For those unfamiliar with endurance running, a runner's "taper" is the final two or three weeks of training before the big race. A time when all the hard training has finally come to the end and is replaced with a period of less intense workouts as well as rest, allowing overworked muscles to recover and repair in time for their ultimate test. It is also a time when commitment to the goal is replaced by worry as to whether or not one has done "enough" to achieve it. Suddenly the hours that seemed to be in such short supply only a week ago are now moving ever so slowly, and finally the calories that were so easily burned up during heavy training, now need to be carefully considered.
This is where I am. The heavy lifting now done, I find myself at the mercy of the calendar and the clock. Waiting for the opportunity to start up that first major climb out of Squaw Valley, the opportunity I along with 370 other runners were denied last year due to wildfires that burned throughout Northern California. Any taper will test your patience, but when you've waited this long to run a race it'll drive you nuts, especially when there is no guarantee it won't happen again. I suddenly find myself checking California's emergency management web-site nightly.
So I will count my blessings and try to wait patiently, thankful for the health and the opportunity to be part of such an event. Thankful for my wife Karen who not only accepts this part of me, but encourages me as well. Thankful for friends such as MK Thompson and Lee Crane who have lessened my load as Race Director of the Rock Creek Trail Series and (along with Rock Star UltraRunner Dave Wakefield) have encouraged me through the many miles of training. Thankful for Lee Crane who will pace me the final 38 and Bret Deardorff who will crew me throughout. Thankful for the growing trail and Ultra running community of NE Kansas, a community that I am proud to be part of. Finally I am thankful to God, not just for all of this, but for what He will teach me this summer. Some people read "inspirational" books in search of learning something of God. I have done the same and through the process I have read many great books, but ultimately I run, and when I run, I ultimately will run into a God who has something he wants to teach me (which is good cause I have a lot to learn) What will be the lessons of 2009?