"The tasks are done and the tears are shed.Yesterday's errors let yesterday cover;Yesterday's wounds, which smarted and bled,Are healed with the healing that night has shed." Sarah Chauncey Woolsey
It has been one week today since I finished my first marathon and it has been the top of my mind all week. I’m still shocked when I see the medal hanging on my dresser mirror.
The first couple of days were admittedly tough, my quads and hamstrings were very sore and going down stairs was a challenge (backwards didn’t help either.) This was put to the test on Tuesday night when I escorted 50 teenagers I was chaperoning down 3 flight of stairs, ACK! I made it though, with much laughter and hanging on to the banister rails. I did get on a stationary bike for 20 minutes on Monday, and I think that helped to loosen things up.
By Wednesday I was down to a minimal level of soreness, not enough to affect movement, but I could still feel the miles a bit. My biggest fear about running a marathon was what the repercussions would be for my Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was prepared for a flare up, knowing it was a good possibility after pushing so hard for so long, but it never came.
Thursday was my first recovery run following Hal Higdon’s reverse taper. It was a tough two miles. My legs felt like lead and I was as tired as I normally would be after 10 miles at a good pace. It definitely helped though, my legs felt good afterwards and I didn’t feel wiped out. I have to admit, breathing deep really made me feel the marathon. Although I was never to the point of huffing and puffing during the race, and I could always talk in sentences, I was obviously breathing harder than a walk in the park and my lungs and chest muscles were reminding me all 5 hours.
Friday was a rest day and all soreness was long gone. I was starting to feel caught up on sleep (late nights Monday and Tuesday seriously put this off) but still a long way from truly recovered. I can certainly see why they say you need a day of rest for every mile you race, a marathon is not something you get over in a couple of days. (This does not mean no running for 26 days, just that you shouldn’t expect to be up to full mileage for that long.)
Saturday I ran 3 more miles, feeling even stronger and no longer feeling it when I took a deep breath. The run went well and my dog was very happy to be out trotting through the neighborhood again.
The schedule for today said “6-8 mile run”. I probably shouldn’t have actually gone as far as 6 miles since the schedule was set up for people that run a lot faster than me and can finish 6 miles in significantly less time, but I did it anyway. I included a lot of walking and chatted on the phone for a good part of it, but it was a comfortable run with a very low average heart rate.
As for my feet, shins and calves; they recovered much faster than my upper legs. I really expected to have problems there considering the distance and the issues I have had over the last 6 months. My VFFs served me well, but I do look forward to my first truly barefoot marathon. I won’t try to predict when that will be, but it is part of my working plan to continue increasing my barefoot distance and the variety of surfaces I can handle running on. My 2 mile run on Thursday and the 6 miles today were both barefoot, compliments of the lovely weather. (Yesterday was a bit nippy so those 3 miles were in VFFs.)
All and all I would say my first week post marathon went very well and to me that is the real telling of how I did with the marathon. Not only did I finish, but I finished without any injuries, did not cause a flare up of my RA, and am recovering like a typical marathon runner. What more could I ask for! If I never run any faster and never feel any better after a marathon, I will still be happy to run them. I already can barely remember the misery of those last 6 miles and this is coming from a woman who still remembers every contraction of delivering 2 babies! I will continue to follow the reverse taper schedule up to my Ultra on the 17th of April and then start it all over again. I don’t see this marathon as a onetime flash in the pan, I see it as the beginning of a new stage in my life that I hope will go on for many, many years.
I certainly plan to train more for my next marathon and I hope eventually to cope better with The Wall. I read in Runner’s World that it takes the average person 4 full training cycles with races to really know what they are doing. I’m sure one never truly stops learning from each and every race, but it is the first few that really open your eyes and make you say, “Okay, NOW I get it!” I also had a great talk yesterday with the lady from my club who ran 50 marathons in 50 states. Picking her brain about her experiences during and after marathons was very encouraging. I’ve learned a ton about running a marathon this week, but I know the distance still has a great deal to teach me and I’m ready to learn! .....But first I need a few more restful weeks of running to finish recovering :-)