This past Sunday I ran the last long run of this marathon training cycle and am now officially into my taper. I’ve been looking forward to this for the last couple of weeks as my mileage and speed work ramped up and my body started feeling the full impact of the training. At the end of my 21 miler last weekend my calf was pretty sore and after consulting with Jen I decided it would be best to take Tuesday off (as well as Monday my normal day) to let my body rest. On Wednesday I went out for a run and towards the end it was bothering me again. Admittedly, I probably ran faster than I should have (8 miles at 7:25 AP) and that likely played a role in the continued soreness. With another off day on Thursday, ice bucket, hot tub, Tiger Balm, compression socks, foam roller, and two easy runs on Friday and Saturday I felt fine by the time I started running on Sunday.
While I was out running I was thinking about my upcoming race and I realized that I was pretty nervous about and excited for it. Nervous because, well because it’s a marathon; and excited because, well because it’s a marathon. To ease my nerves a bit and to pass the time during the run I started thinking about the training I’ve done and the things I’ve accomplished over the last four months.
I ran three races during training; two half-marathons and a 5k.
The Shamrock Run 5k was in week four and although I had been doing hill work I had yet to do any speed work. This race features nearly a mile of incline and only about two-tenths of a mile of decline so it’s a tough one. I managed to push hard and set a new PR of 19:37.
One week later Jen and I were up in Washington for the Mercer Island Half Marathon which is on twisty, hilly roads for the majority of the race. Since I knew it was a tough course my plan was to run strong but not push too hard and then really try to hang on and pick up the pace at the end. I hoped that the hill training I had been doing would help me push through. It was a hard course but I managed to pull out a new PR of 1:32:38.
On May 2nd we were down in Eugene where Jen was running her marathon and I was running the half. This race was a good confidence boost for me and I ended up finishing with a new PR of 1:30:15.
Even though there were a few days when I really didn’t feel like heading out the door I managed to complete every run except the one mentioned above and one in April when I was traveling for work. I still have a few left during the taper and while I hope to get them all in it is the taper after all and I’m not going to beat myself up if I have to miss one (although I’m sure I will spend some time agonizing over it).
I used a plan that had me doing two 20 mile runs and one 21 miler which I was a bit intimidated by at first but as I completed each one it was a good confidence boost. I was able to run two of them point to point on the Banks Veronia trail and one of them on a new out and back route along the waterfront downtown. I really enjoyed the runs on Banks Vernonia because it gave me a chance to get out away from people and enjoy my surroundings. I felt progressively stronger on each run and was able to run the last six miles of my 21 miler at an average pace of 7:06. Granted that is likely the primary reason for my sore calf but thankfully that appears to be on the mend. My 21 miler was also only the second time I’ve run over 20 miles
I felt confident in all of my speed workouts but there were definitely days when I wanted to quit on the second interval when I was scheduled to do six or eight. I pushed through the mental blocks and finished all of them on pace and feeling good; tired, but good. I think the hardest part of speed work is the warm up and cool down. If I’m at the track I don’t mind running fast intervals, but running a 2 mile warm up and cool down can be quite boring.
As of this evening I have six runs left for a total of 37 miles. The majority of the miles will be at a GA pace or an easy pace and on the last two I’ll likely throw in a couple of goal pace miles just to remember what they feel like. Tonight I ran five miles at an 8:00 average and of course I was questioning the taper the entire time. Luckily I’ve had Jen telling me how important the taper is and to have faith in my training which I definitely do. At this point no amount of speed work or heavy mileage would do me any good. What I need now is to let my body recover so that come race day I am ready to roll.
Springtime in Oregon – I think that about sums it up.
Overall I think I am more excited than anything else. The visual I have is that I am a chocolate chip cookie with the cookie part being excitement and the chocolate chips being nervousness.
I’ll post a race report after I get home – since the race is on a Saturday I should be able to get one done sometime on Sunday.
Thanks for reading!