Tuesday morning and for the first time since June my mileage for a Tuesday fell below 8.3 miles down to 6.2.
The taper had finally arrived.
Now when it comes to the taper there are a lot of different philosophies about how to best repair and prepare for marathon race day. Many coaches and athletes believe that a 3-week taper period that reduces your weekly mileage from its peak level to 75% in the first week, 50% in week two and then all the way down to 25% during race week.
Now I’ve already shared my opinion on that schedule above and the fact that I have felt “stale” on race day with a three-week taper. I decided to go down to a two-week taper cutting my mileage to 50% this week and 25% next week, essentially training “as usual” up until two weeks prior to race day.
The proof is in the pudding as they say, so we will just have to see how it all shakes out in New York, but as of right now I am happy, healthy and excited for race day. Usually I am starting to get stressed out at this point – wondering if I could have or should have done more to prepare. This time around I do not have those doubts – I feel locked and loaded and I am actually looking forward to the next 11 days to get the last lingering soreness out of my muscles and replenish my energy stores before race day.
Cutting mileage is part of the formula for peaking without a doubt – but I think being smart about the intensity that your miles are run play an important role as well. For a marathoner who is hoping to run miles at 7:15 pace on race day or faster, running 8:30′s for two or three straight weeks is not the best strategy in my view. You want to have that muscle memory locked in so that when your brain says, “run 7:00′s” your body can get with the program.
Being judicious about the number of up-tempo miles these last two weeks is the key. An injury at this point would be devastating. So that said I targeted two runs where I would run a few miles at and slightly below marathon race pace.
Today – on our typical Tempo Tuesday workout and a few miles on Saturday morning 8 days before race day.
So today, after moving my run later in the morning to closely mimic the 9:40 a.m. NYC Marathon start, I took off over the hill route for a progression run, where each mile would be run with a slightly greater intensity starting :15 or so slower than marathon goal pace and finishing just a bit above half-marathon race pace.
7:06, 6:58, 6:48, 6:50, 6:43, 6:32.
Just about perfect, only the fourth mile that took me up and over the dam fell a bit slower than the previous mile.
As serious as I took today’s workout and this entire marathon training cycle itself I had a moment of clarity last night.
In the end what happens on November 6th is not going to define me. I’m a marathoner and a relatively decent one. I’m not going to win any awards or prize money in New York. I’m not looking for a new shoe deal or a sponsorship. I’m going to place more than likely between 1,200th and 1,500th. Just a blip on the big screen in Central Park.
Just one of many, many thousands.
But last night, to my little daughter Landry I was number 1.
With her Mommy out of town this week on business, it is just me and Land until Friday. Bottles, diaper changes, dinner, bath time, story time and hugs and kisses – all Dad.
When she woke up at 4:03 a.m. and needed to be rocked back to sleep I snuck into her room, scooped her up and laid her in my lap. She ran her little fingers up and down the hair on my arms and drifted back to sleep. Dreaming the dreams of a precious little girl.
I wasn’t 1 of 1,200 or 1 of 12,000 – I was one of one and that is what it is really all about.
Being a Dad, being a Husband – those are the things that will last.
Next Sunday? Who is really going to care how fast we run or how many minutes I either make or miss my goal time by? The best part of the day is going to be seeing my wife and my daughter long after I’ve crossed the finish line – getting a big hug and kiss from both of my girls and transitioning back from Marathoner to Dad.