The Weekly Mile: Week 27 (Like It Never Happened? Moving Past The Marathon)
Friday, October 19, 2012
Congratulations. You've made it. This is the last blog in my Weekly Mile Series!
I remember ON2VICTORY's blog at this point in the game, so I can't say that I wasn't prepared to be a little...depressed about the whole thing. It's like post-partum, or post-wedding, or post- any other huge life event - I just trained 9 MONTHS for this one day in my life, and now it's over. Sure, I have other things to move on to, but my first marathon has come and gone, and in 6 short hours, the thing that I had been building up to for an entire year of my life was done.
The Monday following the race was a bit of a haze. On the day of the race, the things that hurt are obvious, but you are so jacked up on adrenaline and sports beverages that you don't really feel much. When you wake up the morning of the day following a marathon, EVERYTHING hurts. My abs, my shoulders, my arms, and of course my legs - everything had stiffened up overnight despite going to bed in my compression socks, and it took a long, hot bath and a lot of easy stretching just to get my muscles to want to cooperate. But once I did get moving, I seemed to keep moving pretty well. Judging by all the rest of the people that I saw hobbling in to Fleet Feet to get their medals engraved, I was one of the ones in GOOD shape.
By Tuesday, I noticed almost a revolving muscle soreness. My quads were still the big issue, but my shins (which hadn't bothered me at all Sunday or Monday) were now adding to the hurt. Walking was ok, going up stairs was ok, going down stairs was comical. One step at a time, wincing all the way.
I got my hour-long post-marathon massage on Wednesday and that was a world of good. This is the day that my body forgot that it had run 26.2 miles. By the end of the day I was back to my old self - up and down stairs with no issue, no more little niggles of pain here or there, it felt like it never happened.
Oddly enough, my brain seemed to work in reverse of my body. On Sunday, the physical pain told me I had done it, but my brain couldn't begin to comprehend just what "it" was. I was actually ANGRY at myself because in whatever world I was living in, I didn't think that it was hard enough. I felt like it should have been so much harder than it was - never mind the fact that I ran the last 10 miles in agony - my brain didn't care about that. Apparently I thought that if I was not dragging myself crawling across the finish line, that I didn't try hard enough. I know, I know - I'm really hard on myself. But there was an overwhelming feeling of "this is NOT ENOUGH" that followed me around for days after the run.
On Tuesday night I talked to a colleague who is also a fellow runner and Triathlete about my feelings. He assured me that what I was feeling was totally normal and a small weight was lifted. I started to feel a bit better about my accomplishment and see it as that. Tuesday was also when I wrote my Race Report blog, so reliving it mile by mile helped a lot in getting my brain to adjust to the reality of the situation.
Wednesday was the real day of change. For 5 days I had really been secluded from my normal world. I was around only my parents and my boyfriend, who love me and support me, but were really very one-note about the whole experience and I was ready to be done with their opinions about it and share my feelings and experiences with other people in my life. So while I was having my limbs joyfully massaged on Wednesday I chatted about it with my massage therapist, received accolades from my friends and colleagues all day at my first day back to work, and even got to show off my medal to my girls at Starbucks. It felt so good. And it finally sunk in that I had just done something BIG.
I still struggle with feelings of my accomplishment not being good enough, but I suppose that's what is going to propel me forward to do another one. I already know that I'm signed up to do the Chicago Triathlon next summer, but I know in my heart that I'm not done with the marathon. Some day I will train and run again. It's who I am now. I am a runner - and I am a runner who runs FAR.
There are different accomplishments in running. For each of us, the weight of those accomplishments is different. For me, the marathon was a big deal - but so was my first 5K, and my first 8K and 10K and 15K and Half Marathon. So I guess part of my thought process and a good part of my disappointment was actually in that the marathon was simply the next distance to reach. And OF COURSE I was going to reach it. Duh. But I suppose it's always fun to work it up into this impossible feat in your mind, to think that the more unattainable it is, the better it's going to feel when you DO attain it.
But an equally proud moment for me happened this week. All by myself. No crowd, no cheering, no back-up support, and no glorified finish line. On Monday I ran again. It was only 3 miles. An ease back into the sport and the discipline that I have spent so many hours over the past year doing. But I did it. I went out for a run after the marathon. I am running again. And to me, that's as much of an accomplishment as running that penultimate race is. I am a runner - and that short run on Monday only served to prove that to me again.
So in the spirit of getting back to it, this week has been all about GETTING BACK TO IT. The Marathon was a wonderful challenge, and 9 months of something else other than weight loss on which to concentrate. But I learned a lot of things while out there on the trail about myself and about my methods of discipline and about what I need to keep doing it day after day after day. So unless I can now apply those methods to the next goal, what good was learning them in the first place?
So as I venture back into my next challenge - losing another 50 pounds - I'm doing it as a marathoner. A runner who knows what hard work is, how tough it is to be disciplined and focused on one particular area of life, and how to apply the same tools and knowledge to other hard tasks. And so far, so good. I have been re-Sparked this week and have had an insane drive to stay on target with my eating and calorie counting. I started a new Team that I am thrilled to be a part of. And I am anticipating a successful first weekend, despite a trip to visit friends out of state. I'm feeling inspired and empowered right now and I want to ride that wave as long as possible. Spark even rewarded me today by making me Motivator of the Day. Sweet! But for those of you who are just learning about me and my journey today because of that status, I urge you to head back in my blogs a few months. Things have NOT been all unicorns and rainbows for me this year, and it's taken me a LONG time to get back to this point where I am ready and able to lose more weight.
Our journeys here all ebb and flow. That's life. The brain is the heaviest part of the body when we start a weight loss journey, and regardless of how much and how fast the body can lose pounds, the brain moves at a totally different speed - completely independent of anything else you do or plan or want. My brain moved QUICKLY over my first year here. I was ready for a change. But my plateau has been as much mental as it has been physical, and I have been unwilling and unable to make my brain move any faster up to this point. I can only hope that this marathon journey and the mental work that I have done to master my body in that challenge has prepared me to move forward with my next goal. So far this week I have managed to lose EIGHT pounds of water weight that I put on while eating like a fiend to train for the race. So I'm officially back to my lowest weight and ready to rock on getting even more gone.
There is life after running the Marathon. When you're training for it, this is the part that doesn't make it into your imagination. Put I have done it, and lived to tell the tale, and now that I'm on the other side of it, there is only more road ahead of me. But what I make of that new road is up to me.
One foot in front of the other. I did it for 26.2 miles. I can do it for a million more (literally and figuratively)!