The Raw Race Report: Ironman Lake Placid 2014

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From behind the podium, I accepted a microphone and an opportunity to address a 200+ crowd of orange-clad triathletes and their families.

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I’d like to tell you a story about two girlfriends, I said, both of whom are racing Ironman Lake Placid this Sunday. A story about two girlfriends and their fathers. 

The first of these friends was in her mid-20s when she lost her father. While biking, her father was struck by a distracted driver. Her father died before she could make it to the hospital to say goodbye. 

The second of these friends is me. When I was in my early 20s, my father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare and (as of yet) incurable blood cancer. The prognosis read 3-5 years

But that was eleven years ago. 

I explained this as I addressed 110 triathletes and their families who, over the course of the past year and in preparation to represent the MMRF at Ironman Lake Placid, had raised over $865,000 for myeloma research. Some of them had been personally touched my myeloma. Most had not. Instead, they raised those funds in exchange for a highly coveted Ironman bib. It was my task to thank them on behalf of the myeloma community.

Since its inception in 1999, I explained, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation has brought six new myeloma drugs to market, one of which has kept my father golfing and cycling and far outliving the stark prognosis he faced eleven years ago. Thanks to you and the tireless work of the MMRF, I have had  the past eleven years to process and express to my father the full extent of his influence on my life. I have been able to demonstrate to him in every Ironman that I race that I was, in fact, listening to all of the lessons he taught me as a young girl about setting goals, believing in the impossible, and defying odds. 

I fought back tears and returned to the story of two girlfriends and their fathers.

None of us know how many final seconds, or days, or years we will have to express gratitude, communicate influence, heal deep wounds, and retire old grudges with our loved ones. But if we start now, we just may have enough time. 

IMAZ with Poppy Smiles Cropped

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In May, with my parents cheering me on, I raced Ironman Texas, won my age group, declined my Kona slot, placed 3rd amateur, qualified for my pro card, and broke 10 hours. I was a happy triathlete.

But I didn’t get into triathlon for podiums or Kona qualifications.

So when the MMRF put together a team of 110 triathletes united by a cause greater than themselves, I seized the opportunity to join them, even though it meant two exhausting Ironman competitions in as many months.

IMLP Dmitry

This is why I race triathlon. To be a part of something greater than myself. 

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And that something took Lake Placid by storm.

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Speaking of storms, it poured.

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SWIM.

1:05. Luckily, I was on the final stretch of the 2.4 mile swim when the lightning sent the first of many snapchat selfies. Though I was permitted to finish the swim, those further back were not.

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Safety crews directed the latter waves of swimmers to the closest shore, where they began the 1.5 mile barefoot walk back to transition. I was thankful to already be on my bike.

BIKE

5:52. Pelting rain, low visibility, lighting and thunder, tremor-like shivers, numb hands and feet. And a laughing heart.

IMLP Bike Rain

I still find the Ironman distance fairly ridiculous, so when you layer a thunderstorm and piercing rain on top of 140.6 miles, laughing is the healthiest response to the absurdity.

I executed a 112-mile build, holding back in the first quarter, and building throughout the final three. Experimenting with a slower build, I was able to consume more fluid, calories, and electrolytes. I even hit a 112-mile pee PR of 5x!

IMLP Run Happy

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RUN

3:30. I started the run well hydrated and feeling strong. In a three hour and 30 minute blur, I slowly moved my way up through the field to capture the top spot in my age group.

Finish Line Hands

I know this race report appears slim on details, but racing an Ironman is about so much more than the miles and watts and the gels consumed. I accepted the invitation to explain this perspective on this year’s Ironman Athlete Panel. Unfortunately, WordPress won’t allow me to embed the Livestream video, but click here to watch my conversation with Mike Reilly at about 11:40-14:30, and again 16:00-17:00. That is the raw race report of every Ironman I race.

Thank you:

-My Sherpa, Sarita.

