I am well into my first marathon taper. With the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon last weekend, my mind was distracted. (So much to blog about with the UBHM and so many awesome pics...coming as soon as I have a little more time!) This week though, I'm starting to understand what runners talk about in terms of the mental difficulty with the taper.

Monday night was a 6-mile "easy" run, but we had some hills, it was raining, it was dark, and we kept a good pace up. Tuesday though, it was time to acknowledge the taper. I went to OrangeTheory Fitness like usual. It was the first day of Hell Week - when the workouts are extra tough. Yet, I am tapering. It's time to kick everything down a notch. My coach was fantastic at helping me make a plan and modify the workout to fit my needs. I kept my pace down a bit and actually did a little extra running so I could get into a rhythm on the running segments (for a total of 1.5 miles). While everyone else was dying doing a billion burpees of various types and then 20 minutes of rowing really hard, I was being very intentional and not pushing hard. Rather than burpees, I was stepping back and stepping forward for a good stretch instead of intense cardio and leg strengthening. I did some extra weight exercises for my arms, shoulders, and back, but I kept the weights light. I did do the rowing, but I focused on form and instead of the usual "Push, Patience, Patience" that Coach Seth advocates, I added extra patience at the end. I kept a steady but slow rhythm, again giving my legs a stretch. It was SO hard not to push myself on the treadmill, doing burpees, on the rower. Everyone else was working so hard, and I was working so hard NOT to work too hard :) But, eyes on the prize!

As I rowed and thought "Push, Patience, Patience" over and over, I realized that this really does fit with my life right now. All season, I have been pushing. I have run HARD. I have logged miles and miles and miles. I have done long runs and tempo runs and speed workouts and hill repeats. I have gone to OTF 2 times a week and pushed myself hard. I have increased my base, push, and all out paces a lot. I have gotten stronger and increased the weights I use. I have changed my nutrition during the week and in training and have lost weight. Yes, I have PUSHed. Now, it's time to slow things down and have patience as I wait for my marathon. It's time to give my body a chance to recover, to be at it's strongest on November 4. It's time to take a few deep breaths, to remember why I'm doing this, to soak up the benefits of having pushed and knowing that I have done the training and I'm prepared.

Tonight, I will run only 4 miles. I can't remember the last time I ran only 4 miles. Looking at our training schedule, it was back in July, which seems like a lifetime ago. That was back when my longest run ever was 13.1 miles. I've not only run that twice this season in races but also ran further than that EIGHT times this season. My longest run ever is now 21 miles - and I'm going to blow that away on November 4! But tonight I run easy. Tonight I enjoy being with friends and knowing our legs are strong and are preparing to take us the distance.

Now to keep this perspective and just have patience as I continue to taper and get ready physically and mentally for my first marathon! Push, patience, patience is going to pay off when I cross that finish line!