For new readers

To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Holes in my feet (where the rain comes in)

Ok, so you decided to see what's up for me.  Before you read on, why don't you click on the embedded you-tube posting of the Pogues classic, 'Sitting on top of the World' that's been running through my head since i went out and put holes in my feet last week.  Then you can happily move on to the rest of the post while being exposed, at least in all probability, to some new music.

Well, i finished Born to Run.  great book with lots of awesome info on the Tarahumara runners and barefoot running in general (though in all honesty the constant 'over the top' story-telling that is so well suited for magazines covering extreme sports and the like got a bit tiresome after the first few pages).  It made me renew my commitment go going even more minimalist in my own running than i've been doing with inov-8's most bare-bones shoe (that's currently available anyway, as they've got some new offerings due out around Xmas).  My wife had decided to try this earlier in the week and came back raving about how easy her 5 miles had felt.  Easy and  fun.  After her glowing report and forgetting my shoes anyway on the following wednesday, i decided it was time to make the change.

On tap was a warm-up followed by 2 x 2 mile intervals with a 1/4 mile of walking in between.  it was pretty hot and some sections of the sidewalk were too toasty to linger on - but i reasoned this wouldn't make a difference since i'd be going so fast.  My goal pace was 6:40 per mile, which, based on my last couple runs should have felt pretty hard.  It was and it wasn't.

Cardio wise i felt fantastic.  i was only timing the whole interval and never look at my watch enroute, so i didn't have any idea of what pace i was moving at as i set off down university avenue along the one mile stretch between Columbia and 42nd street, where i'd turn around and retrace my steps for the second mile.  I knew i had two intervals so wanted to be conservative and set off with a lively gait but one that didn't feel difficult.  1/2 mile in i felt invincible, except for two tiny little square centimeter patches of skin on the balls of my feet.  By a mile into it each step was painful, and i started seeking out patches of grass to ease the pain whenever possible.  I was too stubborn to stop though, thinking that i was just being soft and determined to get at least one interval in.

When i finished the watch had encouraging news (I felt quite fresh and had averaged just under 6:30 per mile) but the soles of my feet were broadcasting their own urgent, late breaking bulletin.  One look at the quarter sized fluid filled blister just under the second toe of my right foot was enough to let me know i wasn't going to get my second interval in.

The rest of the day i walked on the outside of my feet.  That night i drained one big blister on the sole of each foot and two smaller ones on toes of each, for a grand total of 6 blisters formed over a whopping 13 minutes.  Amazing.  By the next morning the right foot blister had somehow resealed itself and grown to epic proportions - it stuck out so far from the bottom of my foot that even walking on the outside of my foot caused pressure and intense pain.  I was grumpy and frustrated - it was only about 10 days until my big endurance expedition in wyoming and i'd gone and messed up my feet.  In a fit of rage i re-drained the blister and then proceeded to remove all of the dead protective layer covering the very tender and very red new skin underneath.  The increased air flow to the area made it feel like i was being branded on my foot and the pain upon walking was, unbelievably, worse than with the blister intact.  I immediately got on the computer and read about proper blister care (always good to do this after the fact - why would anyone want to make an informed decision anyway?) and how i had done exactly the wrong thing.

Later, i solicited help from the only source i could - my brother jason.  As an adventure racing guru he's had more blisters than anyone i know and also had learned effective ways of dealing with them when just doing nothing wasn't an option.  His advice?  Just do nothing.  He advised me to walk as little as possible - not go for my runs, not go for bike rides - just to limit the amount of activity and try to promote quick healing of the area.

I could only follow through with the first two suggestions.  I put my feet up whenever possible, and haven't run since.  I did 'have to' go for a bike ride though - which ended up going really well, but i'll leave that for another post.  In any effect, it's helped and the blister is on its way towards healing, and my limp (thanks to cutting a hole in my flip flop to match that in my foot) is now only a ghost of its former self - if only temporarily.  i've no doubt that the wyoming trip will cause it's own share of disaster news being broadcast by a body desperate to end the suffering.  I'll be sure to keep my earplugs in until the trips is done, i'm home, and i can share the news and seek sympathy from anyone who will listen.

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