The Dreaded Taper

So here’s yet another post on running. I promise after the marathon I won’t be jabbering on about it as much (then I’ll post more about swimming and biking! 🙂 ). Yesterday was my final long run before the big day. I know Hal Higdon would disapprove, but I ran 18 miles and am only giving myself a 2-week taper. That’s because last week the weather and my schedule (AND I got sick) prevented me from running the 20-miler. I know a 3-week taper is preferable, but I think at this point I’m ok. I haven’t gotten hurt and I think my legs will feel fresh in two weeks. This course is really hilly so I tell myself that 18 miles on this course is the equivalent of a 20 miler on a flat course (the marathon course is flat!). I felt a bit nauseous at the end I think because of the GUs, but overall I finished strong in 2 hours and 50 minutes. Afterwards I went to get my favorite bagel sandwich: Turkey, lettuce, tomato, hummus, and muenster cheese on a plain bagel. Yum!

The taper is by far my least favorite part of the training process. I always feel like a big blob because my body retains so much water. To make matters worse, I have to cut back the running, which makes me cranky. But there’s a science to this madness and I know that it works, so I just need to suck it up.

I always rave about my “secret” long running route so I thought I’d reveal a bit about it. It starts in White Hall, Va, which is about 10 miles northwest of Charlottesville. White Hall has a few vineyards and is set just a few miles from Shenandoah Park (there are hiking paths you can take up to Skyline Drive from White Hall). White Hall itself is literally just a church, community center, gas station, and convenience store.

I begin the run through White Hall then head downhill to a road that runs alongside a river and up to the Charlottesville Reservoir. I usually don’t see any runners but I have seen some bikers lately. I’ve also seen my fair share of wildlife (in the summer when I go super early I usually see some deer right on the side of the road).

The Piedmont Store, the last sign of "civilization" until I'm back up near my car

Run starts down a massive hill--But I've got to run up it on the way back!

As I follow the road up to the reservoir, I end up crossing over the river three times. Each one-lane bridge is spaced out by almost exactly one-mile. That makes it perfect to put my water bottles on each bridge (and one at the beginning and end).  Yesterday the river was really high because it had been raining over the weekend. Sometimes I like to turn my music off and just listen to the river 🙂

There are 3 one-lane bridge crossings

First one-lane bridge

View of the River at the first crossing (it was really gushing yesterday because of the rain)

The Virginia Tech Barn tells me I've gone 3 miles

As I continue to follow the road I come across certain “landmarks” that have become very familiar to me. One such landmark is the Virginia Tech barn, which I will pass at mile 3, mile 9, and again at mile 17 on my way back up to my car.

Once I make it to mile 6.5 it’s time to turn around. The Charlottesville Reservoir marks this turnaround point and yesterday it met me with a great surprise. Usually there is just a trickle of water coming from the dam but because we’ve had so much run it was gushing out. The pictures don’t do it justice, but it really is a high dam.

The Charlottesville Dam at around mile 6.5

The Dam is usually just a trickle, but yesterday I got a great surprise!

I always want to take a moment to stop and take in the view at the reservoir, but I’ve got to turn around and go back. I don’t worry too much though, because I’ll be back again for a second time in about 8 miles.

The Charlottesville Reservoir is surrounded by some small mountains

It’s amazing how beautiful the run is even without any leaves on the trees. In about a month everything will be blooming and then it’s hard not to feel euphoric when running in this amazing area. Yesterday there were a few signs alongside the road of Spring to come 🙂 :

Flowers are starting to bloom already!

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8 Responses to The Dreaded Taper

  1. What a gorgeous route! Spring is on the way! 😀

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