Taper Thoughts

This week I’ve been trying to fight off the taper madness by focusing on why I’m doing the marathon, and why now.  I entered my first half over six years ago, and honestly never felt temped to enter a full until a few years ago.  I know plenty of people who ran their first marathon in their first year of running.  I’m always impressed with the courage and dedication that it takes, and I’m not in any way knocking it.  It’s just that the marathon has always had mythic proportions in my mind.  The 1984 Olympic women’s race is one of the first sporting events I ever remember watching, and the image of Joanie charging into the stadium (and later, Gabriela Andersen staggering around the track) stuck with me.  My mom explained to me how far they’d run in terms of a frequent car trip we’d take, and to this day, when I picture myself running a marathon, it’s along that stretch of road in Central Pennsylvania.  I’ve always had a huge respect for the event and the distance, and I never wanted to do one ‘just to finish.’  It may seem silly, particularly for a middle-of-the-pack runner, but it was important to me to be able to truly race the marathon and honor the tradition in some small way.

Three years ago I entered the lottery for New York, got in, trained, got hurt, and had to withdraw.  I entered the lottery every year after that and have not gotten in, but there are hundreds of other marathons I could have done instead.  I just never felt like I was quite ready or that it was the right time.  Some of it, I’m sure, was the fear of injury and what happened last time.  Partly I just wasn’t enjoying racing all that much.  I hadn’t broken two hours in a half marathon in two years.  I was kind of making peace with it and was reluctantly accepting that 9+ minute miles were my limit.  This year, though, something shifted.  Before I had even signed up for any races, I decided to go back to training with the FIRST plan.  It’s rigorous, regimented, and not something one really does for fun.  For the first time in ages, though, I was getting faster.  I signed up for and ran the Chanukah Chalf last November, broke two hours, and nearly PR’ed it in 40 mph wind gusts.  That spurred me to enter another one shortly thereafter to see if I could get the PR in better conditions.  I did, and started slowly chipping seconds and minutes off my times all winter and spring.  When the snow started melting, I knew it was time.  I lotteried for New York and the day I got the rejection, I signed up for Baltimore.  I’ve been officially training for the marathon since June, but I feel like the whole year has led up to this race.  I’m nervous.  I’m excited.  I’m already a little sad that it’s going to be over soon.

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