The time has come. I am setting out on my final week of training before my taper. The final push. Am I excited? Yes. Am I scared and nervous? Hell, yes. But I know on race day I will have done everything I could have done to try and get myself across the finish line. What more can I ask for?
The Training Plan--my new "bible":
During these final 3 "Build" weeks, I have been obsessively reviewing my training plan to the nth degree. I have highlighted my key workouts and reviewed my weekly volume to exhaustion. (Don't worry. During my taper, I'll divulge my secret training plan in so much detail, you're eyes will glaze over). I have followed this training plan so closely, it actually scares me. I've never done that before. The exciting thing is that I think it's working. My endurance feels superhuman, and I'm in the best shape of my life.
As the taper approaches, I'm focusing much more on detail. Everything is becoming very race specific. I know I need a few 4,000 meter swims at race pace to make me feel confident. I plan on making these ocean swims. If I can do 4,000 in the ocean, a 2.4 mile swim in Tempe Towne Lake will feel like a walk in the park. I plan on just 2-3 of these during the next few weeks. The nice thing about swimming is that you can still keep a fairly high volume during the first 2 weeks of taper and still easily recover afterwards.
As far as the bike goes, I'm pretty much there. I'm no longer worried about the distance. I wouldn't mind a few more short (~30 mile) rides in windy conditions. Saturday, I rode 74 in extremely WINDY conditions, and it wiped me out. I much prefer hills--at least you get to recover on the downhill! In wind, I just feel like I'm grinding endlessly in the same position forever, and my muscles seem to fatigue faster. I'm planning on 1 last high intensity brick at Fiesta Island during "Final Push" week. 4-6 laps around Fiesta will give me some wind and a solid 10K run in Mission Bay afterwards will give my legs a taste of what's to come. During the first/second week of taper, I plan (as long as I'm recovering well) on 1-2 high-intensity, short (~17 mi) rides on the Silver Strand (Coronado), guaranteed to be flat and windy.
As far as running goes, I am concentrating on injury prevention. My left achilles started acting up 2 weeks ago. I was seriously freaking out. I did a lot of RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation, not to mention ibuprofen) during the first week and active stretching and massage the 2nd week. Yesterday, I ran 17 miles on the flat sidewalks (hard, flat surfaces are better for tendons) of Mission Bay with 0 pain. In addition, my energy levels felt great, and the run actually felt "easy". I think I'm in the clear but I will be pretty conservative during my mid-week runs during "final push" week. If I feel okay, I'll try a track workout tomorrow with SDTC as long as I promise to pull out if I feel any twinges. My grand finale will be 20 miles (Mission Bay again) this Sunday.
My nutrition has been coming together nicely as well. I have it dialed in (thanks to my nutritionist!), and I have back-up plans in case of emergency on race day. I've been focusing on getting lots of sleep (9 hours a night plus 1 hour naps), and lots of stretching daily. I've also been doing weights 2x/week for ~40 minutes, which has been great for my overall strength, endurance and injury prevention.
This week, I will write out my taper workouts in extreme detail so I have no choice but to follow my plan. That will restrain me from overdoing it during the final 3 weeks leading up to race day. I will also start writing up my "lists" of what needs to be done during the taper to help make myself feel ready (race list, race schedule, schedule bike tune-up, race visualization tactics, etc., etc.).
I can't believe after a year of planning and training that race day is so near! I have to pinch myself sometimes. Is this really happening?