26 Tips to Recover from 26 Miles
I ran across a link to this article on the Runner's World website. A few of them really captured the way I felt immediately after the NY Marathon (see #2 on the list, especially) .
It's interesting, because only the completion of the race itself evokes these kinds of thoughts and emotions. A grueling speed workout or a 20-mile training run doesn't even come close to dredging up the mental extremes that hit you during and after the marathon. I've also done a lot of very physically challenging things in my life so far, and I can think of only one (a 12-hour, 14-mile round trip bushwhacking "day hike" to bag the 3 trailless peaks of the Dix Range in NY's Adirondack mountains) that was even close to the marathon in pushing the limits of my body and mind.
Not that I'm now an expert from one marathon, but I now consider myself a moderately experienced runner, and the marathon was quite a bit more difficult than I ever thought it would be. I do think that if you don't feel crazy and emotional and dreadful and wonderful and exhausted and elated all at the same time when you finished, then you didn't push yourself hard enough. (Perversely, it also made me wonder how much harder I could push myself -at what point would I actually collapse or my heart burst like Pheidippides.) I have an entirely new respect for the 26.2 distance, and for the incredible elite athletes who run the whole thing at a sub-5-minute pace. What supermen and women - I look at them and see a different human species than myself.
[Especially Paula Radcliffe, who is my new idol for running all during her pregnancy (with no ill effects on her or the baby), and winning the NY Marathon a mere 10 months after giving birth - this definitely qualifies her as a bad-ass.]
For a more humorous look at the aftermath of a marathon, this video is also worth a viewing - I think most marathon runners will recognize themselves as the guy just staring up that flight of stairs...