The Taper…………………..Death Race 6 days out

25 07 2010

The Taper

A properly executed taper may be the most important part of race training…….its an illusive beast, seldom yielding to perfect planning…you don’t know if you got it right until race day.   It varies from person to person and depends on so many criteria that it’s difficult to do the math.   With my training I have done a 3 week plan……unfortunately I needed to also recover from a knee issue so it dropped my mileage much quicker than I would have liked.  My plan was ( my coaches plan) to take me from 140 km to 100km to 70 km to 45 km over the 3 week period………………but it went more like 150 km to 35 km to 75 km to 55km.  On the up side of this is with my slow week I hammered the gym.  I have accumulated 12 Gym days in July on top of my running and 10 swim days.  In those Gym days I worked Core as the main focus and on 3 of those days I hammered my Abs with 1000 repetitions of various exercises…………..first time in my life I have a 6 pack.!  The strong core will assist dramatically with keeping a good posture as well as assisting with sudden adjustments when running down hill….and it looks great also!  J

My knee seems to have recovered by 95% but I won’t really know until I put some miles on it.  It’s an issue with really tight IT band and hamstring. Each pulling the knee cap out of line so it tracks a bit crooked and then starts to inflame. Once inflamed its like a hot knife getting jabbed under the cap with each step.  Now although that may sound fun it’s really really tiring mentally.

The other issue with the taper is you begin to question yourself…”did I do enough?”, am I decreasing my level of fitness, will I start to get injuries now, will I weaken mentally………….it has been proven repeatedly by professional athletes that there are significant gains if the taper is done correctly.

This is the first athletic event that I have put 100% of myself into.  I can say with confidence that I have done all I can.  I have completed over 95% of the training I was scheduled to do and only took time off due to injury.  I have controlled my diet and done the cross training.  If I didn’t do something well enough it was sleep.

If I was going to the Death Race to finish in 24 hours I would not even have the slightest doubt in my mind that I would succeed, BUT…………..around about March I could see that my training was taking me to a whole new level.  Running back to back marathons on Saturdays and Sundays with relative ease……completing my first 50 mile race in 10 hours without support and making a bunch of rookie mistakes such as getting lost.   After a few weeks with my coach we decided that my goal would be a sub 18 hour run for the race.  This puts a whole new twist on things.  By increasing speed to manage a sub 18 hour finish I am jeopardizing my entire race.  I could easily burn out at 80 or 90 km and bonk….crash and burn…run out of gas.  I am putting extra burden on my joints and muscles so I may get hurt.

Heres the deal.  My goal was to successfully follow an 18 month training schedule and adhere to it through all the weather and job issues.  This i have done!  Getting to the race was a goal.  Seems rather certain ill do that.  Finishing is no longer a goal.  The goal is to push myself as hard as I can over the course of 125 km and see what happens.

 See what I am truly made of.

 Everyone is different and everyone has trained differently.  My goal is no bigger or more accomplishing than the person who is trying to finish in 24 hours it’s just that I have achieved other great things in my life and I need to push it further.

To run at a pace to make this happen will require constant introspection and a true understanding of my body and mind…mostly my mind.  There are physical limitations such as if I keep my heart rate above 75% for over 2 hours I will burn up my glycogen stores and essentially run out of gas!  These stores cannot be replenished on the run.  They require a 24 hour period to rebuild.  The trick is to try and run at 65% heart rate and burn fat of which we have enough for several days running.  The other part of the equation is to take in calories regularly and try to prolong the deficit.  This is also tricky as after a few hours its difficult to eat and you can become nauseated………………someone once told me an ultra marathon was an eating contest with a run………….hydration is a huge factor….sodium and electrolyte replacement.  All of these things have been tested on my long runs during training.  I will adhere to a carefully laid out plan and adjust as minimally as possible.

No matter how detailed the plan though there is still one factor…the human condition……….we don’t know what we will feel like on race day.  We can try and minimize risk by eating safe and healthy foods and getting sufficient sleep but in the end we can only hope for the best, prepare for the worst and give it our all.

I am as ready as I can be, and I find myself wishing I was just starting to train now in my current physical condition.

I am excited and afraid, confident but not arrogant, calm yet energized, nervous but self assured.  

So this journey of 18 months is now at a close.  The next few days will be a mini journey of emotions and finally the run itself will be a life altering experience.

It doesn’t matter what happens as long as I “fight the good fight”

I will learn what my weaknesses are and hopefully have the strength and tools to overcome them; I have a hunger to reach that humanity inside myself.  I know I can be a better human being than I am and that can only happen if I push past….far past what I believe my limitations are.

What is the limit to the human soul?  I can imagine that we can endure much more severe circumstances than we give ourselves credit for.   If I can strip away the entire protective shell of my being I can uncover my true emotions and destroy or permantly alter all preconceived notions and perceptions of who I am!

If I succeed it will be because I am completely unwilling to give up regardless of the circumstances

This is something much bigger than me….I need to know my insignificance……………..Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional……………..its unlikely it will kill me so if it wont kill me than its not really a big deal to suffer through some pain.

So I will go as hard as I can for as long as I can endure and hope that coincides with the finishing tape………………………I will have a life affirming experience or it will be all for not!

I hope to get my post race blog on here on the early morning of August first.  The videos may be as late as August 3rd if I cannot figure out the technology.  I will be self taping through all stages of the run.

Wish me well and know that this is the happiest I have been in my life and it may only be the beginning





6 responses

25 07 2010
Joan Czapalay

I am happy for you, son, and proud of who you are and what you are doing. My love will be with you on your run. God speed!

26 07 2010

Thankyou mother…………..All good. Just another step forward in this beautiful life

26 07 2010
Jennifer Morehouse

Hey Stefan,

It was a great pleasure to have met you recently in Toronto at Blowfish with my aunt Lisa and Chuck. I was very nervous as sushi is not my specialty and I was quite concerned with doing things correctly!
I have been reading your running blog and I must say I am inspired and impressed again. GOOD LUCK at the Death Race I will be rooting for you from little old Digby NS. I have signed my self up for an 8km run in Halifax in support of diabetes research in Sept and am contimplating cooking school if for no other reason, to further my knowledge of my passion and to cook fancy french food for my husband every night:)
Take care.

27 07 2010

Hey Jennifer likewise

27 07 2010

Good luck on your journey!
You sound like you’ve done the training and are more than ready for the race. The start isn’t soon enough, eh? Hope you have a smooth taper, a good trip to Grand Cache and try to get some rest before the race too. But above all, RUN HAPPY!
Looking forward to your race report,

27 07 2010

Thanks Kinga…………………ready but the left knee isnt. Hoping it will re-hab by saturday….if so i ll have a great day

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