Monday, May 11, 2009

The Wrong Kind of Blistering Pace

Assuming that any given cycle in one's life has good and bad components (yin and yang, if you will), then I am sincerely hoping that the bulk of this particular marathon cycle's bad karma came and went last weekend. It was a tough weekend personally. Suffice it say that I managed to ruin my wife's and my second date of 2009 by deciding to mention how I felt about the family's decision to forgo coming to Sugarloaf with me next weekend. The flood gates promptly opened, and what should have been a very nice evening out turned into a difficult and ugly argument about things much more profound and important than running. And while the ensuing tension seems to be subsiding, the conversation will need to continue well into the near and mid-range future.

On the running front, my last "long" run - planned as 12 miles at an easy pace, with maybe the final 2-3 at goal marathon pace - turned into a minor disaster, as all five toes on my left foot blistered. For the past few weeks, I have experimented with different socks and insoles in what I had hoped would be my marathon racing shoes. I've run 3 half-marathons and at least 4 20+-mile runs in Saucony Grid Tangent 3's (I have an older, white/green pair and a newer white/gold pair). I ordered new orthotics, which arrived a few weeks ago, and I have been getting used to them. I have tried several different socks, and have tried the orthotics with and without the sock liner which comes with the shoes. The results have ranged from some annoying foot discomfort towards the end of long runs, to yesterday's blister-fest.

I headed out at around 2:30 p.m., not a normal running time for me. Thanks to all sorts of scheduling issues (including my mother's visit and departure, Mother's Day celebrations, kids' activities and my wife's work-related obligations, to name a few), I was lucky to get to run at all. I normally apply Body Glide to my feet before long runs, but I figured that 12 miles would not be a big deal, and given the day's schedule, I hurriedly prepared for my run by skipping that sort of tedious, time-consuming preparatory ritual. I threw on a pair of good-looking thin technical socks which I'd recently ordered online, because - yes - they look cool and make me feel fast.

Despite severely gusting winds (my gas grill actually blew over in the morning!), the first few miles were fine, though I felt some friction on my left foot. I paid it little attention, but it got worse as I climbed the big hill in the 4th mile of my route. At around Mile 5, I stopped and removed my shoes: my pinkie toe was awful, with a blister making it look almst twice its normal size; the next toe in was almost as bad, and small blisters were forming on all three other toes. WTF?! Did this really have to happen then and there? So, I trudged along tenderly for another 4 miles or so, until it was too painful to take another step. I stopped just after the 9-mile mark, took my left shoe off again, and used my fingernails to pop the two worst blisters. The pinkie toe one popped easily, and the pressure was gone. I made a mess of the next toe, though, pinching too much skin and thus leaving the raw under-layer overly exposed. I re-grouped, manipulated my socks to try to avoid any further rubbing, and then walked for a 1/4 mile or more. My foot hurt, but I decided that it wasn't going to be any worse if I ran it in. I ran slowly up the rest of the hill which I was climbing, then dialed up the pace to goal marathon pace. My last full mile was under 7:30, and the final 0.25 mile was under 7:00/mile pace. I finished running 6:25 pace, and my foot didn't seem to worsen.

I got home, finished popping the blisters, washed my feet carefully and limped around for the rest of the afternoon/evening. Now, I have the worst one wrapped in moleskin, just to avoid any more damage, and trust that the next few days will allow them to heal up. In fact, I'm consoling myself with the memory that when I ran - and won - a 5K in Atlanta in 2007, it was 4 days after having developed a colossal blister on the arch of my left foot, thanks to trying out my first pair of orthotics. Some "Second Skin" should do the trick, and I'm sure I can endure almost anything during a single race. The bigger question is what socks should I wear? I need to resolve that post haste.

