Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Not for Want of a Nail -- One More Running Post

Note that dirty line running from the sole of my runner along the side of my shoe across that central stretch of mesh -- and the puncture mark on the sole below it -- where the nail was removed.

So, turns out when you run 21.1 kilometres at a not-too-bad pace while you still have a slightly chesty cough, that cough will get worse and you might feel as if you have a very bad cold. Of course, "you" wouldn't do anything so foolish, but "I" did and I spent yesterday feeling pretty miserable and working my way through a box of kleenex. Slept for hours in the afternoon and then went to bed at 8:30 and slept through 'til almost 7 this morning.

I'm hoping I'm on the mend today, although I'm going to take it pretty easy. Meanwhile, I thought I'd share my two little stories about Sunday's race.

First of all, as you know, I was not feeling at my optimum, what with this cough and all, but I started out at what felt like a decent, reasonable pace. The beginning of any big race (this one was limited to 2000 registrants) always swoops runners along in an initial excitement, and I enjoyed being part of it all, curious about the route, deciding when to pass and when to simply hold my own pace. Curving around downtown, I noticed a few distance markers, but didn't pay much attention, but as we got to Stanley Park, I started to watch for them. The first one I really noticed was "4," and when I checked my watch, I couldn't help but be pretty discouraged to see that I'd taken over half an hour to do 4 kilometres. No way would I be able to get to 11 by an hour, which would have been by goal if I'd hoped to get in at under 2 hours.

Still, not much to do but keep going, although when my pace appeared just as slow at 5, and then at 6, I was getting very discouraged. Plus I couldn't imagine why my time was so slow when I felt as if I were running fairly decently. Nor could I imagine how I could run 15 more kilometres when I already felt so tired.

But people around me seemed to be more cheered than I by the markers. I even heard someone talking about being almost halfway done. What? As I came up on the "7" sign, the penny finally starts to drop, and I turned to a runner next to me to ask, "Is that 7 kilometres? . . . Or. . . "
"Oh God no!" she answered, "It's 7 miles. If it were only 7 kilometres, I would have just walked!"

Well, exactly!

I was so very relieved. In fact, I'd say I took an early delivery, right there, of my runner's high endorphins. It's stunning what a difference that knowledge made -- proof positive of the link between psychological state and physical performance, should any be needed.

Okay, so that was me, getting a big boost at 7 miles, knowing I was going to complete after all AND might even have a shot at my goal time.

But now I began to pay more attention to that nagging spot on my right foot, at the side of the large knuckle of my big toe. I'd noticed this problem in these shoes the last few runs, but I've done a few long runs in them to break them in. After 7 kilometres -- I mean miles!! -- the rubbing was getting more and more difficult to ignore, and I wondered if there were a rough seam on the inside -- and considered whether the store should take them back if that were the case. In the meantime, though, not much choice but to soldier on . . . except that by mile 8, the irritation was starting to alter my gait enough that my right knee was hurting.

So I moved to one side to see if there was any adjustment at all I could make to shoe or sock -- and that's when I spotted the nail -- it had gone straight through the thick sole of my running shoe, and its sharp point was staring up at me from just outside the shoe, right next to my big toe's knuckle. I have no idea how long it was in there, but knowing I was wearing the shoe when that nail pierced it definitely gave me pause.
This photo and the one above were taken today, long after removal and obviously after the race, but you can clearly seen the dirty marks left by the nail, especially the scary-to-me entry point!

A volunteer nearby was calling out to me to keep going, not much further ("only" 5 miles, hah!) -- so I hobbled over to show her why I'd stopped. She blanched, obviously had the same mental image of the nail piercing my shoe as I'd had, but rallied to help work it back out. I worked my way back into the stream of runners, picked up my pace again, and the rest you know . . .

So while I'm coughing less and less today, I'm also very grateful I didn't have to go get a tetanus shot and have a nasty big nail pulled out of my foot!

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