....in the context of sports, refers to the practice of reducing, or tapering off, exercise in the days just before an important competition.
For an Ironman, I taper for 2 whole weeks! It's crazy because the next 2 weeks will go by super fast whereas in a 3-week build, those last 2 weeks seem to take forever before a well-needed recovery week. I can't believe in 2 weeks from yesterday I will be in Madison Wisconsin for my 4th Ironman! I can't say it enough....the human body is absolutely amazing.
Before my very first Ironman in 2006 (IMFL) my #1 concern was my heart. My parents had no idea what crazy sport I had gotten myself into and although the distances didn't scare me, I was wondering "how is my heart going to beat for that long of a time". I seems kinda silly to me know to think that my heart would not be able to support 140.6 miles of "racing" but in all actuality, it is just amazing what the body does on an IM race day in an effort to cover 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running.
Because of how my schedule fell, I had a recovery week 2 weeks ago so last week was a build week. Karel's coaching plan has worked out perfectly because I am still not injured (first time in 3 years!!!) albeit, I do have the normal training aches and pains and racing on the IM Wisconsin course (which is super challenging) is not going to be easy! Also, I continue to feel myself improving with each and every workout. Although the not-injured part was a major goal of mine over the past 3 months of IM training, I have really enjoyed seeing progress with my training. Sure, I could have done a lot more volume but I really wanted to keep balance in my life so that I could wake up with a fresh mind, body and soul and make the most out of every day...even if that day included a day off from training and 8-hours of interning.
This past weekend was it. No more training for me. Just 2 weeks of high intensity, low volume tapering. The excitement will continue to build over the next 2 weeks, as will the nerves. My close friends here in Jax have been nothing but wonderful to me and super understanding with my crazy schedule of interning and IM training. I don't know what I'd do without them. My parents and Karel have seen me train and race the past 3 Ironmans (Karel wasn't in Kona but I know he was watching me on the computer) and I can't wait 'til we are all together in Wisconsin.
To finish off a summer of training, I covered 113.3 miles of riding (5 hrs and 56 min) + 2.5 campy miles (??? for time, too many pee pee stops, plus a water stop to visit Karel at the Trek store) on Sat. Karel said that my power tap had a bunch of blank spots in the data and that I probably covered around 120 miles. Well, either way, I felt great. I tried to stick to my zones for most of the ride but of course, I got a little tired at the end. One of the main reasons for my tiredness was joining the Lodge Ride from hrs 2 1/2 - 4. Oh boy, was that a fun ride but it sure did poop me out. I was very active during the ride with the boys but near the end, my legs were signaling "trashed" and I still had 2 more hours of riding (alone). I ended up doing about 1/2 dozen brides (hills for us Floridians) throughout the ride so all in all, I really felt like I gave it my best effort for my last training session. However, as Karel always tells me "you give your best effort in a race, not in training". Although I was running at 1pm with my little furry one, we had a blast. There was great cloud cover and the wind that was with me during our run. Of course, the sun popped out and we got really hot (despite having my fuel belt to keep us hydrated...campy gets a flask and I get a flask) so we stopped at the Trek store and visited Karel at work.
Since I did my longest run (21 miles) 2 weeks ago, I wanted to do a little harder of a run but without all of the miles. The run could not have been more perfect. It started out a little faster than I planned because it was cloudy and I was just happy to be running after such a tough workout on Sat. The rain started coming down around mile 6 and I was SO happy!! If you have read my past posts, I just LOVE running in the rain. It is so freeing and just makes me feel like a little kid playing in the rain. I ended up doing 4 x 1/2 mile "sprints" on a rolling loop w/ 1/2 mile easy jog prior to the sprint. I rested after each mile for about a minute and after the 4 x 1 mile "intervals" I ran home. By mile 12 my legs were feeling achy and I was really feeling the past 5 workouts from the week. I ended up running for 2 hours and 11 minutes and covering 16 miles (8:12 min/mile pace).
I spent yesterday tracking a bunch of athletes at IMKY and I could not be more proud of the TriLewis club as well as all of the Jacksonville athletes who took on that tough and hot course! I get very inspired by other athletes and watching others partake in endurance events reminds me how special the body can be and that we should take care of our one and only body on a daily basis.