Wasn’t it only yesterday I was blogging about the start of the season? And now here we are, 29 days away from “game time” in Portland, and officially in taper. Once upon a time, I used to dread the taper part of the season (don’t ask me why), but now I absolutely LOVE it. This season, like the season before it, has been grueling and emotional and draining, and when we finally come upon the time when we can rest our bodies, minds, and spirits to prepare them for the big event, it is more than welcome.
The 20 mile run is monumental; it’s the peak of the training, and incredibly intimidating and daunting. Typically, it comes on a course that I really love–Monterey or Natural Bridges–but this season, it was to be in San Francisco, which of course includes the infamous
Ocean Mer-suckit Lake Merced.
Anyone who’s ever run the Nike Marathon can attest to its energy-sucking properties; stories abound about it being the site of an Indian burial ground (not true) or a notorious duel (actually true), but in any case, it is filled not only with lore and legend, but some sort of bad juju, and I absolutely hate, hate, HATE (did I mention HATE???) running around it. I don’t know what it is, but it is the longest 4.5 miles you will ever run in your life.
Today, though, I was determined to tackle it and not give it the power it usually has over me. And to my surprise, it didn’t suck. Well, too much. It still wasn’t pleasant, I’m not going to lie, but it wasn’t its usual “Mer-suckit.” Today it was… “Mer-notsobad.” Ok, bad play on words there, but you get the gist.
Still it was a far from perfect run. Despite a really great first 17 miles in which my running partner, Leah, and I kept a pretty steady clip, I started to let the aches and pains get to me, and my mental stamina started to decline pretty rapidly. By mile 17.5, Leah was entering a zone, and I told her to go on ahead. This was her first 20 miler, and I did not want to ruin it for her by dragging her down with my negative energy; I wanted her to remember this run as a magical run in which she surprised herself with what she was capable of doing.
And so… I faced the last 2.5 miles alone, calves and hamstrings and hip flexors burning, and brain so fried that all I wanted to do was call it a day and crawl into an ice bath (with a pizza or a steak, or… hell, anything edible). But I pushed through it and eventually, I did finish. Ok, so it was .19 short of the full 20 miles, but 19.81 is close enough in my book.
And now… we move onwards with taper.