The Home Stretch (aka taper)

It is hard to believe that the time has already come to taper.  So many things go through your mind when this time comes.  Have I trained hard enough, long enough, smart enough, or even the most basic have I trained enough?  Sometimes I catch myself wondering - will I even make it?  I am sure for those that run all the time, or those that are hopelessly optimistic that type of question never comes up, but for people like me it sneaks into the realm of possibility every now and then.  Then the questions and doubts start to come up about my calf.  Will it hold up, give me trouble, or will it leave me half way out on this mostly out and back course with a DNF and crushed ego?  So many things start crossing your mind during this taper time, but the one thing I need to remember is there is very little I can do to change the outcome of the marathon that is eagerly awaiting me at the end of this training journey.

It has been a long road, but also so short.  When I think back on the repeated early morning alarms, the endless supply of sweaty, stinky clothes, and the counting of sometimes endless miles I have to smile.  Would I do this again if I were posed with the same question I answered yes back in the midst of the summer?  The answer to that is an overwhelming - no question about it!  The journey is just as much the goal as is the 26.2 miles I will cover on race day.

The training has been hard at times, fun at times, and sometimes just a plain drag.  When all is said and done I only got two 20 milers (1,2) in because of my calf injury about a month ago, but did have a total of 5 long runs that topped the 16 mile mark.

With less than 2 weeks until race day I have ran every double digit run that I am going to run.  I ran my final 20 miler last Sunday and was pleased with the result.  Yesterday was my final 12 miler and it also was a good run.  I got to my desired pace pretty quickly and stayed pretty close to that pace for most of the run.  The last three miles I did speed it up to finish the last mile just above an 8 min pace.

As I was finishing up the last mile of my run I came up on a car flag lying in the sidewalk.  I didn't think anything about it and ran by, but then I realized it was a Florida Gators flag.  This being Bulldog territory, and considering the tough loss Georgia had to Florida the night before I just found it all too poetic and I had to pick it up.  Yes, I did put it on my car, and yes, I did get some dirty looks.  If we are anything we are Georgia fans, but I did it just to mess with all the Georgia fans. :)  I will take it off my car today to keep from experiencing any long term damage to my car.

The plans are starting to come together.  The Soldier Marathon is awaiting the arrival of the many runners looking to either run their 1st to 50th marathon.  It may be just another 26.2 for some while for others it is a chance at setting that long anticipated PR. I have started to look into the course with a little more interest lately and have for the first time realized it is mainly an out and back race down the banks of the Chattahoochee.  The hotel has been booked, and the Shot Bloks have been purchased.  There is not much I can do to make me any faster on race day other than to take this taper seriously.

On a side note.... why does Halloween come 2 weeks prior to race day?  Given the taper I won't be doing the miles needed to burn the extra calories to offset the extra taken in.  I really can't handle the extra few pounds I am sure to take on due to the extra Snickers.

Do you ask yourself all those questions as race day approaches? What questions or doubts do you have as you get ready to line up to run 26.2 miles?