Sweat, Blood and Tears… and Mud, Rain and Nerve Damage

Home again, home again, jiggity jig. I’m back in Calgary and back to work (but NOT back to running). My trip was amazing, I had a fantastic time everywhere. But I cannot say that all of it was perfect. I cannot say that this wasn’t one of the absolute most challenging things of my life (if not maybe the most challenging altogether).

In summary though, of the concept of travel and racing and then travelling and then racing more… and then travelling more and racing more…

I would definitely do it again.

There were a great many number of times (usually running in the rain) that I would think to myself “why on earth did I ever think this was a good idea!?!”. There was also “I will NEVER do this again” “I am NEVER coming back to this city” and “I’m quitting running FOREVER!”.

The last race, the marathon in Victoria, was particularly hard for me. I had been travelling for four weeks by that point. I had run, hiked or walked a few hundred kilometres. I had been on an airplane for over 15,000 kilometres overall. I had had a couple of seizures and two weeks prior had bashed up my knees. Three days prior, on my trip from Glasgow to Victoria, I had been awake for over 26 hours and moved through 7 time zones. On one of the flights, I couldn’t cross my legs or lower my tray for 6 hours because my legs were too long to fit into the seat. The city Victoria itself, was raining that morning (sleet rain). It was cold. It was wet. It was early.

I received suggestions to not run at all. I received suggestions to change my distance to the half-marathon or the 8k options that were available. I received suggestions to start at the early-start time so I would have a couple extra hours for the marathon. All of these are suggestions that I would have given to someone else if I heard the same circumstances.

Of course, I did not do those things. I am not saying this in a way to emphasize how strong I may be, I am saying this in a way to emphasize that I might actually be mad. All I needed was a “10/6” hat and a tea party.

Sweat: Between the weather for all four races, I sweat a lot. Between the rain in Scotland and Victoria, and the heat in Nova Scotia, I had to do laundry so many times. When you’re travelling with a limited amount of clothing because you’re carrying it on your back, there really isn’t room for sweat-soaked items. Especially when there were layers because of the weather. Inconvenient and expensive. My feet swelled within my sneakers and put a lot of pressure there.

Blood. Well, as can be seen in the photo, in the marathon I knocked off some toenails and sliced up the sides of my toes. My feet bled through two pairs of socks and my shoes before the 10k point. I even stopped to check to see if it was possibly mud or the colour of my socks. It wasn’t. Well, it was a little bit for the socks but that’s mostly blood. Plus, when I fell during the race in Scotland, I ripped open both knees and soaked through the leggings I was wearing. I didn’t get pulled out of the race, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t add to the scarring there.

Tears. I had to stop during the marathon to stretch and while doing so, I bawled. I cried so hard I put my face on the ground so no one would see. I decided I was completely mad for thinking I could do all that travelling and running. My whole body ached. After the race in Scotland, I cried in my room because I was so upset about falling during the run. I cried a lot. I put a lot of pressure on myself and when I wasn’t doing as well as I thought I should be, I was upset.

Mud and rain. I am familiar with the dry cold of Alberta. It rains, but not frequently. It poured in both Scotland and Victoria, to the point where the velocity of the raindrops made it painful. I was wet and cold and felt like I would never be dry and warm again.

Nerve damage. Part of it came from falling injuries. Part of it came from running and then shoving myself the next day into a little airplane seat or train car seat. I didn’t give my body time to recover before moving onto the next stage. Part of one leg was completely numb (although recovering now). I originally thought after the races and travelling that I was just sore each time from running or travelling, so I continued to walk and hike and run. One leg was not healing and I should have acknowledged that. I am fortunate that it is now functional again and that hopefully I will have a full recovery. I am definitely done running for this season though.

I will expand on the things I learned, the things I loved, and why I would absolutely go through that whole experience again in the next blog, despite everything I just listed. Part of what I learned includes how to make it more successful in a way that doesn’t result in injuries (as much as possible).

Quick note: When a person is upset about being wet and rain, crying doesn’t help.

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