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The post-marathon letdown.

01/29/2012

It has become arrestingly clear to me over the course of the past two weeks that the worst part of running a marathon is experiencing the letdown subsequent to crossing the finish line. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that after arriving back in Juneau, I promptly slipped into a massive and insidious funk.

The town is still drowning in snow. Piles of it suffocate the sidewalks; the roads are smushy and slick with it. We’re already over four feet in excess of the average snowfall for November, December, and January, and… well, there are nearly two months of winter left to rack up even more.

The view from my window today. And every day.

I know this is normal. It’s January. It’s Alaska. None of this should come as a surprise to me, and yet somehow post-holing endlessly as I climb over the heaps of it shoved onto the bridge sidewalk, leaping in and out of berms to accommodate cars while I run, and slipping and tweaking the continued pain under my fifth metatarsal are all feeling like particularly egregious assaults upon my very soul.

Apologies for my dramatic whining.

This isn’t some sort of record snowfall year and it could certainly be worse, but for someone who depends on public transportation and feet to get places (I walk a cumulative 3+ miles a day to get to and from my different work places), the relentless snowfall is a burden. It is exceedingly frustrating to be a pedestrian right now.

 

How my body feels:

Though it’s not debilitating, the foot pain that popped up a few weeks prior to the marathon is starting to concern me. I am fairly certain it is tendonitis of the “flexor digiti minimi brevis”:

This muscle name has too many words.

I worry about tendonitis in this area because the muscle is small and the bone involved with it seems particularly delicate. It doesn’t take a medical expert to suspect that localized inflammation and tugging could very well facilitate a stress reaction and then a stress fracture.

I know I should buck up and see a doctor about this, at least to hear an opinion and perhaps gain some peace of mind that this isn’t already some kind of hotspot on the bone, but… I’m stalling.

Aside from the foot,  though, my joints and bones and muscles all feel good and the motion of running has been pleasant. No problems, no pain, no issues. I feel very lucky.

 

Getting back into running:

After taking six days entirely off directly after the marathon, I’ve run (easily) only a handful of times. The unpredictable terrain, slipperiness, depth and lack of energy return to my footstrike from the snow all greatly aggravate this foot pain.

There’s something to be said for doggedly putting your head down and conquering the elements – the dark, the rain, the ice, the snow – but after doing that for four months already, I AM SO OVER IT, and will gladly opt for the treadmill if it means I don’t have to navigate this extraordinary mess all over the roads and sidewalks.

Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to live in California and have good running weather all the time.

 

Where my head is:

This past week has been a perfect storm of post-marathon letdown, winter melancholy, and general despondency over the fact that I’m yet again incredibly far away from all the people in the lower 48 I care about.

For the first time since I moved here in August 2010, I’m having serious doubts about my ability to live in Juneau long-term, and have been more actively considering my next move.

My closest friends all have recently serious boyfriends and/or odd work hours, so I don’t get to spend much time with them, and don’t have nearly the degree of family-style support I was remarkably fortunate to enjoy here last year. That’s okay. I’m almost 25, so I understand I’m at an age where that happens. But I’m coming to realize this is a very difficult area of the country to live in long-term without family or a significant other.

 

When it comes to the prospect of moving away, there are a few things that give me pause:

I love my workplaces here. My work situation right now is glorious. I am spoiled with two fun and satisfying jobs and have wonderful coworkers at both. The prospect of starting all over again in a completely different area of the country is enormously daunting, and I anticipate a rocky adjustment period.

I love the running environment. There is no question about it: this environment and community have helped me come into my own as a runner.  Incredible trails to explore and fantastic people to enjoy them with, $5 races, bald eagles accompanying me on my runs. I would feel wretched leaving this all behind.

But, real talk: after I come home from a satisfying day of work, and after I come home from a glorious weekend run with buddies… I’m all by myself again. Alaska in the winter is a tough place to be lonely.

BAHAhahaha. Poor command of the English language aside, I LOL'd.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. 01/29/2012 19:34

    “Alaska in the winter is a tough place to be lonely.” Even though I’ve never even been there, I don’t doubt the supreme truth in that statement. I feel rough sometimes in Minnesota, and we’ve had a glorious winter by all standards.

