chapter six - recovery

2004 Chicago Marathon after pictureThe finish chute was an amazing display of efficiency. Immediately fluids aplenty were awaiting us. Although we didn't need it, medical assistance was all around. A few yards further in we were issued mylar blankets to keep us warm - at first I didn't see the point, but took one on faith. Later I was glad I did. We were offered food, awarded our medals, and returned our racing chips, all before we ever left the finishing chute. Immediately upon our exit we saw Hollis and Kate waiting for us, smiling and obviously relieved to see us. Hollis later told me that each time she heard a siren, a common sound at that time of the race, she felt a twinge of concern. We all hugged, smiled, and then searched for and found Matt. Stefan and I had never stopped moving from the time we crossed the finish line. Frankly, I was a bit afraid to!

We decided to walk back to the parking garage by Le Meridien, a little over a mile away. It was brutal but good for us to keep our legs moving and stretch out. Along the way I could feel some discomfort in my feet. Once we were in the van I removed my shoes and found three blisters. New socks - duh! Nothing new on race day.

2004 Chicago Marathon at homeThe ride home is a bit of a blur. After calling Mom and Dad I remember conversation slowing down as Hollis drove us to Naperville. I know I fell asleep twice. When we got home we saw congratulatory signs on the garage door that Hollis and Kate had made for us, one more special touch to cap off a great day. I opened the van door and found that my legs didn't want to move, bend, or work in anyway. It took real effort to get out of the van and onto the driveway.

That, of course, was nothing compared with getting up the stairs! Each step represented a very real and significant challenge to overcome. We all took showers, glorious, hot showers, the kind you wish would never end. As the sweat of the day washed from my body I got hungry, ravenously hungry, and assumed my fellow runners were having the same experience. I dried off, dressed and started downstairs to check with Matt and Stefan. It was at this point that I met my biggest challenge of the day - walking down stairs was practically impossible. The pain of each stair caused me to grit my teeth as I stepped twice per stair. The thought of touching each stair with only one foot was incomprehensible. It was all I could do to gut it out down to the first floor of the house.

We were all starved and feasted at a local establishment on a stunning combination of carbohydrates in both solid and liquid form, to aid in post-race recovery, and scrumptious protein! Shoe leather would have been delicious. Following the gorging and the return trip home, we all collapsed into separate little heaps, exhausted and satisfied.

I awoke early the next morning and gingerly slipped from the edge of the bed. I was plenty sore, but alive and moving. My knees and ankles were tender in the morning, but loosened up throughout the day from the combination of Alieve and movement. By lunch I was feeling human again - except for each and every time I had to walk down stairs.

My metabolism kicked in full later in the day, as well, as, to quote Margie Adis and Tom Stark, I "moved product" through my system. I was shocked to find my poop was vivid green! After a moment of concern, I realized the source of my newfound coloration - considering all of the green Gatorade I took in the previous day, the food dye had to show up somewhere. Technicolor pooping can be fun, a nice bonus after training for over four months and over four hundred miles!

Over four months and over four hundred training miles to prepare for a 26.2 mile race. We learned a lot about ourselves during the long months of training and following Hal's training regimen with near-religious fervor. We changed our diets, changed our body shapes, and changed our sleep patterns. We pushed ourselves to limits beyond our comprehension, then pushed further still. We did all of this to prepare for a contest, one that we could not possibly win. We did it just to see if we could do it. We did it to establish a new baseline of self-expectation. Now that we have raised our personal high-water marks, the logical question, and one that we have heard repeatedly, is will we do another? The answer, without hesitation is - You betcha!

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