One word to sum up life post-race:
Last week was miserable. Yes, yes, I was deliriously happy about qualifying. But the physical recovery was far worse than anticipated. There was the standard DOMS, which peaked on Tuesday. But then there were all kinds of other little surprises that just kept popping up all week. Like my toes.
I finally figured out what the hell happened to my left foot during the race. I believe the seam on my sock got caught under the nails of the third and fourth toe on my left foot. This irritation caused them to be pummeled - under the nail - for 26.2 miles. With the slope of the course, the impact was equivalent to someone hitting both toes with a sledge hammer then attempting to pop off the nails like bottle caps. I've never had this issue before, especially on these particular toes - usually it's the big guy or the second toe that loses the nail. Combined with my right foot, I am down three toe nails. Do I get a discount on pedicures now?
Swelling was not limited to feet, either. My quads expanded a full inch on each leg. Usually, they are about 18" around. In the weeks before the race, they suddenly measured 18.5". Now, they were coming in at a ridiculous 19.5". Skinny jeans already pose a problem because of the colossal size of my runners' calves, and now the thighs joined the party by looking like 'roided up mega-legs.
Don't get me started on my puffy face. My puffy eyelids. How my fingers swelled to the point I could not get my rings on. Everything felt twice the normal size, like I had suddenly moved to Mars and the gravitational pull shifted.
Isn't running fun?
Last Wednesday was not a good day. Sidelined by the damage done to my body, I attempted to be as productive as possible while sitting down. I needed to focus on everything I've ignored for the last three months. Pick out all of the fixtures for our bathroom remodel. Plan summer break. Research new cars. Register my new Garmin, an anniversary gift from Brian.
And within about 20 minutes, I was a sobbing mess. Just like childbirth - I swear, running and birthing a child are so similiar - 72 hours post-race/baby, the emotions hit. It wasn't that I was sad; it was that everything was changing. Good changes, mind you - I hit my BQ goal! Grey marble in the bathroom! The ability to measure lactic acid threshold! New car smell! An almost first-grader! But dammit, I had just spent the entire school year training to qualify, starting with St. George way back in October. And now here we are in May with fourteen days left, on the precipice of these considerable and wonderful developments, and it was too much. I had been so hyper focused on this one singular goal but I felt lost in every other aspect of my life.
At least we still have baseball, right?
Then I looked at the calendar and realized season ends in two weeks.
I cried harder.
That day, I slammed my hand in the garage door. Now two fingernails will match my toe nails. I shattered a glass in a garage after the hand incident, stepping on the glass shards because I was wearing flip flops because no other shoe fit and cut my right foot. Tally: down two feet and one hand. This was not going well.
On Friday, we lost Chewie. She wasn't in her usual spot outside the bedroom. We looked and looked and looked and couldn't find her in the house. I spent the morning limping through the neighborhood, shaking the treat bag with my one good hand. No dice. The fluffy kitten with no survival skills was missing.
I have never had this kind of recovery before. At 5 of the last 7 marathons, I was at Hill Day the following Wednesday. Even the ultra, that clusterf*ck of craziness when Brian got so sick, I was at Hill Day. The one time I missed it was after LA when I sat curled up on my couch with a bottle of wine for four days, nursing my bruised ego and cursing the unseasonably warm weather.
So I did what any normal person would do when faced with insurmountable odds: I made nachos.
After that: giant, delicious, very non-vegan cookies.
Over the weekend, my menu varied from veggie burgers to In-n-Out (*way better than a veggie burger, fyi), to margaritas and jelly beans. My GI track went ballistic; I ignored it. Discouraged I couldn't find the cat, I went shopping and realized very quickly styles have changed since 2014, the last time I looked at non-running clothing. I stayed up past 9:30 drinking wine and relishing in the idea of sleeping until at least 7am. I drank coffee with reckless abandon. I had a hard time not flipping off happy runners as I passed them, insanely jealous of their ability to move across this Earth pain free.
And this is me having QUALIFIED. Imagine the other alternative.
The pity party ended when I randomly jumped on the scale.
Up TEN pounds. Whoops.
That escalated quickly.
I pulled my head out of my behind and set the wine glass down. Yes, every runner needs to blow off some steam post-marathon, but this was ridiculous. Plus, more things were starting to hurt instead of getting better. My tummy was throwing a full-on riot. I could feel the inflammation, having consumed all of awful, disgusting foods. If I could just get an easy 3-5 miles in, break a sweat, get my heart rate up...that is what I needed. Running is, and always will be, the solution to all of life's problems.
But the body wasn't having it. The Achilles tendon on my left leg, having assumed the brunt of of my toe-overcompensation, won't even let me run down a basketball court, let alone get a few miles in. Awash in fear for what I had done and unable to right my dietary wrongs, I found this found this rather reassuring statement in a new book:
So here I am. Mentally, I feel *mostly* back to normal. I'm looking forward to getting back to running - maybe next week? The week after? I've cleaned up my diet and already feel better. I think flaxseed may be the greatest superfood ever. I keep telling myself, recovery is part of running. There are no guarantees. A good race does not equal an easy recovery. I just think it's funny that right when I'm ready to relax, the work is not yet over. Maybe that's just the way things work. Maybe that's just life.
PS - we found Chewie. She was under the green chair the whole time. Such a bad kitten. On a brighter note, she's very excited about the new bathroom.