Taper time is that part of marathon training where you’ve built up the fitness and stamina to run 26.2 miles, but need to start resting to build up strength and keep your muscles fresh. During taper time, the distance of my long runs will drop dramatically–just 12-14 miles next week and 8 the weekend before the marathon. I’ll also begin to reduce the amount of other exercise I do.
It’s a great time for a lot of reasons, especially being able to indulge my inner couch potato without feeling guilty about it. I will say it’s a psychologically difficult thing though to reduce exercise so much right before the marathon. When I did this before, I was convinced I was losing my fitness. I didn’t. I have to remember that.
Before there was taper time, there was week 15 of training. Here’s how it went:
Work Week Workouts
This week I traveled a lot for work–I flew 4 out of the 5 work days. As a result, cross-training was light. I did a morning class at Burn Fitness before my flight on Tuesday and that was it.
On Monday (my one day home), I ran 5 miles down by the river on my normal route. Wednesday morning I was in Nashville, TN. Fortunately for me, my hotel was right by the Vanderbilt University campus, so I rose before the sun to log 5 miles and change there. I really liked that the weather was warm enough for me to run in short sleeves, but wasn’t thrilled to realize that the Vanderbilt campus isn’t exactly flat. It’s not Boston College hilly, but it’s got some elevation changes. I kept reminding myself that it was good for me.
On Friday morning, I woke up to snow flurries in St. Louis. The bad weather follows me! Fortunately I had read the weather forecast and brought the running jacket I didn’t need in Nashville, but my under layers were a bit lighter than I’d have chosen if I’d realized there’d be snow. I ran 5.6 miles along a bike/pedestrian trail before work. You will never guess what the elevation pattern was like.
HILLS ARE GOOD FOR ME.
Long Run with DFMC
This week’s long run was out of Boston College . . . on purpose. We did so many long runs from this campus during the worst of the snow because it opens into some relatively safe running areas. I think this was the first run we had there that was actually intended to be.
Before the meeting, we heard from Back Bay Yoga, about her family’s experience living through cancer. She spoke in particular about the impact Matty’s illness had on his brothers, and asked that we keep the family members of people with cancer in mind as we reflect on our motivations for running and raising money for Dana-Farber. Sandy also spoke movingly about what it means to her as a bereaved mother to see her child’s memory live on.
Some of the team members had organized a surprise for the Dubuc family to thank them for their dedication to the team, remember Matty, and reinforce everyone’s shared devotion to cancer research:
We all had Team Matty t-shirts under our jackets and revealed them when Sandy finished speaking. And then we got to go represent Team Matty during our long run!
For the last long run of the marathon training period, the target mileage was 20 (for most of us) to 22 (for the hardcore insane runners) miles. We ran backwards on the marathon course from BC to Wellesley College, then turned around and went back. The route simulates the appropriate mileage on your legs at Heartbreak Hill (you hit it at about mile 18 of your run, and about mile 20 of the actual marathon).
This final run was so cool! Since every marathon training plan has a peak run planned for this time, most training teams plan some kind of run on the course for the Saturday morning three weeks before the race. While we’ve often shared the road with hundreds of other runners, today all of the supporters were out too, manning water and Gatorade stops, playing music, or cheering. Dana-Farber had five water stops set up at two mile increments, which greatly helped with the psychological burden of running 20 miles (I mentally broke it into 10 easy 2 mile jaunts–no problem!).
Big shout out to the Newton police and fire departments: The police blocked off a full lane of traffic along the course for the entire duration it is in Newton to give us protected room to run, and then directed cars at all of the major intersections. And the fire department set up their own water stop at the turn on to Commonwealth Ave. All of the police officers and firefighters were great, and I appreciate them standing in the snow for us.
Oh, did I not mention it snowed again?
The run was difficult as you’d expect, but there were lots of things to see and experience along the way. I saw comically labeled porta-potties (because what’s funnier than a Boston accent?):
My best friend Heartbreak Bill, with whom I celebrated the end of really long Saturday morning runs:
And the Team Matty water stop:
After the run, I made a really bone-headed mistake. I’d brought a gym bag intending to shower and left it in my friend’s car. When I went to retrieve it, I didn’t remember correctly which car was hers and thought I was locked out. So, I didn’t get my stuff. I did spend some time in the BC gym locker room MacGuyvering a way to get warm and dry:
It was needed, too. Thanks to the snow and low temperatures, my Raynaud’s was acting up pretty badly:
All’s well that ends well, and I was eventually reunited with my dry clothes and the concept of warmth.
I am incredibly touched and honored by how generous people have been in donating to my Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge fund. Thanks to the amazing response from friends, family, colleagues, and even a few almost-strangers, I’ve raised over $17,000 toward basic innovative cancer research. That is just so amazing to me, well beyond what I dreamed I would be able to do. Thank you to everyone who has donated.
One of the small ways I plan to thank my donors is by wearing the names of your honorees on my singlet on race day. I will carry your loved ones who have battled cancer across the Boston Marathon finish line with me, and keep them close to my heart and in my thoughts as I run 26.2 miles. If you’ve designated your donation in support or in memory of someone, their name will be with me. My talented sister-in-law is designing a transfer that I’ll use to add the names to my back. I’m excited to share the design with you all sometime in the next week or so (since I need to leave time to have the printing and transfer done).