The Art of the Taper

Frank tapering

Exercising the brain, i.e., doing a NYT crossword.

What a cheap excuse!  No, not running today.  I’m tapering.  Tapering my butt!  I’m expanding.  I must be.  My shirts are tapered.  No-Iron, too, but that’s for another blog.  No, I can’t be running less than half of what I’ve been running, and then say that I’m gaining fitness.  My last long run, 21 miles, was 10 days ago.  Since then I’ve managed to get in a total of 19 miles, all at a repressed pace to allow for the magic of the taper to take effect.  Part of that low mileage was due to my being on call last week, so I had to work some long hours, and didn’t get in the usual run with the club on Sunday.  It was, in a way, a forced taper.  Now we only have three days left before the marathon, and I don’t feel like a sprite dancing over the water.  I was expecting, perhaps, a feeling of “incredible lightness of being” with homage to, and a twist on, one of my favorite authors, Milan Kundera.  Oh, I will grant that I’ve taken my bluejeans belt up a notch, and I’m running comfortably at paces which used to be impossible.  But I have a fear that all that will slip by, that the peak is passed, and that the old bugaboos will still haunt me when it comes time to face the start line.  We say we are ready, that we’ve put in the miles.  We have certainly sweated a lot these past four months.  Imagine the cost of all the sports drink which cycled through our systems, only to be lost as a stead flow of drips on the ground, and wrung out from shirts, shorts and socks.  Running is considered an inexpensive sport, since there are not many necessities, but buying shoes every few months, and refueling with organic, healthy foods to replace the calories burned is not cheap.

One of our club mates asked that I report on who eats what the night before the marathon.  Our group will be heading out to dinner together the night before, at an Italian restaurant.  Steve, who made the reservation, had the temerity to ask the owner if he was sure he would have enough pasta to feed us.  I’m sure there was silence and disbelief on the other end of the line, then “what, are you jokin’?”  Wine or beer the night before?  Good idea or bad?  I don’t know, but I plan to go ethanol-free.  All these fears come bubbling to the surface a few days before the marathon, but come the day, I’m sure they’ll be suppressed, and only confidence and good cheer will prevail.

Now, it’s off to run my last Wednesday night run before the race.  By the way, I signed up for Philadelphia, Nov. 18.  I think it’s good to keep looking forward.


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