Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic — What are your ideal temperature/conditions for race day? — makes me feel like Goldilocks trying out the bears’ porridge, chairs and beds.

I’ve done races or long runs with snow, rain and heat. Each had its challenges and forced me to dig deep to keep going.

In my ideal world, my races would all be on sunny mornings, with a little breeze and temperatures in the 50s. In the Michigan tundra, that means I would be perfectly comfortable running for about one Saturday in the spring and that’s it.

Weather like this has taught me how to plan ahead and how to layer.

Weather like this has taught me how to plan ahead and how to layer.

In the interest of making sure you’re comfortable even if race day doesn’t accommodate your perfect-racing-conditions preferences, here’s some of the best advice that’s been handed down to me from more-experienced runners:

  1. Look at the forecast. All of it. My weather app breaks down the weather by the hour. I’ve been caught without the proper gear because I just looked at the day’s forecast, making for miserable conditions.
  2. Make a list or lay out all of your gear the night before a race (or long run)And by everything, I really mean everything. Include your wool hat, rain jacket or sunscreen. You may tell yourself that you will never forget it, but I’ve heard of very experienced runners who’ve forgotten key gear like running shoes.
  3. Train in all kinds of weather. My running mentor Janet suggested that I practice running in different situations: alone and with friends, with and without music, and in all kinds of weather. That allows us to try out different outfits and gear so that we’re only wearing tried-and-true items on race day, plus we also know that we’ve survived other hot/cold/wet/muggy runs and will live through that day’s weather.
  4. Be flexible. If you’re traveling for a race, you may have to pack your race day outfit several days in advance. Runner friends tell me they plan to dress in layers, adding or taking away pieces depending on that morning’s forecast. That may mean over-packing, but could save you a last-minute trip to Target to pick up new (read: untested) gear at the last minute.
  5. Listen to the experts. Experienced runners like Coach Jenny have time-tested tips for adapting to whatever the weather throws at you. There’s no reason for any of us to have to figure this out on or own.

Now go check out the link-up hosts runner bloggers MCM Mama Runs, My No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice.

What’s your perfect race-day weather? How do you plan ahead or adapt to make sure you’re properly geared-up?

We’re camping at Sleepy Hollow State Park this weekend and it’s been all trails all the time with more planned for tomorrow morning when some friends join me for at least six miles.

Sleepy Hollow State Park trail.

Sleepy Hollow State Park trail.

My Brooks Cascadias are caked in mud and my legs are tired but my heart is happy.

The shoe-eating mud.

The shoe-eating mud.

Last week’s attempt at trail running is a distant memory, although the wanna-be ponds turned into wanna-eat-your-shoes squishy mud pits. I swear I almost lost my left shoe twice, a first.

But I conquered.

Feeling strong and more confident on the trails.

Feeling strong and more confident on the trails.

We also spent some time by the fiah.

Now that's a fiah.

Now that’s a fiah.

I did carve a few minutes to plan out our meals for the week because all this running makes me want to eat all of the food:

How was your weekend? Did you run? What’s on your menu this week?

I like to think of myself as someone who likes to try new things, but this week’s Tuesdays on the Run topic — whether you run races once and done or do repeats — has convinced me that I may be more of a creature of habit than I thought. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.not that there's anything wrong with that

ONESIES.

onesies

As a very new runner, I did Ele’s Race in Okemos, Mich., by myself. The yearly race iss well organized, has a flat course and supports an awesome organization that helps grieving children. But I didn’t know anyone else at the race and was surprisingly lonely. I may try it again, but only if I can do it with runner friends.

The other onesies were all novelty runs: the Color Run and a couple of virtual races hosted by Skirt Sports. I encourage brand-new runners or people who like to walk to do the Color Run. It certainly had a party vibe and I can see why newbies would enjoy it. It was anything but a race, so I just don’t see myself doing it again.

What I really liked about the virtual races was having the goal on the calendar plus the flexibility to run the miles over a certain period of time and still get the race swag. I especially enjoyed the 261 Fearless virtual race and I would consider doing it again.

TWOSIES
Yes, someone makes these.

Yes, someone makes these.

Then there are the races that were better than Cats and I want to do them again and again.

Capital City River Run was both my first half and my first full marathon, and certainly a race I plan to run in the coming years. It’s a well-run, fun race with lots of spectators right in my hometown. I loved sleeping in my own bed, getting up at a reasonable hour and still making it to the starting line with time to spare.

Another repeat is the Lansing Turkeyman Trot on Thanksgiving morning, my first 5K ever and one that my favorite 16-year-old and I have done for the past three years. I have visions of doing this one every November, even if said daughter has to wheel me down Michigan Avenue in a wheelchair many moons from now.

Because I obviously like to run races with runner friends, I have also signed up for the Lake Lansing Team Marathon the past few years. If you like festive (read: with lots of food), then this is the race for you. Teams of up to five people sign up to run 5.2 mile legs that begin and end in the same spot so you get to hang out with friends while one person runs around Lake Lansing at a time.

