Saturday, May 21, 2011

Frederick HM Training and My Broken Feet

The first serious trouble I had in my run training was the blister underneath my toenail that I developed during my twelve mile training run, one week before the race.  I was worried about the final training runs and race day since this quite the injury, but I used my first aid skills to work through the issue.  After all, I was going to run the half marathon unless my toe was actually falling off.

For the first two days, Sunday and Monday, I kept my toe (the second toe on my left foot) double wrapped with band-aids with bacitracin to help prevent infection.  I skipped Pilates on Monday because I was worried about additional injury to the toe.  Starting on Tuesday I laid off the bacitracin and just double wrapped.  I found during my three mile training run that the band-aid going up and over my toe was rubbing other toes so I knew that wasn't going to work for race day.  For the remainder of the week I decided on one band-aid wrapped around my toe.  My Wednesday run I shortened from four to three miles because my toe was quite sore from Tuesday.  My Thursday three mile training run I dropped completely because I figured it was more important to rest my toe for the race than put in the final training run (this was a good decision).  I knew I was well-trained and ready to go.

My toe survived the race but I had additional aches in my feet from hot spots underneath my toes to additional blisters in those same spots to sore toes in general.  Since this is similar to what I experienced last year, I think I need a different brand of shoe; probably at least a different style since I'm a midfoot runner.  My current shoes do not have too much mileage on them so it's not that they are broken down, they're just not working for me at long distances.

After my shower I took a look at my toe and found that I would most definitely be losing my toenail.  The skin had already pulled away from the nail in most places, and I found I could raise my nail up just a little bit off my toe (that made my stomach flip a little).  So at this point it's all about managing my loose nail to make sure I don't rip it off suddenly.  And that means investing in the bulk size of band-aids and always having one on my toe except in the shower.  Every few days I check in with my toe to make sure there isn't anything funky going on (infection) or any freeloaders (debris).  So far so good.  It took my big toenail eight months to grow out so I'm giving this one three months due to it's relative size.

At some point the old nail is going to fall off, but I am certainly not going to force the issue.  It is protecting the new nail and skin below so the longer it sticks around the better.  If my nail was falling off due to infection or a fungus, that would probably be a different story.  But it's not so I am not going to try to yank it off.  I think I'll stick to home pedicures for the next several months; I am sure those women have seen it all when it comes to feet, but I don't need to wave this toe in their face.

So, here's to a new second toenail on my left foot!  Two weeks down, ten weeks to go.

Frederick Half Marathon Recap

I'm a little slow getting this recap posted, but it's here now.  Yay!

Friday night I slept very well.  Saturday morning I awoke at 5:00a.  My plan was to leave the house at 6:15a, and I figured an hour and fifteen minutes would be plenty of time to do everything I needed to [spoiler: it was].  I warmed up my pasta, threw a little butter on it, and grabbed a cup of water.  As I was getting dressed, I polished off my food and water.  I checked twice to make sure I had everything, and headed out the door on time.

I was able to park on-site at the Fairgrounds which was great.  I sat in the car and flipped through a few magazines; I had an hour and fifteen minutes until the race start so I had some time to relax.  At 6:45a I took off my longs, tossed them in my after-race bag, and headed up to bag check-in.  On my way up I saw a short line at one of the outdoor building bathrooms and jumped in line.  Not too long later I continued on my way.  I checked my bag, smoothed out my gear, and headed towards the start line.  Since I took my time getting to the start line, the road was crowded and I stood in the Fairgrounds entrance waiting for the start, which happened to be around the pace group I was looking for.  The gun went off right on time and I was at the start line two minutes later.

I made sure to pay close attention to my watch and be careful of my pace.  The start is always exciting - the energy is high, and everyone feels good so it is very easy to go out too fast.  I think that was part of my problem last year.  I knew the course pretty well so I thought of the race in stages:

(1) First leg including Market Street
(2) Carroll Creek wind-around
(3) Friends and family! to Schifferstadt
(4) Schifferstadt loop
(5) East Street to the finish

The first stage went by uneventfully.  I found myself unable to fully relax into my run since there were a lot of people around, so I relaxed as much as I could.  The second leg was "annoying" as I had expected. There were a bunch of turns through neighborhoods as if the race organizers were just trying to "find some miles".  The remainder of the miles were well organized so I can forgive them for a few annoying miles.

As I came out of the annoying miles I was looking forward to seeing my friends and family.  I started moving left so they could see me, but I quickly discovered they would probably be standing on the right side of road based on how the race had been laid out this year (we didn't have the entire road, just the right side).  So, I moved right and smiled and waved as I ran by my adoring fans.  And then it was back to work for another five miles.

