Posts Tagged ‘Chafing’

The Eastbourne Half Marathon – part 2:

…and off we went.

Sally’s advice went right out the window. I was looking at my watch every 2 seconds to check my mile marker times, the first being 9 minutes 30 and the second was the same. I was already behind and although this was playing with me a little, I kept to a very strict, even and steady pace. In the first 2 miles everyone went past me. I was passed by two girls dressed like Arnie in the film Predator, a 70-year-old man and the lady in the dalmatian outfit. There were only around 1000 people in the run and by the time I’d gotten to the start line I was fairly near the back anyway (it had taken me a minute or two to get through the start/finish line and start my stopwatch). At mile two I took a look behind me and there were only a hundred or so people behind me.

Just as I was thinking, ‘I’m going to come last‘ I hit mile 2 and the incline started. The Eastbourne run has two or three great sections where you run along the beach front and you can see for miles. I could see the approaching incline in the distance ahead of me, after which the runners were turning right, around a corner. Keeping the pace as even as possible I carried on in to a series of back streets and parked cars. The hill became a little steeper, evened out for about a minute and then started to climb.

Bricking it before the race

What I saw in front of me could only be described as a mass organised hike. The gradient had steepened so much that the runners who had overtaken me in the early stages were now all walking. In the stretch of road in front of me I could see roughly 100 runners and literally 8 of them were running. However, I was runner number 9. I was feeling great and passing so many people that I opened it up a little just to show off!

Bye bye Arnold Schwarzenegger! Peace out Pongo. See you later granddad!

After a mile of this the road U-turned sharply and uphill immediately became downhill. At this point I simply switched off the engine, extended my stride slightly and let the hill do the work. My pace was ridiculous but I was using half the energy and mile 3 – 4 went by in about 7 minutes. After a quick drink, which I had to queue up for, I made it to the bottom of the hill and started the 4-mile straight along Eastbourne’s beautiful coast-line. At mile 6 I was starting to feel a little tired and it was at this point that I took a look up and saw my girlfriend waving with her camera poised so I swiftly changed lanes to greet her. She’d been sat there for a while so I gave her a little pose and a wave to the camera, before realising that the lens cap was on and she’d missed my hilarious pose. I discretely pointed it out as I ran past only to hear an “Oh bugger!” behind me.

Trying hard not to laugh too much (my co-runners were all in hysterics) I pushed on. The support from the spectators at Eastbourne’s coast line was fantastic. Without my headphones on (obviously), I clapped back to all those who clapped me and although it wasn’t quite the half-a-million road-side onlookers that the London Marathon can expect, it was much appreciated. There was a troop of boy scouts handing out drinks, 2 bagpipe players and a hareem of rowdy women. What more could you ask for?

The latter stages of the race were situated around the suburbs of Eastbourne (where the spectators were now waving from their balconies) and Eastbourne’s Sovereign Harbour. At mile 8 I started pushing a bit harder to try to improve my split times. By this time the race had spread out a lot, to the point where the front-runners were returning to the finish line in the other direction (very demoralising). However, the traffic was bad as the roads had turned to pavements and the harbour’s tight, twisting paths and pedestrian bridges acted like bottle necks. A car turned into a side road and cut the path of myself and a fellow runner, who immediately unleashed on the marshal (whose job it was to prevent this) in the broadest Scottish accent I’ve ever heard.

“Youeer suppawsed to keep the f***ing traffic oot of ewer bliddy way you f***ing cretin!”

A little harsh maybe. The marshals are all there voluntarily and had, so far, done a fantastic job co-ordinating the direction of the race. The Scottish man then tried to engage me in conversation, which was just the motivation I needed to run a little faster. I’d like to thank him for that.

At the 10-mile marker my watch read 1 hour and 35 minutes. I’ve run 3 miles in 25 minutes before, but not at the end of a 10 mile run so I gave it my best and seeing Sally (lens cap now off) really spurred me on. She took a little video:

This’ll be important in the London Marathon so we’ll have to organise some strategic positions for her on the 26th April.

The last half-mile went on for absolutely ages. You could see the finish line but the course looped around the field where everyone had gathered at the start and my 2 hour time eeked away from me. With just enough energy for a last dash sprint I crossed the line, received my medal, grabbed a banana and went thirsty (the organisers had run out of water).

Just finished

Final time: 2hours 2 minutes 35 seconds

I’m off London marathon pace, which is disappointing but I don’t think that’s too bad for my first one. With 2 months training left before the big day I’m sure I can improve. Thanks to all of the Twitterati who posted congratulatory messages after the run.

**If you’re thinking of competing in next year’s Eastbourne Half Marathon then see Runner’s World for a few reviews**

The Eastbourne Half Marathon – part 1:

I looked through my training plan a month ago and saw this:

Sun 1st March – Half marathon race. Good effort + warm-up and cool-down

Unless I wanted to be racing against my girlfriend I’d have to book into an event sharpish. It wasn’t absolutely imperative that it had to be a race but the training guide I’ve been following has been really useful and until now I’d really had no reason to push too hard. I’ve been clocking up the hours and miles alright but I’d not really gone that extra mile (literally in this case as the most I’ve run so far is 12 miles).

