Wednesday, November 30, 2011

IF A TAPER COULD TALK


I wrote this silly story a while back, and then metaphorically crumbled it up and threw it in the garbage.  Somehow, the beast grew legs, it crept back out, and I found it snuggled by my side one night until I promised I would let it live and see the light of day.

IF A TAPER COULD TALK

September 18th, 2011

3 weeks to marathon day, and I just finished my last long run. I took my body to its limit, my face is beat red from blood rushing through my body, the mitochondria in each of my cells has expanded and is carrying more energy than ever. My legs are aching, thighs and calf's pounding and ligaments stretched begging for an ice bathe, some Ibuprofen, some pizza, some chocolate, and just when I think I am done, I throw in a Five Guys cheeseburger (and the obligatory handful of peanuts while I wait)  and than I go home to lay on my bed and watch some football.  My vision is fuzzy, my brain woozy, and it is then that I see this comfy looking fellow on my bed, waiting there for a hug. I am so happy to see him. He looks a bit like Dobby, the house elf from Harry Potter, only he's got a pair of red Saucony's on his feet.


“Hello there Mr. Taper. How are you?”

“Fine, fine,” he says, “oh it's you again.  Ha!”

“Whats so funny?”  

“Well, you always come to see me about this time, but you never fully stay.  I feel you don’t love me”.

“I do, I do love you! I’ve been working for weeks, months, a long time to get to this moment to be with you.  Taper!  I love Taper, I live for you taper…  "

“Then why don’t you ever follow my plans? Last year, you had promised to rest at my side, and then you took off for a 15 mile run a week later.”

“Oh yeah, there’s that,” I say, cursing this creature's memory “Well, you always turn all demon like, you start with such promise and then turn on me.”

The cozy guy turns sinister, his elf-like flesh starts to glow devil-red. 

“And you always fall for it,” he says, with a possessed laugh.  Smoke billows out of his ears and the room pulsates a bit. I gasp in horror as his head completely turns around on his neck, slowly, ticking like a clock, until he's looking at me eye to eye once again.  I wait for the pea-green soup.

But I won’t be afraid, I tell myself, the power of my marathon plan compels me… “this time will be different," I say with force, "I learned, and I can learn to taper and not falter. I am not afraid.”

“Oh you will be, you will be.” And he vomits.

September 25th, 2011 Two Weeks to Launch

My legs have been feeling better every day since my last long run, and the recovery runs have loosened me up and helped my blood flow deep into the muscle.  I’ve recovered from my last 3 hour Long Run much faster than expected. My body is a machine, an effective, lactic acid burning, heightened-aerobic capacity machine. I have molded it into something efficient and to take it for a run is blissful. My eyes are on the calendar, and I realize there’s only 14 more wake ups until I will find myself in the darkness of a marathon morning.

Behind, I hear the voice.

“See how fast you recovered?” you don’t need me.”  Says the taper guy. He looks a bit more fit than last time.

“Yes, yes… I do remember you.  I swore to God, to the almighty creator of the universe that I would follow you.  Last marathon, when I was beaten down and dragging legs of dead weight the last miles and saw all those runners passing me by. It was dreadful. Again and again, runners flew by me, my watch mocked me, it took effort just to stop from walking and collapsing and I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry,and so I pleaded to the heavens “God! I promise!  I will go to church and taper if you just help me finish this one.”

“So it goes,” said the creature, “you swore off any super tough runs, but you are in better shape than you ever have been, so this time you can do an extra twenty miler.  Come on, three weeks of tapering?  Way too much. You have a friggin marathon to do, it's dangerous for you to go out there and not train more. You want to embarrass yourself?  DNF? WTF? . You used to run right up until two weeks before the event, and now you’re getting lazy. You’ll lose so much fitness, … does your god know this?”

No,I tell myself, but I stop talking to him.  I swore I’d follow through with this. I flip him the finger and summon up memories of the pain and depression of sloggin in the last miles when I didn't taper enough.

