It’s Taper Time!

I ran my (second and) last 20-miler of NYC Marathon training this morning!

And by some miracle, a wine tour the day before a long run didn’t work out too badly.

Which means it’s officially taper time.


The last really long run called for some carbs, obviously. (As will the next two shorter runs and the actual marathon, of course.)

Tina came in last night after I got back, and as soon as she put her bags down, I insisted we turn around and go house some carbs. After getting back, we spent some time stretching and freaking out over today’s run before getting to bed relatively early.

We woke up a little after 6 this morning to get ready and get to Prospect Park for the Front Runners Blue Line run–the last 20 miles of the marathon! For free! With water, Gatorade and Gu!

With the subway being its typical weekend messy self, Ben and I decided it would be easier for the three of us to split a cab, so we picked him from Union Square and headed off to Prospect Park. $7 each? DONE.

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Ben also ran Chicago last year, and we’ve been online buddies for at least a year, but today was the first time we met. Nice to finally meet you, buddy!

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Oh, I know you. And I like your shirt.

We met up with the Front Runners group in Prospect Park at 8am, and headed out. I was wearing a skirt and t-shirt and was really cold before we started going. Between the cold weather, our cold muscles and the big group, we started off slower than usual. Tina and I stuck with the 10-11 minute pace group so that we didn’t push ourselves unnecessarily so close to the marathon, and so we started off closer to 11-minute miles before finding our groove in the low 10-minute pace. I somehow forgot my Garmin, so it was (sort of) nice to just run and not be obsessing over the splits, although I did ask Tina from time to time how we were doing.

We ran with Sue, who I met through the NYC Marathon Facebook group.

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Since Tina and I know each other very well at this point, it was nice to run with someone neither of us had run with before.

The run started in Prospect Park, and we ran through Park Slope, Clinton Hill, Williamsburg and Greenpoint before making our way to the Pulaski Bridge, which is the halfway point of the marathon, and was around mile 7 for us.

As we ran through Williamsburg, Sue asked me where the hipster area was.

“Um. You’re asking someone wearing a running skirt and pearl earrings. I’m not really sure.”

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know Brooklyn terribly well, so it was cool to get an on-foot tour while getting a preview of the course. Before the run, I had been a little nervous that running on most of the course would make it less special, but I’m glad to know where the difficult parts will be and I know that on race day, it will be completely different with millions of spectators around.

A good portion of Brooklyn was a very gradual incline–something I hadn’t previously realized and am glad to know.

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The Queensboro Bridge (our mile 9-10ish, mile 15-16ish of the race) is loooooong. FYI. I’d heard horror stories of it being really steep, and I was actually pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t steeper. (Let’s see what I have to say about this bridge in three weeks.)

We crossed over the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan on 1st Ave, and I imagined the wall of people who will be there on November 6.

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I don’t remember which water stop this was, but let me just take this moment to say this: I love the Front Runners. We had at least four or five water stops, and every single one had water, Gatorade and friendly volunteers–and a few even had some Gu! If the ground we’d be covering between water stops involved a few turns, they gave us a map that included where we going next and where to turn. This run was incredibly well organized, and I’m so thankful for all the volunteers for making this such a smooth experience.

I’ve looked at the course map approximately a hundred times, but I conveniently glossed over all the bridges.



From Staten Island into Brooklyn, Brooklyn into Queens, from Queens into Manhattan, from Manhattan into the Bronx, and then from the Bronx back into Manhattan. I ran all of those but one today.

After getting to 1st Ave, we ran from 59th Street to around 128th Street. That’s a little over three miles, but it felt like an eternity as I watched the blocks pass. It was a pretty gradual hill until the 90s, but then it leveled off–thank god! We crossed into the Bronx via the Willis Ave Bridge and ran there for about a mile and a half before returning to Manhattan in Harlem via the Madison Ave Bridge (which was nice and short!) I’ve heard that there’s usually a gospel choir in Harlem, so I tried again to visualize this as we ran here. We ran down Fifth Ave from 138th to 90th on the sidewalk, and I was really nervous I’d fall and end my quest to run the NYC Marathon before I even got to the start. At one point, Tina nearly tripped but quickly regained her footing, freaking me and Sue out in the process.

At the beginning of the run, they told us to take it easy and run at marathon goal pace for the last 3-4 miles if we were feeling good. Around mile 16, I think we’d all started thinking about this–and wanted to be done–so we took it up a notch until the end.

We entered the park at 90th Street (around our 18th mile, around mile 24 of the race), and we were all so happy. We were almost done! We’d run most of the course! We were still standing!

Once we entered the park, I told Tina I thought we should stop running the second we hit 20, even if that wasn’t the official end of the course. Luckily, she was down for this, too, and we stopped just before The Plaza and hopped on the subway.

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Go, team, go! (Most awkward shot of me ever?) We ended up finishing in 3:25, slower than we’d hoped for, but we won’t be stopping for any lights during the marathon, so hopefully our paces will be a bit better.

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Tina and I returned to my apartment for the important stuff: bagels, beer, ice baths.

I felt a little light-headed when we walked in, so I housed a chocolate coconut water and put some extra salt on my sandwich in an attempt to balance my electrolyte levels.

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Tina, I sort of hate you for dumping ice on me.

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What? My legs will feel better tomorrow? Fine.


And a flight of seasonal beer will help? Well, alright.


I SEE VEGETABLES. Clearly my doughy stomach above shows that I’ve become quite the carb fiend as of late. A side salad will totally reverse that, right? Good.

As we walked over to the Ginger Man, Tina and I discussed how we were both shocked that we can rally so well after such a long run–we both remember dying after our first half-marathons–but I’m pretty sure it’s time to curl up into a little ball and sleep now. You know, to help my muscles recover.


