The long runs are done. Long live the long runs!
I’m not really sure if yesterday counts as a long run or not. I ran 10 miles followed immediately by 2 hours of hiking. All on roads or fire roads. While 10 miles is more of an intermediate run when you’re training for ultras, the added hiking upped the time on my feet to a bit over 3 1/2 hours. That’s a decent amount of time on my feet, however doing more walking than running cuts down on the overall impact on my body. I started doing this workout 2 weeks out from my 100-milers while I was training for Eastern States last year. I’m never really sure how to taper so it’s more likely than not that I’m doing it wrong. Three weeks out from race day seems too long for the last hard long run, however 2 weeks doesn’t seem long enough to fully recover. This 10 and 2 structure seems like a happy medium between the two. Since it seemed to work pretty good the last 2 times I’ve used it, I figure I’ll keep doing it until it stops working. Now that I think about it, this is pretty much how I train and race 100-milers.
The run portion yesterday went better than I could have hoped for. I was knocking off 9.5 minute miles for the first seven then dropped the hammer for the last three. I started this last bit out on a nice downhill so decided to push the pace a smidgeon. Nothing too aggressive as injuring myself in the last long run would have really, really sucked, but I did quicken my turnover. I was thrilled to see a mid-8 number flash on my watch for mile 8 so decided to keep pushing for the last 2 miles. They both ended up under 9 minutes and while they were both rather flat miles, these were still fast paces for me. I stopped for half a second, reset my watch, then started my 2 hours of hiking. This may have been a harder workout for me than the running since I haven’t spent much time hiking (aka dog walking) this winter. I hope this doesn’t come back and bite me in the fanny during the last couple laps at Umstead.
I read a lot of people online who can’t seem to handle the taper. That’s not me. I love the taper. I push myself quite a bit during my training cycles, probably mentally more so than physically, and I like the downtime before race day. I enjoy the calm before the storm. I will try to get some extra sleep over the next couple weeks, which I hope will help alleviate the several niggles that always seem to pop up once my training is done. It’s funny how I’ll go through a whole training cycle and nothing will bother me besides my normally tight hamstrings, but once that last really long run is done issues seem to come out of the woodwork (right knee this time). I don’t know if my body knows that now is when I have the time to heal up an issue or I always happen to push myself just a little too hard on my peak weekend (last one!). It’s happened so consistently over the past several years and typically doesn’t impact me during the race so I don’t usually pay it much mind. Maybe it’s just my body’s way of telling me to get lots of extra rest.
So now the final planning and packing begins. All the work is done. I’m almost there. The only thing remaining is to tick off 13 more days on the calendar. Well, that and manage my nerves.