How to survive the F^3 Lake Half Marathon | January 28

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Running Saturday’s F^3 Lake Half Marathon seemed like a good idea months ago. Back when you spent hours of your summer running along the Lakefront. Back when you had the miles of the Chicago Half Marathon or the Bank of America Chicago Marathon under your belt. Back when you couldn’t resist paying less than $45 for a half marathon in the Windy City.


But then the busy holiday season hit and your running shoes took a backseat to your party ones. But then the weather turned cold—and sometimes icy and snowy—and hibernating under a blanket sounded better than running outside. But then snow entered the forecast for the morning of the race and you really started wondering how you’d survive 13.1 miles in far-from-ideal conditions. Sure, you have to expect that when you sign up for a race that’s labeled the F^ing Freezing Frozen, held in January in one of the colder parts of the country when the wind blows. But you always hoped that race day would warrant one of those surprise spring-like days we saw around Christmas or earlier in the month…or today.


Since that’s not the case, at least if you’ve been monitoring weather.com, here are some survival suggestions for tomorrow’s half marathon. After all, you want to earn that medal that doubles as a bottle opener.


Dress in layers. When it’s hot, the choice is simple: wear as few clothes as possible to stay cool. When it’s cold, you want to wear more layers to stay warm at the start, but you have to account for your body’s rising temperature as you start moving and avoid overheating. And around these parts, a layer to protect against the wind is always key.


Bring a garbage bag. This sounds crazy, but when there’s a chance of inclement weather—snow or rain or that funky mixture that likes to fall when it’s not quite freezing—a bag poked with arm holes and a head hole is your best weapon against the elements. You can always yank it off and toss it aside when you don’t want it anymore.


Wear an older pair of shoes. You know how you’ve been advised to rotate your running shoes so you don’t have one high-mileage pair and that’s it? Consider wearing one of the pairs that are on their way out of the rotation, or are more worn-in to weather the elements, than that favorite newbie pair.


Hydrate and fuel. Cold air has a drying effect that can make you even more dehydrated during a race. Plus you’re still sweating and losing fluids. Remember this Runner’s World advisory: You want to eat or drink carb-rich items on runs that are longer than 75 minutes.


Have fun. It’s a race so you’ll want to have your game face on, but don’t forget that it’s only January, and you don’t necessarily have to PR this early in the year. Besides, wouldn’t you rather cross the finish line with a smiling or a sighing in relief than a wincing in pain? Speaking of which, you could always downgrade to the 5K option.



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