(I watch this video every time I taper and it is never not perfectly and completely accurate.)
You’d think that, after six marathons and two half-ironmans, I would be prepared for how crappy tapering makes me feel, but you would be wrong. This time, just like all of the other previous times, I’ve been shocked just how badly I suck at tapering.
This time I really felt like I was ready for it. I did a lot of speed work. I did my tempo runs. I did not one, not two but three 20-mile runs. My last three long runs, I did on hills. I ran on hills even if that meant I had to drive two hours away just so I could find a hill that wasn’t an overpass. By the time I collapsed on a park bench after running 20 humid, painful miles through the hills of San Antonio, I was ready to fling my sweaty arms around my taper.
And now here I am, two weeks into my taper and ten days away from my Big Race, and my taper has turned into a full-on collapse. It’s like I only have two modes: “FULL-TILT OVARIES OUT FOR MAXIMUM FURIOSA REALNESS” or “….meh.”
I was supposed to run yesterday, right? But we had severe thunderstorms come through that morning – bringing with them tornadoes, because #florida and #elninoisanasshole – I put off my run until that night.
But then after I went to Target to get some new earbuds (as well as wine, lavender scented epsom salts and a cute little butterfly garden kit that I obviously needed very badly) and Publix to get some yogurt, milk and eggs, I came home and decided I would rather weed the backyard patio.
In fact, let me digress for a moment to tell you about the backyard patio, because that will tell you everything about how my taper has gone. When we moved into our house three years ago, one of the things we thought was cute was that the backyard had a patio made of pavers. But what was not cute about the pavers was that they were shoddily done, and within a matter of weeks, all manner of unwanted plant matter had pushed its way up through the cracks. And because the stereotype about triathletes’ yards is 1,000,000% true in our case, the weeds went unchecked for months and then years, until finally our backyard resembled an episode of After Humans.
My shame knew no bounds. I couldn’t even look through the window without feeling embarrassed at my poor diligence as a homeowner. But now I have all this weird energy and free time, and guess what I used all of that time and energy to do? I’ve pulled just about every damn weed out of that patio. I’ve started planning some landscaping. I’ve even got some seedlings going. It now looks less like the yard of a hastily abandoned house and more like a place where people actually live and might even hang out from time to time.
So yes, I decided I would rather weed my wilderness patio than go for a run. By the time I finished – whoops! – it was too late to go run and so instead I poured a glass of wine and sat down on the couch and played Animal Crossing for an hour before bed.
This doesn’t sound that bad, I know, but here’s the other part of it – I am so fussy right now. I am fussy like a gassy baby with a damp diaper. I am fussy like an overstimulated little kid in need of naptime. I’d gotten so used to my daily flush of workout-related endorphins, and as the esteemed Elle Woods once said, endorphins make you happy, and happy people don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t. And now I don’t have them and I am cranky AF.
For the most part I’ve kept a lid on it, only letting Brian see the full extent of my fussiness, but this morning we got up at 4:30 a.m. so we could swim and I was just not feeling it at all. We got in the pool and did the warm-up, and then I looked at the workout and started whining. “Ugh, fin work? BREATH CONTROL? I’m supposed to be tapering, blah blah blah…” Finally Coach Matt had enough. He pulled me aside and basically told me that my attitude sucked and that I was being negative about something that is supposed to be fun.
(It was a total “there’s no crying in baseball” moment.)
It’s always embarrassing to be called on your shit, probably even more so when it happens as you stand in a dripping wet swimsuit on a pool deck, but it was also a kick in the butt that I needed, because I got back in the pool and spent the rest of practice thinking about it. And later I talked with Brian about it, and he reminded me that I do actually have choices in the way I feel, that I’m not just a buoy to be buffeted by the oceanic tides of my emotions.
I mean, yes, I feel cranky and distracted, and yes, I am plagued with the irrational fear that I am losing all of my fitness with each passing minute, but I’m also getting ready to run the Boston Freaking Marathon.
It’s true – tapering is the worst. It sucks for everyone. But tapering will come to an end some day soon for all of us, and then we’ll get the opportunity to take our rested, healthy legs that are just rarin’ to go to the starting line, and we’ll get to celebrate the fruits of all of those months of hard work, and it will be great. I’m pretty sure it will be great. No, it will be great.