Taper Time! Baystate Marathon Training: Week 13

By use of the exclamation point in my title it would seem that I’m excited to have reached the taper portion of marathon training. And I am, but I’m also surprised by how quickly it came and feeling like I could use an extra few weeks of training. At some point of every training cycle I reach a point where training feels endless and arduous. Yet, by the time I reach the end I’m wishing for more time. My training hasn’t been perfect, I never did quite hit the paces my training plan called for on long runs, but I’m happy with the effort I’ve put in. Running is a hobby and an outlet for me – as a mom, it’s my few hours a day to have an identity and passion that is all mine. I think it makes me a better mom. It’s stress relieving, meditative, and empowering. I hope it inspires my girls to be strong, to believe in themselves, and to go after something they want, even if it is hard. I overheard my oldest telling my husband, “If I run the Boston Marathon one day, when I get to Heartbreak Hill I won’t stop.” Maybe she will be a runner when she gets older, maybe she won’t, but I love that to her the possibility is hers for the taking.

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Week 13 Recap: September 19 – 25

Monday: Plan: Recovery 4M – Actual: 4M @9:40

Tuesday: Plan: 10×400 @6:18-6:38 pace (400 RI) – Actual: 1.25M w/u@9:01, 10×400 @6:45 (400 RI @11:00), 1M c/d @9:42 – I was sort of dreading this workout – 10 400s and 10 rest interval 400s just sounded so boring, but this workout actually sped by. With such short intervals, the 400s were over so quickly that I couldn’t believe when I looked down to see had already run 6 miles and was finished with the speed portion of the run. It felt like I had just started! 

Wednesday: off

img_8736Thursday: Plan: 10 min w/u, 8M @8:07, 10 min c/d – Actual: 1M wu @9:06, 8M @7:56 (8:07, 8:04, 8:05, 7:56, 7:55, 7:50, 7:53, 7:45), 1M cd @8:27 – My last long midweek tempo run! These past 3 weeks of 8-10 miles tempo runs have been the most nerve wracking part of my training. Way more daunting that my 20 mile runs where I knew I could slow down if need be. These were the workouts I felt like I needed to hit if I wanted a shot at hitting my marathon goal. Temps and humidity were back up, though not terrible, and the water I carry on all my runs felt soooo heavy in my hand this time. The first 2 miles I was breathing heavy and telling myself that I wouldn’t be able to run all 8 tempo miles. Then I told myself to get a grip, I wasn’t dying and I was going to be just fine! This bit of perspective, and dropping my bottle at a point I’d be passing on my way back, helped and I immediately felt better. Having completed this workout was a huge relief!

Friday: Plan: Recovery 4M – Actual: 4M @9:42

Saturday: off

Sunday: Plan: 20M @8:27 – Actual: 20M @8:40 – Sunday was the Jimmy Fund Walk along the Boston Marathon route. For those not familiar with it, the Jimmy Fund raises money for cancer research and care of patients receiving treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. In the past year, two people very close to us were diagnosed with cancer and have benefited from the support the Jimmy Fund provides. One is a little boy, the son of dear friends of ours, and the other is a family member. I wanted to raise money in honor of these two special people in my life so I incorporated my long run into running for the Jimmy Fund Walk.
Along the course they had set up Mile Marker Hereos – each picturing a person benefiting from the Jimmy Fund. Most of them were kids around the ages of my girls. Their bald heads and megawatt smiles featured on the billboard with a little bit about them. So many kids who loved Legos, dancing, animals, and wanted to be veterinarians or ballerinas when they grew up. So many kids fighting cancer. It sure puts into perspective race goals and heavy legs on a long run.

