Portland Marathon 2014 ~ the aftermath
“Can you even walk 26 miles?” my wife once reasonably asked when I confessed that I dreamed of running a marathon some day.
I’ve said in several posts that math is not my strength (hence I fall back — hard — on words), and I’ve also noted that during long runs, I lose the ability to do simple calculations at all. (This is apparently a phenomenon among runners.) But I’m going to attempt some simple calculations about the post-marathon days. Math after the fact: aftermath.
I still have all of my toenails. I did not chafe in a personal place even though one of the two bandaids I had applied did not cross the finish line with me. I never hit the dreaded wall (I think due to my GU fueling plan.) My knees barely hurt at all now. My left foot cramped horribly the evening after the run, but that hasn’t come back since. My thigh muscles only tingle when I sleep. I’m pretty good on stairs again though occasionally I get a surprising stab of pain in one knee or the other. I do not want to get out of bed in the mornings. I’m sure my body needs more sleep time to get some massive repair work done. (I’ve also learned that when you provide an emergency contact phone number it should probably not be your home phone number since your contact won’t be there.)
I saw several of my friends in the latter part of the marathon. They weren’t there, and I realized it at the time, but for moments I saw them nonetheless.
I now have a new sticker in the rear window of my red truck: 26.2. I feel like a badass. I feel like a runner. When non-runner friends say I’m a marathoner, I no longer have to correct them.
My beard and mustache of 30 years are now gone. Shaving those off, freeing myself from them, was a gift I’d promised myself if I completed the marathon. I’m getting used to a smooth face, the same one I see staring back at me from my wedding photos. Funny, I’m more fit now than I was as that boy on his wedding day. (I was worried about getting through airport security on the trip home from Portland since my face no longer matches the one on my driver’s license. No one raised a concern though.) I’ve learned that you can wear facial hair for 30 years, and yet when you shave it off, most people don’t notice the difference.
Parts of me are still astonished that I’ve actually done this. More parts of me are eager to do it again. My latest medal hangs on the wall before me, almost lost among the many others there. This also astonishes to me.
I know I didn’t train well enuf. I cheated myself in that regard. I would have had a better run, a better finish time, and a whole lot less pain if I had trained properly. The writer Haruki Murakami, who is also a runner, has said that in running, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. I thought about that a lot after about mile 18. The pain was present, and I sure felt like I was suffering, but even the single-minded, blind-with-sweat, in-constant-pain-with-the-finish-seemingly-never-to-come machine that I had to become in the latter half of the marathon understood that Murakami was talking about attitude. I could face the reality of the pain and I could choose my response to it. I chose to keep going. I realize this sounds corny, but in the long miles, I’ve found that I’ll take whatever edge I can get.
And now I’ve returned to the mundane world, where I’m finding that everything is still the same.
Except that nothing is the same anymore.