Us ultra runners know that a ‘buff’ (trademarked name for a generic bit of stretchy cloth) is an essential piece of kit. It’s a hat, scarf, bandage, sling, flannel, sock, snot rag…whatever we need it to be!
But it’s not something you take along to a road race, or do you? In an effort to be as cool as possible while running one of my ‘force yourself to run faster’ 10km road races, I didn’t bother taking one along.
It was hot. Starting temp at 9pm was 38C so, in assessing my necessary kit, I decided a ‘buff’ wasn’t required equipment (especially since it was my turn to carry the keys and was already wearing a running belt). How wrong I could be?
On the starting line
With prize money on offer, the race had attracted some of our faster local road runners vying for a position up front. Steve (hubby) kindly got me clear of the melee around the first bend and out of town. I was soon able to pick up the pace, with a fair descent and find my place in the race.
At about 3km I had my first reminder as to why a ‘buff’ should have come along for the ride. Not used to running this quickly, I was feeling in need of fuel and I stuffed a couple of jelly sweets into my mouth. It was never my intention to swallow. I was puffing too hard to chew. I was only going to give them a bit of a chomp and then spit them out. Now I’ve never mastered spitting on the move and ended up with jelly sweets glued to my neck. A quick wipe over with that generic bit of cloth would have aided removal here.
I need of my blanky!
Hitting the first water stop at around 4km. I grabbed a bottle for a swill down. I was carrying my own electrolytes since it was hot, my idea was to simply rinse some plain water around my mouth and spit. Again I failed, ending up with sputum stuck in my hair. Where’s that ‘buff’ when you need it?
I could see a woman up ahead. Probably around a minute away. I was doggedly sticking to my 4:30min/km pace. That’s quite quick enough for a rehab tempo and the Sahara wind was drying my mouth. (Yes, I’ve not escaped the desert hair dryer. Except this one is always blows dry.)
I really needed to clear my throat. Swirling some water in my mouth, I again attempted to spit. This time down my number. Pretty disgusting and again a ‘buff’ would have saved the day.
Finally winding back into the town, I was glad to push for the line if only to go and get cleaned up. Race done in 44:40, 2nd in age group and 3rd woman overall. Not my fastest 10km but I’m not complaining since the 30 euro prize money will go toward purchasing a new ‘buff’ or two!