Saturday, April 28, 2012

It's Saturday and I'm not sure what to do with myself

For a few crazy moments I considered looking for a marathon this weekend. I actually had the thought "Anyone can run 2 marathons in 9 days, but it would really be something to do 3 in 15 days." It was just a passing idea, decided by my bank account more than anything, so this Saturday became the first since October that hasn't revolved around running. No race to run or prepare for, no long run hanging over my head. For the first time in six months I had to do, well, nothing, and it was definitely a weird change.

Friday was sunny and I was chomping at the bit to run, yet Friday is yoga day, never a running day. Saturday was really cold and 100% cloud cover, which didn't inspire any physical activity. I'm back with The Daily Plate though, so I wound up going for a walk. 

Here's what Hal says about the zero weekend:

Friday: Now is the time to cross-train. Swim or bike if that is your pleasure, but it’s probably not a good idea to start some new exercise you haven’t been doing the previous 18 weeks. The best cross-training discipline for a recovering marathoner is simple walking. Don’t underestimate the value of this activity. Go at most 2-3 miles. [emphasis added]

Saturday: By now, most of the muscle soreness should be gone. You’re probably ready to resume your regular training routine, but don’t rush things. Stick with the 2- to 3-mile routine today. Or maybe take today off entirely.

I liked his advice so I followed it. It started raining during my walk, but I was already in sweat pants, a hoodie and baseball hat. It was cold so the hood was covering my ears and I barely noticed the rain.

This lack of structure / lack of goal isn't really working for me lol I need a goal and strict program to follow with my exercise. Otherwise I don't exercise at all. I was planning to follow Hal's intermediate training program starting June 27, but I need something concrete to tide me over until then! Ideas? 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zero week, zero miles

Hal said absolutely no running Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Actually he said no exercise of any kind, but I biked 2 very slow miles on Monday because I knew gently moving my joints would heal them faster than laying on the couch. He said I could run two miles today if I wanted to. Last week I was jumping at the chance to run 2 miles. Today was cold and gray and I just didn't feel like it, so I passed, thankyouverymuch :)

He has a zero week plan, which basically comes down to: do what feels comfortable. Listen to your body. So I am. A tiny part of me thinks it would be fun to do ANOTHER marathon this weekend, but it's a pretty expensive hobby and my feet got pretty beat up in Toledo.

Despite the 6 pairs of brand new shoes in boxes in my basement, I didn't have a good pair to wear for the race. I had my old falling apart ones or a new pair I started wearing 2 weeks ago, but which had exactly 5 miles on them. I went for comfort in the old shoes and they felt great, but 2 recurring blister spots came back (as was to be expected). I'll give my tired old dogs another day or so to heal.

My next official race is the Free Press, but at this rate, I might do a few more before then. My brother said I should do 6 marathons in one season. 6 races over 7 months? No sweat! :) Not in the budget this year, even though it would be fun. Maybe next year :)

Monday, April 23, 2012


After the Martian, I spent 4 days moaning and complaining about my time, then 3 days pondering whether or not to attempt the Toledo marathon. Actually I think I decided on Thursday morning as soon as I heard about it, then spent the rest of the time justifying it to myself. The race had a lot that I was looking for - pacing teams, a much bigger turnout, and the half and full marathons started together and stayed on the same course for 8 miles. Yet last minute registration is expensive and I honestly wasn't sure if my legs could handle it. I had done a grand total of 2 miles after the Martian. My legs and body felt incredible though. I had recovered super quickly! 

 The biggest factor was the weather and on Saturday the forecast looked good, so I headed to Ohio and registered at the Expo. After I registered, I told exactly one person. I didn't tell anyone else because I knew what their reactions would be. 

 Mom - "You have no reason whatsoever to be disappointed. You are the only person I know who ran a marathon, and you did it twice! You set a goal and you accomplished it!" (except, the goal was a time goal, not merely finishing.) 

 Brother - "Are you insane? You're not in shape to run 2 marathons in 9 days. Even elite runners take more time than that!* Good luck avoiding a catastrophic injury!" (*I have no idea whether or not this is a true statement. I made it up.) 

 Nita, Hal and all the serious runners - "I don't advise that you do a second marathon this soon. Give your body more time to rest before you try again." 

