Steamtown Marathon Diary: The Home Stretch

I said in my last entry that I’m not a big fan of tapers, particularly ones that begin well before race day. Well, as it turned out, my body and the weather didn’t agree with me. I came down with a cold that I still haven’t fully recovered from, but I do feel quite a bit better than a week ago. I still have almost two weeks until race day, so I’d be shocked if this cold was still hanging around.

However, the weather hasn’t exactly been cooperating with me. It poured all day Tuesday, so coupled with my cold, I was basically forced to take the day off. Ordinarily, I don’t care about running in the rain, but I didn’t want to exacerbate my illness. Perhaps foolishly, I did a few high mileage days in the middle of the week in an attempt to make up for lost miles, but on Saturday, caught in another heavy downpour, I finally said to myself, “you know, maybe it’s okay if I’m a little short.”

My 5 mile tempo on Wednesday was disappointing. Chilly autumn air mixed with my cold and I had a hard time breathing. I barely held about 5:50 pace. Fortunately, I rebounded nicely yesterday with what will probably be my last real long run. The weather was chilly, only in the high 50s, there was a bit of a breeze, the sky was overcast and the leaves were starting to change colors. Running has always been tied more inexorably to autumn than other season for me, and yesterday’s run was a beautiful example of that.

The first half of my run was uphill and the second half downhill (on average, at least), so I went out in about 7:20 pace for the first half and then flew home at 6:20 for the second half. It didn’t feel like I was even pushing particularly hard until the last mile or two, particularly when I got to some decent uphills in the last mile. After my disappointing workout on Wednesday, yesterday’s success reinvigorated me. Plus, these cooler days and longer nights are signs that autumn has arrived and, for me, there is absolutely no better time to be a runner.

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