Sunday, May 14, 2017

Coming Down from that Post-Race High

After a great race, how long does it take for that post-race high to wear off? If you had nothing else going on in your life, you could ride the wave for a long time, I'd think. Even though it was over a year ago, I still get all warm and fuzzy when I talk about Big Sur. But my Big Sur post-race high got a big buzz kill merely one week after we arrived home when my youngest son broke his leg in a traumatic rugby tackle. Life has a way of evening the score, doesn't it?

Speaking of buzz kills, it's been 5 months since my diagnosis with rheumatoid arthritis. Last weekend's Door County Half Marathon with Holly gave me a much-needed boost. Even though RA is affecting me enough that I had to pull the plug on my planned June marathon, I was pleased that I was able to finish a half marathon and a hilly one at that. I'm still a runner! I can do this! My runner's ego was feeling good.

Towards the middle of the week, RA decided to remind me that it is indeed the boss of me. I started having a little bit more hand and ankle swelling and fatigue. In true Wendy fashion, I ignored it. I talked with my director about going back to work in a week or so, and she told me to make sure I'm ready to come back. She made a comment about me not "trying to muscle through this". That struck a nerve. Is that what I do? Is it the runner in me that makes me push through adversity off the road too?

As the week went on and reality settled back in, my post-race high started to melt away and so did my determination to do it all.



I really can't complain about my recovery from last weekend's half. I had some good runs this week. Using the 4:1 run/walk intervals, I'm running about 9:25m/m average pace. I was starting to consider either using longer intervals or trying to skip them altogether. However, Saturday's run was pretty humbling and made me rethink that strategy. Saturday morning was warm and sunny, so I drove to Payton's hill with a plan to loop into the limestone path. Initially, my pacing was good but on the way back the wind started to pick up and I began to struggle. I "muscled through" my intervals but when I got to Payton's hill, I could only make it about 1/3 of the way up before I had to stop. This made me sad. The last time I ran there was about 2 months ago and I ran all the way to the top without stopping. On Saturday, after I walked to the top, I ran down to the parking lot. A couple of my friends were there walking. When they asked me how I was doing, I started to cry. Yes, I know I'm lucky I'm still running. But I'm mourning the loss of my endurance. It feels like disappeared so quickly. Will it ever come back? Or is this the new normal? Will I learn to accept it?

Such a pretty day for the trails! This was before I ran out of gas.
I also struggled a little bit on Thursday when I worked out with Becky. She had me do lunges holding a kettlebell above my chest and I had to stop for breath after every lap. The resistance band walks with slam balls also gassed me. Was it RA or just a hard workout? Steph though it was an unusually tough session too. By contrast, the squats I did with chains on the bar felt easy.


Thankfully, there were a lot of good things this week. Life always balances out. The high school boys' gymnastics team made it to state for only the 2d time since 1980. There were 8 schools at the meet. They didn't do so well compared to the other schools but just getting there is an amazing accomplishment. Especially when you consider that there were no kids on their team trained through club gymnastics prior to high school. Seeing the boys support each other was so inspiring. It was just a great experience for everyone.

This was the pre-meet send-off. That handsome guy on the lower left is my son.
The other good piece of news was that my oldest son was accepted as an apprentice into the electricians' union (IBEW). The competition for spots is very tough--much like applying to college! He has been working as a trainee, which we hoped would help him and it did. He starts the 5 year apprenticeship training program May 30. I feel such a sense of pride and relief that he has set himself on the right path. I couldn't ask for a better Mother's Day gift.

Speaking of Mother's Day, I passed on a planned bike ride for a run. It was a beautiful, sunny morning and I wanted to run. That run was my gift to me. No goals, no pacing, just me and the path. I ran the bike path. I stopped on the way home to play with forearm stand. It's been a while since I did that and while I didn't hold it for long, it felt good to kick my legs up!


Even though it's tough to feel that post-race high slip away, it's nice how life balances things out. I always have to remind myself that even when times are tough, something good is around the corner. Do you feel this way?

Do you struggle with the post-race high/letdown? How do you manage your feelings?

I'm linking this post with Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap!


76 comments :

  1. I definitely struggle with the post race high and blues. For me, the best thing to do is to sign up for another race. I do like having something to "train" for.

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    1. I agree with you that the best cure for the post race blues is another race. I've got RnR Chicago in July, which is going to be a tough time of year for a half! I think I'm going to be grateful for my intervals then!

