Monday, March 7, 2011

The Taper

(No, it's "taper", not "tapir.")

Tapering is the process of resting in the weeks leading up to an event, apparently in order to restore glycogen stores in muscles.

I'd originally thought that if my knee was feeling better, that this past weekend was my last chance to try to get a 20-mile run in before the marathon, which would have made me feel a lot better about my chances.

Instead, both the trainer for my marathon training group and my orthopedist told me that tapering was a better idea. I'm not sure it counts, though, when the taper is a hilly, 15 mile run that felt much more painful than the 18 miles on Monday in flat, tropical Orlando.

My knee felt ok, not as good as it did in Florida, but I stretched at the running store and by the time I got home I wasn't having any knee pain.

Race day is less than two weeks away, and I've got mixed feelings about my chances. On one hand, I think on a flat course I can do more than the 18 miles I finished in Florida, where it was probably warmer and more humid than it will be on race day. I usually run with no iPod these days, but I'll take the Shuffle to distract myself for the last third of race. If it does get warmer than I hope during the race, I know that I finished long distances in the warmth & humidity of Florida. And, lastly, I'm always better on race day.

On the other hand, my longest run is 8 miles below marathon distance, and 8 miles nothing to sneeze at. I've seldom made it all the way to race distance in my training, but this is the farthest away I've ever been in terms of mileage, and I haven't fallen this short in terms of percentage since I ran a 5K after having only previously made it to two miles.

It's frustrating to have been doing well and being on track or even a little bit ahead on my distances all through January, only to end up with a longest run of only two miles better than what I'd started with in December. I've worked in my rehab, and the knee is fine, or close enough to it to be the least of my worries, but it was a big setback and there's just no way around that.

On the other hand, if I finish, I get a free* hat. I love hats.

*included in registration fee, not exactly free.

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