The Aftermath

On the flight home to Portland the day after I ran the Chicago Marathon, I stretched out my stiff and achey legs in front of me, a luxury afforded by exit row seating. It was then that I noticed just how puffy my right ankle was in comparison to my left. I knew my legs had taken a beating from carrying me over 26.2 miles of pavement but the visual of the damage was still a bit shocking. What happened?

I didn’t allow myself to dwell too much on the race immediately after the fact. I was grateful¬†I had finished and happyish with my finish time. I prided myself on my ability to stay positive and look at the silver lining. I kept telling myself it was okay, that I’d get stronger so my body wouldn’t break down next time, that every race is a learning experience. Those things were all true.

Over the next few weeks, I kept myself busy in every which way. I¬†didn’t¬†run because frankly, my body felt like garbage.¬†I found myself finding little ways to exercise once or twice a day by going to mat classes, going to physical therapy then¬†practicing at home, going to the pool with Krysta, even just going on little walks. I couldn’t not be moving. It was only at the beginning of a yoga class during my least favorite part of the hour, when the instructor has everyone lie on their backs in contemplative¬†silence. That’s usually when I’m thinking¬†okay, less contemplating¬†and more downward dog, please!¬†But it was in that space¬†that I thought not only about Chicago, but about year leading up to it. I worked really, really hard to prepare for that marathon. I was stronger than¬†I’d ever been. And it still wasn’t enough. And I was angry¬†about it. Then the tears came, and it was a good thing the room was dark because I let them flow right down onto my¬†mat. I felt that at the very least, I deserved to be upset¬†and sad even if for a little bit.

And that was that. Missing out on a goal sucks! But things are looking up.¬†It’s taken around five weeks (new longest recovery record?), but I bounced back and I’m feeling like my old self again. I’ve been running lots of trails and have opted¬†to run with friends more often than not. There are times I prefer¬†being a loner, but this has¬†not been one of them.¬†My PT Jonathan Eng at PACE¬†created a strength training plan for me specifically targeting my weaknesses so I can (hopefully) prevent what happened in Berlin and Chicago from repeating itself. He also recommended their Oregon Project Stability Routine which you can check out here. Other than that I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, because this has been a great year despite one bad day. I’ve been planning out what races I want to do next, including¬†some indoor track, outdoor track, and all kinds of road races culminating with the 2017 New York City Marathon. It feels good to be excited about racing again, not that it took long- I wrote out my 2017 fantasy race schedule on that¬†same plane ride home.

9 responses to “The Aftermath”

  1. jonathan hsieh Avatar
    jonathan hsieh

    down but never out!

    you go, liz!

    1. Liz Avatar

      Thanks Jonathan!

  2. Paulette Avatar

    Great post, glad to see you are feeling better. Are you still coming down for NF?

    1. Liz Avatar

      Thanks Paulette! Yes, I’ll be there! I’m planning to take it really easy and just enjoy the trails. Will you be out there on Saturday? Which day is your event?

  3. Leslie @ TriathleteTreats Avatar

    I’m glad you are bouncing back!!! I feel your pain with knowing and feeling the strongest you have ever been and then not having the race of your dreams!!
    So funny you see Jonathan. I know him through triathlons. (Portland really is a small town)!! What races are you fantasizing about?

    1. Liz Avatar

      Thank you! Yeah it’s a tough pill to swallow! Jonathan rocks. I’m thinking Shamrock 15K, Bloomsday Run, Corvallis Half, and then jumping into a few college/open indoor and outdoor track meets. After the marathon build up I’m excited to get out and race often!

      1. Leslie @ TriathleteTreats Avatar

        Awesome!!! Sounds like a full schedule!! So fun!!!

  4. ktanruns Avatar

    You’re more than entitled to have lots of emotions over the outcome of the race! Good on you for quickly processing and looking ahead to the future. Just one more reason you are a fantastic role model!
    P.S. let’s keep swimming :)

    1. Liz Avatar

      Thank you! I never want to be a downer when people ask me how my race went, so for the most part I’d say, “oh it was great!” and leave it, but I still had to eventually come to terms with how I felt about it, which was not great! Blah. But moving on. Yes please to swimming!


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Who is Mercury?

Liz Derstine, trail name ‚ÄúMercury‚ÄĚ, is a distance runner, endurance hiker, writer, and musician residing in Boston, MA. She holds fastest known times for women on the Appalachian Trail (supported, northbound), Long Trail (self-supported), and Pinhoti Trail (self-supported).

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