Just like previous years, I joined 3,000 other idiots, some of which were my friends, to jump in the 45 degree ocean on New Year’s Day on Coney Island. It was great! It was cold! This year seemed to be the coldest yet but, who knows, maybe I say that every year. I prepared better this year by having a pair of super cozy warm wool socks ready for me when I got out of the water. No matter what you do, your toes take the brunt of the cold and can be painful while trying to warm back up. The rest of you isn’t so bad.
As always, it was a blast! In true Coney Island fashion, there were plenty of characters and out-right weirdos, which makes the whole event great. Also, having a friend there who was not jumping in helped a lot. My friend Lauryn was our photo & wardrobe assistant. We were all too cold and wet to try to use a camera. Besides, your brain is telling you “get warm get warm get warm!” not “let’s relax and hang out and take photos”. It’s survival mode!
If you were on the fence about it this year, you have a whole other year to reconsider joining us for the best way to ring in the new year! Here are a bunch of photos to give you a sense of what the whole crazy event is like.
MSU v. Baylor in the Cotton Bowl (College Football)
The MSU bowl game started at 12:30p but I was still on the beach by then. So I wore all my MSU apparrel to show my support. And to help them win, of course. After the swim and delicious lunch at Oxcart Tavern, I got home just in time to watch the fourth quarter of the game.
When I turned on the game, the score was 41-21 Baylor and I was very sad. I kept my hoodie on, put on my MSU cap, and watched the game hoping that we would at least make it a closer game. Well, the last quarter of this game was some very exciting football!
First, MSU recovered possession of the ball after an off-sides kick. Yay! Then Connor Cook blew the play by throwing an interception. Boo. Then our defense forced Baylor to try for a field goal. And we blocked it. Yay! Then Cook threw a touchdown-pass with 17 seconds left in the game. Yay! Then we won! Yay! MSU scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to Baylor’s none. We won by a point! It was very exciting!
2014 Yearly Blog Best Of…
I didn’t want to write a full wrap-up post on this but here are the highlights of various things I’ve written about here in the past year. Enjoy!
January 1, 2015 will mark my fifth polar bear swim on Coney Island. Jumping into the Atlantic ocean is a very refreshing way to start the new year. Literally and figuratively. Good riddance to 2014, I’m ready to make anew and bring in the good. Yes, it will be cold. Yes, I will freeze. But that’s only temporary. I have been through far worse in the past year. Also, why not start the year out with something completely zany?
What To Expect at a Polar Bear Swim?
I do recommend spectating at the Coney Island polar bear swim, even if you don’t take the plunge. It is quite a crowd. Lots of characters. There a couple thousand swimmers every year but it never feels too crowded since you’re on a huge beach and in the giant ocean. The crowd is very entertaining. People dress-up in costumes or formal attire or anything. It’s not quite as obnoxious as some other events. It also feels more like a local event than one for tourists. It’s very Brooklyn. (sorry not sorry for saying that).
You will be cold! Before, during, and after, you will experience frosty temperatures. The water temperature is usually between 40-45 degrees, which actually may be warmer than the air temperature. Although the water is painfully cold, getting out and facing the chilly air temperature is almost worse.
Although your whole body will be cold down to the bones, it’s your toes that take the toll. Even in socks and shoes, they will be freezing cold and probably hurt. Be prepared for that. The rest of your body will warm up rather quickly though, I promise. The toes are the worst part.
Where is the Polar Bar Swim?
The annual New Year’s Day Coney Island Polar Bear Swim is on the beach at Stillwell Avenue. You can take the D/Q/F trains to their last stop then pretty much just follow the crowd. The beach area is directly in front of the subway stop, just walk straight ahead. You’ll see a bunch of people around a bathhouse on the boardwalk. Just walk through there, out onto the beach, and there you go.
What Should I Bring?
Towels, warm clothes to layer, multiple pairs of socks, hat, gloves, two pairs of shoes. I suggest wearing a pair of shoes in the ocean. Also wear the least amount of clothes possible when actually in the water. When the cold air hits you getting out, any wet clothing sticking to you will feel like an ice cube. I know it sounds worse but wearing a bikini or going shirtless really is the better option here.
There are bathrooms in the near-by bathhouse that you can change in afterward. Have all your dry clothing layers in a bag together so you can just grab it and run to change. There is usually a line so you may have to shiver a little bit while waiting.
Bring a friend who is not jumping in the ocean. This shouldn’t be too difficult to find. When you get out of the water, your fingers will be very cold and it may be difficult to grip things (like socks). Have a friend waiting for you on the beach to help give you warm things to layer on. Thank you friend!
Even after you change into warm clothes, you will still feel cold. This feeling won’t last too long but it is a bone cold feeling. Plan your day to get a warm meal or a hot bath afterward.
Also, booze is not allowed on the beach but many people bring it for it’s warming-up abilities.
Even if you don’t want to brave the cold water, simply being at Coney Island during the swim is an experience in itself. This truly is an event and is a wonderful way to start your new year.
“Gyms Are Bad”
I’ve heard so many negative things about gyms from bloggers, runners, and well, everyone. I never even considered one until very recently. I heard that you’re not a real runner if you run on a treadmill. (And apparently you’re not a real runner if you run below a 10 min mi/pace so there goes my title). I heard that gyms are a waste of money. I heard that gyms are an uncomfortable environment for women. I heard a lot of things. But mainly due to the cost, I have always ran outside. I’ve been running outside since I started running for health back in college (over a decade ago!)
