Saturday, August 18, 2007

This is not the kind of runner I want to be

Usually I try to keep my running posts anecdotal, relatively positive and at the very least, readable. But today, I just need to rant. If you're not up for it, I'll understand if you pass on this post and come back later.

As I was thinking about this post before my run, I thought a good title might be "Fun with duct tape". But it turned out not to be so fun after all.

My two main issues with running lately have been that I've been unable to find a water bottle that doesn't leak around the rim and my darned blisters.

I swear, I've spent like $100 on water bottles over the last year and a half. Between trying to find one where the mouth piece is the right size (too big and the water comes gushing out, either drenching you or choking you, or both) or it leaks - even if it screwed on all the way or snapped on tight.

I've been to sporting goods stores, running stores and even supermarkets. I'm sick of spending money on water bottles!

I solved the problem with duct tape:

It's not pretty, but it works.

I have, however, decided that I like things that don't look like they've been patched together by that guy on The Red Green Show. I like things that work and that look decent.

I've also decided that I like it when *I* work and look decent. More on that in a bit.

For now, let's say that I was willing to forgo the looking decent part when I decided to try the duct tape on the blisters, too. So this morning, before the run, I powdered in between the toes and wrapped my foot in duct tape, with the intention of doing a 15-miler (25 km, give or take).

Here's what I looked like before:

And in case you're wondering, I have this thing for pedicures. Call it a vice or whatever you like. Between running and wearing summer shoes, my feet take a beating and I think they deserve to be treated nicely.

The place where I have then done is a small mom & pop shop run by a Vietnamese family. All the employees there are family members (or so we think... most of them don't speak much English.)

They get really ticked off with me because I insist on cutting my toenails myself before I go in. They take one look at them and say, "Too short! Too short!"

I say, "I run. They need to be short." They kind of throw up their hands at me in despair and then do their best to work with my stubby nails. Then, they see my blisters and look at me as if to say, "What the hell do you do to your feet? You leave, they look good. You come back, they look like this."

Same goes for the finger nails. There's one young fellow who works there who knows that I go to a gym. I tell him, "They nails get ruined in the weight room, anyway. And if they're too long, they just snap off. I need them to be 'sport length'." They don't get it, but my friend and I are regulars there now, so we all know what to expect.

Anyway, out I set, with my duct taped water bottle and foot. At mile 6, I felt it; the squishing inside my sock of a wet blister. I stopped and took my shoe off. In fact, I sat down and took my sock off to inspect the situation.

Did you read that? I sat down! What the hell kind of run is that when you sit down? That's not a run, that's a freaking surrender, is what that is!

I wasn't even half way along my route.

The duct tape hadn't covered all the blister, I realized. And it had slid around a bit, so I re-positioned it and then got my sock and shoe back on. The blister was watery and broken, but not yet bleeding, so that was a good sign at least.

There was no way I was going to make it to 7.5 miles before turning around.

And you know how I run - a straight line out, then turn around. There's only one way back then - on your feet or on a stretcher. No cell phone. No money. That's just tempting me to be a wimp.

I wasn't far from Kensington, where my friend L. lives. For a moment I wondered if she was home, thinking that I could go knock on her door and beg for a ride back to my car. She would have done that for me, for sure, but that's not the kind of runner I am. I had already sat down. I wasn't going to be any more of a wimp.

Having said that, it hurt enough that it was starting to affect my foot strike. I remembered back to a time when I ran in high school that I got blisters go bad the entire inside of my shoe was gushing with blood. I just kept going, not noticing that I had changed my foot strike to avoid the tender spot. I ended up with tendinitis in my foot because I'd pulled things in all different directions. I had to stop running for a few weeks while it all healed.

That was years ago, but I didn't want a repeat performance.

I started to head back not long after. My run was not going to be 15 miles today.

I was ticked, to put it mildly.

On the way back, I did a walk/run. The final result was that I felt like I was trudging along... or make that, tottering along. I didn't feel like a runner at all. I felt like a big bag of turds who's not tough enough to take a little blister on her foot. I felt slow and sluggish and frustrated. How can such a stupid, simple little thing create such a nasty problem?

