Friday, April 23, 2010

Taper Madness

Tapering is making me crazy. I mean stick-me-in-a-straight-jacket-and-lock-me-in-a-padded-room crrrrrrazy. And word on the street (and by "the street", I mean the street with all the runners on it) is that it's perfectly normal to go crazy during a marathon taper. This makes me feel only marginally better.

I am convinced my entire body is injured. Things that never hurt during the entire five months of my training are now hurting and it must be because I've strained every muscle and have a stress fracture in every bone in my body. There's no other explanation. Well, there's the explanation that my body is repairing itself and that this repair process often leads to phantom pains. But that can't possibly be the case for me. It would be just my luck that I've strained all of my leg muscles.

I am convinced I've lost all of my endurance. All of it. It has been almost two weeks since my longest long run, and since then, all of my runs have gotten shorter. Therefore, I cannot possibly run 26 miles a week from now. My endurance is surely gone. I will get through the first seven miles of the marathon and then fall over in exhaustion. The sag wagon (the van that goes at the slowest allowed pace for the race and picks up anyone going slower than that) will have to scoop me up off the road and drive me to the finish line. Of course, there are "experts" who say that you don't lose any endurance during the taper. They say that there's no benefit to continuing super-long long runs during the taper, because it won't help your endurance, and you will only exhaust yourself before the big race. Ha! What do they know?

I'm also convinced I've turned into a slug. As all of my runs have gotten shorter (even the short ones), I am pretty sure that my speed (and I use the term "speed" loosely here) has disappeared completely. I'm sure I will arrive at the marathon starting line and be unable to run any faster than a 15:45 pace. Which I suppose would be acceptable from an avoiding-the-sag-wagon perspective, since the cutoff pace is 16:00. But it's not the 12:30 pace I'm hoping to run. (That's what I mean about using the term "speed" loosely - let's face it, my goal pace is, well, not very speedy)

I suppose it won't be long before I start having nightmares about getting to the marathon starting line and then running the WRONG WAY. That would be exceptionally bad for keeping pace. Or how about the dream where I'm late for the race start? Or the one where I show up naked? Or, the mother of all marathon nightmares (aka, nightmarathons), the one where I show up late for the start, buck naked, and then proceed to run the wrong way!

It's a good thing I have FAST to keep me sane. Barely. Since so many of our group are in the midst of tapering right now, we are all going through similar things. We are all feeling nervous, doubtful, hopeful, excited, achy, sleepy, hungry, sneezy, bashful, dopey and... no, wait... I've started naming dwarves... We are all going a little crazy. But our coaches are reassuring. It's normal, they say. We'll all be fine, they say. And then they take our minds off of our worries with an insane hill workout.

Lucky me (and everyone else who is tapering right now) - we only had to run up the Hill Of Death once last night. We then proceeded to run about 2 miles with some pickups thrown in (at about 10k pace). It was a good short workout to get the legs moving and the blood pumping. Then Coach Bekah led us through a great core-strengthening routine. Thanks to Bekah's kick-ass core workouts, I have an awesome six-pack. You can't see it because it's under an inch of flab. But I assure you, it's there!

This weekend, I have my shortest long run in a very long time - only 2 hours (about 10 miles at my pace). I should probably enjoy the short run, and the fact that I won't be tired for the rest of the day. But I'll probably just keep thinking about how everything hurts, I'm losing my endurance, and I'm turning into a slug. Ahhh, the joys of Taper Madness.

Peace. Love. Train.

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