Sunday, October 28, 2012

Living under a Franken-rock

I got buried at work this past week. So buried, in fact, that I wasn't just living under a proverbial rock.  I was living under a boulder.

Things were so busy that I didn't even hear about Frankenstorm until just a couple of days ago.  Now, I am reading/hearing about literally half of the U.S. population buying out entire hardware stores and grocery stores, barricading themselves in their basements, and fleeing westward.  Yikes!  My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Frankenstorm's path.

Thankfully Chicago should be spared from the brunt of the storm.  However, I'm unfortunately dealing with my own Franken-effects right here at home.  Not anywhere near the scale of the real storm, of course, but devastating to me a-plenty.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I went for my first true post-marathon run this morning. 

I ran 5 miles.  A few weeks ago, 5 miles would have been a walk in the park for me.  But today, by mile 3, I was already calculating how much time I had left to go and contemplating cutting things short.  It was a rude awakening to find out how much conditioning and mental strength I've already lost in just a few weeks.

[Add your best nosedive sound effects to this]

I knew that I wouldn't be able to maintain my conditioning forever, let alone after taking almost 3 weeks off.  But it was so unsettling to actually feel the decline for the first time.  It was such a sudden deterioration that now it's hard for me to believe that I ran 26.2 miles just three weeks ago.  Was that really me that did that!?!?


On the optimistic side, my injuries are starting to show some improvement.  Over the past few weeks, I've upped my cross-training efforts to help reduce some of my lower-body muscle imbalances.  I had read that biking is one of the best cross-training exercises for runners since it works many lower-body muscles that running doesn't.  Therefore, I've been riding on the recumbant bike a few times a week.  And WOW, do I ever feel it in my hips and glutes.  My muscle imbalances are apparently a lot worse than I could have ever imagined.

Has anyone ever noticed that Popeye has huge forearms but tiiiiiny little biceps?
Apparently he's got some muscle imbalances, too.

I'm planning to try to go on the stationary bike two or three times a week until my hips and glutes feel better.  And hey, the timing couldn't be better for this plan as I've got a nice long winter ahead of me to work on cross-training.  Chicago winter and franken-rocks be darned.

Aside from strengthening my hips and glutes, I would also like to get back into weight-lifting, both upper- and lower-body, and maybe even get back into swimming.  I don't currently belong to a gym or have access to any strength-training equipment, save for a set of 10-pound dumbbells that I have at home.  Therefore, I am starting to consider joining a gym, preferably one with a swimming pool.  But, I am balking at the cost and also at having to deal with impossible-to-cancel membership contracts (of which I have heard many horror stories).

If anyone has recommendations for fitness centers in Chicago with good value propositions, I would very much appreciate your suggestions.

Now, on a more positive note.  I did take my new running skirt (first mentioned here) for an inaugural run.  I am a fan.  I even wore green compression socks and a green shirt with the skirt.  This was a completely new look for me - I usually just wear black or gray shorts or pants, white no-show socks, and various shirts or jackets.  So dare I say that this new outfit actually even made me feel the slightest bit trendy?

As seen on the fashion runway - the usual runner's suit

It was nice to get a bit of a mental boost to be running in what I considered to be a cute outfit, especially when I was passing people (i.e. walkers) on the sidewalk.  (It's pretty rare for me to pass other runners in training.)  Lesson learned that there really is something to the mentality that you feel better when you look better, even in running.  Why did it take me so long to figure this out?  Once again, I've apparently been living under a franken-rock.  (The bad part about this discovery, though, is that I've found yet another type of running gear to spend more money on!  Sigh.)

OK - I'm off to prepare for the upcoming workweek.  To everyone in Frankenstorm's path, stay safe!  I will close by sharing some great advice that Adam's friend Filoni posted on Facebook today (slightly edited):

" friends Heather and Jon are visiting from eastern Pennsylvania.  Despite my offer of refuge, they have duties and responsibilities to attend to and are bravely going back home tomorrow to brave Frankenstorm. We made sure to stop at Home Depot and Giant Eagle to stock them with provisions.  This included the usual assortment of batteries, lanterns, bottled water etc., but also Oreos and Chips Ahoy because who really wants to face the Armaggedon if there are no cookies at least?"

