I Don’t Trust The Taper

For months, I built up my endurance, watching the miles accumulate on DailyMile. At the beginning, I could not fathom the idea of running twenty miles, and then something crazy happened: I did it. Not only did I do it, but I liked it! There is proof of my happiness – a photo of Mel and I crossing the finish line of the Monona 20K (we ran 7.5 miles before it) with goofy grins on our faces and arms raised in triumph.

After the longest run of training, one prepares for the big day by tapering. I ran nine miles the following Saturday and eight the next Sunday. The next long run should’ve been the full marathon, but that didn’t happen.

I was then faced with what to do for the next two weeks before the Eisenbahn Marathon. Many people recommended just repeating the last two weeks of training, and this is what I’ve been doing. I ran three miles to shake out my legs on Tuesday (I was quite sore from the half on Sunday) and five miles this morning. On Saturday I plan on running anywhere between eight and ten miles.

Here’s the problem: I don’t trust The Taper (capitalization of The was purposeful). If the marathon had been the weekend after the twenty mile run, I feel like I would’ve rocked it. What if I peaked already? How can I trust The Taper when I haven’t run more than 13.1 miles (which I walked more of than I would’ve liked) in almost a month?

All marathon training plans include two to three weeks of taper, so I hate to doubt the running gurus like Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway…but I do. I recall a healthy living blogger with a shirt that read “I’m tapering. Don’t talk to me.” Is what I’m feeling about The Taper what this shirt references?

If I were to guess, The Taper allows your body time to recover and recharge before the big day. This is all fine and dandy for my body, but what about my head? As I learned on Sunday, I can turn into a basketcase during a bad run and psych myself out. I do not want a repeat of the Madison Half at the Eisenbahn.

I am in a better place than I was on Sunday when I wrote about the self-doubt I was experiencing. This post might not demonstrate that, but I am. There are stirrings of butterflies in my stomach when I think about crossing the finish line after four and a half (or more) hours of running. But I still don’t fully trust The Taper.

Any runners out there – did you feel like this when training?

Preparing for the Madison Half Marathon

In a perfect world, I’d be preparing for a full marathon by carbo-loading and hydrating today.  The expected temperature for tomorrow would be around 60 degrees with mostly cloudy skies.  I would have been experiencing no odd loosey-goosey feeling in my knee for he last week.

In the real world, my (because obviously it is MY marathon) is canceled, I am carbo-loading and hydrating for a half, and I don’t even want to look at the forecast again.  At Dick’s (sporting goods store), I purchased a knee band to help my patella because I’m nervous it’s on the verge of injury.

It’s okay, though.  I’ll run the half and just treat it like another training run.  As I mentioned yesterday, I’m going to run those 26.2 miles somehow, somewhere.

I got a kick out the sad face because that’s totally something I would’ve done if I had been in charge of making that sign.

Today, Brody and I drove to the Monona Terrace (where we got married almost four years ago!) to pick up my race stuff.  I didn’t spend a lot of time wandering around because we needed to get to urgent care to get Brody’s blood taken (his CPK numbers are down to below 10,000 – yeah!).

I did manage to find myself at the SpiBelt kiosk because they had a basket of SpiBelts for $12!  I’ve been wanting one for a while, and the rep said the only difference was that these were made in China and the quality isn’t as great as the ones made in the US.  She said they still hold up just fine, so I forked over my Visa.  When running alone, I really should have a phone on me; safety first!

I did a little happy dance when I found this mini-Larabar in my race bag.  It was my dessert after lunch.

When I picked up my shirt, I immediately said to Brody, “Black, huh.  Not the best color for a race that is canceled due to heat.”  Later in the day when I was on Facebook, Mel posted a comment saying the exact same thing.  I know most people running the full weren’t going to wear their race shirt for the race, but still – irony at its finest.

In the Shape magazine I was reading at urgent care, one of their tips for working out in heat is to wear light colored clothes.  While I realize this is a major DUH, I would’ve been the girl to show up in black shorts and a black tank tomorrow.  I like black – it’s slimming – but I’d rather not keel over from heat exhaustion.

