The 4.4-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge Swim is timed to take place during slack tide, the period of stillness between high and low tide in the Bay. In the same way, my taper is timed to take place between a period of heightened activity to train for the feat of crossing the Bay and the feat itself. My muscles are repairing. My brain is preparing. My heart is swelling to encompass the new idea that yes, I will be able to do this.
I’ve been distance-running and open-water swimming for more than four years, and I’ve been running and swimming competitively for more of my life than I haven’t been. This means I’ve tapered for lots of stuff, with varying degrees of success. I know from my high-school swimming days that truly tapering—training less, sleeping more, mentally preparing—is pretty much essential to good performance. I know from my more recent marathons and half-marathons that a girl can go a little nuts when she can’t use swimming and running and lifting as coping mechanisms. So I’m just accepting the fact that I’ll alternate between peaceful rest (see above comparison to the tide itself) and complete insanity (see my pre-Marine Corps Marathon taper tantrum).
Some stuff I know about the swim: It will be hot, with water temperatures in the mid-70s and air temperatures in the 90s. It will be sunny, with an 11 a.m. start time (stay tuned for some awesome wetsuit-tan-line photos next week). And it will be fine.
A couple weeks ago, after a quick, mid-week swim in a Bay tributary with a few Bay-swim veterans, the two of them responded to my call for advice this way: Remember that you love to swim. And keep reminding yourself of how cool it is that you get to do this. So I’m not going to look at any more forecasted water temps. I’m just going to show up on Sunday, knowing I’m prepared for whatever the Bay throws at me. And in the meantime, I’m going to try to avoid any taper tantrums (really, I’m too old for those, anyway).
*EDITOR’S NOTE: If you read this earlier, you may have noticed a bunch of other notes about the swim crammed in the bottom of this post. My apologies. This blog is a great barometer for the state of my to-do list: When I’m overwhelmed, it’s often the first thing to go. Thanks for putting up with the sloppiness!