Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Taper Madness


"Fear is probably the thing that limits performance more than anything - the fear of not doing well, of what people will say. You've got to acknowledge those fears, then release them."
--Mark Allen
I can't believe my 3rd Ironman is less than 2 weeks away. I can't believe I'm almost as nervous for my 3rd as I was for my first. Another year has elapsed. How did that happen? Again? Even thought this is my 3rd Ironman, I've had to overcome so much just to make it to the start line, including a broken heart, death, career disappointment, and clinical depression. Every Ironman presents challenges in making it to the start but this one seemed particularly difficult (my first Ironman was divorce, for instance).
I think I'd rather eat a tapeworm than actually taper. I hate the change in my routine. I hate the angst, the anxiety, the manic increase in energy. I have to carefully regulate my activity, make sure I'm not doing too much, yet make sure I'm doing just enough to sleep at night. This is difficult for my all-or-nothing personality.
For my first Ironman (Arizona, April '08), I was incredibly overtrained when I entered the 3-week taper. I logged more miles than training for my 2nd two, and my body was just not used to it. It took me almost the entire taper time just to recover from being overtrained. For my second Ironman (Canada, August '09), I was also overtrained. This time, however, I was prepared. I designed my training plan so I would be slightly overtrained going into the taper. I think I'm happiest when I'm slightly overtrained. I simply love that completely physically exhausted feeling. Anyway, this time, I added a week to the taper, allowing a full recovery week before entering the 3-week taper. That worked really well, and I was rarin' to go come race day.
This Ironman is different. I'm not overtrained. My taper is the standard 3 weeks. But I'm not overtrained, and it feels, well, it feels wrong. Shouldn't I be more tired? Shouldn't I be more sore? Am I in good enough shape? Should I have logged more miles? Is the training good enough. I am beginning to freak out. Common sense tells me to calm the f*#k down. I look at the training I did. During the final week, I ran 20 miles one day, swam 4000 the next, and biked 100 the day after that. It just didn't feel hard enough. And I'm worried. I did a 70.3 race that went phenomenally well. I did a 50K ultramarathon. I rode 100 hilly miles and then ran 18 hilly trail miles the next day. I rode 80 hilly miles several times. That should be good enough, right? Right? Yet, I'm worried.
I even have little projects planned to keep me mentally busy. Spring cleaning, writing, painting, dog training, etc. I'm trying to stick to these pre-planned projects to prevent myself from spinning off on a tangent. What's the craziest thing you've done in a taper? For Ironman Canada's taper, I applied to vet school. I had the applications done and was getting ready to fly around the country and visit different schools. An Ironman can be a great reality check. While on the Ironman Canada race course, the thought, vet school, floated through my head. I had an instant reaction in response, No. Don't be silly. That's ridiculous. And that answered that. The Ironman race course can be a great venue for answering hard-to-solve questions.
Common sense also tells me that the taper is going well. The first week, I didn't do too much. I think I was a little mentally burnt out. Fatigue lags training too. I felt like crap by the end of the week, which is a good sign. This week, I'm anxious. In re-reading my old posts about tapering, this is also a good sign. Week 1--you feel like crap. Week 2--you're crawling out of your skin. Week 3--race week--all systems go.

Hopefully everything will be okay. Torch gets tuned up today. I ran 10 miles yesterday, and that went well. Today, I will ride 40. We're down to the 10-day countdown. Gulp.

10 comments:

Wes said...

The important things in taper are to 1: rest, 2: stay sharp. No point in staying sharp if you are not resting up!! You will rock this...

Amy said...

Hang in there! You're so close to race day and you're going to rock it!

Diana said...

Ran 20, swam 4000, biked 100 in consecutive days......Yeah, I think you're ready!
Relax and have fun in the taper!
I love that pic of the cheetah in the tree...

bunnygirl said...

You're doing fine. There are plenty of ways to keep busy, and ten days will pass before you know it.

You're going to do great!

Colleen said...

Tape time is so hard. You are going to do great in Utah, you've done amazing in training! Let your body do what it needs to do these next two weeks!

Sherry said...

Hang in there, Rachel. I've followed every one of your Ironman journeys so far and honestly, I do believe that this one is going to be the best one yet. You are an endurance machine, girl! You need to realize this! You are well prepared, you know your limits, you know what needs to be done and what doesn't... you are going to shine! Best wishes to you!

runnergirl said...

Hang in there Rachel! You will rock Ironman St. George. Can't wait to hear about it and live vicariously through you!!

Southern Cernock said...

I agree, relax. Have faith in yourself. You got this!

Andy said...

Super exciting! I think I just jumped back into being a social butterfly (without the alcohol and not staying out till 2am) when I got back into my taper. Other than that, I kinda freaked out as well, but it was my first Ironman as well (CDA '09). I think that it is great that you can go back on your blog or mental cues and look back at past experiences, something I will be able to do again soon enough (planning on volunteering and then signing up at IMFL '10 for '11). Hope you had a great weekend!

Hunter said...

I feel your struggle with overcoming "so much just to make it to the start line, including a broken heart, death, career disappointment, and clinical depression." I have had all those things happen to me this year (minus the career disappointment, mine is school disappointment) and holding on to my training has been really tough. Good luck with your race.