Jason's March to the Marathon: Smell the Roses

Jason's March to the Marathon: Smell the Roses
(Source: Jason Dennis/WTVM)
(Source: Jason Dennis/WTVM)
(Source: Jason Dennis/WTVM)
(Source: Jason Dennis/WTVM)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – My father passed away one year ago, this week. In the back of my mind, maybe that's one of the reasons I'm determined to run this marathon – to live life to the fullest. Could this even be part of the grieving process?

I loved my dad, who I remember started running more when he was 40 years old. I'm accidentally following in his footsteps. The tragic loss is yet another event that puts things into perspective for me.

I'm excited and nervous about running my first ever full marathon, just days from now. And lately I've been thinking, it's time to stop and smell the roses, take it all in.

It would do us all some good to look around and see God's beauty that surrounds us. The same goes for my marathon training – the beauty of the journey that's gotten me here, from that first 5K nearly three years ago to this past four months of intense training.

I've run 400 miles in the last 17 weeks, including a couple recent 5Ks with my daughter. Running 3.1 miles now seems so easy. I never thought I'd say that. It's because of the training.

After climbing up to nearly 40 miles of running in a week and with my longest run being 20 miles, it's been time to slow down and chill before the marathon. For running, it's known as the "taper."

Tapering is reducing the number of miles you run, in the 2-3 weeks before a half marathon or marathon or beyond. I've still been running, but my longest this month has been nine miles.

The taper is designed to give me fresh and strong legs to cross the finish line in Nashville this weekend, Lord willing. It also has me chomping at the bit to run this marathon, another goal of the taper.

However strange this sounds, it's tempting to add more miles because I feel like I need to run more to get ready for the marathon, but I've got to save my energy and body.

I laughed out loud in reading an article about so-called "taper madness" because I'm going through some of the odd behaviors.

I'm being extra careful these last few weeks to avoid injury and sickness (though immune systems let up a little when we work out less). Some people may think I've been crankier than normal because of backing off on all the running.

And I'm checking updates on the weather for the race in the city over and over again – which now predicts 80 percent chance of rain in Nashville on Saturday, uh oh.

Don't get me wrong, I'm also enjoying the fact that I've been running less these last few weeks. That also means eating healthier, because I cannot get away with eating as much as I did during heavy run weeks. I'm also focused on getting a little more sleep than usual this week.

My marathon running partner Jimmy gave me some final words of advice on this race week, telling me that mental fatigue comes into play beyond mile 20 and that "Time is not a factor for your first marathon. Finishing is."

I'm ready to finish.

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