23 March 2010

Bloody Nipples

Last November I wrote several posts about running. This post is a quick follow-up. This past weekend I accomplished something I've never done before in my more than half-century life: I ran and finished a half-marathon road race: the ING Georgia Marathon and Half-Marathon. A new distance: 13.1 miles. And I did it in the same shoes I wrote about in those earlier posts: my VFF Sprints. (Race photos to follow)

I'm not going to lie to you, there were some moments when I was really hurting. At the 10-mile mark, I had to shift the constriction brace I was wearing around my right calf to my left knee because I felt it weakening (front, exterior, above and to the left of the patella). The good news: my calves weren't hurting.

Around mile 12, near the Georgia Tech campus, the course headed up a series of long hills and I simply had to walk. Until that time I was on a pace to finish with twelve-minute mile splits. But, with about three quarters-mile to go, I saw the drum line from my son's high school one of whose sponsors was a good friend of mine. When I waved at Teresa, she started cheering me on with such warm and genuine enthusiasm I was motivated to run the last bit. (Thanks, T!) And to me, simply finishing was a victory (seeing as how I DNF my last race, an 11.5 mile trail run in 24 degree weather).

After the race, my friend Charlie and I hobbled to the MARTA station and eased down the steps to the trains. We were so sore we could barely move—especially going down stairs. (Charlie finished about an hour faster than I. Way to go, C! And thanks, again, for waiting around for me and giving me a shoulder to lean on when I got a little light-headed in the subway station.) What's remarkable to me is that afterwards—Sunday evening and Monday—I was not nearly as sore as I was after that first 10k or that first 15k race. No calf pain whatsoever. No top of the foot pain. No swollen feet. No toe pain. My knee didn't hurt either.

Bottom line: my training was almost good enough. I need to run a long, slow training run greater than the race distance at least once or twice before the actual race. I hadn't run more than 11.5 miles before Sunday. My body was simply not prepared to go that distance. Endurance first, then I can work on speed.

The biggest casualty—after that early, understandable soreness—was my shirt. When I got home and took off my outer shirt, I saw two bloody spots on my silk undershirt. Apparently the friction of running for nearly three hours can rub the skin off the tips of your nipples, causing them to bleed—chafing even against silk. Who knew? (Sorry, no pics.) Wisdoc kindly rinsed out the shirt's stains before they had a chance to set in while I soaked for a long time in a hot, hot tub. Next time at this distance or greater, it's Vaseline or Aquafor for them.

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