And, lo, in just a few short days (or sooner, depending on when you are reading this), I will be in the middle of doing something epic and terrifying and epically terrifying: running the New York City Marathon.
I have also discovered that taper brain is a real thing, which means this post will be mostly bullet points. I do love a good bullet point. (And bullet capris, btw. Go Team Saucony!)
- Last week, I experienced something during a training cycle that I have never experienced before. Five miles was on the schedule on a Monday morning. Sunday night, I did what I usually do, which is lay out my gear, charge Herr Garmin the Second, and set my alarm. Said alarm went off. I opened my eyes and my entire being — mind, body, and spirit — said NOPE. This wasn’t one of those refusals to move that you can talk yourself out of; no part of me was even able to change clothes and get out there for a few minutes. I honored the nope and went back to bed.
- Fortunately, that seems to have been an isolated incident. While I can’t say that I’ve been the world’s happiest runner, I have been getting it done with minimal complaint.
- Fortunately (part two), there really hasn’t been much to get done this week because I’m in the tail end of taper and the runs are short. Or, rather, shorter than they have been, given my skewed sense of what now qualifies as short. What’s been surprising, however, is how hard the taper hit me. I honestly did not expect to be continuously on the verge of wanting to stab someone or bursting into tears or both simultaneously. I’m also hangry most of the time and ready to eat my weight in Halloween candy. OK - that last part happens every year but an impending marathon isn’t helping.
- Now that I’m through nearly all of the training, I can say, despite ten days in Italy, several gripes about mid-week eight-mile runs, and one full-body nope, it has been completely do-able. The trick was to never, ever look past the week I was in. A 20-mile run can’t freak you out if you don’t have too much time to think about it.
My actual race prep:
- I have a list of stuff that I must pack without fail. My track record with these sorts of lists is about 50/50 so we’ll see how it turns out. NYC has stores, right?
- I have two mantras ready to go: one is pictured below and I'll put the tag either on my shoe or in a pocket:It's stolen from Hamilton, which is a) amazing and b) the right musical to listen to/muse upon when running through the five boroughs. When it gets bad, I hope to remind myself how lucky I am to be alive right now and doing what I am doing. Because, damn. I am so lucky.
- My second mantra might also wind up being a new tattoo and is from runner/writer Haruki Murakami: Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. This is a fundamental truth — and not just for running.
- I have a stash of fun magazines, TV shows, and an easy knitting project to keep me occupied during the weekend. The city itself, while tempting, is a place I’ve visited enough (and will visit again) that I don’t feel like I have to get out there and get all tourist-like crazy. Instead, I’m going to see one show a dear friend created, eat one brunch with the Every Mother Counts folks, and hang out one afternoon for a few hours with a great bunch of knitters. Other than that, I will be drinking NUUN and chilling.
- I have packed a stash of Calms Forte because I suspect sleep will be hard to come by on Saturday night, no matter how chill I try to remain. I’ve also packed a larger stash of ibuprofen for after the race.
- As for Sunday itself, my goals are simple:
- GOAL A: Negative split and finish around the same time that Alicia Keys did, under my own power and with a smile, even if I only have the energy to smile on the inside.
- GOAL B: Finish upright and before sunset.
- GOAL C: Take some fantastic selfies and don't die.
Above all else, however, my goal is to take it all in and look around.
At the risk of getting too sappy — taper brain, remember — thank you. Without the support of every single one of you, I’m not sure I would have made it. Your comments both in person and online (even if I haven't always had the wit to respond) have kept me going because I knew even my worst moments would be understood and accepted. Together we raised over $3,500 for Every Mother Counts. You have helped make the paths of so many moms around the world an easier one. You will all be on my mind on Sunday.
Here we go.