So far, so good. Granted, it's only day 3 and this week doesn't really feel like TOO much of a taper, since I'm still allowed to run 45ish miles.
I've been doing a lot of reflection on this training cycle though and there are a few things that I'm going to take away from it (besides a wicked PR next week):
1. POTENTIAL. Ummm. This probably sounds kinda douche-y, but, I feel like I still have so much more that I can do. This training cycle was great because it pushed me to the limits, but I don't feel like I ever really got all that close to breaking. Which means I trained smart and also means that I have the potential to train to be much, much faster. Next time. And the time after that. And... well... you know.
2. SUPPORT. I have the best support system. My friends and family have always been great (obvi), but Coach Tanya and Cheryl have become a couple of my best friends and I am so psyched that the 3 of us are going to be taking Birmingham by storm next weekend. And of course, The KoB has been amazing. He's done a bunch of my workouts with me, has listened to me talk incessantly about this OMG race, has pushed me to do the extra mile instead of bailing early (cough, last night, cough cough) and has always had faith in me. Fun fact: Our first date was about a week and a half before the Tom King Half Marathon last year (which, if you remember correctly, I KILLED and, so did the KoB) and we sat across from each other at a table making small talk (ABOUT RUNNING, of course) and all I could think about was how much faster he was than me and how much more of a badass he was than me and how he probably thought I was just some lameass hobbyjogger. But, I'll never forget we were talking about the upcoming half marathon and I made some comment about how "we'd just have to wait and see" if I was going to be able to PR or not. And he looked at me and said, "oh you will." with such conviction and without even a hint of a smile. It wasn't that he was just saying it, because that's what you do when someone talks about their goal... He was saying it because he knew it*. He barely knew me or about any of my training, but he had total faith in me. And, strangely enough, that gave me a huge confidence boost. It was like... yeah... maybe I hadn't done much with my running in my past. But that didn't mean I couldn't now or in the future.
3. TEMPO RUNS. I feel like tempo runs give me the biggest boost mentally. This latter part of training, I haven't done as many tempo runs and that's really the only thing that makes me nervous. I've been doing more interval work and I think physically, that might be more beneficial for me. But, as dumb as it sounds... I really get no mental boost from an interval workout. Still being a newbie to this "real training" thing, interval work is just too abstract for me to wrap my head around. I'll finish a track workout and will have hit all my splits, but... that doesn't mean anything to me. It just means I did what I was supposed to. When I do a tempo run... it's like.. DAMN. I just ran X miles at my marathon pace/faster than my marathon pace, etc. Tempo runs feel more satisfying to me. Maybe this is because I'm an adult-onset runner and have no background or experience on a track.
4. NIGHT RUNNING. So, I'm no longer attached to the morning running. Sure, I still like to get up early and get a run over with. But, I have to say it's so NICE to have the option to run in the afternoon.
5. CONFIDENCE. Nothing like a 22 week training plan to give you confidence. Sure, I'll be nervous for the race. But, I don't have any regrets or any nagging doubts about my training. I never missed a workout and I think I always hit my paces/splits. My fitness is in a great place, but most importantly, my marathon pace doesn't scare the shit out of me when I think about it.
More to come... I'm sure these next 11 days are going to be filled with nervous chatter from me on the blog.
*Or ya know... he was saying it for other reasons. Dudes.