 Two different people - who have never met - were on the same wavelength and reminded me that I'm in shape and life is short.

And the forecast was sunny!!!! So I did it and I realized my biggest problem with running is consistency. I started slightly ahead of the 5:00 pace group, but by mile 2, the 4:30 group was in sight and it was easy to pass them while maintaining a comfortable pace. For 9+ miles I was ahead of the 4:30 pace group. My early splits were pretty good. I ran the first 6 miles in 62 minutes and it felt easy. 

Slowly, gradually, each mile after 10 started getting a little slower. I was 10 minutes under pace at the halfway turn, then at mile 19.8 the 5-hour pace group passed me. I kept going my own race though and still had a slight chance of making it under 5 hours. At mile 24, however, I realized it wasn't going to happen. How cruel to make it that far to realize I won't hit my goal time. I wanted to give up right then. I would have, except we were in a MetroPark and the "sag wagon" wasn't able to drive on the path.

So I finished. My official chip time was 5:08:26. My iPod stopwatch time was 5:07:58. Either way I improved 11+ minutes from the Martian. Yet either way, I failed to hit my goal. It makes me wonder why 5 hours is so important? I've run 3 marathons and each has been a personal best time, by pretty significant increases. Why isn't that goal enough??

The race ended inside the Glass Bowl Stadium at the University of Toledo and that was pretty cool. A woman let me pass her with 30 yards left! I would have hung on no matter what. Once you're in the 5-hour range though, placements don't matter so much. (Mine was 49/58 age group and 727/804 overall)

Something funny is I grabbed a puffy vest from my "donate to charity" pile of stuff. It's way too big so I didn't much care if I never saw it again. It was pretty cold though, despite the sun, so I wound up wearing it the entire race and it came home with me. If I knew I would wear it the whole race, I would have worn my nice pink vest that actually fits. Oops :)

I learned that marathons need to happen on the middle day of a 3-day weekend. I had a meeting with my boss this morning that was non-negotiable, but I took the afternoon as personal time to rest my aching legs and feet, and hit the gym for some super easy biking to move my joints.

Not the time I wanted, but still 11+ minutes better in one week. I can't be too disappointed by my progress. Progress good, end result bad.

Don't look now, but I'm 4% done with marathoning in every state haha It's definitely NOT a goal of mine, yet I also didn't think I'd run another marathon after the Free Press. Never say never :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Holy Toledo!

I can't believe I'm even considering this. The Toledo marathon is this Sunday and I'm seriously considering running it. My time at the Martian was a huge improvement over the 2010 Free Press, yet it would have been difficult to do worse the second time. I feel like I want a Mulligan on the Martian and it just might be this Sunday, weather dependent. There's no reason whatsoever to run if the weather is cruddy like it was last weekend because I don't want to improve by a few seconds or minutes. I want to improve by 20 minutes exactly.

I'm heading out for my first run in a few minutes, so it might all be different after I see how I feel, but my mind is telling me I'm in great shape and I'll likely lose a little of my marathon worthy health over the summer (until I do the monster training runs), so why not now???

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A scary thought :D

During the race I had inner dialogue of how awful it was to run a marathon, that I should have known better after finishing one and finding out just how terrible it is. I fantasized about being at the Free Press and at mile 12.8 being able to turn right and finish with the half marathoners. I would have no problem being in the "marathon dnf" category (marathon did not finish).

The race photos aren't posted yet, but there is a 4-minute video clip on YouTube. It looks fun! The runners look like they're having a great time and I want to be part of that again!!! oh how my mind forgets how truly terrible the race was. I still want another chance though!!!!

Sunday evening my feet and hips were still a little sore, yet after watching the video, I texted my friend "uh oh I just had a terrible thought. I want to do more full marathons. I don't want to wimp out & settle for halfs." I even went so far as to look online for one this upcoming Saturday. I feel like I have to do all my life long full marathons in the very near future, while I'm still able to do them! I don't want to wait for October 21. I want to run them straight away!

