For me, nothing makes pages fly off a calendar faster than training for a marathon. It seems such a short time ago that I was getting ready for my first 16 of the season and worrying that it might be too early for that kind of mileage. Suddenly, the leaves have changed, I’ve traded running tanks for long sleeves and it was time for the 21 miler.
We tackled the longest run of the training last weekend. It was a gorgeous morning and although it was chilly, I was never uncomfortably cold. After discussing some possible routes for the run we decided that the river was too flat to mimic the actual race course so we started in the North End and ran to One Beacon St and followed the very familiar route we ran each time we trained for Boston. We turned around a little past Chestnut St and then took Comm Ave home to take advantage of the Newton hills. I haven’t run that route in a long time so it was a nice change of scenery and there were plenty of opportunities to stop for water or a bathroom break. I did have to stop and stretch out my hamstrings which had been giving me a little trouble lately and the B.A.A. Half the week before had done some damage too. It turned out to be a pretty good run for both Jared and I and it wasn’t until we were back at the Holiday Inn in Brookline that we both started to fall apart. It was especially tough to run up the hill to the State House and then not stop at One Beacon like we had done so many times training for Boston but we decided when we got back to the North End we would run straight to Starbucks for a post run treat. That made finishing the long run a little sweeter – literally.
|Passing the Johnny Kelley statue on
Comm Ave means you’re almost home.
With the longest run behind us it was time to begin the taper. The mileage comes down and if I was doing any significant cross training that would slow down a lot too. The first taper week isn’t too different for me. I still ran during the week but shortened them all to 4 miles and didn’t focus too much on pace. This weekend we set out to run 10-12 miles with freedom to adjust pace and distance based on how we felt. I didn’t feel great but there were some challenges. The weather was weird – it was supposed to rain but it stopped early and became really humid – it was reminiscent of the weather at Falmouth this year, yuck! I was prepared for the weather to be a little cooler and maybe wet so the shirt I packed was a little too heavy. I definitely wasn’t recovered from the previous weeks 21 miler so that didn’t help and on top of everything else we were running on the river and it was Head of the Charles weekend. Honestly, the crowds weren’t that big of a deal but it was just one more thing that wasn’t awesome about the run. We decided to slow down to a light jog and then walk for the last mile before home. The total course including the warm up and cool down was a little over 12 and we averaged a responsible pace but I was thrilled when it was over.
It’s now officially the taper portion of training and while it’s nice for the mileage to come down and I’m more relaxed about getting in runs throughout the week, at this point I often start to lose my mind. I’ll stress myself out about how I trained, I will start to feel aches in random places and I may begin having terrifying marathon dreams. These were really bad when I was managing ALF’s Run for Research team and responsible for 200+ runners but even if it’s just me I’ll suffer from some cliche anxiety dreams where its race day and I can’t get to the start, or I lose my sneakers or forget to go to New York. I’m hoping plenty of rest and upping my yoga practice will help keep some of this stress away but it’s just part of the process.
Last fall, in the weeks prior to the Chicago Marathon, a fellow runner posted a great quote: A taper is more of a challenge than you think. You’ll have to trust that the work is done, that “the money is in the bank” or “the hay is in the barn”. You’re at peak fitness and you should feel great!
I do trust that I’ve done the work and I’m prepared to run a great race in a couple of weeks. Now all that’s left is to maintain fitness and sanity the best I can.
It’s not too late to contribute to my NYC Marathon Fundraising campaign with the American Liver Foundation. Please visit http://go.liverfoundation.org/goto/LauraNYCto make an online donation.