I sat at the kitchen table this past Sunday with a plate of eggs, toast, and kale in front of me, a hot cup of coffee filled to the lip, and the Washington Post spread out before me. It’s my weekend ritual – or rather my Sunday ritual. It’s the one day during the week that the alarm doesn't go off and I don’t have to pull running clothes on in the dark. While that punctured egg yolk began to bleed into my pile of kale, the clock on the oven caught my eye: 10:55 a.m. I turned to our roommate who sat across from me.
“What?” she asked.
“This time next week,” I said, nodding. “This time next week it will all be over. I hope.”
As if on cue, Mrs. Onthebusrunning walked into the kitchen, phone in hand, “Just got a text from Ebo saying, ‘This time next week Brad will be done and we’ll be close.’”
Ah, the “This time next week” game. Normally reserved for vacations, visits from friends, or the conclusion of work presentations. But also applicable to major races.
Yesterday, for example, I thought, “This time next week I’ll be getting a massage.” And, “This time next week, I’ll be cracking out my celebratory Chimay Cinq Cents.”
But I’m quick not to let my thoughts wander too far ahead, after all, there is still the task at hand.
Because it’s the final taper week, I can’t keep my mind focused on one thing for very long. I’m filled with so much extra energy that I’m like a child with ADD who’s just been given pixie sticks and a drawer full of shiny objects.
At work, it’s not much better. I settle in to work on a task but every new Outlook e-mail that pops up quickly steals my attention. My thoughts are a running ticker for a news station that might scroll across my eyes something like this:
Any new Yahoo e-mails? | Need to get more brown rice for pre-race breakfast | Lance Armstrong is a dick | Is the debate tonight? | Any new Yahoo e-mails? | What’s the weather for Sunday? | Almost time for afternoon Starbucks run | Any new Yahoo e-mails? | I love this song, when is Mumford & Sons touring? | Weather for Sunday | Yahoo e-mails …
And on it goes. I yearn for my afternoon run just to get rid of some of this energy while my fingers fly across the keyboard and I shovel snacks down my throat. At 10:00 last night, I watched the TV fully coherent and alert as opposed to the heavy-lidded / near coma stare I usually wear. Sigh. Five miles is so unsatisfying.
More often than not in that steady stream of information, my thoughts wander to Sunday morning and I have to temper expectations or else that ball of nervous excitement will fester in the pit of my stomach and I’ll walk around in a constant state of nausea. Instead, I try to associate with one of my better workouts and then let it go.
Still, on my run yesterday, when I tried to remind myself that this was just an easy run, I found my thoughts drifting to the Marine Corps course, particularly coming off the final turn that dumps you onto route 110. The “25 mile” marker flashes by and you sling shot onto the highway for a long straightaway mile where, God willing, you can let your stride unwind and summon whatever last ounces of energy and will to carry you to the finish line. The chills wracked my body so hard that not only had I started running tempo pace but my hat felt like it had lifted from my head. I enjoyed the moment for a second more then grabbed the reigns and pulled back. There would be plenty of time for that on Sunday.
When I returned to the house, it was only 5:50. Just what would I do with the rest of the evening? I went to the grocery store to buy more food and added a valuable caveat to the “never shop hungry” edict: never shop hungry while tapering. Especially at Whole Foods. Too many pretty colors and delicious treats. There are so many types of olives, and … I wonder if I have any new Yahoo mail?