Tapered and ready to race… more or less

What is it about tapering for a race that brings out every hidden anxiety, every imaginary ailment, every outrageous scenario of what-could-go-wrong?

All along I’ve told myself (and you, dear readers) that my race down in Oregon this weekend would be “my last long training run” before Victoria, BC. Even so, I’ve treated it as a race that required its own training plan and preparation. I’ve ramped up the training miles and effort, and for the past week or so I have been tapering the miles and effort. I had originally set what seemed like a reasonable goal for this race. I figured that on an “all downhill” course I could run a 2:15 without overdoing it, which would be a modest personal record, one minute faster than my hilly race in June. I figured I could do that, rest up, and then shave another couple of minutes off two weeks later in Victoria.

Well, after test-running the first nine miles of the Oregon course during my visit to Oregon last month, I know that it’s isn’t “all downhill.” So I told myself to back off my ambitions and just go out and enjoy the day.

That’s about the time when everything started to come apart with my training. I’d go out and get hot and just not feel like running fast. I’d forget my water and get thirsty. I’d take a bad step and encounter new muscles with strong opinions about what I was doing out there. For the past several weeks, for one silly reason or another, I haven’t been able to put in the miles I’d planned. So now during this taper period that I know is absolutely essential for a good outcome on race day, I’ve had to fight the urge not to sneak in a couple of extra miles just to be “sure” I’m ready.

I’m now as ready as I’m going to be for this weekend’s race.

Now the anxiety sets in! I’ve had headaches. I’ve felt compelled to take my blood pressure. It’s perfect, and my resting pulse is down to an astonishing 50, give or take a couple, but I don’t seem to take much comfort in that.

My knees, I’m happy to say, are feeling good. But what’s with the twinges in my hips, and WHY is the callus on the ball of my left foot suddenly tender? ARGH! I’m falling apart!!!

According to the book that’s guiding me on brewing beer, the best thing I can do at this point is to “relax and have a home brew.” I’m exactly as ready as I’m going to be. I did my last run today, and by Sunday I should be well rested and eager to run. I know from experience that this mental and physical anguish is normal. I’m not falling apart. As long as I can focus on eating well and sleeping well over the next several days, I’ll be just fine.

Of course, eating and sleeping well while traveling are easier said than done, but that’s just part of the package when running a “destination” race. It’s exactly what I signed up for!

So why the heck am I so stressed out about it?

One step at a time…

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Posted on September 18, 2012, in Running and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. The discipline of tapering is interesting to me. I see so many personal applications in what you’re talking about. I think I go “flat out” with many of my responsibilities and when I have the chance to pull back a bit, I sometimes feel exhausted, depleted, and a little emotionally down. Then I go through questioning whether or not I’m doing too much, not respecting my “true age” and perhaps being completely unrealistic about my weekly commitments–I really don’t like how I feel.

    The flip of that COULD be taking the time to recharge and refresh, and recognize we all need to practice tapering before the next big pull–or race!

    Your thoughts about your own reflection throughout this process is helpful to me. I know you’re on top of it and as you say, you’ve been here before, but isn’t it interesting how each time we are in a different head space, and so there is always a new way to go through it. I’ll be really eager to hear how you do! You really do inspire me with your dedication!! Debra

    • Debra,

      Tapering is such a seemingly illogical concept for a busy, goal-oriented person like me (and you!). It’s still hard for me to accept, but it’s a clear example of the wisdom of “go slow to go fast,” so you’d think I would have embraced it before now.

      Thanks for your good wishes for this race — I’m pretty excited about it now!

  2. Reblogged this on Slow Happy Living and commented:
    Yesterday I (LKS) wrote this post over on Slow Happy Runner. It’s me not being very slow and happy, but rather stressing out over an upcoming half marathon. I’m re-blogging it here as a reminder to all of us to “relax and have a home brew.”

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