Taper Week 1

Oddly enough, the madness hasn’t taken over. Not yet. Perhaps because I don’t know what I’m in for. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I know I can finish this race…one loop is all it takes to avoid the DNS/DNF. But more than likely, it’s the 56 miles that I ran this week…during taper? What? That’s insane.

A year ago, 55 miles would have been a peak training week for a marathon. Heck…I wouldn’t have run past 50.

Two years ago, I was in the midst of training for my first marathon, and my longest run was 18 miles.

I can’t believe it’s been three weeks since the big training run at the lake. I should probably fill you in:
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Suffice it to say, it went well. I joined a fellow runner who is training for the same race. He had started at 5am with two mutual friends, but i couldn’t get out there so early. At 7am, I met the three of them, and we circled the lake once before they left. A little fast for my warm-up lap…they were cruising close to 9:00 pace.

Then it was the two of us for the next two hours. The pace was still fast for me (closer to 10s), and at least once I asked him to leave me and go ahead. He offered to slow down, but that rarely works…the more we talked, the faster we ran. I really didn’t mind.

I knew this would tire my legs faster, but I didn’t have a real mileage or time goal for the day. I packed enough food to be out there through the afternoon, but after that I was winging it. Tiring my legs from the start would give me an idea of what the later hours of the race might feel like. And that seemed like an experience worth checking out.

I had offered to run a “virtual” half with a twitter friend, so made sure to check my watch (and the time) around that distance. 13.1mi in 2:18. Definitely faster than I’ll be on race day. I sent her a quick tweet to mark the milestone, and kept going. I tried not to look at my watch. At all. We were joined by friends throughout the morning and afternoon, which made the time pass quickly.

I passed the marathon mark with Doug, and shortly after, the 50K distance with Andrea. Then my watch died. An expected event, so I had quickly done some math to estimate how many more laps until 40mi. I wasn’t sure I could run that far, but I liked that it was a round number. With about 3 loops to go, I dropped to a walk. I would make it, but this wasn’t a race, and I had already proved to myself this was doable. There was no point in hurting myself, or pushing any harder.

So I finished 40.22 miles, in 1.2mi loops in 8.5hrs. That includes aid stops. Not too shabby. The trail is mostly packed sand and pea gravel, but don’t let that fool you. It’s hard. Harder than asphalt. And I took a beating. That’s the trail…on the right:
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Just over a week ago, I headed out with friends to run what I thought would be a 50K…my last long run. Turns out Mother Nature had other plans…and blasted us with heat and humidity. Everyone that came out put in their very best, and made smart decisions regarding when to call it a day. The trails looked great. And I’m happy that we all enjoyed time together on a holiday weekend. We’ll do that again…maybe when it’s not so hot.
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And then I started the taper. I feel healthy. I’m mentally ready. The only thing I’m stressed about is that other people are involved, and I don’t trust easily. I like to be the one giving…I don’t like to ask for help.But I can’t do this without them. Sure…I have to do the hard stuff (running is hard!), but taking care of a tired and cranky adult all night certainly cannot be fun. It’s a sacrifice. This is where running becomes a team sport. And I’m going to have to get over it.

If you’ve read this far, and plan on being there for the race…even to stop by and say hello…or you’re in the Cleveland area, would you let me know? I’d love to look forward to friendly faces.

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