The Train! The Train!

3 July 2007

The Train!

I’ve begun working toward my autumn BQ attempt. Time to beat myself to a pulp for the privilege of doing it again in Boston next April 21st: Only 293 days away.

A mere 96 days separate me from my qualifying race, the Steamtown Marathon. A small race held on October 7th, Steamtown is hosted by the lovely blue collar town of Scranton, Pennsylvania. You may know it as the home of Dunder-Mifflin and the inimitable Dwight Schrute. It’s located in Lackawanna County, possibly an ill omen for an endurance race.

Marathon training has a natural ebb and flow. Sometimes you’ve got enough glycogen stores to sink a battleship. Other days, getting out of bed represents a major victory. When things go well, you feel as if you’ll ride the wave all the way to Boston.

That’s how I felt today.

This morning, I ran a challenging 7.5 mile hilly route (locally nicknamed “The Alps”). Typically, one merely survives this run. But today I had energy to spare.

When in attack mode, the last thing you want is an unplanned interruption. But that’s just what I got, and it seriously rubbed my rhubarb.

On the second-to-last hill, I encountered an inconveniently stalled train. I’ve got nothing against trains as a rule, but this one blocked my path completely. I could only turn back or cut my run short. What was an endorphin-hyped Pfitzinger disciple to do?

With only the briefest hesitation, I climbed onto the train and made my way through a gap in the cars, bounding off to the other side of the tracks. I felt like a juvenile delinquent and found the sensation… strangely agreeable. I used this unseemly psychological boost to propel myself up the hill.

Remember children; do as I say, not as I do.

I can’t recommend train hopping, but the resulting speed boost proved intoxicating, on par with the vehicular near-miss. Any boring recovery run can be transformed into a solid tempo session when the occasional car strays too close. The effect is better than that achieved when discussing religion or politics during a workout.

I once ran with a guy who got hit by a car, but continued running. It was his best 20 miler ever. I ate his adrenaline-powered dust.

This has got me thinking. Perhaps someone can arrange an “incident” on October 7th at roughly 9:30am in the area of West Lackawanna Avenue, Scranton. I’ll be wearing black shorts and a red shirt.

With such assistance, I might make it to Boston this time. I can just see Ricardo Montalbán in full Mr. Roarke regalia welcoming me to Hopkinton…

Smiles everyone! Smiles!

- Dean
White Space

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