The only thing that kept me going last week (finishing the Mountains-to-Sea 12-miler, coming home, rinsing the caked-on mud and sweat off of me, napping, then begrudgingly lacing up for 8 more miles) was the thought that this is the last hurdle before taper. That 20-mile day, as thrown-together and poorly planned as it was, was the only thing left before sweet, sweet taper.
(Once taper was finally here, I had to keep reminding myself that taper != end of training. I have to actually keep running, at least a little.)
James's birthday came, and to celebrate we spent four days at the Full Frame Documentary Festival. Ten documentaries sounds like more than any one person might want to see in that time span, so I was surprised to find that I woke up every morning psyched about going to see more, and wishing we had more time to discuss them (some of them were so, so good) in between screenings. A few that I couldn't stop thinking about were The Hand That Feeds, L'anneau, White Earth, Stevie, and 112 Weddings. Some friends, one of whom worked on one of the films, came down from Chicago and stayed with us, and it was cool to get to tag along with them to various parties, and to get meet some of the documentary subjects.
So between that and work, I didn't run much but I didn't care because ?? Taper!
I took advantage of the weather to go riding again, finally. I hadn't ridden Hudson in almost two weeks, thanks to tons of work at the office, rain, Hudson throwing shoes left and right, and so on. I did a bunch of barn chores I'd neglected and curried Hudson for almost a whole hour, since he had shed out his winter coat since I'd last seen him and hadn't been groomed. James came since we planned to go to a show in Saxapahaw right after, and he snapped a few photos of me riding which horrified me when I saw them. I feel like I'm nearly back to where I used to be, but photos tell another story. My heel is up, my legs swing, and my arms flop. It was a good reminder of what I need to work on this summer.
On Friday we headed over to the Shinleaf area in Falls Lake because we wanted to get away and we had heard the camping there is decent and very easy (it's only about 20 minutes from home). I made one of my best fires to date and we left the rain fly off so we could sleep under the stars. Still, I'll always prefer backcountry camping when I can find it.
Running-wise, I had been feeling healthy except for some tightness in my calves (probably residual soreness from sliding around on the MST) but uneasy about my race. My right quad had a huge knot it in so I dusted off my foam roller, which I had neglected all cycle, and did my best to roll it out. I thought about getting a massage but decided to cross my fingers and hope for the best instead (dumb).
Week 18 - Race Week!
I continued to feel uncertain about the race and my strategy was, again, to just not think about it. Of course, that wasn't completely successful: It comes as naturally for me to set goals (which has probably served me well) as it does for me to feel guilty about not giving 110% to meet those goals (a maladaptive trait when it comes to things that literally do not matter, like my marathon-running.)
My "all or nothing" approach to sports was difficult this cycle: I knew I couldn't prioritize this marathon enough to give it my "all," but I had to fight the impulse to give it my "nothing" and abandon it completely. I do care about my running and I want to improve, so I often feel guilty about things that are completely normal for a recreational runner, like skipping runs and letting training get derailed by fun things or work obligations.
I wrote briefly about race week and I'll recap the marathon itself soon, so I won't dwell too much on week 18 here. I ran just a little bit on Tuesday and Wednesday, mostly to clear my head and figure out whether the big knot had loosened from my right quad (it had.) Ready or not, it was time to run a marathon.