The Coastal Challenge Day 6 – Swollen

Today was the final and shortest day, at just 23 km with 500 m climb. The first few kilometers were in climbing, first on dirt roads, then on a river bed, then through the jungle, with even a very beautiful waterfall section. I enjoyed these technical parts and, while slow, I was less show than others, so I was actually doing pretty good.

But then we finally hit flat dirt roads. My speed was pretty much constant, limited by the pain in my shin muscle. Everybody else started running. I even got overtaken by fast walkers.

The last 9 kilometres were along the coast line. They felt like forever. After going past each bay, I would hope the next one was the last. But nooo, I kept seeing bay after bay after endless bay. Eventually though, I caught a glimpse of the finish line through the trees. Getting down on the beach, I had just a few hundred meters left. Crawled them in the same rhythm as before and crossed the line after 5h01′. Finished the race in a worse state than I would have expected, but at least I finished.

Grabbed some food and sat near the finish, cheering for the other runners as they made it through. When, after 9 and a half hours, the last runner, Alexander from Denmark, came in, everybody was cheering for him.

The awards ceremony was held after sunset, on the beach. Besides the top runners, the organizers and especially the cooks were cheered.

Since the running was over, I could finally remove the band aids from my feet. After some careful peeling, I took off a fistful or so. One week later, skin started peeling off from where some of the blisters had been. While cutting away the dead skin, I noticed something I thought was a joke was actually possible: you can have blisters inside blisters!

Later in the evening, I noticed my right foot (the one with the pulled shin muscle) was pretty swollen. And by pretty I mean pretty bad. Asked one of the doctors about it and his response was on the lines of (imagine a Spanish accent): “We do not like to see swollen feet. If it does not get better by tomorrow, you should go to the hospital and get an ultrasound examination. If your foot turns red, it might be an infection. If not, it might be internal bleeding” (or something like that). Needless to say, I didn’t get any good sleep that night. I was kinda worried.. Every two hours or so I would check my foot and, yes, still swollen.

Luckily, in the morning, I also talked to some of the runners. There were a lot with swollen feet, as it seems it’s quite typical after running ultra distances. One (Spanish) guy had the following recovery plan: “rest feet, drink beer”.

We left Drake Bay by a combination of boat + coach. This was the fastest way to get to San Jose. We got there at about 2 PM, after 5 hours of traveling. Our bags took another route, completely on road, and we got them 4 hours later. Waiter for them sitting at the hotel lobby – feet elevated, to stop the swelling.

I remember a sight I didn’t get to photograph. The two buses we were in stopped for lunch. Groups of people slowly crawled their way out and towards the restaurant. Like zombies. Or maybe test subjects for a new chronic arthritis treatment. Some of them, more hurting than hungry, sat down next to the restaurant, with their feet up the walls. Ultra runners!

Update on my injuries: The swelling passed after a few days. I had some compression socks and I think they helped. The shin muscle injury made my walking painful for about 2 more weeks. Now, one month later, I have no more problems regardless of the abuse I put my feet through.

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