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  2. Is this the new normal? I ask myself that a lot in life as I do not do well with change.
    I'm glad this race gave you some confidence back. You hang on to that post race high as long as you want!

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    1. I'm starting to have the realization that I may not always be able to run and so I'm grateful for what I can do. But I do miss those speedy runs!

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  3. I'm so glad you had a great race and fun weekend with Holly! I ran my half last weekend and went right back to my busy schedule without much of a break. My anxiety has been really bad lately. I just feel like I can't keep up some days and I get discouraged. I know this is a season and I need to take things one day at a time. Hope you have had a wonderful Mother's Day Wendy!

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    1. I feel you about everything coming on at once. I'm really nervous to go back to work. Illness aside, managing everything gets overwhelming!

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  4. Congrats to both of your boys! As a Mom, I know seeing them find their groove really is the best Mother's Day present. I do think we tend to push through things on and off the running trail -- make sure you are taking care of yourself and doing what's right for you!

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    1. I'm not good at taking care of myself! But as my symptoms start to ramp up again, I need to think about how sustainable this job is going to be. Sigh.

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  5. I am struggling with post-injury letdown. I'm afraid I will never regain my pre-injury strength/speed. Despite everything I do to heal,it doesn't seem to get me back to baseline. A short run makes the inflammation flare right back up again. Is this my new normal? I hope not, but it sure looks like my best running days are behind me. I'm dealing with it by taking up bicycle riding, positive thinking, and of course wine! Come on over and I'll pour you a glass.

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    1. Maybe we could have our own bottles? With straws? This is tough. I hope your leg stops talking to you!

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  6. Congrats to BOTH of your sons! And Happy Mothers Day - a beautiful day would have me crave a run, too!

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    1. I should have gotten on the bike but I just wanted to run and I'm so glad I did!

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  7. Maybe there is no normal. Would that be so bad? Just playing devil's advocate--as runners, we like to know what to expect. I am glad that you were able to get a Mother's Day run in. Believe that I understand those gifts to yourself so well!

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    1. Or maybe this is a new normal? Can't say I like it, but I will learn to accept it. If only I knew what to expect!

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  8. That is such great news about BOTH of your boys!! I'm now considering Chicago R'n'R. I fear when Grandma's is over, I'm gonna be lost without another big race on the calendar. Of course Las Vegas will be epic, but that's several months away...I'll need something in the interim LOL

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    1. Chicago would be fun! I hope you'll make the decision. You know you have a place to stay!

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  9. Life always seems to find a way to bring me back to reality. Glad you had a good race, but sorry that you are struggling to find a new normal. Hopefully the intervals will keep working for you.

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    1. I think the intervals will be good for summer running--at least I have an excuse to stop and walk, right?

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  10. The post-race let down is tough, but I haven't raced in almost a year now. I used to try to get over it by signing up for another race. Ive really missed the feeling on racing and accomplishing running goals. I try to plan other things to enjoy even if its just something like getting a pedicure or drinking wine on a Friday knowing I don't have to run long/race the next day. (Its not at all the same though!)

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    1. I did get that pedicure this week! It's nice to have pretty feet again.

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  11. YESSSS Id never experienced this until after my marathon so I didnt prepare for it in the slightest.
    You are so right. life does always balance out when we can be patient enough to wait---which I rarely am :-)

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    1. Me and you both!!! Good times only, please.

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  12. I feel for you Wendy and it sucks to have such a good memory and know your paces or remember the last time you were able to run all the way up Payton's Hill. It definitely sucks and I'm glad you were able to cry it out with friends. I'm hoping this is not your new normal and that some of your endurance will return but, if it doesn't, maybe this is the start of something new that will be amazing. I'm glad you were able to take that sunny day run and just enjoy it for what it is. And congratulations to your son!! That is a great mom's day gift for sure :-)

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    1. I just need time to adjust...I haven't cried in a few weeks, so I guess I was due. It's a process...

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  13. I for one will not accept that RA is the boss of you. It is not. It's challenging you to find new ways to get what you want. And you're doing it. It totally sucks that those speedy numbers are not attainable right now. Life is filled with all kinds of goodness and all kinds of shittiness. It's all about where we choose to focus. Congrats to your boys! That is wonderful on both counts!

