Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Final thoughts

 I have a few final thoughts about my experience running the Salt Lake City Marathon. It already seems like it was way longer than four days ago! (If you somehow missed my monster race recap, you can find it here).

How do I feel?  I have been getting this question a whole lot. To be honest, I feel great! The day after I was somewhat sore and tender, although it was an all over feeling, and no one area had any extra pain or tenderness. I was easily walking around without limping, and only really noticed when I got up after sitting for a long time (stiff!) or when I first got up in the morning (gently!). I even had a guy in the lobby at the hotel when we were checking out tease me about NOT limping. :)

I did take a ridiculously freezing ice bath in the hotel right after the race and then started rolling and stretching morning and night (still am). There was some soreness when rolling the first day or two after the race but nothing too bad.

But do you know what did hurt? MY LUNGS. This is the second time this happened to me (the first was after my first two legs of Ragnar last year). On Saturday, Sunday and Monday it hurt A LOT to take a deep breath (and yawning was seriously painful) and if I took any sort of deeper breath I coughed and coughed and coughed. Anyone else every have this? I wonder if it is from running in the altitude, although I live and train at over 6,000 feet and never have that problem at home. Strange! Any thoughts?

After my long runs I have always, always felt better after a short, easy run. (It just always seems to make my muscles looser and happier). I took off Sunday and then on Monday morning I got on the treadmill and did a very, very slow and easy three mile recovery jog. I figured if it hurt I would stop right away, but the early morning stiffness and soreness faded quickly. When I was done the stiffness was all but gone and my legs felt tons better. I ran with Jenny yesterday and today (just five miles nice and easy) outside and it was wonderful. Yesterday I was a little stiff and sore when we first started (quickly went away) and today I felt good from the very beginning.

I know some people believe that you should take a ton of time off after a marathon and I know that some people think if you can run a few days later that you didn't push hard enough. I don't know. All I know is that I have always been a fast "recoverer" and my body feels better when I run, so I am doing what works for me. I am listening to my body and taking it nice and easy (no watch or Garmin) and doing lots of rolling and stretching. I am also trying to get extra rest during the day and sleep at night. But I feel good. :) This morning I got out of bed quickly and walked around a bit before I even realized that I didn't notice any stiffness at all.

Ok, a few more thoughts from the race -

Favorite signs - There were quite a few great signs, but I had two favorites. There were a couple of girls that were just before mile 2 with a big sign that said, "You are so NOT almost there!" That made me giggle. (At mile 12 it probably would not have, but you still have a sense of humor at mile 2). :)
The other sign was somewhere around mile 21 and it said, "You gave up sleeping in on the weekends for this!" Indeed!

Perfect race? I have read that the "perfect race" is one in which you pace yourself well, don't hit the wall or "bonk", and finish strong, and yet finish with your gas tank completely on empty, knowing that you gave it your all and could not have run ANY further or faster than you did. Not an easy thing to accomplish for sure.

So was this a perfect race for me? I can't honestly say that I finished with NOTHING left in the tank, although with the side aches and cramps all over that I was getting with half a mile to go (and the wheezing and trouble getting a breath when I finished), I am not sure how much more I could have pushed myself on that day and on that course.

I do feel like I paced myself very well, that I stuck to my plan and that unless I could have had a miracle and run it without the two potty stops (which cost me about 4 minutes), that I had about as good of a time as I could have hoped for. Maybe I could have pushed the pace a little more and finished a little faster, but maybe if I had pushed it more I would have pulled a muscle or bonked and wouldn't have been able to finish strong (and could have ended up slower over all). SLC may not have been a "perfect" race for me, but I do think that it really was a very dang good one.

That is not to say that I think 3:57 is the best I can ever do though. The last few months have shown me that with consistent training I can and will get faster, and I firmly believe that if I put the work in (which I plan on doing!) that I have faster times in me. ;)

Athena - I know that "weight classes" in races can be a controversial topic, but for my first couple of bigger races (10K and half) I put myself in the Athena division, because my weight was definitely over the requirements. Then I lost more weight, and I was well under the weight limit for Athena in Vegas or Disney, which I was happy about. :) I pretty much assumed I was out of that weight range now for good, but when I signed up for SLC, the "Athena class" was over 140lbs. Most of the Athena classes I have seen have been cut off at 150, 155 or 160 so I was surprised this one was so low. I thought about putting myself in the Athena class (when I registered for SLC I was 141lbs) but since I was hoping to shed a couple more pounds I didn't.

A couple of days before the race I looked at the list of registered runners and noticed that there were only 30 or so women in the Athena division and wondered if I could be competitive in that class. My weight has been consistently 136-137lbs for the last couple of months though. They were not weighing in and it was "honor system", and I am sure after a big meal with my clothes and shoes on I could be 140 pretty easily, but I decided not to change. Bottom line was that I didn't feel like I belonged in the "heavier runner" weight class any more. (And let's face it... women don't lie UP about weight, right???)

Well stink... if I had run in the Athena class, I would have WON IT. By four minutes. Seriously... I could have won a division in a marathon.That may be the only time I ever regret losing a few pounds.

When I told Josh, my dear, sweet husband said, "You should have had the fries."  :)

Here is my favorite pic from the race weekend. I told my parents that starting to run marathons was my best plan ever to get to see them more often. This made our third weekend together in 4 1/2 months (and they are now pretty much expects at preparing for a marathon the day before, expos, marathon spectating and cheering, and marathon recovery). :)

If you haven't  yet entered my Planet Gear giveaway, please do!! And please help spread the word, especially to any active mom's to be you know. :)


BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

That is a great picture!
Honor system for the Athena. hmm Not sure if that is good or bad. I mean for a marathon when would you weigh in? At packet pick up? I didn't think they did those awards for Marathons. But now I know to look!

Samantha said...

I also experienced "sore lungs" after my 3rd marathon. The marathon was at and I trained at sea level - I had it explained to me that as I had run a PR I had probably worked my lungs really hard (sore legs, sore lungs). I've since had similar experiences after hard runs. I think you have a faster marathon in you yet!

Mallory said...

I love what you wrote!! It sounds like you did a great job on this marathon with your preparation. Too bad about the Athena division... something to think about for next time though, right??

Penny said...

I'm still learning about the Athena division. Where on a marathon regstration does it ask you that? Great pic. You were diffently prepared for this marathon girl.

Renee said...

GREAT pic!!!

Molly said...

I just caught up on your race recap, congrats!!!!! Kudos for feeling amazing, and love the photo!

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

hahaha! You are so not almost there! That would be funny AFTER the race!

June said...

Hey, did you see this story?

Maybe after your next marathon you should run home... ;)

bob said...

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Natalie R. said...

Oh, I can't believe your dad with white hair! I haven't see him in a long time. Great picture! The only other time my lungs hurt like that was after childbirth! One question, when did you start the "ice baths?"