It’s Friday already? I mean, awesome, but this week has flown by—which is odd, because I feel like I’ve been moving at a sloth-like pace through it.
Anyways, welcome to the end of the week!
Here is a picture of an adorable panda to get us off on the right foot:
It has been too long since I included some cuteness in my posts. The shame!
I know I always do Friday Favorites, and I know I’ve been skipping out on it recently in favor of being thankful and talking about existential running jargon, and I PROMISE I’ll start faves again soon….but not this week. Sorry, I know you’re day is probably ruined.
I just have too many other things to say! And since I have limited blogging time availabile…I need to squeeze things in when I can.
So, we all know by now that my race on Sunday went differently than I anticipated. (And if you don’t know, check it out here, because I know your curiosity must be ON FIRE right now). Can you tell I’m caffeinated? I am.
Anyways, there has been a lot of post-race reflecting, pondering, and Nutella consumption going on around these parts, and while I am not ready to dismiss the seriousness of what happened by any means, I am literally unable to not try and find the silver lining and move forward. Eternal optimist—I can’t help it, and I am a big believer that all experience is good experience, even when that experience involves the inability for the nerves in my brain to signal my legs to move.
With that said, I’d like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned from this whole ordeal. Truly, the big lessons will probably take a little while to fully emancipate, however I do feel like I’m squeezing all of the personal-growth juice I can from all this.
Ew, sorry, “juice” should not be used to describe anything other than something that comes from a fruit.
You get it though.
So…let’s get a move on. Here are some things I’ve learned, both big and small, through the race that quite literally swept me off my feet (and not in a Ryan Gosling dream sequence kind of way).
-I have “awesome” veins.
After I was removed from the ice bath and my temperature was going down, the nurses/doctors were helping to stop my muscle cramping by using a lot of compression on all my limbs. One of the women behind me was all, “Wow, you have awesome veins!” and although this could mean a) I am easy to stick with a needle b)she was being nice about the spider veins all over my body or c)both, at the time I took it as a compliment.
- The pacer stick is not very heavy at all.
One of the things I have always been SUPER impressed by in terms of the people who pace a race (besides the fact, obviously, that they are guaranteeing a certain finish time over 26 or 13 miles) is that they are CARRYING something while running. I can barely handle carrying a handheld water bottle, and I get stressed thinking about carrying anything more than a few gels and my own body weight. You can imagine my horror, then, when the 3:40 pacer (mustache man, if you remember) asked me to hold the pace stick while he went pee in the woods.
Him: “Hey can you hold this for a bit?”
My Brain: “WTF WHO DO YOU THINK I AM I HAVE ONLY RUN ONE MARATHON I HATE YOU!”
Me: “Totally, no problem.”
Surprise! It’s really light, and actually very manageable to run with. And despite my momentary panic, I decided that his decision to offer ME the carrying stick actually translated into:
“You’re such a super star runner, Robyn. My mustache and I respect you and your flawless form and I have no doubt you could take over my pacer job. In fact, you should be a pacer yourself.”
That’s exactly what he thought, and despite the fact that his mind *might* have changed when he saw me being cradled like an infant by the Medical Director, I still think we have an everlasting bond through our 3 minutes of a pace-stick exchange.
- Knowing your target HR=helpful when running a marathon
I’ve said this before, but I don’t own a Garmin. I was always very happy with my little blue Timex, and I actually enjoyed the added freedom of not knowing exactly how far I had gone on a run or how fast I was going. I liked calculating these things afterward instead—meaning that while I can claim to be a “pure” runner while actually out on a run, I do still really care about distance and pace. Something I am not able to calculate too easily without an electronic device is my heart rate, and I believe this knowledge would have been a good indication of how over my limit I was on Sunday.
So, I’m giving in: For both my safety (and the fact that I really, really want one) I’m going to invest in a Garmin, finally. Having one doesn’t mean I need to wear it on every run I go on, however knowing my ideal HR on long runs will help me avoid the situation I got into.
In that regard…suggestions? I just want pace, distance, HR, and a light…for when it’s dark.
- Always have someone you know with you at a race
Certainly, everyone wants supporters to cheer them on at a race—it’s so motivating to know that you have friends, family, or pets out there on the course or finish line, gunning for you to run a stellar race. However, as I have discovered, it is almost equally if not more important to have people there for the bad things that can happen along with the good.
If you remember, I came *this* close to running the Eugene Marathon (and yes I am totally, 100% okay with the fact that I didn’t run the flat, fast course instead of Hill Town Tacompton, clearly). BUT had I run Eugene, I would have been there completely solo, as BF wouldn’t have been able to come, meaning that if something like this would have happened, I wouldn’t have had anyone I knew on the sidelines. No one to drive me home, no one to be there in the medical tent, and no one to report to my family that everything was okay.
When I was coming out of my overheated delirium, all I wanted was for BF to come and be with me, and I can’t imagine how much scarier that situation would have been without someone I knew present.
So sure, I definitely love having people there to cheer me on, but I know now just how important it is to have someone there for a worst-case scenario as well.
