Laura Foley Ramsden is a mother, wife, amateur chef, seasoned executive, and served as the fourth-generation fish mongress for the business founded by her great grandfather. Her salty sense of humor and boatload of grit helped her drive delivery trucks, author cookbooks, travel the world, and become an expert and passionate advocate for sustainable fisheries management in the United States. As a busy Knackpacker with a distinct perspective, we thought you may enjoy her unique reflections as she takes over yet another Knack blog…
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1.1 million runners across the globe choose to run a marathon each year. Of those, nearly 30,000 runners sign up for the Boston Marathon. This year, I joined the ranks of those Boston marathoners and I could not have done it without my Knack. It was the ultimate training backpack for a plethora of reasons. Runners are passionate about their footwear, their socks, their fuel, all of which are crucial, but if they are also trying to maintain an active travel calendar, having an essential running backpack like the Knack is crucial. For me, my Knack Pack was the essential training backpack from start to finish…literally!
Why Run a Marathon and Why Knack?
Perhaps a few of you are wondering why I would willingly choose to subject my body to 26.2 miles of torture (especially since I’d describe myself as a bench-sitting, third-string “athlete”). In high school, I was the girl on the sidelines waving a white towel urging on my friends on the field while, as an adult, I became the fan cheering from the stands for my kids’ teams, my beloved Michigan Wolverines, and the New England Patriots. In spite of all that, I chose to run the Boston Marathon four years ago after a “momentous birthday”. And let me tell you, when I turned down Hereford onto Boylston and heard the crowds screaming my name, I felt like Tom Brady at Gillette driving downfield in the fourth quarter for the winning score. It was truly exhilarating, and I finished the race that year knowing I just had to do it one more time.
After a few years of pandemic-related delays, this was the year to run again. According to my trusty Hal Higdon intermediate marathon training plan it takes 18 weeks for a runner like me to prepare for a marathon. During the 18 weeks before this year’s marathon, I planned to travel to Big Sky, Montana; Aspen, Colorado; Antigua; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Palm Beach, Florida in addition to weekly weekend journeys to Franconia, NH to appease my die-hard skier husband. He called our Franconia weekends “hill training opportunities”; I called them “fall on the ice and break my leg liabilities”. Regardless of where I was, my Knack Pack running backpack was vital to my training as it allowed me to bring all of my running necessities to each destination and keep them organized: just like a perfect training backpack should.
Here are my top reasons why a Knack Pack is the best training backpack for a marathon:
- It easily holds my running gear and keeps it accessible
- It has room for all my shoes and running clothes
- It conveniently carries my post-race essentials
Great at Carrying Running Gear
Running gear - now what’s that? Don’t you just lace up and go? Well, when the temperature is -19°, like it was in Big Sky, one needs to pack running hats, gloves and even hand warmers. In the warmer climates, sunscreen, anti-chafe sticks and baseball caps are equally necessary. As the training plan accelerated (and even if my pace didn’t accelerate, my miles grew), it became increasingly essential to have the proper fuel, especially when running in the high altitudes of Big Sky and Aspen. Knack’s awesome zipper pockets were perfect for my Maurten gels, Salt Stick tabs, and Nuun hydration tablets. It goes without saying that my Knack training backpack’s water bottle area was heavily utilized during my training as hydration was key. Also, having the Knack’s outside front pocket to zip in my training watch charger, my airpods and my phone charger helped keep all my electronics organized. I’m one of those runners who needs credit for every mile pounded out - if the watch didn’t register it, it didn’t happen. Also, no music, no run. Having all my electronics in one easy-to-access location was crucial for my training.
Easily Fits Running Shoes and Clothes
I may have mentioned in previous blogs that I hate packing. And I had to do a lot of packing with all the trips scheduled during my 18 weeks of training. But no matter where I was, my Knack training backpack, carrying all my running things, was the most important thing I owned so there was no question of my checking it. Luckily, it fit not only the aforementioned training essentials, but it was also perfect for my oversized sneakers. I chose to train, and run in, On Cloudmonster sneaks because they had the essential cushioning I needed to minimize the effects of the pounding on my body. If you have seen On Cloudmonsters, you know they are super bulky with a giant heel. The expandable Knack suitcase compartment was clutch for packing those bad boys. I also utilized the Knack packing cubes to keep my socks, sports bras, and running shorts/fleece lined leggings organized. At the risk of TMI, I also really appreciated my Knack’s antimicrobial lining when travel plans didn’t allow for laundry opportunities after my long runs.
Perfect for Post Race Essentials
It was a rainy, chilly April morning for the marathon this year. White the weather wasn’t cooperative, my family was great. My daughter flew in the night before from Ann Arbor to surprise me. She had previously joined me on several training runs so it was extra special to see her with my husband at several spots along the course. The fans this year were incredible - out in the rain from Hopkinton to Boston. With their encouragement (and with the training on the icy hills of Franconia that prepped my quadriceps), I handled the downhill of the first half of the run and I didn’t have to walk the nasty uphills in Newton at the end of the run.
I collected hugs and cheers from family, dear friends, and complete strangers throughout the race. Because of this encouragement, my 18 weeks of training all over the country, and my Knack, my time was 18 seconds faster than four years ago! I truly loved every minute of it. And to come full circle, my husband and daughter welcomed this tired Mongress at the finish line with my Knack Pack loaded with all my post race essentials - bandaids and snacks in the front organization compartment, dry clothes and flip flops in the suitcase compartment, and maybe even a Ripe Margarita in the Knack water bottle...!
As an added bonus, as part of this marathon, I was able to raise money for an incredible charity, The MIchael Flanagan Foundation, which provides financial assistance for patients fighting lymphoma. I knew that every dollar I raised would directly benefit patients in the form of rent assistance, childcare, and chemo transportation funding so all those miles meant even more to me than my second Tom Brady moment.
If you are thinking about running a marathon, I would really encourage you to do it no matter your age or what shape you’re in. I am partial to Boston because we have incredible fans here and it is a really well-run race. If you run for charity, it adds a depth of meaning to your mission and is incredibly motivating. Training plans like Hal Higdon’s make the training manageable. Short (3-4 mile) and intermediate (6-8 mile) runs during the week, with one gradually increasing longer run on the weekends, make the schedule accessible to almost anyone.
Running the Boston Marathon (twice now!) was truly one of the most memorable experiences of my life and I hope my story might inspire you to run. If you do, be sure to have your Knack running backpack with you because it will keep you organized and flexible no matter where your training takes you!
Thanks to Laura for inspiring us all with her story of determination, discipline, and above all, the spirit of running. Her journey from being a sideline supporter to an active marathon participant, all the while juggling her multiple roles in life, is a testament to what is possible when you set your mind to a goal.
We love hearing your stories and how you use Knack to live your One Bag Life. Share your adventures, stories, and everyday uses of your Knack Pack on our social media channels. Don’t forget to tag us at @KnackBags or use #KnackBags and #OneBagLife so we can see how you’re using your Knack Pack. Your story could be the one to inspire our next blog post or even a new feature on our packs.
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