Yep, that sense of impending doom is here. I can't run and hide any longer. School starts tomorrow. There is no escape from it. I have 3 classes tomorrow: Ortho I, Adult Neuro Rehab II, and Psychosocial Disability.
It's funny when you think about it. School and Tri training are very similar. At the beginning of each training year or school year, you start out with such enthusiasm about the upcoming schedule. You make promises to yourself like "this year I will stay on top of my reading" or "I will make every workout on my schedule." But as the year drags on, the same thing always happens. The mental and physical fatigue gets to you. Your thinking now becomes "I wish this semester was over already" or "Oh man, can I just do my race now and get it over with." You almost become sick of the task at hand, but really it's just the fatigue talking. And you can guess with my tone here that I just completed my last long workout prior to my race taper.
That's right, Taper Madness begins tomorrow. And you know exactly what I am talking about. The anxiety you feel during this period is pure madness. With the decreased training volume you wonder if you are losing all of that valuable fitness you worked so hard for. You get a little restless that you aren't training as much. You think about sneaking out for an extra ride or run or maybe even stretching the scheduled time. You start looking at the weather forecast 2 weeks out from the race and worry that there's a 10% chance of rain (as if the weather people can get anything right). You notice every little twinge in your body and panic that some injury is brewing deep inside. You sneeze and start taking "Airborne" like it's candy. Or you just flat our refuse to shake anyone's hand or touch anyone just in case they might have come into contact with someone in their lifetime that was sick. The addiction to training and the sudden decrease may leave you irritable. You feel as is you are getting slower and fatter during this time. It's amazing what mental anguish put ourselves through.
But the reality is, during this time you lose nothing. You are actually building all that fitness and resting your body so when you race you are fresh and ready to go.
Today was my last long ride. I woke up early again and let the Wingman sleep a little. Imagine my surprise when he emerged a little while later from the bedroom all dressed and ready to go! And here I was, the slacker still in my pajamas! So I got dressed quickly, pumped the tires, prepped the bottles and we were on our way. Early on we felt a few drops of rain but that was the extent of it. I attacked most of the ride as best I could. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I think I achieved it again. We took turns passing each other and enjoyed the morning. On the way back home, I noticed Miloski's turkey farm has their fall tenants out in the field already. A few years back I rode by and made what I thought was a turkey noise (gobble, gobble) and I must have said something offensive in their language because quite a few of them starting making a lot of noise and flapping about. This time around I kept my mouth shut. My focus was on my last long ride and feeling good throughout. I had one bad spot on the ride, but managed to get myself through it and finished strong. I can really feel the fatigue in my legs tonight though. Thank goodness tomorrow is a rest day.
I am so glad that my Wingman has gotten into cycling with me. It makes it much easier to leave the house when you have someone to ride with. I don't have to feel guilty about leaving for hours to go riding. We don't chat much on the rides, but it's time well spent together. He is turning into quite the rider. We have our little battles on the hills, but I just can't match his explosiveness yet. When he stands up to pedal, he generates so much more power. I have to work on this in the off season if I want to try to win back the polka dot jersey.
So my race is two weeks away. I will be thinking about my race plan and what I want to achieve in the race. I dedicated this race to my cousin and her son's battle with Lymphoma and Leukemia respectively. I raised some money through the Livestrong foundation in their honor. So if the race gets tough, I will just remember what Cathy and Michael went through and realize that I have it easy with doing this race.
Wingman will go into Sherpa mode at this point. He prides himself of making sure I have everything I need and he even offers to carry it. A few years back at a local race, he brought my bike, 2 bags, and a folding beach chair back to the car while I waited at the beach. His cousin came down to see her husband after the race and she said "I just saw your pack mule going to the car." I felt Sherpa was a much more dignified name for him. So from that day forward, he became known as my race Sherpa.
So tonight as I lay my head down on the pillow, thoughts of taper madness will swirl in my head.