Guest Post: Catherine’s Running Craziness and Taper Secrets

I’ve known Colleen since freshman year of high school.  We had a lot of classes together, but more importantly, we were on the track team together (and cross-country team junior and senior year when Colleen came to her senses and realized running was way cooler than tennis).  It was through running that Colleen and I became best friends and truly embraced each others craziness.  And let me just tell you, running together year round can bring out a whole lot of craziness!  For instance… 

  • We ran together all summer talking about saving money for mini iPods, Kenny Chesney, and how it weirdly always smelled like donuts (I finally spotted the Dunkin Donuts during one of our last runs that summer).
  •  We ran for literally hours at a time in the halls of Res when it was too cold or icy to run outside during winter track.
  • We would go entire runs speaking only in Spanish to practice for the AP Spanish Exam (ahora, pon en marcha…)
  • We became obsessed with all things York and Elmhurst.
  • We also became obsessed with tigers and discussed tigers body slamming runners on the track (hence the “tiger” shorts in the Bandit Turkey Tigers.
  • We know to always do an equal number of crunches so we don’t get stomach bulges (thanks Coach Mickey!)
  • We ran the former CDC together as our first half marathon, where we met John “the Penguin” Bingham and received the coolest deck ofcards that are still in mint condition.
  • And most importantly, we stayed crazy enough to keep running and train for half marathons and marathons.
  • Unfortunately, due to real life and work schedules, Colleen and I don’t get to run together nearly as often as we would like.  But, we still talk about running constantly and share the crazy things that happen while we run…


    • After having my water bottle stolen during multiple track workouts at Olympia Park, I finally took measures into my own hands: 

    • I was just running along in the early morning hours, minding my own business, lost in my thoughts, and then bam, my shoulder hits a car’s side mirror. Sadly, this happened more times than I care to admit to the World Wide Web.
    • I made friends with a construction worker in Norwood Circle.  It a little over a mile around, which was perfect for my paced and tempo runs, so I ran there every Friday.  They’ve been fixing the sewers there since May so one worker started to recognize me and would count my laps as I passed each week.
    • We began running so far that 12 mile step back weeks seemed short
    • Colleen had some adventures with crazy exercise contraptions. 

    So as you can see, marathon training gets kind of crazy, but the marathon taper can make you even crazier.  Since I just finished my taper for the Fox Valley Marathon I figured I would share some tips to help stay calm, stay focused, and reduce the crazy in the weeks leading up to a big race. 

    •  Test out your race day attire.
    • Test out your race day fueling.


    (Props to Colin Meyer for coming up with the best way to carry gu on your shorts – comfortable and easy removal!)

    • Get lots of rest, drink lots of fluid, make sure your salt and electrolytes stay in balance (you’ll especially want to do this if temperatures are going to be in the 90s…trust me :/)
    •  Have confidence in your training and yourself.
    •  Stay positive and keep reminding yourself why you run.  You might question yourself during the later miles of the race, so remember that not only did you choose to do the marathon, but you actually paid money to experience this pain.
    • Remember to have fun and enjoy the race!  You trained all summer for this!

    In looking back at my race day experience, I think what made the biggest difference this year compared to my other marathons was my mental preparation.  Although the last few miles were extremely difficult and pretty much everything was hurting, I did not let that pain get into my head.  Instead, I kept reminding myself that this is how I am supposed to feel and if I wasn’t in pain, I wouldn’t be running fast enough.  During the taper, I repeatedly focused on why I love running, how blessed I am to be able to run, how I am ready for the marathon, and that I can handle the pain.  So then, when that unavoidable pain set in during the race, I was able to recall these positive thoughts and remind myself that it is supposed to hurt.  The mental game continues even when the race is over. You spend months and months preparing for this one day, and then just like that, it’s over!  Remember that a marathon is a journey, not a destination, and we keep running even after we cross the finish line.   And so I leave you with one of my favorite quotes; it is applicable to all walks (or “runs”) of life and is perfectly suited for the marathon.

    “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

    (Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own)

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