Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cabo San Lucas

My post marathon reward to myself (one of the many) was a 5 day girls’ trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with eight of my sorority sisters (I was an Alpha Delta Pi at MU). This was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and become closer to a few girls that I didn’t really know too well. By the end of the trip, we were all definitely feeling like family (sisters, if you will ;-) haha)!!

We stayed at the Riu Santa Fe, a brand new all inclusive resort right on the beach – directly across the harbor from Lover’s Beach and the famous Cabo rocks. The food was pretty good, and the tequila flowed like water (without the bacteria). We had a number of pools (with bars) that we definitely took advantage of. The waves on the beach were killer (Kirsten and I got mauled and almost died), but were spectacular and beautiful. We did some zip-lining (canyoning) in the desert; we kayaked out to Lover’s Beach (and its opposite, Divorce Beach); we had an incredible meal and margaritas at The Office; and spent one fun party night out on the town of Cabo dancing (Cabo Wabo, the Zoo, Squid Row). The weather was fabulous, sunny, warm but not hot or humid. My only complaint was that I think I wore too much sunscreen! I have more tan lines from 5 hours of running the marathon than I do for 5 days in Cabo. Go figure!

I don’t have everyone’s pictures yet, but here are a few of my favorites so far.

Stock hotel pictures.


Lover's Beach.


A cruise ship in the harbor - taken from our hotel beach.

All the girls in the infinity pool.
Zip-line (Kirsten above, Traci below)


Kirsten dancing on the bridge.

Lindsey and Jenny kayaking.
(Pictures are a little blurry due to sunscreen and massive waves)

Traci and Debbie battling the waves.

Me, Jen, Jenny and Lindsey.


Pictures of Lover's Beach and Arch.

All the girls on the beach.

Behind the bar at Cabo Wabo.


The Office.

Post Marathon Update

Well, it’s been a while since I last posted anything. I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I’ll continue this blog, now that I’m not training for the marathon. Originally, I didn’t think so. But after doing this for a while, I kind of like having a place to share what’s going on in my life with friends and family (and the rest of the internet community). So, I may not be able to give weekly updates on my life (it’s not that exciting), but I’ll continue to keep you updated on my running, races, thoughts, plans, ideas and activities.

So, it’s been almost a month since the marathon. I’ve only managed to run 20 something miles in the last three plus weeks – which is less than I have been running on just Saturday mornings. Pathetic, I know. It’s been a nice break, but I really miss running. I think I have a mild case of Post-Marathon Depression. Training for this race has been such a huge part of my life over the last half year; I’m a little lost without it. It was such an amazing feeling to set your mind on a certain goal and do everything possible to achieve it. Now, I’m goal-less. I’m feeling rather lazy and undisciplined as well. I miss the energy and excitement that comes from running.

What I really want to do is run another marathon! I know, right? CRAZY!!! Who would have imagined that I would love it so much? It was just the most amazing experience and I want that feeling back! To my happiness, this is exactly the way I hoped I’d feel after the marathon. I’ve heard so many people say after their first marathon that they’ll never run another marathon again, or just never run again, period. That scared me. I really wanted to train wisely (physically and mentally) and then just enjoy myself during the race (to the extent one can possibly enjoy running for nearly 5 solid hours). If I could do that, I’d have a positive experience and want to keep running and possibly want to run another marathon. Mission accomplished.

But, as you can tell from reading this blog, marathon training is very intense and most of all, time consuming. It really took a toll on my relationship, friendships, social life and career. Not to say that it isn’t worth it, but it’s hard to think that I’m ready and willing to do that again so soon. Ryan would probably hate me and I’d most likely get fired. So, maybe it’s not worth it. I said maybe… :)

That being said, I need to do something to keep myself active, so I’ve decided to set a few new running goals for the remainder of the year. They’re not really new (see New Year Goals post), just awoken (is that a word?) from their winter hibernation. They mainly have to do with improving my times from previous races and getting some company out there on the road. So, here they are:

1. Run a 5k around 28:00
2. Run a 10k under 1:00
3. Run a Half Marathon under 2:00
4. Take Anna to a wheelchair race
5. Get Ryan to run with me more often

