#ENDALZ, Race Recap

Life after the Marathon

I ran a marathon, now what?? There was so much anticipation and build up to the big day. Many weeks of training, tweaking nutrition and hydration. My family was all in with me and super supportive along the way. Before the marathon I really had no idea how I would physically feel in the days after. While I knew it was just part of my running journey, I also wondering what was next.

Pre-Marathon my plan was to take off the week following the marathon. Makes sense, right? My body would need to recover. When you have basically gone from training cycle to training cycle you seemingly lose the ability to take a week off.

My word of the year couldn’t seem more appropriate.

The day after

Truth be told the day after I was exhausted. Just flat out tired. But let’s be real for a moment- we are living in a pandemic, that in and of itself is both mentally and physically exhausting. Add to that at the height of my mileage and training I started subbing at school anywhere from 2-3 days a week. Translation- I had to get up even earlier to make sure I got my runs done. I’m not complaining, I’m simply pointing out that there should be absolutely no surprise that I was exhausted. So how did I take it easy on Sunday morning??? My oldest had religious school with parent participation via Zoom. No biggie. Just meant being up, showered, and presentable. Up next going to the farm at school to pick vegetables for the Maryland Food Bank. We were assigned to pick pumpkins. Super fun- and the farthest point on the farm. Surprisingly I was only mildly sore- specifically my hamstrings were super tight and my left knee was sore. However, the weather was beautiful and the boys were so excited to be there. It was a sense of “normal,” in these otherwise not normal times. After the farm we had lunch and I decided a movie was in order! Some quiet time on the couch was good and everyone got to take a breather for a bit. But then, I felt like I needed to get moving. Remember those pesky rings on my Apple Watch that I’m obsessed with closing. They were just staring at me. So I got on the treadmill and started walking. Not a brisk pace but I solid pace. Before I knew it I had walked four miles. Rings were closed and I felt good.

I’ll pause here for a moment. Back in May I ran a half marathon as a virtual race- the day after I couldn’t think about walking. That’s the last day I didn’t close my rings. That is now more than 180 days ago. Yet, the day after running a MARATHON, I was walking four miles on the treadmill?? What had changed in 5 months. Well, in April I ran my first 100 mile month. In order to get there I had pushed hard that last week in April. I ran way more than I normally would leading up to a half marathon race effort. Meaning, there had been no taper and my legs were TIRED!! Heck my whole body was tired! It was just beginning to get used to higher mileage. From May to October I’ve been consistently running 130 miles a month. My body both mentally and physically has gotten more accustomed to longer efforts. What I think about as a long run has mentally changed. Ok, this isn’t to say that running a marathon wasn’t CRAZY hard. It was hard, but when race day came around I knew it was going to be more mentally challenging than physically challenging. I had the confidence in my training plan and body that I was physically capable of going the distance. Remaining committed to following the plan- the minimal effective dose that Suzy of Run Lift Mom Pod recommends is what gave me that confidence. Lastly, as with anything the more you do something the easier it gets, right?? I’m constantly reminded of the quote: “What seems impossible today will one day be your warmup!”

So, my plan to take the week “off” wasn’t really going to happen. Yet, I knew I had to truly allow my body some rest from such a major effort. But I also knew that I could have a somewhat active recovery- walking, stretching and some continued strength training seemed reasonable. Mentally I was thinking that by Wednesday I would like to try to run a little bit. So how’d the week shape up??

  • Monday- 2 mile walk. Feeling good, still taking it easy.
  • Tuesday- 30 minutes of strength training- kettle bell lifting
  • Wednesday- 3.1 mile run outside. Which means I ran faster than intended. But I felt good. Still a little tight.
  • Thursday- Because the struggle is real for me to run every day I planned to run again today. Fortunately, I got called into sub bright and early. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to still get 30 minutes of movement in during the day. I packed my sneakers (yes, I call them sneakers, not tennis shoes because I’m not playing tennis in them) in the car. On one of my breaks, in my dress I power walked around campus in the crazy humidity. It wasn’t pretty. My glasses were fogged nearly the entire time and my hair was a hot mess when I got back to the classroom, but I got moving!
  • Friday- Four mile treadmill run. I’ve started to really enjoy playing with the programs. I was for a while so concerned with the time that I would just run the same pace, same incline (uh I mean no incline) all of the time. But now I enjoy the ability to use the incline and run at different paces. Every run isn’t a race!!
  • Saturday- Back outside for a solid four miles. Feeling remarkable good and reflecting back on the fact that just one week ago I was running my first marathon. PS the weather this Saturday was nearly 20 degrees warmer and crazy humid. I couldn’t be happier that I ran last week!!
  • Sunday- Well, 8 days post marathon seems like a good time to run a virtual 10K, right?? Each year we participate in Race for Our Kids. It’s become a family affair. So bright and early I ran my 10K at what I’m fairly certain was a PR 50:16. I was chasing sub 50 because, why not but I was more than happy with 50:16. The boys then each did a mile run/walk as well and were so proud to earn their medals.
Race for our Kids!

So that’s how the week broke down in regards to the activity and how I was feeling physically. But mentally, there was so much to process. I had actually done it!! I was super proud of being physically able to go the distance. I was feeling grateful for having the ability to run. Each run is truly a blessing (yes, even the bad ones!). Lately, I’ve also been reflecting on the larger impact that running has had not only for me but for my family. I see the pride that my husband and boys have for me and my accomplishments. They are the first to brag about me and my efforts. My boys will tell anyone who listens that Mommy ran a marathon.

But it’s more than that. The boys have the bug to get involved in running/walking too. Many if not all races offer the opportunity to discuss philanthropy and the importance of doing for others. For example, the NYC Marathon has become so much more than running five bridges and five Burroughs. It became the way to talk about Alzheimer’s with the boys in an age appropriate way. But also for me to raise awareness and funds. So it also became the tool to talk about raising money for a cause with the boys. . They know that we give of our time to the organizations that are important to us, but this was a way to talk about how giving financially and encouraging others to give is also important.

Personally, running has truly become an outlet. Sure there is the physical component of getting moving each day which is important and I desire every day. But it also allows me the time in my head to think and be in a way that I haven’t done in a long time. Of late, especially through the course of marathon training- each hard effort was more than about me. Was it physically hard, yes! But am I blessed to be physically and mentally able to run? Also, yes. Negotiating the emotions of having a parent with Alzheimer’s are no joke. When I made the mental shift that the marathon was all about my Dad, it became so much more than running 26.2 miles. Dare I say, it seems less important now to actually run in NY. That’s not to say I’m not eager to do so, but I set out to do what I wanted to do. I fundraised for the Alzheimer’s Association. I trained. I ran a marathon. I included my family in the effort. We all grew along the way. But I’m not done. We aren’t done. We will continue to raise awareness regarding Alzheimer’s. This is just the beginning of the journey.

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