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The weather had dropped considerably by Sunday morning. Gone were the 80 degrees days from just a few days ago to be replaced with a temp of 40 degrees when I started and 55 degrees when I ended. After suffering through a summer of high heat records and a cutback week last week I expected to have to hold myself back early on in this run. Instead, from the start my breathing and legs felt heavy. I wondered about getting through the next 15+ miles that included the hills of Newton and tried to settle into a relaxed state. I didn’t want to have to stop and walk. I wanted to make the people I was running for proud. 
Once we reached the Newton Hills portion of the Boston Marathon course I actually started feeling better. It was an absolutely picture perfect fall day. Crisp air, the bluest of skies, and the carriage road along this part of the course was filled with runners, families with strollers, and other people participating in the Jimmy Fund Walk. The first of the four Newton hills always seems the hardest to me – it’s shorter than Heartbreak Hill, but steeper too. I’d had some stomach cramping around mile 6, but it had stopped and my breathing felt pretty even. I knew once I reached the top of Heartbreak Hill I would have only 6 miles left into the city and for the first time ever in a run I looked at my watch and thought “oh, I only have an hour left. That’s not bad.”
The last 6 miles went fairly quickly although they were the most congested part of the run. After passing through Newton the atmosphere quickly changes from suburban to urban, and even early on a Sunday morning there is a lot of pedestrian and vehicle activity. At some point along this stretch I developed stitch in my stomach, but luckily it came and went within a mile. I followed the Jimmy Fund Walk’s signs at the famous Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston part of the Boston Marathon and arrived at the Jimmy Fund finish line with 20 miles complete.
It was a great and meaningful way to end the main part of my training cycle. In a world that is so filled with awful news and awful people doing awful things, it was heartwarming to see an event where nearly 10,000 people come together in such a positive way.
Splits: 1) 9:10 2) 8:53 3) 8:45 4) 9:17 5) 8:37 6) 8:55 7) 8:50 8) 8:51 9) 8:34 10) 8:44 11) 8:39 12) 8:47 13) 8:30 14) 8:38 15) 8:46 16) 8:31 17) 8:35 18) 8:27 19) 8:18 20) 7:40

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Weekly Total: 45 miles

Do you enjoy taper or do you get the taper crazies? 

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8 thoughts on “Taper Time! Baystate Marathon Training: Week 13

  1. I enjoy the taper at first, then I get ancy. I want to run! And what better way to do well at something than to practice, practice, practice! So, I have to keep reminding myself I have put the work in, and that I NEED to slow down to a stop before a race if I want to do well. And I always want to do well, or at least not crash and burn (so to speak). Good luck!

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  2. Congrats on making it to taper! I agree it really did seem like your training cycle was short…I think it was because I was out of the blogging world all of July and it seemed like you didn’t blog as much this time around. It also seems surreal that it’s already time for fall races because it’s still practically summer around here.

    I LOVE taper. It is easily my favorite part of training. I never got the whole “I’m so antsy I wish I could run more” thing that everyone talks about – my biggest complaint during my tapers is that it doesn’t seem like I’m cutting back ENOUGH! I enjoy the time to reflect on my training cycle and celebrate all the hard work I’ve put in, and gradually start to remember that there is this whole big world that exists outside of marathon training! I actually find it relieving to know that what’s done is done by this point and I can’t build any more fitness, so all I need to do is keep the legs moving.

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    • I hope I feel like you during the taper! It’s supposed to rain here all weekend, so I’m feeling pretty ecstatic at not having a long, long run to do. Although I do notice whenever I taper I don’t feel like it’s so much less. It’s like my brain just adjusts for the shorter distance and therefore feels fatigued/bored/etc earlier on in the run! I saw on instagram that you ran in LONG SLEEVES! Hopefully summer is really on it’s way out now 🙂

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      • I feel like that too because it’s really not so much less! I mean, if you think about it, most of the mileage cuts come from your long run so your weekly mileage usually stays the same. Whenever I see these Runner’s World articles of like, lists of things to do while tapering so you don’t go crazy, I’m like – who are these people that have the free time to watch a bunch of movies and read books and hang out with friends during taper because I’m still running a lot of miles!

        Yeah, I hate to let my guard down but I was looking at the forecast next week and I think you may be right! We have a couple days where the highs hit low 70s but then it goes back down again – hopefully for the duration! The weather at my race next weekend is supposed to be partly cloudy with a HIGH of 57 and I am just beside myself with glee. That said, I hope it also stays dry so we can get some good foliage!

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  3. What a great way to finish your training cycle with an inspiring 20 mile run…i think your long run pace has been great and i hope you get to enjoy your taper. For a while, the taper used to drive me crazy but now, honestly i look forward to it. I’ve really enjoyed following your training cycle this summer and it’s given me some motivation to really hit a plan hard for a marathon next year and make a serious attempt at a new PR. Enjoy that rest time and start looking forward to your race…not too many of those white chocolate coffee ice cream treats though, unless you get them from Starbucks 🙂

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    • Thanks so much, James! If you can do so many marathons in rapid succession, you no doubt have a big PR in you with more recovery time in between! HA! The fall weather has mercifully arrived here in New England and I’m trading ice cream for my favorite toffee nut lattes. It is the perfect weather to drink coffee all day long!

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