Thursday, May 13, 2010

the post marathon world

Immediately after crossing the finish line on Sunday I thought "Huh. That wasn't so bad." Sure, my feet hurt.  Sure, I was really tired.  But I didn't feel horrible, which is what I was led to expect. To answer one of the questions I've been getting this week, (How was your marathon?) I say "It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be!"  But I would argue that this statement speaks more to my pessimistic nature than my mad marathon skills. 

The soreness didn't set in until sometime late Sunday night/early Monday morning, but set in it did.  I went to roll over, not fully awake, until I was fully awake because someone had come in while I was sleeping and took a baseball bat to my quadriceps.  Every position was painfully sore.  The transition from standing to sitting on the toilet was a particularly painful one. But it sort of felt like as much of a medal as my actual finisher's medal.  Bragging rights, if you will.  But after a lovely, lengthy massage on Monday night, I was feeling much better. 

By yesterday all the soreness was gone.  The only physical reminders of the marathon that remain are some scabs leftover from where my fuel belt and my heart rate monitor chafed.  And while that's good (great, actually) from a physical standpoint, I'm beginning to get that late-in-the-party feel, where the helium balloons are floating a foot from the floor. That bit where almost everyone has left and there are dorito crumbs and sticky spots all over the floor, half-empty Solo cups on every surface--you get the idea of this metaphor. 

I've gotten the "what now?" question a lot already, and I'm with all the askers.  What now indeed.  I'm realizing that perhaps I am meant for distance, for endurance.  I'm realizing just how much I'd like to shave 3 minutes and 51 seconds off my marathon time.  Other people I know who ran the race are still hobbling and not at all contemplating another one.  Me?  I'm thinking about how I could have done better.  Gone faster. Ran more of the last half. 

My anxieties about finishing flew out of my head around mile 15--I knew by then that I was feeling well enough to finish.  And I tried as hard as I could to speed up in the last three miles, but there really wasn't any gas in the tank.  I may as well go ahead and admit this here.  I got passed by a 70ish speed walker. No--I got smoked by a 70ish speed walker.  She smoked me by at least a couple of minutes, sadly.  I kept up with her for a while, but at some point I couldn't summon enough interest or energy to pass her or even keep up with her.  So instead I watched her go.  And admitted to myself that although I was going to finish after that woman, I was more interested in finishing myself than beating someone else. 

But beating my own time. That's something worth thinking very hard about.  But I don't know yet. Maybe I'll do a sprint triathalon this summer.  Maybe I'll find a race up in the mountains.  But for just this moment, I'm ready to be done with Week 0 of training and get back out there on the road.  It's crazy, but even yesterday I was really trying to figure out when I could run again.  I'm proud of that fact too, alongside the marathon finish.  The post-marathon restart can be hard.  But I think I'm ready to begin again.

Tomorrow is my birthday.  Thirty-five was a really good year for me.  I've got nothing  (except perhaps a couple new crow's feet around my eyes) (ok one thing) bad to say about it.  I can't wait to see what this next year will hold. 

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