Thursday, August 18, 2011

Taper Tales

I know many of you have done this before but I thought you'd get a nice laugh, lesson and smile out of my little taper tale. It is inspired by all my friends racing within the next two weeks at Timberman 70.3 and Ironman Canada. I will start off by simply saying:

I'm a newbie that's my defense! :)

And so the story goes...

I come off a great big 10 day training block before Ironman Lake Placid, about 3wks until race day. I have a recovery week followed by 2week taper, where my training starts to slow down and my legs start to feel super pressurized. I think you could have taken a pin and stuck them and I would have deflated. Swollen, heavy, pressurized legs. Did I mention I'm tired? "Oh lord why is this happening to me 2 weeks before my BIG day, the ONLY race on my calendar?!"

Mr. Paranoia and Mrs. Doubts start knocking on my door and of course I answer. I mean, how could I not right?

I continue to swim, bike and run but I feel like crap. I'm just going through the motions. My legs could explode at any moment.

Mr. Paranoia and Mrs. Doubts have a neighbor they wanted me to meet, her name? Why let me introduce to you Miss Panic (last name) Mode.

Miss Panic Mode and I made a few calls, sent a few emails, checked to make sure I had a pulse in my legs and then proceeded to go to the doctor to get blood work because, well, their HAD to be some chemical imbalance. Their HAD to be some reason as to why I was fine training the most I'd ever done and felt great each day to going the extreme opposite within a matter of days that felt like an eternity. Right? My friends who had much more experience than me said it was all part of the taper. Really? REALLY?!

After about 8 days of torture I went for my last hard run before race day (same day as blood work). Guess what? That run felt awesome. Hot as hell but awesome. Next morning I wake up and I thought maybe the pressurized cannonballs aka my legs were starting to feel a little better.

Off to work I go and I get a phone call from docs office telling me everything came back normal. Of course it did. Miss Panic mode had to leave, she had someone else to go visit. I email with my closest friend Mr. Google and he shared with me a taper article by famous World Champion Mark Allen after reading that article, I think I started to feel better.

Later that night I talk to my coach and express how Miss Panic mode came to visit but he explained everything to me and told me when I'd feel 100% better. Guess when? 2 days before the race. Yup you read that right. 2 days. Oh lord. I still had a week to go. Hanging up with my coach I felt 10x better. The weights on my shoulders were slowly being lifted.

But wait! There's a knock at the door. I'm not sure I want anymore visitors. It's Mr. Paranoia and Mrs. Doubts and of course I answer. I mean, how could I not right? They had a card and a gift for me, it was my reward for passing (though barely) the unwritten test. I had to wait until 2 days before the race to read the card but I could open the gift now (yippeee!) What they gave me was a blanket, one of those big comfy blankets it had all of my favorite colors; yellows, oranges, blues and greens. Kind of like a rainbow. As soon as I saw it I smiled. I wrapped it around me and it lifted my spirits I just KNEW everything would be ok. My race would be ok. I finally believed what everyone had been telling me. I was fine, it was just part of the taper.

The next day I still had my blanket wrapped around me but no one could see it. It reminded me of Harry Potters invisible cloak. I knew it was there. I could FEEL it. But no one else could. I named my blanket Magic. I know it sounds crazy right? MAGIC? Come on. I believed in magic. I knew everything would be great, not just for me but for my friends who were racing with me. I could FEEL it.

Two days before the race I opened the card (did you really think I'd forget?) it read:

The unwritten test is called the taper. Many will think the hardest part is answering to the physical ailments. While a major component in the taper, it is not the hardest part. The hardest part in the taper test cannot be held or touched. It is a feeling. It is learning to push past all the doubts that will surface, and the many fears that will start jumping out. It is believing and trusting in yourself. Your coach. Your training and all your hard work (well so long as you DID the work). You must rest (sleep/easier less stressful days) especially the week leading up to the race (I know you've heard it/read it a thousand times).  The taper teaches you how to adapt to stress both physically and mentally like that on race day. Successful completion of the taper results in the magic coming forth in whatever shape for each person. Successful taper means your chomping at the bit and feel fully rested come race day. It is your day. Reap the rewards and smile the entire way!!! Smiling makes all the pain go away and helps others around you.

Rest easy my friends, tapers almost over and the magic is all around!

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