Simple enough, right? Ok then. I’ve signed up to run the St. Louis Science Center’s Run For the Stars 10k in Forest Park on June 7. That gives me just over a month to work on my 10k time. I’m also planning on running the Lewis & Clark Half Marathon again this fall, for the third time. This is a flat course, so I should be able to run it fast (fast for me, which is not really that fast). And just for fun, I’m thinking about doing the Columbia Half Marathon in October. I love Columbia (where I went to undergrad) and the course is a little hilly, but beautiful. So, that’ll be fun. And who knows, maybe I’ll reevaluate the goals in the fall and think about another marathon. In the meantime, there’s lots of wedding planning to be done. :

MTA: By the way, Rick and Lorna both kicked butt in their marathons. Rick finished Glass City Marathon, under awful miserable weather conditions (and a hurt leg) in 4:38:00. Way to HTFU!! Lorna gave Paula Radcliffe a run for her money, and finished the London Marathon in 4:42:43 (which means I was the closest to guess her finish time and she owes me dinner). You MUST read their Race Reports! Here is Rick's - Glass City Marathon. Here is Lorna's - London Marathon. Congrats to both of you AGAIN!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Good Luck Rick and Lorna!!

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Rick and Lorna well over the last few months. We all log our runs on the fabulous running website, RunningAhead, were relatively new runners(within the last few years), and all training for our first marathon (which were all within a week of each other). We have spent the last 5 months comparing training schedules, weather, war stories, goals, expectations, experiences, injuries, emotions and jokes. It has been so nice for me to know that there are other people in exactly the same boat, going through the same things. They both donated generously to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in support of my race; they have become some of my biggest cheerleaders; and they are a huge part of my marathon success.

First, Rick is a 41 year old insurance rep and volunteer EMT/firefighter in Michigan. He has a beautiful wife, Tammy and two amazing daughters Cheslea and Lindsey. Rick is running the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, Ohio this weekend, in honor of his cousin, Cassy, who has severe cerebral palsy. Rick has been training through some nasty Michigan winter weather and battling a leg injuy without ever giving up. This guy epitomizes HTFU!! I know he's going to do GREAT this weekend and I can't wait to hear all about it!
Here's a pic of Rick's family.


Cold Michigan run.


Lorna (Freckes) is my running buddy from Glasgow, Scotland. She is a primary school teacher and will be running the famous London Marathon this weekend to raise money for children with cancer. She's running in memory of her cousin's son, who died of cancer last May at age 2. I have absolutely loved hearing all about Lorna's marathong training adventures, such as: shattering her Half Marathon PR in Edinburgh, tripping over a duck, finding out her dog ate her Gamin, and running with her father. Lorna's been incredibly dedicated to this training and very speedy, I think she's going to give Paula Radcliffe a "run" for her money this weekend!

Lorna and Lucy (the Garmin-eating, posing wonder dog)

Freckles and Family


Best of luck to both Lorna and Rick this weekend!! You two are amazing!! I'm so proud of both of you. You're both going to rock these races!! Make sure to enjoy the experience and smile for all the cameras!! And PLEASE post as soon as you can Sunday night and let us know how you did!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

More Marathon Pictures

Action shot of Ryan taking our picture.
Still smiling around Mile 17.


Still going at Mile 21.

Abby and me after the race.


Me and Laura.


My support crew: Jacquie, Heather and Kasey.

Monday, April 7, 2008

go! St. Louis Marathon Race Report – April 6, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, the race report we’ve all been waiting for. Five long months in the making and it’s finally over! It’s been a long journey, so this post is incredibly lengthy and rambling. I make no apologies for the length, I want to make sure to write down everything I can remember (you know, for the grandkids). I’m starting this race report a day early, in an attempt to capture the entire weekend of activities and excitement, but feel free to skip over the next few paragraphs of intro material to get to the good stuff if you can’t wait. I’m not fast, nor am I brief.

