustable elastic belt with a strong Fastex buckle clasp...so it won't come off until you're ready for it to come off.

Cell Phone. In the past I recommended to RRCA clubs to have at least one person on a group run carry a photo-enabled cell phone. The smart phone's gadgetry is almost a "must-have" now; you can download applications which will help you find who has the GPS function turned on, search for information on the nearest public safety provider, & even request turn-by-turn directions in the event of disorientation. The things these phones can do now goes far beyond & thankfully can dovetail into what we could do in the past by just calling the local 911 service.

Even these & other good gadgets are no substitute for the common-sense practices of running with one or more other persons when possible, maintaining situational awareness at all times, & staying out in the great wide open (public) as often as possible. My wife & I learned a painful, mildly expensive lesson, but (fortunately!) we live to run another day.

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