Thursday, 25 July 2013

Chafing's not just for blokes...

A tale of nasty chafing & running...I'm not sure what the moral of the story is, but I can testify that Vaseline doesn't always help :-(

I think I have a pretty strong mind where pain is concerned. However, I have never been in hospital for anything illness or injury related *touch wood*, so I never quite know whether I am indeed good with pain or if I just haven’t really experienced anything significant as of yet that I can clock up to experience or measure such niggles against. I have been lucky. But I’ve run 138 marathon events including 10 in 10 days, quite a few hilly off-road ultras, back-to-backs, GUCR twice and a few 100 milers, so I think I’ve clocked up some experience with running related ‘pain’ – a little bit. So, last weekend I decided to do Fairland’s Valley Challenge. I’ve done this event twice before and I knew it was a lovely friendly event with lots of familiar faces and lovely countryside. And George was doing it, so I had the best company. However – and how can I put this – I have been experiencing a fair bit of discomfort running-wise, with the humid weather, in a rather delicate area. But, I thought ‘what’s the worst that can happen, I’ve been through worse right?’ Wrong.

It’s fair to say that Fairland’s Valley challenge was a very challenging and emotional day.  It was an emotional and physical rollercoaster. Five minutes prior to the race starting, I was jumping up and down and I had lots of George hugs, as my speedy boyfriend decided that he wanted to take this one easy and would therefore be my running buddy for the day. I was super excited because we hadn’t run an entire race together yet and I knew he would be lovely company, like he always is and it’d be a beautiful day, following on from a wonderful Saturday. So, we set off and everything was going wonderful for the first 5 miles. We skipped down little grassy hills, jokingly ran hand in hand and had some little kisses at various kissing gates :-) So, the first 5 miles were great. However the discomfort started to set in :-( and I have never had such bad chafing/ soreness like it whilst running. It felt like I was being stung by nettles for around the next 20 miles. The really horrible thing was that I was running well when I wasn’t in so much pain with it. And the sun was shining, the countryside was beautiful and so was George. I was in the best company in such a lovely place, but this one thing was overriding all feelings of contentment.

I used Vaseline, had used some Sudocrem prior to the race and I tried my best to ignore it and grit my teeth, but it was horrendous. I moaned, I swore and I generally spoiled what would have been an awesome day. George was amazing just being there and gave my little hugs to spur me on, but in reality he couldn’t do anything and nor could I and I knew this frustrated him too. And then about 2 miles before the end, I cried. This lump just caught in my throat and I really felt myself starting to sob. I quickly made myself get a grip  and kept on going. I would not be defeated by this. It actually seems so silly writing about this now, but I can not highlight enough how awful it was at that moment in time. In the end, we were a lot slower than we would have been if it had not been for my ‘predicament’.

Honestly, out of all the races, all the events, even GUCR, I have never, NEVER had so much discomfort. And it made me scared. It has made me frightened of this coming weekend’s Thunder Run. I have my fingers crossed that everything will run smoothly. I think this goes to show that even something seemingly trivial or even silly and definitely embarrassing can have such a profound effect on you whilst running and I really hadn’t foreseen that it would be such a problem...

Somebody suggested using chamois cream as used by cyclists, so I did a google search & it seems Udderly Smooth do one. I think I might give it a try, since I already use their moisturiser sometimes & it does indeed make your skin smooth 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

SDW Marathon in June June June

Saturday 8th June: SDW Marathon

South Downs Marathon is beautiful – I definitely recommend. Although, maybe not two weeks after GUCR. It was only ever a recovery run for me, but still, those hills were pretty tricky in places.

I’d never done this marathon before, although I have done the Downland Challenge, which is approx. 30 miles over parts of the SDW, so I knew the area was very scenic. This was also a great opportunity to see a lot of the ‘usual suspects’ who I hadn’t seen for a while. Everyone seemed to be there. And I was able to introduce all my crazy runner friends to George, which was nice :o) It’s always great to have a catch-up at events and of course, lots of piccies for the photo album were snapped.

So, before I knew it, we were off. Even from the very beginning, my legs felt a bit stiff, but they did eventually loosen up for the most part. It was a scorching hot day, very warm and the sun was beating down already. I just took it easy and continued to take it pretty easy.

I had decided to wear my trail shoes and I was pretty pleased with this decision. Even though there were road sections and the ground was dry and hard, and therefore perfectly runnable in road shoes, there were niggly stones that I know would have shredded my feet had I been in road shoes. Even as I recount this marathon almost a month after I actually did it (I’ve gone very slow on the blog front, as I’ve been a busy Lizzy), my feet are still showing signs of recovering from ultra-ness. My feet are peeling and I find this sometimes happens to me even months after a big ultra. Therefore, two weeks after GUCR, my feet were still pretty tenderised. Thus, trail shoes were an excellent idea for SDW marathon. The sole is obviously much thicker and I didn’t feel the ruts or niggly stones under my feet. Me and niggly sharp stones do not get on.

The first few miles of this marathon were a little bit crowded down narrow paths. This was a little tricky, as one guy attempted to undertake me on a corner, in the middle of a woods. He nearly went flying (silly man) and I was a little annoyed and got clipped and stumbled, but managed not to fall. I’m not sure why some people feel the need to overtake others in stupid places. How much time are they really going to save themselves if they end up causing themselves, or someone else unnecessary injury? Once the field had spread out, this sort of thing ceased to be a problem.

A couple of hours in and the sun was now really hot. My stomach wasn’t feeling too great, but I was okay. However, I wish I had followed George’s idea of filling a Camelbak up with coke (even though I don’t own a Camelbak...oh well, somehow I wish I had carried some coke). I was really craving something fizzy and ‘energy-giving’.  I was making sure I was drinking plenty of water and getting some electrolytes back in, but there comes a certain point where you need a little more than water and salt capsules/ electrolyte stuff. I started to feel a little sickly. But again, I was ultimately okay. I just had to ride the feeling out with some much needed walking. I also ate some salted mixed nuts & some choc-chip Hammer Nutrition energy bar.

Before I knew it, we were into the last few miles and I just could not wait to get to that finish line and get a nice cold fizzy drink. It’s really strange however; I struggled to ‘sprint’ into the finish, and yet I always normally manage to give it something at the end, I even ‘sprinted’ the end of GUCR...but on this, I was pretty stiff near the end. I think I finished in 6 hours exactly. Pretty slow, but it was indeed a recovery marathon. And I got my Dr Pepper at the end :o) I was aiming for below 6hours, but I was dawdling quite a bit. There were also some hills where I felt completely zapped of all energy...I literally felt like I was on a treadmill going nowhere, not moving forwards, but trying to.

Goody bags were pretty full of various random things on this event, which I really miss on all the smaller trail events I run and liked. Highlights included a teeny can of alcohol-free recovery beer. I wish it had been alcoholic, but it was pretty tasty. We also got some rather strange hard-boiled coffee sweeties. Exciting. And we got a nice medal and a t-shirt. 

Overall, I would definitely recommend the SDW marathon to anyone, in future. Really good, friendly organisation. And lots of scenic surroundings and pretty hills :o)