Monthly Archives: May 2013

Here we go again! It’s taper time

When I planned my race calendar for 2013, seven weeks between the Whidbey Island half marathon and the upcoming North Olympic Discovery half marathon on June 2 seemed like a long time. I’d have time to rest, recover, and return to what passes for peak slow happy running form.

One of these days I’ll learn that no matter how carefully I build my training plans, they never go exactly as planned.

I really did a number on myself this time. If you’ll recall, the Whidbey Island race was the day before the Boston Marathon. The events at Boston shook me up, as they did everyone. They also inspired me, as they did many runners. One of the stories from Boston that really inspired me was the runners who — having just completed a marathon — kept running another two miles to go to the nearest hospital to give blood.

Eight days after Whidbey I went out for a nice, easy five mile run in one of my favorite places. Coming back in the car afterwards, I was feeling strong and grateful for the opportunities that I have to run in beautiful places. I passed the sign that said “blood drive today.” I’ve seen and driven past that sign dozens of times in the 10+ years I have lived here. On that day I said to myself, after I shower and change clothes I’m walking downtown to give blood. I hadn’t given blood in about 20 years, but I happen to have a desirable blood type and I’ve always felt bad about having gotten out of the habit of regular donations.

So I gave blood. I felt a little light headed afterwards, but don’t we all? I drank my orange juice and ate my cookie and walked home. No big deal. I took it easy the next day and everything seemed fine.

On the second day I went out to run. It was like I’d dropped anchor! I was gasping for breath and couldn’t finish two miles before stopping.

A bit of Internet research turned up this article by Jenny Hadfield on the dos and don’ts of donating blood as a runner. Too late, I learned that “the common side effects as it relates to your running include higher heart and breathing rates, heavy legs and lower levels of energy. Ultimately, this means slower running paces at higher effort levels.” Furthermore, I learned that full recovery might take me several weeks — or even longer.


So I’ve been easy on myself since then. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that right now, I’m not able to run ten miles or more without stopping. I’ve learned to stop when I need to. I’ve reluctantly brought walk breaks back into my running routine. My speed is gradually returning, but my endurance is still not what it was.

I’ve written here any number of times that I can’t possibly continue my streak of PRs! I can’t possibly top that last race when I blew through all my notions of what I was capable of doing! This time, it may actually be true.

The only thing I have in my favor is that I know this course like the back of my hand. I know where I need to conserve energy and where I can safely push. I know the places that will surprise out-of-towners and I know what a big psychological uplift it is for me to pass everyone around me in those places. I know that on race day, my competitive spirit will keep me pushing past the point at which I’d say “enough!” if it were just another routine training run.

So I haven’t given up all hope that I’ll have a good run on race day.

Meanwhile, I’m tapering for this race. And I’m already looking forward to taking a week or so post-race break and then kicking off my marathon training plan!

I’ve chosen my race. I’m going to run my first full marathon on October 13 in Victoria, BC. I’ve run the half marathon there twice. The half marathon course is basically a long out-and-back, and the full marathon is a longer out-and-back. This means that I’ve already seen half of the marathon course — the first 6.55 miles and the last 6.55 miles, more or less. I know the terrain — it’s about as flat as it can be. I’ve got all summer to gradually increase my mileage. I can do this, slow and happy, one step at a time!

But first I’m going to run my fourth North Olympic Discovery half marathon, and one way or another I’ll give it the best and most I have on race day. With lots of guts and… I hope… just a wee bit of slow happy glory.

Every finish line is a victory. One way or another.

I’ll see you there soon!