The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Bring on the Taper!

Saturday brought snow to Calgary.  Soccer games were canceled.  I made soup.  It was an inside day.  Which made me antsy, because of what was on the schedule for Sunday.  Sunday (today) was IT.  Weather forecasters talked of a great spring day today.  I hoped and prayed for a nice day.  Thankfully, the weather forecasters were spot on.

Any marathoner knows the run.  The longest run of training.  The last run before the taper. For our group, it was 34 kilometers from our usual training spot to a park, where we would complete the run and congratulate ourselves on doing so with homemade treats.  I was psyched.  I feel really good this training cycle.  The usual aches and soreness, but nothing major.  It’s hard to believe my spring marathon is only three weeks away.  Where did the winter go?

Three week taper?  I do a doublecheck.   I am accustomed to a two-week taper and this program calls for three weeks.  Hmmm..

My short runs have been great.  They’ve been fast (for me), a slightly uncomfortable pace a little quicker than race pace.  It has built some confidence in my legs that, if pushed, I can go a little faster for a little longer.

So, the run.  Our group started out on the trail in the usual manner.  It was a brisk, clear morning.  The sky seemed to promise good things, though.  As I should be, I was a little chilly at the start (and don’t make fun of me for always being cold, everyone was a little chilly at the start).  We started off north along the reservoir.  Around “the res” is always windy.  We usually joke about it and just brace ourselves.  Since training started in February, I have experienced both windburn and sunburn this training cycle, both from running around the reservoir.  True to form, once we head away from the water I have not a clue as to where we are.  Coming home to upload my Garmin is always a treat, as I take a look at the area of town that I just explored.  In any case, we followed the river, winding north to City Centre and then turning west.  The first part of a long run is always jovial, we recap our weeks and talk about how we recovered from the previous week’s long run.

We even felt playful enough to alter our plan a bit, adding a little distance, to run over the Peace Bridge.  The Peace Bridge in Calgary, a beautiful structure designed by Santiago Calatrava, is for bicycles and people only.  Consistent with what I learned from Calatrava’s project in Milwaukee, (The Art Museum), the Peace Bridge was over-budget and opened behind schedule.  The conversation about whether we should run over it brought political debate (it’s a hot topic in Calgary) and our pace quickened.  Thank goodness for a leader reminding us (almost constantly) to RELAX.  We stopped for brief group photo at the bridge and continued.  I am glad we made the little change to run over it.  It was a fun little diversion during a long run.

About the half way point, the conversation seems to naturally turn one of two ways..  food or sex.  Since it was decided that it was too early into our run to talk about food, well..  you get the idea.  I don’t think this conversation needs to be revisited.  Again, our pace quickened and we had to be reigned in to keep a slow steady pace.  Funny how there are always three things to get the juices and conversation going.. politics, food, sex.

Closing in on the end of the run, we started to talk about food.  I imagined my energy gels as cheeseburgers and another spoke of cinnamon buns.  Pace quickens.  We are slowed.  Do you see a pattern here?

At the end of the run, I let out a cheer.  Our group shared treats made (or bought) with love.  JB brought me a cup of coffee, (isn’t he great?) and I enjoyed a stretch in the park while the kids played at the playground.  It was a good day.

I am ready.  Bring it.

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