The Boston Marathon is just a few days away. The "hay is in the barn" so to speak. Training is done, miles are banked, and during this time of taper, we try not to unravel. At least that's what I've heard.
This is a unique situation for me, because when I ran the Disney marathon there was no taper. I was just trying to get in one or two 10+ mile runs before the marathon. And oddly enough I wasn't even all that worried about it. This time I actually put in the miles, so this is my first time truly "tapering" for race day.
I've heard stories about the perils of tapering. About people second guessing whether or not they were prepared. People going absolutely stir crazy because they weren't running 5-6 days a week and exhausting themselves on a weekend super-long run. I was warned that I will feel moody, cranky, irritated, under-prepared, jittery, nervous, anxious, restless, tired, etc., etc., etc. The nasty truth is that on Easter morning when I ran 12 miles with Julia, I was thrilled that this would be my last double digit run for a few weeks. The fact that I was so happy about that makes me a bit nervous, because as a marathon runner I probably shouldn't be quite that excited about not running. I told you, it's a nasty truth and a secret I'm only sharing with you.
More truth: For the week following my Easter 12 miler, I was completely, totally, exhausted. My body hurt. I was stiff, sore, foggy, and just totally dragging both mentally and physically. I did a couple short runs that I just couldn't wait to be over, and then I started wondering how the hell I was going to do a marathon when I could barely drag myself through 4 miles. Maybe I'm really not ready for this. Maybe I'm really just not cut out for this foolish long distance running.
My energy slowly started to return, and then I realized that not running 5-6 days a week meant that I had a lot more free time! One day on my lunch break I ate lunch outside in the sun. Imagine that! Then I decided that I could finally start riding my horse since I had all kinds of extra time in the afternoon. That proved to be a bit risky, and with his wild antics and me hanging off the side of him and tweaking my knee, back, arms, and shoulders in the process, decided that maybe I should wait til after the marathon to get that knucklehead back in shape!
The point is, I never felt guilty about not running. I didn't miss it. I welcomed the time off, and that's what got me nervous. I really started questioning whether or not I would be able to pull this off, because it is starting to feel like forever since I ran a long distance. In truth, my body was really feeling the effects of a lot of training and I became worried that all these aches and pains were going to come to a head on marathon day. My knee, which had already been cranky just prior to our 21 mile run, became further traumatized after clamping down on my horses's side last week like a vice grip. My heel, which had been giving me some pain, became extremely sore after the 21 miler and I could barely put weight on it. And that made me nervous. I rolled it, massaged it, iced it, drugged it, and stretched it like it was my job, and tried to work out the problem with limited success. All the while, I saw status updates on Facebook of other future Boston Marathon runners that were suffering with the taper, and having taper tantrums! I don't even know what that means!
My friend Liza who does my massage offered to hook me up with a friend of hers that provides laser treatments so that I could try to jump-start the healing process. Desperate for any short cut I graciously accepted her offer, but unfortunately the appointment fell through because she forgot to bring the laser! While I was there, she started analyzing me and candidly pointed out many of my "unique qualities". Yes, I know my right leg is a bit rotated. Yes, I'm slightly pigeon-toed. Yup, my hips aren't even. Yes, my elbows and knees have always hyper-extended. Do I usually stand with my feet this distance apart? I think so. Wait, what's that you say? According to my knees I have a kidney disorder? No I was not aware of that. Liza tried to save me by explaining that I did just recently arm wrestle a horse and although I do tend to go 100% full speed ahead constantly, I'm not usually this banged up. Her friend said the plain truth is that I'm setting myself up for injury (ha! The horse already left the barn on that one!) and that we needed to get me straightened out.
As I struggled to get my energy back, I chewed on what she said for a couple days. I rode my horse again Sunday and although he was much better this time, I decided I was still too tired and sore to do a long run, so I skipped my 8 miler altogether. On Monday I felt surprisingly peppy, and had a beautiful 4 mile run near my house. As I ran across the dam on my way back home, on a perfect 60 degree sunny day, I became enlightened. This is when I realized that the mental preparation for this marathon is at least as important as the physical preparation, and in the final weeks is probably about 85% of the battle. I am particularly good at putting myself down, downplaying my accomplishments, qualifying any compliments with "well yeah but technically I didn't really 'run' the entire marathon so that one doesn't count", and otherwise filling my head with negativity and self doubt. And I realized that I needed to let go of every negative thought in my head. To do this successfully means that I need to avoid stressful situations, surround myself with positive people, and replace all of my negative thoughts with positive ones.
Trolling through Instagram yesterday I found a great quote: "I believe in myself. I am a strong person. I will reach my goals. Nothing will hold me down. This is my time to shine".
Running Boston isn't a dream come true, because I never even dared to dream of being capable of doing something like this.
I may not be the most gifted runner, but running is a gift I have given myself.
Running didn't come naturally to me. I made it happen.
I wasn't born ready. I made myself ready.
I may not be the best, but I'm the best version of myself.
At the pool last night I shared my positive outlook with Marie. As we were leaving, the lifeguard wished us best of luck in the marathon, at which point our nosy neighbor (who always manages to get a lane next to us) pointed out how crippling running can be to the body. We booked it out of there!
And now to lighten the mood... Jackie sent out an email today asking us what kind of underwear we wear running (if any). Apparently she had an awkward conversation in a store about it, which spurred the question. Well it turns out there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to underoos, and we all seem to have different preferences. I'm not naming names, but there was everything from granny panties to thongs to good old commando. Hey, whatever blows your skirt up, right? It was by far the most entertaining email string I've seen in a while and brightened my day tremendously! Yes, I think for sure we are all going mental!
5 days away!!