Friday, January 11, 2013

Austin - The Trip Begins

First day of the Austin 3M Half Marathon adventure.  Well, that's note entirely true.  It actually started last night when I headed into Missoula for the night.  And, I'm glad I did.  Pretty solid snow storm came in and the roads were not good.  With an early morning flight, glad I didn't have to the brave the icey roads in the dark.

Plus, that gave me a chance to stop by and get my first look at the new Runner's Edge location.  The store looks great.  Anders and the crew did a great job with the space.  It's a first rate retail set-up; and, they've done a fantastic job of layout, finishes, product display.  Just a great store.  They should be very proud.

Then, to top off the evening, was able to spend some time hanging out with Anders and Meg Brooker, Mike Foote and Tyson Warner at Sean Kelley's.  Good people, lots of laughs, stories galore.  Pretty good way to kick off the extended weekend.

Typical long day of travel today. To the Missoula airport by about 5:30 a.m., then didn’t get to Austin until about 1:30 Mountain Time (2:30 Central Time).  But, had a quick trip to the expo hotel to get my packet.  [Side note:  this is a fairly good sized race - 6,000+.  But, it's relatively low key.  Probably less than 20 vendors at the expo; and, it was a lot of "fringe" products - sunglasses, start up energy bars, probiotic drinks and the like.  But, that wasn't big on my agenda for this race anyway; so, no worries.]
Then, to my hotel (which is within about 200 meters of the start line) and a quick run of 20 minutes or so (plus some dynamic flexibility work).  A bit warm and humid today - 68 degrees; but, that felt good after leaving Missoula in the snow and 17 degrees.
Went out and picked up some supplies and pizza for dinner - then back to the hotel for some internet, blogging, TV and getting the feet up.

The last 10 days or so have gone pretty well.  Had a couple of lower volume quality sessions.  Over the years I’ve become a believer in the physiology behind the taper.  Reduce mileage to allow the body to recover from the stress induced by training.  But, still need to maintain some level of quality effort to maintain muscle memory and neuro-muscular patterns.  I’m also a big believer that you need to retain the sense of pace for your goal effort – I really like being able to dial into the “feeling” of the effort at race pace.  To me, that’s critical to success at racing long distances.

Perhaps just as important is the phsycological component.  During the taper, it’s easy to feel like you’re losing fitness due to the reduced mileage.  A smattering of quality allows you to feel a bit more at ease with the fact you’re not wasting away to being slow and fat.

And, as much as I know the physiological benefits of the taper, I dislike it all the same.  In spite of the quality efforts, it’s still easy to think that you’re losing fitness.  It’s easy to second guess the training.  Every day you feel like you’re about to come down with a cold.  Or a muscle twinge.  Or some other imagined soreness. 

For this race, my taper has been two weeks.  In week one, I dropped mileage from 54 to 42 miles with one hard workout (4 X 1 mile at 10K pace) and one last core session.  This past week (taper week #2), I’ll be down to 29 miles with a shorter quality session (2 miles at marathon pace) and no core work (just stretching and some dynamic flexibility).

The first week wasn’t too bad.  Had the New Year’s holiday and a busy work week to keep things busy.  But, this past week was a bit harder.  Not so much the second guessing – okay, maybe just a little bit.  No, it was more the feeling of coming down with something.  Cold??  Earache?? Flu???  In the end, I’m pretty sure none of those things are about to fall upon me.  But, just to be sure, I’ve been getting lots of sleep, bathing in hand sanitizer and gorging on Airborne.

In the end, not feeling too stressed though.  My workouts have gone well and normal training pace is feeling quite easy.  And, looking back at many/ most of my most recent half and full marathons, I realize that I’ve had the same feeling of impending illness during taper time in almost all of them.  So, I’m hopeful that this can be interpreted as a good sign.
Now - all that I can do is rest up, keep the feet up and get ready mentally.  I've done all I can physically.  Just need to get my head around the race and focus on what it's going to take to meet my race goal.
More tomorrow ................ until then, see you on the roads, tracks and trails.
The Muddy Buzzard.

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