"Glycogen storage requires a significant water retention, so if you are a few pounds up, you very likely have achieved a state of proper hydration, not packed on unwanted body mass." -- "The Art of the Marathon Taper," Competitor.com
Darn it. Good-bye ab definition. It was fun while it lasted.
I found the above article yesterday while scrolling through articles about achieving the best taper. Interesting, every article I found stated one of the worst things you can do during the taper is scroll through random articles about how to achieve the best taper. Whoops.
Better to curl up with a good book and take your mind off of things, though I'm guessing they are not referring to "The Lore of Running."
Regardless, here we are, 48 hours out. And I feel...good. Great, in fact. Absolutely everything is working just fine; I had my IT bands rolled out last Friday, a massage on Monday, flew through a quick speed workout on Tuesday and a quick 5K on Wednesday. We all know the physical aspect of the taper is easy, it's the mental part that has the potential to unhinge even the strongest runner.
I found that to be true as I stared at an English muffin I held in my hand yesterday morning. Three days out, carb-loading starts, right? But the idea of bread with almond butter and jelly seemed so...wrong. I've been so disciplined, so mentally focused on the right food choices that this processed little lump of yeast and flour was downright unappealing. Over the past 12 weeks, I learned I can exist without coffee, gluten, alcohol, and soy - in addition to being animal-product free. (with a tiny bit of honey thrown it. Yes, it's not technically vegan). What the heck do I eat? Fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, legumes and A LOT of water. I'm probably flirting with a touch of short-term orthorexia, but I promise to alleviate it on Saturday night while consuming a giant margarita with chips and guacamole. While I recognize there are a lot of people out there living on chicken and avocado and would likely kill for simple carbs, to me, the idea of going against my diet literally brought me to a standstill in my kitchen. Hello, taper madness. Stupid English muffin.
I finally threw the damn thing back in the cabinet and decided to carb-load the way Mother Nature intended. I must be doing something right, since the scale went up (yay for optimum hydration!). I guess I can always go back to a mostly glycogen-depleted, dehydrated state this summer.
Aside from the standard pre-marathon snack paralyzation, I'm really looking forward to Saturday. I thought long and hard how to write today's enrtry, since I don't want to sound overconfident OR nervous, mainly because I don't feel either. I feel...ready. Many things are working in my favor: I've run every inch of the course. I get to sleep in own my bed Friday night. I get to sleep in my own bed Saturday night. Brian and Scotty and Kat and Alex will be on the course, along with other friendly faces. Reinier is running too (his 50th marathon!) and Julie and I have a solid race plan ready to implement.
Just call us the Shalane and Amy of Mt. Charleston:
My concerns about baseball overlapping with marathon training have been completely unfounded. Instead of requiring additional energy, quite the opposite has happened. While it is a huge time commitment for our whole family, baseball, coaching in particular, has given me a brief and much-need respite from thinking about running. During a practice or game, all I think about is the present. Who's on base, who's up next, calling the next play. And of course - who is holding a bat when they are not up to bat. ("PUT THE BAT DOWN!" Safety first, friends.) It's the most beautiful example of flow any positive psychologist could hope for. And while the games are tiring (I've had to remind myself on more than one occasion, "Kim, you are actually not playing. You don't need to be quite so active"), they end up being more rejuvenating for my running than anything. I have 90 minutes to be completely in the moment, and it's lovely.
Likewise, rereading my favorite books has been really helpful too. I realized now, in my seventh training program for 26.2 miles or longer, the race does not define the training cycle. Regardless of what happens on Saturday, this one, lucky #7, has been my favorite. I realize how special it is that I get to do this. My gratefulness is overflowing. How I have an awesomely supportive husband who *usually* agrees with my crazy ideas, how I have a funny, cute kid that does not cause me (much) stress and is started to be interested in running himself (score!). How I have great coaches and entertaining training buddies and how we live in a fantastically beautiful place to run. How DNFing at St. George turned out to be a total silver lining as it brought me to CIM, which was one of my favorite racing experiences and a major mental win, which lead me to...today.
I just adore what Dr. Timothy Noakes says in his forward in TLOR. "Running has influenced my life...in that it has taught me who I am, and equally important, who I am not...It made me newly aware of my body and of my responsibility to look after it...that continual exposure to, and mastery of, discomfort is an essential ingredient for personal growth." Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
And of course, there's "Born to Run," my own copy dog-ear'd and marked up, the book that saved me from early retirement in 2013. In my own practicality, I always question why the heck running a marathon is a big deal. Cancer was not cured, no homes were built, no one was fed. On the most basic of human levels, it seems like a giant waste of time and energy. But yet we keep lining up by the thousands to do this, and the great majority of us derive some kind of enormous satisfaction (even in the days before social media). Somehow, all of that sweat and torment and physical pain transcends into something so much more, both spiritually and socially. "The reason we race isn't so much to beat each other...but to be with each other."
Recreation has its reasons.
For something that started on a total whim, a way to cope with life's curve balls, it has become so much more. I can't believe this will be my seventh time toeing the line. And yes, the outcome matters, but it's been an amazing journey so far.
So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
...and I didn't know I was lost.