By the end of my 12 miles (19 km, more or less), I was fit to be tied I was so angry. And tired. It wasn't the kind of tired you feel when you know you've gone hard and you're spent. No, it was the kind of tired you get when you feel defeated and disappointed in yourself.

When I got home the blister had bled, of course. You can see here that the blood that didn't get soaked up by the tape just oozed out around the edges of it. You can still see the tape line, with blood on either side of it:

Luckily, it didn't bleed much, so that is something to be thankful for. My gut behaved itself, which is also something to be grateful for.

But, I did not go the distance today. I gave up. I felt no joy in my training run today, which is highly unusual for me. I felt like I let myself down. How am I ever going to get in shape for a marathon when I'm such a wimp?

Sorry for the rant, folks. Those of you who follow the blog regularly know that I'm not usually so cranky. There's a 5-mile race next weekend, so I'm going to work hard this week on an attitude adjustment so I can do the race in a happy, positive frame of mind.


Turtle Guy said...

Not having a good day? Looks like you took it in stride though.

We all need a vent - isn't blogging wonderful!

Sarah said...

Rant away! I've been in a snarky mood lately too. : )

I've never used duct tape on blisters, but maybe with open or already existing blisters you should put some padding (gauze?) between the blister and the tape. Also, the book Fixing Your Feet, is pretty good.

Pretty toes, btw! : )

Backofpack said...

I've given up and just surrendered to the fact that I will have blisters and no or half toe nails. Nothing seems to work.

Now, if I can offer a little duct tape advice... when you put it on, it must be perfectly smooth. No wrinkles at all (I see wrinkles in your picture). It must be sealed flat against the foot (I see loose edges in the picture too). When you conform it to your foot, you trim away any folds that stick up. The big flap in your picture is also an irritant - something that can slide back and forth and cause problems. When you are done with the tape job, it should look like a second skin. Also, any open sores or existing blisters - at that spot you should put sticky side to sticky side so that the smooth shiny part is against the wound.

I learned this from a) Steve and b) Fixing your Feet.

Hope it helps.

robtherunner said...

Sarah, I know it was wrong of me to laugh while reading your rant, but it is because I care so much and wish you were running with our group. I feel a kinship with you and feel that I am allowed to laugh with you even though you're not laughing. Sorry!

My first bit of advice would be, "It doesn't have to be fun to be fun."

I cannot offer any advice on the blisters and the bottles I use are the ultimate direction, but they are the older ones with the hard top and not the squishy top like they have now. Those SUCK in my opinion, but a lot of people like them. The hard top version was on clearance a few years back at REI and now I wish I would have bought about 100 of them.


Backofpack said...

It's me again! Another good site to check out for running stuff is Seems like they had lots of water bottles too. Look at the ultimate direction hand held (though I much prefer my pack!)

ipodmomma said...

not being a runner of any sort all I can say is that some days just bite the big one, and a blog is good place to let it all hang out.

hope you are feeling better today, and glad you treat those feet to pretty colours!

psbowe said...

Ouchie, ouchie! I had my share of dealing with blisters and losing toe nails too. Still have trouble every now and then, but not enough to ruin my runs. I started experimenting with different socks, different width shoes and at least a 1/2 shoes longer than what I normal wear. It took me awhile to figure out what works for me. Right now, I luv those 'darn tough' socks.

I hear you on the water bottles so for now I'm sticking w/clear plain 16 oz water bottles. Still researching to see what works best for others. I'll keep you posted. :)

Alia said...

Sarah, I second all of the duct tape advice. I applied the same process for hiking and ballet. Basically, whatever you use for the second layer that protects your feet must look and feel like second how a nylon would fit, but something that would slip along your foot like a nylon.
keep the takes time to figure out what works for you.

Journey to a Centum said...

Sure, why not try a little furnace tape on the old foot. Heck it's still attached so it must have worked!

Works as a great replacement for waxing those unwanted hairs too!

I hope your rant helped! We all need to let er rip every now and then.


Anonymous said...

I am absolutely sure your friend in Kensington would have helped. Absolutely, fabulously sure.

Journey to a Centum said...



Robb said...

Duck tape is newfie solder. Very attractive - almost as sexy as Backofpacks toenail photos. Good gracious girl - thems bad blisters you.

Anonymous said...

Ah, duct tape! The fix-all solution.

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