April 23, 2011

Recovery and Reflections

After months of training AR 50 came and went. I've spent much of the last two weeks recovering and reflecting and am finally putting these thoughts into written words. I'll start with the recovery, which has been no joke after putting my body through such an extreme endeavor. As I mentioned in the recap, I was in a lot of pain immediately after and for the next couple days. My whole body was sore, even to the touch, and I was so stiff that getting up to do anything was a challenge. Thankfully, I had the 2 days following the race off from work and I spent most of them in bed or on the couch.

Four of my toes ended up discolored and two were severely damaged with fluid built up under the nails. They were so tender that I woke up several times at night from the pain from the weight of my sheets on them. To relieve the pressure I was constantly draining them with a needle (sorry if this is TMI!) but they continued to fill back up and both toes swelled up. Then I went back to work and had to wear shoes which was pretty bad. I didn't even make it through a full day before I was in toe socks with flip flops...should have taken a picture of that! Anyway, I soaked them in hot water with epsom salt and continued to drain them, and I'm finally pain free. The nails are still discolored, however, and probably won't be sticking around for too long : / I think 4 at once is a record for me!

My right knee has also had some lingering issues which are still preventing me from running. It feels like a tightness in the back of the knee that prevents me from straightening it all the way or locking it out and is painful if I try to. For the first week after AR I was limping quite a bit so I went in to see my sports chiro that Monday. To him it didn't seem like an actual injury but rather some tightness and inflammation that should get better with time. He told me to try running by Thursday and see how it feels. Well later that week I could still feel it when I was just walking, so running was a no-go. I did go for a bike ride, however, and it seemed to feel fine during the ride (although a little more sore the next day). Anyway, it started feeling a bit better as the days passed but I still didn't quite feel ready to run so I made another appointment with the chiro.

This time he worked my leg a bit more, really digging into the muscles, and I left feeling much better. Right before the appointment I'd actually went for a deep tissue massage, too, so later that day I was feeling pretty good and ready to try running. From the first few steps, however, I knew it was going to be a struggle. Just a half mile in I contemplated turning around, but I kept going thinking that maybe things would feel better as I warmed up. No such luck. The tightness in my knee forced me to run with an awkward gait which caused some pain in my hip. To top it off, I could feel some inflammation in my other knee (basic "runner's knee" kind of pain). I felt tired, sluggish, and discouraged and the 4 miles seemed to take forever. And so here I am, two weeks out, and I'm still unable to run. I don't consider myself injured yet, but I don't want to make things worse, either. Instead I'm kicking off my tri season with lots of swimming, cycling, and strength training and will add in running as soon as I can. I'm trying to cut myself some slack, but at the same time it's really frustrating that I can't run now that I want to.

On to reflections. To be honest, I haven't really thought a whole lot about AR 50 these past couple weeks. I'm glad I did it, and I'm proud of the accomplishment, but it didn't linger in my thoughts for very long. Like I mentioned in the recap, the way I felt after wasn't quite what I expected to feel. It reminded me a bit of post-marathon blues, actually. After working toward this goal for so long with all this anticipation, it came and went and then it was just back to the real world. I guess I felt a bit letdown, like I should be walking around with a sign that said, "I just ran 50 miles!!" Not in a cocky way, but because I'd felt like this big achievement would change me and here I was walking around and going about life as if it hadn't happened. I don't know if any of this is making sense, but I hope that my fellow runners have had similar feelings and I'm not just crazy.

It's been helpful to look forward, which for me means the start of my first real triathlon season. I'm ready to change things up and take on an entirely different kind of challenge. I'm really enjoying cycling and I finally joined an awesome gym and went for my first swim last night! I'm still in the process of figuring out my schedule/training plan for my goal race, Vineman 70.3 in July, but I should have a post up soon with more details. Despite having no structured plan yet, I kicked off my training this week, just winging it and doing whatever I've felt like, and so far so good! More to follow...

How long does it usually take you to recover from a race? Ever experienced "post-race blues"? Who else is gearing up for the triathlon season?


  1. Hey :)

    I know what you mean- It feels like people should somehow KNOW your achievements.

    I completely am in awe of how much pain you must be dealing with! I had a hill race the other day that was all of 3.5 miles and my ankles are stiff from the impact. I cannot imagine doing 50!

    I do seem to get post-race blues, even on the short distances. I think its an effect of suddenly loosing a target I was driving for?

    Either way take care, you know YOUR body, give yourself all the time in the world to heal if you need it.

    And remember to be SO impressed at yourself. Can't wait to hear about traithlons :)

  2. I'm glad your body is starting to recover. I know how my body feels post-marathon, so I can only imagine it would be a lot worse running twice as far! And I know how you feel about post-race blues. I think it's hard to put into words, but I have been there!

    I'm sure your body is going to be happy that you are going to be doing a lot of cross training for the next few months!

  3. a couple of weeks is normal for your first 50 miler. recovery will be faster the more ultra's you do. good luck at the vineman.