But it’s cold outside!
Recently I realized that I haven’t been running because of the weather. It’s been cold, snowy, and rainy here in nyc. It’s hard to motivate yourself to run in those conditions. I’m sure ‘real runners’ do it all the time. So call me lazy but I have no desire to go run in a blizzard. So, I decided, that something is better than nothing despite what “everyone” else says. At the beginning of February I joined a gym.
Maybe it depends on the gym
Unlike the chain gyms, this is a private facility. It is very nyc-esque in it’s size. A reviewed referred to it as a hotel gym. There aren’t classes and the treadmills don’t have screens. But everyone who’s there, is there to work out, not instagram themselves. Thankfully the pricing isn’t contract based. So after I did a trial run of 3 days/$25, I signed up for a full month for $50. I plan to do this for the wintry month of February. I’ll gauge the weather for March. Then probably go back in the summer because running in July is just as bad as running in a blizzard.
Yep, I’m not a real runner
I guess I’m not a real runner because I don’t mind the treadmill. I like that I can control my pace. I’ve tried using a Garmin watch and it’s just too distracting for me. I don’t like to run with any gadgets. So the Treadmill is nice that it provides me all the information of a gadget without actually getting in the way.
Running is Boring
The “treadmills are boring” argument doesn’t up for me. In my opinion, running is boring. Running is hard. Whether you’re outside or inside or on the moon, running 9 miles is a challenge. Sure, outside the scenery changes. But things change inside too. The one disadvantage I’ve found on the treadmill is that at anytime, I can just stop and walk the three blocks home. When I’m out on a long run, even if I stop running, I still have to either walk to a train or walk the rest of the way home – so I might as well just keep running. For the record, I have yet to stop mid-run on the treadmill and bail.
Half Marathon Training for the Brooklyn Half
After running four half-marathons and not using an actual training plan, I’ve decided to try one this time. I’m currently following Run Keeper’s Sub 2:15 Half Marathon Training Plan. I’m at the end of the third week now. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a safe snow-cleared path for the 10 miler scheduled on Sunday.
Using a Training Plan
I’m enjoying following a training schedule. It takes a lot of the guess work out of running. Instead of asking myself how far I feel like running today, I already know how far I have to run. Whether I feel like it or not. It also forces me to do speed work. Without ever using a treadmill, I’ve never been able to really do speed work. I’m excited to give that a go and hopefully will see improvements.
In the spirit of taking advantage of my $50/mo gym membership, I’m also trying to use some of the other equipment like the elliptical and weights to build up my strength in other places. I have been running for a decade but that’s it. I haven’t done much other cross-training other than biking around Manhattan in the summer. Doing non-running workouts helps to bring more variety into my life as well.
Fine, I don’t actually hate running
One thing I’ve been trying to incorporate into this training is a positive attitude. Although I have been running for over 10 years, I have never enjoyed it. I can flat out say that I hate running. It is always hard. It is never fun. I hate runners. I hate how expensive running clothes are. I hate the pretentious attitude in the running world. I hate I hate I hate. Clearly, thinking such negativity is not helping my running! So instead of telling myself how stupid running is while I’m running. I’m trying to flip this around a little bit. I’ve been saying, “I don’t feel like doing this right now but I’m already here so let’s make the best of it.” It’s actually been helping!
Training for Speed
Again, I’ve been running for a long time but never cared about speed. My half marathon PR is 2:20, which I’m proud of. Since I have ran four of these races, I’ve decided to try to up the challenge by using this sub 2:15 training plan. It would be nice to PR this one. I’m guessing this will be my last half for a while. I don’t really enjoy the races (as I don’t enjoy running culture). I’d prefer to just run 4-5 miles in the morning to keep up my health. I don’t really need long runs or speed work if I’m not racing.
Here’s the first two weeks of my sub 2:15 training plan workouts: Week 1
# Workouts: 5
“Horns” by Joe Hill is a great page-turner that is not quite fantasy and not quite horror, but it is about the Devil. I appreciate Joe Hill not trying to bank on his father’s name, Stephen King. Especially because the writing is so different. I enjoyed this more than most of King’s stories.
Hill tells the story from almost every character’s perspective, which keeps things interesting even though it is the same story each time. Using the multiple perspective technique, eventually you are able to piece together the entire story.
At it’s heart, this is a mystery crime solver. The story starts by the main character, Ig, waking up with horns and with some strange super powers. As the story goes on, you never learn why this has happened to him but that isn’t really important. The crime happened a year ago when Ig’s girlfriend was found raped and murdered in the woods on the same night she broke up with him loudly at a bar. Everyone in town and his family assumed he did it but he was never charged nor cleared. The story of that night unravels through the perspectives of various characters until you finally learn who did it.
The Devil’s powers are explained well and I enjoyed seeing the transformation of Ig from “a man with Horns growing out of his head” into a full fledged red devil with a pitchfork. It’s an easy read but well-written. The characters could have been a bit less caricature but it worked fine in this story.
I rate it 3/5 and recommend it as a good weekend read.