Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fair Weather Runner No More

Well, I experienced a bit of a first today.  I intentionally headed out into some really foul weather for a run.  Now, I don't mind the heat (too much) and I do run in the cold of winter for the most part.  However, one thing I have always avoided was running in a cold rain.  Under the best of circumstances I am not much of a water person.  That's why, though I have flirted with the idea of doing a triathlon, I have never actually entered one.  Aside from the fact that I just can't swim too well, I really don't enjoy getting wet.  And, I can't think of anything worse than having to get wet in a bathing suit, unless - of course - it's having to get wet with clothes on.  So, confession time, I have never really been an "all weather" runner.  I come close, but cold, rainy conditions drive me to the treadmill or indoor track - or couch - every time.

So, what happened today?  No idea, except that I was feeling pretty guilty about the three days of relative inactivity I have had.  I knew that our running club's Wednesday morning group - small though it is - is pretty hardcore, and I could count on them to be out there running in just about anything.  So, after a quick electronic exchange with the group's fearless leader confirmed that running would be braved, I headed to my closet to see what I had for "cold, rainy."

The selection of gear was not really great.  As it turns out - surprise, surprise - I don't really have anything that qualifies as "cold, rainy gear."  In fact, my selection of cold weather gear was a bit slim, as I had yet to make the transition to winter clothes.  Digging around in a storage box of said items turned up a pair of insulated tights.  That paired with my Mizuno Breathe Thermo shirt, Patagonia breathable/wicking jacket, a Brooks beanie, Pearl Izumi glove/mitts, and just my regular running shoes with SmartWool socks would have to do.

So, how did it go?  Well, as you might imagine, it was miserable.  If it weren't for the company and just the fact that running in mid-30 degree weather with precipitation was patently ridiculous, I would have really hated it.  As it turns out, though, it was kind of fun.  Starting out, the debate cropped up right away which way to go.  Examining the wind direction, we opted to head out for a loop that would take us about four miles, backs to the wind.  To be honest, it wasn't too bad starting out.  Granted, we were being pelted by sleet for the first two miles or so, and that kind of stung, but jokes of exfoliation aside, it was infinitely better than the freezing rain we experienced in the last two miles.  It didn't take too long once the sleet turned to rain to start feeling pretty soaked.

By the time we got into the last mile, I think all three of us were looking forward to hitting the second tunnel we'd have to go through.  We had walked through the first tunnel, and the consensus seemed to be a walk through the second tunnel would be a welcome respite from the rain.  Well, that worked to a point.  What didn't work was that the north wind that was blowing seemed to be perfectly funneled through the tunnel.  I am sure the three of us made a funny picture as we all without discussion turned to walk backwards into the wind through the tunnel.  Coming up the last hill, the little strip mall where the coffee shop is located was a welcome sight. And, there was absolutely no guilt about the dark chocolate mocha I ordered.  Thankfully, I had thought to bring a change of clothes, so enjoying the coffee was no problem either.

Would I do such a run again?  Probably.  Never say never, I guess.  I would have to find some other alternatives for clothes, though.  Finishing the run, I was soaked to the skin.  The tights, shirt, and jacket were just so-so.  I know the Mizuno Breathe Thermo is supposed to warm up as it gets wet, but I don't think it is intended for rainy - more just sweating in the cold.  My arms and core were pretty chilled by the time I finished.

As a further note, when a jacket's claim to fame is that it is breathable and wicking, that does not mean it is a decent rain coat.  I think the key words I needed were "water repellent." What I was happy with were my SmartWool socks, which kept my feet warm despite the squishy feeling in my shoes, and my Pearl Izumi mitts and Brooks beanie, which kept my hands and head toasty, respectfully.

So, there you have it.  I am a fair weather runner no more.  I won't exactly rush out into these conditions again, and I might look into some appropriate gear for cold rain, but I wouldn't hesitate to head out again if I felt I had to - especially if there is a really good coffee to be had afterward.  Happy Running!

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