Downtime

After running two marathons within 6 weeks of each other, it’s high time for some rest.

Not that I like resting. Yesterday, it was pouring rain, and my first thought was, “I would LOVE to be running in this.” Yep, totally normal thoughts for a totally sane girl. The fact is, at this point, I would love to be running in anything. Rain, wind, the occasional twister that picks you up and takes you to a land of yellow bricks and tiny people… anything. I’m not picky.

But I am hurt. My problem is…. running two marathons within 6 weeks of each other is NOT a good idea. At least, not the way I did it.

The first marathon of the pair, the Silver Comet Marathon, went great. I hit a PR by over an hour, won my age group, and hit sub-4 for the first time!

About to finish! I know there are a lot of people that talk about the misery of marathons, especially in the higher miles, but I felt like this the whole time. Runner's high is real!
About to finish! I know there are a lot of people that talk about the misery of marathons, especially in the higher miles, but I felt like this the whole time. Runner’s high is real!

I felt great, so much so that the next day I was running a shakeout run of 3 miles. I kept running during the week, even though I had blisters. I would hobble around the law school, just walking, but still go out on my run. Strangely, the blisters didn’t bother me while running, I think because (1) a modicum of pain in my feet when running doesn’t surprise me, whereas when I’m walking, I don’t expect to have pain and (2) I really really love running so the joy cancels out the pain.

That weekend, I ran 16.3 miles. My muscles felt great, so I told myself it was fine. Plus, I was bolstered by finding out that I was faster than I thought I was.

I was also bolstered by these AMAZING friends who gave up their Saturdays (valuable time to all of us grad students) to come support me in the Silver Comet Marathon. When you have friends like these, you feel like you can do anything.
I was also bolstered by these AMAZING friends who gave up their Saturdays (valuable time to all of us grad students) to come support me in the Silver Comet Marathon. When you have friends like these, you feel like you can do anything.

Sure, they say you’re supposed to reverse taper back into running after a marathon, but that only applies when you’re hobbling around like you aged 20 years in a day and stairs make your thighs burn like the fires of hell, right??

Wrong. Even if my leg muscles could take it, it was too much for my feet. The arch of my left foot started hurting during a treadmill run of 8 miles. It didn’t hurt walking around though, and felt fine by the next day, and I wanted to run of course, so I did. My feet probably also weren’t helped by the fact that I was wearing shoes with about 500 miles on them.

It took me a while to admit something was wrong. I took two days off, then tried two days of running. With the return of running came the return of the pain, now in both feet. So, with the greatest reluctance, I relegated myself to the elliptical. Suddenly, it was so much of a chore to go to the gym. I couldn’t do the thing I loved – run outside – and I couldn’t do the close second – run on a treadmill. I felt I had joined the rat race of pointlessly churning out minutes on a machine. Had I not had another marathon coming up and felt the pressure to keep up my cardiovascular fitness as best as possible, I wouldn’t have gone as often as I did.

I tried to conceptualize my rest as starting my taper early. But I was missing the sun, the meditative pounding of my feet on the pavement, the gentle music of birds and wind through tree branches. It was hard.

And the second marathon, the Dallas Marathon, was harder.

I was too taper-ed, and hadn’t had a day of good, carb-heavy meals the day before. It was raining, and the headwind off the lake was killer. Not to mention the blister that ripped at mile 15, the foot problems, or the emotional baggage I was carrying with me. This was not my race. This was not my day.

DSCN9688
My face pretty much captures how I felt the last 6 miles. Ugh. My dad joined me around mile 25.8 and ran with me til 26, shouting encouragement my way and telling me I was close. Just having him there spurred me to drain the tank of what little energy I had left and kick it into not-high-but-at-least-higher gear. In case it isn’t clear, my parents are the absolute greatest.

I was off my PR by 2 minutes and 31 seconds, which is less than 6 seconds off per mile. While I’m pretty happy that I can run that time while feeling so miserable, it’s time to take stock of what went right and wrong, what I can control and do differently, and what I have to let go of. It’s also time to heal.

At this point, it’s been 11 days since I’ve run. In the grand scheme of things, I know 11 days is not that much. I know my body hasn’t forgotten how to run, and I know I haven’t lost all that much fitness.

Right now, it’s Christmas break from law school and I’m at my parents house. That means no university gym with ellipticals, bikes, or cross trainers. But it does mean I get to hop on this machine, the NordicTrack Pro Skier.

I’m convinced this machine is straight out of the 80s. Basically, you use it in such a way that it simulates the motion of cross country skiing. Thankfully, using it doesn’t seem to magically transform one into a muscular man.

It’s a good workout, but it’s not running. I miss doing what I love, but I’m staying off my feet and focused on recovery so that I can get back sooner and stronger than otherwise.

So yes, I’m counting the days I haven’t been running. But I’m also counting my blessings for being able to run, for being able to rest, and for the miraculous way our bodies were created to work and heal. Here’s to running and to resting!

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