Friday, January 29, 2010

Staying comfortable in the bitter cold.

I just returned two weeks ago from doing the Goofy Challenge at DisneyWorld. Several of you went with me and did the half, full or Goofy. We froze! The problem with Disney and many of the larger marathons is that you have to be in the staging area for a couple of hours before the race even starts. Including wait time may of us were in the cold, unprotected except for the clothes on our backs, for over 9 hours.

Almost everyone took off their heavy layers once they took off and got warm. Problem is, a marathon is a long race, as you get nice and sweaty, you also get soaking wet from the sweat. Once your wet the cold air and wind begins to make you feel cold, even though you are moving and burning calories. Those athletes that stripped down to shorts and just a thin shirt, once they had that initial warm up, were off the side of the road hunting stuff that others had thrown off so they could put something on and get warm.

I was unprepared for being cold for that long. I have done training walks several times with my walking group in temperatures as low as the teens. The difference is we don't stand around very long before we start and we usually are done within an hour to and hour and a half. So even though we are soaked with sweat we are quickly warmed up in our cars on the way home.

Once clothes get wet they don't insulate you from the cold like they did when you were dry. I wore a pair of Nike dryfit gloves, medium weight. They work fine for my cold training walks but once they got soaked through with sweat my hands were freezing in them. Layering matters with gloves also.

I took a trip to Gatlinburg after Disney and picked up some nice stuff from the hiking stores there. I bought two hoods, a light weight and a medium weight. That covers the ears and also that exposed skin of my neck. I bought a pair of light weight dryfit gloves to wear under the medium weight gloves so I would get a layering effect. I tried the light hood and glove layering this week on a 19 degree 6 mile walk and was very satisfied with the protection.

It's not hard to layer on your upper body by wearing several shirts, starting with a tech layer first. Then ending with a wind proof shell. But if you neglect your hands, neck and face you are going to be cold during a long event in the cold.

Next time I race a long cold event I will be better prepared and have a more comfortable and much warmer time of it.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

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