Wednesday, 17 September 2014

10 days to Berlin Marathon and I'm finally back on the horse

Ever since I finished my longest run ever on 24th August, things have gone a bit wrong.

With only 5 weeks to go to the Berlin Marathon, my son's father moved his international girlfriend from overseas into his home, giving me only 2 days notice and throwing arranged access and therefore training schedules into disarray.

As if it's not tricky enough to fit in long runs, cross-training, short runs, bringing up a child, working to pay the bills, looking after a home, etc etc.

She is apparently a very delicate flower and was therefore to be protected from me at all costs. I on the other hand was threatened with court and forced into agreeing for my 2.5 year old son to be entrusted into the care of someone I had never met. Naturally, his father claimed that our son would only be in his care, but I can't see that that would be practicable.

The overall emotional distress from the situation itself was compounded by being bullied into accepting a course of action that I wholeheartedly believe is wrong. It totally took the wind out of my sails. I could barely put one foot in front of the other, never mind put on my trainers and run.

And even if I had, the pain in the top of my foot caused by my new trainers was adding to the urge to eat cake rather than run. And a pain in my groin/inner thigh seemed to be getting worse.

After 2 awful weeks of wallowing and with only 3 weeks to go to the marathon, I pulled myself together (just a little) and resolved to get myself onto the treadmill at least. On the way to the gym, I called in to my local running shop and indulged in a bit of retail therapy ... another pair of new trainers.

What is it with running shops and their obsession with "correcting" what mild over-pronation with shoes that feel like concrete blocks??? I'm convinced that there must be a better way ie learning better running form. I'm sure some of these stability shoes actually create more problems than they solve - at least, that has been my experience.

Please, Saucony UK - can you hurry up and bring your wide fit shoes to the UK? That's what I need - the wide-fit Saucony Guide 7. If you have a high instep or any other type of problem on the top of your foot, I seriously recommend trying Saucony shoes. All these other shoes I've been sold, barely cover the top of my foot. The tongue's aren't wide enough to provide protection from lacing. All the Saucony shoes I've tried feel wonderfully soft across the top. It's like wearing slippers really. But they're just not wide enough.

At this late stage, I've had to make a decision between getting a big blister on my big toe joint or inflamed tendons across the top of my foot. I've chosen the blister. Some Compeed will help a bit and I'm going to try out putting one on the inside of the shoe over the stitched area that causes the problem. Hopefully that will do the job. I've worked out some rather nifty lacing that keeps things really comfortable across the top of my foot and allows me to tie them at the outer side rather than in the middle. I just need to make the decision on socks - single skin or double skin ??? not sure yet.

I think I'm there with the new Guide 7s. And they are by far the most pretty of my recent shoe purchases, which is a smile-inducing bonus. So that's the shoes sorted.

And I finally found a bright royal blue running top that makes me think of dad.

I've worked a few things out in my head that bring me back into control of my personal life. Work is moving along fine. The last long slow run that was scheduled for last week didn't happen, which is a bit worrying, but I'm not going to let it get me down anymore.

On Monday, I headed out for a relaxed 10km over quite hilly terrain. I did the same route today. Both runs went quite well and I'm thinking that the flatness of Berlin will make the first 10km feel a lot easier. I know that once I've cracked the first 10km, I'll be well settled and in the zone. I'm hoping I'm alert enough to recognise a few of the sights I've worked so hard to pick out along the way.

With a bit of prodding and poking, I've got my donations up to £950, which is just £50 short of my £1,000 target - woohoo! It definitely helps that I've never done anything like this before. Friends, family and work colleagues have all been so generous.

So finally, with 10 days to go, things feel like they are coming together again. I've got a couple of 10km runs to do, a long long walk, and a few swims. I've got an appointment with my physio and one with my hairdresser. I've indulged in a bit of retail therapy, so my non-running Berlin wardrobe is sorted. The support team is booked on flights and in hotels. The post-race drinking meet-up has been organised ... assuming I can still stand.

