So the object of the taper is to remove residual fatigue by race day without losing fitness. Removing fatigue is easy enough. Just stop running. But I don't think that is such a good idea because then your fitness slides. I also think that inducing very mild levels of fatigue promotes the body to undergo recovery processes...whatever that may mean. And practising race pace is Good. With these thoughts in mind, I decided that the last Sunday should be about 20 km with a mix of easy running and up to race pace, but nothing harder, and not too much of the race pace.
It turned out that my friend Colin had a plan for himself that closely matched what I wanted to do. So we ran two 2.5-km laps at pretty easy pace. I then changed to my brand new Asics Gelfeathers, purchased Saturday as a birthday present. I thought they and my feet probably should try to get to know each other a little before being forced to spend 42.195 km together next Sunday.
We switched from the off-road loop to the paved 1.94-km loop, then ran two loops at 4:40/km, two at 4:30/km, two at 4:15/km and one last one at 4:12/km. The pace was aerobically comfortable for me the whole way. My breathing was never very hard, though my heart rate was touching on 150 in the final two laps. Towards the end my legs were developing a few hot spots, but nothing too serious. Through the rest of the day I felt reasonably fresh as though I hadn't done anything much. Not like the fatigue you feel after a usual long run. So I do think that run trod a good line between a mild stimulus and not adding anything to the general fatigue level.
The new shoes were beautiful. Not even a hint of any rubbing or pressure that might lead to problems. I also wore a new pair of five-"fingered" socks, and they were great. This will be my marathon kit. When we were buying the shoes my wife said to the bloke in the running shop that I was there to buy some shoes for the marathon next week and did he have any recommendations. The patronizing bastard laughed and said you don't go buying new shoes now or you'll get blisters and other problems. Those shoes (pointing to the retired 2110s I was wearing) will do fine. I suppose I just didn't look much like a runner to him as I was wearing jeans and a down jacket over a flannel shirt. See, to be a serious athlete in Japan, you have to be wearing technical clothes festooned with logos. Gotta look the part. So anyway, I got a bit indignant and started to use the best Japanese I could muster to tell him that my present lightweight shoes, some Adidas Adizeros were just a little tight and also felt a bit hard on the footstrike, and that Asics shoes usually don't give me any problems, and that I had Gelfeathers in the past when I ran a 2:55 marathon, so I was thinking of using them again. Mr Smartypants stopped patronizing me after that and I only had to try the one pair of shoes to make the right decision.
Thanks for the encouraging words to my post of two posts back. Yes Ewen, controlled agression. I'm thinking an 87 minute half split, which will require some restraint because the first 5 km has a steady downhill gradient with a net fall of 40 m (so a tad under 1%). After that it is essentially flat. There are a few short sharp hills associated with bridges over the last few km, so their effect on pace will simply depend on how strong (or shattered) I am at that stage. But I'd like to think I'll be gritting my teeth and enduring some pain to maintain a pretty strong pace.
Scott, my self-esteem on the fathering front took a nudge upwards over the weekend when I fought off tiredness to eventually find a way to get videos from YouTube to Kohta's PSP. He'd been bugging me for a few days about it. Once it was cracked he was very happy, and I surprised him by loading this up as the first offering. Being 14 and a Harry Potter fanboy, he was pretty tickled. When I said I was a lousy dad, I suppose I was just trying to reflect the feeling we have that no matter how much we do with and for our kids, it never seems to be enough. And I know that with running and longish work hours, I spend much less time with them than I should or that I imagine I would if we lived in Australia...