The first week after the marathon is very weird. You spend so much time and dedicate so much energy to train for 4-5 months and then all of a sudden it's over. You cross the finish line with such an emotional high, an incredible sense of self-accomplishment like you just conquered the world and then all of a sudden there's nothing but time. The time you would have spent in the morning or evening training is now empty.
Where was I going to go to get away from the world? Running is my escape and without it I don't really know what to do. Well, I still don't and I don't know if anything will ever replace it. However, I did find things to do to fill the time. I read two books, caught up on all the TV shows I'd missed and spent an inordinate amount of time on the couch. And yes, it felt good and was something I was looking forward to for a couple weeks.
And now I look back at the journey. At the time I spent training, the times I spent at home on a Friday night, the mornings when I wanted to smack the alarm clock when I go back to sleep, the runs I did when I was hacking up mucus every 2 minutes, the runs where I felt free in every essence of the word.
I remember a conversation I had with a friend back in October. We'd just finished our 20-miler training run, the longest in the training plan, and were sitting down to our post-run feast. We talked about how we couldn't wait until
the marathon was over and we'd have some normalcy back in our lives. How we wouldn't have to wake up at 6 in the morning to get in a 6-mile run before work, how we could go out on a Friday night and have a couple drinks without thinking about a long run on a Saturday morning, and how we could just go out and run and not think about training. And you know what? It was all worth it. Every single mile of training, every Friday night spent at home and every time I trained and pushed it even though I didn't want to. It was all worth it.
Yes, I'm looking forward to some down time to relax and spend with my family and friends over the next couple months. And yes, I'm really looking forward to getting back out there and running and competing. And yes, I'm already planning for the next marathon because for me, training and running marathons is something I enjoy. It's something I consider normal.