You guys, I really thought I had everything under control…really, I did.
Although I’m not usually a big fan of taper-time (especially the final week), I was feeling pretty good about it. I was happy with my training, I felt ready, and I knew that all that stood between me and a 3:xx:xx finish time (not that’s not cryptic AT ALL) was a week of resting, hydrating, and eating. I had an easy walk/run 5k Girls on the Run practice on Monday, a not-too-fast, not-too-slow 6 miles on Tuesday, and I was feeling calm and collected.
Enter: the terrifying taper gremlins.
Yesterday was not a pretty sight people, and despite my better efforts—the Taper Beast crept up behind me, and pulled the proverbial rug from under my feet—dragging all my rhyme and reason along with it.
I don’t have much reason to begin with, so you can imagine what happens when all sense of logic and rationality is dispelled in one foul swoop.
And just like that, I entered a dark, deep, supremely uncomfortable state of undying restlessness. Every little thing was bothering me, and every single person in my line of sight would have readily run as far as they could in the opposite direction had they been able to hear the unwarranted and over-the-top hate thoughts going in my head. And then I would have been jealous of the fact that they were running and I was not, and then they would be in some real danger.
Essentially, I was/am feeling very overwhelmed…not necessarily by the race (at least not consciously…I’m sure my subconscious is a shit-storm of hallucinations right now), but more so by the things crowding around me. Yesterday I had an incredibly claustrophobic feeling of everything closing in on me, and all I wanted to do was to throw away every piece of technology I own, give away all my money to some war-torn country, and run away to a place void of human contact. I wanted to be completely free of accountability, free of material possessions, and free of the giant knot of thoughts that was pounding against the walls of my brain.
Sound crazy? You bet. Sound like a taper effect? Oh yes. I’m glad that this time I was at least able to recognize that these out-of-the-ordinary, nomad-like thoughts were more than likely the result of nerves, anticipation, and a general overflow of energy. However, the fact that this was a taper-tantrum and not a stream-of-consciousness epiphany in which I decide to sell all my possessions to children in need did not help me feel any less constrained.
I felt completely out of my skin, as if everything and everyone was closing in around me until I would disappear into the abyss. Unfortunately, the only thing that sounded freeing was running—without a watch, without an iPod, and without an agenda. However, I still had a few morsels of reason left over, despite the Taper Beast’s best efforts, and I knew running wasn’t a good option in the long run. (Pun intended, and by long run I actually mean “in the 3 days you have until running 26.2 miles with a very pointed goal in mind”). So, I did the next best thing.
I went swimming, where silence is unavoidable, but all forms of intrusive technology and people are completely avoidable. Little by little, stroke by stroke, my brain began to crack just enough to leak the poison that had overtaken my better self. Sure, I still had the desire to “accidentally” breast-stroke kick the guy next to me who’s version of sharing a lane means that I got the far left 6 inches while he got the middle, but I refrained.
And by the end, I felt better. Sure, the Beast was still there, but instead of allowing it to drag me all over the place without my consent or compliance, it was more as if I was carrying it piggy-back style. It had transformed from my ruler to my infant—I still had to haul it around with me and tend to its every need, but I was the one that was in control.
After leaving the pool, very gingerly and carefully—wary of the swarms of bad feelings coming back—I readily put on some encouraging, soothing, inspiring music and plotted my marathon playlist. That, with the addition of huge fistfuls of trail mix, calmed the diva yesterday, and so far this morning she has stayed calm. She is fed, she is currently being caffeinated, she is wearing a fuzzy jacket, and today she gets to be taken out for a dress rehearsal run, clad in marathon apparel. Sure, she might have spent a good hour last night Googling every last taper plan available via the internet, in some desperate attempt to tweak her already prescribed and effective schedule, but you know…baby steps.
The good news is once I can control the diva/Beast that gets to hang around these next few days, I manage to think about all the things I would prefer to occupy my mind space—like going to the running store for Body Glide and Energy Gels, updating my iTunes with 8:10 minute mile jams, and planning every last carbohydrate I’ll consume until Saturday night.
Ultimately, I know all these things will get done—and I know that despite all the stress and anxiety, it’s all in the name of kicking the crap out of the race on Sunday. Because if there’s one thing I know will tame my Beast—it’s letting her compete. She’s a ruthless little diva, and there’s nothing she loves more than chasing down strangers and leaving them in her dust.
So, lucky for everyone out there right now, the tantrums are at bay. I’m focusing on doing one task at a time, very carefully, and trying not the check the course map and weather report more than 5 times every half hour.
NYT Bestseller Certified Porn Fifty Shades of Grey and listening to “The World’s Greatest” by R. Kelly are both excellent distraction mechanisms.
Yes yes, I know R.Kelly isn’t exactly a dinner-appropriate conversation piece anymore. But that song was one of the Summer Olympics songs many years ago, and I’ll be damned if I can’t listen to it and pretend like I’m prepping to represent the U.S. in front of the whole world to see. A small marathon in Tacoma, WA is essentially the same thing all you haters—DON’T DISAGREE WITH THE DIVA.
I am sure that my eager competitive self will overpower the crazy within a day or so, and I can promise that come race time I will care only about the 26.2 miles of running ahead of me. Writing this has actually helped quite a bit, and presuming there are still a few of you left reading that haven’t run for their lives away from the cyber space occupied by a Crazy Lady, I appreciate your attention to my freaking out. Knowing that there are people out there who get it helps tremendously, and any thoughts you have regarding easing taper anxiety and crazy anti-materialism and anti-society thoughts would be more than welcomed.
So tell me: What is the craziest taper-experience/freak out you’ve had? How did you tame the Beast? Do you think it’s even possible to try and have a “happy taper?” And perhaps most importantly, what do you feed your diva?