So, last week ended up like this:
  • M - Usual XT
  • Tu - 9.75+ miles, with a toned-down version of the club's workout: 2x800, 2x1200, 4x200, plus warm-up, recovery jogs and cool-down; I ran them mostly at 10K-half-marathon pace, rather than 5K pace and faster
  • W - 5 miles easy
  • Th - 5 miles easy
  • F - 8 miles, with 3M at goal marathon pace, brief rest/recovery, and 2M at goal pace, followed by cool-down; it was warm and windy and I cut out a mile of MP running, since it seemed like I was working too hard
  • Sa - 5 miles easy on the trails; very, very muggy
  • Sun - 10.7 miles, about 8:30 average pace, with the blister debacle detailed above

This week will likely go like this:

  • M - 15 minutes elliptical and 20-30 minutes of easy stretching
  • T - maybe 5 easy miles
  • W - 6-7 miles, with 3 at goal marathon pace
  • Th - 4 miles, very easy; stretching
  • F - Rest; drive up to Sugarloaf, though may take a nice walk to stretch legs up there; stretch and foam roll
  • Sa - 3 miles on marathon course
  • Sun - 26.2 miles at goal marathon pace
I may or may not post again before my race report. I have no mobile coverage up that way, so I'll have to figure out a way to get the word out - good, bad or ugly - after-the-fact. Thanks for following my admittedly self-absorbed and often mundane training saga. I hope that all this trouble turns out to be worth it in 6 days. It seems like the least I could do, to bring home a BQ as a prize for all the effort of the past couple of years.

Warmest regards, ESG


Progman2000 said...

In any given month I could have written that first paragraph - I totally feel for you man. It's such a delicate balance to strike between family, work & marathoning. I have fully embraced running at 4:30am to minimize impact on the family, but it still comes down to the amount of time you spend with this "other" activity outside the family that seems to fuel the fire. Know that the other running nutjobs out there understand, I hope things smooth out for you.

Sorry to hear about the feet - I am a big Balega guy, though I cycle through a ton of brands and have never had trouble with blisters and have never lost a toenail. I buy my shoes plenty big though. I have, however, lost two glass top patio tables in the last 12 months to wind and have had my stainless steel grill knocked over twice, so I can sympathize with you there.

Billy said...

Yikes Ron - on both the personal and training front.

My only hope about the personal thing is that it does nothing to distract you from attaining your goal come Sunday. Hope everything resolves itself.

Secondly, about the blisters...holy shit! All 5 blistered on a 12 mile run? That's horrendous. And a week before Sugarloaf no less. It sounds like you can maybe use Wednesday's 6-7 miles as your next 'dress rehearsal' to test out a new sock. Just don't forget the BodyGlide this time. Have you looked into Injinjis?

Anyway, hoping that all the stars align for you on race day. You've got in so much quality training man. Figure everything out, let loose on Sunday and leave it all out there. Best of luck!

Mir said...

Ugh, sorry to hear about the crappy weekend. I definitely think this means good things are to come!

I hope you get the sock issue straightened out. GOOD LUCK this weekend!!

screaminzab said...

Good luck with the blisters. Come Sunday, hopefully all of the early week issues will become an afterthought and we'll all be celebrating your BQ next Sunday or Monday.

Have you been to lately?

Best of luck!

Girl In Motion said...

Owee on those blisters! Hope they harden up in no time. I also feel for you on the date blowup, I don't even have kids but sometimes my man can't deal with my focus for the sport, which I can't blame him for, I wasn't a runner when we met so my freakdom is relatively new. Also, when your dates are few and far between it does put added pressure to have a good time (alas, I have experience at this, too). I hope peace is in the midst of being restored for you as I write this.

I'm sure I'll find a forum thread to wish you luck in before the weekend, but GOOD LUCK!! Not that you need any, you've put in the work and you're on way to kicking some marathon ass! Woohoo!! :-)

jaysummer4 said...

Tried to leave a good luck message on RWOL, but it kept getting spit back.
Anyway, your training has all but taken luck out of the equation for your BQ.
Enjoy it. Rock it. You deserve it.

JesusFreak said...

The episode with your DW is phase I went through a year or so ago, but we got through it. Her attitude appears similiar to my DW. She'll never get it, which is OK.

I've learned to never mention running to her, except for when the next race is, and I mention that as far in advance as I can. I figure she'll let me know if she wants to go.

A new chapter of our lives will open soon, when the kids (mine are 7 and 4.5 y/o) are old enough to travel with us themselves, if the want!


Unknown said...

You probably won't see this until after the marathon, but I'm sending you good luck/speedy vibes from Seattle. I'm really hoping tomorrow will be your day.

And sorry to hear about the marital tensions. I'm fortunate to have a husband who is as crazy as I am when it comes to running (and we don't have kids). As for the blisters, I somehow managed to get the start of one where I've never before; WTF? Shows you never know what can happen.

- EatDrinkRunWoman