I Finished A Marathon! Where’s The Support Group?

The Vermont City Marathon last weekend was awesome. For most of the race, I felt as vigorous as a goldfinch in a bird bath. Oh! The crowd! Everywhere along the course there was noise, excitement, and the support of friends and strangers exercising the limits of their vocal chords. After all that talk about needing pop music, I turned off my headphones halfway through and listened instead to the cheering, the runners’ panting and footfall, the beating of the Taiko drums at mile 15, and the Tom-Hanks-in-A-League-Of-Their-Own voice inside my head whispering, “It’s supposed to be hard.”

OK, OK, fine, the marathon was not without lows. Here are a few of my less-heroic moments during the day:

• Needing to go to the bathroom until my body dehydrated itself within the first hour
• Miles 20-26.2
• Especially miles 25-26.2
• Bonking and having to stagger to the finish in a clumsy zigzag that Miss Manners would most assuredly frown upon
• Getting passed by a 12-year-old boy (Why does that always happen to me?)
• Realizing that I could never be as awesome as the three guys who ran the whole thing in Avengers costumes

But fortunately, the high moments far outweighed the lows:

• Feeling strong, steady, and lucid until mile 20
• The friends and family who paid tribute to the big event by coming to yell and wave brilliant “Mari-thon” signs at parts along the course
• The twenty all-caps text messages I received from my parents, who couldn’t be there but wished me all the best
• Beating Oprah’s, Sarah Palin’s, Puff Daddy’s, Will Ferrell’s, and almost George W. Bush’s marathon times
• Lying down at the finish, wrapped in a space blanket, and grinning like a fool
• The incredible cherry tomato blisters I later discovered upon removing my socks
• Realizing afterwards that I’d run over 660 miles since January – almost the distance from Montpelier to Detroit! (Just another small strike against the car industry.)

The other day, I learned that “post-marathon blues” is a real phenomenon not unlike leaving camp after the Best Summer Ever. Even though there doesn’t seem to be much advice about what to do about it, it was nice to know that I’m far from being the only person who feels sort of sad and empty after working towards a goal, meeting it, and then lacking the imagination to come up with new challenges.

And so, having no previous experience in the matter of finishing a marathon but a vault of knowledge about life after summer camp, I’m dealing with my current condition in the style of an angsty 13-year-old. Here’s my step-by-step approach to surmounting the post-marathon blues:

1. Eat a bowl of ice cream a day
2. Write long, emotional, handwritten letters to everyone I know but don’t actually send them
3. Lash out at people at random, and then cry and hug them until they apologize for making you lash out in the first place
4. Lie in the middle of my bedroom floor and listen to Regina Spektor songs at top volume

Hey, stop judging me! It’s been less than a week, OK? Give a girl a minute to grieve. And help yourselves to some ice cream. It’s good.

Mari Zagarins

When Mari isn't running, biking, hiking, or jumping-jacking in and around her home in Montpelier, she is practicing her facial expressions in the mirror and contemplating whether she should learn to swim.