So here I am, ten days post-marathon. To be brutally honest, the fact that I ran 26.2 MF’n miles in NYC still hasn’t sunk in yet. I don’t know that it every really will.
Some of that can be chalked up to post-marathon malaise, which is totally a thing and anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something — and that something, likely, is running a marathon with them. I’m just exhausted, y’all, what with all of the energy expenditure on Sunday, the travel back home, and a tumultuous election week. What drive I had has evaporated into a diffuse cloud of meh. I have no doubt this, too, shall pass once time does.
What would help it pass, is suspect, is being able to go for a nice long run. My body has other ideas. I’ve managed a few 2-3 milers but my legs still feel like lead. Plus, all of the muscles in my lower back keep seizing up if I run for more than 45-minutes or so. This, too, falls into the “this, too, shall pass” category (especially since I’m about to visit my friendly neighborhood massage therapist) but I’m still irked by my human frailty. I mean — I just ran a marathon. I can’t run 3 miles?
Yeah. I know.
Some of my melancholy stems from the experience being over, which is weird because it’s an experience I have zero desire to have again. For six hours on a Sunday in November, though, I had a singular focus and a whole lot of people on my side. Not only in-person along the race course itself but also on Facebook and Instagram and email. Friends all over the country tracked my little dot on the marathon’s app. I can only say thank you. I can also confess that I keep looking back on all of the comments when the day gets kinda blarg.
For those six hours, I felt like a rock star, albeit one with zero cash, fewer recreational drug options, and decidedly less vomit. That’s not something you get more than a few times during your life. When you have a baby, maybe. And the feeling you get at the end of the marathon is a lot like the one after labor: one that makes you realize that you are the biggest badass in the world and so relieved that you’ve succeeded. I burst into tears as the medal was being lifted over my head. Or more accurately, tears without actual liquid coming out of my eyes because running for that long can dehydrate a person.
While the bulk of my race report is in last week’s podcast, I have a few more thoughts, because of course I do.
— I have Very Strong Feelings about all of Brooklyn and the Queensboro bridge. By the time my part of the pack hit the BLKN, a lot of the crowd had gone home. While there were some bright spots, like the high school band that played the Rocky theme on a loop and a church choir that brought the goosebumps, it was quiet enough to really think about how long this race would be. Ditto the Queensboro bridge.
— Related to the above: one of these days, I’ll figure out how to stage a race where back of the packers have the same experience as the front of the packers. There has to be a way, right? One that doesn’t leave all of the runners in a big tangled heap in the middle?
— While making plans before the race, I discouraged folks from coming to spectate. On race day, I was beyond thrilled that folks I know ignored me. It was so much of lift — like Bette Midler “Wind Beneath My Wings” level — to see people I knew. Especially when I got to see my teenager. Words fail.
— The people who were handing out tissues and squeezes of hand sanitizer were geniuses. Next race I spectate, I know what I’ll be packing.
— Footing gets super slippery at water stops after a crap-ton of runners has gone through.
— My knee-jerk response to doing hard things is to want to stop and hug every dog I pass, even the ones who are sniffing for bombs. One day, this will likely get me arrested.
— I managed to run an entire marathon with only two minor injuries: I wound up with a blister on the bottom of my fourth toe and a bruise on the middle finger of my right hand. I’m still not sure how that last one happened. I must develop a death grip on my water bottle as the race wears on.
— If I can run a marathon, pretty much anyone can. Seriously.
— Once you’ve run the biggest race in the world, there’s no point in doing any other race like it again. Or so I keep telling myself. I’m 99.99 percent sure I mean it, though. That .01 percent is because I’ve learned to never, ever say never.
So what did you learn from your last challenging race?