Life, like marathons doesn’t always go as planned. If I have learned any life lessons from running it’s that no matter how bleak the future looks, no matter how bad you hurt, no matter how much you doubt yourself, and no matter how much you wish you could quit, if you hang on and endure just a little more, eventually the trial will end and you will enjoy the sweet victory of knowing you can overcome any obstacle.
While planning to run the Garden Spot Marathon in New Holland, Pennsylvania I noticed the weather was looking pretty questionable for April. People complain a lot about weather forecasters and claim they never get the forecast right. It’s a toss up between the gal who does the weather and politicians which one will be the butt of the most jokes. However in the case of the Garden Spot Marathon the weather gal was spot on!
Oh how I had wished this one would have been different. I had visions of running though green picturesque farmlands but the weather turned out to be the worst of any marathon I have yet run, however you don’t run as many races as I have without learning a thing or two about protecting yourself from adverse conditions and turning a rotten day into a good time.
I want to dedicate this blog post to those who might be planning to run a race in less than perfect conditions.
1.) Watch the weather forecast like a hawk and plan accordingly. The weather forecast changes quickly from day to day.
2.) Take or buy everything you need before race day a.– Vaseline b.– cheap plastic poncho c.– acrylic hat and gloves d.– long sleeve compression style shirt e.–long sleeve sweatshirt f.–lip balm
The morning of the marathon…..
3.) When running in wet, soggy, freezing snow or rain you must rub yourself down with Vaseline. Yes you can use something a lot more expensive but honestly those expense lubricants don’t work any better than good ole’ fashion Vaseline. The moisture will create rubbing and eventually blisters. Cover your upper arms, in between your thighs, your chest and even your feet. Nothing is more miserable than blisters on your toes and feet because of soaking wet socks.
4.) With snow or ice cold rain your biggest concern is maintaining your body heat. Sure you can buy a $500 Gortex suit or layer yourself with a ton of clothes but when I run long races, I prefer shorts. The problem with wearing too many clothes is when they get wet they get heavy. When the snow lets up for a time you have to shed clothes and then what do you do when it starts snowing again? Freeze? Fortunately I have found an easy solution. Where a long sleeve under-armor style shirt as a base then a nice cotton or fleece sweatshirt over. You will have warmth without bulk. You must wear an acrylic ski hat, and a pair of acrylic gloves. The most important part…buy an inexpensive $1.99 plastic poncho from Walmart. It’s lightweight and flexible. It’s very comfortable to wear and it will keep you warm and steamy. Try to find a sweat shirt and poncho that does not have a hood. Buy this from a thrift store so you won’t feel guilty if you have to discard it during the race. A hood sounds like a good idea but in high wind it won’t stay on your head anyway and will just become a nuisance. Cut the hood off with scissors if necessary.
During this marathon I ran up to the water station at mile 17 and the volunteer lady manning the table laughed a little at my appearance and ask me, “So does that plastic poncho keep you dry?” when I replied ‘no’ she thought I was joking and she laughed again. That’s when I told her with or without the poncho in terrible weather it would be impossible to remain dry. In fact I explained the goal isn’t to remain dry but to be warm. With all the sweat under the poncho and all the wet snow outside you are going to remain wet throughout the entire race. However you will be completely warm and your muscle will feel great because of the ‘spa’ effect created by your body heat and the steam.
5.) When the wind is blowing at 25 miles an hour straight into your face and the snow is stinging your lips your new best friend will be a small tube of lib balm! keep it in your pocket or fanny pack and apply it often.
Simple but effective.
Because of a few preparations I did before the race this turned out to be a really great marathon. I felt strong and was warm and comfortable from beginning to end despite Mother Nature doing her best to try and kill me.
I ran the first part of the marathon with the ‘half marathon’ runners. When the split came up and they were to finish to the left and I needed to continue to the right they were all so nice and before leaving me one by one they started giving me all sorts of nice compliments and telling me how inspired they were and how much they respected me, etc. It was a bit too much so I interrupted and exclaimed in a firm voice,”Hey, hey, guys don’t say it with words….say it with dollar bills!” Everybody started laughing and it was a great way to depart and continue on with the next half of the race.
By the way, Pennsylvania is soooo beautiful. As we ran along the course Amish families in horse drawn buggies would ride past us. I would wave and shout out ‘Hi’ but never did I get a single response. In fact only the children would look over and sometimes smile. The adults would stare straight ahead and completely ignore me. They are a very shy people. I loved this part of the country so much I feel if I ever had to leave Utah I could move here.
Surprisingly I saw several young Amish men and women running the race. They wore their long dresses and long pants with their bib numbers pinned to them. Very cool. Being completely unfamiliar with their traditions and customs I was pleasantly surprised on a daily basis by them.
Our plane landed us in Philadelphia. While there we saw the ‘Rocky’ statue and the new LDS Temple and even the Masonic Temple. We also got to see the Liberty Bell. What a great trip and super fun marathon.