Tag Archives: icy run

Gear Review: Nathan Transwarmer Convertible Mitt

The Problem

I live on the East Coast of the US, and it is Winter. If you live in this area, you know that this year has been exceptionally cold. I’ve been having a hard time this year with gloves and keeping my hands the right temperature during runs. I have thin gloves that breathe, but my hands can’t seem to stay warm enough in those, even after running a few miles and the rest of me is nice and warm. I have thick gloves, but those don’t breathe, and my hands sweat in them and get too hot, then I end up taking them off and my hands freeze even more.

The Solution

Last week I saw what I thought might be a solution for me. I’ve been reading that mittens are best when running in temperatures below freezing, because they let your fingers stay together and huddle for warmth. I found the Nathan Transwarmer Convertible Mitt on sale, and thought, for $12, why not give it a try.

Nathan Transwarmer Convertible Mitt

The gloves look great. Best of both worlds, I thought. Gloves when you wan them (with touch-screen fingers) and mittens when you need them. My box arrived with my mittens yesterday, and I gave them a try this morning.

The Verdict

It was 20 degrees Farenheit (about -7 Celsius) when I went out to start my 12-mile run this morning. I started up RunKeeper and slipped on the Nathan Transwarmers in Mitten Mode right off the bat. Brrr it was cold! My thumbs started getting cold right away, so I tucked them into my fist to keep them warm. All was well until about 2 miles in.

Just after my 2nd mile, I noticed that my hands were getting sweaty. And while the glove part of the Nathan mittens is “moisture wicking” the mitten shell is not. So my fingers were getting progressively wetter under the mitten shell, and getting progressively colder. I decided to take the mitten shell off for a while an see if the gloves would dry. The air is very dry and I hoped that the moisture would wick off and I’d be okay. I was wrong. The moisture on my gloves instantly started to freeze. My hands were not warm enough to stave off the freezing with temperatures so low. So I popped the mitten shell back on my partly wet, partly icy fingers and kept trudging on. I started putting my hands, gloves and all, into my pants pockets to try and glean some of the ample warmth coming off of my quads. That helped, but my gloves still wouldn’t dry.

This was bad. I had a lot more running to do, but there was no way I could keep going with wet gloves on such a cold day. My fingers were starting to get numb. Thankfully I was running near home today. I changed course and made a loop back to my house, and reached it about halfway through my run (6 miles, 1 hour). I popped in and changed out my gloves for my really warm, thick gloves. I don’t even know what brand these are. I bought them from a small, local vendor at a race expo last year. They are the ones that usually make my hands too hot, but this time they were perfect. My hands were so cold, my fingernails were blue, so when I got them into my warm, thick gloves, they were finally happy.

I’m happy to report that I was able to finish the rest of my run with very comfortable hands.

As for the Nathan Transwarmer Mittens, from me, they get a FAIL. I’ll be getting a refund on those for sure.

2013 Kris Kringle 5 miler

This has been my last race of the year for 2 years now. I’m kind of fond of it, despite how much this race tends to suck. Last year, this was my first time doing a 5 mile distance. I had only done 5K’s up until then. And for the 2012 race, it snowed quite a bit the day before the race, and much of the Kringle was run on a snow-packed trail. I thought 2012 sucked.

That was until the 2013 race. This year, instead of snow, we were graced with just-slightly-above freezing temperatures and a steady, soaking rain. Runners are a stalwart lot, however, and the crowd seemed undaunted.

Just a tad less than 600 runners showed up to race in the cold December rain

Just a tad less than 500 runners showed up to race in the cold December rain

I’m not one to complain. I learned during my years in the U.S. Air Force that people are waterproof. But I really, really dislike being wet. Just a preference thing. I bundled up as best I could.

Multiple layers to combat both cold and rain, but not turn myself into a furnace during the race.

Multiple layers to combat both cold and rain, but not turn myself into a furnace during the race.

When the race started just after 11am, it was 38 degrees Farenheit ( a tad over 3 degrees Celsius) and the rain was coming down light but steady. Just enough to get everything nice and wet.

Runners starting to gather in the cold rain

Runners starting to gather in the cold rain

Waiting at the starting line as the rest of the runners make their wet way

Waiting at the starting line as the rest of the runners make their wet way

I’ve been running 5 miles as my go-to distance lately as I’m ramping up for my spring race goal, so I wasn’t worried about making it to the finish line this year because of the distance. The conditions, however, really gave me a challenge this time:

  1. About 15 minutes in my iPhone did a panic shut down. I think it must have gotten moist in my “waterproof media pocket”. But this left me with no RunKeeper stats, and no music for the whole race. Not unbearable, but different from my normal. Not good for race day.
  2. Did I mention that I really dislike being wet? Bad military training memories. I got soaked. My older and well-traveled rain coat I was wearing totally failed me. I was soaked all the way through everything I was wearing on top. I would have been way more comfortable if my rain coat had worked.
  3. My running shoes are not waterproof. Puddle after icy puddle I stepped in bathed my feet in their frigid wetness. My toes started going numb just before mile marker 4. They didn’t get really bad because I kept moving, but each puddle made it a bit more miserable for my toes.

Okay. Enough whining. Here’s the stuff I really love about this race, no matter what the conditions are:

  1. You get a hoodie instead of a race shirt. I love seeing the older ones appear on race day, and really enjoy wearing mine throughout the colder months.
  2. The race starts out flat, but within 5 minutes goes up a really challenging hill. I train hills all the time, and just love leaving people in the dust as I power up the big hill. It gives me a real boost.
  3. It is the last race of the year. It is awesome to cap out the year’s races with a good distance like this.
  4. Even though it is after Christmas, the festivities continue for a bit. I love seeing the costumes and jingle bells out one more time for the season.
  5. I improved my time a little over 7 minutes from last year. 2012 time was 54 minutes. 2013 time was 46 minutes. Yay!

This really is a great race, and despite my grumbling about the conditions each year, it is a good challenge. There certainly are times when you have to dig down deep and get your mind over the matter. And as my training instructors in the Air Force used to say, “People are waterproof as long as they keep their mouths shut.” 🙂

How do you like to wrap up your racing year?