The Road to NYC: The Taper Begins…
Well friends, it is so hard to believe it’s time to taper for the NYC marathon! It has been an incredible journey in my training leading up to the New York City Marathon.
Although it has been a memorable road, it has not been without it’s twists or turns. You will remember that I was writing about my sprained ankle a number of weeks ago. I am not going to lie, there were a few testy moments where I thought I might be walking the marathon. There was a tempo workout that I bailed on because not only was my ankle throbbing, but I was feeling sick and tired. I walked back to my car feeling defeated and sad, but was able to snap out of it because if running for almost 10 years has taught me anything, it is that you need to factor in your life stresses to training stresses. If I have a crazy week at work, I am kinder to myself if I am flat in workouts.
There was another time when I was leading my cross country team in some post run strength exercises and I felt some tendonitis in my ankle as a result of the sprain. In many cases, that is game over for me. I immediately booked in with every sports therapy practitioner I have ever worked with and in less than three days, it was gone. I count myself very lucky but my body has always responded beautifully to treatments. Outside of circumstances beyond my control, I have been able to maintain my injury free status and I truly believe that it has to do with getting a professional to look at something within the week that I am feeling something. All of my past injuries have sprung from me trying to tough it out and push through. I have seen how well that works for me and I have chosen to do it a bit differently.
I have put in some seriously memorable runs throughout the past 8 weeks. (Yes, my build has been a short one due to not having a run focus over the summer).
My most memorable speed session was actually yesterday morning. I was at the track with 5 x 1500 m on deck. I had just finished the second repeat when I noticed something white in the corner moving around. Now, keep in mind, this is before 6 am at my local high school track. There are no lights. I am (foolishly) hurdling myself around the track with no sense of what is actually in my way. I don’t need to tell you what is dangerous about this but what I do love about this is that I learn to understand what paces “feel” like because I can’t see my watch. I tell myself to hit a certain pace and I am often within 5 s/km of it. The other upside is I often surprise myself at what speed I can go when I have no idea what I am doing.
Anyways, it was dark and there was a white thing moving. Thinking it was a bunny, I went right up and bent way down to see. Guys. I was face to ass with a skunk.
It was so terrifying that I stumbled backward but narrowly escaped and had a leery eye out for the remaining three repeats of the workout.
My most memorable long run was actually my longest one of the build. It was right after I had finished a huge week at work, coached a cross country meet for the local college the day before and hosted the Fast and Female event at my local sports complex. I had been up at 5 AM and had been on my feet for hours. I had limited time to prepare, I just shoved some gels in my duffle bag so I could leave from the event grounds so I wouldn’t be tempted to go home and crash. And I certainly had not mentally prepared.
After the event, I went to my car with aching feet and ate two apples and a protein bar at 2 PM for lunch (both are terrible ideas pre-run and I know better…see the mental preparation piece) and then slowly put on my GPS watch and running shoes, looking at the workout for the day on my Training Peaks.
But not just an easy 38 KM jog. I needed to run the first 10 KM at 15-30 s faster than my easy pace, 9 KM at my marathon pace, 10 KM at 15-30 s faster than easy pace and 9 KM at half marathon pace.
I just turned off my brain and went. A side note is that I made sure I came back half way for access to more water, fuel and facilities. I also took a cell phone with me. I don’t recommend going out for hours by yourself without access to things you need.
There were head winds in my tempo and I almost cried a few times. (I get like this when I know I am almost at my limit of exhaustion…just ask my adventure racing team mates).
When I finished, I was exhausted but so proud. There is no way that the marathon is going to feel that hard and I can do that, I can do anything.
And my favourite easy run of the build? That is really easy for me. That was just last week when Mark met me at my house after work and I had an hour and fifteen easy run in the schedule. He rode along side me with his bike on trails as the sun set and we had a really incredible conversation and it was the kind where you needed to stop running to laugh.
I count myself so fortunate to have had such a memorable build for the marathon. I worked with Dave Galloway of the Performance Project who gave me a safe but aggressive build for the race. I had the best shoes and apparel to take me through my training with New Balance. I was wearing my 1400s on the track when the skunk leapt out at me which are one of my favourite speed shoes. I feel like their new tagline should be “So fast that a skunk can’t spray you even if it tries”. It was the 880s on my feet during the long run that kept it comfortable and supported, even though I felt like I was falling apart. And it was the 1080s that are my easy run day shoe that are maximalist style and feel like my feet are getting a giant hug.
I am really excited for the next few weeks as I recover and primed for the marathon. This weekend, I am running the Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon as a test for the marathon. I will be folding it into my long run and using it as a longer tempo effort, testing out the strategies I have for the marathon.
I hope to see some of you out there! I will also be at the expo today so stop by to say hello. I can give you a pair of those 1400s in case there are any skunks on course.