I'm sure they have been around for a long time. But it was only after registering for my first marathon that I began to notice the little car stickers - "26.2" I don't plan to put one on my car after April 25; I don't put stickers on my cars.
This week, though, as I turn the corner into the "tapering" mode of training, was a banner week. It began with a long run on Monday. The longest run of the training program, it was supposed to be on Saturday. Which was the day before Easter, "Holy Saturday," not normally a day I would get out for a supreme exertion. But especially not last Saturday - rehearsals with Easter musicians at 8:30 and 9:30; an extra choir rehearsal at 11:15 for a memorial service we were to sing at Noon. Cemetery duties and the family lunch. No, it was after 3pm when I got home on this truly Holy Saturday, and even if I had been unwise enough to try a run like this, it couldn't have happened.
So, that bumped the 21-miler to Easter Monday. Now, normally, and that means in the best of times, Easter Monday is my first long bike ride of the season. I have a nice 50-mile ride I enjoy as casual solo ride after a busy season and weekend as a church musician. So, it was hard to pass that up in lieu of this essential piece of the training program. I had been told that if I managed the 18-mile run, the marathon was "in the bag." (No one ever put it that way, but it's what they seemed to mean.) But everyone does the 20-mile run before tapering. 20 miles - that is where I can expect "the wall" on race day. I reasoned that if I could do 21, then psychologically I would have run through that wall already.
We'll see how that strategy works on April 25!
So that is how the week began: 21 miles. Now, the tapering period was to begin on Monday or Tuesday and end today with a 12-mile run. Optimally I would have had 2 rest days following Monday. But I pressed on:
Tuesday, rest day
Wednesday, 5 miles
Thursday, 10 miles
Friday, 4.4 miles
Saturday (today), 12 miles
My math makes that a 52.4 mile week - the equivalent of two marathons in 6 days.
So, now tapering begins in earnest. Today was my last double digit run until the Big Sur. And what a nice run. It was the first time all 4 of us friends doing Big Sur, ran together. It was "slow, soft, and flat." Illinois Prairie Path (flat and soft) east from Wheaton, and a 9:12/mile pace. Sunny, warm, and conversational.
I don't expect to see, much less run with, these guys on race day, but with their help, I am beginning to expect to finish and find them and celebrate.