Back on the Grid

Last week filled with lots of different emotions and I was too sore to go out for a run to help put things into perspective. When things fall apart, can always turn to my running shoes or my yoga mat for comfort. Not this time. My head and my heart wanted my running shoes, but the soreness in my legs reminded me that I needed rest. I’d used my Newtons for Boston: hello, calf muscles. My mysterious groin pain was (is) still lingering, too.

My yoga mat was ready and willing to provide me with solace, but instead stayed rolled up and out of sight. It just wasn’t what I wanted. I broke my “six day a week” practice streak and succumbed to the comforts of my couch and pantry. I can usually push through soreness and fatigue and go for a run or get on my mat. This time, it was different. I had to deal with the residual emotional fatigue and take care of myself in my own way.

I wanted to move on, but I just felt so tired. By the time Friday rolled around, I’d had enough of the bitter, somber feeling and laced up my running sneakers. I headed to the Saucon Rail Trail with the intention of just going for a run – no distance or pace expectations. One mile. I’m getting past the thoughts of the marathon and falling back into my groove. I begin to relax and soften my muscles as I turn off my brain and find my stride. Two miles. I’m lost in my music, enjoying the outdoors, and the simple act of running. Three miles and…whoa. Oh yeah, I just ran a marathon. My calves are sore and begin to tighten as a reminder. Okay, okay…I can do one more mile – for Boston – and then I’m good. I feel relieved – like I’m whole again.

I went to work the day after running Boston and didn’t have the opportunity to catch my breath until Friday night. I took the weekend to just fall off the grid and relax with my husband. We spent time together and worked on our house, went to church and to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. We spent some time with our families, too.  When I woke up on Sunday, I headed out for an eight mile run in the parkway. I was pretty fatigued by the last mile, but it was an improvement from the soreness and fatigue I felt on Friday. I went about my Sunday as if it were business as usual: spending time on my yoga mat, in my kitchen preparing foods for the week, taking a relaxing bath and cooking a nice dinner. By the evening, my husband lit a bonfire in our backyard and we were laughing and enjoying time with our family and friends. I needed this weekend to myself. It was simple, restful and wonderful. I woke up feeling refreshed this morning.

It was a week ago today that everything happened. At first, I felt unable to take pride in my accomplishment and I’m still struggling with that. It’s bittersweet. Until tragedy struck, I finally had my day in Boston. I’d run there twice before, but there was always something holding me back from performing well on the course.  I crossed the finish line of the 2013 race in 3:33:59 – only 48 seconds slower than my current marathon PR, and that was run on a much easier course. The Boston Marathon is HARD. It’s so easy to make mistakes there, as I’d done in the years prior.  The first 16 miles have a net downhill and enthusiastic spectators motivating you, so it’s easy to run significantly faster than intended. By the time you hit the infamous Heartbreak Hill and the rolling hills to follow, you are greeted with sore and heavy quads reminding you of your mistakes through the finish line. Ouch.

This was my 20th full marathon, and prior to this I’d never a run marathon with a “plan”. Usually, I just have a goal pace in mind as I line up at the start and hope for the best. This time, I ran with the intention of starting slow and ending fast – a progression run. Those work well for me when training, so why not run my race that way? For me, it’s the ideal strategy for running Boston (or any race, for that matter). I maintained a fairly decent progression straight through to the finish line. Had I not stopped for the bathroom twice, I probably would have likely run a PR. I finally had my day. I have to hold on to that now, as I begin to move forward. I’ve got four more spring marathons, the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon, and an ashtanga yoga practice to keep up with. So, I’m back on the grid.

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