Truer words have never been spoken.

Actually, I think I'm going to take Filoni's advice on the cookies, myself.  One never knows what else can happen while living under a franken-rock.


  1. I feel you on running post-marathon! It's a different experience. And it messes with your mind. I'm sure you'll find yourself back in the groove. And the cross training you are doing in the meantime is smart. I really want to bike more. (I even told my husband that I wanted a stationary bike after reading your post! Ha!)*

    1. Oh my god, post-marathon running is like being in the Twilight Zone! Thousands of people talk about the marathon training experience and the marathon itself, but it seems like very few people talk much about post-marathon running (maybe because a lot of people never run again after a marathon? LOL.) It's so different that I seriously feel like a completely foreign person. Ugh.

  2. I agree with you about those gym contracts. So here is what I do: I pay $40 for a 3 month pass to use the Chicago park district pools during lap swim (all other open swims are free). I am thinking about signing up for a one year pass to all of the CPD fitness centers (which are usually in the same building as the pools). They cost $250 for the year. You can also get a 3 or 6 month pass for less. Not luxurious, but no contracts and you get all of the basic equipment. Yes, post-marathon running is different. I am feeling every foot strike now and little aches and pains which were hiding away during the intensive marathon training have come out!

    1. Pete - this is fantastic information regarding the Chicago Park District fitness centers, especially that they do not require contracts!!! BINGO!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!!!

  3. If you don't mind committing for a year, FFC does one year contracts but after that it's month to month and you can cancel any time. That's what I did until we moved into a building with a gym (but no pool).

    As for post-marathon running, it's tough. Actually, taking any kind of break is tough. But, the amazing thing is that our bodies remember what to do quicker than you'd think.

    1. Erin - that is great to know regarding FFC, thanks so much for sharing! I had started looking at FFC since they have such convenient locations from where we live. But admittedly I got scared off because they don't publish their membership prices on their website. It makes me think that they must be very expensive. Let's definitely discuss more when we get together next - I would love to hear more about your experience with them!

  4. I love the title of this post :)

    My first few runs (pretty much all of the 4 I've done) post marathon were all less than desirable. I felt sore in my hips and calf and just like I was uncoordinated. Crazy! It will get better. I promise. The cross training you are doing is so benefitial too. I need to cycle/swim more too. I have no recs for a gym because currently we pay way too much for rent but are lucky enough to have a decent gym in our building. I would be lost looking for a gym. I currently really want to find a track so I can run in circles or ovals. :). You could try the Nike training club app for some strength type training. I have it and rarely use it- but it seems really good (and requires minimal equipment).

    Happy frankenstorm week!

    1. Thanks, Xaar - happy Frankenstorm week to you too! I'm glad to hear that it is not just me that is feeling it in my post-marathon runs. You are so fortunate to have a decent gym in your building! And I really want to find a track to do some timed speedwork, too. I used to use the one at Dunbar High School at 31st and Indiana when I lived nearby, and I think I've heard there's one at Chicago Ave and Lake Shore. (I've also contemplated trying to sneak into the one at St. Ignatius High School, shhhh.) Thanks for the tip on the Nike training club app, I will download the app today. =D

  5. Hooray for your first post-marathon run! I took 5 weeks off after my half marathon (2 weeks of travel were involved though), and I completely understand that initial feeling of shock as you run and struggle through those first few miles. It will get easier!

    Have you gone to a chiropractor for your injuries? I sometimes have random pelvic pain and am sure that my hips are not properly aligned. Clearly, I need to go to a chiro as well!

    I often try to look "cute" while running. It sounds so dumb, but it literally takes about 1 minute to decide what to wear (i.e. no added effort/time on my part) and I swear that running in skirts and clothes you feel good in helps mentally. I think it's why I have a serious Lulu addiction - great clothes that are very flattering!

  6. Emily - we belong to our local YMCA and I think it's pretty affordable. There wasn't a huge commitment but I can't remember the details. Just a thought...