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-The MMRF organization and its Team For Cures. For giving me the ultimate reason to race.

-To Team Poppy Tony’s supporters. For helping us surpass $75,000 for myeloma research.

-To Alicia and Jane at MMRF. For an incredible five years together racing down a cure.

Kendra and Alicia

-Zoot Sports. For my snazzy and functional tri-kit, designed specifically so I can represent the MMRF.

-SmartWool. Remarkably, even after all of the driving rain and pools of pee collecting in my socks as I biked, and later after running through sprinklers and dumping cups of water to cool my temperature, I had no blisters. It’s not called SMARTwool for nothing!

-Nalgene. For my most well hydrated race yet!

-Coach Tim at QT2 Systems. For pushing back.

-Rose Physical Therapy. For putting my plantar fascia on the road to recovery.

-And most of all, to a girlfriend and her father.

IMLP Swim Morning

 

 

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Janet

I was five when Janet Jackson broke through to global superstardom with the single “What have you done for me lately?”

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At five, I wasn’t doing much for others. In fact, I was just learning how to do a lot of things for myself – make my bed, clean the fish bowl, put away my bat and ball, stand up on my own two skis.

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So…I didn’t really understand the song.

But today, with many more years of life on earth, I get it.

And I hear it--or slight variations of this sentiment–all too often.

What’s in it for me?

What will I get out of it?

Will that look good on my resume?

The sport of triathlon does a lot for its participants.

In the three years I have been a triathlete, swim-bike-run has enriched my life with friends and goals and confidence and opportunity. When triathlon asks what I have done in return, I want to make sure my answer is as rich as the community and experiences my sport has given me.

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Credit: Mindy Ko

This post contains some of the small ways I have found to give back to the sport. It’s not an exhaustive list; it’s designed to jump start your own thinking about ways that you can do the same and to encourage you to share in the comments below ways that you already have.

Arlington Kids Triathlon - Dasha Rosato - Kids Swim

Credit: Dasha Rosato

1. Lending a hand at youth triathlons.

Or any triathlons. Or swim meets. Or bike events. Or running races. Kids (and newbies in general) are the future of triathlon. Even if you are just filling water cups or directing course traffic, you are doing a lot for them – and for our sport.

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2. Supporting your local non-profit triathlon club.

Many cities have triathlon clubs that operate on a not-for-profit basis (as a 501 c 7) with a volunteer board of directors.  As a result, they have very low annual fees. More importantly, they offer specialized programs to equip newbies with the knowledge/skills/support they need to finish their first tri. In the case of DC Tri Club, members pay just $50 a year (yes, per year!). With your dues, DC Tri Club creates a community of triathletes of all performance levels in which newbies can gain the practice, tools and knowledge they need to become first-time (and life-time) triathletes.

DC Tri Club

Credit: Lindy Smith

3. Mentoring a newbie triathlete.

It is easy to forget how much intimidation I faced in becoming a triathlete. Until I start thinking about it. And then I want to curl up into fetal position.

Fetal Position

I was afraid of my clipping into pedals – or actually, of not being able to clip out. I was terrified to put my face into the water and breathe. And buying a bike was perhaps the scariest part of all. But a handful of people along the way clued me in on everything from chamois cream to changing a flat…and even peeing while racing.

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Credit: Jimmy Lutz

You don’t have to know everything to mentor someone. If you have ever raced a triathlon, you know heaps more than a newbie. Just be open, exercise a bit of patience and share your love for the sport.

4. Gifting last year’s gear to newbie triathletes.

We all know the financial barriers to triathlon entry are high. In addition to race fees, triathlon and cycling gear are expensive. And if you are like most triathletes, you have upgraded something (or everything?) since you began in the sport. Instead of collecting dust in your closet or making you a few dollars on eBay, find a dedicated newbie who could really use that old bike computer, or last year’s tri kit, or your first heart rate monitor. My rule: If I haven’t used in in the past 6 months, then it deserves a better home. Avoid triathlete hoarding. Share the love with a newbie.

