Friday, July 29, 2011

Blistering feet and the blistering heat

Well, the time has come: mileage has come back and bit me in the ass, just as I predicted (my prophetic skills are quite impressive, I know). I suppose it makes sense that this week has felt the worst, since I'm at the end of a 100+ four-week stint: 100/115/112/115ish (TBD). I am pleased with the numbers and with the fact that I was able to get in some quality workouts in the midst of what's felt like a lot of long, slow miles and some intense heat.

Getting back to my initial point - mileage has bit me in other places than my ass, most prominently my feet. Oh, my poor feet. They look like those of someone who's been living barefoot on the street their whole lives. They are a pretty disgusting sight. Since you obviously want details, I will start with the basics: black toe nails. This is nothing new. Neither are a complete lack of toenails. In fact, having been a ballerina for 13 years, walking around with inflamed, black toenails or missing nails I would consider quite normal. But no, not only are my nails a mess now, but I have plantar warts on the bottom of my feet. I wouldn't normally care *that* much about this, but you see plantar warts can become quite painful, and now they are bothering me a lot (only if something affects my running do I consider it a real problem. That's healthy, right?).

I know you are dying to know more. Well, I am finally getting treatment for my warts, meaning bi-weekly silver nitrate applications by my trusty podiatrist (I'm pretty sure he dislikes me and my feet as much as I like him. We have a great relationship). This has the awesome effect of staining my feet black. So to start to build you a picture of my beautiful feet, it would begin with a few black toenails and one missing toenail. Add in some black sexy spots underneath my toes and heel. My third issue would be the massive blisters I am getting all over my left foot. MAN are they painful. I have one on my pinky toe, one on the outside of my big toe, one between my toes and one on the outside of my heel. Of course they are all big and juicy and relentlessly fill up with gross fluid despite my repeated attempts to squash them. I am pretty sure they must also be infected, since they throb constantly. Especially in the morning. There is no worse feeling in my day than waking up with inflamed, throbbing feet and painstakingly forcing on my running shoes for a 13-mile morning run. The first steps out the door are the worst - I pretty much limp up and down for a few blocks, before I become partially desensitized to the throbbing pain and can push it out of my mind. Coming home and dousing them in hydrogen peroxide may compete for most uncomfortable part of my day, but I still think I enjoy that more than squeezing blistered feet into my running shoes. My fourth issue is some inflammation on the top of my right foot, which has come and gone for the past few months but only gets bad when I do speed workouts. Of course this week, it has decided to plague me after all of my runs so that I walk around like an old lady, trying to avoid stepping the wrong way on one blistered foot and dragging my tight right foot behind. It takes me about 2 full minutes to walk down the hallway to the washroom at work (looking like a total gimp at that) - so the other night I actually used the men's room instead. So much more convenient - though I'm not sure how well this would go over during regular work hours. I don't think the humidity is helping any, as my blisters have been this bad for over a week and I see no sign of them healing. Anyone out there have any useful blister tips? They would be mucho appreciated!

Now that I've sufficiently complained about my lovely pieds, I suppose I should talk about some actual training. I did an easy 38k (3hrs) last Saturday that felt great - I love how the long runs are starting to feel easy now. It was another hot day in which I didn't bring anything to drink with me (classic camel coolis) so of course I ended the run at Starbucks in a complete delirium. I stumbled to the cash, red-faced, hot and wet (twss!) and gasped for TWO venti green tea lemonades and a venti pike place. The cashier looked terrified and I can't really blame her. I must have looked like a wild, starving animal ready to suck the life out of on anything with a hint of moisture. She turned to shout out the order but before she got two words in she turned back and asked: 'TWO green tea lemonades? Venti?!' 'Do I look like I only need ONE?!' I thought to myself impatiently. I nodded and before I was out the door I had chugged one of the drinks entirely and was desperately stabbing at the ice in an effort to extract all the liquid possible. That didn't quite work.

Mondays are my toughest day, since my morning 13-miler is followed by an afternoon workout with the Angels. It doesn't help that most Monday afternoons have hovered around 40 degrees with the humidex. Last Monday it decided to thunderstorm during our morning run, leading to a legitimate flooding of the trails. Initially we poked fun at Chafe (a.k.a. 'softy'), who no-showed due to the thundershowers (but who will run in -20 through icy streets - makes perfect sense). The thunder gods must have been on his side, however, for partway through the run it began to snap, crackle, pop and POUR. I felt like I was running upstream running up the beltline - my feet were wading through ankle-deep water rushing furiously in the opposite direction. It was quite the sight. Of course I cringed at the thought of my blisters chafing even more than they already were, so I decided to avoid this by keeping my feet completely soaked the entire rest of the run. After we got through the trails, I hit every puddle I could coming back downtown. The more my feet started to dry, the more I felt the rub and burn of the blisters. So once again I made a lasting impression on the Starbucks employees when I sloshed through the door, mud-ridden and soaking wet. They must simply love me there!

My legs have never felt more heavy and dead than that afternoon. I barely made it up to Churchill for intervals, and convinced myself that there was no way I could do the workout that night. 'I'll just do strides and come back downtown,' I told myself soothingly. I showed up 5min late because I was running so friggin slowly, and immediately began to complain like a baby to the girls about how tired I was. I think I should stop doing this, since I am sure it must be pretty annoying to have someone self-inflict pain on themselves then incessantly complain about it (and then, as it happens, run a fine workout). Being the beautious, kind group they are, however, they were supportive through my moans and groans and encouraged me to start the workout. Somehow I was able to bust out a solid workout consisting of 6x800m, 4 hill repeats and a hilly 1400m tempo, with times hovering around 2:40 for the 800s. By the 2nd 800m I felt like I had a new set of legs. I am still miffed by how this happens considering how tough my warm-ups have felt! Top that off with circuits at 6:15am Tuesday mornings, and I am generally a completely useless human being for the next 24 hours.

In past weeks things usually turn around by Thursday. Not this week. First off, I slept through my two alarms and woke up 30min before the workout (that is a 30min jog away). I briefly considered skipping it, but quickly slapped myself in the face (self-abuse seems to work well with me), cringed while I crammed my poor feet into my runners and flailed out the door in a fury. I showed up huffing and puffing just as the Angels were about to start the workout, but at least didn't complain about it this time. We started with 2x1k, in which I initally felt like I was in an all-out SPRINT, until I went through in 3:49. I knew it would be a tough day. My 2nd repeat was 3:39, but I was working much harder for that than I should have been. The key interval of the day was 2k hard, at which point I was sufficiently warmed up to tie my PB on the loop of 7:04. I was satisfied considering how heavy my legsI felt, but really wanted to go sub-7:00. We finished the workout off with 1k/3k/2x1k in 3:40/10:52/3:37/3:37. I then got down on my knees and thanked Jesus I didn't have to run again until Saturday.

Speaking of which, tomorrow should be an excellent marathon prep workout - about 20km starting at slower than race pace (4:10/km) and progressing to marathon pace (3:50-3:55) for 14km or so. Hopefully with a rest day in the bag I will be ready to tackle it, perhaps even without a complaint!


  1. firstly you're nuts! second, try your feet in icy water. helps harden the blisters and will feel amazing on all fronts. have u ever heard of 'vitargo'? kick ass carbohydrate supplement that is heaven sent. and don't forgot the toe shoes :)

  2. haha, firstly you are right, i am a little nutso. but at least i'm sane enough to realize that? secondly, GREAT TIP! i will do it today. i still gotta try those toe shoes...i will eventually!!! hope you're having fun in france and hit me up when you're back in TO...