The Taper Chronicles: Philly Marathon 2011

Blisters or Black Toenails?”   This has become my wife’s dilemma as she chooses between two pairs of sneakers for the actual marathon.  “Do I go with the ones that cause blisters, or should I go with the ones that will result in black toenails?”  This is just one of the many nutty thoughts that go through a runner’s head during The Taper.

The Taper: three weeks of angst, psychosomatic drama, tripping over nothing, nightmares and orthopedic mysteries.   I have decided to chronicle my wife’s taper for the upcoming Philadelphia Marathon.  She won’t be upset with me because if you are reading this, you’ve most likely had similar crazy thoughts and experiences too.

My wife, Jill, went with black toenails, as she concluded would be the lessor of two evils.  Good choice if you ask me; however, the running sneaker choice is the easy part.  What we do to fill the (eternal) three-week period to keep from going crazy is another thing altogether.

During the taper, nothing feels good, not our runs, and not what we normally do (not even what we normally wear).   I believe Jill summed it up at one point: ”Every shoe I put on my feet hurts me.“

Shall I move on to the phantom (or real) pains she has shared with me?  In no particular order:

ITB, shoulder (twice), arm, oh and “electricity” shooting up her leg and back.   It doesn’t end there.

This past weekend, I was sightseeing at Red Rocks while visiting family in Denver.   My wife stayed home for a few reasons, primarily because you just don’t want to tempt fate during the taper and travel.  Just as I was being wowed by the amazing rock formations of the serene environs of Red Rocks, my fourteen year-old stepson calls me from 1600 miles away.  The call went like this:

Me: “Hello?

Ethan:  “G, can you please talk to mom and calm her down?  She is crying about her hip.

Me: “Sure

Jill (crying): “I can’t even run as far as Lou’s house (our neighbor two doors down).”

Me: “Everything will be fine, just take another day off.  You will be fine tomorrow or Monday.”

There were some other words of encouragement, followed by the rest, ice, Aleve pep talk, etc, and the next day she was able to run eight pain-free miles.  Another inexplicable mystery during the Taper.

In addition to navigating the pain concerns, the other issues my wife has experienced can be described as “Tripping Over the Invisible” and a “Weather-Obsession.”

In one case, she actually tripped with no obstacle in sight:  ”I just tripped over nothing.   That sounds about right.

Thankfully, the weather is looking good for the Philadelphia Marathon this weekend; however, my wife won’t fully trust the forecast yet.

Finally, there was “The Nightmare.”  I’m sure you’ve had it too: the one in which you missed the race or went the wrong way on the course.  She had that one four days before the race.

The one consistent question Jill has asked me over the last couple of weeks:

I’m going to be OK, right?

As the supportive husband, the only answer is ”Yes.“

So, the next time you’re in the Taper, try to stay sane and try not to trip over anything, even though, based on our experience, it is mathematically impossible.  No matter how nerve-wracking it has gotten for Jill, I still maintain that she is the toughest runner I know. In fact, I predict a Boston Qualifier for her.  Stay tuned.

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