But damn, maybe he’s right? Maybe I should be training more. Resting for 21 days? slow down?… I’m smarter and more fit now than before.  I can handle it. How about just a slow 20 miler, or at least 18, and then I still have a full two weeks to recover.

Just then, a tiny squeaky voice comes from somewhere below me. What? what is that?  I can’t see what it is or where it is coming from.  I look all around and it sounds like the voice of a bread crumb on the hardwood floor.

“Don’t do it! Please don’t do it!" cry my legs,  "You might feel okay, but not us. You ‘ve been abusing us for weeks, and maybe you can’t feel it, but there’s all sorts of rips and tears and inflammations and don’t’ get us started on how the muscles are still recovering.  A day of easy running or rest for every mile of your last long run.”

The voice of reason, the blessed voice of an angel reminding me. I reward them with a pack of ice to sooth them while I watch TV, making sure to put the comforting, cold squishy packs on rotating parts, and as I drift off to sleep that night, I am sure I hear them thanking me.
October 1st, 7 days to Marathon Launch

"8 miles, a measly 8 miles scheduled for today, chumps do that in their sleep. Don’t you realize you are running a marathon in a week?  Dang, you’re a sucker.  See that extra flesh around your gut? You’re going to be lugging that around for 26.2 miles.  Good luck chump."

The taper demon is at it again.  He's not a cute house elf any longer but an horrifying orc, bouncing around on my bed as I try to rest..  I try to sleep but I can't, he's evil and his voice is demonic, echoing around the room and then bouncing inside my skull....


"Your legs are done, your fitness is fading.  Your lungs lost all their aerobic capacity, and besides, your body is just itching to go fast and long? Why not take that sucker out for a ride? Come on, go see what it's got, test the engines, do some intervals and see how effortlessly marathon pace runs are. Like butter. It will feel so good. You know you want to, just for a bit and then stop once it gets too much….

Could this be true? Am I still fast?  Have I really lost my fitness?  How can my legs go 26.2?

'Just a little,' I decide, 'just a little,' so, I go ahead, I gear up and run the first mile at what seems like a slow pace but look at my watch and it makes me gasp.  An easy run and yet it's under my marathon pace! My training rocked!  Let me keep going and just see what happens.  Damn this feels so good, to finally scratch this itch. The air in lungs makes me feel more alive, blood is finally pumping through my body and my whole brain and spirit is being detoxed from this torturing rest period.

The miles fly by me in fast forward, I knock them down one by one and gain strength with each stride.

I'm at mile 11 and it feels silly not to run an even number, so I hit 12 and then realize it would be neat to put in an even half marathon time so I do so, ready to stop at 13.1, until I look at my watch and realize if I kept up the same pace, I would have set my PR.  'ROAR!!!' I think, get out there, get out there and do the loop over once again.  The crazy orc cheers at my side, lightening bolts crash in the sky affirming my decision, somewhere the Red Sea parts and I know it is my destiny to put in another 13.1 on this very day and my calling, my destiny, can not and will not be denied.

Something rings....
Maybe the sound of the gun?  The race is over.  I have won, I have won, but my eyes open, and an image of reality strikes me.  It's my wife... starring over me, waking me gently but with a sense of urgency,  "Wake up, wake up..."

There was something I am supposed to do today. I try to move but see that my arms and legs have been restrained, not by chains but by soft, cotton restraints. She tenderly unties me, like a kind nurse over her favorite patient.

"It's five am and you need to get out the door in an hour to get to the start line. Come on.  And it's a damn good thing we had these restraints, because if not, I know you would have gone for a long run and wasted all those hours I spend supporting you.  I wasn't watching the kids during your 3 hour long runs for nothing. Now get out there and qualify for Boston, I need a trip."



"The Jade Rabbit" - A story of a miraculous marathon run

Read a Sample Chapter of "The Jade Rabbit" or read Reviews

Read "STRAY", by Mark Matthews or Reviews of "STRAY"

No comments:

THE TIGER IN THE LIFEBOAT, by Christa Carmen

I put out a call for guest blog posts, particularly from writers who may have been touched by addiction. Huge thanks to writer Christa Ca...