I think I have all my ducks in a row.  I know what I am wearing: black Nike spandex shorts, light colored Old Navy running tank, Target sports bra, and Prana headband. I know what I’m eating and drinking: two to three GUs, GU Brew in my hand-held water bottle, and water if needed at aid stations.  I will have my electronics charged: iPod (just in case I get separated from friends) and Garmin.

Even though I’m not feeling the same excitement and butterflies I’ve felt for past races, I’m still ready to go.  See you at the finish line (metaphorically speaking)!

My Happy Place: The Cottage

My brain is all over the place, and I’m not in the happiest spot.  There’s lots of uncertainty in my future involving Brody (who is still in the hospital….I know, insane) and the Madison Marathon (likely cancelation of the full due to heat and humidity).

Whenever I’ve been asked to think of my happy place or my personal utopia, I think of my cottage.  Growing up, my family went to the cottage EVERY weekend in the summer.  For the most part, I always enjoyed it.  Even when I couldn’t find a friend (or lots of friends) to come up, I managed to entertain myself by reading on a raft just past our dock.

This past weekend’s experience “up north” wasn’t as positive or relaxing as it normally is, but I still managed to capture a few images that can remind me of happier, calmer times and memories that put a smile on my face.

This isn’t my family’s cottage but used to be owned by my mom’s parents.  My mom and dad used to come up here when they were engaged and just married.  When I was a year old, they bought the cottage that stands directly to the left of this cottage (which I’ll share pictures of at a later date).

My parents bought this cottage from my grandparents ten or more years ago and had plans to tear it down and have a larger lot with no close neighbors.  Unfortunately, that plan fell through when my dad got sick, so they had to sell it.  Long story short, this winter, the roof leaked and the house is filled with mold.  They’ll be tearing it down this week, or may have already.

I have memories of the tree that grew through the middle of the deck off the house, having happy hour after all the boats couldn’t make wake (4pm on our lake), belting out 80’s power ballads with my sister on the floor of the room off the kitchen, and sneaking a wine cooler with a few friends (Risha and maybe Rena?) when I was in high school.  Although it was never the prettiest cottage, it was this cottage that led to my parents buying the cottage next door, and because of that, I am sad to see it go.


I miss my dogs.  They’ve been with my mom since Monday.  I took this photo Saturday morning before Brody had woken up (and obviously before the rhabdo situation began).  Moose is independent and Frankie is dependent, and this photo shows those qualities.

Up at the cottage, Moose loves to “fish.”  Notice how fish is in quotation marks; he doesn’t and never will catch anything.  He just walks up and down the shore line, occasionally lunging at a shadow, a minnow, or if he’s lucky, a small blue gill.  Boo, the dog I grew up with, did this EXACT same thing.  I swear Boo’s spirit embodies Moose’s body at the cottage.  Moose gets so into his fishing, he refuses to interrupt it with a trip to dry ground.  Yup, that’s him peeing.

Frankie isn’t into the whole fishing thing, but he does love to jump into the lake and retrieve balls. He could keep going for hours, and despite excessive panting, his tail wags and he wants more.  I’ll have to get a video of it this summer and share it.

The dogs eventually wear themselves out up at the cottage and crash on the cool, fake-wood floors of our cottage. On Sunday of last weekend, my mom got up at 4am (I’ll explain why another time) and Moose got up with her.  He whined to go outside and made a beeline for the sandy beach.  With it still dark, he laid down in the sand and waited until the sun started rise around 5am to begin fishing.  I believe I took this photo on Sunday morning around 10am, because after five hours of fishing, he was spent.


It’s interesting how the cottage has changed for me over the years, and yet I have always appreciated it.  When I was young, I loved to search the shoreline for cool rocks (sounds lame, but I swear it was so fun when I was seven).  As I got older, I brought friends up almost every weekend; we went tubing, skiing, and swimming.  In high school, it was common to have a bunch of friends (girls and boys) up for a weekend; my mom would feed us sandwiches, fruit, and Jiffy cake with Jiffy frosting for lunch.  Now as a married woman, the cottage offers relaxation and separation from a busy life.  Brody and I are (normally) able to slow down, read books, take naps on the dock, and go to bed early.

I’m looking forward to more positive, happy, and relaxing trips to the cottage this summer.