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Soggy days in the sweat dungeon: the sodden life of a rainforest running shirt


Suppose you are a mildly busy person.

Suppose you harbor an ardent affinity for a sport that causes you to impose frequent electrolyte monsoons upon every athletic-related article of clothing you own.

Suppose you can’t yet afford a maid who spends her days ensuring that your workout clothes are always clean and fresh-smelling.

Combine the forces of these factors with a sweaty splash of your own laziness, and you may end up with a laundry habit as repulsive as this.

And then?

Move to a rainforest.

(That’s right, folks – Juneau, Alaska, is part of the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in our country. It also happens to be a temperate rainforest.)

That’s why I look like this after most of my runs:

Dad, somehow your 1999 Marine Corps Marathon jacket escaped into my Alaska luggage. Errrr.... oops? Also, it's not waterproof and you should have told me that before I stole it...

Actually, I don’t look like that after most of my runs, just some of them. Lots of the time, the rain is just a lovely benign mistiness. So far.

In other words, no big deal, right?

Just hang up the sweaty clothes like usual, and dash along with the rest of your day and —


In normal parts of the world that aren’t rainforests, sweaty clothes basically just dry overnight, and are ready for re-wear the next morning.

But this is Alaska.

So I’ll take you through the typical post-run laundry contol system here in the 99801:

  1. You hang up your sweaty/slightly rainy gear like usual.
  2. A day later, you head over to the now-fetid hangy-places you allotted for clothes-drying.
  3. You go to take down that long-sleeved shirt for a re-wear, but wait! It’s still completely wet.
  4. Hmm, you say to yourself. Guess this needs another day to dry. That’s strange. Whatever, you’ll just have to delve into your small stock of long-sleeved shirts and get another one sweaty.
  5. Day 2. The first shirt you laid out should be dry and ready to roll by now, right?
  6. FALSE. Shirt #1 is still wet.
  7. Now you have two long-sleeves hanging up and never drying.
  8. Day 3. Shirt #1 has had plenty of time to dry, right?
  9. Again, FALSE. Shirt #1 is still damp three days later.
  10. Don’t hold your breath for dry clothes on day four, either

The fact is, living and sweating in a rainforest, you either need to figure out a better drying system, or invest in the best dehumidifier you can find.

Before I do either of those things, though, I’m just re-wearing my slightly damp clothes, and have turned my bathroom into the designated gym locker.

Yes, I made a sign. Because I got tired of making a public service announcement every time someone ventures into this bathroom.

Ominous, yes.

Useful clothes-hanging items include candles and rocks.

Mom! Aren't you happy I own something with reflective stripes for all the running in the dark I do? Me too!

This reminds me of the Wizard of Oz when that nasty witch gets plowed by the house and all you see are her socks. Anyone?

Well, excellent. Now that we’ve toured the holy inner sanctum of my squalid laundry-in-the-rainforest predicament, let’s move on to other matters.

I believe I’ve nailed down a ride for the 10K on Saturday, so hooray! A race! I have zero expectations for this, time/place-wise. I sort of envision Alaska as a lawless land when it comes to road races, wherein maybe a grand total of 20 people compete at a race and the actual distance is completely suspect. That’s as good an excuse as any not to worry about my time, right? I’m excited to hopefully meet some local runners.

I’ve asked this before, but I’ll ask it again: Am I the only disgusting one who hangs workout clothes up for rewear? Part of it is that I simply don’t have enough clothes to keep up with my runs, unless I want to do multiple loads of laundry per week, which… yeah, we all have better things to do. Aside from putting them in the dryer… do you have any handy tips, tricks, or solutions for getting your “line-dry” clothes to dry faster?

PS. If you’re in search of more “Life in Alaska” insight, check out Andrew’s hysterical punctuation-defying posts on our group hike to the glacier, or bears raiding the trash, or the joys of riding local public transportation.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. Uncle John permalink
    09/23/2010 20:04

    perhaps a micro torture session with a blow dryer could speed the process….and if you use a “vidal sassoon” blow dryer you can blow your running gear from drab to fab quicker than a set of wind sprints. Clip said blow dryer and a pair of trimming shears on your belt loop prior to a trail run every self respecting bear will be on the move quicker than you can say crew cut.

