I’ve had two sleeps since race day. This time as I write these very words, forty eight hours ago and accounting for time zone difference, I was standing near the gear check for the Chicago marathon getting ready to strip down to my race kit and file into the corral.
Six of us ran the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. Six, plus fifty-eight thousand other people, of course. But six of us from my run crew made it down to the windy city by various means and with various certainty and after a couple days of playing tourist, we queued into our corral and took to the streets for a forty-two point two kilometer, twenty-six point one mile road race known as the World Major Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
It was work.
I flew threw the first half.
I kept my goal pace until nearly thirty klicks.
The weather was perfect. The crowds were beyond amazing. The city was a fascination. The other racers were all going the right direction, at least. A new world record was set on the course by (can I call him that?) one of my fellow racers. Two hours and thirty-five seconds. Insane.
I felt the wall hit around thirty kilometres. My legs started twinging. My heart rate number spiked in the display on my watch by 25-35 bpm and even bringing it down by walking a bit it would immediately shoot back up within ten steps of running. I felt like I should be able to run, but off an on I would get a little spinny and had I been out for a stroll in the park I would have sat down and eaten a cookie or something, but I was running the goddamn Chicago Marathon and that shit don’t fly.
Yeah. I had been taking in calories. I had a nutrition plan and an electrolyte plan and I was following them. It just wasn’t enough.
I made it to the finish with a huge split, but I finished.
And I should technically be proud because as of Sunday I have a new marathon PR. A new personal record time. By about thirty seconds over my first (and previously best) marathon ten years ago.
I will be proud.
Right now, forty eight hours later, having spent yesterday in transit between Chicago and home, after saying goodbye to friends at the end of a vacation, after settling back into my armchair at home and finally putting up my feet to rest, I just kinda feel down.
There is a very real post marathon blues that can hit you and it has multiple times for me. Part of me writing this post is just to acknowledge that and start the multi-week process of working through the post-race depression that hits like the second wall of the race. That feeling of playing the race over in your head, of suddenly not having a goal to work towards, of recounting the event and probably a bunch of actual biochemical effects of, y’know, just having tortured yourself for 42.2 km. Not only all that, but I’ve been building myself up for this race for literally three years and ten months. This race (including it’s imminent cancellation and conflicting feelings around it) was a leg in the tripod that was my covid pandemic experience. It’s been swirling through a thousand conversations and marked a very clear destination for me for a long time. And it’s now over and in the memory book. Just another medal on the wall. Just another handful of race photos. Just another t-shirt to wear out on the trails.
Right now I’m not loving the marathon. Five races in and my experience has been uniformly the same. I love the work. I love the anticipation. I love the start line. I hate the finish and I feel like hell warmed over for days or weeks afterwards. It’s not my race.
I am a marathoner. Five done and in the books. If I ever do another it would need to be a race for which I couldn’t say no, something amazing and perfect and an undeniable adventure. But otherwise I think the universe and my body are both telling me to stick to shorter races for a while. I’m okay with that.