I went straight on to Runner’s World, typed in the date, distance and my postcode and the first official event that came up was the Eastbourne Half Marathon. Done. Two weeks later my running number arrived in the post. It had a wire loop on the back with a timing chip attached to it. Fancy. It also came with a 16-point sheet with the details of the day and a map of the course. The course details were as follows:

“The route is mainly flat with a hill between 2 – 3 miles…
…as you pass through the harbour, there are several tight turns and three pedestrian swing bridges…
…there is a small gravel slope which may be slippery.”

Sounds simple enough.

Yesterday, we arrived at a sunny Eastbourne, dropped off our bags and headed straight for the legendary Beachy Head. My girlfriend had foolishly told me prior to our trip that Beachy Head is a notorious suicide spot and at every opportunity I got I would walk up to the cliff edge, test the cusp with a few good stamps of my feet and peer over. This is what I saw.

Taken tentatively from the edge

Gulp! After dicing with death a few more times (and one hair-raising gust of wind) I’d seen enough and we made our way back down the hill in my girlfriend’s car. However, as we came back down we noticed yellow arrow markers stapled to trees and road signs and quickly realised that this was the hill between 2 – 3 miles! To say the gradient was steep was an understatement. In our car it looked like we were in a roller-coaster (I felt like raising my hands above my head)! Now, I do occasionally exaggerate to make a story more interesting but you’ll see later on just how steep this hill was.

Dinner that night consisted of pasta at Zizzi’s, 2 diet-cokes and an early night so I could lie there, not sleeping, thinking about the race the next day. I’d already decided that I was going to try and aim for marathon pace. If I’m aiming to finish the London marathon in under 4 hours then I’d need to do the Eastbourne half in under 2. This meant an average of just over 9 minutes per mile. With this hill throwing me a curve-ball I was a little concerned but Sally (my girlfriend) had some good advice and I calmed down. “Just pace yourself and don’t even look at your watch in the first few miles. Focus on getting up that hill comfortably and you can push in the later stages.”

Nom nom nom... 7am and an early rise at our beach-view hotel (courtesy of and a shrewd girlfriend), a quick shower and a healthy, carb-fuelled breakfast (fruit salad, bran flakes and 2 slices of brown toast). The waitress, looking at my order, said, “Are you running today? I don’t know why all these people do it, especially on a Sunday!”. Thanks for the confidence boost love, now go and get my breakfast.

Back up to the room for some lashings of Bodyglide. I was wearing my MS Society vest to try it out in preparation for marathon day. A buddy of mine had told me to use the Bodyglide around the armpits where the vest would rub as he hadn’t done it on his marathon run and the chafing was unbelievable. I duly obeyed.

We set off for the start line, about a mile away (a nice warm up walk) and could already see my competitors, some of whom were warming up by running in the opposite direction. This got my nerves going and my legs started feeling like jelly. There were around a thousand runners when we got there, from all ages, shapes and sizes. The previous day my Mam text me and asked me how many people were running. “1000”, I said. “So you might win then?!”, she said. What had happened to the ‘it’s the taking part that counts‘? I found it a couple of minutes later as a man dressed in a Spiderman outfit and a lady dressed as a dalmatian joined me at the start line. After a quick warm up from three cheer leaders on a stage (which I didn’t take part in as I’m self-conscious as hell) it was 10am and we were off…

It was cold and really sunny...what?!


I understand that this is a subject that may not appeal to many and it’s a sensitive issue in more ways than one but it has to be talked about. Chafing doesn’t just happen to men and fat people so suck it up and listen good.

The first time I went for a run that was longer than half an hour I was wearing a pair of Calvin Klein boxer shorts and some cut-off cargos. Unfortunately for me it started to rain quite badly and the friction began. Now my thighs are not chubby in the slightest (in fact I look like a bread-roll with two chop sticks jammed in it) but I came back walking like John Wayne with a melon between his legs. It hurt so much. It must be to do with the way I run (see blog post 2) but right up the inside of my thighs ended up looking like two raw steaks.

It helps...

First lesson learned, don’t wear boxer shorts. If your problem is material rubbing on skin then they aren’t going to help. The trick is to keep yourself as dry as possible and thick undergarments will make you sweat worse than Tom Jones. Materials like Lycra or spandex will help wick away sweat and stop the abrasion between material and body parts. Also (one for the lads) running in boxer shorts can lead to testicular torsion

… Another bollock drop would be to wear clothes on race day that you’ve never tried before. Unfortunately, stopping the effects of chafing takes a lot of experimentation and it doesn’t just happen on the legs. Mp3 players strapped to your arm, vests, running belts and new trainers or socks can cause unexpected pain or discomfort during and after a race has finished. Take the time during your training to try out different outfits and decide a month or two in advance on what you are going to wear on the race day.

After ditching the boxer shorts I moved on to briefs which then resulted in a whole new skin-on-skin problem (I’m sorry, I’m embarrassed as I’m writing this). Vaseline is the obvious choice and has worked well for me. The problem, however, with Vaseline is that it doesn’t last very long and by the 15th mile I’d imagine that most of it will have worn away. I believe that volunteers hand the stuff out along the course but, if I have anything to do with it, I won’t be stopping for anything other than a quick Paula Radcliffe dash! For longer lasting products use Body Glide or if you really want to last the distance try industrial strength Bag Balm (which is actually supposed to be used on cow’s udders!).

If you’re still reading this and all of this talk of rubbing and lubrication has had you one sexual innuendo away from closing this page down, then thanks for putting up with this udder rubbish…

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