My quads were a little sore on Monday. Everything was back to normal on Tuesday and I was itching to go for a run!!! Wednesday was more of the same. It's in the low 60s and sunny and my legs are screaming to go outside and run! Going into the marathon, I thought perhaps my first run post-race would be on Thursday (my birthday). I thought I would have to gently coax my aching legs in to it, but at this rate, it'll be fun and .... easy???? Yes, easy!!!!!

Two of my favorite kids like my socks as much as I do :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What I did Right

Despite my time, I actually did a lot correct with this marathon.

Here are some things I did right:

- Followed a training program through to the end. Switched to a better program when the original wasn't working. Not only did it make the actual run easier, it really helped with the healing process. It's 55 hours after the race ended and I've felt ready to run all day.
- Didn't get hurt!!!
- Ate very light on Friday so I wouldn't have any stomach issues during the race.
- Forewent coffee on race day for the same reason.
- Drank from every fluid station I passed, regardless of whether or not I was thirsty. I passed by a lot during the Free Press and I got so dehydrated my fingers swelled up like fat little sausages (this little piggy went to market...). There was no excessive swelling this time!
- Dressed in layers and lost and added clothing as needed.
- Took tissues and kept them in my pocket for the whole race. (What is it about running that makes my nose run??)
- Didn't stop to chat with a race official because I was too tired to keep going :)

Can I do better next time? Absolutely. I made some good improvements this time, but there is still plenty more I can do!

This girl is way too happy for someone who just ran 26.2 miles!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dead Woman Walking

Several people told me about the Martian marathon beforehand and their comments weren't exactly nice. The secretary at one of my schools was the most polite when she said it wasn't her favorite race. I should have listened to everyone! It was AWFUL!!!! Ok that's not very nice. There were some definite positives. It was a small race - 433 completed the full marathon. The only thing I can compare though is the Free Press, which sells out at 4000+. The full marathon started at 7:15 a.m. and the shorter races were much later, so there was no line whatsoever at the bathrooms before the race, my gun time and chip time were about 30 seconds different and the people at the water stations were super nice and encouraging. I also liked the inflatable martians peeping out everywhere :)

I'm glad this wasn't my first race because it probably would have turned me off from long distance running forever. It was BORING!!!! It was DEMORALIZING to be going out at 8 miles and seeing the leaders on their way back at 17...It was especially bad when more people were on the return trip than on the heading out trip. The out-and-back aspect wasn't even the worst part. It was the absolute and complete lack of spectators on the course. I talked to some awesome runners though - a man from Ottawa who was running his 35th marathon. He was extremely overweight but never ever gave up and kept putting one step in front of the other. We were chatting at mile 16 and he said we're almost done. We can count it on our fingers now. It didn't exactly give me a second wind, but more of a realization and acceptance that yup! I can do this! A woman told me about running 51 marathons in a year (all 50 states and DC). Can you imagine??? 5 or 6 times, she had to do back to back Saturday / Sunday races. Wow!!!

My first two miles were 9:30. At the turn around point (13.1 miles) I was 7 minutes under my 5-hour goal time. Then I blew a 14-minute mile. Arrrgh!!! Things slowly but consistently fell apart. Until mile 20 or 21, I was only a few minutes under my goal pace. At the turn off point from Hines, the woman directing traffic said we're all so happy. I said no, we're delirious :P Around mile 23 there was a small group of 8-10 people cheering for everyone coming by and they were much needed! The quiet solitude was by far the absolute worst part of the race.

I felt much better prepared than last time. I was consistently running the whole time (with some walking obv). When I got tired and mentally weak, I started counting traffic cones, running 4 and walking 2. I sang out loud. There was a group of 3 women who had passed me early in the race and were eventually out of sight. I kept going - I never hit a 15:00 mile - and eventually they came back in sight. It seemed every time they ran, I did as well and it became a mental game to not let them pass me. In mile 25, they got close and one of the women touched my sweaty shoulder and told me I could do it, that I could run, not walk. I listened and never saw the women again.

Turning onto Brady Street, it was uphill!!!! Mile 25.8 and we're going uphill?!? Then I heard a group of girls yell "Go Michelle!" The end was in sight, people were around, I wasn't alone. I hit the corner and saw my sister-in-law and her daughter there, with a group of 5 girls. I later asked who they were. She didn't know, just some girls cheering for me. Thank you!!!