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    1. This is why I love you! You're like Cher in Moonstruck--"snap out of it". You are the best! <3

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  14. I struggle with this too! Sometimes I struggle to remember that the good is around the corner too! I think it's just the way we are!

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    1. So much good! I just had a moment, I guess!

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  15. Maybe it's your new normal; and maybe it isn't. We never know what's around the corner, and it's always feels better to believe that it will be something good rather than fear it will be something bad.

    It's okay to mourn, but it's just as important to look forward and just assume that something good will come down the road.

    As much as I've enjoyed my 3 races in 3 months (I'm just assuming I'll enjoy UT, see what I did there?), it hasn't been easy and I'm looking forward to being able to catch my breath a little afterwards.

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    1. I guess it's the uncertainty that's affecting me the most. I've had a pretty good couple of weeks. I'm also facing going back to work and I'm nervous about that. What if I can't do it?

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  16. How exciting that both your sons had great achievements last week! It's a good reminder of what life is all about. Yes, ups and downs, but things do balance out.

    Change is hard, and when it is forced upon you in such a short period of time, it's even harder. I think you have done great in both acceptance and resistance. Accepting that running is going to be different, and resisting by creating a way that you can continue running in spite of the RA. I think you're a warrior!

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    1. I'm so grateful for those boys and the good that they are bringing into my life right now!

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  17. I think we do all struggle with the post race highs and blues. After a long training period, I have the now what do I do thoughts. I imagine it is particularly tougher for you now since you don't really know what is next or what your new normal is. Sounds like you will have to take it one day at a time.

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    1. I'm not good at that! But yes, you are right.

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  18. Runners who muscle through things are like the chicken or the egg; do we muscle through things because we're runners or do we choose running because we're people who muscle through things? Ha ha. I'm confused, but you know what I mean. My DREAM is for one of my kids to get an electrical ticket. SUCH a good job. Andrew was an electrician for 17 years before he went into real estate and he misses it and loved it a lot.

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    1. We're so happy that he chose this path!

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  19. I feel like I'm in a better place when I just go with the flow, because when I try to be in control, that's when it seems that life is all "oh, you think you're fine? try THIS on for size!"

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    1. You aren't kidding! A while ago, I put it out there: "bring it on life"! And oh, did life bring it on. I'd be content with even steven, truthfully!

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  20. You are amazing. We never know what life will throw at us. You have tackled RA and you are an inspiration to any runner who has had to deal with setbacks.

    I deal with post race blues by just running another one. LOL

    Can't wait for Vegas. Someday I hope to run in Chicago. You need to plan a trip to NYC.

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    1. I don't know what's wrong with me--I just can't take no for an answer, apparently!

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  21. I don't know if I had a post-run high after my 10k last May, but it was back to reality when I got home. I had decided to leave my job, and it was time to start looking at the job boards now that my vacation was over.

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    1. Yep, I'm going back to work next week. It will be a new reality, though. Stay tuned.

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  22. RA isn't the boss of you!!!!! You just have to learn how to manage this and I know you'll do great.
    I've been in a funk myself, and struggle managing some of these feelings, but I just keep moving forward, best I can!!! xo

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    1. I'm thinking that this is going to be a continual learning process. Good thing I'm a lifelong learner!

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  23. The post-race blues is real, that's for sure. I'm glad that you had such a great time at the Door County Half with Hoho. Running always finds ways to humble us, doesn't it?

    Congrats to your sons! And I LOVE the photo of you on the trails, such a beautiful shot!

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    1. Running sure does keep us grounded! There's no room for ego, especially when you're a runner at our level. Sigh...

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  24. Sorry you ate struggling. Those post race highs are awesome but if I don't have something else to work towards, it's hard to enjoy running again.

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    1. I do like that I "just" get to run for a while. That's kind of nice!

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  25. I ask myself the same questions all the time. Will I ever get my strength back? Is this worth it? I'm up one day and down the next...
    I keep telling myself moving is good and I can't cling to what I use dot be able to do even if it was a few months ago, but it is harder to do than say!
    A good happy race can carry me a long time :) I try to dull out the bad ones lol
    You look awesome in blue! That blue skies pic is great. Hang in there Wendy!

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    1. For sure it's worth it. Always. Any day I get to run is a good day. I just don't like moving backwards. I have to figure out how to reconcile it in my mind.

