Dancing in the Shower

It has been over 19 weeks since I began training for our upcoming marathon. It’s not unfamiliar territory for me, this being my sixth marathon coming up. For us with families and jobs, obligations, relatives, birthdays, weddings, funerals, vacations, and lawn care responsibilities, we can’t just say we commit to the training plan as outlined in Runner’s World, Jack Daniels, Hal Higdon, or any other plan, and then stick to the plan as it is written. It’s always modified. Perhaps “modified” (in quotes) is more like it, since sometimes we get way off track, and the plan is no longer recognizable. I decided to come up with my own plan, and to be sure, I made a lot of it up as I went along. This way, I could always say I was sticking to the plan. Very clever, no? But the general gist was to up the mileage in a steady fashion, get some long runs in early in the training, and steadily get fitter and trimmer.

It has worked out. The last month has shown I can do the long runs, get in the marathon pace runs, do fifty-plus mile weeks, do hills, and recover quickly enough to run again the next or following day. My companions in training are also looking good, trimmed down, faster, and able to go the distance. We talk of a fourteen mile run as a short run. We eat more than most people and still have dropped weight. In fact, all my belts are being pulled up an extra notch this past month. Jen Van Allen, of Runner’s World, spoke at our last running club meeting, talking about the book she wrote with her co-authors Bart Yasso and Amby Burfoot, “The Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training.”. She is an accomplished ultra-marathoner, and talked about training, avoiding injuries, and the like. She referred to the actual running of the race as the “victory lap” after the real event of the training. While that’s a nice way to put it, especially if you know you can complete the race well under, say, a Boston qualifying time, I think it is fair to say that neither I nor my training partners will be running this as a victory lap. It is tough to get through a marathon. There is pain involved. There is what used to be called intestinal fortitude, but now is more appropriately referred to as mental toughness, which is, I suppose, really the mind-gut continuum. Jen Van Allen asked me what my goals are for this marathon. Here they are again, as I previously stated them: First, to finish without cramping. Second, to break my previous best time of 3:44:14 run in 2009. Third, to qualify for Boston. My Boston qualifier is now better than 3:40:00, six minutes under the allowed time previously, since they lowered the bar last year. I think that is a long shot for me, but I think it is possible.

This past weekend was busy with running. Friday evening I ran ten miles, Saturday morning, seven, and Sunday, twenty-one, at an average pace of 8:52 for the Sunday run. Friday morning, before running, I was in the shower, and feeling good, just started dancing under the shower head. I take it as a good sign that Sunday, after my long run, I still felt like dancing in the shower.


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  1. jbflaherty@yahoo.com

     /  September 25, 2012

    I really appreciated the perspective of this blog – it really speaks to the practical training approach we (particularly for amateurs) must accommodate to, while also maximizing our performance as well to accomplish our daily responsibilities. It is amazing how much happier we find ourselves, and successful we are, when our creating is able to recognize and accept the adaptations of a plan towards a goal. All the Best for the Marathon, Frank!

    • Thanks, Jim. Your comments are most welcome. I appreciate the encouragement you have provided over the years, going back to my first half marathon (Caesar Rodney!), not to mention the cycling. Frank

  2. RICH W

     /  September 25, 2012

    To the “Steamtown Studs”:
    While cruising to the oldies during last week’s Philly Rock and Roll Half, I kinda checked out from the “hurt” and went into distraction mode during the middle miles…a good tool when it works.
    I was recalling some of the good times that you have shared with me over the last 12 weeks of my Base Build Phase. I have run most of your Sunday longs, Wednesday hill runs, and even attended a few carb loading recovery evenings during this period and have definitely benefited as a result. THANKS!
    I can personally vouch that you all, from rookie to vet, have walked the walk (or run if you will) during one of the hottest, humid summers in recent years.
    You will benefit from all that hard work on race day!
    Ps…Tony, the ATM is full, time to make a major withdrawal.

    • Thanks, Rich. Regarding the carb loading, in medicine we call them “liver rounds”, but I think I like carb loading better. Sounds like we are doing something good for ourselves. Now, about Tony and the ATM…


  3. walterplods2012

     /  September 25, 2012

    Frank great post I am rooting for you (us) to hit our goals. Of course reading about your training makes me paranoid that i didn’t run enough long runs but too late now!! All I have left now is mental toughness. As I tell my middle school cross country team, it’s time to bring out The Little Engine That Could and repeat as a mantra…”I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…”

    • And mentally tough you are. You have no need to feel paranoid as you also got in the training. Remember, we ran together!

  4. Michele S.

     /  September 25, 2012

    Looking good, all of you! Can’t wait to see how you all do – I know it’s going to be a good day. Way to get the marathon inspiration flowing in the club!


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