The finish chute was by far the best part. My family and two friends all showed up for the finish and I made it! It certainly wasn't the time I wanted, but I don't know how upset I can be when I finished 1:14 faster than last time! Besides, according to Eve at the Free Press, fewer than 1% of the world will ever finish a marathon. Even less than that complete more than one. Not to mention I've only been running for about a year and I'm doing it all on my own. I need a coach or a training partner though. Going it alone is for the birds!

Yes, I know I didn't use the phrase dead man walking correctly, but that's how I felt. A woman at a water table called out encouragement, and said "You're beautiful!" That made me cry (one time of many!) because I don't think I could look worse if I tried! Did she mean me? my running? doing the near impossible? It doesn't matter. She later gave me 2 orange slices on the way back. mmmm sugar!!!

It was cold and rainy most the day. I ditched my jacket around mile 5 and predictably got cold later in the race. I saw a sweatshirt on the side of the road, so I picked it up and wore it for several miles. Gross, I know haha but somehow things like pride and modesty cease to exist in long races. At least I didn't pee on the side of the road!

I finished 20 of 24 in my age group and 376 of 438 overall. Even if I hit my 5:00 goal, I still would have been 20th. I don't put much stock in where I finish because I'm not running against those girls, I'm running against the clock.

Next up: work on over-crossing my arms. I successfully shortened my stride length and stopped heel striking, so now I need to focus on straight back and forth arms.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


AWFUL super boring out and back. Rained almost the whole time. 7 minutes under pace at the half. Ah well.

Now it's birthday party time! Full review tomorrow!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 180 - The Final Countdown

Cue bad 80s rock:

We're leaving together
But still it's farewell
And maybe we'll come back
To earth, who can tell?
I guess there is no one to blame
We're leaving ground
Will things ever be the same again?

It's the final countdown
The final countdown

We're heading for Venus and still we stand tall
'Cause maybe they've seen us and welcome us all, yea
With so many light years to go and things to be found

It's the final countdown
Seems rather apropos that it's about interplanetary travel the day before the Martian Marathon.

It's Friday. In less than 24 hours it'll all be over, for better or for worse. Today's agenda is not very much. I was invited for a roast beef dinner, but that doesn't fit my eating plan. I'm not sure what exactly I'll be eating, but it'll be low on the grease, nothing too heavy!

In a few hours I go pick up my race packet and scope out the start line. I don't actually know where the race is!!!

Tonight I'm going to yoga then most likely immediately going to bed afterward. My alarm is set for 4:30 am. Yikes!!!

Clothing is laid out, food is laid out, I've done everything I can. I followed a 6-month training program, and upgraded to a better one as soon as I realized the original plan wasn't going to work. I did 98% of the scheduled workouts. It's sunny and I wish we were running today!

Here's some final pop music to send us off to the galaxy race:

Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills
and put your helmet on

Ground Control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown,
engines on
Check ignition
and may God's love be with you

Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Liftoff

This is Ground Control
to Major Tom
You've really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it's time to leave the capsule
if you dare

This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating
in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do

Though I'm past
one hundred thousand miles
I'm feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much
she knows

Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit's dead,
there's something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you....

Here am I floating
round my tin can
Far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do.

Ok the story is TERRIBLE! but I like the lift-off part. See you at the finish line at or under 5:00:00!!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 179 - end of training, crappy weather and Catholic saints

This week has been interesting. Tuesday I woke up early and ran my 3 miles before I did anything else. For Wednesday Hal said to run 4, which was easy enough but I had to run a bunch of boring errands, starting with a new license at the dreaded Secretary of State. My friend gave the kind of advice I normally would. "don't touch ANYTHING." The waiting room was FULL of sick people sneezing and coughing, but I've had an entire carton of Simply Orange juice with mango since Tuesday and so far I'm still ok. I digress. I should have run as soon as I got home, but the Tigers had a day game and I cuddled with my cat and slept for most of the game.

I had pretty much decided to move the 4 miles to Thursday and skip Thursday's scheduled 2 miles. I was craving angel hair pasta, but all I had was some whole wheat rotini from Farmer Jack, which means its at least 6 years old...I ate it anyway...was still eating it when I saw SUN!!!!! My runs are 8000 times better when it's sunny so I gulped down the noodles, hopped in my clothing and was off. I did my 4 miles and it was AWESOME! 36:05 baby! My previous best time was 37:37.

