Keeping The Torch Lit...

If you know me, you know I HATE the taper portion of training.  Hate...Hate...Hate...  In the past I never saw the benefit of it.  Sure, it give my legs a chance to recover, but it is always so tough on me mentally to cut down my miles; especially the long runs.  I love running lots of miles and I really love my long runs.  This time around things seem a little different to me.  I've been really working hard and pushing tough goals.  Since the Louisiana Marathon on 1/15 I've run 393.76 miles.  Lots of those have been on trails and the vast majority have been with great friends, so it's been an absolute blast!  Now I'm about 9 days away from a tough stretch of weekends so I'm in taper mode.  The odd thing I found is that this time, for the first time, I'm actually happy to be tapering.  I've been training more like I would for an Ultra than a Marathon so it's been lots of long runs and back-to-backs.  That's obviously draining on the body and I need some physical rest for sure, but I also need a mental break.  I may even need the mental break more than the physical break.  I'm getting tired, unmotivated and uninterested.  That just is part of the deal with Ultra training, those back-to-backs and long miles are taxing on the mind.

Let's start with what I've been training for.  It all starts on Apr 21; what a day that's going to be!  It's going to start bright and early with the Garmin Marathon (formerly Oz Marathon, formerly Olathe Marathon).  This race is an interesting dynamic.  I don't really love it, it's okay, but not great.  But it's special.  In '10 it was my first 5k, in '11 it was to be my second Half Marathon but instead it was my first broken bone.  I'm excited this year because it's my first race with the Marathon Maniacs in my home town!  I've run a couple marathons since joining the group, but this time it's a race that is literally minutes away from my house.  I feel like I'm welcoming my fellow Maniacs into my home!!  It should be a good, fun event and for me it will have an interesting strategy.

After the Marathon I will rest for a little while then head out to Lawrence (about an hour away) to pace my buddy Ron for the last 20 miles of the Free State 100k.  That's right, a road marathon and a trail 20 mile on the same day.  So my strategy for the marathon is to get it done fast enough to have time to recover before joining Ron, but slow enough to still have plenty of energy left to still walk/run 20 miles at Clinton Lake.  My plan as it stands is to join up with the 5 hour pace group at Garmin (11:27 avg pace).  I like the Smart Pacing strategy they use; start slow, settle in through the middle and hold strong through the end by using even effort rather than even pace.  I think that strategy with that avg pace will leave me some gas in the tank and enough time to recover between the events.  No doubt though, this will be a challenge since I've never done more than 31 in one day before.

After that, I have two recovery/taper weeks before running the Lincoln Marathon.  There will probably be lots of cycling and swimming to keep moving but minimize impact between these two events and Lincoln.  On Apr 28, my Ultra running mentor, the Jedi Master Sherrie, is race directing a road 5k/10k at Shawnee Mission Park in support of Young Life called Run wYLd.  I'm going to run & help set up for this 10k to support her and the Young Life director, also a very good friend of mine, Robyn.  This will be good for me.  I don't plan on running much these two weeks, and this 10k will be my "long run".  I plan to treat it as such, I'm not going to race it, just take it as a nice, easy recovery run in support of two good friends and a good cause. 

Then I'll wrap it all up on May 6th with the Lincoln Marathon.  It's going to be a fun event with lots of Maniacs along with a number of great friends.  I've never run this event, but I hear so many amazing things about it.  I'm excited for it.  I'm not sure what my goals will be for this race, it all depends on how I'm feeling.  I'm not sure how long it will take me to recover for Garmin/Free State, so I'll wait to see how I'm feeling for I start thinking about setting goals for Lincoln.  Right now my only goals for it are to finish the race and (since it finishes on the Nebraska Cornhusters' home field) to finish it in my Kansas State Wildcats shirt!!  I hate the University of Nebraska with a passion, so I look forward to finishing on their field, shown on their video board proudly sporting a purple KSU shirt with a big grey Powercat right on the front!!

This is going to be a tough but fun stretch, but training for it has been taxing mentally and physically.  The original plan was to do a last 20 miler last Saturday (4/7) then taper from there.  I planned to meet Sherrie at Clinton for a 20 mile trail run together, but the few days leading up my mind was already starting to let me know it was time to think about taper.  I got up early Saturday morning to drive out to Lawrence to meet her and told her I was just going to do 10.  I've learned to listen to my body and mind and they were both telling me that I had trained well enough, it was time to taper.  This time I'm glad.  I have to admit, I was feeling a little burnout this time through training.  I needed to recharge my mental batteries and keep the fire I have for running burning; sometimes backing off a little is the best way to do that.  I've started working on the Triathlon goals I talked about in my last post, so I've been doing a lot more cycling and I've started swimming at Roeland Park Aquatic Center, so I'm getting in lower impact work.  Also, I've been running, but keeping the distances and efforts a little lower.  The only exception will be tonight when several of us from the Trail Nerds B.A.R. crew plan to do some hill repeats on Fall Down Hill.  It's a tough hill to run, so it'll take some effort.

I'm looking forward to these events and my tapering; and I really look forward to sharing the stories that come from these events with you!!  Happy running, everyone!!

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