Today’s long run was 29 kilometres, and I made a stupid mistake that nearly ruined the entire run. On occasion I’ve had some issues with my left foot toes while running. The worst has been a bloody toe cut open from squishing up against the nail on the neighbouring toe. I had several small blisters on various toes from last week’s long run, so I thought that I would be proactive and take a step to eliminate the problem. Not my brightest moment!

I put a bandaid on the problematic toe, the middle toe of my left foot, and likewise I put a bandaid on the right foot’s middle toe.

By about the 4K point I began to feel some discomfort in the toes of my left foot. It wasn’t too bad, and I didn’t want to slow down to sort it out. Of course, the discomfort only got worse and soon became actual pain to the point that I was limping. It wasn’t until I had finished 12 kilometres that I finally decided that I had to check out what was going on with my toes or I would not be able to finish 29 kilometres. Took off my shoe. Took off my sock. One of the toes beside the bandaged toe had a massive blister! Took off the bandaid. Put the sock back on. Put the shoe back on. (I might have tied it a little too tightly, because I’m now sporting a rough, red lump on the top of my foot!) Without the bandaid, I was able to run mostly pain-free…well, pain-free toes anyway. Surprisingly, the bandaid on the right foot never caused a problem. I guess my left foot just likes to make trouble for me.

With the immediate source of foot pain removed, I was able to focus from my feet to the rest of my body and the actual run. I had brought along two gels and a couple of chewable energy snacks to try during my run. The first gel was a little shocking. I knew that it was going to be gel-like, but I guess I really didn’t quite know what to expect. I’m still not sure if I liked the flavour (huckleberry), and the thickness/texture made me feel like gagging a couple of times. But I got it all down followed by some water to wash away some of the ick. Forty-five minutes later I tried a different brand of gel. This one was cherry flavoured. Normally I love cherries, but I found that flavour even more off-putting than the huckleberry, although the texture wasn’t quite as thick as the other brand. It was a little bit easier to get down, although the gag reflex still had to be resisted at least once. The chews were fine…not a lot of flavour and definitely chewy but nicer than the gels.

The big question is did the gels help?

I want to say that they did. I think that they did, but I’m not completely certain. Certainty will probably require more sampling. Since I had holidays last week, I did a lot less running (only 12 minutes of hill sprints). Who knows? Maybe the week off running helped me physically today. Maybe it was the gels. Maybe both. I will try the gels again for next week’s 32K long run.

Regardless of why, the first 20K were relatively good, despite the blister problem. My pace stayed fairly consistent and averaged less than 7 minutes per kilometre. There were random aches and pains, but nothing was persistent or too debilitating yet.

When I finished the 10th kilometre, I realized, once again, that my distance max really is 10K. It’s a decent challenge but not onerous. Now that I’m leaner, stronger, and in better shape, I can work on doing a 10K faster.

When I finished the 20th kilometre, I came to the realization that doing a half-marathon is quite doable now. It wouldn’t be something I would do regularly, but I could maybe see myself doing one in the future.

And then the body began to rebel. The hips began to throb. My lower abdominal muscles felt like they were in danger of falling to the ground. My left knee hurt. My pace slowed, and each step felt laboured and heavy, but I kept plodding along.

At the 27th kilometre I encountered the grasshopper gauntlet. I hate grasshoppers. Almost as much as I hate mice. For almost the entire kilometre I had to keep my heart in place as grasshoppers jumped back and forth with every step that I took. Yuck. But when I got to the end of that kilometre I realized that I had only 2 kilometres left to go!

I finished 29 kilometres in 3 hours and 28 minutes. Now I am in so much pain, mostly my hips. Only 4 long runs left before the marathon! Only one more increase in distance. I can’t wait for the taper!



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