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(Obligatory cat-at-my-feet post-run picture. Spoiler alert: This has nothing to do with the rest of the blog.)
I’ve peaked in terms of my physical fitness level three times in my life so far.
The first time was over the course of 2012, when I ran four half marathons in a year.
The second time was around my wedding, during which the fear of flab was enough to will me out of bed every morning, rain or shine.
The third was in high school during basketball season, when despite an addition to McDonald’s MrFlurries and super-sized fries, I was able to maintain a size negative-something frame. Oh, to be young again.
Both of the former, more relevant periods were achieved by participating in various forms of exercise. When I was in race mode, I made certain to incorporate yoga into my weekly routine. Around my wedding, I was into mostly anything that would work up a sweat and work out my arms. Jillian Michaels kickboxing was a go-to, as was a habit I got into of doing 10 push-ups minimum per day.
As I’d find out, life doesn’t always allow for such a rigorous fitness routine. And while I don’t necessarily feel that I’m out of shape, per say, I’m definitely in a different kind of shape than I was in before I moved to Philly, before my trip to Croatia, and before I said “I do.”
On the plus side, I’ve been running regularly–about 3.5-5.5 miles 4-6 days a week–with the addition of a weekly barre class, which I’ve been taking at the gym. The barre class, although not all that tough, has been strengthening my legs. Particularly my calves. In terms of my physical body, I can’t see much of a difference. But in terms of my running, I think that the barre movements have been giving me a little more pavement oomph.
(Killin’ it with the 3-pounders this week. Say whaaaaaaa?!)
On the down side, I’ve also realized how weak some of my formerly toned arm muscles had become. On Saturday morning, with the temperature outside already well above 80 degrees and the humidity climbing upwards of 90%, I turned to my old friend Jillian (first name basis, no doubt) for a bit of kickboxing fun. Honestly, the last time I kickboxed was right before my wedding. And although I actually found myself keeping up with the video just fine, staying on pace and maintaining a steady breath, Sunday morning–24 hours later–told a totally different story. When I woke up, my arms were sore, and my back was achy. A workout of that nature never would have left me in any kind of pain before.
Then on Sunday, I set out for another longish run with a goal of 7 miles over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and home (about 3.5 miles each way; the bridge itself is a beast and spans a ways across the Delaware River).
It had been a long, long time since I craved and followed through with an urban-inspired bridge run, and boy did it feel good. Noah and I agreed: The run itself felt shorter than it should have since so much of it actually takes place on the massive structure. On top of that, there are far fewer people–runners, walkers, bikers, sketchy folk–frequenting the pathway, unlike New York City, where a bridge run is often spent dodging traffic, throwing elbows, and being asked by tourists mid-stride whether you’d be able to take a picture for them. Sure thing, let me just drown your iPhone in sweat.
In some ways, that’s the beauty of Philly; few people make a day of trekking over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, leaving plenty of space to roam.
Surprisingly, I felt strong for all 7 miles of Sunday’s run except for the end when I became slightly dehydrated and started to get the (slight) spins. I’m not sure if it was the fact that we ran 8 miles to Manayunk last week or that I scarfed down a bunch of pastries before we left. Maybe, I’m just in better shape than I give myself credit for. Who knows. Being in a totally new place, exploring a very different backyard, it’s hard to put anything into perspective these days.
Regardless, my run over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge turned out to be everything I’d hoped it’d be and more. Monday’s run, not so much.
On Monday morning, I wanted nothing more than to press snooze over and over. Knowing how cranky I’d be if I didn’t start my week off right though, I hopped to it, fed the cat, got dressed, and forced myself out the door. About 2 miles into my run, just as I approached Boathouse Row, I saw flashing lights. Getting closer, I saw the marine unit. And as I got real close, I saw men in suits floating a body to shore.
Another 3 miles later, and I was back home generally freaked out by a pathway I was just starting to love. All I can say is, at least it was a pretty morning.