Pay It Forward

Producer: Sarita Larios

Surely, our 35th president would agree, “Ask not what your sport can do for you, but what you can do for your sport.”

Newbie Triathlete Trevor Albert

Credit: Lindy Smith; Producer: Trevor

 

 

Behind the Camera

Canon SureShot 35mm_small

Before selfies, before camera phones, even before digital cameras, there was the Canon Sure Shot 35mm camera.

And for the better part of my childhood, there was a mom standing behind this camera – my mom.

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In fourth grade, my teacher announced autobiographies as our spring writing assignment, each of our eight years to be captured with a chapter and a picture. My mind illustrated every one of those years with my mother right by my side – indeed, she had been – but as I searched through photo albums to select pictures of us to punctuate chapters, my mother’s printed image was no where to be found.

Devils Postpile Circa 80s

Lots of these…

Sister 5 K Run

And these…

 

Grandmas Couch

And these. But none of mother…

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Last year, a new friend asked if I had a mom. I spoke a lot about my father on my blog, she noted, but where was my mom? My heart sank, like it did when I was eight and searching for pictures and found none.

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All my life, my mother has walked me through life’s most important moments. But no one takes pictures of those. They aren’t the fancy or the pretty or the sexy ones.

They are the toughest ones.

Disciplining. Drying tears. Delivering bad news.

Twenty-five years after searching for her image in a photo album now yellowed with age, she still carries the burden of moments we don’t write about in blogs. She calls with the oncology updates, she manages my dad’s chemo calendar, and in a scene only understood by those who have shared life with a partner, she guides him – and sometimes carries him – up his steepest climbs.

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So today we celebrate the birthday of this incredible woman by putting her in front of the camera and making her the star of this post.

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Her sacrifices have been innumerable, her patience unparalleled, and her charity limitless. Happy birthday to my moo-moo!

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Hopefully with greater selfie capabilities, we’ll get a few more family photos with mom!

 

 

 

Ironman Texas 2014 – More than a Feeling

Beats per minute. Carbs per hour. Pace per mile.

Time trials, weigh-ins, sweat tests, fueling windows.

In October, I started working with QT2 Systems — the BEST of triathlon’s data dudes — with the purpose of learning how to use data to up my training and racing game.

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Here is an example of the type of data analysis that Coach performs for each leg of a race:

Half IM Data

Before working with QT2, I trained mainly by feel. In my first Ironman, during which I ran a 3:21 marathon and qualified for Kona, the only data I had were mile splits. No heart rate monitor. No power meter.

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Under QT2, every swim, bike, run is driven by data. Every gel, bar, bottle consumed by fueling plan. And then carefully recorded. And  then commented on by Coach.

By the time April rolled around, I had been staring so long and so intently at the numbers on my watch, that I had forgotten how pools and roads and trails looked. Even worse, I had forgotten how they feel.

I was drowning in my own data.

Drowning in Lake Anna

I’ve noticed that most triathletes love numbers.  Love what numbers tell them. Normalized power, power-to-weight ratio, average heart rate, yards per week, race weight.

But I love how those things feel.

Life is not a Rehearsal_Jenny Holzer_How does it feel2

And I can’t feel them when the metrics are monopolizing my other senses.

And without that feeling, I had forgotten why I love triathlon.

Luckily, as a former teacher, Coach respects that each of his students learn differently.

So we ditched the data in the final month of preparation for Ironman Texas and instead of sending in my weigh-ins, or beats per minutes, or mile splits, I only told Coach how it felt. And it started to feel good again.

IRONMAN TEXAS Race Report

SWIM – 1:04

Credit: Nick Morales

I heard a lot of complaints about dirty water, but at 71 degrees, Lake Woodlands felt so good. The water and air temp combo meant that I could get in early for a good warm-up swim without any Raynaud’s concerns.