All I need to do now, is run the 42 and a bit km from the Brandenburg Gate to the Brandenburg Gate.

Oh how tempting to take the short cut!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

2014 Berlin Marathon Route Sights

It's taken a bit longer than I thought to pull together a route map for the 2014 Berlin Marathon complete with landmarks, but it's almost finished.

It's here on my 2014 Berlin Marathon Pinterest board.

I'll be adding to it a bit more over the next two weeks when I get time and I need to finish the last couple of kms - I hope that's not the story of my race!

I'm only a second time visitor to Berlin, so I'm bound to have missed some interesting stuff. If you've got some landmarks to add, I'd be really pleased to hear from you.

Happy racing!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

A million pairs of running shoes and not a pair to wear

Today I bought my third pair of new running shoes in 5 weeks.

I loved the pair of Saucony Guide 6 that I started out with, but as I upped the mileage, I started to get blisters on the big toe joint. I've got really wide feet which apparently aren't particularly well-catered for by Saucony. I'm also a bit of an overpronator and the chap in the running shop told me that the extra movement of the foot can cause the big toe joint to rub more on the spot where the insole meets the side of the shoe. Sounds feasible, but what do I know?

One of the reasons I really loved Guide 6 was that it was really comfortable on the top of my foot. I've got a high arch and instep and a lot of weird sensitivity following the birth of my son nearly 3 years ago. The top of that shoe just felt like a duvet on the top of my foot. The tongue is wide and not too fat and just seems to fit perfectly. And I'm gutted, because I can't seem to find the same comfort in any other shoe.

I really had to change them. I'd had them for 7 months and I needed to get a new pair worn in properly before the Berlin Marathon. When I went to get a new pair, I did the whole gait analysis thing and we tried some shoes with a bit more stability. I ended up with a pair of New Balance which had loads of toe room, but not very much room on the top of the foot. They were really comfortable on the sole, but I should have backed off when there was hardly any lace left to tie. The tongue wasn't wide enough to protect the top of my foot from the top lace holes.

I didn't really like them from the start, so the last time I was in London, I made an impulse buy in London when someone showed me the Saucony Triumph ... why did I buy them? Because they didn't have the stitching on the toe box that I thought had been causing my blisters. But that wasn't what had been causing my blisters. And so even though the top of the shoe was once more lovely and comfortable, my over-pronating foot was rolling around in them like nobody's business and those nasty blisters were back with a vengeance.

The New Balance have seen me through some long runs recently. I've adapted the lacing on the right foot to take the pressure off the top of my foot. Which of course then meant my heel was wobbling about all over the place. By the time I took my shoe off at 30km, I had a blister the size of a tomato. That was 2 weeks ago and it's still healing. And the top of my foot was getting more and more sensitive.

So today, I went out and got the third pair of new trainers in 5 weeks. And I really don't know if I'm convinced. This is a high stability Asics Gel 11. Apparently it's fab for wide-footed over-pronators ... but no-one's said anything about sensitive top of footers .... I'm wearing them in as we speak. And they feel really hot. I hate having hot feet. And they feel rather heavy too. I gave them a few minutes run on the treadmill after I'd bought them and somehow I'm now sounding really heavy-footed. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty chunky, so I'm never going to sound like grasshopper when I land, but somehow there seemed to be more of a thud.

I've always been barefoot during the day as much as I possibly can be no matter what the weather and I'm worried that such a high stability shoe is going to somehow cripple my feet. I'd much prefer to work on fixing the over-pronation through exercise and then try out the barefoot running shoes. My foot naturally seems to want to go for a mid-foot strike, but these Asics seem to be pushing me back on my heel.

Hopefully I'll get used to them quickly, but just in case, I think I might try out a pair of Saucony Guide 7. If I order them from the US, I think I might even be able to get a wide fit! That could be my dream shoe.

Who knew finding the right shoe would be quite such expensive hard work?!?!?!