One of the main reasons I write a blog is to journalize things that I want to remember. This week’s marathon, my first one, was definitely a significant event in my life so indulge me while I break up this recap of the experience into multiple posts to record every detail that I can remember.
“Marathon recovery begins the minute you cross the finish line.”
(At least that’s what ActiveTrainer.com tells me.)
After the Finish Line
As soon as I crossed the Finish Line, I walked straight to the Medical Tent that was just a few feet away. The lady working the tent had all of her gear packed up and ready to go but she told me, “There’s still a few cots out if you want to use them.” Oh okay. I just ran 26.2 miles and was out in the hot sun for just under 6 hours…you’d think she’d be a little more helpful.
Luckily, other than my feet and calves, the rest of me held up pretty well. And my friends, Tina and Yvette were there.
They manage to find an apple, a pear (they ran out of bananas and oranges) and a couple of peanut butter sandwiches. Surprisingly, my stomach was fine and I wolfed down a sandwich immediately. In addition to the medal (photo below), when we crossed the Finish Line we were handed a reusable water bottle filled with cold water. I give them props for that – that was cool.
All I wanted to do was take my shoes off but I knew I had to keep moving. So I stayed in the shaded tent and just walked in circles. When I felt a little cooled down I did some light stretching. Yvette helped me to “shimmy” the muscles in my legs, which really helped. After about 45 minutes we decided it was time to go. I told Yvette, “I’m going to stiffen up anyways so we may as well get home so I can shower and get cleaned up.”
On the way home I had to make a bathroom stop at the Chevron on Van Ness and Mission. For those of you who know the area, you know it ain’t exactly the best part of town. When I walked into the store area a guy standing by the door looked me up and down and said, “Did you just run a marathon or something?” I said yes and he started to high five me. LOL
The Ice Bath
Once I got home, I slowly made my way up the 4 steps to my front door. All I wanted was an ice bath. While I completely believe in the value of the ice bath, I also think they should be classified as cruel and unusual punishment. I filled the tub with cold water and dumped an entire bag of ice in it. I took a deep breathe and got in. It is at this point that a runner finds out if they have chafing. How you ask? Because as soon as water touches your skin you feel the burn!
I held my breathe, eyes squeezed shut, and sunk my body into the tub. Then assessed the situation. No chafing! The Body Glide and Vaseline came through! Then I inspected my feet. No blisters and all 10 toenails! Yay! Better than I hoped! Other than a sunburn, I came out of the experience pretty unscathed! Funny thing is, the ice bath wasn’t cold enough for me. I would have gotten another bag of ice to throw in, but honestly, I just didn’t want to move.
After the bath I ate. I warmed up that second dish of the salmon/spinach crepe and diced potatoes. I couldn’t eat a lot of it, but I ate what I could and saved the rest for later.
Then I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening lying in bed with my feet propped up on some pillows. My cousin Toni told me I should lie on the floor with my legs up against a wall, but again, that would require me to move.
That evening I got a measley 4 hours of sleep. My body stiffened up pretty bad. It hurt to stay still, but it also hurt to move. I couldn’t sleep. I tried to get out of bed at about 4 am to use the restroom. It took me 30 minutes to do so. Then the sitting down and standing up from the toilet was a whole ‘nother effort in itself. When I made it back to bed I kinda just flopped my body down on it. Over the covers and all. Every muscle hurt.
The Day After
Later that morning I forced myself to go out for a 20 minute walk. I had to walk down the 4 steps backwards, holding on to the porch railing for dear life. I got some strange looks from the neighbors who were out. Oh and that 20 minutes took me to the end of the block and back. But it helped, it really did. I came back in the house and did a little more stretching.
Food was another issue. I had only stocked enough food for previous evening. I wasn’t about to cook anything and I had nothing to eat in my house. My car has a manual transmission and I didn’t trust my legs with the clutch. So I had 2 options — pizza or chinese — the only 2 delivery options. I opted for Chinese. The place that delivers has somewhat healthy dishes, I just had to order enough for 2-3 days to meet the minimum charge. Other than the occasional PF Chang’s, I never eat Chinese food, so this was a treat for me. I enjoyed every bite of it, which is a good thing ’causel I ate it for 2 1/2 straight days.
That afternoon I forced myself out for another walk. This time I ran into a neighbor who’s a trainer. He had no idea what I’d recently did, but took one look at me and asked, “What did you do? You have profound lactic acid build-up in your legs.” I was amazed. I told him I had just ran a marathon the day before and asked him, “How can you tell about my legs?!” He said that the shape of my legs (quads) was not normal, and I was doing the right thing by walking. So what did I do? As soon as I crawled (yes crawled up the steps) at the front door, I stood in front of the mirror for a good 15 minutes trying to see what he saw. LOL
That night I doused my legs in sesame oil (advice from my yoga teacher) and wore my compression socks to sleep.
Two Days Later
I still wasn’t getting a good night’s sleep, but I felt much improved the next morning. I could stand up without feeling like my legs were going to give out at any given moment.
I walked again, then later that day drove to Danville (about an hour away) to see my sports massage therapist.
(Side note: On the drive out there I found out just how much you use your quads when driving a stick shift. It hurt every time I had to press the clutch.)
Heather, my sports massage therapist, is worth the trip. She works with professional athletes, members of the Nike Running Club, triathletes, etc. She normally practices trigger point massages which are not for the faint-hearted. They hurt really bad but always works things out. I had mentally geared myself up for the pain, but she told me that she wasn’t going to do a trigger point massage on me. She knew I was too sore. Instead, she did what Yvette did – “shimmied” my muscles to loosen them up – only a bit more intensely. She also spent a lot of time on my feet. She said I was in really good shape compared to other people she’s worked on. I thought it was just calves, quads and feet that needed work. That is until she pressed this one spot on my hip and I thought I was going to cry. It hurt so bad and I didn’t even know it. She said it was my gluteus minimum and I needed to roll, roll and roll some more. She also found some tightness in my peroneus longus (or the tendon that runs down the side of the leg near the ankle). Nothing major but something that needs to be stretched out.
The massage left me feeling so much better. That evening I was able to do more stretching and I followed the same sesame oil + compression socks ritual as the previous night.
Since the race, I hoped, and waited, for a really good long nap. But as luck would have it, I didn’t even get a good night’s sleep. Finally, around 7 pm on Tuesday (when the Giants game started), I finally got the nap I wanted. At 10 pm (when the game ended), I dragged myself from the couch to my bed but found myself in the disappointing predicament of being unable to sleep. I was so tired and wanted to sleep so bad, but my body wasn’t letting it happen. I was due back at work the next day and had to get a good night’s sleep so…I popped an Ambien. I was able to get a full almost 9 hours of sleep. I woke up on Wednesday finally feeling rested.
By Wednesday, I was finally feeling a little back to normal. I could walk instead of waddle. It was easier to sit down and stand up. I went back to work but made sure I got up to walk around the office every hour or so.
I also got a foot massage from the massage therapist that comes to our office every week to provide chair massages, which has really helped me. I finally feel like my feet aren’t so tired anymore.
Overall I’m really happy (and so thankful) that I came out of this experience in one piece. While I’m sore, I have no pain – not the injury kind. I still don’t feel 100% but I’ll get there soon enough.
The one thing I will have to work on is my eating. I allowed myself to pig out for the first two days after the race – chips and salsa, the aforementioned Chinese food, Pop Chips, chocolate. But now that I’m done with marathon training, I need to scale back my calorie intake. I’m meeting with my nutritionist today to discuss this.
Tomorrow I’ll be writing my last final post about this marathon experience, and its the post that means the most to me…stay tuned!