Saturday afternoon was spent in a whirlwind of packing, planning and last minute activities before leaving the house. True to form, I was a nervous wreck and Ryan was attempting to calm me down and placate my nerves. I know I must have been pretty difficult to live with this last week, and my darling fiancĂ© is a total saint for putting up with me without killing me. We were spending the night at the Westin, downtown St. Louis with Team in Training so I had to have everything packed and be ready to go the afternoon before. I decided to wear a bumble bee pin on my tank in memory of Ryan Brown, who loved bumble bees (I’m a Beeliever). I also ironed my name on the front of my shirt and "In Memory of RDB" on the back – for Ryan Douglas Brown.

We arrived at the Westin just in time to check in and get downstairs for the TNT Pasta Dinner. To be honest with you, I wasn’t really feeling the TNT love at this point. I’d been having a lot of mixed feelings about TNT and a general lack of inspiration about the program. I loved the idea of running a marathon to raise money for a charity – and cancer research is about as great as they come – but I didn’t feel like I had the quintessential TNT emotional bonding experience that I anticipated. But all that was about to change.

My friend Lindsay, who previously ran the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon with TNT told me that her favorite part of the experience was the Pasta Dinner. Being a big fan of all things carb-related, I was already a fan. I figured it would be cheesy and sappy and inspirational and all of that good stuff. And it was…only better. Ryan and I sat at a table with Abby, her mom and a few coaches. We heard that together we had raised over a quarter of a million dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was at the top of the fundraisers, bringing in almost $5,000!!! We listened to a pediatric oncologist talk about how running had literally saved his life, and how TNT’s donations make a difference in the lives of the children he treats. We heard from a mother whose son had been diagnosed with cancer six times, fighting each time to overcome it. He was even there to talk about his survival and thank us (of all things). He will be starting college in the fall – how amazing. By the time I left, I felt so good about my decision to do this through TNT and so proud to have been a part of something that truly makes a difference.



Surprisingly, I slept rather well Saturday night. I guess I was making up for all the missed sleep from the week leading up to the race. I woke up Sunday morning around 5:00, groggy, but excited. I had all my race clothes laid out and ready, so I Body Glided up and got dressed. Breakfast was muffins and water, but I was too nervous to eat much. I packed a bag of emergency supplies (band-aids, lip balm, sunscreen, extra socks, Gatorade, etc.) for Ryan to carry and we went downstairs to meet up with the rest of the TNT crew. We left the hotel and walked up to the race in a sea of purple.

The temperature was in the low 40s, but was supposed to warm up to almost 70 degrees and sunny by noon. Perfect running weather. Abby and I had no trouble finding our training buddy Jenny, my friend Julie, who was running the half marathon and my mother, who would be our official race photographer. It was an amazing site to see the huge American flag hanging over Market Street with the old Capital Building and the Arch in front of us. We all walked up to the starting line together, with just enough time to snap a couple pictures before we were off!


The first six miles were fantastic and flew by. We were all so chatty and excited and having a blast. The race course took us through the historic Soulard neighborhood, where Julie and I had both lived for the past 4+ years, which held a lot of memories for us. We circled a park near the Anheuser Busch Brewery and headed back towards downtown. The sun was just starting to come up and we were warming up nicely. I couldn’t believe all the people out there cheering the runners on. And so many of them specifically cheered for Abby and I because we were wearing the Team in Training shirt. "Go Team!"
At mile 6 I spied my personal cheering crew of Ryan, his mom Bonnie and my best friend Kasey. I dropped my jacket off with them, smiled and waved and kept moving. About a mile later I saw my mom, which made me so happy that she was there, even though I’m sure she has no clue why her other-wise sane daughter would decide to do something as crazy as run a marathon.

With about 4 miles to go before Julie (and the rest of the half marathoners) turned around and heading back towards the finish line we started seeing the other runners coming back down, getting closer to their goal of 13.1. So, we cheered…loudly! We tried to give a shout-out to every single TNT runner we saw, with plenty more cheering for everyone else. And this just made it so much better for us. At one point I looked at Abby and said, "Do I dare say it? I’m having so much fun!"

We saw my mom again at Mile 10, who snapped some really great pictures of just how happy and excited we were.