The officials allowed us to line up across the entire lake and to swim the first leg inside the sighting buoys. This wide start (unlike, for example, Lake Placid’s start) and my position to the far left minimized kicks and punches to the face and panic to the heart. (Those don’t feel good.)

Cred: Nick Morales

After the cannon, I eased into a strong pace with Caroline and some burly men. I jumped on a few pairs of feet here and there during the 2.4 mile swim, but still find it a great challenge to stay in someone’s draft.

IMTX Swim

I was surprised by how much chop I encountered in the lake, and even more in the canal. Still, my favorite part of the swim was through that narrow waterway. Because it is so narrow, and with so many spectators standing above, cruising through the canal creates the illusion of swimming very fast. That’s a new feeling for me. And I liked it.

Aerial View of the Canal

Despite a winter of never reaching time trial goals in the pool, I emerged from the canal with a new Ironman swim PR of 1:04:30. Of course, I didn’t know that until nine hours later because I wasn’t wearing a watch.

BIKE – 5:18

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That’s me grabbing my bike. I usually don’t see this many other bikes still racked. Good sign!

Like the swim, the bike plan was to ease into a pace. I opted to wear a heart rate monitor for the bike leg as a data point to complement, but not override, how I felt. I knew the heart rate indicators could be particularly helpful in stabilizing effort through high winds.

IMTX Bike Side

Ironman Texas is a single loop course, which is my least favorite kind because I only see my parents at the start and finish, and no where in between. Luckily, the course was carved through the front yards of some fantastic Texans, many of whom made a day of cheering for us. Awesome.

IMTX Bike

Thanks to easing into it, I biked pretty even on the front half and back half, averaging 21.1 MPH over the 112 miles. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time because I had stopped monitoring the data. My beats per minute were uncharacteristically low for how hard my legs were pushing, so I switched back over to feel. And focused instead on throwing sports drink down the hatch and water on my head. It was starting to feel warm.

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The last 15 miles were lonely, but the loneliness allowed me to feel the breath in my lungs and the muscles in my legs. And to be grateful that I know how biking 112 miles feels.

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RUN – 3:26

Though this was my seventh Ironman, I still can’t believe that I — that anyone — can run a full marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112, but in that moment, when the b/f yelled that I was in 3rd place and 5 minutes out of first place, I was thankful I had all those miles left. I knew I would need all of them to crawl out of that deficit and claim the top spot.

IMTX Run

Ironman Texas offers a three-loop run course, so I saw my parents, my coach, Aimee, and the b/f tons of lovely times. Though the out-and-backs were too short to get a quality reading on the rate at which I was closing the gap (compared to Ironman Lake Placid, for example) the b/f updated me as he ran from point to point along the loop.

The course was flat, but not as fast as it could have been. So many turns and paths and roads and curves to navigate. After the first loop, I had moved into 2nd, but only gained about 30 seconds on #1.

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Kgo and Brian

Thankfully, and for the first time in my Ironman history, I found a running mate going the exact same speed. We became fast friends, stride for stride, and stuck together for over half (!!!) of the run. It felt amazing to work together.

IMTX Brian and Kgo

My running buddy, Brian McKinney

I pulled into the age group lead with just three miles to go, marking a 3:26 marathon.

And a 9:56 total time for the day.

IMTX Finish

First place age group.

Third amateur.

But I didn’t need a watch or a place to tell me what I already knew: When the pain is as deep as the joy is pure, then it’s been a good day on the Ironman course.


IMTX Finish Line Kendra Goffredo

And like every other battle I’ve faced in my life, I felt my parents’ presence every step of the way.

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Congratulations to Meredith, Helle, Christy, and the boyz!

