I had forgotten how good your legs feel when they don't run. Seriously, except for the achy legs on Saturday after the marathon, and a little bit into Sunday, my legs have been feeling fine for the three days since the marathon!
I put an end to all that yesterday afternoon (Wednesday), when I hit the road for my first post-marathon run. I originally planned to go out Wednesday morning but I postponed it to Wednesday afternoon. Not so much because I needed extra recovery time (although that did allow me a full three days rest), and not just because I was lazy and wanted to stay in bed. Mainly it was because Wednesday afternoon was forecasted to be partly sunny and relatively pleasant, while Wednesday morning was dark, damp, and pretty much unappealing. I know that is the weather I will be dealing with for months to come, but this was one last rare opportunity to embrace the fast-waning afternoon daylight hours.
By the time I got home from work and ready to go out at a little past 5:00, it wasn't quite as sunny as it had been mid-afternoon at work, but it was still daylight and it was dry. Good enough.
Even though it is still October for a few days more, I wanted to use yesterday's run as a kick-start out of my October slump. My legs felt so good, none of the heaviness or achiness of the previous week (it's like I didn't even have quads at all!), but I knew that was no guarantee of speed. Or an easy run, for that matter.
My plan was to run about six miles, which I figured was far enough to be a decent run, but short enough not to overdo. I wore my Super Jock & Jill 1/2 Marathon long-sleeved neon green shirt and my Brooks Nightlife cap with the light off (to begin with). My sole intention was to try to push myself beyond the slogging pace that has seemed so easy to fall into these days.
There's not a lot to say about the run. I ran. Whenever I saw the Garmin pace drop close to or over 10:30, I pushed myself to run a little faster. My hope was to finish with an average pace of about 10:00, and my average pace after 6.51 miles was in fact 10:03. I am pretty sure if I had extended the distance to seven miles (which I chose not to do), I might have managed 10:00, since my later miles were a bit speedier than my early ones.
The run was actually two 3.25 mile runs, done successively. I stopped at 3.25 to use the bathroom at the hospital, and I figured that since I was there I should drop in and say hi to someone I knew who was in the hospital for a knee replacement. I am not sure whether he really wanted a visitor at 6 p.m., but I felt like it would be just wrong to come and go from the hospital without a visit.
When I left the hospital it was definitely deep twilight, so I turned on the red flashing light on the back of my cap. It stayed on until I was finally home (even while I was grocery shopping at QFC). My legs felt good throughout the run, but I did notice, especially in the first few miles, that my breathing and heart rate seemed a little more labored than I am accustomed to. I am not sure if that was just because I was pushing myself a bit, or because I was not fully recovered from the marathon. Still, after about five miles I felt a lot more like my old self and really flew (sort of) through the last mile and a half.
I have been a complete FAIL on my plan to take an Epsom salt bath every night (watching TV just seemed like more fun), and I didn't do it last night after the run either, though in retrospect it would have been a good idea. During the night my body started punishing me for making it run again. Various muscles in my legs took turns seizing up and hurting, and I believe there was at least one instance in the night where I woke up screaming from a leg cramp in my right calf. Sometime around 1 a.m. I took some Advil in hopes of dulling the aches enough to sleep.
The soreness has abated today, however, although my ankle is a little stiff and sore (nothing new there, although it had been blessedly pain-free for the last few days). I went to the Y for some elliptical time this morning, and plan to be out on Friday morning for my usual run, hopefully adding a few miles beyond Wednesday's 10K+.