Oh, taper, how I hate thee. Let me count the ways:
1. Everything HURTS. Knees, calves, hip, TOES. My hair even hurts.
2. Dead legs...as in, my legs felt better during the last run of my 75-mile peak week. Out in Buddha.
3. I'm STARVING.
4. I don't get to run much.
5. 3 + 4= I feel gross and fat and slow.
6. Complete confidence collapse. I go through my training log and convince myself I've not done enough. Then I start catastrophizing about how I'm such an IDIOT for giving myself such a lofty goal. And how did I ever expect to be able to run fast on THAT kind of training?
Yes...it's as bad as it sounds. If you don't believe me...just ask Tim. That's the bonus: We're both in taper! I'm an anxious mess, and he's just trying to keep from getting sick (always happens to him during taper).
I've only ever tapered once before now--for my first marathon last May. That taper didn't seem as bad as this one...but I hadn't run near the miles and, well, it was my first. Not really any pressure. All I know is that I loathe taper. More on that later.
So, since I'm not running much (or writing much given the dissertation is done!), I've had time to look back through the training log. Quite a training cycle...punctuated by...
-Two abdominal surgeries (one in May, one in July)
-10 20-milers (including two 22s and a 21)
-The hip-injury-that-would-not-die (still have it)
-Severe piriformis syndrome on both sides leading to some really bad sciatica=numb feet=hard to run. Thankful for my piriformis injections!
-Pace runs...a handful of them, longest one was 10.
-Not much fast work: one 8 mile run at 6:40 pace.
-Three 70+ mile weeks (70, 73, 75)
-A bunch of mid- and high- 60s weeks
-All of my miles were done on four days/week of running...which means I did a whole lot of doubles.
So, when I look at that...I notice a couple of things. I still have issues with injury. Not as badly as I used to, but it's still the one thing holding me back. Second, I ought not expect to be fast right now. I'm not...but I don't need to be. What I need to be is strong...and I think I AM strong (though I felt stronger going into my first marathon, but I think it's just because my legs weren't nearly this tired). Finally, I still need to run more miles than I am. The whole injury thing keeps me from it. I have the drive to do it (like...to a fault) and a flexible work schedule which allows for early morning and mid-day running. I just have to ward off the injuries. I know that to do what I want to do in the marathon...I've got to be running way more miles way more consistently.
Clearly, I need some help. Some supervision. So I'm taking a step...and hiring a coach. I've been threatening to do this for a long time. But I didn't know exactly who or when. And then, by chance, I happened upon the name Conor Holt. I didn't Google his name. Rather, I found him via his wife. His wife is Camille Herron--an elite marathoner whom I've been following quietly for a few years. We have some mutual friends, but I've never actually met Camille. I just knew she was really, really fast and exactly my age. A week or so ago, I found her blog. I never knew she had one (you can read it here), and it's a really helpful blog for female distance runners. Anyway--I spent hours reading her posts, including the story about how she got started running, and then found a link to "coaching."
By clicking on the link, I found that Camille's coach--her husband, Conor--coaches other athletes. He's also the Oklahoma City University CC coach...so he's like..a COACH! I read over his little bio, and I sent him an email. He emailed me back. A few days later, we spoke on the phone.
I was initially caught off guard when I spoke to him...because he's Irish. I was unaware of this...I thought he was from Oklahoma. Anyway, we hit it off. Especially when he said "Now, if I coach you, you'll have to get use to not doing a normal taper." SOLD! Really, though, I had read enough about Camille's training before I contacted Conor to know that we would get along well. One thing he's already convinced me that I'm doing is running too fast on my easy/recovery days. Camille runs around 8:30-9:00 pace on these days...she is WAY faster than I am...and I almost always run faster than that.
So I'm very excited about getting started with Conor--we'll start after Chicago. Now if only I can survive until then!