Monday, March 12, 2012

Taper Talk -- 12 'til Blue Ridge

Ahh, yes. Another week of tapering in the bank. But as the weekly training volume continues to shrink, the anxiety starts to grow. Just 12 days to go until I find myself deep in the woods of the George Washington National Forest, pounding the trails with the rest of the racers in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I feel ready, I know I am ready, and thanks to modifying my taper, the minor tweaks and twinges have seemed to disappear -- for now. So yes, the plan to have a modified training week before my originally planned 3 week taper is paying off, but I can't continue without giving thanks for the advice I received from not one, but THREE of my favorite podcast hosts/ultrabloggers/fellow runners. When the knee twinges first arose after a hard 75 mile week of training (and 3 months of dedicated time on the feet already in the bank) I started to freak out. Nothing horrified me more than the thought of getting all the way to Virginia and toeing the starting line with battered goods -- legs less than ready to run, nonetheless race, through 50 miles of technical trails and 11,000 feet of elevation change. In my panicked state, I shot out an e-mail to Bryon Powell of -- a well known ultrarunning website and forum that caters to the ultra freaks. Within 24 hours, a response from Bryon reassuring me that my training was in the bank and that an early taper would help rather then hurt me left me feeling much more at ease. That feeling of reassurance only continued as I received almost identical responses from Tom Williams of MarathonTalk (great podcast out of the UK) and Eric Schranz of Ultrarunning Podcast (coming out of Auburn,CA -- the "Endurance capital of the world" thanks to Western States 100). So with all of them chiming in to the early taper/modified schedule, I did a bit of a training shakeup and took a look at it all from an objective point of view. I'm a notorious overtrainer and completely stubborn and relentless by nature, which can be a recipe for disaster when logging high weekly mileage. That aside, I stopped to think of the main goal of getting to the start line healthy and decided to take an extra rest day and then go completely off of feel for the remainder of my training leading up until race day. It was a bit touch and go at first, but 4 weeks out from the race ended somewhat successfully with a 45 mile week in total with the Saturday long run topping out at 21 miles pain free. Following that, as much as it hurt me mentally, I took 2 days off completely and finish out the rest of the week with easy morning runs between 5 and 7 miles. Then there was the weekend, this past Saturday, that recharged my batteries completely. It would be my last chance to visit home on Long Island before the race, so i set out for Oakdale to get in a mid-morning training run in on my favorite set of trails. I found pure solitude as I pounded a solid pace through the pine needle paths and rhododendron lined single track just a couple miles from my house. With a 16 miler in the bag and the legs feeling fresh, I knew all I had left was a 2 hour run in the city on Sunday before the remainder of the days would include runs of no more than 90 minutes in length, with plenty of rest days and time in the saddle on cross training days. Needless to say, yesterday's easy 2 hour slog trekking through trails and pounding on pavement ended well - as did another 45 mile week which puts me right back where I initially aimed to be in the tapering period. And now, with today's "rest day" in full effect, it's time to get on the Cannondale and cycle some nerves away along the East River esplanade. 12 days 'til Bel Monte. Stay Relentless.

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