Supposedly, the taper is designed so that one feels like a coiled spring by the end. After weeks and weeks of building mileage and increasing the long run distance, the combination of two weeks straight of mileage pullbacks and the impending race creates a sort of running singularity: a point of infinite preparation.
And the only prescription is MORE COWBELL RUNNING A MARATHON.
Well, so goes the theory, anyway.
Many will remember my marathon from last year. tl;dr it didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped. This time around, a lot of things are similar: had some training issues, worked through them, some runs were awesome, some runs were terrible, ultimately got the mileage in that I needed and didn’t do anything [too] stupid. Also had stress issues that compounded with the high mileage.
But there are a lot of things that have changed. For one, I didn’t injure myself rather seriously a month out from the race. For another, my stress issues were at the start of training, rather than the end (they’re still somewhat ongoing, but I seem to have had the upper hand for a few months now). I also don’t feel nearly as worn down and beat up as I did at the end of the last training cycle. I’m not to the point where I feel like I’m a coiled spring–I’m definitely tired!–but I feel a little more energized and a little more excited than I did this time last year.
To put it simply, I like my chances so far.
My A-goal is still 3:45, or an 8:30 mile average. My B-goal is to finish under 4 hours. I’m almost completely sure I can hit the latter; I’m about 75% certain in the former. That number has wavered a lot the last several weeks. Two months ago I’d all but completely dropped the goal; a month ago I was almost completely sure I could do it. Like all things, I’ll need to wait and see.
The most important thing for me in this race will be my mental game. Through all my physical issues this training cycle, they’ve started with an overburdened mind, a consequence of not taking any mental breaks in work or in running, and panicking when things weren’t going 100% according to plan. NEWS FLASH: no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. I want to push myself, but I don’t want to blow up when it starts getting hard and I start berating myself for feeling worn out. The key is to challenge myself, but not to feel like I have something to prove (to myself or otherwise).
The key is to play the game like I have nothing to lose. Reckless abandon. Kind of like my latest track workout:
This was our final track workout before MCM, and that is indeed a sub-6 minute mile, my first ever. After eluding me both last year and this spring when I’d felt I was ready, both times due to injury, I was finally healthy enough to make a “run” at a sub-6 mile. And by golly I friggin’ nailed it!
I’ve done the preparation. I’ve made significant strides in the mental game. I’ve set a 10K PR along the way. All the check marks are in right places; it’s just a matter of pulling the trigger. For 3 hours and 45 minutes, hopefully 🙂
I imagine this will be the last post before MCM; The Lady and I are ducking out of town as early as possible on Friday and staying with my friend Emmarie in DC for the weekend. I’ll definitely be live-tweeting as I run, but I’ll try to post a live tracking link at some point.
Wish us both luck!
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