Today's 2 miler was easy, as to be expected. 17:50 later, my training program was done and now I just wait. I wish I could run the race tomorrow when the forecast is in the 50s and sunny. But nooooooo. Saturday's forecast is 60s and CLOUDY, 98% cloud cover. I run TERRIBLY when it's cloudy. I've been moaning and complaining about the forecast all week.

My friend is Catholic and has asked saints to intervene for me before. I was offered a job the day after she asked Saint Anthony to intervene. I found a missing book the day after she asked him again. In the Methodist church, we don't really follow saints. I certainly can't name any of them without her help. Yet with the lousy forecast, I asked her who are the patron saints of weather. Luckily there are several, both saints FOR good weather and saints to OPPOSE bad weather. She is asking all of them to do what they do best to help me. St. Clare of Assisi, St. Eurosia and St. Medard are looking out for us runners. She said "They will be new friends but any friend of Jesus is a friend of mine :) They will help pray for you." She also promised to set out her rosary on Saturday, that it will help as well. We don't have or say rosaries in my church either, but Grandma always said nothing bad ever came of going to church. I can paraphrase that to mean nothing bad can come of extra prayers!

Now I just wait and hope the saints intercede for me. If the forecast was sunny, I would feel confident, ready to run, and sure to destroy the 5-hour mark. With the promise of 98% cloud cover, I feel agitated and like I trained for 6 months to epically FAIL on race day. I don't want to become a Demotivational!!!!!!!

lol blonde jokes are hilarious :D

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 178 - T-minus 67 hours

With three days left, I bought my disposable clothing. I always make that one of the last things because I worry that picking it up any earlier would jinx me and my running. With three days and a total of 6 miles between me and the starting line, I feel pretty confident I'll show up Saturday morning :)

I went to the Salvation Army and they seriously did not have a single sweatshirt or fleece jacket in the store. What the heck? Luckily it dawned on me that it's Wednesday and my church has a thrift store open only on Wednesday mornings until noon. It was 11:42 when I left the Salvation Army and headed to church.

They had an abundance to choose from! Jackets, sweatshirts, sweaters, everything I could want and for cheaper than the Salvation Army. I had been thinking green initially, but I wound up with a navy blue fleece (with a big pocket for tissue!!!), a red hat and navy striped gloves. Everything kinda matches and the hat will bring out the red in my knee socks :) Not bad for $3.50!

Now I wash it all in HOT water with LOTS of soap!!!! The fleece is cute. Why do I keep getting cute jackets, knowing full well I'm going to throw them away???

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 177 - If I can get through this

Another of my favorite sites is Post Secret. A number of years ago, one was posted that I saved to my computer. The front was a man crossing the finish line at the Free Press marathon, looking exhausted beyond belief, sporting the green number that signifies a first timer. Here was the back of the card:

I hope he realizes that he can do ANYTHING. He can do EVERYTHING he wants. Anyone who can commit to a 6-month goal and stick to it every single day, anyone who can drag their body through hours of pain and misery just to accomplish a goal, they can do anything!

There's a new song with the same message by the band Art of Dying. The beat is too soft for the ultimate 4-hour cardio playmix, but I like the words, so it's there, 4 songs from the end.

If I can get through this
I can get through anything
If I can make it through this
I can get through anything
I promise you

If I can get through this
I can get through that
I know it's not easy
just a matter of fact

If I can get through this
If I can get through this
If I can get through this
If I can get through this

I absolutely believe EVERYONE can run a marathon. It just takes a lot of time and an endless amount of dedication / delusion. With the mental conviction to say "Yup, I can do the impossible," anything is possible. See you at the finish line!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Day 175 - The last long run

Happy Easter!!!!!

Saturday was my last "long" run. I love that I don't regard 8 as a long run anymore. It's become long-ish, Hal's idea for a mid-distance run that doesn't focus on either speed or building distance, just stamina and logging miles. It took me hours and hours to go from waking up to actually running, but that's ok. I ate, I relaxed, then finally set out.

