The Halstead and Essex Marathon is a fantastic event and I really enjoyed my second run of it yesterday. It's a race I'd recommend to everyone, and although I'd hate to see it grow much from the current numbers (it turns out from the results that 610 people ran yesterday) it's such a great day that I want everyone to experience it.
When I got home from the marathon yesterday, I added my mileage to the dailymile.com site and wrote this review:
Absolutely great race today. It's a hilly course (so lots of fast downhill bits that I love, although obviously an equal number of climbs), and although it got pretty warm, I can't complain about the sun being out - we were running around beautiful countryside, in lovely weather, and everyone was really friendly. I chatted to so many other runners as we went round which always makes my day. It's only a small event (about 800 entrants I think) but I enjoy it so much more than the really big marathons. Can't praise the organisation, marshals and local supporters enough. I think everyone should run Halstead at least once - it's a damn near perfect race :) I didn't really run the race I'd planned on - wanted to take it slow and practise a run/walk strategy for the ultra but it didn't happen, other than walking through some of the water stations - I just got a bit caught up in at all. Nice to head into a race though not thinking about trying to run for a time, and just running to enjoy it!
So, all very positive, and a fab day - I finished in 3:57:52 so although that was faster than I'd planned, it's reassuring to know that my time at Brighton wasn't a fluke - and we got an unusual and lovely medal which (for me) always makes a difference :)
However, my race wasn't all perfect...
I've been struggling with pretty bad shin pain since I started running again after the last marathon, and in the middle of last week, after trying everything else to resolve it, realised that the problem must lie with my newest trainers, the Asics Gel 1170s which I'd only really been using regularly since Brighton, having worn my old reliable trainers (my Asics Kayano 17s) for the big goal race. I don't know why the new ones are causing pain, but it's the only explanation. I realised that I wouldn't be able to get through the Halstead marathon wearing the 1170s but nor did I have the time to buy and break in new shoes in a few days. I didn't want to revert back to my Kayanos because I got such bad blisters from Brighton that still haven't healed, so, I went through my trainer collection (I don't think I've thrown away any trainers since I started running!) and picked an Adidas pair that seemed to have decent wear left in them and decided to wear those. Stupid.
Fast forward to yesterday morning, wearing shoes that I'd never worn for further than a 10km run, remembering that I'd retired them as they were too narrow for me, as I started to get real pain from new blisters that had developed on the sides of my feet. For the rest of the race, I frequently found my inner voice reminding me that "pain is just information", "I don't have to act on that information", "it's just a message and I can do what I like with that message" because what was I going to do...take my shoes off? No, I had to run through it and be thankful that at least I didn't have any shin pain ;)
Yesterday certainly wasn't the first time I've had blisters - as I said, I got a terrible blood blister on the side of my foot from Brighton, and every marathon I've ever run has resulted in bad blisters on the end of my toes and losing toe nails - but I don't remember the last time I was aware of any pain from them during the race. I always tape my feet around what I know are the problem areas with plasters, and I wear running socks with extra padding on the toes and the sides of the feet, and although I always still seem to get damage, I don't usually feel it until afterwards.
I'm concerned that not only have my wounds not fully healed since Brighton, I've now compounded them and I have another marathon on Monday which I can only imagine is going to be more painful that yesterday. Although I'm really pleased that my legs feel fine today, I am getting pretty worried about my feet, and how I'm going to protect them enough to get through the next race when it's so soon. I suppose more to the point, I'm starting to panic a bit about whether my poor feet are going to survive the pounding from my 50 mile race in July!
I have to get some new shoes (again!) and so this time, when I go to buy them, I'll explain exactly what problems I've been having and see what they suggest - maybe it's the size of the shoe, or the shape...or maybe I just need to tape my feet more thoroughly or start using duct tape?!
Who knows, but, as I said on Twitter earlier, my feet are starting to look like they belong in a monster movie!