04.27.10 — What is an Ironman Taper?

I feel like I need to get out and run! Tapering for an Ironman is just what I imagined – on one hand it is really mellow. Not mellow like I just finished a 100 mile ride and just want to sit down, but more mellow like I just want to sit and ponder the origins of the universe. My mind is in an odd place today because of the lack of physical effort. I am not sure how else to describe it.
My parents just left town. They were here to see my brother graduate from college and had stayed for about six days. It was nice to have them here because in a weird way they acted as somewhat of a distraction. It was nice to be able to focus on them and the activities that we had surrounding my brother’s graduation instead of my lack of training. I successfully filled my time with them and the rest of my family.
Now that they are gone and I am trying to get some work done, it is curious how the mind just immediately wanders to the race and its execution. My brain is asking a lot of questions – not of if I will be able to perform or not, but oddly about my friends and family. Have I told them the right places to go? Will they be comfortable waiting around for me all day long? Will Haus go horse talking to total strangers again? Will they be able to get around town? It is really odd how instead of focusing on me, the brain chooses to focus on others. Is that the result of the guilt associated with extensive training and time away from the family?
My taper is going great outside of the unleashing of the multitude of voices in my head. I swear they are taking on the personalities of some of my relatives and even are starting to sound like them. The best is the one that sounds like my late Uncle Wayne – he was a good-old-boy from Southeast Kansas. Have you ever heard a redneck discuss pacing strategies? It is entertaining to say the least!
The little pains that creep up during a taper are here, but they will be gone within the next day or so. I love hitting a hard workout after a good taper – nothing feels better than mashing pedals with a fresh set of legs. The weather report is looking solid and is getting better by the hour. It looks like it will be lower sixties with a low probability of rain and some wind. As long as there is no rain, I can take a little wind and deal with it. Besides, who outside of the voices would care if I complained?

The best way to describe a taper is using a rubber band. For me it is like taking a rubber band and stretching it as far as you can without letting it go. You know when you let it go it is going to release all that stored energy and fly through the air. But you have to stretch it and hold it there before you can let it go or it just won’t go anywhere. By the time Friday rolls around I will have held my rubber band out for a couple of days and I will be dying to let the thing fly through the air. The only problem with this analogy is you can’t pace a rubber band once you let it go, it flies the fastest off your finger and eventually slows down. Ironman racing is about who slows down the least, hence the reason why I am so concerned about pacing.
It will be nice to finally race. It is time to start flying…

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...