Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tale of The Taper-Worm

"Burnt toast and a rotten egg? Whatta ya want that for?"
"I got a tapeworm and that's good enough for him!"   ~The 3 Stooges

I've blabbed on and on about the taper in this blog.  I called them taper-gremlins, I’ve referred to them as creatures that look like dobby, the house elf, who visit your room to poison your mind.  All of this to speak on the way a taper mentally attacks your brain, tells you about all these phantom injuries you have, or blows up every minor ache into something way more menacing. During the delusions of a taper, every single tweak is a rip in your tendons, a tear in your muscle, a crack in your armor that will expose you once the miles of the marathon hit.  

Your taper either tells you haven’t trained enough, (as if there’s anything you can do about that now) or, that you are more rested than you need to be and can afford a nice 15 mile run just ten days from race day.

This is all part of the crazy self-examination of your training while you rest up for your marathon, made worse by less running to work off the anxiety, and the ticking seconds until you will line up in the starting chute. These thoughts infect your brain like a mental tapeworm, and all your thoughts get deciphered only after they have gone through the digestive track of this ‘tapering-tape worm’, so in fact, you aren't thinking for yourself anymore, but, you are just processing left over fecal remains of what the taper-worm defecates.

Unlike a regular tapeworm, which is in your esophagus and eats what you eat, a mental taperworm is stuck in your brainstem and sucks at all those thoughts you put into it.  Everything in your head gets processed through the esophageal track of the tapering-worm who feeds off the nutrients of self-doubt, anxiety, and worry.

Okay, that is twisted and gross, but, the other thing I was thinking is about is this: All these unfounded fears that occur during your taper are half-truths and lies.  The devil tells all sorts of lies, the problem is, within those lies, there are things that could very well be real. My knees may be damaged just a crack, and that crack will rip open at mile 23 after the hills have bounced me for 3 hours.  I may not have trained enough (30 miles a week tops.) My legs may not have time to recover, since, I have never run a marathon at this age before (then again, this is true every year, but don’t’ tell that to my taper.) 

Yes, bad guys and the boogey man do exist.  Here There be Tygers, and The Tigers Come at night, with their voices soft as thunder, As they tear your hope apart, and they turn your dream to shame.

(I just made a Glee Mash-up of Stephen King/Ray Bradbury and Les Miserables. I should edit that, and had I been sane right now I certainly would, but I’m letting it ride.)

Fortunately, my upcoming Ann Arbor marathon is more of a warm up, run for the experience type marathon. Still, my tapering-worm is saying “maybe you shouldn’t’ have gone out and ran those fairly fast ten miles 5 days after your 22 miler.” And, of course, my few miles this week feel like they are being run on very dead legs. (Are they really dead though? Can my perception be trusted right now? I think not.)
(AKA the TaperWorm Whisperer)

I suppose the biggest trick a taper-demon ever pulled is to make you think it didn’t exist.

A great weapon to attack the tapering worm and suck it right out of your head is a training log. A written training log, with your kickass workouts circled, to wave in front, and he will come right out, take the bait, and be banished.  It usually comes out through your left nostril, and you summon it like s snake charmer. Of course, I haven't kept a training log as of late, and it's good thing, because my kick ass workouts were few and far between.

By the way, I should warn you that since I am in the middle of a taper with a friendly yet quite attached TaperWorm stuck in my brain stem, all I’ve been spouting out is basically tapering-worm fecal matter.  So, that is what you have been reading. You may want to wash your eyes out after you leave this post, just to be sanitary.   This may hold true until race day, the only known instant cure, when the creature is finally fully excised from my body.

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

Read "STRAY", by Mark Matthews, now just $2.99


Greg Strosaker said...

Thanks for reminding me what the taper is like, I didn't have one this spring so can now look forward to one (hopefully) this fall. Recently though, my taper has involved plenty of mileage (this plan calls for 69 miles the first week, 54 miles the second, and even 36 the week ahead of the marathon) so I don't tend to suffer from the mental ailments as much.

Mark Matthews said...

Thanks for your comment. Your taper beats my training.

Vicky Cook said...

I've only run one marathon and swore I'd NEVER...... taper again. Admittedly my 'taper' was ill informed (made it up as I went along) but it left me feeling like I was on the biggest comedown of all time, or what I imagine a comedown to be like.....allegedly.
After a week of it I told my husband (screamed at him totally unprovoked whilst shaking him by the throat) 'I'm feeling a bit agitated, I think it might be the taper'....... 'I hadn't noticed dear'. No more tapering.

Stokercon 2024 in San Diego

 Spent last weekend in San Diego at Stokercon. What a fantastic time. Multiple panels, many conversations. Laughs, tears, books, conversatio...