Taper time is so sweet–at least physically. It’s really nice to be able to choose a less strenuous workout, and not only not feel guilty, but actually feel like it’s the better choice for my upcoming marathon performance. After three months of internal pressure to run more, faster, and farther, this is a nice change of pace (pun completely intended).
The psychological aspect is less sweet. I’d forgotten exactly how mind-wracking it is to go suddenly from a 20 mile long run to a much shorter one. Am I losing my fitness? Am I gaining weight? Will I really be ready for race day?
Time will tell.
This week I focused my cross-training exclusively on strength and flexibility rather than additional cardio. I went to two Burn Fitness classes in the mornings before work, and did two evening yoga classes. I found myself being pretty conservative in the second yoga class and not wanting to attempt some of the more advanced moves out of fear of tweaking or injuring something. But I know I could totally have gotten my foot behind my head if I’d just tried.
I ran three times during the week, for 3 miles, 5 miles, and 4 miles. The first two runs felt really tough coming on the heels of my 20-miler. Even with two days off, I was tired and slow. My legs felt like lead. Coupled with the general freaking out that’s part of taper time, I was panicking a little. Yes, even though I know logically that it’s very normal for legs to feel tired after they carry you up and down big hills for 20 miles.
Fortunately my last short run of the week went really well. I went in the evening after spending all day in a conference and could immediately tell that my legs were fresher than they’d been. What felt like an easy pace on that last run was over a minute per mile faster than my pace earlier in the week.
Weekend Long Run
There was no organized DFMC run this weekend, but never fear: One of my teammates held a 5k race as part of his fundraising. I registered along with my running buddies and two of us decided to run from our Boston neighborhood to the race start line in Waltham, about 9 miles, and then participate in the race to make roughly 12 total. That’s the mileage my favorite training plan, the Hal Higdon Novice 2, recommends for the first taper weekend.
Our weather luck might be turning; even though the forecast called for rain all week, Saturday actually was sunny with a few brief rain squalls. The wind was crazy with gusts of up to 26 miles per hour, but it was still better than running in steady rain.
The run to Waltham was an interesting change. We followed the Charles River for the first few miles, then veered off down Mt. Auburn Street and followed it as it became Belmont Street and finally Trapelo Road. The total mileage for the first part of the run was 9 miles, which isn’t that much, but it felt really badass to commute from Boston to Waltham by foot.
Once we got to Waltham, it was time for the Shifter’s 5K. Shifter is one of our DFMC teammates who organizes this run annually as his major fundraiser. A lot of DFMC runners were participating, and all proceeds go to Dana-Farber, so it was kind of a no-brainer to register.
While this was still a small road race, it was organized better than I expected. We started and ended in the parking lot of the Waverly Oaks Athletic Club, with a route that went through the neighborhood nearby. We had to share the road with cars at a few points, but police held the traffic for us on the major roads. It was cool seeing so many familiar faces on the run, since that doesn’t usually happen at a race.
My finish time (gun time only, no chip) was 26:46, for a per-mile pace of 8:38. Not bad after running nine miles to get to the start line!
After the race, everyone went over to the Copper House Tavern for the most important part of the day:
Not only does Copper House have a good beer list, but Harpoon Brewery sponsored Shifter’s 5k, meaning there was free IPA and UFO for all.
Total running distance for the day was 12.1 miles, making my last double-digit mileage run before the Boston Marathon.
To date I have raised over $19,000 in support of basic cancer research for Dana-Farber. I’m really excited to have been able to facilitate that kind of generous contribution to a cause that I truly believe impacts all of us, whether because we have had or will have cancer ourselves, or because someone we love has. This money is going to do good things.
All I can say is thank you to the very many people who have generously donated to my run.
Every time I receive an email from Dana-Farber letting me know someone has donated, it makes me feel good: Motivated, cared for, useful. I initially thought the fundraising would be a bit of a drag, but it’s actually turned into one of the more positive experiences of my life.
If you are interested in donating to my run, it’s not too late. Donations can be made directly at my RunDFMC page HERE, or I have envelopes and receipts to process cash or check gifts. Every dollar counts, so any donation is much appreciated.