  2. 09/24/2010 02:16

    My bathroom is my designated funk zone, too. I can’t wear my clothes twice, but if I don’t hang them after my runs they get moldy and make my entire house smell. I have 6-7 shorts and bra sets that I like. Then some other random scary stuff that will get me through. (See: random free stuff given to me from the running store.)

    You need a fan or something to help your clothes dry.

  3. 09/24/2010 02:23

    I wear the same shorts all week. Does that make me gross?

  4. kenny permalink
    09/24/2010 02:59

    being 36 years old and living in india means that i wash everything all the time. my washing machine runs everyday (pretty much). although thats not being very kind to mother earth, it helps maintains peace and harmony since my daughter makes a lot of fun of me and my sweaty smell… i love your blog, btw!

    • 09/28/2010 10:40


      Peace and harmony are good things, but I doubt I’d ever been ambitious enough to being doing laundry everyday… way too lazy for that.

  5. Lacey permalink
    09/24/2010 04:17

    oh my goodness. i am going to appreciate my clothes drying overnight now so much more!!!!! that’s craziness. you are certainly creative. and lol to the sign. isn’t the bathroom like the most steamy room in your house??? or did you install a dehumidifier?? i would also suggest one of those big box fans you can have blow on the clothes.

    • 09/28/2010 10:41

      Good point — I should add that the bathroom where I dry my clothes is separate from the shower, so it doesn’t get steamy. If that makes sense…

  6. 09/24/2010 04:42

    i ALWAYS hang my clothes up for rewear! since i run early and by myself i couldn’t care less how smelly they end up getting and i blow a fan over them if it’s a really humid day. i think a dehumidifier might help because lots of rain = lots of humidity!

    but i LOVE that room. i bet it makes you feel very very hardcore. which you should because you are 🙂

  7. 09/24/2010 05:47

    I usually lay them out on top of the dryer or along the edge of the tub. It’s pretty humid here too so it takes at least 24 hours to dry. And since I reuse my gear a few or 9 times before washing, I am sometimes so rank I can actually smell myself when I’m running. I have one shirt that smells no matter how much I wash it. If you are Sweaty Kid, then I should be Smelly Kid.

  8. 09/24/2010 07:07

    hey! ohhh my gosh that is some wet weather! I loveee running in the rain, but only to a certain extent! I wash, but don’t dry a lot of my running gear so it hang it over the shower rod to dry…haha I need to make a sign!
    ya ya ya for your 10k this weekend! killllll it girlllll!
    I hope you have a great friday!

  9. dubay319 permalink
    09/24/2010 09:08

    I love the that you included your sports bras into the phot becaue you have at least 25 in that bathroom drying at all times it is so damn funny

  10. 09/24/2010 13:06

    I don’t rewear because I have enough shorts and bras (though tights get reworn) but I just bought Febreeze because the smell they emit while drying can be rank. And I have to hang them in my bedroom because if I hang them in the bathroom, I may as well be in Juneau, Alaska for how long they’d take to dry. 🙂

  11. 09/24/2010 16:33

    i usually wear my bottoms twice before washing, but my tops and bras i definitely wash after every workout. sorry mate, wish i had some tips for you. i live in the dessert so drying is never an issue :p

    have a great race this weekend! kick some azz 🙂

  12. 09/24/2010 16:35

    umm yeah i hang-dry and rewear *some* things because i’m too lazy to do laundry as often as i would have to if i didn’t… and regardless, i air dry before putting in the hamper because otherwise you end up with a reallll funk in the hamper.

  13. 09/27/2010 08:03

    I, for sure, wear my running clothes multiple times before washing. In the winter I will sometimes drape sweaty clothes over the radiators (keep an eye on ’em so they don’t get too hot).

    Congrats on your 10k race this weekend! I’m lovin’ reading about your Alaska adventures.

  14. Mary permalink
    10/04/2010 03:14

    What you need is air flow…. Or as Geek Girl said you need a fan. I air dry all my laundry on a laundry drying rack. I find that air flow is the secret. I put my rack up in the kitchen near the refrigerator. Since basically it is a great big dehumidifier working in my house. Then I am lucky enough to have a ceiling fan that I turn on over the top. My laundry is usually dries overnight. I do not live in the rain forest though….

    Good luck

    P.S. I rewear my clothes frequently with out washing them between.

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