After conquering my fear of impending dread all weekend and rocking out a 13.1 mile run in the late afternoon yesterday in a steady 7:05 min/mi pace, I think I'm finally ready to activate myself off the disabled list. So, that's the good news. The bad news is that I'm starting to show signs and symptoms of an acute infection. Now, before you start sending your get-well comments or flood my e-mail with coupons for Emergent-C, let me tell you that the etiology of this infection is strictly nonmedical. It is not caused by a bacterial agent, a parasite, a virus, or fungi or yeast. It is not even caused by anything that can be visible to the naked or magnified eye. Rather it is an infection that is well-known to most runners in the week leading up to their goal event. Perhaps you've heard of it, it's called taperitis.
Now, for those of not in the know, taperitis is the nonmedical condition where the prospective runner cannot stop thinking, obsessing and detailing every aspect of their goal event. It is totally unnecessarily but it is the right of passage for every aspiring marathoner. For example, I've already checked the course map 4 times, the weather forecast 6 times and visualizing every mile of the 26.2 mile course twice just today. This is rather excessive, even for a worried wart such as myself.
I know the prevailing opinion is to trust the training, trust the run, relax and just let the body do what it's meant to do on race day. But that strategy doesn't quite work for me because apparently I haven't quite learned how not to give up in the later miles of the marathon. Every time out in the recent past, I've lost the battle and given up precious minutes and seconds just trying to make it through to the finish line. That's why this time, I'm hoping to arrive at mile 20 a little more prepared, both physically (from a little higher mileage in training) and psychologically (from practicing a positive mental visualization). Emotionally too, I'm trying to remember a few key quotes, sayings, songs and names that will keep me fighting hard until the end. (Because they are still in formulation, there are no specific details yet but come back later in the week and maybe things will change!)
To be honest, I didn't expect this onslaught of taperitis given that New Jersey will be my 10th marathon and all. But given that I've never had such an aggressive time goal before and had never trained so hard for it, I think it may be justifiable. Because after all, the head and the legs will carry me through 20 miles, but I'll need some heart to make it through the final 10K.
Did I mention I'm getting new Saucony shoes to use for this marathon? My regular trainers has 250+ miles on it already and I don't think it'd be smart for me to run this marathon in racing flats either (since they place such a heavy strain on my knees and Achilles). So it's just another thing for me to freak out and be excited about as the week progresses. Oh man, if it's anything like it was today, it's gonna be a doozie.