Week 17: Taper Madness

With exactly 1 week to go before London, I’m squarely in Taper Madness. Once you are accustomed to running 30-40 miles/week, cutting down to less than half than that leaves you with a lot of excess energy.

My Steele trainer, Luis, told me that I’d feel like a “caged lion.” My fellow co-founder of Team Merrie Miles, Patty Elkus, compared me to a tiger. I figured I’d split the difference and go with Napoleon Dynamite’s favorite animal: the Liger. The more I think about it, the Liger seems like the perfect mascot for Taper Madness. Though, to be honest, this is exactly the kind of thought that someone in the throes of Taper Madness would have.

My job for both this week and next has been to increase my sleep and cut my food intake. My body needs carbs so that I’ll have good levels of glycogen stored in my muscles on race day. However, with the cutback in running, there’s a real risk I could pack on a few pounds if I kept eating the amount I’d consumed during my high mileage weeks. While a few pounds wouldn’t be the end of the world, it will be easier on my joints to run as lean as possible.

I went out for my last ‘longish’ run today. 7 miles is a treat at this stage of the game, and it was particularly nice to run in cool springtime conditions. The leaves are coming out earlier than usual this year, so this is a real upgrade on a typical Minnesota April.

Mere in final long run

One of the things that’s getting me through my taper madness is an overwhelming sense of gratitude for everyone who has supported me on this journey. First of all, Watt got the ball rolling. There’s no way I would have even thought about running London if he hadn’t led the way. While there were some cold days in February when I questioned the sanity of the whole plan, I’m now so happy that he and I will be running together on Sunday.

Next, Luis gave me confidence in my ability to run the race. When I tentatively mentioned the idea to him, he reacted with such enthusiasm and encouragement that it took me from “probably won’t,” to “maybe I can.” His plans have kept me on track since I started my pre-training in August. I don’t know if I could have effectively trained through a Minnesota winter without his guidance.

Susanna has been our Cheerleader-in-Chief. Drawing from a deep well of high school cheering experience, she has kept our spirits high in numerous ways, including joining me on runs when possible, sending us articles about marathon prep, and extending our fundraising reach substantially.

Sue as cheerleader

Katie has been our marathon cruise director, ensuring that we have a plan on the ground in London. She found us places to stay, arranged our itinerary and even ordered matching Team Merrie Miles t-shirts (modeled by Gracie below).

Gracie in Team Merrie Miles t-shirt

Sam is the captain of my personal support team. Having lived through my last marathon in 2011, he knew exactly how much I was asking of him when I told him I was considering running London. He has been amazing–never complaining even when my training runs dominated most evenings, weekends and vacations. He told me at one point that he considers supporting me in this to be his job, and he’s been exceptional at it.

Finally, all of you who have supported us financially have taken our breath away. 170 donors have contributed  $36,339 for Parkinson’s Research. That’s well over $1,000 for every mile that we’ll run, and it is money that will make a difference in the search for better treatments and, ultimately, a cure for PD. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

If you want more information about our fundraising progress, check out our fundraising page.

I leave for London on Wednesday, so the countdown is truly on. No matter how the race goes, it will be a transformative experience that leaves us feeling closer to Mom. Thanks for following along on the journey. I’ll be back next week with a recap.

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