Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Penultimate week

I've started this post a few times this week, but the list of odd things just kept adding up. There were so many things that made the penultimate week of training/tapering a crazy one:

Penultimate week of training:
Monday, August 30: OFF
Tuesday, August 31: 2.5 mile warm-up; 4x1 mile, 500 meters between each rep, start at 7:15, aim to cut down 5 seconds per rep. 2.5 mile cool-down: Total mileage—10 miles
Wednesday, September 1: 6 miles easy
Thursday, September 2: 9 miles easy -- Unscheduled rest day (off)
Friday, September 3: OFF
Saturday, September 4: 12 miles easy
Sunday, September 5: 5 miles easy
Total Mileage: 33 miles

Talk about gut-wrenching. Did not have a ton of thoughts going into Tuesday's morning's speed workout, other than I was happy it was only 10 miles. But I felt unwell within the first 1/2 mile. I had hoped it was just my stomach waking up, but things did not let up. Alright, I thought, suck it up buttercup, get out and do this now before it gets to 90 degrees and it feels worse. But it didn't subside. Things let up later in the day, thankfully. But I did hit my times as expected.
As I wrapped up Tuesday's workout, the top of my left foot felt, well, weird. Thought it was just part of Tuesday being an off-day as far as how I felt, so I shook it off. But Wednesday, that feeling was back. It wasn't excruciating pain, but definitely an uncomfortable feeling. Decided to take off Thursday, ice, and wear a brace around, just to keep things secure. Thursday was an uncomfortable day, as lots of thoughts started to whir around in my head. What is this? What did I do wrong? Why is this happening so close to the marathon? But panicking does no good. I am fortunate to have a friend who is not only a medievalist, but a nurse. After our Later Medieval England class, she looked at my foot. No immediate concerns, and recommended just ice and ibuprofen for the next few days. That alleviated some of my concerns, at least there is nothing so major that will pull me out of the marathon. Plus, I was taking off Friday too, so hoped that back-to-back rest days would help.
Just like it can be difficult to find a wonderful friend, it can be difficult to find a good massage therapist. I did a little research for my new area, and crossed my fingers when I stepped in to see Robert on Friday. Lot of tension had built up (particularly in my shoulders), and I wanted it all gone before next Sunday. Was very pleased to find out that Robert had ran a few marathons himself, which meant he would understand the particular aches that tend to build up turning marathon training. What luck! He was fantastic, and rubbed out the tension in my shoulders and upper back. Also got a few recommendations about some effective stretches for loosening up in the morning. He also rubbed out some of the "gravel" in my feet - knots that had built up. No pain when he rubbed my left foot, and he said I had a good range of motion. I left feeling optimistic, and hoped that Saturday would be a good run.
I woke up on Saturday with a cold. What? Really? Managed to hang in through the busy summer, the high mileage, and during the taper was when it all caught up. Well, it fits all of the research - either right before or after a marathon is when the immune system is the lowest and runners get sick.
I tend to be on the fairly positive end of things, but this has all made me crabby. Needless to say, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself during the 12 miler. With about 2 miles to go, I was running uphill and I saw a man heading downhill. He had no legs and just pillowcases attached to his knees. No complaints, no looks of self-pity, he seemed to be doing his thing as if it was completely normal. That was a blast of perspective and a good wake-up call for me. Surely I can look on the bright side of things.
There is one week until the marathon. I have never felt so nervous about one. This is not pre-Boston jitters, these are big nerves. Rest will be key this week. Thankfully there is no school/work tomorrow. I'm going to have to recite "Don't quit" a lot this week,

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.


  1. Come on, you MUST have heard of "taper madness," Vanessa! Sounds like a classic case of it--and it's physical, not just psychological.

    One friend told me of an analogy that kind of makes sense. If you've been driving a car on a highway at 70 miles per hour all day in the heat, you're not going to hear or notice when things go wrong. It's after you pull off the highway and slow down to 25-30 miles per hour that you suddenly realize one wheel is squeaking, your air conditioner is wheezing, you can't shift, and your hood is open.

    The same goes for our bodies. You're recovering not just from the last workout or even the last week, but from the last training cycle if not more. Let your body freak out for a bit. If it didn't have to, we wouldn't have tapers in the first place.

    Rest strong! :D