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Team Poppy Tony gives HUGE thanks to:

  • All of you in your corners of the world, for tracking us, supporting us, and sending us love! Together, we are 140.6 miles closer to a cure.
  • The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (the MMRF), for giving me the ultimate reason to race.
  • ZootSports, for a wetsuit, kit, and shoes that feel as good as they look.
  • SmartWool, for socks that feel good in 26.2 miles of water-logged shoes.
  • Nalgene, for keeping me hydrated enough to feel my best on a warm day.
  • Coach Tim of QT2 Systems, for his patience in letting me feel my way back.
  • My fantastic support crew of Aimee, Lonnie, my parents, and my most handsome sherpa.

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And just for fun:

 

 

Creating Social Value: Team Poppy Fest 2014

Social Value Creation

What does it mean to create social value?

I had to ask a University of Maryland professor this question when she invited me to guest lecture at the school’s Center for Social Value Creation. Professor Aelion said her students would be interested in learning how I use sport to create social value.

After a few more conversations with Professor Aelion, I developed a lecture on the components of social value creation, at the heart of which are three things present in all of our lives: adversity, hobby, and community.

AdversityHobbyCommunity

1. Adversity, I explained, are the tragedies we encounter in life. The injustices that we, as thinking people, have the choice to fight. These are the causes we choose to take up.

2. Hobby, I told her students, is synonymous with passion. What moves you? What do you love to do?

3. Community, I explained, is comprised of the people who support you through adversity and within your hobby.

And then I used Team Poppy Fest to illustrate this construct.

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1. Adversity. While there are countless injustices in this world, finding a cure for myeloma (a rare blood cancer) is my cause. Since my father’s diagnosis in 2003, I have poured my heart into raising awareness and funds in this fight.

2. Hobby. To target this adversity, I leverage my passion of triathlon and my involvement in the triathlon community, which leads us to the final leg of the tripod.

3. Community. I could not fight this injustice without the help of my family, my colleagues, my triathlon mates, my sponsors, and my blog followers. These people are my community.

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With an incredible array of auction prizes from the sponsors, together with the support of all those who attended Team Poppy Fest, we raised $15,500 in a single night, 100% of which goes directly to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (the MMRF).

Volunteers

What the MMRF does with these donations is incredible. In the 15 years since its inception, the foundation has been instrumental in bringing SIX new myeloma drugs to market. Such success is unprecedented in oncology, a feat made even more impressive by the fact that myeloma is a RARE cancer, and lacks much of the funding that more prevalent cancers receive.

Thanks to the tireless work of the MMRF, my father–like a growing number of myeloma patients–has maintained a high quality of life throughout his ongoing fight and outlived the stark prognosis he faced in 2003.

Team Poppy Tony in Green Cropped

But this post is more about the 3rd component of the social value creation triad: community.

My community has been instrumental in my quest to create social value.

A HUGE thanks to my community of sponsors for making Team Poppy Fest 2014 a reality:

Kate and Blaine of Tri360

Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill

Dr. Paul Shin, MD

Jake of Zoot Sports

Chrissie and Tim of QT2 Systems

Ryan of Oakley

Brad of Velocio cycling apparel

Eric of Nalgene

Jeff of SmartWool

Adela of Lululemon

Tim of BikeArlington

Miles of Perfect Fuel Chocolate

Oiselle

Setup Events

Rev3 Triathlon

Yoga Heights

Tranquil Space

FitPro Massage

Potomac River Running (PRR)

GU Energy Labs

Affinia Manhattan Hotel

Captain Cookie of DC

Airrosti Rehab Centers of Northern Virginia

Professor Mark Mhley of United States Naval Academy

Ed Moser, Lafayette Square Tour of Scandal, Assassination, & Intrigue

Coach AJ Morrison

Coach Katie Tobin

Coach Nichole (“Nikki”) Allem

Coach and Registered Dietitian Marni Sumbal 

Michelle Egorin Photography

Gillian McNally, Mary Kay Consultant

Kate Morse, Arbonne consultant

Evan and The Feed Zone

Thomas of BonChon

Great American Restaurants

Cheesecake Factory

Enjoy these great pics of the event, and to see more, visit these pages:

Click to view Photographer Beth’s photos

Click to view Photographer Val’s photos

Kate Raffle Bags Tickets and Zoot   Zoot_Models

Winner

Team Poppy

Janet Wins

Whatcha Got TPF Crew TPF Crowd

TPF hanging out TPF Mega TPF Micaela TPF Vasectomy

TPF yoga

 

Greater than the Sum

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Aristotle taught us that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  My classmate Luvy argues further, explaining that “the whole can never be fully comprehended by only looking at its components, even when you have all of them in front of you.” 

