AFMDC December Recap

By – January 1, 2014
Photo by Jake North


The most dire arctic forecasts, along with the ice fog, never quite materialized. Instead, the 35th running of the Decker Half Marathon Challenge in east Austin was just plain, old-fashioned, bone-chilling cold. Most of the 1,000 runners assembled at the Travis Country Expo Center for Decker were up to the challenge, as the outfit of the day was tights, hats, and gloves.

Somewhat surprisingly, the two big winners—Erik Stanley of Rogue and Jennifer Harney of Team Mizuno and Luke’s Locker—were among those who froze to the core. Especially Harney.

The 35-year-old ran virtually unopposed to win in a 2-minute PR of 1:23:10, but she paid dearly for her victory. Harney ran in a light singlet with arm warmers but no gloves and then, after five miles, inexplicably tossed the arm warmers. Big mistake.

“I got so cold out there,” Harney said, “the last two miles, I could barely lift my legs. I couldn’t feel anything. I was just numb.”

Stanley, who won by two minutes in 1:09:16 (more than 3 minutes off his PR), had been secretly hoping all week that Decker was going to be canceled. After putting in a bunch of 100-mile weeks following Run for the Water 10 Miler, Stanley was dinged with calf and back injuries. Racing a tough up-and-down course like Decker wasn’t exactly what the doctor ordered.

Still, he showed up ready to roll and blasted the first mile along Decker Road in 5:02, which just about ended any suspense regarding the winner. “I enjoyed the majority of it,” said Stanley, who was running Decker for the first time. “I feel like I ran pretty well, considering how banged up I’ve been. Really, I was just going for the win.”

The 2013-14 Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge picks up again on January 5 for the fourth race in the series—the Rogue 30K in Cedar Park.

How To Train Effectively While Dealing With Winter Winds

For Central Texans in the summer, it’s the heat and humidity. In the winter, we get the wind. Either condition can be brutal. But unlike the heat and humidity, constants on just about any summer run, the winter wind is either your best friend or worst enemy.

How do you deal with the wind? Very carefully. When you’re running with the wind, you should try to run with an even effort and resist the temptation to overstride. But when you head into the wind, trying to maintain that same, even pace will obviously be much more difficult. The best advice is to respect the wind and slow the pace down a notch or two. Don’t try to fight it. Reduce your stride length. Respect the wind and modify your effort. Leaning into the wind will slightly decrease your resistance to it. Try to remain relaxed and not get frustrated by your drop in speed and increase in effort. You have to ski the conditions.
If you are running with a partner or in a group, take turns at the front breaking the headwind. In a race, drafting is a common tactic on a windy day. If you aren’t in front breaking the wind, duck in behind the tallest runner you can find to cut down on the wind’s effects.

With any type of stiff wind, don’t worry so much about maintaining a certain training speed or tempo. Instead, focus on effort and try to run as comfortably as possible.
A couple of other tips: Always wear a hat (wool or baseball cap) on cold, windy days. If it’s cold, gloves are also a must. Wear layers so you can adjust your outerwear with the wind (and weather). Vests are great on windy, winter runs because they can be adjusted, and many fold into a compact carrying case if it gets too warm. Always have dry, warm clothes ready to change into at the finish of long, windy winter runs to prevent the chills.

 January 5, 2014
Next Up:  Rogue Distance Festival 30K/10K   



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