    Good luck with your plans and dreams; it sounds like you’re contemplating some exciting, scary, big decisions right now. AND – take care of that foot. I never know when I should go to the doc, but if you’re worried about developing a stress fracture I’d say now’s the time. Hope the post-marathon lets up, I know I had it pretty badly myself last May.

    • 01/29/2012 19:35

      Oops – “Hope the post-marathon let down lets up.” That makes more sense. 🙂

  2. 01/30/2012 03:47

    As much as I bitch about Florida, I LOVE the fact that the high today will be 76 and I don’t own a real coat. The summers are brutal, but I’ll take hot and humid over cold any day. I find the cold depressing. Note: I consider anything under 65 cold.

    It sounds like you have some big decisions to make soon. I gotta tell you. Part of what keeps me where I am is that I have a job that is ideal and laid back. It gives me the time to pursue other things that I find more important. That goes a long way.

  3. Nicole permalink
    01/30/2012 07:29

    I’ve totally been there with the potential toe stress reaction/pain thing. I forked over $200 (bargained down from an initial $300 cost, and my insurance doesn’t cover podiatrists) for a podiatrist to take x-rays and an MRI to tell me it was definitely inflamed and to take off 7-10 days. I did just that, built up slowly, and have been ok since. I wish I hadn’t gone through the rigmarole of all that when I would’ve taken off 7-10 days anyway, but since you don’t feel like running anyway right now (and surely the weather isn’t conducive to it!), might as well nip it in the bud, take off some time, and start up again with a fresh mind and no pain!

  4. 01/30/2012 12:19

    The only thing about great weather year round in California (more specifically, LA) is that you end up easily taking it for granted. I’ve been here my whole life so cold to me is less than 65. I have few excuses not to go out and run when it’s perfect out 90% of the time. I can’t even claim bad air quality because the smog isn’t as much of an issue as it used to be when I was a kid.

    Hope you figure out what’s going on with the foot.

  5. 01/30/2012 18:32

    Gah, you are young. I mean, I’m 27, it’s not like we didn’t probably watch the same tv shows growing up, but still.

    I have little advice on the solitude/weather thing… Considering I desperately long to live somewhere perpetually gloomy and grey, I’m more inclined to be envious.

    /uselesscomment

  6. 01/30/2012 19:29

    En – why – seeeeeeeee 🙂

  7. 01/30/2012 20:38

    Yes, tough decision. Forgetting the ideal work situation for a while, I’m sure you could find some ideal locality with a moderate climate (like I enjoy!), which would suit your running better. Have heard some good things about Buffalo, although they do get snow in winter (but not metres of it every day). The north-west is good, but wet in winter. Can recall reading that Ashland had a good trail running scene. Corvallis is good. Not sure about southern California. I liked San Diego, but too many people. Anyway, it’s not a ‘forever’ decision. Maybe take a holiday to a place first to see how you like it.

  8. 02/01/2012 14:18

    Many hugs for you. That snow photo is too much! And if you lived in California, you’d be a faster runner. Sounds shitty but there’s no way those people don’t have the best possible situation for running – I’d be faster if I lived there and compared to that snow picture of yours, I live in Shangri La already (if paradise had a higher murder count, but I digress).

    My own perspective is that the way I feel about running, it’s my premiere interest, so it will guide me to wherever I move from this point forward. I live at the location I do because it’s the best running in the city. If I moved to another state, I’d NEED it to be great for running. Yours is, but only for a certain amount of time per year. That weather would depress the crap out of me. And loneliness sucks ass, especially when you’re young. My opinion which means absolutely nothing because it’s your life and not mine: you should move. 🙂 But that’s me, not you. In the meantime, more hugs. xoxo

  9. 02/02/2012 22:31

    Sounds like you may have a big move in the works. I remember moving to the Southern Tier of NY after college and feeling a similar way, especially when the (not Alaska, but still pretty serious) winter set in. I ended up moving eventually, which, like you mentioned, is never easy either. I hope you find something that works for you.

    Your foot injury is scary to me. My foot finally feels normal again after nursing it for 16 months. Make sure you’re smarter about it than I was.

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