Monday, April 25, 2011

Week 15: Let the taper begin!

Woohoo! I completed the second 32k of the training program yesterday. The taper begins today!

Because last week's long slow distance went fairly well with my pre-run dinner of Gordon Ramsay's Pancetta Spaghetti with a side pep talk by hubby, I asked him to make it for me again this Saturday. I followed last week's menu of no dairy and one small glass of wine, then headed to bed early. And...miracle of miracles, I actually managed to get a good 6-7 hours of sleep!

Since this was Easter Sunday, I knew most of my running buddies wouldn't be at Run Club this week. I had the option of putting my 32k run off till Monday or just getting 'er done on Sunday. And since Steve had put in the effort of making me my pasta meal the night before, I knew that once again there was no putting it off. So after sleeping in a wee bit and making sure my Garmin and iPod were charged, I headed out at around 9:30.

Although the Weather Network had called for an 80% chance of rain, by the time I headed out, all that remained was a light fog.

I'd spent a lot of time reading other runners' inspirational blogs and soaking in the post-Boston excitement last week. Among them was runner Erin Poirier's blog post -- Boston with Love -- where she recounted her Boston highs and lows -- from running with a demon to running like an awesome runner.

As I headed along the gravel trail near the Armdale Yacht Club, the sun beginning to poke through the fog and glint off the water, I thought about Erin's experience and I decided to try running like I was awesome. And as I climbed the steep slope near the boat dock, the air smeling like seaweed, I smiled to myself for the first time in many a long run. The rain had held off, I had the support of my husband and running friends who believed in me...and all I had to do was three repeats of 10k, plus a 2k to finish it off. Easy peasy. And my legs were feeling good!

The day before, I'd set out for an easy 6k run, but with the sun shining and the tunes cranked on my iPod, I once again reverted to my usual pattern of giving 'er for the first 2k, building up the lactic acid in my legs till they were cramping, and then having to slow down for part of the run. As I realized what I was doing, I kind of chuckled to myself. Will I never learn? Yet although I held back on the pace for the rest of the run, I still managed to maintain a 5:40ish or better pace for the remainder -- almost a tempo pace, and I wasn't even trying!

Which was another reason for the confidence I had as I continued on Sunday's long run, past the Northwest Arm, the fog cloaking the horizon in a romantic kind of way. By the time I made it up to Oxford, I was only 3k away from my first 10k. After that, I'd only have two more 10ks left plus a 2k. Easy!

I continued, turning onto Inglis to Tower, then into Point Pleasant Park. What a treat to run on cedar chips and soil...a nice break on the knees. I almost felt playful as I ran through the forest, chickadees chirping in the trees and dog walkers enjoying the trail.

At the halfway point, somewhere near the Seaport Market, I let out a silent cheer -- 16k down, only 16k left to go, and I was feeling strong! Nothing like the pain and agony of a few weeks ago, when I'd been doubting my abilities to do this. What a difference a good night's sleep, the right nutrition and confidence makes!

At around 20k, the sun finally came out. Although I started to tire and I was getting a little warm, I didn't worry. I'd just run all the way up Devonshire Rd -- a long, gradual incline -- and knew part of my tiredness was due to that hill. Meanwhile, the GoodLife Marathon in Toronto will be mainly downhill for most of the way.

Running along Windsor and turning left onto Joe Howe, I did feel awesome. I'd just run 24k, and I was only 6k from 30. At this point it was all about running down each 10 minutes until a walk break, and while I was tired, I wasn't disheartened. What a beautiful day for a run, I thought to myself as I ran along the Rails to Trails, past families, friends and couples out for a walk.

Eventually, after three hours and 39 minutes, I made it home. Walking along the trail behind our house, I really did let out a cheer. Because now, the taper begins!

Looking over my Garmin records from the last four months, I thought back on all of the hours of training I'd put in, and I felt proud. No matter what happens on race day, I know I've put in the effort and I'm ready. And more than any time goal, that's something to be proud of!


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