March 2016Eclectic Cake: March 2016

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

New Feets of Recovery

I admit I'm not particularly tall but my feet are still far away enough to forget about. I look at them now and again, mostly when something is falling off or needs popping. They are the most disgusting part of my body but probably the part I ask the most of. 

When I climb, they get squished into tight, curvy shoes and forced to teeter on tiny lumps on a wall. Then they're made to pound the ground for hours, whilst soaking up puddle water and being coated with mud as I run. And yet they rarely get any love... maybe a going over with the foot file and the occasional toenail trim (when there are nails left to tend).

After miles (both horizontal and vertical) of abuse, it's time to care for my feet. Thankfully, it turns out I don't have to get very close (my nose wouldn't allow it after first removing my climbing shoes anyway), thanks to my new OOFOS. A recovery shoe that cradles your arches and absorbs shock, to allow your feet to prepare for whatever you force them to do next.

They passed the first test with flying colours (well, my favourite shade of green, anyway). After returning from my latest trail marathon, there were four things I went to for recovery.

1) A cold beer in a nice warm shower – yes, shower beer is the way forward.

2) My old faithful compression tights.

3) Any food I could get my face into.

And then there were the OOFOS. After digging out my only pair of toe socks (it's a little cold to walk around the house in sandals), I slid on my shoes and geared myself to walk al the way down two flights of stairs to where all the food was hiding. I'd expected it to hurt but the cushioning made the walk more manageable. Obviously my legs were still aching but the sandals seemed to help rock me into movement. 

Just as the beer soothed my soul and the tights hugged my legs, the OOFOS massaged my feet with every step I took. I actually found myself walking more whilst recovering, which I think stopped me from suffering much from stiffness.

I think my recovery essentials list just become a little longer and my feet a little happier.

DISCLAIMER: I was kindly sent a pair of OOFOS shoes for free

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Race Report: Trailscape South

WHAT: Trail Marathon
WHERE: Ashurst, East Sussex
WHEN: 23rd January 2016

We've all experienced it. That little niggling voice that appears mid-race, telling us to stop running. "It's too hard." "You're probably last." "Maybe fall and try to break your leg, so you don't have to carry on." The best defence against this negativity is to fill your head with a stronger, positive voice. Part-way through the Trailscape South marathon, this voice came from Kasia.

I'd signed up for the full distance in a haze of post-race endorphins after running my first official marathon. I then promptly forgot. A reminder two weeks before race day gave me little time to prepare. This race was not going to be easy. Even less so because the course was covered in a thick slick of sticky mud. The type where only five-minutes into the race, you can reasonably forget the real colour of your shoes.

I did have a plan B (secretly plan A). As the marathon was made up of two loops, there was an option to drop out half way and be crowned a half-marathoner. This sounded like a good option to my undertrained legs – get all the praise for starting a marathon but avoid rotting in a ditch somewhere after becoming exhausted and presumed dead by the race organisers.

Surprisingly, it was my watch that gave out before I did, barely clocking 5-miles before packing up. Although this meant I wouldn't be staring at my watch, wishing the miles away, I also wouldn't be able to track my progression. I was completely winging this race, with no idea if it would pay off. In fact I assumed it wouldn't.

I quickly sought safety in numbers, chatting to whoever I got close to. Eventually, my pace seemed to match that of a woman who looked pretty strong and comfortable. If all else failed, I'd hop on her back and she'd be able to carry me to the finish, even just to the half way point – I was struggling with the idea of just completing the half. The problem was, we were running at the same pace but ten-metres apart. She was so close yet so far. Until this woman, who I assumed was a running machine, stopped. She turned around and signalled that she was finding it tough too. Who was going to carry me now?! 

As soon as I caught up with Kasia, it was clear that I wasn't the only one finding the sticky, energy-sucking mud a challenge. We continued forwards (sideways in the worst mud slicks) and chatted. We talked about anything and everything. All the whos, whats and whens. The whys and why nots. 

Somehow we had passed the half-way mark almost without realising. I paused with my get out of jail free card behind me and the sign pointing to the start of the second loop in front. Really?! Was I going to try and do this? Kasia looked certain I was. So we continued to chat for the second loop, taking turns to banish any negative little voices that crept into our heads. If I hadn't have found my teammate, I probably would have had tried to hitch a ride on the only road our trail route crossed.

We crossed the finish line hand in hand. Stronger together. And with another piece of the Trailscape puzzle completed.

DISCLAIMER: I am a Trailscape ambassador and gratefully race for free.