Friday, July 22, 2016

Foot care happiness

Argyrios 'Argy' Papathanasopoulos is a superb ultra-distance runner. We met in March 2013 when I ran the wonderful five-day Namib Desert Challenge for the second time.

 Argy is helluva accomplished and he runs a lot. From Spartathalon to multi-day staged races, Argy gobbles up distance with ease.

Argy and his wife Hannisze before the race.
With the notorius Badwater Ultra (135-miles / 217-kilometres through Death Valley) coming up, Argy dropped me a note asking for foot care advice. This is what he wrote:

In one week's time, I will be running the Badwater race of 217 km in very hot conditions. Last time when I did Spartathlon 250 km, I suffered from many blisters. Do you suggest taping before race to prevent it...or changing socks - shoes on regular period and check for blisters and treating them during the race? 
I'm no foot guru like 'Fixing Your Feet's John Vonhof, but I have had a keen interest in blisters and foot care since I got into adventure racing and ultras some 17 years ago. I've been very fortunate not to suffer terribly from blistering, but I've had the odd heel blister, maceration, triangular little toes, random toe blisters and under-toenail blisters. My aim has always been to learn how to deal with the problem so that I never get them again.

On receiving Argy's note, I got all excited and fired off something about John Vonhof's excellent new article on foot maceration and skin toughening options.

I also agreed with Argy's his suggestions of changing socks and also checking on blisters and treating them during the race. Yes, yes, yes! I'm not big on taping, but that depends where the blisters arise and what is the cause and whether experience has proven that the taping will prevent blisters in the problem area.

And then I added, "So where do you get your blisters?" (this should have been my first response but I was just so delighted to receive Argy's note).

I get blisters only around toenails!
Ahhh... I love toenail issues.

Primary toenail issues are: shoes too narrow, shoes too small, seam line on socks, toenails too long and also thickened toenails. In the process of firing off my theories Argy replied,

I don't think it's too narrow. I think it's due to my thick nails coming upwards and increasing friction.
 Boom! Did you hear it? The sound of a nail being hit on the head.

In addition to suggesting that he uses a nail file to file his thickened nails down and to use a scraping tool to dig out any thickenings under the nail, I sent him this link to an excellent piece that John Vonhof wrote on his 'Fixing Your Feet' blog a few years ago on Toes and Toenails.

He took a quick look at the article and replied:

This last article is talking about my problem. First photo shows exactly my problem. I think I have to emphasise on filing the nail.
Argy completed Badwater about two days ago in an incredible 7th place. He ran the 217-kilometre distance in only 27 hours 39 minutes 32 seconds.

Emerging from the internet-free desert he just sent a quick note saying:

Everything went perfectly. Only two small blisters, sorted out straight before creating problems!
A successful race in more ways than just an excellent result and time. Very, very well done Argy.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Taking my car for a drive

There is one thing that I do very little of in Parys: drive. I usually ride my bike around town - or walk, or run - and so I only use my car if I'm heading out of town or if I'm transporting people or kayaks. I even go grocery shopping with my Qhubeka bicycle, using tie-downs to strap my shopping bags on the rear carrier.

Yesterday, I needed to move my very dusty car from the driveway and realised that it had been over a week since I drove it. It was sluggish to start and so I took it for an out-and-back drive on the R59.

I love not having to drive my car - another selling point of living in a small town.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

20 of '40 Days of Running'

Today marked halfway in my '40 Days of Running' annual birthday game.


20-days ago I set off on the first of my 40 consecutive runs with a touch of post-travel blocked/runny nose. I took it easy for the first few days, slowly kicked the bugs and ran a good time at parkrun this past Saturday. This week has gone well and my legs and lungs are ticking over easy. I haven't put in much more than 4-6km/day and I'm feeling good for it. I'm looking forward to a longer run on Saturday.

I've also been pretty good with my yoga efforts. In the first two weeks I did three to four self-practice Ashtanga sessions each week. Sun salutations for warm up, standing postures and finishing sequence. I could feel the cobwebs dissolving.

Last Friday I attended my first yoga class in a long time. I'd heard about classes in town. Timing was right and off I went on my bicycle. I loved it. It isn't Ashtanga, but it is yoga and it is fabulous.

The class had a good pace and I felt at home immediately. I enjoyed the variety of postures and focus on breathing. I was back there yesterday (Tuesday). I should be able to make most of the Tuesday-Friday classes regularly. My classmates range from my age to late 70s (she just does much of her own thing) and they're all very friendly and welcoming.

Hip-hip-hooray and three cheers for 20 more days ahead.

Blood donation can be competitive

Here in Parys, the SANBS mobile unit comes on the second Tuesday of every month. Since I've been living out this way, I've been to the Potch permanent clinic once and this mobile clinic once (now twice).

The local Parys Gazette newspaper reported on a Rotary initiative; a blood donation competition between Parys and Viljoenskroon, a nearby town (reportedly bigger than Vredefort, smaller than Parys), for this past Tuesday, 12 July. As I was due to donate, I was in! I love a good competition.

The SANBS people set up in a local church hall from 1pm and yesterday morning I told Kyla and Ruben about the competition. Ruben came with me last time; Kyla wanted to come along this time to see what blood donation was all about.

The afternoon passed - filled with work and activities. I had forgotten completely about donating blood! 

Around 17h30 I went out for a run. 30-minutes later I was home and just as I was about to step into the shower I remembered: Blood Donation!

I quickly checked the newspaper. 13h00 to 19h00. I got dressed and, accompanied by Kyla, we drove up to the church hall. 

I was delighted to see all but one of the eight-odd beds full and it seems that the turnout yesterday afternoon was good - definitely over 100 donors. I hope we beat Viljoenskroon.

As always, the SANBS people are friendly and efficient and I even bumped into a young chap that I met previously. SANBS often hand out gifts to donors and their winter gift is a navy and white scarf with a red stripe that runs the length. It is light and warm and I'm wearing it right now.

Thank you SANBS. Always a pleasure.