Boxes for Team Poppy Fest

With all of these boxes in front of me, I watch in equal parts excitement and gratitude as the prizes for Team Poppy Fest accumulate in the corner of my bedroom. These are parts of the whole. These are components of what is to be an evening as fun as it is fund-raising.

Banner for Team Poppy Fest

From the First Annual Fest

The parts that are not pictured here are the donors who put these boxes in motion. (Jake at Zoot, Jeff at SmartWool, Eric at Nalgene, Tim at QT2 Systems, to name a few studs) and the hundreds of people (also studs!) who have already donated to and/or will join us this April 10th on the main floor of Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill (just across the river from Washington, DC).

Huge thanks to Kate and Blaine at Tri360, our title sponsor, for donating a fancy bike (retail $4500!!!) as the grand prize. This was the part we needed to start to build the whole.

Orbea

Click here to be as in awe of our prize list as I am. Or to reserve your tickets for the evening. Don’t worry if you live across the state or country or world–need not be present to win!

Take part – in person or in spirit – to see how great the sum of parts can truly be!

Contact me (kendra.goffredo @ gmail) if you wish to donate a good or service.

And just for fun, a few more pictures of prizes.

Zoot Team Poppy

EIGHT winners each get their choice of Zoot shoes–plus backpack, visor, swim cap, race belt, and bottle

Studio Suite Affinia Manhattan

A weekend stay in the Affinia Manhattan (retail $600)

GU

More GU than you know what to do with (retail $400)

Nalgene

Nalgene bottles for sixteen trips around the world

Full prize list here. And some Perfect Fuel Chocolate too!

Perfect Fuel Chocolate

Tips for Cold Tips #10: Toughen Up

In this blog series, I offer tips for cold tips. These tips will save us from treadmill and trainer imprisonment over the winter. 

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“Toughen up, Kendra,” my dad would say to the miserable six-year-old me.

I had graduated from hands-on-knees beelines down the bunny slope to poles-in-hands turns down intermediate terrain. Only I couldn’t grip those poles. Even in the finest windproof-waterproof mittens, my paws would go numb. Oh, the hours I spent huddled in front of the lodge’s fireplace, hands in armpits, willing the color and feeling to return to my fingers.

Luckily for my fingers, I grew up in warm and sunny San Diego where I could lose myself in running without losing my fingers along the way.

But then I left the land of eternal sunshine and moved to the four-seasoned city of Washington, DC. Those numb little fingers that frustrated my dad and forced friendship with the fireplace accompanied me on every run from November to February.

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That is, until I slipped my hands into the masterpiece of a mitten known as the Manzella Run Pro-30.  Applying the skin-on-skin principle that this blog has endorsed in the past, these mittens are ideal for temperatures below 35F.

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I’m feeling pretty tough these days in my Manzella Run Pro-30s.  In fact, I even ran straight into the polar vortex with these gems. When I returned home, my fingers were as toasty as they would have been on an afternoon jog back in San Diego.

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Enjoy these other Tips for Cold Tips:

#1: Armpit Paninis

#2: Take Off Your Teammate’s Top

#3: Skin on Skin Wins

#4: Borrowing Body Heat in Borneo

#5: A Cozy Cabin For Your Toes

#6: Himalayan Lessons in Hydration

#7: If You’re Playing With Fire

#8: Weather and Wardrobe for Race Day

#9: Out of the Closet