Friday, February 26, 2010

Shopping for a Sport You've Never Played (Part 1)

It’s February in Washington, DC. It’s not just any winter thought, it’s snowpocalypse! In the four winters I’ve lived in this city, I have not seen more then a day of snow each season, not to mention that it usually didn’t even stick. But of course, the winter I decide to sign up for a program that will have me running outside before the crack of dawn (literally), the ice age arrives! Of course I didn’t realize we would be running outside when I signed up. I remember sitting in the Y for the Orientation, all excited with my two good friends who signed up with me, almost a month after we registered and put money down for this crazy adventure. We were finally going to find out, in specifics, what these 18 weeks were going to entail! Truthfully, all I remember from the hour plus presentation, was Larry (organizer) stating, almost as an after thought, that the running groups would meet in the lobby for their OUTDOOR runs. What about the indoor track? Now I know this sounds slightly melodramatic, but you have to understand, I am from Florida!

Anyway, this launched my mission to make sure I had all I needed to be prepared.

Running Shoes: Nothing beats going to a running store like Georgetown Running Co. or Fleet Feet and getting a professional to fit you, especially if you are not an experienced runner. There are just way too many details to be able to figure it out on your own. If you really can’t afford to shell out $100, go in anyway, get a fitting, get their advice and then go online shopping for the one or two options they gave you for a discounted price. I found my Mizuno’s for $30 cheaper then the store was offering and free shipping on Amazon!

Outdoor Winter Wear: This is definitely where most of my purchasing anxiety was. I needed to be warm enough, while not looking like an idiot, and not have my movement inhibited by the zillions of layers I was planning on stacking over my frozen Florida girl self. Not to mention I’m always on a budget. So after a lot of research, asking friends advice and perusing the local running shops, I settled on the following. A pair of CS running tights: not the thickest pair, but close. I was told over and over again the importance, that even though it was freezing and I was layering, I needed to make sure my bottom layers were wicking. Supposedly one of the easiest ways to get chilled is to have your cotton shirt absorb your sweat and hold it close to your body. So I got a Asics wicking tank (great cheap options at Target). Through (great name brand outdoor gear deals) I got a Northface fleece, a bit thicker than average, in a discontinued color on sale. So what, and how much, goes in between my tank and fleece? This is where the clutch find came into play. I stumbled upon this long sleeved, half zip piece from Asics “Thermopolis” line. Yea, I had no idea what that meant either, but it turns out not only is it wicking, but has “thermal properties” that helps trap your bodies heat to keep you toasty with only one thin layer. These three pieces combined (add a rain shell if it’s snowing - which it was my first day… another post) turned out to be the perfect equation. As for the accessories, I threw a $5 thick fuzzy headband looking think that did double duty as ear muffs and held back my bangs, and pair of gloves into my bag. Done and done!

To follow: Swimming and Cycling gear, heart rate monitor, and what ever else I might need along the way.

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