I am officially into my NYC Marathon taper. For the next two weeks—until the big day, November 4—I’ll be running significantly less than I have been. While I will certainly enjoy a little extra time to sleep in, it’s a strange feeling to know that I’ve put in the miles and minutes and to realize that the bulk of my training is behind me—the hay is in the barn, as I’ve been told—and I’m now in the phase where I let my body rest, relax and prepare.
The November issue of Runner’s World magazine has a graphic in a story about tapering. It reads “KEEP CALM AND TRUST THE PROCESS.” Running —as it always does, mirrors real life—I find the idea to be one that’s easier said than done. And while outwardly I may appear to be keeping calm, and even think that I’m doing so, the charred baby running out of a burning house to spitefully stick out its long, lizard-like tongue at me in my dream tells me differently.
But here’s what I’ve discovered the past couple of days. While all my running has been solo, keeping calm and trusting the process relies heavily on other people. It’s taking a step back and taking a look around. It’s knowing that my sister—who likes flying about as much as I like the Dallas Cowboys—is taking a red-eye by herself to be by my side. It’s spending an afternoon at McDonald’s PlayLand with my trusted running pal, swapping stories, sharing laughs, talking about the marathon and pondering new goals. It’s hearing a friend’s voice two states away, realizing that even though we’re not together, I still feel like I’m standing next to her on the beach, and that really, we ARE together. It’s hanging out at a preschoolers’ Halloween party eating Mummy Dogs & cupcakes and being surprised and touched by a thoughtful card and token of inspiration for the trip East.
Whether it’s running or life, I don’t think Keeping Calm and Trusting the Process is something we just do alone, internally. It comes from all around: from friends, family, community and words of support. It comes from letting people in. It comes from being surrounded by people—near and far—who believe in you.
As I take these two weeks to trust in the taper—and enthusiastically carbo load on New York pizza and bagels—I also carry with me a heaping dose of gratitude: for the experience, and for the friends, family, well wishers and fellow runners who believe in me.