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  26. It is all about balance! I think you were thrown your Door county half and just the right time. Although plan A might have been to run the full but a half with a great friend looks like it did the trick! Thinking of you! XXOO

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    1. It was perfect! I needed a successful race and mission accomplished. I'm not one bit sad about the marathon, which tells me that I made the right decision.

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  27. I'm struggling with training big time right now. After my A race, I ended up getting sick and though I thought I recovered, I think I'm getting sick again. I know it's not anywhere near the same as what you're going through, but I'm on the struggle bus and I'm starting to worry about my summer racing plans.

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    1. I'm really ok with just doing halfs right now. I'm really ok with not training at all too! I'm kind of loving just running.

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  28. I haven't run a race since February! It's the longest stretch I've gone without racing in I can't even tell you how long. I think I need another race to remember why I love them so much.

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    1. It's a tough call--I'm liking just running right now too. I'm glad I have that planned half in July, so I'll start ramping up my miles again in a couple of weeks. It's really the right thing for me now.

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  29. As hard as it is I would try not to dwell too much on whether this is your new normal. Except nothing as permanent - it's the phase you're in at the moment. And, while frustrating, it still sounds like you're managing it very well.

    And congrats to both your sons! Always feels good to see your kids doing well :)

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    1. You aren't kidding about that! I'm so grateful.

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  30. When I got the work injury nearly 5 years ago, I lived off my past race highs for years, LOL I'm finally healed and looking forward to getting new high's again!
    FYI Big Sur, that's one that's always great to remember, I loved that race too!
    Very sorry about your diagnosis, I know how you feel on the arthritis front, I have it (not RA just the regular one) in my back and no cushion or cartlige, it's an adjustment and frustrating but sounds like your handling it pretty well. Good luck with your adjustments to it, I don't know if they gave you the same advice as they gave me, but I was told to stay active as much as possible. Which is nice because I like active, LOL

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    1. I got that same advice from my rheumatologist and I'm grateful for that. What's been interesting is that people in my life aren't on board with it. So should I just sit and get stiff? Makes no sense to me...

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  31. I have bad post race blues. Earlier I used to sign up for races even before finishing the current one, but after burnout I've learnt to ride low for a bit. The high will hit again soon.

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    1. I'm ok--I think I needed to let it roll over me. I'll start upping my miles in a week or so to get ready for my July half.

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  32. I always get the post race / post vacation blues and am typically planning the next big thing as my antidote. Having Utah in front of me right now helps, else I would be extremely sad after our incredibly fun adventure. After Utah, it will be tough. I'll need to focus on a fun summer of water skiing! Life Balances Out is a PoPo-ism. One of his favorites, in fact. Good things will happen. I don't think this is your new permanent normal. Thanks for linking, Wendy.

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    1. I cannot wait for our waterskiing extravaganza!

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  33. I've struggled with the post race letdown especially on my first marathon because I was sick on that one. It does help to sign up for another race. I think I'm still riding the high whenever I think about my last marathon. Congrats to your boys!

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    1. I'm glad I have RnR Chicago coming up and even better that I'm doing those run/walk intervals! I think that will be the only way to survive a half in July in Chicago!

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  34. Life certainly has its way of throwing curve balls our way, and your having to manage your RA is no different. I continue to admire how you're attempting to balance everything. I'm glad that your half marathon was a great reminder that you can in fact do hard things, even while trying to manage the pain. You are one strong woman!

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    1. Oh, thank you! I have my moments--and I'm gearing up to go back to work next week, so hang on for that one!

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  35. Congrats to both of your sons! Very cool about your eldest getting into the apprenticeship! What a great mother's day present!

    Coming down from a post race high is tough but I know there will be other races to look forward to, so signing up for another helps me.

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    1. That's always a great way to keep the high flowing!

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  36. I freaking love those camo pants!!! I hate to see you struggle with this RA crap. That hill sounds like a tough one even on the best days and I know Becky is giving you a hard workout.
    Looks like a great group of young men! I know you are very proud of your son and hey what a great smile he has in the picture! I'd take the accomplishment to the training program from your son for Mother's Day. I'd say perfect gift! Good is coming your way Wendy! I just know it! :)

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    1. Oh, this was a great Mother's Day! Just seeing my boys happy and doing well makes my heart happy.

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  37. Has it been 5 month since you were diagnosed? Wow! I still love your positive attitude about dealing with RA.

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    1. Running teaches us to keep pushing on and that's exactly how I'm dealing with RA!

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