Cold Weather Racing Planning

Just when I had started to get accustomed to winter running, New York City gets mired in an epic cold spell that shifts the weather from just regular winter weather to borderline dangerous winter weather. I sincerely don’t remember the last time the mercury was above freezing. We are 10 days into winter and we have already had four instances of snow. If this trend continues, we are in for one heck of winter. I’ve written before about cold weather running but how about when you have to race in extreme cold weather like the type that we are having in New York City?

The temps on my cold weather run on Tuesday – wind chills of 7 degrees!

This Saturday, I will be taking part in the New York Road Runners Joe Kleinerman 10k in Central Park. The forecasted high for the day on Saturday is 16 degrees. I don’t even want to speculate what the wind chills will feel like. With the race expected to start at 8am, I can assure you that we will not be starting the race at the high temps for the day!

In anticipation for this, the last couple of days, I decided that it was imperative to run in these frigid conditions. When I ran my 5k on Monday, the wind chill temps were 0. Tuesday night when I went for a jog, wind chills were 7. During those runs I had the luxury of stretching indoors and then stepping out just before my race/run. That isn’t a convenience that I and other runners will have come Saturday in Central Park. During the last two days I’ve been thinking a lot about before during and after the race, I came up with some other bits of precaution in my mind that I thought might come in handy if you find it essential to run a race in this weather.

Ready to race on Saturday despite the cold!

Pre-race Wait

Think about the duration of time you will be in the cold prior to the race. As I mentioned above, it is highly unlikely you will be able to hang out in a warm area up until race time. There are races where organizers will make you stand in your corral for 30-60 minutes. Call your organizers and find out how long you will have to be in your corral and plan your pre-race accordingly. For my race Saturday, I am hoping to stretch by the bag check area up until 15 minutes before race time with lots of clothing on and then strip off some layers, check them into the bag check, and jog to the start line to keep warm.

Pre-race Gear

Consider bringing clothes along with you for the pre-race that you will likely part with just before the race or during the early stages of the race. Let’s face it, you will want to stay warm as long as possible before you really get into race mode and no one can blame you for wanting to keep extra layers on as long as possible. That old baggy sweatshirt that you never wear anymore may be perfect to wear to the start line and rip off and just discard it at the start line or on the course. Further, some race organizers have charity collection bins where they will take items like this from you and donate.

Your Warm Up

Your warm up before a race is so crucial. I know that all you want to do before a race in these conditions is bundle up and stay warm. In below freezing temps however, your muscles need the warm up even more. With the cold air your muscles will contract easier and that is when injuries occur. If you have a warm up stretch routine, go thru the routine 2-3 times in this weather to ensure your muscles are stretched out to handle the cold.

Race Gear

What you wear once the race has started is crucial. The type of weather that I am referring to here is below freezing and closer to 0 degrees. In my opinion the extremities are very important. Thick non cotton socks, some gloves and a hat are a must. Your core is important but you don’t want it to be too bulky. 2-3 layers should suffice with the layer closest to your skin being a moisture wicking non cotton material. I know that most runners, myself included, are big fans of running in shorts even if it is cold. In my opinion, this is not the weather for shorts even if it is my preference for a race. In fact, studies have actually shown that below freezing, it isn’t wise to have your legs exposed to the cold air especially in longer races. The cold air lowers the temperature in the outer fibers of your legs by a few degrees. This contracts your muscles and it deprives them of oxygen. That in turn increases the use of much needed glycogen. The use of your muscles also slows when their temperature drops. I can tell you on Tuesday when I ran my longer run, I felt my legs getting heavier at the end, and I had tights on! In my opinion, leave the shorts at home in these conditions!

Dress accordingly in this weather!

