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I love my taper. Seriously, it is one of my favorite parts of training.

I used to hate it and a lot of athletes do. After training SOOOO much, it can be hard to cut back. You get antsy. Feel like you should be doing something more. I mean, your race is only (insert short time period here) away. I remember for my first marathon I thought: How am I POSSIBLY going to be able to run 26 miles after not running over 20 in  weeks? Believe me, it can be done. It IS done and it is a good way to train.

After dealing with that anxiety over "not training enough during taper", I have come to look at my taper more for the mental side of my training.

1) I get to my taper and I know that I have done everything I can for the race and, at this point, there is nothing more training-wise that I can really do to be prepared. I love this feeling. There is always a point where you have to let go and trust in your training. Some athletes this doesn't happen till race day (if it happens at all). For me, it starts with the taper. The race isn't about what you do the week or two before, it is about ALL the training you have put in. And, in endurance sports, that is weeks and months before your race, not days. By getting to the taper, I have done my job. Now, I need to sit back and see what my training has done for me.

2) Not only does the taper give my body a time to rest, but I am giving my mind a time to wrap itself around what I am about to endure. Whatever distance I am about to race, I need some time to reflect on my goals are and how I am going to achieve them. I know you have heard that saying, "it's 90% mental", or a similar one. And that applies to race day AND before. For me, I need to be prepared mentally with how I plan to carry and take in my nutrition,  as a race plan and race goals in order to really be successful with what the day will bring you. For some reason, I try not to think about this too much, or at least make these decisions, until the taper.

After my workout on Friday, I started my taper. I am only tapering for a little over a week, but it will be a well-rested, well-thought out week. This weekend I race the HITS Ocala half Ironman.
At this time (I haven't thought everything out), I am not entirely sure what my race goals are. I want to do well, but I haven't completely defined what that is to me. I am using this race to see where I am in my Ironman training, so I am excited to see the results - whatever they may be. And, I am excited to see my parents (I'll save that story for another posting).

For now, I am relaxed and resting my body, keeping my legs snappy and preparing the best I can mentally. Physically, I will be pushed on Sunday, and I want to be ready-- IT'S TAPER TIME!!!

A Lucky Seven(teen) Miler

It just struck me the other day that Boston is only a month away. A MONTH AWAY!!!

So, naturally, it is time to step up the mileage for the race. I have been doing a lot of training, but the thing about training for a marathon whilst ALSO training for a triathlon is that you don't put in the mileage on the run that you do when you are JUST training for a marathon. Is it better? Is it worse? I don't really know. I just know it is different and freaks you (a runner) out a bit mentally, but it all seems to be ok in the end, since the endurance from swimming and biking crossover somehow...

Anyways, so I was super-pumped when I found out that the Runnin' of the Green was not on the weekend of the St. Patty's Parade. The first year we were here, Ross and I discovered the race (toted as the country's largest LUCKY 7k) and had a blast.
Us all at our first Runnin' of the Green! Yep, H&L rode along!
 But in the past couple of years, the St. Patty's parade has become an annual event here in the Strand household. It is big, long and fun and my kids would be devastated (read: DEVASTATED) if we were not to go.
The ONE (and only) time of the year the horns come out.
Ok, so the parents have as much fun as the kids!
Conversely, the parade AND the run are just too much action for one Randi in one weekend. Hence, with both events on the same weekend, no Runnin' of the Green for Randi the past two years. But this year, with the two events on separate weekends - I was all in! Of course, I asked my favorite little leprechaun to join me (Jan) and she gladly accepted.

Then, I learned Heather (also training for Boston) was running and we both had to get in a bit of mileage for that day. No problem. Time to do some fun logistics and whoola - we turned our lucky 7k into a lucky 17-miler. Nothing like getting creative to get the miles in.

Sunday morning rolled around and I was up and atom and down to Heather's. My neighbor (Chris) joined us for a few laps around Wash Park - allowing us to get 8.5 miles in. Then, it was back to Heather's for a quick wardrobe change and meeting up with Tim and Candace for a nice, little jaunt (3+ miles) down to the race site.
Pre-race running partners!
 By the time we got down there, I was tired... and thirsty! With no water anywhere, it kind of stunk. Note to self: ALWAYS carry water.

It was there we met up with everyone, plus 4,000+ of our fellow Irishmen.
Jan and her AWESOME toe sock/arm warmers. Genius!
As it was time to line up, I went to go into wave 1, but it was all full. So I stood around and waited for the race to start and just jumped in wherever and that seemed to work out fine. I wasn't shooting for any pr's. According to my watch, I had 12.23 miles in already. I just wanted to finish and see what I could do.

But as the race started, it hurt. Like, ow! Standing around for so long, my legs had really seized up. I now know why you are supposed to warm-up just before entering the corral. Something I will forever take with me. So I just plodded along, running, trying to see what I could do. My feet hurt and I was running as fast as I could, but I could tell the first 12 miles had really taken a toll on me. I raced along and tried not to look at my watch. The race is filled with hills, so it doesn't seem right to watch your pace. And, before I knew it, it was over (thank goodness!).

And then, there was water. Lots of it! And beer (which took FOREVER to get), but well worth the wait. And then there was more post-race fun, including some photo booth, food and bloody marys at a local establishment with everyone. {FAIL on the group picture here, sorry.}

The couple things I will forever take from this race:
- Don't let yourself get too "cold" (ie, not moving) before a race. It really, really hurts to start and get going. Plus, you will be slower.

- HYDRATE! and plan for it. I didn't want to be "the dork with the water belt for a 4-miler", but I wasn't running 4 miles. Lesson learned: plan for myself. Don't think about others.

- What it feels like to race on really, really sore, tired legs. Believe it or not, this is a very, very good experience for endurance athletes and running long before a race is one way to do it.

- Do a proper cool down. As much as you think it may hurt, it actually pales in comparison to how you will feel if you don't do one. 

- A corned beef sandwich can REALLY hit the spot after a run.
Who'd of thunk?

- This race is really, REALLY fun and should be shared with friends. I am a lucky girl to have such great ones. Had a blast with everyone pre and post! Bummer: no group shot, but... are a few of my fun mates! Luv ya Ginger and Jan!

One of my favorite pictures

I was cleaning out my office today. I was sure there was a desk under there SOMEWHERE. And, under a bunch of stuff I found it. Along with a ton of other crud, I came across an envelope of pictures. I quickly sorted through them to find this one.
 This was taken on my first (ever) trip to Moab and it is a picture of me with some of my (now) good friends running through what I believe is Hunter Canyon. At the time, we were just mere acquaintances who had shared a car ride and a yearning for a good run. This picture has a lot of what I love about running in it. The beauty, the comradeship and the adventure.

 I guess it is no coincidence that 2+ years later I have only developed a closer bond with some of these runners and we are again embarking on more adventures together.

What's your favorite picture?