Enter the Taper

Yesterday marked the last long run of significance before Marathon Monday. The taper begins. Most long runs have just been logging a lot of miles but this one was prescribed: 12 miles at marathon pace followed by 50 minutes easy. I picked a route with rolling hills and one particular hill with identical specs to heartbreak hill. There was a crosswind and even a bit of snow as a reminder of all that had preceded. As I turned onto my street I was overcome by elation. No matter what happens race day, nothing can take away the milestones laid down over these past months. There were so many runs in the dark, in snow, in sub-zero temps. There were the countless pointless TV shows endured, the price of treadmill miles. At the season's low point the only way to sleep was sitting up in a chair due to lung congestion. At its worst, that sickness had me running ten miles through fevered delirium, not even sure where I was. Whatever the plan called for is what I did, day after day after day, in sickness and in health.

Tuesday was the culmination. The prescription was 6 miles at marathon pace, 1 mile at tempo pace, six more miles at marathon pace, and finally another two miles at tempo. I was nervous before starting—good practice for race day. No tunes. No crutches. Buckle down and do. it. And I did.

The hardest day was a fifteen miler at marathon pace some weeks ago. 5F temps and a 20mp not-quite-crosswind almost broke me. In all the hard workouts since I have drawn on that one. I can finish this. Perhaps I will yet draw on it more come race day. There are not many people who can understand all this. This quote from the Tracksmith website sums it up well... Winter is the lonely anvil on which all runners must shape their future. They are memories, hard in the moment but good in the rearview. Anymore, my runs are made of memories. As I covered the last mile yesterday I was accompanied by ghosts. A good laugh with friends here. Running through the pouring rain with my son's cross country team there. Place and memory become one. Where I tread has become who I am.


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