I recently did the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon in Grand Rapids, Mich., and enjoyed it so much that I’m adding it to next year’s race schedule. The gorgeous blue-sky and warm temps didn’t hurt and neither did knowing a dozen amazing women who were also running that morning.

That all said, there are so very many races to be run that I’m not sure how many races I’ll repeat each year. I’m fortunate to get to scratch three new races off my wish list this year: the Two Hearted Trail Half (next month!), Run Woodstock 50K (September) and the Labor Day Bridge Run over the gorgeous Mackinac Bridge (September).

But there’s no way to tell which of those, if any, will make the short list for years to come.

Please make sure to visit the TOTR link-up hosts runner bloggers MCM Mama Runs, My No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice!

What races have you run once? Any repeats? Why?

I’d been looking forward to Saturday and Sunday morning trail runs while we camped in our motorhome just north of Lansing. It felt like the night before a race as I made sure I had everything I could possibly need.

But the RV wouldn’t even start. Dead battery.

And so began this less-than-perfect weekend. We called our insurance company, which sent a technician to give us a jump and we were able to leave our driveway.

We finally arrived at our campsite two hours later, built a fire and started to make s’mores when it started raining.

I heard rain on and off all night, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I headed out for my morning run. Things were quiet as I walked, then ran a half mile or so to the now-familiar Sleepy Hollow State Park trail head.

sleepy hollow state park trail map

Sleepy Hollow State Park trail map.

I ran on wet grass and muddy trails, my trail shoes making a satisfying squish-squish sound. It was early but already light out as I entered the first loop, turned left where I planned to run a couple of miles before turning around and heading back.

I dodged overgrown bushes and tried to stay clear of the ever-present poison ivy, the previous day’s emotional yuck quickly fading.

Sleepy Hollow State Park trail

Sleepy Hollow State Park trail.

Then I saw it. A wanna-be pond overtaking the trail, no evident path around. No problem, I told myself and headed back to whence I came and ran toward the other end of the trail.

And there it was: another pond-like puddle blocking my way not a quarter mile in.

sleepy hollow flooded trail

Flooding, aka, my nemesis, on the Sleepy Hollow State Park trail.

This is where I questioned my resolve. Was it worth plowing through and pressing on?

I chose dry feet, even as I worried this meant I wasn’t really ready to call myself a trail runner.

I headed back to the road a bit deflated before remembering I’d seen signage for a triathlon by the lake. And there they were. Runners. Triathletes, sure, but my people. The temperature was in the 40s and dozens of them were getting gear ready, checking on bike tires and walking to the all-important bathroom.

I didn’t see anyone I knew, but I felt the kinship nonetheless. They didn’t know anything about me. They didn’t know whether I ran through the puddles or ran straight back to the comparatively dry road. They just saw someone running, smiled, gave me head nods and waved just the same.

I guess I’ll stick with the label.

I did have some time to plan the coming week’s meals, using my trusty method:

MENU IDEAS vegetables for Pinterest
  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, cornbread (we use Jiffy mix)
  • Chicken Cacciatore served over noodles, rolls
  • Spanish rice (with tomatoes, green peppers and onions), garlic toast. Here’s a similar recipe
  • Stuffed manicotti, green salad, garlic bread. Here’s a similar recipe
  • Bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches, chips, fruit salad

How was your running weekend? Do you trail run?

To borrow a refrain from a certain musical: Puerto Rico, you lovely island

Were I to schedule a destination race, my homeland would be at the top of the list. I wasn’t a runner when I lived there, so I’m not familiar with the racing scene, but I do know that the Puerto Rico Marathon and Half in March runs through some of my favorite childhood spots.

El Morro, one of my favorite places in Puerto Rico.

El Morro, one of my favorite places in Puerto Rico.

To account for the heat (temperatures of at least 70 at the starting line), the race begins at o-dark-thirty (a.k.a. 5 a.m.), but quickly takes runners from the classic Caribe Hilton Hotel through Old San Juan’s hilly cobblestone streets with a finish line that just happens to be near a beach.

Source: www.visitapuertorico.com

Source: www.visitapuertorico.com

Seeing some of my favorite sights would be worth the price of travel, which is what this week’s Tuesdays on the Run link-up is all about. While many runners plan trips just for races, I’ve yet to do that. And with one kid in college and one following him in a year, it may not be in my future anytime soon. Unless, of course, one of you knows a race organizer who wants to sponsor me.

chica can dream, no?

A back-up race on the Isla del Encanto would be the World’s Best 10K Race in February, an even worse-weather month in the Michigan tundra, allowing me to enjoy the trip even more. The course also travels on the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge which tends to be breezy and may help with the expected heat.

Either way, the trip would give me a chance to catch up with my brother, see childhood friends and eat some delicious food to refuel from the race, of course.

My brother Joey.

My brother Joey.

Until I can fulfill my racing dreams, I have convinced my familia to use our annual week-long vacation to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to run my first trail half, the Two Hearted near the Tahquamenon Falls next month. Not quite the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, but beautiful nonetheless.

_Upper_Falls

Source: Michigan DNR

What about you: What would be your dream destination race? If you’ve done one, what lessons learned would you share?