After that, the half marathoners left us and the crowd thinned out dramatically. I couldn’t believe the difference as we entered Forest Park to emptiness and silence. It was about this point when I realized just how much farther and longer we had to go. Immediately I felt pretty drained and tired. This is also the part of the course that I know the best – and I know it’s really HILLY. But there was good news too: (1) we had paced ourselves very well and we were still exactly on track for finishing in between 4:45 and 5:00, which means we didn’t go out too fast (which I was terrified of doing); (2) Abby’s best friend just booked her wedding ceremony and reception venue, which turned out to be somewhere along the race course. She was going to be there waiting to surprise Abby with the news. How cute is that? (3) we were still together and having fun.

Forest Park is one of my absolute favorite places in the city. It’s HUGE at 1,293 acres (approx. 500 acres larger than Central Park) and has amazing monuments, historic buildings, wildlife, waterways and landscapes. I love running in the park and know it well; this was home turf. This was also about the time when other runners started talking to us. We were passed by an older gentlemen who said he was working on completing his 50 states marathon, fulfilling his Missouri requirement, and had previously run with TNT. He told us how much it meant to him and what an amazing experience it was. We also ran with a lady who said she was a leukemia survivor and was featured in one of the TNT pamphlets. She thanked us for doing what we were doing. Unbelievable!


When we got to the Forest Park Visitor’s Center, Abby’s friend was waiting there to tell her that’s where the wedding would be. It’s a beautiful venue and I’m sure it’ll be a fantastic wedding! Just down the road we met up with TNT coach Michelle, who told us how wonderful we were doing – as if we didn’t know it!! We got out of the park just to go up a massive hill that runs along the Washington University campus. There were a bunch of kids at one corner saying that their High 5’s were super-powered for extra speed. I made sure to give them all a High 5, just in case they were right.

We were at mile 16, Clayton was next. We were approached from behind by a red mini-van full of Abby supporters. Team Abby had signs, music, horns, and more excitement than we could have hoped for. It was great to see them. They sped off as we topped a hill and then saw my mom and Anna waiting for us. What an amazing site to see that little blonde smiling and clapping for me this time. Mom pushed her in the wheelchair along-side us for a while and told us she’d see us at the finish line. As I looked away and back to the course, there was Ryan again, waiting and smiling. I cannot express how amazing our support crews were. We were never too far from friends and family though the whole course.


The next few miles of the race (17-21) were perhaps the most painful. Abby and I both started to really hurt. Her knees were bothering her and my hips, quads and back were screaming. Our training runs never felt this bad, it must be the hills. The hills in the park, Clayton and University City were all miserable. There was a guy ahead of us that stopped running to take pictures of every hill we ran because he said people didn’t believe him that this course is so hard and hilly. I believe you! But there were also a few runners that kept us smiling. The former TNT runner that we met earlier showed up again and asked me about RDB. It felt great telling him all about Ryan Brown and his family as I was pushing myself like that.

At mile 21 we saw Ryan, Bonnie and Kasey again! I love you guys. At this point I really wanted to stop. I told Ryan my legs were dead and he smiled and told me how proud he was of me and to just keep going. I really needed to hear that. As we entered Forest Park again Abby said her knees were hurting her too bad to keep running. She wanted to walk a while and told me to just keep going. I didn’t want to go without her. Never leave a man behind. But she told me to go, and I knew if the roles were reversed, I would want her to keep running. So I ran.

It was a lonely last couple miles to the end. At this point I just had to pick a spot on the course ahead of me and run towards it. When I got there, I’d pick another. And repeat. Luckily there was a lot of TNT support to help me along in the last 2 miles. I bet at least 6 TNT people took turns running beside me and encouraging me to keep going. Towards the end, my coach Rhonda was there with a smile and more kind words. Thank you all. And once I got close to that big American flag again, I saw my friends Jacquie and Heather. I know I didn’t (couldn’t) show it at the time, but it was so great to see you two! Heather ran beside me for a block or two until I made that final turn into the corral of spectators and saw the finish line.

Rounding the corner at the finish.

What an unbelievable feeling!! I was all alone. Everyone there was cheering for ME. I was laughing and crying. I saw my mom as tears poured down my face. I crossed the finish line in 4:53:21.
My medal and finisher's cap.


My support crew: Bonnie, Kasey, Jacquie and Heather.


My proud coach.
I also want to congratulate Abby, who finished in 5:08:02. You rock!! And Julie finished her second half marathon in 2:19:56. Great job ladies!!