Nutrition During The Race

Just because it is colder, don’t think that you don’t need the water. You definitely do! Hydrate well before the race! Also increase the amount of carbs that you take before the race. In the cold your body will go thru it’s carbs much faster since it will use them in an effort to stay warmer. I noticed this between my two cold runs on Monday and Tuesday. On Monday I took a GU carb gel before the race and felt strong the entire race and never really cold. Tuesday I didn’t take one of the gels and I actually started feeling cold by mile 4 despite the fact that it was warmer on Tuesday by about 10 degrees. My plan for Saturday will likely be to have two Gu gels. One before the race and one after mile 3. For what its worth, I also just love the taste of the GU Banana/Strawberry gels. (lol)

Post Race Clothing

What you do after the race may be just as important as at any point before or during the race. Because of my runs on Monday and Tuesday, I’ve given my post race gear a lot of thought and I will definitely be packing accordingly. Despite the cold weather you will likely be sweating or if you are not, the warmth of your body will without question cool down. This is when you need to take action. If you have built up a sweat on that bottom layer, try to get it off of you as soon as possible. Pack a couple of dry layers for after the race. Look for a portable bathroom and slip into a dry layer as soon as possible. I’m also thinking of packing an extra hat, extra gloves and extra socks. All of these items are likely to build up sweat during your race and you want to remove these as soon as possible as well. Of course the easiest solution would be to jump into a warm car as soon as possible but if you are like me on Saturday in the middle of Central Park in Manhattan, who won’t have that availability. This means you will need to do most if not all of the above right after you finish your race.

Extreme cold weather doesn’t mean that the race will result in a poor outcome. It does however mean more planning is needed, and well that’s just the reality of it. I know it’s hard enough sometimes to just focus on your race plan but the last thing any of us need is hypothermia or frost bite. Follow the above and you should be ok to race in extreme cold. Who knows, you might even PR in this weather! If you do, I would love to hear about it!

Looks can be deceiving – NYC is in a nasty cold spell!

A Marathon Of Inspiration!

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Shalane Flanagan Wins The Women’s Race! (photo credit USA Today)

The 2017 installment of the New York City marathon has come and gone. I must say that there were so many great emotions for me personally during the last week because of the marathon and I didn’t even run the race! From the race week activities, to just visiting the finish line and to hearing the stories of so many friends that ran the race, it has been a great week to just take it all in.

When the race finally began, I decided to “watch” the race for the final time hopefully in some years to come. I literally say on my couch from about 9am until 2pm which is when channel 7 ended their coverage. I was engulfed by all of the stories coming across the broadcast. One of the ones that really got me emotional was the story of Beverly Ramos, an outstanding female runner from Puerto Rico, who completed her marathon  training in Puerto Rico after the wrath of hurricanes Irma & Maria had left the island in shambles. With the suffering that her country was enduring, Beverly pushed on and was determined to run the marathon. Her interviews on the broadcast were pretty emotional. She may not have finished as well as she would have wanted but she came to New York, competed, and is likely going home to Puerto Rico a champion. 

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In his final race, Meb collapses at the finish line (photo credit – NY Daily News)

Then there was the story of Meb Keflezighi. Most of you probably know it. The storied American marathoner is calling it quits after this race. For a while, he teased us all a bit during the marathon as he ran with the lead pack and he may have even taken the lead once or twice. Nevertheless, the 42 year old marathon legend would finish in 11th place in his 11th NYC Marathon. Adding more suspense was that he collapsed right after the finish line. He was fine, just exhausted from giving the marathon that he loves so much, all that he had left in his body. He will be missed on the NYC marathon scene, at least by me.

Shalane Flanagan talking to children before the start of NYRR Percy Sutton Kids race in August.


Then of course there was Shalane Flanagan. Oh how she has lifted so many young girls spirits. Being a youth amabasador for New York Road Runners club, Shalane was a favorite for alot of kids on Sunday, including my 7 year old daughter who got to meet her back in the Percy Sutton 5k in Harlem back in August (see my pic above from that day!). Shalane was at the starting line for the kids races that day high fiving all of the kids before they sprinted to the finish line. Fast forward back to Sunday’s marathon, watching her with my daughter from the couch was pretty awesome as she broke the tape to become the first woman in 40 years to win the New York City Marathon. Hoisting the American flag with a huge smile on her face was not only a much needed proud moment for Americans but INSPIRATION for so many young girls. 