As I entered stage four I knew I had about two miles in the loop before I came out for the final two miles.  This is when I caught up with the 2:30 pace group.  I was expecting to finish in 2:30 so I knew I was in good company.  The pacers were fantastic; they were chatty and energetic and I loved it so I stayed with them through the loop.  The undersides of my toes had started to hurt and I found that they felt better if I ran faster, and this group was running just fast enough to relieve the pain.  As we came out of the loop and we approached the eleven mile sign, one of the pacers told everyone that they had had a lot of fun with the group, but if anyone had enough left in the tank, then they would miss us but we should go ahead and take off.  So, I did.

I wanted to leave everything on the course, and I felt great, so I picked up the pace.  Mile eleven went by in 10:36.  Just over halfway through mile 12, I ran by two of my friends/coworkers.  This was on the way to a 9:48 mile and they noticed I was cruising.  I had forgotten about the final hill leading up to the Fairgrounds, but I powered up it (I couldn't slow down or else my feet would hurt again), made the final turn onto the racetrack, and sprinted towards the finish.  I heard someone say "don't let 2:30 show up on the clock" and I made sure it didn't happen.  I crossed at 2:29:59.  And that was when I remembered that it had taken me two minutes to get to the start.  2:27:59.

I had no one waiting for me at the finish so I grabbed my bag, took the moleskin off my feet, put on my longs,  got out of my shoes, mixed and took in my protein drink, and headed for the infield where I grabbed my free "beers" (Michelob Ultra) and an Italian sausage with peppers and onions, for breakfast.  Once I was done relaxing, I picked up my premium shirt and headed towards my car to drop off my bag.  I called Jeff and found out when he and his brother were going to arrive for their 5k run and made arrangements to meet up.  Since the parking area had cleared out, I moved my car closer to the start and met up with the guys.  I watched them race, spent a little more time in the infield while they enjoyed their own beverages, and then we all headed out.

The race was perfect.  The weather cooperated so it was just me against myself and I performed well.  I pulled in mile times of 11:34, 11:36, 11:28, 11:37, 11:38, 11:29, 11:22, 11:27, 11:18, 11:23, 11:37, 10:36, 9:48, and 8:19 for the final 0.1 miles.  Since I didn't have my Garmin last year I don't know what my pacing looked like, but I guarantee it was ugly.  I finished 297/376 in my AG and 1428/3670 for my gender.  This might be the first time I finished in the top 40% of a group.  Yippie!

A body recap to follow.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Pre-Race Evening

Just in case you're not an avid reader of my blog, last post's reference to losing my toe comes from my post-century ride in 2007 and the resulting toenail issues.

It's less than 24 hours from race start and the adrenalin is starting to flow.  And a few nerves too.  I headed to the expo at 4p (the expo ran from 3p - 8p) to pick up packets for myself, Jeff, and Zac.  I perused the goodies and found a Fuel Belt pouch that is the perfect addition to my Fuel Belt.  My complaint has been that I've needed a second, larger pouch and fewer bottle holders, and now I have it.  I tried not to look too much since I'll probably be back after my half marathon is over and before the 5k starts.  I ended up with a freebie cold pack too.

My outfit for tomorrow is finally chosen:


The only common pieces from last year are the shoes, Fuel Belt, and iPod.  I didn't think any bad karma remained on last year's outfit; with it being a little chillier than last year I chose not to wear a tank.  I just noticed that my Garmin Forerunner is missing from the photo; it was busy charging.

And speaking of weather, here's the forecast:

Overnight low of 47ºF.  High tomorrow of 72ºF with a 20% chance of precipitation for the day.  Sunrise is at 6:04a.  The temperature at 7:00a is supposed to be 51ºF and at 10:00a is 62ºF with no predicted precipitation in those hours.  In one word - awesome.

Since it's supposed to be super sunny, I decided to forgo a black shirt.  And without all the heat, I'm leaving the visor behind too.  No need to add unnecessary weight.

I'm done eating for the evening and will finish out the night with a few more glasses of water.  I'm thinking I'll be in bed and asleep by 9:00p and up by 5:00a, but I'll have to listen to my body to see how that feels.

That's it for tonight.  I'll post again after my race.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Gross! Gonna Lose the Toe! Part Two

After my run on Saturday, the second toe on my left foot was terribly painful for the remainder of that day and the next morning.  It was a little swollen and the nail appeared to be quite raised.  The last time my nail looked raised, it was because I had keratin deposits that were building underneath.  After several weeks of treatment with NonyX, my nail was no longer yellow and everything was back to normal.  So, I only assumed that this is what it was and started treatment.

Sunday morning I started to scrape out the debris, just as I had last time, when something popped and some watery light yellow fluid came out.  I have to say I was a bit freaked out because this was not what I was expecting.  Okay, I was quite a bit freaked out.  As I squeezed what I figured was a blister, there was more fluid and then a bit of blood.  After I felt I drained everything out, I called Kristin and asked for advice since she has a lot of running experience.

