It’s now Day 3 of marathon recovery, and I’m starting to get back to normal. This morning I went down the stairs facing forward! It still hurt, but it’s an improvement.
On October 21st I ran my first marathon. I’ve only been a runner, in any sense of the word, for three or four years. I didn’t run track or cross country in high school, so I’m pretty sure that I never ran more than a mile until I was in my 30s. Marathons were not on my radar at all until the past year.
At the start, it was cool outside, about 50 degrees. I had a jacket that I discarded after the first mile, and some old tube socks with hand holes cut out on my forearms to keep them warm (great tip I got from a friend before last year’s half marathon). By the end of the race, it was about 70 degrees and sunny.
The Des Moines Marathon course starts flat in the downtown area, then from Mile 3 to Mile 8, it’s mostly hills. But after that, there are virtually no hills (except for a downhill around Mile 16). I tried to start out slow and easy, but the excitement of the race made that a bit difficult. I didn’t really mean to continually speed up throughout the race, but apparently that’s what I was doing.
It was incredibly helpful seeing Cassie and my parents, as well as other friendly faces, cheering at different places on the course. It really gave me a boost each time. I really did feel good and was running with confidence.
The “runner’s high”, if that’s what I was feeling, is similar to other highs in that it impairs your judgment. At Mile 17, there was a conversation in my brain, and it went like this:
Runner’s High: Wow, I’m feeling great! And I’m ahead of the pace I expected. I should speed up!
Common Sense: Maybe you should conserve your energy. There’s still 9.2 miles to go.
RH: I know, right? Only 9 miles! If I go at a 9:00 mile pace, I could finish under 4:00:00! Here we go!
CS: Um, maybe you should crunch those numbers again. Remember the last 0.2, that counts too, you know.
RH: Come on, that’s like a block. But fine, I’ll add 5 seconds to my projected time for your precious 0.2. Now, back in the cage!
And so I went on, and had a great few miles, but Common Sense was feeling vindicated as I hit Mile 23. From then on, it was a struggle, as much mentally as physically. I wanted so badly to walk – or better yet, lie down – but I figured that if I stopped running, I wouldn’t be able to start again.
Honestly, my memory of the last 2-3 miles is pretty hazy, as if I were sleepwalking or something. Somehow I managed to dig up the last of my energy to push it across the finish line, but I’ve never been so exhausted in my life. Every inch of my body was sore, I had a blister on my right small toe, my stomach was in turmoil, I felt dehydrated, and I was mentally and emotionally drained. Which begs the question, why am I already thinking about the next one?