Reflections on running, while not running. Or, “How I Embraced the Taper”

My taper began at the track last week.  I arrived intending to run 6 x 800s, not too fast, which for me might look like 3:40s. Instead, I ran just under 3:30s. I was pretty consistent, but not feeling good. My legs felt tired and things hurt. I finished the 5th 800 and abruptly announced to Jeff that my taper had officially begun. Go directly to taper. Do not pass Go or collect $200.

Maybe I’ve really arrived as a runner, because I read about the taper blues and I seemed to have every symptom last week. I felt aches and pains I’ve never felt before. I was crabby. I felt tired, more tired than I’d been even during my peak training weeks. I longed to run quite desperately. It was pathetic.

My funk turned around last weekend, when I headed to Winston-Salem with Ann and two other quilting friends for an awesome sewing retreat. Despite my propensity to relentlessly deep-dive into whatever I’m working on at the moment (this time I cut and sewed 77 quilt blocks), Ann and I found the nearby Salem Creek Greenway and headed out and back for an easy 7 miles. It’s always fun exploring a new place, particularly with your best girlfriend. It’s an adventure. Add the possibility of getting lost or ending up in a sketchy place and you have that perfect edge that brings everything into focus.

Ann was my first real running partner when I started running as an adult, and we have covered many miles together, including our first half marathon. We don’t get to run together as often these days, so it was a real treat to spend some one-on-one time with her on a run.

We reached a flooded portion of the greenway before we reached Salem Lake and turned around. Our conversation turned to our evolution as runners. When we were younger, the training was just a time-consuming, sometimes annoying necessity to prevent dying in some race we’d signed up for on a crazy whim. Now that we’ve hit 40, we both appreciate the journey, anticipating race day as a celebration of the practice and hard effort of training.

I’m sure I’ll have some great memories from the upcoming Umstead marathon this Saturday, but I already have many favorite moments saved during the journey to get here. Thanks for a great run, Ann.

I think it was Kristin Armstrong who said it: We don’t have to run. We *get* to run.Image