The determination was that I had a blister underneath my toenail, and that it was possible I would lose the nail.  Since it wasn't a blood blister and I was able to relieve the pressure, that was a good sign, but it's hard to tell how the blister formed underneath so I don't know how well the nail is secured to my skin and surrounding tissue.  If I can make it through the next six days without an infection and with my nail, it can do what it needs to after that.

The cause was probably pressure from seam on my sock, the moleskin wrapped around my toe, and my toenail pressing against my shoe.  The moleskin was there to protect the underside of my toe from the hot spots that had been forming during my long runs.  In preventing one problem, I created another.

I currently have a dressing of two bandaids and ointment on my toe.  I'm wearing open-toed shoes as much as possible to (1) prevent me from kicking things accidentally and (2) allowing my toe/nail to move freely without hitting anything.  I'll be changing the dressing at least one a day, especially after my runs.  For my weekday/short runs I'll wear my lightly seamed/seamless socks and no moleskin (that was for my long runs anyway) and keep a watchful eye on my toe.  If I need to shorten or cancel a run, I'll do so since I know I'm ready to go for Saturday; I just need to "get through" this week.  I'll be leaving the moleskin off the top portion of my toe for Saturday, but keeping it on the lower portion since that's where the hot spots crop up.  And there will be a careful choice of socks for that day, too.

I have no idea how people run marathons!  This is enough excitement for me.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Half-Marathon Dry-Run

After yesterday's run, I'm not changing my estimated pace.  If I had actually had a good run I may have been able to, but my run quickly turned into a survival, and survive I did.

My nutrition was off; way off.  I could have probably eaten a steak dinner and felt better than what I did yesterday.  I took in four things before I hit the door:

(1) One 5oz cup Amaretto coffee
(2) One serving No Yolk egg noodles with a small pat of salted butter
(3) Two servings raw almonds
(4) 8oz water

In hindsight, I should have kept to the noodles and water only.  Maybe a few almonds, but not the two servings I pushed in.  Unfortunately when I saw the almonds, I thought "yum, bland" instead of "protein, don't want/need it".

The quick back story is that I have a very sensitive stomach when it comes to running.  I have to be very careful of the flavors of Bloks/Gu/Beans I eat because if they're too flavorful, I end up with heartburn, indigestion, stomach aches, runner's trots, or any combination of those.  I also have to be very careful about what I eat before I run.

In the past I've generally eaten rice and a little butter pre-race, but I figured the volume from the egg noodles would be nice and decided to switch.  No problem there.  Water, a must to hydrate after sleeping was also a-okay too.  The almonds were generally well accepted, although I did have a bit of indigestion in the last few miles specifically from them and will either limit my intake to just a few or cut them out all together next week.  The killer was the coffee.

I felt like I had swallowed battery acid.  Had I actually swallowed battery acid the pain would have ended much faster (because, let's face it, I would be dead).  I knew I was in trouble at the 0.5 mile mark when the burning started, and for the next 11.5 miles I wanted to curl up and die.  I was either:

(1) Nauseous
(2) Suffering from heartburn/indigestion
(3) Dry-heaving
(4) Putting my fingers down my throat trying to throw-up
(5) Looking for someone to toss my cookies as my stomach flipped and flopped
(6) Hoping I would throw-up
(7) Praying I would throw-up

Since I'm not practiced at making myself throw-up, #4 wasn't successful and I only succeeded in tightening up my throat muscles and putting myself in more pain.  I felt good for about ten minutes of my twelve mile run and I never ever want to go through that again.  Ever.  Ever.

I mapped out a run that was around 13 miles because MapMyRUN seems to come up short as compared to my Forerunner and I wanted to make sure I had enough distance to prevent running circles around my house at the end.  Well, this time they were pretty close so I called Jeff and asked him to come pick me up.  There was no way I wanted to walk home after what I had just gone through.  In fact, had I had even a mediocre run, I was planning on stopping at ZiPani and grabbing breakfast since they would have been on the way home.  Oh well.

I spent the rest of the day dealing with a super pissed off stomach.  I had egg whites and salsa to start and that went down fine.  Since Jeff and his brother were outside working on our patio, I went and grabbed Chipotle.  Jeff noticed I was pushing around my salad about half-way through and I told him that my stomach was "eh" again.  I layed off the dressing and felt better, so I was able to finish it.  Dinner was the local greek place and I stuck with chicken souvlaki although I really wanted a gyro.  Eating was in between napping and general malaise so I was thrilled when it was bedtime.

This morning I'm feeling much better but I'm a little nervous about next Saturday.  I think I'll go back to noodles and water and leave it at that.  I took in a little bit of water and one Blok on the run and I know that wasn't good enough, so I need to clean up my pre-race act so I can intake what I should during the race.  That's why you shouldn't try out anything new on race day; you'd much rather screw up a training run than the real thing.