Monday, July 11, 2011


One of the great things about running for long stretches of time is seeing the double takes that people do. Last week, I casually mentioned to my wife that I was planning to run to Alexandria and back on Saturday. "That's nice," she said as she kept reading her magazine. Two seconds later, her head popped up. "What?? How far is that?"

Turns out that it's 21.1 miles roundtrip.

One of the less great things about running for long stretches of time is friction. For me, it leads to blisters (on my feet) and rashes (on my thighs.) Both of these are made worse by the heat. So, I decided to try out some remedies while running to Alexandria. Specifically, I chipped in for a pair of UnderArmour boxer briefs and a roll of duct tape.

In particular, I went for the UnderArmour O Series 9" boxer briefs. The marketing talks about how the fabric is comprised of Moisture Transport Systems and other technologies, but when it comes right down to it, these are Spandex. But after I got used to the fact that I was the only one on the trail running in Spandex, they did the job. Not even a speck of heat rash at the end of my run. No need to write a long review; suffice it to say that I love these.

The duct tape is a solution for blisters that I've read about in any number of articles and on any number of websites. Wrap it around the areas that are prone to lister and voila! No more friction. So they say. The only problem is, 6 miles into my run, I could feel that the duct tape had come loose and was scrunching into a painful ball. I had to find a bench, remove my shoe, remove my socks, remove the tape, replace my (wet and sticky) socks, replace my shoes, and get going again. Ugh.

So, I was 1 for 2 in my experimentation. I'll admit I stopped my watch when I took the tape off my feet, and also a couple of other times when I halted to buy additional drinks or to wait at a traffic light. But, when I was moving, I averaged a 10:43 mile. Not fast, but getting faster.

I was particularly happy with this time because the Mount Vernon Trail, which I had expected to be flat, involved a lot of ups and downs (it follows alongside the freeway, and the ups and down are overpasses over various offshoots). It also involved a lot of fast moving bikers, most of when were very polite, but a few who thought that the trail was not meant for runners. Otherwise, though, it was a great run. Along the way, I passed right next to the airport, with jet airplanes very low overhead; some historic neighborhoods; beautiful marsh; and lots of geese. Lots and lots of geese.


  1. epic run, joel... wow. what was the temperature?

    i've definitely had to try out my fair share of friction reducing recipes during long rides and runs... grease is my first choice (aquaphor) for anything not foot related.

    when it comes to the feet, i too tried duck tape... to the exact same result. i started so that i could run when i already had a blister by not wrapping my foot, but simply putting a square of tape over the blister. the sweat soon got the better of that, and it made the blister worse. i tried new-skin (paint on skin), different kinds of socks... but really, the best thing i did was simply treat the affected areas, drain any fluid, cut off any excess skin and go with the norm dry-wick socks and shoes. not any prevention there... but at the distances i run, i don't get blisters anymore.

  2. I think it was 75 and very humid when I started the run, and 85 but less humid by the time I finished. Humidity sucks.

  3. Damn. That's a great speed for that distance! I'm impressed. And i'm going to try out the spandex shorts when I get up to that distance... thanks for the tip.