It's been more than a week since I finished my first marathon. I've been putting off writing this post for a while because it's all so overwhelming. The best analogy I can muster is that running a marathon is a lot like planning a wedding: you spend months preparing, obsessing about every detail and trying to ensure perfection. Then, it's over in the flash of an eye and you feel like you missed half of the stuff you thought we be important to you.
Like the signs or the spectators. Jenny's kids made me this awesome sign and screamed their heads off, but I didn't see them at all. I planned to jump at the finish line for a photo, but just couldn't get it together.
So in not particular order, here are a few thoughts I've had about the experience since it all wrapped up.
- Runner use a training plan, create a race day plan, but don't think that much about a recovery plan. Let me tell you, when you need help getting out of bed to get to the bathroom at 2 a.m., you'll start to contemplate what you need to do to get back to normal. If you're running the Chicago Marathon, start thinking now what you need to do with your nutrition and activity in the first hour, first 24 hours and first 48 hours to recover.
- Battle wounds - I've got them. My heart rate monitor nearly sliced me in half (I look like I've had surgery) and my arm band left a nice little chafe mark. I also have a slightly less photograph-able wound on my hip from where my fuel was in my pocket and other associated chafing that has healed up without scarring. Imagine how bad it would be if I wore something new ...
- At some point during the marathon, you will doubt your own sanity. You will contemplate why you ever signed up for this. No one is chasing you. No one is making you do this. But remember, you trained for this. No one can run it for you. And eventually, it will hurt more to stop than to keep going. Write your inspiration on your arm, if you have to, to remind you why you're doing this.
- Very few people will be as excited as you are for the marathon. I had the most awesome-ever cheerleading squad, but 95 percent of people don't understand the sacrifice, determination and sheer will required to train for and complete a marathon. They also won't understand the unbridled joy of finishing it, or the sadness you'll feel when it's all over. Don't take it personally. It doesn't deter from the accomplishment of cover 26.2 miles.
- In the same token, for the sanity of the people around you, you might want to check how many times you start a sentence with "During the marathon ..."
- Celebrate and commemorate. While the only thing that sounded good to me in the hours after the marathon was pizza and frozen yogurt, the hours after the marathon are truly the best time to have a really nice meal or a party or something to bask in your glory. Finisher's medal required, of course. I also put my shiny new 26.2 sticker on my car. I don't care if this makes me pretentious, I'm damn proud of myself.
- Post-marathon depression is very real. Shalane Flanagan wrote about this very phenomena recently. You'll be tired, sore and bloated, and realize that what you trained for for months is over with. It can be a little blue, but this too shall pass.
- To fend off the blues, savor your accomplishment and start thinking about what's next. I had an awesome race with my dad, and I'm looking forward to a ladies weekend with a bunch of Chicago Running Bloggers at Zooma Great Lakes.
- Next time I do this (and there will be a next time), I plan to focus more on nutrition, both during the training cycle and on the run. I thought I had my running nutrition together, but I felt bloated and heavy in the final five to eight miles.
- Another thing I need more help on is mental toughness. I thought I was hardcore, but I turned into a crying mess by the end.
|Not the marathon tattoos I had in mind|
|MacKenna cheering me on|