Saturday, February 11, 2012

Glass = Ow and Mercedes Precap

[It’s probably only fair for me to warn you that the first third of this entry consists of me talking about getting a splinter out of my foot. If you’re squeamish about that sort of thing, you might want to just scroll down a page or two to the Mercedes part.]

Sometimes I get it in my head that I’d like to start running actually barefoot. Then I have weeks like last week. I walked all of about 50 yards barefoot outside to take the trash out Monday afternoon and ended up with a little splinter of glass in my foot. It went deep enough that I couldn’t see anything to grab with tweezers, and poking at it with a needle didn’t yield any results. Since it had gone straight in and wasn’t at all visible, I wasn’t sure if there was still something in my foot or if it just hurt a bit because there was a small hole in my foot and so I opted not to try cutting it out with a razor blade.

It still hurt on Tuesday morning, so I asked the internet what to do about it. It wasn’t red and nothing much happened when I put peroxide on it, so it wasn’t infected, at least. But walking on the edge of my right foot was a little annoying. One website said that putting baking soda paste on it for a day might help push the splinter out. Again, I wasn’t certain if there was actually something in there since I couldn’t see anything, but it did hurt if I stepped on it. I covered it in baking soda paste and put a band-aid over it and spent the rest of Tuesday sitting around on the couch.

Wednesday morning I washed off the baking soda paste and inspected it again. (If you haven’t tried it, I don’t really recommend spending an hour with your foot upended on a desk while you hunch over it with a lamp. Not the most comfortable position in the world.) The baking soda dried out the skin a bit, so it was a bit easier to see farther down into the little hole. I still couldn’t actually see anything, but I figured I’d poke a bit with a needle again since I was sure the splinter was still in there. I gave up eventually since I still couldn’t see anything and my neck was cramping.

Another day of mostly sitting around on the couch. I tried again with the needle later in the day. Still nothing visible, but standing on my right foot involved only a bit of discomfort instead of stabby sensations. I hoped maybe this meant it was a microscopic little bit of something in there and I’d gotten it out without actually seeing it. I put on more baking soda paste since it seemed like it wouldn’t hurt anything, at least.

It was still slightly uncomfortable to step on my foot on Thursday morning. At this point I’d already missed two runs and I was just getting kind of annoyed and tired of walking around on the side edge of my foot. I got out a razor blade and picked at the hole with a corner of it. I thought I saw a tiny bit of something shiny somewhere down in there, but it was far enough in that I still couldn’t grab it and I didn’t want to just sit there purposely cutting a hole in my foot. I peroxided it again in the hopes that this would bubble out the bit of glass if the shiny thing was indeed that and not just some deeper layer of my foot which happened to be shiny. I dried it off and didn’t see anything shiny anymore. It was still a little uncomfortable to step on, but that seemed fairly reasonable since I’d just gone at it with a razor blade. I put a band-aid on it to keep any additional bits of stuff out and drove to Atlanta and back for rehearsal.

Friday morning I thought it was fine but just as I was about to declare myself fit to go out for a run, I got a little stab of pain again when I stepped on it. I resigned myself to the fact that there was clearly still a bit of something in my foot and sat down at the desk again, determined not to get up again until I had either found and removed the splinter or gnawed off my own foot in frustration. It took about two hours of alternately picking at it with the corner of a razor blade, poking it with a needle, peroxiding it, and squeezing to try to push anything out which might be in there, but I finally found a tiny little bit of glass – about 2mm long and a fair bit smaller in diameter than a grain of sand. I tried to take a picture of it for posterity, but either the camera on my phone isn’t really designed for close-ups of tiny things (very possible) or else I suck at taking pictures of tiny things (also very possible).

I still didn’t go running on Friday because I was paranoid that there might be another little bit of glass still in there since it was such a small piece that it probably could have broken pretty easily after four days in my foot. I took out the trash again, but I sucked it up and wore flip-flops.

Saturday was a wash since I had to go to Atlanta again and this involved getting up at 3:30 in the morning and not getting to sleep until about 2:30 in the morning. I’d been planning on doing my long run on Sunday, but I decided that maybe running 13 miles for the first time ever after not running at all for a week on the day after I’d been up for 23 hours was probably a terrible idea.

Monday I finally got around to the long run – 13 miles and the last properly long run (next week is a rest week) before my first half marathon on the 19th. I live on the course for the Mercedes Half, so I decided I’d run that since I won’t be in town to actually do the race this year. I also really wanted to do the whole 13 miles of my run in one go since the last long run I’d done without a break was 8 miles three weeks prior, and doing a big loop that didn’t pass by home again until the end seemed like the best way to make sure I’d make myself do it.

(10 miles was the cupcake run so I stopped for a couple of minutes to get out my phone, unwrap a cupcake, and take a picture every mile. 11 miles was on a warm, humid day and I’d done 4 warm, humid miles the day before instead of having a day off in between like usual, so I ended up stopping after 9 miles when my foot started threatening to blister in a couple of places and then doing 2 more miles first thing the next day. 12 was also a rather warm day and I’d downed my entire water bottle and was still feeling pretty dehydrated by the time my route passed back by home after 6.5 miles, so I took a break for several hours to rest and rehydrate before I did the remaining 5.5.)

The sense of anticipation from running the course a week before the race was really fun even if I’m not actually going to be there. There’s road closure notices posted everywhere, there’s banners on all the stoplights downtown, and there were a bunch of “Oh, she must be running the marathon this weekend”s as I ran past groups of people out walking on their lunch breaks. There aren’t very many big, exciting annual events in Birmingham, but Mercedes is one of them.

I do plan on doing the race the next time I’m in town on the appropriate weekend, but I may opt for the half rather than the full even though I will have run a full or two before then. The full course is just two loops of the half course, and while there’s some parks and such along the route, it’s just not the prettiest or most exciting thing out there on the whole.

Okay, Rhodes Park is pretty.

Avondale Park is really quite nice if you’re in the front
where the duck pond is or if the rose garden is in bloom,
but the route only goes by the side of the park and even
in Alabama there aren’t exactly a lot of flowers in February.

The newly-completed Railroad Park is great in general
and has several little ponds and fountains and walking trails,
but the course just goes down the street next to the park,
so the view mostly consists of a line of parallel-parked cars.

Saint George probably has lovely artwork inside,
but it’s difficult to tell when you’re running a race
through their side parking lot.

There’s nothing wrong with the BJCC, but the route
only goes around the back of the building. I don’t know
who decided that the course should include a block
which has loading docks on one side of the street and a
Salvation Army shelter on the other, but it’s there.

If you always get a sudden craving for barbeque 7 (or 20)
miles into a race, Mercedes is definitely for you.

There’s also a couple of places where the course goes underneath a freeway overpass and there’s a mile or two of warehouses and auto body shops – presumably those parts of the course were chosen for their relative flatness rather than for their picturesque qualities. On the whole it’s a decent enough run since I already live here, but I don’t know that it’s worth traveling any great distance for Mercedes.

Anyway, my coffee-bean-laced homemade Larabars and I successfully completed the run, although the two and a quarter miles of continuous uphill definitely killed my pace. (The half has a total gain of 488 feet, with most of it in the aforementioned two and change miles. It’s not steep by any means, but it goes on for forever.) Since I started and finished at home rather than at the starting line, I didn’t hit the big uphill until I’d already been running for almost 10 miles. Probably should have taken that into consideration when planning the run. Really, though, I’m pretty excited just to have completed my first half (albeit unofficially), even averaging 11:43/mile. And hey, the Locomotive Half next weekend only has a total gain of 184 feet…

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