Monday, July 5, 2010

First marathon race

Date: 4 July 2010
Time: 3:49:11 min
Distance: 42.35 km

So I finally have done a full marathon distance race. It did not go to plan at all, all my fault. I put it down to naive optimism and poor decision making!! The pivotal problem was the wrong shoes. I decided to use these Brooks ST-4 'Racing Flats' - and they are supposed to be up to the task of a marathon. The shoes themselves were too soft I think. I had used them for the first time in a half marathon a few months ago. In that race, it was quite hot, and some people had a sprinkler going, spraying people as they went past. They got my feet and that I thought caused blistering on my little toes.

In this marathon race I got blisters on the balls of my feet, something I have _never_ experienced ever in my running. So I do think it is extraordinary and odd that it happened in this race.

From run

A quick run down of the race for me:

- took off far too fast but I still felt nice and fresh

- got to about 15kms and noticed that there was a problem with the balls of my feet burning and hurting in an unusual way

- Encountered a Cool Runner, AndyP at about the 18 or 20km mark, and we briefly discussed the fact that I was way up there in pace. He was very surprised to see me there and I was surprised to see myself where he was!! I said I was 'Ignoring the pain' but I did not elaborate of exactly what the problem was. I felt fresh enough in every other respect though. I knew I was in trouble then, the blisters were well underway.

- Got to about 24km mark and the blisters were totally taking over. Every step was pain and the blisters squelched and squeezed as I rocked over them. It slowed me down and I began to try and change my foot strike to compensate. The race was over by then!!

- I struggled to keep up a decent pace. I began to tighten up because of the pain I think, and was not traveling so well. Trying to compensate for the blisters caused cramps in places I never thought I had around ankles and shins. Suddenly I started getting cramps in thighs and hamstrings too!! Weird how it can come crashing down so quickly.

- The rest of the run was a combination of run/walk, as I was trying to use mind over matter. It was only marginally less painful to walk, and absolute _agony_ when running. Seriously bad. Running for any period caused the most unusual sensation. The pain remained but became less focused. It felt like the socks bunched up under the ball of the foot, and I was 3cm taller. But pretty much unbearable.

My pace at the beginning was far too fast, that is obvious. But what really stopped me was something I never expected, the blisters. The blisters remained 'intact' the whole way, did not burst. So they just got bigger and bigger as I walked or ran.

The poor decision making process - I somehow decided that using these shoes was the right thing to do. They did cause blisters the first time I used them, on little toes, not ball of foot. But then I also had run multiple kilometres in training using my usual training shoes, Brooks Glycerin 8's with NO blisters ever. 35 km in fact. A more sensible and conservative choice would be to use the usual training shoe.

Anyway I did do what I was talking about in previous blog posts. I went and gave it a good shot, went fast and burned badly - Although the burning took an altogether different shape than I had expected!!! The first half was 1:36:00, the second 2:12:00. A 28 minute fade in the second half. I now look forward to my next marathon race, where I can now expect a significant PB by running ultra conservatively :)

Strangely enough I have not be wallowing in self pity. I am happy that I struggled and managed to finish - It was seriously painful, yet at no stage did I think 'I am going to pull out'. I am happy with the first half, the pace was quick and I did it feeling really fresh.

Anyway, no excuses, all my fault. My next race is in a couple of weeks, a 10km..

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