Last weekend I ran all 26.2 miles of the Chicago Marathon. Look back on my training for my first marathon on Maree’s 26.2 Journey Blog.

I’m still having a hard time comprehending that I ran the Chicago Marathon less than a week ago. I can’t believe that after all my hard work and training I was finally able to accomplish my goal. It’s such an incredible feeling!

Even though I can’t wrap my head around the idea that I ran a marathon, my body is certainly not done reminding me what I put it through last Sunday. Today is the first day that I’m not distractingly sore, and I hope to try to go for an easy run later. On Sunday afternoon, Monday and Tuesday I was so sore that I could barely move. It was so bad that I couldn’t even sit down without holding onto something – I felt like my grandma! Another interesting thing about running soreness is that it becomes difficult to walk down stairs after a strenuous running workout, whereas walking up stairs is far easier. It took me a long time to walk down the stairs in my apartment for those first few days after the race.

Another post-marathon symptom I experienced was extreme fatigue. I took naps on both Monday and Tuesday along with getting over eight hours of sleep per night, and I was still tired. Thursday was the first day that I was able to stay awake all day without feeling exhausted, which was a good thing because I had two exams in school that day! Of course, I was also extremely hungry in the days after the marathon. On Sunday after the race I ate two bananas, two bowls of pasta and lasagna and bread. My body definitely needed to refuel after running 26.2 miles.

In order to recover faster, I consulted Hal Higdon’s tips on “Zero Week”, or recovery in the first week after the marathon. He suggests a program that is essentially a reverse of Taper Week, which involves carb loading for the few days after the marathon, as well as fueling up on bananas and yogurt which are easily absorbed into the body. He also suggests no running until at least Thursday after the race. I had no problem with waiting to start running again; my muscles were so sore that it was hard to get out of bed in the morning, let alone go for a run.

Now that my body and mind are feeling better, I am ready to get back out there and start running again. As I mentioned in my last post, I think I am going to get hooked on running marathons after this amazing experience. Training is great mental and physical exercise, and the feeling of making it through the race and crossing the finish line is truly like no other.

Since this is my last post, I wanted to say thank you to all of you who have followed my training from the beginning – your support really helped me stay motivated throughout the last few months and inspired me to finish the race. I also wanted to thank Eastbay for donating products to me – the miCoach in particular helped me stay on track with training, and the GU was vital during long runs and for the marathon itself. And, of course, I never could have finished the race without my faithful Mizuno Wave Creation 11 shoes.

I want to encourage all of you who are considering running a marathon to check out some training programs and give the idea some serious thought. I signed up for the Chicago Marathon doubting that I would ever be able to run 26.2 miles, but through sticking to my training program I was able to accomplish my goal. Running a marathon was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life – I highly recommend it. At the risk of sounding overdramatic, running a marathon changed my perspective on life.

This quote sums up my marathon experience as a whole:

I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible. – John Hanc