It was 53 degrees and sunny. I couldn't have asked for anything better. I plotted out an 8-mile loop and I really liked it. It started the same as the 5, then doubled back. It seems anything is better than doing multiple laps on "shorter" runs. My first mile was 8:55, second was 8:36, last was 9:23, all pretty good.

It's always my goal to keep miles under 10 minutes and I would have had to finish in 1:20:00 to do so. I was still a bit away when I looked at my iPod stopwatch and realized I was at 1:17:50 and would never make it. I did the best I could and finished in 1:20:06. Then......I realized it wasn't 8.0 miles, it was 8.1 miles so I actually was under 10 averages. My final average was 9:53. Sweet!

I also discovered why my purple knee socks kept falling down - they're too big :( The split between medium and large was size 9.5. I wear a 10, so I got the bigger size. They fit great when walking, but kept sagging down during runs. I had a 20% off coupon and my REI dividend so I picked up another pair a few weeks ago - brown and red flowers, but size medium. I tried the brown pair yesterday and they felt small in the foot and were snug on my calves, but they stretched to fit and stayed in place the entire run! 8.1 miles and an hour 20 later, I never once had to pull them back in place. I still prefer the purple ones though, so I did the first no-no of washing wool: I tossed them in the dryer. They're still there so I don't know if the shrinking worked or not. I'll find out tomorrow!

I just looked at Saturday's forecast - windy with rain in the morning. They're wrong about everything else, so I'm counting on this being a big lie as well!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Day 174 - 168 hours

It's 12:47 on Saturday. In 168 hours I will have finished the marathon, sub 5:00:00. Between now and then all I have to do is run 4 times, for a total of 17 miles, lay out my food and lay out my clothing. No work between now and then, no germy students, maybe a yoga class, pick up my race packet, buy a disposable sweatshirt at the Salvation Army. It'll be a great last week :)

Today is my last "long" run of 8 miles and it's upper 50s and sunny. The forecast looks the same all week. Life is just good right now :) No complaining allowed!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day 171 - The Breakfast of Champions

I was at the grocery store on Tuesday so I picked up my pre-race meal, two Met-RX meal replacement bars and a can of Red Bull. I will surely have an English muffin with peanut butter and jelly as well.

The morning of the Free Press I woke up at 4am, just to eat and I still didn't have nearly enough calories (among many other problems). My goal this year is at least 1200 calories before the race, but without the queasy feeling.

I've been eating better the last weeks before the race, trying to not eat processed food, yet the pre-race breakfast is pure sugar and chemicals. Irony.

It sure sounds like the breakfast of champions to me!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 168 - Instant saddlebags, just add water!

I'm terrible about hydrating when I run. I know it's important. I know my muscles need water to function, but it's a great big pain in the neck to have water available. At the Y it's less of a pain because I can leave a bottle on the handrail of the track to pick up as needed. When I'm outside, however, completely different story. For the first several months of training, I didn't even think about water. I would drink when I got home. You can guess how well that went.

Then one day my brother called me from TJ Maxx to say he found some water bottles he was going to buy me and give me the receipt so they could go back if/when I didn't like them. They're actually ok. Not great, but tolerable.

Option 1 is handheld.

It's a 12-ounce bottle with a handle to fit over my knuckles. The bottle itself is formed to indent where my fingers do and the handle has a pocket for keys or whatever. I don't like having weight in my hand, and it tends to make my hand sweat, so I wind up changing hands a lot. It's ok, not great.

Option 2 is a waist belt.

This option isn't great either. The two bottles each hold 10 ounces, which isn't nearly enough for a long run. Two good things are the sturdy waistband which holds my can of mace, and the pocket in back for a protein bar or change I find or whatever.

I have two major problems with this design. First, it's heavy! I don't want to lug around over a pound of water in addition to the weight of the belt! The other gripe is that it was designed for a hip-less man. If I wear it on my hips and try to carry the weight lower, it will scoot up to my waist and bang against me the whole time. The only way it "fits" is to wear it snug at the smallest part of my waist, immediately under my ribcage. It's equally bulky there.

I know I need water, but with two lousy options, I'm still looking. Anyone have good suggestions? or better products?

Lest we forget the importance of water, even on a daily basis, here is a nice medical reminder.