Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mr. Clean

OK, I have exactly three weeks until my second 26.2 at the St. Louis Marathon, so it’s about to get real serious around here as I am going to be immersed in visualization and corework and carb-loading and heart and soul -- while mainly focused on my Major League Baseball profession and getting ready for Opening Day, not to mention hosting my son and his girlfriend next week, and dating, all the while shopping my new, future-bestselling, 255-page magnum opus book manuscript "Trees and Numbers." So in the meantime, I just thought I would blog about something that really is my life: Washing my running gear.

I know that this blog is going to be one that other runners will relate to. I do not trust my running gear to any washing machine or any cleaner. I have paid a lot for it, but more importantly I have run a lot in it. These are the articles of clothing that truly tell time for me, that were there with me as I transformed my life in every way imaginable -- from an overweight smoker to a marathoner in the last 15 months. They are there for me when the windchill has been down around zero, and they are there for me when the heat index is around 100.

So this morning was laundry time, meaning fill up a few washing machines downstairs in my Upper West Side apartment and then in the meantime wash my running gear in the kitchen sink. First of all, here are two products that I swear by. Not that Accelerade has anything to do with laundry, but I use it before/after every run and it sits right there by the sink. So on top of it I put a bottle of Sport-Wash, which is the only thing I use for my running gear. As with everything else, I had to find out certain little things along the way, and that includes the fact that you never wash your tech/wicking gear in regular laundry detergent and never use fabric softener. I used Woolite for a while before I found out about Sport-Wash. It kinda stinks, but it takes the stink out of your gear and it leaves the all-important chemical elements that aid moisture control.

I usually wash about five or six items and then empty the cold sinkwater and then add more cold water and another capful and then wash another five or six items, etc. After a while the water starts getting pretty dingy. I am sure that is partly some coloration, but I think of all that sweat and I’m just kind of fussy on not using the same dirty water after a while. Each time I empty the water, I then rinse out and wring those items. Each one I then put on a hanger and leave them to dry on my shower rod in the bathroom.

For the most part, this all works very well. But this morning I had a slight glitch. Below is my long-sleeve Team for Kids tech shirt that I paid for while training and fundraising (thanks again, all who helped!) for my last New York City Marathon.

In the month following that marathon, I took a blue marker and wrote "5.5" on the lower-back of that shirt, to wear during that memorable day when runners everywhere were asked to run 5.5 miles as a tribute to Ryan Shea, who collapsed and died near the Boathouse at Central Park while 5.5 miles into the U.S. Olympic Men’s Marathon Trials there the day before my NYC Marathon in November. I even put an "R" inside the first 5 and and "S" inside the second 5 as my own little tribute to Ryan, and I remember that day finishing up my 5.5-mile run at the Boathouse and sitting on a rock and saying a prayer for him. I just thought about all the miles he had logged, all the passion he put into it, all the good he did and the loved ones he left behind. Well, today the blue ink decided it would run, too. I’ll still wear it, but now mainly as an inside-layer shirt when it’s cold. What can I say, I’m a dude.

The more running gear I acquire, the harder it is to find places to let it all hang dry. Wherever I can find a doorhandle, that’s where I hang my knit caps, like the one in the second picture below. I actually took that pic sideways so it really is hanging down and sopping wet. It will smell really good when I run in it.

How do I feel whenever I put on my running gear and go out to train for a marathon or a half-marathon? I am really happy! Does anyone else get this excited about washing their running gear? I love running!

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