Monday, April 30, 2012

Le Taper Rage

So.  The Ice Age Trail 50 is less than two weeks away, and an ultramarathon taper means an ultra-emotional runner.  Allow me to explain.

I first experienced the mini-rollercoaster that is taper before my first marathon.  And I gotta admit - it gets better with each race.  But still, consider the circumstances: you've spent considerable time, effort, and money training for an event.  A marathon - 4 months, maybe?  An ultra - depending on your base mileage before training, we're talking a 6-month prep period.  You've paid an ungodly sum that you don't tell non-running friends about to enter yourself into whichever suffer-fest you picked.  You've mostly stopped drinking and staying out late on Fridays and Saturdays so you can get up before 6 a.m. to run for four or five hours, back to back on Saturdays and Sundays.  You've overcome emotional and physical hurdles, probably shelled out for new shoes at some point, and probably done some things you're not proud of, like rinsing a cut leg in dirty creek water, teaching yourself to pee in the woods like it ain't no thang, and begging the baby Jesus to let you break your ankle so you can justify a 911 call and Flight for Life airlift from whatever remote trail you are on.  You know your body inside and out - what foods will go down well at certain mileages, how a training run will play out if you get exactly 5.43 hours of sleep but avoid dairy before but also wear those socks with the little nubby thread under your left middle toe.  YOU'VE GOT IT ON LOCK.  And then, two or three weeks before the race, you stop.

Enter the taper rage.  Your body needs a break - you have to stop.  And you have to trust that you did it right.  The right mileage, the right core strengthening work, the right nutrition.  You have to go out for 8-mile "long runs" that feel stupid, but you can't tell anyone because you risk sounding condescending  ("...going out for an easy eight tonight...oh, you're training for a 10k?!  That's awesome, good for you!" sounds awful even when you say it in complete sincerity) or crazy.  And you start to worry.

Things to worry about before race day:
-the weather
-getting sick
-the weather
-tripping down stairs
-twisting an ankle while on an easy run
-not sleeping before the race (I lose a lot of sleep over this)
-oversleeping before the race
-wearing the wrong socks
-getting sick
-packing the wrong stuff in a drop bag
-going out too fast
-the weather

It's hard to reign it in, and for the next two weeks, I'll be itching to just get out and run.  Let's do it.  Let's just go out to the trail RIGHT NOW and run 50 just to make sure we're good.

Coming up next: a post detailing the reasons I'm good.  It's going to be ok.  I know what I'm doing and I'm ready.  I just need to remind myself like, every five minutes!
My sisters and I ran part of the course Saturday, the segment just before the finish.  Deep breaths, Kim, deep breaths!

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