What a big mental hurdle it is to knock out that last 20 miler and know that you are officially in taper mode! I can now look forward to a 25 mile week this week and 20 miles next week with the LR no more than 12 miles. That'll seem like a skip in the park at this point.
So I'm getting my race plans together...when to take GU...whether or not to carry water for the first 6 or 7 miles to avoid the water station congestion...how to pace out my miles, etc etc. I don't like to think about any of these kinds of things by the time I show up at the start line. Of course, this sounds all well and good, but I know it doesn't quite work out as planned. In Chicago, I had my race all planned out - even accounting for a congestion slow down in the beginning - only find myself completely thrown off plan within the first 3 miles by the massive amounts of people and struggling to emerge from the congestion, finally, at mile 14. I felt like I was swimming up stream. With only 1600 marathon runners at Bayshore, I'm hoping this won't be an issue.
I attacked my 21 miler on Sunday. I was a little wary of this run because this was the point at which I strained an ankle/foot muscle that tormented me up until the Chicago Marathon last fall. I gave it no more than a passing reference in that blog posting but I was icing my ankle every night for the next 3 weeks. I believe the problem was new, thicker socks and shoes that were too tight which pinched the muscle that goes along my arch up through my ankle. I did not want a repeat of this issue so I triple checked my laces and left them a little loose to allow the natural foot swelling that occurs during a run of this distance room to grow.
The goal Sunday was to chew up the 21 miles at a relaxed pace. However, I've been running all of my training runs - no matter the distance - at pretty much the same pace so I find that I naturally lapse into this pace without thinking. It actually takes effort to move to a different pace. The best I could do was slow up a bit at the start and then, after loosening up, just go with the flow.
So, I finished faster than I wanted or expected. No apparent injury or problems so I'm happy and ready to move into taper and start mentally preparing. My last mile of the 21 miles was my fastest - again, unplanned and unwanted - as I hit taper euphoria knowing I was almost done!!
Last mile: 7:14
Next post: My official 2007 Bayshore goals.
Happy Taper everyone!