I’m tapering for my BIG RACE, which is tomorrow morning. The taper makes a lot of sense – I obviously want to start my run feeling as fresh as possible, and not risk being tired or sore from a recent hard workout. So this whole week I have been resting – or at least, not running – and eating heartily. After all, I have to do something with the hours I’m not running, so I might as well cook. As a result, I feel fat and sluggish, which is not making me confident about racing 13.1 miles tomorrow. My mind knows that this is smart, but my legs aren’t quite as sure.
Training for this race has been interesting – I have been more structured about it than I had been for previous, shorter races. I had expected that the distance would feel overwhelming, as I had really never run more than an hour at a time before. I built up gradually though, adding just a mile each week, and it really turned out that the distance was not a big deal. As long as I go nice and slow, which is my specialty, and just stay patient and keep running, I can easily run 14 miles. During my other, non-long runs each week, I tried to push my speed as much as possible, to keep my legs turning over fast and to remind them what running and racing feels like. I did some fast intervals, and some longer steady hard runs. It’s rough on my body to run both fast and far at the same time, so I have not done that, and won’t until tomorrow.
I know the result that I am hoping for. I expect to finish, I intend to run the whole way without taking walk breaks, and I hope – if the stars align and my taper has worked and I’m as strong as I think I am – to do it in two hours. I’m not nervous about the run – there are no stakes if I don’t finish or do as well as I want, but I am excited and anticipatory.
The whole process really reminds me of audition preparation. I work on minute details, and I work on playing a long list of excerpts and trying to give a great impression of myself over the course of that performance, and of course I work on my reeds and equipment, and my hope is that on the day, on the stage, everything comes together to make a magical performance in which I surpass my previous best efforts. For an audition, too, I tend to taper off the hours I practice in the last few days – I want to be fresh and not worn down physically and not mentally sick of the pieces.
Obviously I am not actually a fast runner. There is no question of me competing for an actual prize or impressing anyone but myself out there. But the great thing about this activity is that I can really throw my energy and my self-discipline and my obsessive nature into it, and work for steady improvement, and achieve great personal goals – but with no stakes. Unlike my music career, where my every appearance is public and audible and judgeable, when I run I am accountable only to myself. It’s freeing and structured at the same time. Perfect.