Saturday, October 6, 2012

Failed Fit: The Day Before the Marathon

By Jess

Personally, I love training for a marathon. I love our Friday night routine of a catching up on the TiVo with some Punch Pizza. I love the Saturday long run. I love the occasional post long-run brunch. I love the weekly workouts. I love picking out our next marathon location; I love finding a new state where we will explore 26.2 miles of the best it has to offer. And the actual marathon? I love the excitement of the starting line, the thrill of the finish, the spectators, the funny signs. I love pushing my body to its limit! There are so many things I love about training for a marathon. Obviously I love the marathon, or I wouldn't keep doing them again and again!

But what I don't like?

The day before the marathon.

I don't like worrying that I'm eating the wrong things, that I'm staying hydrated enough (or too much?), that I'm walking too much. I don't like killing time in a hotel room in charming places like Scranton, PA! I don't like being on vacation, and not being able to enjoy the local food and drink (perhaps a bit in excess, true) like we like to do when traveling.

And today is that day....

So, we needed to pass the time.  The marathon expo was really nice (I'll write about it in my race review) but it was small, and we really didn't need too much time there. We had the rest of Saturday to kill, so in order to pass the time, we needed some excitement!

And where better to find excitement, but 300 feet below the ground at the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour!

The Steamtown Marathon is held in Scranton, Pennsylvania, which is coal mine country. It seemed only right to do a little touring of a mine while we were in town.

 {Suiting up!}

 {The entrance to the tour}

 {In the cage that took us underground}

 {Another shot of the cage}

From the tour website:

Descend slowly into the earth in a mine car as you enter the old Slope #190.  Watch the sky slowly disappear. Soon you’ve reached “the foot”.   Then explore 300 feet beneath the earth through an anthracite coal mine originally opened in 1860.  Accompany a miner in the winding underground gangways and rock tunnel past three different veins of hard coal, past the mule boy and the nipper, past the monkey vein and the dead chute. Listen as he explains the fascinating methods used, and the heroic efforts involved, in deep mining’s history.

All of the tour guides have a personal connection to the coal mines. Our guide lost both of his grandfathers in mine accidents, and he also lost his father to complications of black lung. He stated that in the early years of this mine, it was common that two workers would die every three days. That's INSANE! It was truly a risky job, one that I would never have the courage to do.

Our guide did a really great job of explaining the history of the mines. He also shared some information on coal in general, as well as what life was really like for a miner.

The tour took us through several different areas of the mine. It was interesting to learn that most of the working areas were not as tall as the one pictured below...

Rather, the tall, open working areas were much more dangerous than the low areas (like below). In the low areas, the workers had to mine on their hands and knees. Yet these areas were a lot safer, as they were a lot less likely to cave in. Scary! Definitely not for the claustrophobic!

Even though I completely sympathized with the tough lives of the miners, my heart really went out to the mules that worked down there.

Yes, the mules.  I know, I'm a softie for animals!

But the miners had a choice (well, most of them; apparently some were indentured immigrants) But the mules? They didn't choose this job, but they spent their entire lives in the darkness of the mines. During the off-hours, they were left there in underground "stables" completely in the dark, never to see the sun. During working hours, they hauled tons of coal through treacherous conditions. What a sad, sad, life...

Overall, I enjoyed the tour, and would definitely recommend it for an activity for runners in town for the Steamtown Marathon.

But heed this warning- it's cold down there! The mine is quite chilly, at a damp, dark 50 degrees no matter what time of year. And there are no bathrooms...which can be a problem for a group of 5 marathoners who are drinking a ton of water all day to stay hydrated!

But don't head off the path to find a might end up like this guy!

The tour went about an hour. But it was a good deal of walking. Hopefully it won't affect our performance tomorrow!

{Capsule used to rescue miners}

The Lackawanna Mine Tour was an enjoyable way to pass the time on the "Failed Fit" that is the day before the marathon.  I still prefer a Saturday marathon, as it seems that there is always less waiting around, and a Saturday race leaves more time for the post-race party, which is my favorite part of the day!

No comments:

Post a Comment