I don't know where to start as far as updating you since my last post. As I expected, there have been some post-marathon blues. It's difficult to explain the "full" but also "empty" feeling after achieving a goal that only came with months and months of hard work. I've explained in past posts that training for this marathon helped me deal with the grief I was experiencing after Anna's death, and I was a little concerned that, once this goal was achieved, that grief would hit hard. There has been some of that, but the celebration of Christmas and the assurance that God fulfills His promises helped to alleviate those feelings somewhat.
I've also had time to reflect on the true gratitude I feel for everyone who has helped me attain this accomplishment: my husband and son, who were on the receiving end of most of my incessant talking about all things marathon training, and who, in return, gave me nothing but support; all of those who donated to my cause (the donations keep coming in...only $78 to the $3000 mark!); fellow runners I know who were always ready with just the advice I needed at any given time; and all those who would just ask how things were going on a regular basis. I can never say enough to adequately express my appreciation.
Until today, I have done no running since the marathon. Not because I didn't want to. I felt like I pushed my semi-injured body far past what it was meant to do that day, and I knew rest was called for. I promised my husband I would take a month off. After limping around for about a week after the marathon, that seemed a reasonable amount of time to let myself completely heal and recover.
I've realized some things during this month off.
1) - Running is my anti-anxiety medication. I am naturally an (overly?) anxious person. No matter how many people tell me I'm good at something, my first reaction is that I'm not good enough. Nobody made me feel this way. My family has always been incredibly supportive and encouraging. It's just part of my psychological make-up, I think. For the past year, those feelings have been minimized. Running releases my stress, anxiety, and feelings of self-doubt. The only thing I have to watch for is comparing my running to other runners or those feelings of being "not good enough" start nudging their way into my mind.
2) - Running gives me the "alone" time that I need. I used to feel guilty when I would try to get time alone. Shouldn't I want to spend time with family, friends, coworkers, etc? I read something which compared introverts to extroverts and it said that extroverts recharge their batteries and gain the energy they need through other people. Introverts need quiet and time away from other people to recharge and renew their energy. Apparently, I'm an introvert. It's not that I dislike spending time with other people...I just prefer to balance that with some time by myself, and running gave me that. And, since I run before my family is even awake, there should be no guilt associated with that, especially since I feel that I'm a nicer person to be around because of it. It's been difficult not getting that "me" time during this past four weeks, especially with office Christmas parties, etc., that occur this time of year. Too many "social" situations and not enough quiet time to balance that.
3) - I am a "neutral" runner. I finally had a gait analysis done at a local running store. (Yes, I definitely should have done that BEFORE training for a marathon.) Turns out I'm a neutral runner with a mid-foot strike. The guy at the store asked if I had been working on that in my training (apparently, that's the way you should run). Uh....no...truthfully, I was just running to get the miles in, paying no attention to form. The shoes I had been wearing are stability shoes, and he said I definitely don't need that. In fact, he thought that may have caused some of my IT band problems, since my shoes were trying to correct something that didn't need correcting. I tried on some neutral shoes and ended up buying some of these:
|Saucony Progrid Ride 4|
Oh...so comfy!! I bought these a couple of weeks ago. Do you know how hard it is to have a nice new pair of running shoes and not immediately try them out? It doesn't help that Reno has had one of the mildest Decembers in history, and the weather has just been perfect for running!
4) - Running helps me feel "fit". Perhaps it was the lack of running, or the 534,212 Christmas cookies I ate, but I definitely don't feel "fit" right now.
So, today - 27 days after the marathon (not quite a month...but I feel it is close enough) - I went for a run. The first mile felt clumsy and awkward, but, after that, my running legs came back and I got my rhythm. The endorphins kicked in, and I felt wonderful! Ran 4 miles at a slowish pace, so nothing spectacular, but it was pain-free and I'll take it!
So, what's next on my agenda? Good question! There are a few half-marathons I would like to sign up for in the near future. I would definitely like to work on my speed a little bit. But, the main goal is to just keep running. I have said I probably wouldn't run another marathon after this one. As a slow runner, those long training runs take A LOT of time! But, when I analyze this past marathon and see that without the pit stops - even with the knee pain - I could have almost broke that 5 hour time limit that I was trying to achieve...hmmmm. I guess we'll just have to see what 2012 brings. :)