Blisters, bloating, and chaffing…oh my!

My sexy running blisters.

My sexy running blisters.

I ran 20.14 miles last week. My husband was out-of-town on business Monday thru Friday. I was in the middle of a medication adjustment. I was mentally and physically exhausted the entire week. Being on the tail end of a medication adjustment and having all 3 kids to myself was unpleasant to say it nicely. There were a lot of appointments to get to and other day-to-day things to attend to. One of my kids is a teen and we’re often in conflict. This week was no different. She helped out a couple of times by keeping an eye on her younger siblings so I could attend to training, though.

Tuesday, training was 4 miles including hill training. The group ran up and down a large hill 6 times. I lacked the energy to run to the turnaround spot each time we reached the peak of the hill, so I walked a bit at the top of the hill. I didn’t walk very much on the hill, and I think that was impressive. While we were running up and down the hill, I was listening for tips and tricks from the experienced runners. One of the best tips I got from a mentor was pretty simple. No shuffling. Women are especially guilty of this running form faux pas. So, on the uphill, rise each step as if you were ascending stairs. Lift the knee enough to overcome stairs that aren’t actually there. Then, on the way down, make sure you aren’t letting your legs too far in front. There is the ever important arm pump involved in all running that helps with uphill, too. Pump your arms a little harder when you’re trying to make it up.

Thursday, it was hot outside and I’d arranged for the teenager to watch the kids in the evening for me to complete my assigned 5 miles. Wednesday, the teen expressed that she wanted to sleep over at a friend’s house. After an early afternoon appointment, I set out for the dreaded midday heat run. The temperature was around 90 degrees (F). Once I reached one half of a mile, I started to feel like my stomach was cramping. I first ignored it, but realized that anything I might need to do could not be put off until I completed a 5 mile run. I turned back toward the house, took care of my bathroom needs, and headed out to run the remaining 4.25 miles. I felt considerably tired the entire time. At one point on the trial, two girls around the age of 10-12 years approached me from the opposite direction on their bicycles. One girl loudly chanted “oink, oink.” When her friend said, “huh,” she pointed to me and said more loudly than before “OINK, OINK!” Her friend or sibling still looked confused and I didn’t give any indication or satisfaction of knowing I could hear them despite my headphones. I ran along thinking about how I wished I didn’t have such a fat belly. Then, I forced myself to use my eyes to take in my surroundings and my ears to listen to my music so both could drown out the negative thoughts in my head. I had my handheld hydration with me. I sure needed it, but I managed to fasten it too tightly and give myself a nice blister on the thumb knuckle on the side of my index finger. Bandages are not easy to keep in that spot or any spot on the hand. I finished my run even though I was slow, my stomach told me it hated me in the first half mile, and I am pretty sure I heckled by children. When I took off my shoes, the tips of my toes on my left foot were white from blisters. The part of my chest under the sports bra was chaffed and bright red. As it turned out, my teen didn’t have a sleepover that night and I probably could have put it off until the evening.

My husband returned Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, I nervously woke for the group 8 mile run. I ate my energy bar peacefully and went to my local Fleet Feet for our run. They had samples of nutrition things that we could take on the run with us, so I popped one that had raspberry purée in it into my hydration belt that had 2 frozen sports drinks in the flasks and my phone tucked away. I brought my bluetooth headphones along for when I had time alone on the trail since the run was so long. I normally don’t wear them when I’m around a group for our training or for races because I usually find someone to talk to, listen to, or just run quietly with. This is a recent development since I used to always run with music. Now, I refer to it as my “binky.” I have the headphones for comfort when I expect something that might call for their use. I started out on the run with two women, Barb and Jane. We started out with a warm up mile that Jane encouraged us to hold steady when we started to hang back. She also said we were going to hold a specific pace for the rest of the run that day. I thought she was crazy to think I’d go 10:30 for the next 7 miles. Then, I thought she was trying to kill me. Then, I was happy someone was running along with me because the benches were starting to call my name to just lay there and pass out. I wasn’t hallucinating, even though I thought I saw the Gateway Arch through the trees at one point. Perhaps because I’d felt like I’d run 160 miles. Jane kept me on pace and offered advice when to stop to have some of the nutrition that I’d brought along to sample. We stopped about every 3 miles for a quick rehydration. I found myself sipping from the bottles on my belt when I felt especially warm, but the nutrition seemed to work as intended. Near the end of the path we ran, there was less shade to linger in and the heat was making me feel defeated and worn down. I wanted to stop, but I wanted to go 8 miles. Most of the time, I kept my composure, but I let out some “I can’t do this” whining between my labored breaths. Jane was calm and reminded me that I was almost there and that I was already doing it, so I couldn’t just stop. She kept reminding me that the run wasn’t all physical and that it was an exercise for your mind. I finished 8 miles. I walked back to the store without collapsing. I sampled the different choices we have for running nutrition. I found out that I like lemony tasting stuff, but not apple flavored. I will still have to work out what is the perfect formula for me on long runs. After 8 miles I didn’t know I could finish, I walked over to get coffee from the big coffee chain near the running store and had fun conversation with fellow runners. I spent a few hours at the pool with the kids walking. I did plenty Saturday and didn’t think too much about how I’d completely exhausted myself fairly soon after I woke up that morning. I ran 8 miles. That’s the farthest I’ve ever gone on a run. I’m proud and have a right to the pride. There’s no humble about that. I did it and I’m bragging because I’m proud.

Sunday is the day of the slow recovery run. I didn’t get out in the morning to run. I waited out the hot sun and headed out around 8pm. I haven’t run at night in a few months. It was a nice change of scenery. I wore my shorts, which I normally don’t do because people seeing my thighs isn’t my favorite. I learned not to wear shorts anymore because my thighs are so mean to each other (chaffing). I looked up at the stars a couple of times and once I was walking to cool down, I picked out stars and constellations I felt like it had been too long since I’d seen.

Last week was difficult. I would not do it over the way it was and I would not do it over differently. I started my new medicine a few days before initially planned. I had some pretty upsetting disagreements with my teen where she lofted some mean words my direction while I was feeling fragile. I had to push those things away to complete the longest run I have ever done. I had to push “can’t” out of my vocabulary when talking about my physical abilities. I had to actually exercise my will power and mental strength. That was harder than anything physical that I’ve achieved so far in my training. I’ve included a pic of my current toe situation to heal the existing blisters and prevent any further blisters. I’ve got some healing chaffing where my sports bra got me and I’ve purchased a product to prevent that from happening again. My stomach has been puffy and bloated for 2 days.  I have chaffing on my thighs from my Sunday run. I’m just a mess, but I love it. I’m learning so much about what my body is capable of and I’m impressed.

Do you have any new battle wounds? Are you struggling with mind over matter? Is there a challenge within yourself that you’ve come to recognize? Are you convinced that I’m nuts?

Thanks for reading. I love hearing from readers. What do you want to see me write about as a newbie to distance running or a mom that has depression? Do you have a story you want me to see that would help with my journey and maybe some other people also? I’d love to know! This blog is for my readers, too! I enjoy and appreciate your encouragement, also. Have a great week!

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