Half Marathon Taper Week Thoughts

i’m about a week out from running my first half marathon, post-kids. hilariously to me now, in the months after both of my boys were born, i half-heartedly wondered aloud to my husband about signing up for a race again – primarily driven by the intense need to reclaim parts of my body and time for myself, in those early postpartum days – and now, as i’ve finished up my 12 week training plan, i can’t even fathom having had the energy to stick to this training before this moment of parenthood.

i used to be a casual-ish runner in the Before Parenting Times; i ran several halfs (this was probs my most recent?!), could run a 5/10k on a relative whim if a friend asked. i ran trails in the mornings before work and did a 14 mile race up mt. evans. running isn’t net-new to me. i ran a thanksgiving day 10k in november and stuck to my training plan and felt pretty great about my first-post-kids race. of course, training in CO and running in OH helped – all the extra oxygen to breathe! so with all this in mind, in february, weeks before my youngest turned two, i decided to rip the bandaid and commit to running this half and i had foolish confidence that i’d hit my stride (pun intended) with training and feel really great heading into this taper week and next week’s race.

but alas.

i DID stick to my training plan, pretty damn closely! there were a couple times i traded a 5 mile base/weekday run for 3.5 to better fit into my life though, i didn’t think twice about it. at this point in my life, i can’t let any one thing consume me fully anymore – not work, not parenting, not running. i am more than the loudest, most pressing thing in my life and i need these disparate parts of my life to complement and contribute, not overrun (lol, unintentional pun but we’re rolling with it). but on the whole, i was diligent about hitting my weekday runs, even if it meant heading to the gym at 8p after i did the kiddo bedtime shuffle, and i laced up every weekend for long run, even when we had visitors – even when my mom visited and gave us a parenting weekend off and i could have slept in in a dark, quiet hotel room (9 miler from our hotel stay downtown which followed the actual race route, fun!). i freaking committed and held myself accountable.

here, in the last days before the race next sunday, i’m feeling: proud, stronger (well, cognitively i know i’m stronger), super duper tired and honestly ready to be on the other side of this race and training.

the most recent weeks, mileage ‘peak weeks’, have truly exhausted my body and mind. which then opens space for doubt and disappointment to creep in. ‘i’ve been following the plan. why the EFF IS THIS STILL SO FREAKING HARD.’ my first 10 mile long run was SO HARD and my body was SO TIRED. the following week, i did another 10 miler – the same route – hoping to feel more confident, stronger. nope. maybe 11 miles would feel better? still nope.

so in this taper week, i’m cutting myself some slack. i had set myself an arbitrary time goal at the outset of this and at this moment, i’m deciding my only goal is to have a good time. to not be too hard on myself. to cross the finish line and be proud of what i did. i signed up for this race to force me (and my family) to create space to prioritize taking care of myself. to not consume myself with work in the evenings. to get outside. to exercise. to spend time alone (and for my family to spend time without me). i’ve done all those things!! mission accomplished!! so who cares if i’m slower than i ‘used to be’? literally no one. my body is tired, strong and it will finish that damn race next week and that is badass.

there are, however, a few things i’ve pinpointed that i’ll do differently next time:

  • finding a plan that calls for more cross-training (my body is tired bc it’s literally only been running)
  • finding a plan that includes strength training expectations (see above)
  • learning more about how/when/what to eat and when (i can’t figure this out for the life of me. i don’t know why nutrition/macros are like an alien language to me but they are. i need to pay someone to just tell me what to do)
  • committing to earlier bedtimes, consistently (true in running and non-running; my tragic flaw)

because i’m excited for a little break after this — and then i’m excited to push myself to get stronger and do it all over again.

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