- There is such a thing as “marathon peeing”
YOU GUYS, this happened. I couldn’t believe it, and I’m still having a hard time thinking back to it all, but for reals—around mile 22, there I was…a self-sufficient, mature(ish) 24-year-old, peeing my pants on the run.
Now, if you haven’t heard of this before, please don’t click out of my blog out of disgust and shock—because truly, I had no idea I was capable of this. I knew that people did it…instead of stopping at the porta potties, they just straight peed their pants, but I always assumed this was people who had itty bitty bladders and were going for a world record. I NEVER have to pee when I run, but somehow my ample mid-race hydration caught up to me…and there it was.
I was in my cloudy “Make it stop” state when it happened, so it didn’t really register at the time, but when one of the doctors afterward asked me, “When was the last time you peed?” I started cracking up and said, “On the course!” which I thought was absolutely hilarious. At this point, I still had a 105 degree fever, which probably aided my light-headed humor, but now thinking back…it is hilarious, and clearly I have no shame.
Luckily, an ice bath quickly cleanses peed-in shorts, so wearing my shorts afterward wasn’t entirely unbearable.
- After a marathon, your body declares full autonomy over you.
Yes, we should always listen to our bodies. And yes, I hardly practice what I preach in this regard, but when it comes to the week after a marathon, we hardly have a choice.
Every action I’ve been taking this week has been dictated by my body, and anything too difficult for it is quickly stopped in its tracks. I’m able to swim and spin no problem, and both are adding some really helpful blood flow…however running, not so much.
I felt good enough yesterday afternoon to (very slowly) try out my post-marathon legs. So while I said, “Yes! Let’s run!” my body quickly replied with “NOT!” in a very in-your-face Borat kind of way.
After about a quarter mile, my right knee/IT band/fibula/etc started getting really tight, and it was not having it. BF and I were “running” together at the time, and I had to tell him to go on ahead while I waited with a pissed off leg (Not to be confused with a “pissed on” leg, which I also know about…see above). Fortunately, he is a kind soul and quickly returned to walk back to our starting point with me, and I am going to wait a few more days until trying to run again.
I admit that I quickly panicked that I have some long-term injury that will disable me from running the entire summer (rationality is my strong suit), however I know that you cannot trust any post-marathon pains until the race wear and tear eventually works its way out. Truthfully, I think my muscles are just still really recovering, and my foremost goal right now is to listen my body above all else.
And with that said…
- It is okay to back off.
This is perhaps the biggest understanding I’ve reached so far in the reflection I’ve done over this race. I know it is definitely going to take a while to really internalize it, because it completely contradicts the way my brain works—but it’s something I know will make me a much smarter athlete and runner.
My problem during the race (and I suppose in my day-to-day life) is that I refuse to let myself back off from not trying my very hardest. For better or for worse, I hate thinking of myself as someone who doesn’t give their absolute best—because that’s the way I always like to operate. It’s the reason why I love always having a hard, satisfying workout, why I don’t like taking days off, and why I got myself into the circumstances leading up to my collapse on Sunday. I thrive on pushing myself, on knowing that I worked hard, and it’s the way I have and will probably always choose to operate on a daily basis.
Most of the time, this is a good thing. It’s good as a runner, an employee, and just for general productivity. However, as is always the case, it is possible for there to be too much of a good thing. Case in point, the Tacoma Marathon.
So, I suppose what I’m mostly realizing is that I don’t need to worry about my mental stamina. I think I’m always worried that I’ll slip in the average, lazy-person mindset of only half-assing things and searching for ways to not give me all. This fear is part of what drives me to always give my best, which is good, however I’m realizing that I’m not a person who will ever not be competitive, not be strong-willed, or not be anxious to do my best. In that regard, it will actually be more helpful for me to realize how to dial back, as opposed to giving more.
I know now that I don’t really have an issue with trying my hardest, and in fact it will be braver and more trying of my natural instincts to tone down my workouts and my do-or-die mentality. Of course I want to keep working and training hard, but something I really want to start to internalize is that for me—the greater way of challenging myself is finding a better balance. This means a rest day, every single week, even when I’d rather not and knowing when I’m on a run or in a race when I need to forego being a winner for the sake of being safe.
Part of being an athlete is understanding both the value of recovery and the value of hard work. I have been very one-sided when it comes to achieving this balance, and it reached a breaking point when I ignored my body’s warning signs for the sake of a certain finish time.
So, to make an already long story short, I have learned that being more cautious and offering my body more rest is ultimately going to make me a better athlete, and I’m happy to have a new kind of challenge ahead of me.
Have a great weekend all you lovely people out there! Thanks for following my meaning-of-life journey post-marathon, and I hope that if nothing else, I’ve offered a bit of insight into how pushing through pain only goes so far, and sometimes the harder, gutsier decision is knowing when to stop instead of go.
Tell me some marathon lessons you’ve learned! The good, the bad, and the pee-your-pants kind. You’re welcome internet for knowing about that now. Have you ever done that? Please tell me so I don’t feel like a toddler/old person. What are your Garmin suggestions? What are you doing this weekend? Will you help me save that panda from his tree? SOMEONE PLEASE HELP THAT PANDA.