5 Sleeps to Race Time

By: Asia Shah

We have arrived at the tail end of our training segment for the California International Marathon.  This cycle has been a great first go with our coach, Jeff K., and our smaller group within Team Rogue.  To say that I feel at home in this group is an understatement. I think Jeff would agree that we fit quite well in terms of coach-athlete dynamics. In fact, I have not felt this trusting and confident in my training and the guy telling me what to do since running under Steve. Don’t get me wrong, I have had amazing synergy in groups under various coaches, but I think that it takes a sort of puzzle-piece fit for me to feel at my best, which takes a lot of trying out pieces and realizing they are not quite it. For the most part, workouts that gel with how I like to train, which tends to resemble what I did in college, will get a lot of points from me.  This whole training cycle, beginning with a month of base and speed maintenance in late spring, has hit on some areas that I am strong, while highlighting and strengthening where I am weak. At this point, with only seven days between me and the starting line, I know that I have done everything I could this time around and now just need to trust in the work and stay positive.

This past Thursday Kam, Muz, and I had our last workout while tapering down the mileage and length of hard workouts.  The workout was 2×2 miles at tempo pace in order to keep our turnover, fitness, and confidence flowing. We hit these reps in around 12:08, which was perfect. What struck me about the last two weeks of training, and this workout in particular, was how good I felt throughout. This race is somewhat bittersweet because I feel like just now I am rounding into the type of shape and comfort with training that I would have liked to have started the cycle in. Obviously, there is no going back, so regrets are futile, but it makes me hungrier to regroup after this race and put together a training cycle for Boston that begins from this elevated point. It is important to remember that with running and racing, patience is the name of the game, which is difficult for most people, including myself. This is the main reason that I am looking at this race as a small but solid stepping stone on my way to running like my old (fast,hopefully!) self in the future.  Overlooking small victories and positive steps is all too common for highly competitive runners because we are chronically unsatisfied. While I believe that this mentality is part of what fuels me and keeps me coming back for more, even when I have been beat to a pulp, I do see the value in tempering that perfectionism and allowing myself to celebrate the middle ground between where I was and where I want to be. Because this middle ground is where all of the hard work, sacrifices, and discipline come in, and this is worth acknowledging.

So, on a simpler note, today felt like crap. Ahhh but such is the taper and last long-ish run prior to the race. In high school I realized that my worst, most tired and raged warm-ups usually bore no resemblance to the quality of race I would run just minutes later, which is why I have come to expect the warm-up to feel shitty. I’m not sure why, or how to explain it, but I tend to, more often than not, feel crappy during race warm-ups. This is what Kam told me would happen during the taper week of training as a whole. It’s kind of like people have this psycho-bio-neurological break and suddenly wonder if their leg is broken, or maybe they are developing some sort of lung-impairment just before the race. Ok people, breathe. For those of you joining me in my current taper, the taper gods are trying to convince you that somehow, at the peak of your fitness, you are slow, injured, fat, anemic, and likely gluten intolerant. BOLOGNA!!  This is your self-appointed captain speaking:  you are fit, fast, and READY!

Thankfully, I don’t  feel too bad tapering this time around, but man, sometimes I have a run that feels more tiring than it should and I just have to say, oh well!!  This just means I will have a kick-ass race! Well, this correlation is not exactly scientific or peer-reviewed, but I think it is good to know so that you can just let it go, chalk it up to taper-age, and stay relaxed. For the most part, I do not taper much. Let’s just say it has proven to cause mental and physical screws to come slightly loose if extended beyond the timeline written in my manual, so one week about does it for me. This post may be the result of one of those loose parts.

Anyone running CIM, Dallas, or some other early winter race, I bid you good day, good luck, and a happy, anxiety-free taper.


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