It's easy to know what to expect before a marathon, but afterwards is a different story. This is what I experienced:
1. A whole new level of soreness. The hours right after the marathon weren't too bad. I stayed pretty active for the remainder of the day so I think that helped, although I did skip my usual post-run ice bath (instead I let cold water spray over my legs in the shower). However, it was when I woke up the next morning that I was in some serious pain. The mere thought of walking down stairs and sitting down on the toilet brought tears to my eyes and caused my whole body to shudder. That intense soreness lasted for two days, and then on the third day it was a lot less intense. By day four I was back to normal.
2. Appetite extremes. The first few days I didn't have much of an appetite, but knew I needed to eat. I pretty much had to force myself to eat, which is unusual for me. That didn't last long though and suddenly I was ravenous! I couldn't get enough food, and I really wanted the things that weren't good for me. After about a week my appetite has returned to normal.
3. Easing back into things. The first week I did nothing. Nuh-thing. And I had the messy house to prove it. I was exhausted just from sitting on the couch, and felt like I needed lots of sleep. The second week I started out by resuming normal household duties, like shopping, cooking, laundry, and cleaning (no small feat there). 10 days post marathon I went to my usual yoga class. I was so excited to get back into a routine. About half way through the class we were doing a simple pose, clasping our hands behind our backs, when I suddenly felt so hot and light-headed. I felt like I might pass out and I couldn't even stand up. Larissa told me I looked really pale, and the teacher told me to get into child's pose. After lying there for a second, my body got really sweaty and then I felt fine. It was weird, almost like my body forgot how to cool itself down. I'm not sure why or how, but I bet it had something to do with it being my first exercise since the marathon. The next day I did an Insanity workout and felt strong, and I took the following day off so that I would be rested for my first run 13 days post marathon.
4. That first run since the race. I'm never really sure what to expect here. There have been times after a race where I lacked the motivation to even get out the door for a run, and when I did go running it just wasn't that much fun. Maybe it was because I had over trained, or I had no other race to look forward to, or I got injured, or some other unknown reason. This time, I am happy to say, was a positive experience. The weather was perfect, and there were no expectations or time limits that I had to meet. I had the freedom to run how fast and far I wanted. I ended up doing almost 5 miles at a comfortable pace. I had no IT Band pain, and I felt like I could have gone faster and farther, but I didn't want to push it. This was one of those runs that reaffirms your love of running. It felt so good to be pounding the pavement.