And by some miracle, a wine tour the day before a long run didn’t work out too badly.

Marathoner question: what do you do differently during taper time?

Non-marathoners: what do you think is the craziest part about this long-distance running? Vaseline on my feet? Running for three and a half hours? Eating sugar out of a foil packet? (That’s basically what Gu is…)

26 comments on “It’s Taper Time!

  1. Laura

    I would’ve never guessed there’d be an organized run specifically for before the marathon- that’s so neat! I think the craziest part would be the Gu… I feel like those would taste odd. Congrats on your run– how’d the new skirt do? Marathon worthy?

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Laura: It was amazing! There’s actually a few run clubs that had organized 20-milers like this.

      And oh yes–the skirt is absolutely marathon-worthy.

  2. Katie

    Good job on the run! I did a similar organized 20 miler for the Chicago marathon. It helped a lot! I run for beer too, such a great reward! 🙂

  3. Allie @ Fitness Class Fanatic

    Ditto to Laura – that is incredible! If I were to do a marathon, such as NYC next year, something like this would be a huge confidence booster; running the final 20 miles, with support, in advance. Congrats! Also, I love your pearls/running skirt comment abt Billyburg. It is a fun place over there. Cubano Social on N 6th = incredible.

      1. Mary

        I am usually in a running skirt and pearl/diamond stud earrings so your comment made me chuckle too. But your SKIRT!! I love it – where did you get it? I need one!!!

  4. ellen

    nice job and happy taper! i ran my 20 yesterday and can’t wait until nycm. love the new skirt (i have it in shorts form – plaid = awesome). enjoy the next few weeks of “short” runs! see you nov 6 🙂

  5. Kristine @ Running on Hungry

    Holy 20 miler! Great run! I’m training for my first marathon (CIM, December 4!) So I haven’t hit the taper period yet (2 more 20-milers and a handful of 12-13’s) but I love to follow your training and get pumped up about everything that is to come!

    I 100% beer up after a long run… and eat to my heart’s content… oh and maybe go shopping? 🙂

    Enjoy the rest of your Sunday! (As I typed that I realize that you’re in NYC and the weekend is over.)

  6. Tamsin

    I MISS YOUR FACE!! I want to run with Theodora again! Remember when we did that 10-miler where we totally kicked speed ass the last like 3-5 miles? And the bagels (oh the bagels!!)? Le sigh. You obvi need to come to Scotland so we can run together once again. But we’ll have to sub in fish and chips (or haggis! or bangers and mash!) for bagels — I think you can handle that.

    I’m gonna start training for the Edinburgh Half in Jan/Feb… so you should come over about April/early May. Or you could sign up for the race too and run it with me (it’s at the end of May). I just bought a couple of air mattresses for my flat… just sayin’. No pressure (but lots of pressure because I just invited you on your public blog and it would be really sh*tty of you to dis one of your most loyal readers like that). So there.

    Kisses! Miss you! Good luck on the taper and I know you’ll be kicking tons o’ booty come marathon day!

  7. Ericka Andersen

    This was a fun post (fav. part? “your asking someone wearing pearl earrings & a skirt…”) LOL. Okay, considering I’m still in semi-taper mode since I’m running ANOTHER marathon in less than two weeks…I definitely try to drink Water and a half, plus eat more veggies & fruit. Also, I try not to feel guilty about eating white bread. Just my thing 🙂

  8. KatieG

    Disappointingly I thought you were talking about Gu puddings not energy packet thingies until the last question (don’t even know if you get Gu puddings in the US!)
    You may be able to tell from this that I fit into the non-long distance runner category 😉

  9. Michelle

    I know people say that taper will drive you crazy but man, I am SO excited to be tapering! I ran my 20 miler on Friday and could have thrown a party after!!

  10. Donna

    As a non-marathoner, I would say EVERYTHING is strange, especially the ice baths. When I’m struggling to finish my run, I think “if she can run for 3+ hours straight, surely I can finish 1/2 hour.” So, thanks for that!
    And I also giggle at the running shorts and pearl earings comment!

  11. Stephanie

    Hi – your mystery water stop is in front of Automotive High School in Williamsburg – deep in “hipster” territory, right alongside McCarren Park. Don’t judge us too deeply. We don’t bite pearl wearers, and I have been known to sport a running skirt myself while doing the Kent Avenue trudge. 😉 Also, the North Brooklyn Runners’ Club rocks, in case you’re ever looking for another group run.

  12. Esther

    I’m a non-marathoner, and by far I think the craziest part is the ice baths. I’m one of those people who is always cold, so the idea of sitting in ice water sounds infinitely worse to me than actually running the thing. My hat is off to you and your goosebumps!

  13. Sarah

    Hi- I’m relatively new to your blog so I’m sorry if you’ve already answered these questions but I’m curious about your opinions on: After how many miles minimum would you say an ice bath is a good idea/semi-necessary? Before and after runs, do you try to eat whole wheat carbs, or does it not matter much? Thanks and I’m loving the blog so far!

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Sarah: I’ve only started ice baths this year–and I generally do them for any distance longer than a half-marathon, or a half marathon, if I’m racing it particularly hard.

      As far as the carb question, I try to generally eat whole-wheat carbs most of the week, but I go with white carbs the day before so that any extra fiber doesn’t bother my stomach. It would probably be better for me to go with whole-wheat carbs post-run, but I usually just go for whatever I’m craving, which is sometimes the white stuff.

  14. Christina

    You and Tina sure do seem quite functional after a long run!! I’m the total opposite! lol. Looks like you guys had run though 🙂 I might volunteer with my bro-in-law to help out at the NYCM this year so I’ll be rooting for you!

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