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  • Post-race thoughts on Fort4Fitness
    The air was cool and a chill traveled up my bare legs as I took that step out the door. A pit was in my stomach, churning. I sauntered to the starting point, giving my GPS watch time to find a satellite.

Water runs dry

At this point in my running, I should know better.

Yet, at mile 11 of 14, I found myself stopped in front of Portage Elementary (on Taylor Street). My mouth was parched, and I had just eked out the last drops of watermelon nuun from my hydration belt. I tried to use my inner GPS to locate water without additional mileage but being unfamiliar with the towpath, I came up empty -- literally and figuratively.

The last three miles would be tough with the clock nearing 11 a.m. and the sun bright and beautiful. I turned on my iPod -- a last resort for me -- and settled into the hurt. I dreamed of drinking a cold glass of water upon arriving at the home of my in-laws, who were watching my son, and even had delusions of imbibing a Diet Coke, which I gave up nearly a year ago.

Hydration is key to a successful run, even if conditions are a little less warm and bright than Sunday. According to Runner's World, one should drink 3 to 6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. For my run, that would have been, at minimum, 20 ounces and up to 6.

Given that my hydration belt (this one) can carry 40, I should have been fine but I'm not used to running later in the day and on such an open trail as the towpath. Lesson learned for next time.

Looking to hydrate?

Here are some of my favorite ways:

Scope out the water fountains near your route and plan accordingly. There are three water fountains within 1.5 miles of my house. On shorter, less humid runs, I try to make my way to one of them about half-way through the outing. Bonus: It's a great excuse to stop for a minute and catch your breath.

Hide out. If I am doing a more quality workout, like intervals, I plan to loop my house at set distances. Before I head out, I fill a water bottle with an electrolyte drink and hide it in the flowers. Stop. Drink. Repeat. Again and again.

Hand out. There are plenty of handheld water bottles on the market that make it convenient and easy to carry fluids on the run (plus a key or phone). I have been a long-time fan of the Nathan Quick Draw – it was one of my first real running purchases – and I now use the Vapor Draw, which is a bit more ergonomic.

Get a sherpa. Most people aren't willing to sign on to a 5 a.m. run but my husband has been known to accompany me on longer outings on the weekend. He's on his bike with two bottles, going almost too slow to pedal, as I plod along. If I need a drink, he grabs a bottle and passes it off to me.

Push a stroller. OK, this one doesn't sound like the most fun plan but I discovered that the perk of pushing a jogging stroller is that there is a whole lot of space to store stuff. Like water.