Ask anyone who has raced an Ironman about tapering and they all agree it is quite a difficult time for the athlete, and for anyone who comes in contact with them. We get cranky. It is so common a million memes have been created.
Tapering is just resting and taking it easy. I’ve taken it to a whole new level and have barely trained. I meant to do more, but just couldn’t get there.
The beginning of the week was tough. Suddenly my legs felt sore and heavy; as if the accumulated miles hit me all at once. I was also tired beyond belief. I walked around yawning; wishing I could plop on my bed and sleep even if I am getting a full night sleep every day. I began to worry over countless details, and fret about the training I didn’t do. In the process I was hungry the entire time and ate all the contents of my refrigerator without shame.
I finally went for a swim on Thursday to try out my borrowed long sleeve wetsuit. The ocean was choppy, murky, and the beach looked like a scene from Hitchcock’s “The Birds” with hundreds of sea gulls on the shore and at least a dozen pelicans floating on the water. Normally, I would’ve not gone in to swim on my own, but it was my one chance to do a systems check and I swam 1.5 miles until I swam into a Pelican.
Yes, you read it right.
He didn’t move and I didn’t see him so we collided in a disgusting, awful way. If there were so many of them randomly attacking unsuspecting fish … I didn’t want to be a part of it and got the heck out.
The swim didn’t do much for my confidence. It felt sluggish, and the wetsuit made my arms tired. The feeling of being unprepared was predominant.
By Saturday, things began to turn around. I ran a 10k while my boys raced the Lighthouse Run 5k with their triathlon team. It was the first time they raced without me, and I felt a twinge of guilt. But it passed. I had to get that run in.
Thank goodness I did. The 10k felt great and I kept a faster pace, a full two minutes per mile faster, than what I expect to run at Ironman. The run gave me a boost in confidence.
But most of the week was spent catching up on work, procrastinating on my Ironman Arizona Facebook Page, finding new things to worry about, planning our road trip after the race, figuring out details with our house sitter while we are gone, and such.
I went on a bike ride with the boys, and also met a couple of Miami folks doing Ironman Arizona – both are on their fifth and sixth races and one of them, Lourdes, is trying to qualify to Kona in her age group of 60-65. I want to be like her when I grow up.
As I got busy with the details of traveling, the training worries began to dissipate.
Whatever. Sunday is going to be a great day. I should meet my time barring any extenuating circumstances that can arise from being out there for 140.6 miles. Those are many but out of my control.
In the midst of the taper tantrums things are making sense to me. My journey, as turbulent as it might have been in my head, was just right. The week was a reflection of that.
I faced my fundraising fears with this post. I realized I’ll do my thing and race an Ironman, but then we are doing our thing as a family. And there are few things I enjoy more than travelling with my clan. The boys will climb a rock for the first time, we will visit the Grand Canyon, and explore cave dwellings. Penelope the cat will be cozying it up to our friend staying at home with her. It all sounds wonderful to me.
This journey to Ironman Arizona was not just about getting to Ironman; that is just fine by me. Though I know this feeling of peace might leave at any moment to be replaced by fear and panic, it’s still true: miracles do happen. Even in the taper weeks.