I'm a Beeliever, in Memory of Ryan Douglas Brown
(June 29, 2000 - July 10, 2005)

A Big Thank You

Before I write my race report, I wanted to say thank you. During the last 5 months of training, I have been coached, supported, encouraged and funded by some of the most amazing people in the world. I know I didn’t win an Oscar or Nobel Prize or anything, but I’d like to show my appreciation to each of you for all the wonderful things you’ve done. Please let me know if I’ve left anyone out.

Ryan – Thank you for being my pillar of strength through this process. There is no way I could have done this without your encouragement and endless optimism. You pushed me and never let me give up or slow down. You went above and beyond to make my dream come true. I cannot wait to marry you.

The Brown Family – Thank you for letting me run in memory of your son, Ryan. Phillip and Andrea, you are such an inspiration to me. You’ve shown me how to live life full of compassion, understanding, love, honor and bravery. I am so proud to know you and to be able to help raise money and awareness for finding a cure for cancer in honor of Ryan.

Mom – Thank you for always listening and being there. I was so glad to have you with me on race day and thanks for taking all the wonderful pictures.

Alice & Lindsay – Thank you for always understanding. No matter what I was complaining about during my training, it’s really great to know that you "got it." I love that running this marathon has brought us so much closer. I can’t wait for us all to run together some time.

My Race Day Support Crew – Thank you Ryan, Kasey, Bonnie, Jacquie, Heather and Mom for being there with me on race day to share in this experience. Thanks for spending the entire day subway-hopping and speeding around the city to cheer me on. I LOVED seeing you all there and smiling and cheering for me. What amazing friends and family I have!

Zoomy – Thank you for always reading my blog and being so incredibly supportive and interested. You have always pushed me to HTFU! I can’t wait to reciprocate all the encouragement this fall when you run your first marathon!!

Rick, Freckles, Mike – I’ve loved "training" for our marathons together. It has been so good to know that other people are going through the exact same experience with you. You’ve all been such great cheerleaders for me. I wish you the best of luck in your respective races. You’re going to do so awesome!! I’m so incredibly proud of you.

LLR Ladies – Thank you for all the laughs, success stories and honesty. I’ve loved being able to share this experience with fellow lady runners all over the world. Freckles, Jenn, Zoomy, Trishie, Shaunna, Marion, Pam, Jennifer, Michelle, Claire, Mandy, Teresa, Joni, Sara, Jilly, Gwen, Eryn and everyone else!!

My support circle at work – Thank you to Ashley, Jamie, Danielle and Katie for listening to me talk, whine, gripe and moan about running and this marathon non-stop. Thanks to my marathoner colleagues Colleen, Bob, Heather, Phil and Carrie for the advice and encouragement.

Abby – Thank you for running with me. I had so much fun training with you and running this marathon together. I hope your knee is feeling better. I really wish we could have finished together, but I am so proud of you for being uber-tough and fighting through the pain. You rock, girlfriend!

TNT – Thank you for making this experience so meaningful and important. Being a part of TNT not only helped me accomplish my own personal goal of running a marathon, but I had the opportunity to help out those in need and meet some amazing people along the way.

Everyone that Donated – Thank you to ALL of you that donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in support of my marathon. You have all made a difference to someone that really needs it. Your support will give other people the chance and opportunity to chase their dreams. Together we raised nearly $5,000 for cancer research. Here’s the honor roll:

John Davis - Lenny's Sub Shop
Trishie Cecil
Kirsten Dykstra
Bob Kujawski
Rick & Judy Roth
Bob Gast
Christine DeCaro
Vyas Suresh
Karen Schneider
Matt Guletz
Carrie McNichols
Kathryn Love
Justin & Lindsay Chapman
Ameer Gado
Heather Boelens
John Young
Tom Shepherd
Greg & Monica DeLargy
Jen Kingston
Brian Conrad
Cliff Jenks
Michael & Chrissy Laycob
Steve Edelman
Alicia McDonald
Les & Kelly Holtsman
Ron & Jane Holtsman
Ralph & Carol Hager
Dave & Jeanne Kennedy
Traci Snyders
Alice & Ryan Dickherber
Jim & Allyn Kratzer
Mike Steiner
Karl Hertel
Jan Wood
Joyce Cammon
Rick & Tammy Velich
Trish Martin
Jamie & Amanda Weiss
Ken & Patty Proctor
Aaron & Alesha Packer
Ronnie & Terri Sperry
Claire & Seth Wasson
Ashley & Marcus Baker
Suzie Easton
Catherine Scavello
Lorna Lambie
Mike Fox
Ashley & Marcus Baker
Stuart & Paige Noel
Christina Krenzel
Katie Holt
Billy & Michelle Reisner
Danielle Mangogna
Mike & Erica Airsman
Mike & Bonnie McCarty
Andrew Hartnett
Renee Lawrence
Dave Kennedy
Heather Helm
Steve Johnston
Jay Cammon

