I got to ride the subway for free back from the Bronx. I also got a lot of congratulations, and to each I said, “I didn’t finish. I had to drop out right before Mile 21.” Both marathoners and normal people putting up with us stinky, sweaty marathoners all said the same thing: 21 miles is a lot. You did something great today. (And from the non-marathoners: You did way more than I did today.) That helped.
A pair of experienced marathoners on the 2 train asked if I was doing Chicago next. That got us talking about Wineglass, and marathons in general. That subway ride, more than anything, reminded me that in our hearts, all runners share the same spirit.
While waiting in the subway, I’d texted Coach B and Mom, and messaged Train Runner to let them know I’d dropped, then posted in the Sub-30 tracking thread. Mom and I had a few texts back and forth to get her on the right subway (and to order dinner, which she stopped to pick up on her way). Mom rocks!
Back at the Airbnb, I showered to warm up and de-stink (and discovered that in addition to chafed spots I’d expected, I had rubbed a chunk of skin off the small of my back, probably from where my hydration and bib belts overlapped). Then it was time for round one of the car buffer, which felt really good. I’d managed the stairs up to the Airbnb fine, and in the subway, so apparently all the walking I’d had to mix in meant I’d avoided the really brutal pounding on my muscles.
Then I settled in with dinner — sweet potato risotto with braised short ribs. I wasn’t really hungry, but over the next hour-ish, I managed to eat about half of it. The Pats were on Sunday Night Football against the Packers, so we watched the game while Mom called Dad and then Gram. Both congratulated me, and Gram said she couldn’t wait to hear all about it at Thanksgiving.
Once I’d eaten about as much as I could, I headed for an Epsom salts soak. Yay for Airbnbs with big bathtubs. This was the first time I’d really had to look at all the comments in Sub-30 and the tracking thread, plus a few texts from people, and tears were streaming down my face from all the love and support from my running tribe.
Then it was time for KT tape on the foot/ankle and another car buffer session. The adductor was still stiff, but better. The foot? That hurt.
I usually don’t sleep well after a race because I’m too sore and wake up every time I roll over, but this time I slept pretty well.
First thing Monday, I used the big toe of my other foot to poke at the medial malleolus on my left foot. Ouch! Yes, definitely made the right call. I wasn’t glad it hurt, but the confirmation that I had made the right call helped with the disappointment. And it was feeling better in the morning, so I had high hopes I’d dropped out in time to avert serious damage.
It was something of an anticlimactic end to the weekend without the rush up to the marathon pavilion in Central Park to get my medal engraved. But as I made my way through the various transit systems on the way home, my foot seemed to be holding up OK, and my adductor was tight, but not horrible. I was only hobbling a little.
As I got off the train at my station, it was late enough in the afternoon that the crossing guards were out. Because I run in the afternoon, I see them all the time, and chat with some while waiting to cross intersections. The guard down the street from the train station is one I only see every other week or so, when I run threshold repeats on the river trail. It took until October before he saw me this school year for a variety of reasons, and when he did, he’d said he was glad to see me. He thought I had stopped running because he hadn’t seen me. So I explained I was running different routes because of marathon training. (I’d explained that to a few crossing guards when I got into taper and started returning to shorter routes.)
He’d seen me headed to the train station Friday morning and when I told him I was heading in for the race, he’d wished me luck. So when he saw me Monday, he congratulated me, and I told him no, I hadn’t finished. He said “I couldn’t run 21 miles. I couldn’t run a mile. You’re a champion in my book.”
Wednesday, I went out for my first real run after the marathon, and I picked the flat river trail so elevation wouldn’t add a confusing factor to the assessment of if I’d recovered enough from the marathon to start back on a more normal training schedule. A water main break had me going back a different way and I ended up coming through his intersection. As soon as he saw me halfway down the block, he raised his stop sign over his head, and had traffic stopped by the time I got there. He fist-bumped me, told me as far as he was concerned I’d won the race, and shouted over to the guy he’d been talking to “She ran the marathon!”
For as much as we beat ourselves up with bad race results, we’re doing things most people can’t imagine doing, and that was a bit of perspective that made those missing five-plus miles go down a lot better in the days after the race.