Friday, September 28, 2012

The New Fall Lineup

Okay. I admit it. I have become obsessed with running. And now the season is changing and with that the weather. I went out for an early morning run on Monday, and quickly realized that summer running and fall running are not going to be the same thing. It was cold feeling temperature wise, in the low to mid 40s. Wearing dri-fit capris and a tank were not going to cut it anymore. Fortunately, I had one long sleeve running shirt and I have a couple of pair of long pants. I knew this would help me in fair weather with my fall running, but I needed to get some appropriate gear soon.

I did some research. I needed to get a list of things: warm running tights, a pair of shorts to go over the tights (since running tights are not super flattering), another warmer long sleeve shirt (since mine is light weight), a light weight jacket for running in the fall rain, a warmer moisture-wicking jacket for the cooler weather (in the 30s). I would also need some gloves and something to protect my ears.

Today I woke to rain. Sadness! I had the day off and had planned to go for an hour-long run this morning, but I had absolutely nothing to wear for rainy weather. While I could wait on some of the gear for the really cold temperatures, October is the rainiest month in Massachusetts, and I didn't want to have to give up my running outdoors. I needed at least something for running in the wet.

During the research phase, I had scoured and also visited a bricks and mortar store, Dick's Sporting Goods. I had found a number of things I liked, but after the vet bill earlier this month, I didn't want to spend a bundle.

At my mom's suggestion, I decided to check out T.J. Maxx. Let me be clear, I don't like shopping T.J. Maxx. The store is overwhelming and seems disorganized to me. I don't really like clothing shopping (athletic clothing shopping being the one exception), and I find T.J. Maxx and it's sister store Marshalls to be too much work. That being said, I know they can have amazing deals, so I decided to check them out.

Success (and I'm a little bit of a T.J. Maxx convert)! I ended up with one running shirt, one winter running jacket, and one rainy weather light weight jacket.

Left to right, the shirt is a Nike Pro Combat Hyperwarm long sleeved shirt. It's fuzzy on the inside and can be my only layer if the weather isn't too cold. It can also serve as a base layer in really cold weather. The sleeves are long and go over the hands and have thumb holes, which will be nice for weather when the hands are a little cool but don't need gloves. This shirt was $50 at the Dicks, but only $24.99 at T.J. Maxx.

The second item I purchased is a Nike Beautitility Thermal. It's a thermal fit with the Nike Stay Warm technology. The fabric seems like it will moisture wick nicely. As as a bonus, there is a pocket for your iPhone (with a little hole to thread your ear buds through). I'm not 100% sure, but the jacket might also keep out light moisture, like dry snow. It wouldn't work for rain though. This jacket, paired with the Nike Pro Hyperwarm shirt should keep me plenty warm in weather down to around 30, I would imagine. This jacket retails normally at $150, and was on sale for $49.99. Here's a close-up from an image online (obviously in a different color).

The last item I got was the one that I will be able to use right away, a Nike Running Storm Fly jacket. It's a light weight rain jacket and very breathable. There are vents across and down the sides of the back. The jacket was marked down from $135.00 to $49.99. It's supposed to rain tomorrow, so I will use this right away. This jacket also contains a pocket for the iPhone, which is great because I would want to keep it dry in the wet weather.

I shopped around but was unable to find some tights and shorts for cheap. I've identified a pair of tights I really liked, Nike Pro Hyperwarm Fusion tights.

They were super warm with a fuzzy lining. At $60, I'm going to see if I can wait until the holiday season and get them as a gift. If it ends up getting cold early this year, I'll still have at least a month to save up if I get them myself.

I also found a pair of affordable running shorts that fit decently Nike Livestrong Pacer Shorts. I tried them on in extra small (instead of my normal size small, as the extra small were on clearance) and they were the first shorts I've tried on that didn't look absolutely ridiculous  and puffy on me. They would be perfect to wear over the tights in the winter, for more modesty, and could be worn by themselves in the warm weather.

They were on sale and about $20 or less, but I decided to hold off because I had spent a bit on clothing that day and would wait to get shorts and tights together. In the meantime, I can continue to wear some of the thinner long pants I have for when I run outside until the weather gets really cold.

While I did end up spending some money I didn't intend to today, I got some excellent deals and am now ready to continue my running in the fall and early winter. This is good because I have a few races I'm signed up for and need to continue my training. So far, I am signed up for the following:

ABC Fall Foliage 5K on October 20th. I am really excited about this 5K because it's in Amherst and the course looks awesome! The walk starts on the town commons, goes through Amherst College and along the bike path where I love to run, and then loops around to end at the town commons again.

Revolution Run Homecoming 5K at UMass on October 27. Seth and I are running this one together. It will be fun to be back on campus for homecoming and to do a race there. The route will be posted soon, and I'm eager to see the plan. The course is USTAF certified for the first time this year. As a bonus, we'll get t-shirts, and there is a celebration after the race. Should be a fun way to celebrate homecoming.

Cider Donut Run 10K on November 4. This is the only 10K I have scheduled for the fall, but I think this is the race that I am most looking forward to -- I really like the 10K distance (far but not too far). This race is also in Amherst and benefits the Amherst Survival Center, which is great. This course will start at the North Amherst commons and take us through the northern part of the UMass campus, which should be an entertaining route. And, of course, they will have post-race cider doughnuts!

Hot Chocolate Run on December 2. Yikes running in December! I know, I never would have thought it of myself, but this Northampton 5K race to benefit Safe Passage is a classic, and I really want to participate. The race starts in downtown Northampton and snakes through Smith College and along the bike path. The race is, from what I hear, the largest race in Western Massachusetts. They are limiting registration to 5,500 runners/walkers and expect to hit that total. There will be commemorative mugs and hot chocolate at the end of the race. Sounds fun!

I've felt much more confident about my running since my half marathon. (In fact, I feel for the first time like I can call myself a runner.) As a result, I have been running my 5K pace a bit faster at a 9:45 to 10:00 mile. I want to definitely improve my time as I do these 5Ks. This new pace is instead of the 10:15 to 10:30 mile I used to do for pretty much all my runs when training for my 10K and then during my run-walk-run method for the half marathon. I feel now that if I could make my body run 13.1 miles, I can be aware of my body enough to regulate my speed and know when I will get fatigued. I can kick it up a notch in the speed department.

I'm pretty excited for my fall lineup of races and am excited to have the gear I need to continue training outside regardless of the weather. Nothing is going to stop me from preparing for these races now!

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