Okay, I have to admit it. I am a fair weather runner. If I had my choice, I would only run outside on partly cloudy days with temperatures in the low 60s. The reality is I have to train in all kinds of weather.
Today was a good example of that. It was in the 20s but with the wind, it felt like it was in the teens. I really did not want to go out to run but I am training for the Tokyo Marathon. I have read that it could be cold and windy during the race. I need to be prepared for those weather conditions.
As I pounded out my miles today, I was reminded of my coach for the January, 2010 Goofy Race and a Half Challenge, Coach Perry. The Goofy Race and a Half Challenge is a half marathon on Saturday followed by a full marathon on Sunday. If you recall, 2010 was the year where the East Coast was pummeled by cold and snow. The cold weather started in October, 2009 when we were running on 40 degree, rainy days. It is miserable to be wet and chilled to the bone. November was not much better with colder than normal temperatures and some light snow that fortunately did not linger.
In December the day of our 18-mile run, we got 4 inches of unexpected wet snow. Many of my teammates bailed after 9 miles but I decided to stick it out. Coach Perry joined me for a good part of the second half of that run. As we plowed through the snow, he said many runners would look out the window on a day like that and stay home. Coach Perry pointed out you never know what the weather will be like on race day. Those runners would not be ready for bad weather since they stayed inside. As he talked, I kept thinking about the Goofy. We would be running in Florida. There is no way there would be snow in Florida. Running in snow in preparation for a race in Florida was, well, goofy.
A couple weeks later, our 20-mile run was snowed out by a storm that left 20 inches of new snow on the ground. Our run was rescheduled and we headed out in the bitter cold. This time our challenge was black ice in spots that had melted then refroze. I remember runners yelling out “Ice!” to warn the people behind them of slippery roads. Again, I kept thinking there is no way we will have black ice in Florida.
Even our last training run before heading south to Florida was a challenge. It was 20 degrees with wind chills in the teens. Not a lot of the team showed up for the training run. Many of those that did quit half way through because of the cold. One of my teammates had icicles hanging off the back of his hat. I ran the whole distance. To keep motivated, I kept telling myself that it wasn’t going to be that bad in Florida.
When we headed to Orlando for race weekend, the cold snap had embraced Florida as well. The weather forecast for the Saturday and Sunday races was more in line with what we would have back in the North. The Disney race folks sent emails to the runners telling them to prepare for colder than normal temperatures and pack water resistant clothing. The big news when we arrived was that iguanas (not a native Florida species) were “lapsing into a kind of involuntary hibernation, and falling out of trees.” It was an opportunity for them to be scooped up and re-homed.
Saturday morning the temperatures were in the low 30s for the start of the half marathon. As we waited for the race to begin, it started to rain and sleet. Because it was so cold, there were even a few wet snow flakes! I was dumbfounded. It was cold and windy with periods of rain for the entire race. But because of Coach Perry, I was prepared.
We hoped that Sunday would bring warmer temperatures for the full marathon but no such luck. It was even colder. The temperature at the start of the race was 28 degrees and windy. Although there were no clouds in the sky, I don’t think we ever made it out of the 30s that day.
Snow, sleet, rain, wind – we had trained in it all and encountered it during the races. Oh, and our black ice training also came in handy. At each water stop during the marathon, the spilled water and PowerAde had turned to black ice on the road. I walked through all the water stops just to avoid falling.
I thought about that crazy race weekend today as I was blown along by the wind. It reminded me that I really should embrace the weather, no matter what it is. Race day could be windy like it was today. I have trained in it so I know what to expect. Weather on race day is something we can’t control. I just hope there isn’t any black ice. I still am under doctor’s orders not to fall!