Taped to the wall next to my desk at home are three McMillian Running marathon pace charts. The first chart details training and fitness parameters generally required for running a 2:39 marathon. The second 2:44. The third 2:49. At the very beginning of this year, when hoping to gain eventual entry to tomorrow’s National Marathon, the hopes of also gaining a bit of leg speed in the run up to tomorrow’s race began to sink in. This is about the time when I printed off the pace charts and stuck them to my wall, next to where I often sit for hours on end toiling away at work.
At this point, on the eve of tomorrow’s race, after a few months of somewhat decent training with a few quality tempo runs and not too much volume I’m feeling ready. This is a far cry from even yesterday when still after two weeks of tapering my legs and head did feel up for the task or red lining 26 miles of flat, open pavement. If ever I feel inadequate as a runner it is during a taper phase. Whether it is feeling over trained or under trained. Over rested or under rested. Over weight or really over weight. Or simply genetically inferior. Tapering always brings about the same damn thing: insecurity. Oh, Taper; how I disdain thee.
One of human kind’s wonderful evolutionary gifts, in my opinion, is our brains forgetfulness, or amnesia, when it comes to pain and suffering. In this case, for me, it is the taper. Each time I forget how much tapering sucks. Therefore- naturally- tomorrow I fully expect not to run anywhere near a 2:39 marathon. But that is not just the taper talking. I know I have a sub 2:40 in me; I can feel it. But not tomorrow; not now. Like I said above, I do feel ready finally for the race. And pretty excited also to visit friends and family on what is forecasted as a spectacular weather weekend, coupling D.C.’s famous blossoming cheery trees and St. Patty’s Day to boot. However, in reality, I’d be happy with a high 2:40-something finish time. I’ve never run a marathon as a focus race so either way, as long as I finish, I’m sure I’ll PR by a wide margin. And if that happens, maybe I’ll be grateful for the taper after all and forget how bad it makes me feel.