Friday, August 30, 2013

Recent races and blisters

It almost seems normal that I should be blogging about a race and a blister I got during the closing stages of it. Not good.
I've had two issues holding me back from training this year. The first was a neuroma in my foot, which I finally got sorted in April. The second was an achilles strain that started about May and has been on and off ever since. So I've only been able to run 1-2 times a week and not do much in the way of distance. I have managed to keep my cycling and gym work up though and I couldn't be happier with my nutrition these days.
I did the Rock n Roll Dublin half marathon at the start of August (my second HM in four weeks) and was reasonably happy with it. I was ahead of the 1:40 pacer and was feeling good when I saw a runner stumble and looked like he was in a lot of trouble. Ever see a marathon runner get jelly legs when they run out of steam? This was the exact same look, but only after 16-17k. He stumbled over to the barrier and looked like he was going to drop and bring the barrier with him. So I ran over and supported him and started talking to him. He wasn't making much sense and a short, female race volunteer came over to help, but there's no way she would have been able to support someone of his size! The guy's runner friend came over and we got the guy's arms around our shoulders and brought him to a lamp-post and sat him down, with the lamp-post behind him. His head was drooped and his legs were still moving, as if he thought he was still running! I checked him over and found that a) he had stopped sweating (dehydrated), b) he was hyperventilating and c) his HR was really high, even though he'd just been running a couple of minutes before. I got the volunteer to call for a medic and started trying to talk to the guy, who slowly started talking to us. After a few minutes, when I knew he was in good hands, I got back to the race, although my head really wasn't in it. I decided to do a run/walk for the last 4k or so and finished in 1:52, with a blister on the ball of my right foot. I had worn my Asics for the race and 1,000 mile "blister proof" socks, hmm...
Had to take a week off running due to the blister, but soon started back to it. From there it was less than three weeks to the Frank Duffy 16k race in Dublin's Phoenix Park...
With the amount of training I could squeeze in and my achilles still acting up I wasn't going for a PB, or even a particularly fast time in the 16k race. Last year I had done it (and the whole Race Series) in my VFFs, but I hadn't had the opportunity to get the distance done in them, so I opted for my NB Minimus instead. The thinking was that if I got blisters in the Asics the I'd be fine in the NB...
Pretty soon myself and my OH were once again at the start line (she also did the HM) and I was doing my warmup run, dynamic stretches and sprints. I plonked myself near the back of wave 1, the sub-80min coral.
Last year I got around in 1:16:59 and was thinking I could manage 80mins or less, but wasn't bothered.
I started off feeling like I was taking it easy, but every time I looked at the garmin I saw my pace around 4:30-4:20, which I knew I couldn't sustain for over an hour, based on my lack of training. So for the first 8k I would run along then slow down then pick it up when my mind wandered and slow down again...
My 8k split was 39mins, so on target for sub-80.
There were two water stations, one at about 5k and the other at about 11k, each of which I took two cups of water at and walked while I drank them. Shortly after the second one we got to the last big hill and it really seemed to drag. Having done the race the last two years I knew the course and how far was left once we got to the top, so that was a plus. By the 14k mark I could feel a hot spot on the ball of my right foot, again, but kept the pace up.
Pretty soon we were running along the final straight and had less than 800m to go. I started to speed up and managed a sprint finish for a chip time of 1:23:15, roughly 6 mins slower than last year and with a huge blood blister in the same place as I had got one a few weeks previous.
I'm happy with my time and with the race, although when I was presented with my goodie bag I looked at the bright pink t-shirt and handed it back. Sorry, bright pink just isn't something I wear on a regular basis...
Even though I was happy with my time and the race, I was disappointed having got a blister in the very same place with two different pairs of runners. One is a standard pair of Asics and the other a zero drop NB. I can only think that I'm landing slightly in front of my hips and then pulling my foot backwards along the ground, causing some skin movement. My next step is to go back to the VFFs and see how it goes - I never got this problem with them. I'm interested to see how I get on going back to running in them!

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