Sunday, June 5, 2011

Huge PR and Equally Huge Blister

Okay, just a warning about this blister. It's not normal and in fact is quite gross. Do not scroll down too much further if you don't want to be confronted with what is almost certainly the nastiest blister I've ever gotten. You might ask why I'd post such a picture if it's that bad. To answer that question, I'd say that even though it's gross and it hurts, I'm pretty proud of it. It was the result of one of my best races to date!

It ALL started this morning, when I had to wake up for one of the races I signed up for last Friday. After two and a half years, I've gotten the prepwork (lack thereof, really) for these races down to a science. I know exactly how much time I have and I generally don't even bother picking up my race number ahead of time. I know that, even though race bib pickup time technically ends half an hour before the start of a race, it really doesn't end until a few minutes after the race starts. So this morning, after hitting the snooze button four or five times, I rolled out of bed at 8:31. 29 minutes ended up being a perfect amount of time to get dressed, run to the 72nd Street Transverse, pick up my bib, and run back to my corral to start the race. I even had a few minutes to spare!

Once there, I wasn't really able to step into the corral because there were so many people also trying to get in so I sort of waited at the side. After the national anthem was sung we had to wait about 5 minutes before there was any movement in the massive clump-line of people waiting to start. Once we started moving, it took about another 2 minutes to cross the start line. I didn't actually notice what the clock said when I crossed, which plays into what happened later on in the race.

I came out of the gate pretty strong and remember thinking that the people in my group were running slower than I remembered. My pace on the first mile was fast, and when we crossed the first mile marker I remember thinking that I couldn't believe we'd only gone one mile. I didn't see the time there either! We kept going and finally hit the 2 mile marker, at which point I finally saw the time clock read a little over 22 minutes. At the time, I didn't know how much time to subtract for pre-start line crossing faff but I figured 4 minutes couldn't have been too far off the mark, so I calculated that I'd been running for 18 minutes and was probably running a little over 9 minute miles.

At this point in the race, we started hitting a few hills and I felt myself slowing down. I'm not certain, obviously, but I felt like my third mile was probably the worst and I was thinking that as I was running, and trying not to get discouraged and settle back into a comfortable pace. We approached the third mile marker and I grabbed some water, trying as ever to practice an on-the-go drinking technique taught to me by my friend Sharon, who's run something like 20 marathons. I was definitely rusty because I nearly choked on the two sips I took, gave up, and disgustedly flung my paper cup into a trash can before passing the clock and noticing (but not really taking note) that it read slightly over 30 minutes. I kept going for another couple of minutes, still struggling to avoid feeling defeated. Then I thought back to the clock and made a shocking realization. Bear with me as I work through the same simple math I was doing during the race. If the clock read around 22 minutes at mile 2 and then around 30 minutes at mile 3, it meant my third mile was somewhere between  8 and 9 minutes. The mile I thought had been terrible was definitely no more than 9 minutes and seemed like it was probably much closer to 8. Joy!

This gave me a second wind and I rocketed along the West side of the park, finding people to pick off as I went so that I would stay motivated to the very end. When I crossed the finish line, the clock was between 38 and 39 minutes. I knew the results had to be significantly better than normal because, even if I could subtract no time, it would have been better than a 10 minute mile, which has been my benchmark for the past few years.

A few hours later when results were posted, I was stunned to find that my time was 32:29, which works out to be an 8:08 minute mile! The fastest mile I'd ever run at an NYRR race up to this point was 9:20. I can already tell that this is the start of a new, faster chapter in my running career and I am thrilled about it.


I wore my Vibrams to this race because I think my form is much better and I tend to run faster in them. The only downside is that I occasionally get blisters. Not all the time, or even often, but when it happens they tend to be pretty large in terms of surface area. This one was no different. I could feel it there even before the race was over but was still surprised to see how large it was once I took my shoes off. Also, it's a blood blister!


  1. super nasty blister! I've been lucky enough to NOT get a blood blister yet, and I'm really hoping it stays that way! they freak me out!

  2. Katie - please don't use those toe shoe things. You're going to end up with much worse feet problems than blisters...stone bruises...bone spurs...