Welcome to Taper Town!

I did my last really long run yesterday so I have official begun my taper!  This weekend I have “just” a half marathon (when did 13 miles become “short”??), followed by 12, 10, 10, and MCM!

I was a little fretful after my 20 miler two weeks ago. My pace wasn’t great and I wound up with a 15:39 average.  I need to maintain at least 16 minutes per mile in order to make it past the two time checks.  I wasn’t thrilled with just a 21 second cushion.  I thought that the 20 would be an ideal indicator of my marathon time as it was a pretty flat course and there was course support.  I was expecting yesterday’s run to be even slower.  It was a hillier course and I would have no extra support.  Plus I was solo and couldn’t have music for parts of it due to safety concerns (busy road, no sidewalks).

I started at 7 am and the weather was just perfect. In fact, I was actually chilly at times.  That’s almost unheard of for me.  I was worried about the return loop because I wouldn’t have any shade for about 7 miles but it wound up being partly cloudy by that point so it wasn’t an issue.  I was able to run from my house to a local rec center, along a trail, and then to the lake that I run on a fairly regular basis and back again.  I stopped at the bathrooms at the lake to refill my Camelbak and I carried most of my food in my new Roo pocket (but my Bonk Breaker had to ride in the pack – too big).

I didn’t walk except to eat and I kept it to the bare minimum.  I also tried very hard to keep my pace to an even 12 minute mile at all times.  My over-all pace wound up being  13:26!  I couldn’t believe how much faster I was!  So, what happened?

  • I did not let myself go out too fast.  I know at the 20 miler that I was close to 10 minute miles for the first three miles.  The hills on the route yesterday helped slow me down.
  • I didn’t let myself walk too long and stiffen up.  I often become a bit despondent at mile 15 and just want to walk it all but this time I kept going.
  • I knew the course.  I knew exactly what was coming and when and that was a huge help for me, mentally.
  • My fuel was spot on.  I ate “Pumpkin mash” 30 minutes before the run and then alternated my food so I had a little bit every three miles after mile 6.  I have a long wait before MCM so I’m not sure what I’ll do on that one.  I might have the mash in the hotel room before I leave and then have banana and almond butter at the start.
  • I had plenty of water at all times.  I went dry a couple of times at the 20 miler.  I’m so sweaty, I need to make sure I stay fully hydrated and stop at all of the water stations (I skipped 3 last time.  Bad runner!)
  • The weather was perfect!  I can’t control this one but I am a bit of a shrinking flower in the heat and full sun.  I will remember my visor for MCM. A partly cloudy day would be perfect.

Other stuff I noticed:

  • I purchased a new pair of Belega socks and still got blisters on the tip of my second toes.  I even used tons of Body Glide on them.   I don’t know.
  • I put a little dab of Body Glide at the outside corner of each eye and they didn’t sting at all.
  • The Roo pocket chafed just a bit.  There is a (pretty useless) piece of velcro that requires you to line up the tiny squares just so or else the scratchy hook side is rubbing on your skin.  I think I will just remove it.
  • I immediately ate a cup of Trader Joe’s whole fat Greek yogurt with mango and apricot, half a bag of plantain chips, and a glass of electrolyte water as soon as I returned home and I didn’t feel at all sick later in the day.  The protein/carb ratio worked well for me.
  • I took a super cold ice bath and then strolled around Target for an hour or so with Little Runner and my legs feel pretty good today.

I know I’ll still be plagued by self doubt but, over all, I’m feeling much more confident about the end of the month.  I won’t be setting any world records but I will finish and I will do it in a way that is best for me.

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