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Anna’s 50 Yard Dash Race Report

I think my favorite thing about running has been sharing the experience with so many other people. Running has given me the opportunity to bond with my family and friends in a new way, unite with my community and make connections with absolute strangers (this website is a great example). I love sharing this passion with others and find myself talking about running to everyone I meet, including my clients, my colleagues and random people in the grocery store. Most importantly, running has given me the opportunity to be a role model for a little girl that will never run on her own, Anna.

Anna is my cousin’s daughter, she is 4 years old and has spina bifida. She was born with a gap in her spine and is paralyzed from the chest down. Anna is an amazing kid; she’s smart and funny with an over-active imagination and a million stories to tell. She loves swimming, crafts and horse-back riding. And most recently, she has taken up “running.”

Back in November, Anna ran her first race and was amazing. Click HERE to read all about it. She absolutely loved the excitement of it and she’s been patiently waiting all winter to run again. So, with the St. Louis Marathon this weekend and all the related activities, we signed her up for the Youth Run – 50 yard dash.

It was a hectic morning. I didn’t sleep well again; pre-race jitters for my first ever marathon tomorrow morning. I got a phone call from my mom as I was leaving the house around 9:00 a.m. saying she was at Forest Park and looking for the race in a sea of people and traffic. I got there as fast as I could, worried that I might have to park a ways from the race and scared I’d miss it. The race was to begin at 9:45. I got to the start line with a few minutes to spare and couldn’t find mom and Anna anywhere. I called and she said that they went to get food and they’d be there in a little while. Apparently she thought the race started at 10:45 and was miles away. Uh oh.

Luckily, the race was a little unorganized and kids and parents were scattered everywhere, not paying a lick of attention to the announcer trying to get them lined up. This gave mom and Anna enough time to fly into the parking lot, unload and sprint to the starting line. In a whirlwind, we got her number pinned on her and into the correct corral before the gun went off.


Of course, Anna was wearing her bunny slippers again…because bunnies are fast.


I’m not sure if she had a clue what the hell was going on, but Anna started “racing” - pushing her wheels as fast and hard as she could. She’s very shy, but the crowd support and cheering was fantastic and she loved every minute of it. She kept looking around at the crowd and the other kids and smiling as she pushed and pushed. The course was slightly uphill, to her disadvantage, but she finished victoriously and lined up to get her medal and goodie bag.



Anna proudly wore that medal and showed it off to everyone that stopped to talk to her about it. She told everyone that she won because she was so fast and her prize was getting to go to the zoo. Congratulations Anna!! I know that finishing my marathon tomorrow will be an amazing experience, I can only hope that it's going to be nearly as wonderful as running with you. I can’t wait until our next race!!



Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Week # 20 - Taper Madness


First of all, tapering sucks. I’m seriously going out of my mind!! I’ve heard other runners say that the toughest part of marathon training isn't the first few weeks out the door. Or the slow grinding buildup of mileage. Or the dedication and commitment it takes to train 4-6 days a week. Or even the last sweat-soaked long run of 22 miles. It's the three weeks before the race…the dreaded TAPER.

Let me back up and explain this tapering phenomenon to those of you who don’t run, or haven’t trained for a marathon. Tapering means a decrease in running during the last few weeks of marathon training. You run less and rest more. Tapering allows your muscles to repair the micro-damage of intervals, your energy systems to store up glycogen, your body to overcome the chronic dehydration of hard training, and that last bit of tendonitis in your knee or ankle or hip to finally go away. All in all, tapering enables your body to recover from all the stress from the previous months of training and be in prime condition for competition.

