Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Aftermath

Warning: You might find that the following contains too much information. If you continue reading and get grossed out then all I can say is, "You've been warned."

After I crossed the finish line at the marathon I was physically spent. Emotionally I was on cloud nine because I was so happy about how far I'd been able to run at my goal pace but I had no energy left and my body already hurt.

Fairly early in the race, maybe 6 miles in, I felt some chafing in the back of my crotch under my right butt cheek. I think they call that area the gluteal fold. I tried pulling the crotch of my shorts up to make sure that skin wasn't rubbing on skin but it really didn't help. On the downhill to the lake between miles 7 and 10 I started getting blisters on the bottoms of both of my little toes. As the race progressed both of these areas continued to hurt with the toes causing me the most concern. It wasn't a case of lacing my shoes too tight like in the previous race; I'd very carefully laced them this time to avoid that problem. The toes felt quite sore and it felt like I had grape sized blisters in the fold between the toe and the foot. By the end I felt pretty sure that I'd find blood in my socks.

They had a party with a good band in the American Airlines Center along with some food and refreshments for the runners. The stadium is awesome, but all the tables and food were on the stadium floor which meant going down stairs. The steps were shallow, but I was barely able to hobble down. I was walking like a 70 year old man with arthritis in his hips and lower back. My legs had no strength left at all. About all my stomach could handle was a small bowl of pasta salad, a banana, and a frozen orange/banana smoothie. We ate a bit and then we had to get back to the hotel and check out.

When I looked at my face in the bathroom my eyes were surrounded by a mask of salt crystals. As I took off my shorts I was a little dismayed to see the crotch of my underwear red with blood (I warned you). The leg opening of my underwear had worn a series of holes through my skin in several places starting with the middle of my groin around to my buttock. When I got in the shower the salt from the sweat washed into the open sores and burned like pouring salt water into open wounds.

Surprisingly, the toes didn't look too bad. The inside edge of the pads on my little toes had a thin blister along the edge, but no blood and no big blister.

I then put the stopper in the tub and sat down as the tub filled with straight cold water and my wife shuttled back and forth to the hotel ice machine. After several trips with the room's ice bucket hadn't gotten the water cold enough she got an entire waste basket full of ice and dumped that in. I wrapped my shoulders in a towel and shivered as I soaked for 20 or 30 minutes with my legs completely covered in ice water. This is a trick I read about in Runner's World and tried after long runs while training for the marathon last year. Now it has become standard practice for me after any long run. It helps reduce inflammation in the joints and the muscles.

The worst part of the day was the drive home to Austin from Dallas. My hips ached and hurt as I sat there and we had to stop periodically for me to get out and move around. It was a major effort to get in and out of the car and I still had the old man shuffle when walking. I was taking ibuprofen to help with the pain and swelling, but if it was helping it was hard to tell. When I got home I went upstairs and went to bed. Going up the stairs was no fun.

Monday wasn't too bad. The muscle soreness had set in and was getting worse, but none of my joints hurt and my feet felt fine except for a little soreness from the blisters. Sitting down at work didn't hurt but I'd be really stiff when I'd get up from my chair. I could walk somewhat normally except that my hamstrings were incredibly tight and sore and so I had to take really short steps.

I had scheduled an appointment with my massage therapist ahead of time and after work on Monday I headed in for an hour of body work. The massage was more of a flushing massage instead of the usual deep tissue massage that I get. My feet weren't sore at all. My calves were a little sore, but my lower legs felt pretty good. My hamstrings and quads were incredibly tender and my ITBs (bands of ligament tissue that run from the hip to the knee on the outside of the leg) were tight and sore. My hips were unexpectedly fine.

The massage must have worked because Tuesday morning I got out of bed and could walk normally. This is a little unusual because delayed onset muscle soreness usually hits the hardest 2 days after a hard run. My legs are still sore, which I mostly notice on the stairs, but I'm getting around pretty comfortably. The most bothersome things are the sores in my crotch which I have to sit on at work and which get rubbed by my jeans when I walk. I've also discovered some friction burns on the inside of my upper arms from the sleeve of my shirt and a sore on the outside of my left bicep from my MP3 player, but other than that I'm feeling pretty good today. Actually, I'm feeling much better than I expected because I'm only dealing with muscle soreness and not joint or bone pain.

I'll probably go to the gym tomorrow but I don't plan to do any running until next week. After that I'll have to work back into a training routine and get ready for my next race, a 20 miler, on January 7. I don't plan to run that one hard so my last two real races for the season are the 3M Half Maraton on January 28 and the Austin Marathon on February 22. I'll now be shooting for a sub 4:00 time in the marathon and think that I can do it.


Anonymous said...

Great descriptions, as usual. The salt-lick effect when the shower hits and finds any chafe areas you didn't previously know about is the worst.

Under the cheek, though? Ouch!

At least it wasn't the back of your sack, though, right? It could always be worse.

I bet your pinky toe situation was from tenseness and messing around with other issues you were dealing with, like the crotch chafe. I've messed up ankles and knees before because I lost overall focus and instead ended up involuntarily focusing on some other "hot spot" problem that reared its ugly head.

Never heard of the ice soak thing. So was your entire lower body submerged in this ice water, including your, um, crotch? If so, wow ... and *shudder*! No further comment. :)

Bull said...

Imagine George Castanza yelling, "The water was cold! There was shrinkage!" Yes, all the way over the knees and definitely over that part. Fortunately the boys came through unscathed.

Anonymous said...

Jeebus, Bull.

I do NOT understand running to the point of chaffing and bleeding and burning.

Check out the strapless jocks - anything that would help with chaffing. Egads.

The ice/tub thing had me cringing. Shrinkage, just from the thought.

I'll stick with the elliptical and swimming (if the water is at least 80)!

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I feel like this is a Boys Only conversation. Maybe I should leave.

So do you vaseline under the gluteal fold next race or what?

Sideon said...


I admit it! I'm fascinated, in spite of being horrified at the same time.

Yes - what IS the answer to the underwear/chaffing thing?

Bull said...

Warning: Too much information again.

I don't wear jock straps. Don't believe in them when there are more comfortable alternatives. I wear Calvin Klein trunk briefs (that's me in the photo, ha!) and they work well when I run as well. After years of garments I love these underwear.

I've never had this problem before and I suspect that the problem is that I wore the same style brief in a different fabric. This fabric wicks better and doesn't hold as much sweat, but it has a more open, and I suspect, more abrasive weave. It's actually for sports, but I've never run at this pace for this long in these briefs and I suspect that what is comfortable on shorter, slower runs because decidedly uncomfortable on the marathon.

I've never had this happen before, but I'll stick with my regular briefs in the future.

It's also possible that I didn't pull my spandex shorts up high enough into the crotch so I left a friction zone unprotected between the shorts and the briefs. In the future I'll be a little more careful.

Bull said...

BTW, I cringed when I first plunked down $20 for a single pair (why's it a pair when it's only one?) of underwear. But I love them. After 20 years of wearing garments that always made their presence known, these things are better than going native. Plus they don't have the defective fly of men's garment that are constantly letting the horse out of the barn.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

LOL. Still an all-male conversation. Still listening in. I love it.