Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Grandma's recovery, both mentally and physically

The first few days of recovering from a marathon is kind of an odd time. On the one hand, you know you shouldn't be running because your legs are probably shot. But on the other hand, you're so used to going out for a jog on a regular basis that you forgot what it feels like to do otherwise.

It's been four days since Grandma's, but it seems like it's been closer to a month. Most of the time has been spent reading (just finished "Born on the Fourth of July"), watching movies (forgot how good "The Graduate" is) and catching up on sleep. You might say that I'm going through running withdrawals: I feel like I need a fix, even if it's going to hurt.

But my brain knows better. My legs are still feeling the effects of the race and my feet have been in and out of ice buckets ever since I limped across the finish line on Saturday. My psyche is still recovering from Grandma's too, as the results of the race have indeed bruised it.

I'd be lying if I said that Grandma's went according to plan. Ever since I started training for it late last fall, the goal was always to run it in 3:10:00 or less and qualify for Boston Marathon. I logged a lot of hard miles for it (ending at more than 1,100, averaging about 34 a week), I dropped weight for it (grand total of 18 pounds), and I burned through lord knows how many running shoes. It was pretty much a 'Rocky' montage of running for eight months.

But a Boston-qualifying time just wasn't in the cards for me that day. The aches and pains of running became too much for me around Mile 17 and I spent the last nine miles rotating between running, walking and conversing with other runners who had fallen back in the race. Every attempt to take off running was met with either the sharp pain of leg cramps or the steadying pain of the blisters on my feet. My dreams of sprinting across the finish line were instead replaced by the reality of limping across the line like a cross between Fred Sanford and The Gimp from 'Pulp Fiction.'

I wound up finishing 3:30:35, not a bad time by any means and also an 8-minute drop from the time I got last year. But it wasn't the time I was shooting for after all those months of training. Like anyone else who's ever worked hard for something, you can imagine my disappointment.

However, after giving it time to marinate over the last few days, I've come to accept and be proud of how I did. Sure, it wasn't the time I was shooting for, but like everything else in life, races don't always go according to plan.

I still had a lot of fun in Duluth that weekend (thanks again to my cousin for letting me stay at her place) and enjoyed every minute of competing in a race that had 5,500 other runners in it. I'll never forget the sight of all those runners lining up at the start of the race, and I'll never forget the relief of seeing my dad and my girlfriend at the finish line after it was all over.

Besides, life goes on. Rather than dwelling on what could've been, I plan on spending the next few weeks getting reacquainted with my bike and getting ready for RAGRAI next month. After all, the bike isn't going to peddle itself across Iowa.

As for taking another run (no pun intended) at a Boston-qualifying time, I haven't decided yet on signing up for the Mankato Marathon. Like any other running hobbyist, I'm excited for the prospect of a road race in my own backyard. However, it's going to take some time to talk my legs into another 26.2 miles of torture.

*Note: The photo in this post is of me running Grandma's, courtesy of (aka stolen from, I don't like paying $15 a photo) Amazingly, this photo doesn't show me grimacing in pain or walking.

1 comment:

  1. Great Job at Grandmas. 3:30 is an amazing time!! I also ran the marathon and my temperamental hamstring made for a tough second half. I can really relate to "races don't always go as planned" as I saw many people have a tough day. Too bad we could not blame it on the heat this year. :) Keep up the great running and biking.

    -Gloria Alfstad