All this rest sounds well and good, right? No. Tapering is a period of great anxiety for many runners. Over the course of training for a marathon, runners develop not only a physical but also a psychological dependency on running. They become accustomed to running a lot of miles every week and constantly feeling the rush of endorphin driven highs and the persistent fatigue and soreness of effort. So when runners take time off, they go through withdrawal, not unlike the addict going cold turkey. Needless to say, this is the time where most marathoners go a bit crazy! The runner will be irritable, anxious, nervous, overly emotional, short-tempered, restless, tired, cranky, and depressed. Sounds like a great couple weeks doesn’t it?

At first, it’s not too bad. It’s really like most "easy weeks" following a twenty mile run. Recovery is critical and the mileage is not dropping by a large amount. You’re ok with resting because you know you need it after your final long run. But then your nerves begin to fray and doubt starts setting in. It’s about this time when every small ache and pain is confused for a broken leg or torn ligament or some other severely traumatic injury. Every twinge becomes a reason to think about postponing the marathon or a reason why it can’t be run. Every sneeze, sniffle, cough or pimple becomes a life-threatening virus or infection. Tight hamstrings, inflamed ITB, tweaked Achilles, plantar fascitis, black toenails, blisters, chafing, etc. can each inspire its own panic attack.

Next comes the depression. You start to really miss running. There are no more double-digit runs before the marathon. The longest run for the next two weeks will be just 6 miles. That’s it! The body is starting to recover and therefore has more energy than needed. You become restless and have more energy than you thought possible. But no "extra" running is allowed – so it’s torture! It’s as if you can feel the fitness draining out of your body. You feel fat and lazy and slow!! This restlessness often becomes frustration and perhaps a very short-temper. Please understand that this frustration will be projected at anyone and everyone within reach. It’s nothing personal; it’s the lack of mileage talking.

With only a week left, the self-doubt and worry kick in. Here are just a few things that run through my head every few minutes: "I’ll never make it. My foot hurts. Why did I sign up for this? My nose is running. My ankles hurt. I’m not ready. My leg hurts. My last run sucked. My knee hurts. I’ll die out there. My calves hurt. I’m getting fat and slow. My toes hurt. I shouldn’t have skipped that 4 mile run back in January. My throat hurts. What if I twist an ankle in my heels? What if I fall down these stairs and break my leg? What if I get in a car wreck? What if I drop something heavy on my foot? My shoes are dead, my shoes are too small, my shoes are too big, my shoes are too white." Ahhhh!!!

Screw March Madness, this is taper madness. Every day this week I've woken up with a new symptom that I'm getting horribly sick. At least 18 times I've had some weird ache or pain or cramp that convinces me that I might not be able to run the marathon this weekend. And then it mysteriously goes away when I stop thinking about it. I’ve had worst-case scenario nightmares nearly every night for the last month. I can't stop coughing for some reason. My head is full of allergy-induced snot. I'm pretty sure I've gained about 35 pounds. I’m an emotional wreck - Monday night I cried for two solid hours about absolutely nothing! And last night I only got 1.5 hours of sleep - I was freaking bouncing off the walls with energy all night.

I’m also finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate on anything other than the upcoming race. I have to talk about it with every single person I see, whether I know them or not. I mention it to strangers in the elevator, on the phone, at the grocery store. I send emails to everyone in my address book with constant updates on my training and state of mind. I nearly bored our veterinarian to tears with my worries about the race and the weather this weekend. And then I harass friends that have run a marathon before asking them repeatedly if this behavior is normal.

My nerves are killing me too. Up until now, when people asked if I was nervous, I could honestly say no and believe it. I was confident! But now things have changed. As I look at pictures of the course map and watch the virtual tour online, I realize that it looks REALLY long! I mean really really long! Ack!! I know I have to be confident in my training. I know I can do this. I know I’m ready. I know I’m being crazy. :) Only 4 more days to go!!!

Love/Hate Relationship with Running

Ryan pointed out this commercial to me the other night. Of course, I love it...and hate it. :)