12 Sep

I normally really love tapering for a race.  Mostly because I am always ready by taper to relax, to cut back, to just get ready to run my race.

And this training cycle was no different.  During my hard-work-weeks, my built-in cut back week fell during Mighty Mosquito 99 week, which I had thought was perfect…not thinking about all the miles of hiking and the time on feet I’d be logging.  So technically I went 6 weeks of major mileage (plus all of the base-building I did before those really hard weeks) with no real breaks.  In those 6 weeks, I ran 2 20’s, 2 26+ mile runs, and one more almost marathon effort (all with major elevation change and all but one solo efforts, which ups the mental toughness factor), plus the MM99 weekend of 36 miles (much of which was hiking) in 48 hours with literally NO sleep.  My weekly mileage hovered in the 50 mile range, with a peak week of 70.8 milles.  I have never run mileage like this before.  I am thrilled with how well I have seemed to handle it, and so excited to see how much easier it will be the next time around.

Despite all of these stellar runs and weeks, I was ready for taper.  I took the week after the 70 mile week pretty easy, getting in only about 30 miles.  I was bummed at first, but then remembered that a few months ago, a 30 mile week would have been cause for major celebration.  I also had to look at the fact that I didn’t think I had it in me to do any more than those 30 miles.  My body was trashed from all of the work I’d done the previous weeks.  So I took that time to just chill and recover.

Last week was my first “official” taper week, and I still put in 40 miles, and they started to feel mostly better by the end of the week.  40 miles = taper.  Man this ultra thing is serious business.

This week, I’ve got 20ish miles on the plan.  I was supposed to run 10-12 today as my final long run, but I opted to go cheer for Eric and some other friends at the Ossian Mountain Run, planning to run this afternoon, post-race.  It poured the entire morning, and by the time we left, my lips were blue and I was shivering uncontrollably.  I laid down on the couch under 2 big blankets and woke up a little while later to find it was still raining.  As much as I wanted to go out and run, I don’t need to get sick a week before my race.  I’ll wait and get my run in the morning, when it’s hopefully less rainy…I have to admit, I feel a little soft for this decision.  But I figure I’ve been a hardass for most of my training thus far, so I can afford to be a little soft during my taper.

I’m glad we were at Ossian.  It was a great pump-up for me pre-Virgil. Watching people doing a really challenging run is always inspiring.  The race atmosphere is so great.  And being around the trail running community that I love so much always gives me warm fuzzies (not warm lips were blue ha).

Today, standing on the side of a ski slope, I was antsy.  I wanted to run.  I thought about volunteering to sweep (but the course was so wet and slick I knew it was silly to risk injury).  I thought about hiking to the top of the ski lifts until Eric finished, just to practice (but realized how silly that is…my work is done).  For maybe the first time in my lift, I saw people running a really challenging course and felt race remorse instead of relief that I hadn’t signed up for something so difficult.  The past few months have changed me–there’s no doubt of that.
So I am antsy.  I am ready.  There are still those lingering doubts and worries, but overall, I know I am ready. Last night, I started playing with math and looking at the course and thinking about how long the race will take me.  The problem is that the course has been changed, so there is no way to know exactly what I’m in for–other than a LOT of climbing and descending over those 50 miles.  I started to go crazy looking at things, so I stopped.  I am trying not to look or think about it any more.  I am prepared, I have done the work, and I will finish this race.  How long it will take, how badly it will hurt (during and after) are unknowns.  I normally don’t like unknowns much, but the past couple of years of running and of personal shit have helped me come to terms with unknowns.  I am excited for next weekend, to see what my body IS capable of.  I am excited to see the culmination of months worth of training and preparation.  If you run, you know the race is not THE accomplishment–it’s just the ending point of weeks or months of accomplishing things.  And I am antsy to close out another training cycle full of accomplishments and then celebrate with friends (and crew and aid station for the 100 milers still chugging along)!!

I just have to ride out the antsy-ness until next weekend!


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