I like tapers--I think they're as interesting as the training that precedes them. I'm doing an accelerated taper for the Cincinnati Flying Pig this weekend. I've got one week to eat well and heal up my torn up muscles from simultaneous Pig and Mohican 50 training. I've tried different things with tapers, but I've settled on a balanced regime of good eating and light running before marathon showdown.
Early in the week, I favor nutrient dense, anti-oxidant laden, however, intestinal scouring, cheap foods like beans, oatmeal, blueberries, and Nappa cabbage. Later in the week, I start shoring up the dam with intestinal clogging cheese, such as what you get with heavy Italian cooking--Béchamel sauce helps too, serving as a kind of glue. I kid you not, this is the taper recipe that holds my squirrel-like metabolism and prevents bathroom stops every two miles along the race course.
After work, I headed out to do my last run of the week around the neighborhood, warning my children to avoid the bathroom for awhile, as my early taper week diet inspired brown Picasso-que toilet art accompanied by noxious odoriferous clouds of taper foulness. I secured my Ipod to my ears and headed out the door for the last taper run where I'd attempt a full-body systems check in order to predict marathon day performance. I felt slow. I detected a lurking stiffness in my left ankle which I'll need to work on, but under the stiffness and the late afternoon Frankenstein heaviness that goes along with late afternoon running, I felt pretty good.
A giant wall of black clouds divided the east from the west over my neighborhood where runners are not all that common. The Goodyear blimp appeared above the treeline, dipped suddenly, and dove like sea creature toward the hangar below. As the miles passed, I worried less about getting caught in a rainstorm and ruining another Ipod and more about race day this Sunday where weather.com is predicting 70% chance of thunderstorms and a high of 75, which means we could all be strips of bacon sizzling the gentle rolling hills of Cincinnati. My kids wondered if rubber soled shoes really protect you from lightening. We googled it this morning and no, it doesn't. I checked the weather for Akron, Columbus and Cincinati and they are all showing the same forecast, so I figure somebody's got to be wrong. These weather people have a knack for crying wolf, so I harbor hope that it won't be thunderous wet pig slog, but even if it is, we'll do as good pigs do and wallow in the mud.
As I finished up my last 4.5 easy taper run, I was just starting to warm up, and could, literally run another 26.2 miles. I was feeling the love today. No one yelled at me, beeped at me or nearly swiped me off the road. Matter of fact, I waved a young man in a car with a backwards turned cap and sunglasses (it was really cloudy) to make his left turn, but he wanted me to go first. He gave me a respectful nod.
I'm approaching this marathon like a training run vacation. I don't know squat about the course so I'll run it ignorant as bliss. People tell me it's rolling hilly, but not as bad as Akron, so that's all I need to know. Will I break 4:30? I doubt it, but who knows. My intention is to have fun, be with my friends, and finally add an out of town marathon to my running resume. Thank you Hope!