Driving That Train

No. I’m not high on cocaine, as the Grateful Dead song lyric might suggest to readers of a certain age. I crave a different kind of buzz, to my readers of the Lorde era.  The train I’m riding high on is that other train– The Training Train.

I’ve chosen my next running challenge and am absolutely loving the way it feels to feel that burn again.

You see, after I completed my most recent running endeavor, running The Fifth Avenue Mile in 2012 in my much celebrated Mulligan Mile (and repeating the feat, if not the time, a year later at the same race) I did not do what I always advise my running friends to do: sign up for the next race.  The next challenge.  The next reason for getting yourself to higher ground.

run while the sun shines
There may be trouble ahead, there’s definitely been troubles behind. But the notion of meeting another running challenge has just crossed my mind.

I wasn’t just sitting around, mind you. I was taking care of some life-altering family dynamics, buying a house, slowly turning it into a home, planning and taking a couple unspeakably beautiful trips with loved ones, writing (half) a book, bailing out a flooded basement, inventing the universally ignored Compost Bucket Challenge, among too many other items to list.   Here’s what I wasn’t doing: training.

When I’m not driving The Training Train, runs happen when and if it is convenient.  Cross-training in the gym happens hardly at all.  Eating continues unabated, with predictable results.  A heavier and slower writer-runner sits in front of you today.  But one who has just signed up for his next challenge:  The USA Track and Field National Club Championships in Bethlehem, PA on December 13, 2014.

It’s a race I have no business being in, especially in this condition. But I’ve already started training with simple foolhardy optimism and newbie spirit. Now I can start to believe that perhaps, in the 8 1/2 weeks until then, I will get in shape enough to not be the last finisher that day.  And maybe even score points for my team, Lehigh Valley Road Runners.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.   Even if I do finish last then and there, that won’t diminish what I feel right here and now.  Having something to shoot for, having something kind of a big deal to shoot for, is already making a difference in my life.

My friends and I we’ve cracked the code. We count our blessings as we train, on the way to the party. And everyone who knows runners knows that we’re fine with this.


For example, I have more sweaty clothes than I have hampers, racks and hooks to hang them on. I now am forced to plan each day more precisely to fit in a run and/or gym workout.  Taking on a challenge like this, that is clearly over my head, gives me the excuse (and the nerve) I need to reach out to members of the runners community for knowledge and wisdom.  And now, on this glorious fall weekend amid autumn’s fierce colors, I can have the joy of running with purpose in the Runners World Half and Festival races that start just across the river from my new house.  Races that I would have otherwise walked outside to watch, rather than line up to run.

I hope to see some of you out in my backyard race this weekend.  I’ll be the slow guy with the Large body in the Medium shirt I fit into quite nicely two years ago.  The Medium shirt I vowed to never outgrow and optimistically (foolishly?) ordered again for this year’s race.

Not to worry. Now that I’m back on board The Train, I’ll get there.


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