Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top of the Mountain: Taper Style

You know that feeling, right? You've run your longest run..twice. You feel GREAT. You're on top of the world. Wait, what? No more "real" running. FABULOUS. Throw in a minor toe nail procedure, some dietary (CARB) cut backs, whoopie pies and shoot: it's the taper.

Training is a hike. I went hiking this weekend, and it was CHALLENGING. As I stated in my Glad Game Monday post, the Mr. warned me that it would be difficult; I scoffed. You live, you learn, you struggle through a hike. This hike was similar to marathon training.

Hiking, a marathon metaphor? Stay with me. We started out the hike and I had on a running jacket, and a long sleeve. BAD. CHOICE. I was hot instantly. All those claims that "it would get cooler up in the mountains outside the city" were FALSE. A throne of lies in fact. I toyed with wearing a tank top, but went for the safer long sleeve. Turns out safer would have, indeed, been a tank top. I was SWEATING profusely and uncomfortable. GROSS. This is like the beginning of the build up in marathon training. It's uncomfortable, extremely challenging, and breaks you out of your regular routine. I had a choice, just as I did in training: give up or climb on. I chose to climb on.

At each small peak, I gained more energy. This is true in training as well. Instead of getting bogged down by increased mileage, I'm challenged by it. Oh, 14 miles this week? 16 next week. And 18 after that. As we reached a temporary "plateau" (aka photo opportunity with open expanses), I gained a stronger desire to get to the peak (aka how cutback weeks make you hungry for greater distances).

There were times where I didn't know if I would make it. I was with a group of ten people. I can honestly say, aerobically, I was in the top tier of the "ready to run a marathon" in the crowd; however, my care to not stumble, fall, or strain muscles left me at the back of the pack continually. Training is often humbling. You think you're a rock star during one speed work session, and then you can barely make it through four easy miles. What matters is that the "hay is in the barn". All I needed to do has been done. Through blood, sweat, blisters and tears, this training cycle is essentially completed.

I've reached the top of the mountain. The peak of training has come and gone. The "runner's high" has vanished. what is left is the taper doubts. When a coworker asked me yesterday how I was feeling about the marathon I said, "Pssshhh, I'm excited to get running!" - insert yesterday's 3 mile run - Today I told her, "I don't know HOW I feel! One minute I'm a marathon warrior, next minute I'm a nervous wreck." So this is the mountain top. You feel confident in your accomplishment, but precarious concerning what comes next. The climb down. The big finish. 26.2. The NYC Marathon.

All that is left is the climb down. This is often the most difficult part. I feel ready. I completed a 5 mile tempo run at 9:30/mile average. This included NUMEROUS crosswalk pauses, as my runmute takes me through crowded cross walk ridden streets. This run got me excited. It said, "You're ready. Let loose now; you'll let loose again later."

How about you? Do you go CRAZY in the taper? Do you feel confident in the sudden cutback? Do you hike in wet leaves and dangerous boulders?! Tell me about it!

11 days until the ING NYC MARATHON!!!...single digits start ON MY BIRTHDAY!
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