So I ran a marathon. “Ran” a marathon. Ran/walked a marathon. Whatever, jerk, I ran a marathon. It may have looked like a shuffle at times. I may have found myself on a highway in Arlington wondering if in fact I was in some alternate universe and whether the mile 25 marker actually existed or if we’d all been shepherded off to Limbo, but I have a heavy piece of hardware that says “39th Marine Corps Marathon Finisher” that says that the image in my head of crossing the finish line on Sunday really happened and I didn’t dream it.
I am still kind of in disbelief, as you can see. It’s pretty shocking to spend all summer dedicated to some grueling training, suddenly having to halt and wondering just how bad ya done fubared yourself and if you’ll ever be able to race a 5K at your old pace again, much less run a marathon, and then bam, you’re at the Expo and laying out your outfit and then you’re running along Rock Creek Parkway in one of the nation’s most famous marathon races and it’s tough but you’re doing it. And then someone hands you a medal and your parents are flushed with pride and you stuff your face with all the milkshake, cheeseburger, fries, and mac ‘n’ cheese bites that will fit on the table and then you go to sleep and back to work and it’s like when Dorothy woke up from Oz.
…So what now?
Well, like I said, first I slept a lot. Then I got a hold of reality and trudged, literally, back into the real world in a body on which everything hurt.
But now it’s day 3 after the fact, and I can walk more efficiently! So first let’s take stock of how my body is feeling after running 26 miles like, you know, after not running for 5 weeks.
Okay, not entirely awesome.
(Can you tell I’m excited that Amy’s book came out today?)
Because I had anticipated basically needing a hip replacement and being on bed rest for a week after this marathon, the fact that I can walk, take the stairs, sit down and stand back up, is pretty awesome! Even more awesome? My hip twinge doesn’t feel ANY DIFFERENT than it did the day before the race, when I ranked the pain at about a 2/10.
- My shoulders need a good massage but just rolling them down my spine helps quite a bit and it’s improved considerably since Sunday.
- My core doesn’t feel as sore as it should — clearly as much as I reminded myself to engage it during the race, I wasn’t getting the most out of it.
- My right hip, where my bursitis is(was?), feels a little twingey, but only when I walk or take a step down. No worse for the wear than before the race, definitely so much better than I’d anticipated. It seems doing MCM did not damage it any further!
- My quads are definitely sore still, but again, considerably improved.
- Thigh chafing. That is all.
- My left knee feels oddly bruised like right around the kneecap? Like a tiny kink when I walk.
- I do have shin splints. That sucks.
- My feet have the worst of it. Lost a toenail, giant open blisters on both feet. It itches just to exist.
So, I soaked my feet in ice water last night and that helped temporarily. Been Neosporin-in’ it up (say that five times fast), and using my underutilized core to do the rest of the work my body needs to do for things like standing up and lowering down, since that’s the only thing that doesn’t hurt. Compression socks of course! But also trying to let my feet breathe. And of course, I haven’t exercised, as prescribed by Hal Higdon’s recovery plan and probably what my PT would say too, since the marathon.
Tonight, as prescribed by physical therapy, as well as the need to get some kind of exercise in my body, I’m going to the gym to do my strengthening exercises from PT and do some time on that damn recumbent bike just to oil my hip out. It always feels better after time on the recumbent bike, even if that thing is so boring.
But I’m also itching to decide where to go from here. You know, once I’m fully recovered, and not freaking out about whether I can do an upcoming race or not, when I’m just free to find a new routine, decide on some new goals and figure out how to achieve them. What do I want next?
Here’s what I’m sure of:
- To never have to cut running out of my life – therefore, to remain injury-free
- To return at least to my previous 10K-ish pace of 10-10:30
- To develop healthy-eating habits so that if/when I do have to bring down my training level again, I am at least taking care of my body in another way
- To try some new types of workouts
- Get back into weekly social runs with Team RWB
Previously all my cross-training was limited to yoga and Body Pump. The former I love but I need to be careful about doing yoga specifically designed for runners, not just any yoga. Too much flexibility in my larger muscles actually contributed to my injury. Body Pump is great too, but I think my mind was getting bored with it which is why I stopped going as often as I should, also contributing to injury.
Here’s what I’m considering:
- Doing another marathon injury-free and seeing what the difference in race day experience is like
- Get into swimming and cycling and maybe try a sprint triathlon?
- Sticking to half-marathons and focusing on getting really good at them
- Only doing a half marathon maybe once or twice a year (as opposed to 7-8 in 2014 alone) and instead really honing in on the 5K to 10 Miler distances
I love the 10 miler distance. I love the 10K distance. 5K’s are easy to get my friends on board to do with me and as Lauren Fleshman said, you can do one every weekend and never need to recover or taper and they keep making you better for your next 5K. I also love destination races and the buzz of the half marathon, but I’m starting to discover a lot of 10 mile races that generate a lot of buzz that are within a day-trip or weekend trip’s driving distance from me – Baltimore 10 Miler, Virginia 10 Miler, Bronx 10 Miler, Broad Street Run, Pittsburgh 10 Miler, Blacksburg Classic 10 Mile… lots of opportunities.
The important thing to remember is life is long and I can make any distance my goal race and as long as I take care of myself physically with strength training, I have many years to make different distances and different races I’m attracted to my goal race.
But that’s the key: I do think I want to stop running a race just to run the race. I want to start honing in on goal races. Instead of packing my spring and fall weekends with race after race, training specifically to bring down my 5K, 10K, 10 mile, half marathon, or marathon PR to the best I can be.
Which calls for self-restraint on my part. Being pickier and choosier about registering for a race just because it sounds fun. For instance, before my injury, I knew recovery plans say you should be able to run about 3 miles a week after your marathon, so when I saw my favorite baseball team, the Orioles, were hosting a 5K this weekend, I signed up to run with some friends. And now, as excited as I am to run around Camden Yards, I also kind of wonder if I should give myself more time to strength train before getting swept up in race pace again. But then, cardio was the hardest part of Sunday, not my injury. How do I balance easing back in?
Any advice y’all have on where to go after you’ve successfully crossed the finish line of your first marathon, how to ease back in to your mileage, what your favorite alternative forms of exercise are (especially ones that target hip strength!), all welcome! Comment away! I love it all!