As of today there are fewer than 20 fireballs left in my Fireball Clock. In my countdown to the Boston Marathon–my very first marathon ever–I’ve hit both the teens and the taper. The net-net: I am low on sugar and high on teen angst.
For the non-athletically-inclined amongst my friends, “taper” is the time leading up to a big race when you curtail your training to rest both body and mind for The Big Event. So while last weekend my long run was 21 miles, this weekend I’ll reverse those numbers and run “only” 12. I won’t run north of 20 again until the day I (and 24,999 other runners) head east towards Boylston Street.
You might think I’d savor this sea-change in my training like a day at the beach. Well, I don’t and apparently I am not alone. Google “taper madness” and you’ll get 1.6 million results–kid you not–all saying how tricky tapering can be and how freakish it can be to live with the tapering marathoner. Article after article describe the “anxiety, paranoia and hypochondria” exhibited by the tapering athlete (none mention the unique dilemma of the 40-year-old single mother of two who is merely pretending to be an athlete).
Tapering gives one time to think, and I’ve been thinking about something my e-buddy Marathon George–an actual Boston Qualifying type of marathoner–told me about a week ago. He said “the hay is in the barn” training-wise. I’ve been ruminating: is there enough hay in my barn? The hay that’s there–is it top shelf, or suboptimal stock? Will my horses die due to my catastrophic failure as a farmer? (This line of thinking cracks me up, as I am supremely allergic to hay and have a longstanding aversion–with very good reason–to all things farm-ish.)
Here’s my hay inventory: According to my TrainingPeaks account, since 10/18/2010 (the day I made the Children’s Hospital team) I’ve run 612.7 training miles and cross-trained to the tune of 597.77 miles on the bike and 71,102 yards in the pool. To put this in perpective: my niece Alex is in nursing school in Charleston, South Carolina. Had I done this winter’s swimming, biking, and running not in the pool, on the trainer and on the roads of Marlborough but started from her school and headed northward, I would have made it all the way from her campus to Cape Cod, then swam the nearly 40 miles from the Cape to Nantucket. 🙂 Sounds like a pretty active winter, but is it good enough to get me through not just a marathon but The Boston Marathon? Bigdeepbreaths!
To everyone who loves me or is by some cruel twist of fate forced to deal with me daily, I apologize in advance. Since I’ve been known to exhibit “anxiety, paranoia and hypochondria” in the best of times, I can only imagine what hell I’ll be to cope with during times of taper.
I will leave you with that thought. I’ve a fireball to eat.