You don’t dress for the start line.

I took a little plane ride to Phoenix yesterday to help strip some brick for a friend’s remodeling project. And as I was packing, I realized I had a bit of a clothing dilemma. The temperatures in Phoenix are still reaching toward the 80s. Temperatures in Charlotte are dipping to new lows – as low as 12 degrees. I could pretty much guess what to pack for my few days in Phoenix, but what do I wear to the airport? Do I show up in a light jacket and get frostbitten from the walk to the car into the airport? Or do I wear my heavy jacket and then have to lug it around airports and keep up with it all week, knowing I won’t wear it?

I finally decided to use layers and the heaviest clothes I wanted to bring to my advantage. I dressed in leggings and a medium-thickness sweater (figured it’d be good for evenings in Phoenix), I wore my knee-high boots (those things take up a lot of room in a suitcase!) and I wore the scarf Heather made me for my birthday a couple of years ago (awesomely, it matches my new sweater perfectly! And I got several compliments on it yesterday – great job Heather) I grabbed a light jacket – I don’t typically wear it with sweaters so I kinda had to squeeze myself into it, but I was sufficiently warm in that I didn’t wonder if I might die as soon as I came in contact with the cold air.

I was telling all of this to Jeff as I drove to the airport, and then as I told him my conclusion, I blurted out with, “It’s like they say – you don’t dress for the start line.”

That’s a tip for long-distance running races. A lot of them are in the winter, and it can be pretty cold at the start line. But once you start running, your body warms up, and after a mile or two you might start to regret all those extra layers. The experts say that if you’re comfortable at the start, you’ve put on too many layers.

He of course said that I had to blog this. And so I had to share my cleverness with you (hahaha.)

One potential flaw: I got stuck in Atlanta due to an ice storm. For hours. And my fellow travelers all seemed to have big overcoats and warm fleece. My light jacket didn’t do much to help when the doorway was opened to travelers coming off the runway – brrr. My travel plans ended up taking 14 hours instead of the 6 hours I’d anticipated. A big heavy jacket would have doubled as a nice blanket or pillow. But it wasn’t all bad. And for the record – getting stuck in Atlanta is waaaay better than getting stuck in Houston. I spent a terrible 6 hours there over the summer during a hurricane.

And I finally made it out of cold Atlanta. I sit now in Phoenix without the burden of a huge heavy jacket to weigh me down. It was 61 degrees when Anil picked me up at midnight and I felt perfect in my outfit I’d chosen for travel. And I’m feeling a little bit content right now, thinking about how running can have a good influence – even when it’s not about running.