Then there was the fun aspect for me to track some celebrities from my couch with the New York Road Runners app. I got a kick out of watching Kevin Hart go out at sub 3:30 pace only to see him cramp up and finish in 4:05. I remember thinking “man Kevin Hart is going to CRUSH this”, but this is the marathon and it will test you! I also saw Tiki Barber and Prince Royce run a steady race and I am hoping that when I run the marathon in 2018, I can at least run faster than the three of them did!

 

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Peg Trager from Minnesota Finishes on Crutches (photo credit – Mike Waterhouse)

However none of these stories hit my heart and soul like the ones that ABC News 7 posted on their website earlier today. I ask you all to give this article a read and take some time to read the stories of the runners WHO NEVER GAVE UP. These aren’t experienced professional runners or folks in tip top shape. They came to this race wanting to finish. When water stations were empty and abandoned and when people no longer lined the course to cheer them, they continued. When nightfall fell they didn’t waiver. When their bodies told them “No mas”, their mind and their spirits told them to continue. Read these stories, they all finished the race! This is why running is SO POWERFUL and why it is my wish for all of you to experience the power of overcoming something you didn’t think you could do and being proud of it! Once you read these stories, if only one of you will get up and make a vow to make yourselves better, then my mission was accomplished for the day!

Always believe in yourselves just like the 50,000 plus that crossed the finish line on Sunday did! If your up to it, join me and let’s crush the 2018 NYC Marathon ir any other race together! 

Day One or One Day?

I saw this quote today on my Instagram feed from a very motivational person that I follow, Audrey Puente from, Fox 5 here in New York. She posted this quote and it’s a question that I think many people should ask. 

I actually asked myself this question repeatedly when it came to the New York City Marathon. I always said “one day I want to run the marathon”. I said that for years! This past March I set up a plan for me to run it in 2018. Well actually New York Road Runners did. As of now, I’m qualified and slated to run the 2018 running of the marathon. I got tired of saying one day!! 

So which one will you choose- Day One or One Day?

Enjoy the weekend my friends!! 

Life’s decisions!

 

 Hurdling Over The Obstacles

Never give in to the obstacles life throws at you!

If you are just getting started in whatever type of training, there are going to be times when obstacles or roadblocks will challenge you. It might be in the form of a cramp, a nagging sore muscle, fatigue, a busy schedule or some unforeseen outside force. It is quite normal. Heck it even happens to the most veteran of people who have been working out. 

What is important to recognize however is how you are going to get past that hurdle and most importantly, ensure that it doesn’t beat you. Physical ailments may derail you temporarily but does that mean you shut down your workouts all together? For example, if you are a runner and you experience a sore muscle or a severe cramp in your leg, rest that muscle but perhaps cross train and keep the other parts of your body active. The key here is to try and remain as consistent as possible. 

Then there is the occasional thing that pops up on your schedule at last minute that keeps you from getting that workout completed that you had your heart set on. This happened to me on Tuesday night. Had my sights set on more strength training and a short run, however I had a friend stop by thay was doing me a favor and when he left, it was past 9pm. I thought about still going to the gym but that would have meant having dinner at 11pm which is not always wise. 

Walking into the gym in the early AM fog!


Instead I altered my schedule, went to bed early last night and woke up at 5am today and got that workout completed. Now people will say 5am is too early. Yes it is lol – but the hardest part was waking up. Once that happened, everything flowed. Achieving your goals will take some sacrifice, there is no doubt about it. When my alarm went off at 5am, i thought about how I still had an hour and a half before I usually wake up. But to make up for my missed workout on Tuesday, that 90 minutes of sleep had to be sacrificed and in hindsight it was worth it! 

Early pic from my IG @cosmossoccerfan – Follow me!

About the only thing I regret about this morning is because of the heavy fog out at 5am this morning, I was forced to run in the treadmill (grrr). My strength training was done with hardly anyone around me! Now off to work we go!

Remember, don’t let those obstacles that life throws at you get in the way. It might take some sacrifice but find a way to jump right over them. Keep positive thoughts in mind like I did. I kept thinking about the breakfast I was going to crush! With that said – I’m done here and about to go and crush that omelette! Have a great day my friends! 

Protein after an AM workout – skip the potatoes& toast!