The other day, as I looked down the barrel of 35, I knew big things were on the horizon. The first thing I did was, unsurprisingly, flip out. The second thing I did was get over it, take the bull by the balls, and start doing things to make my future brighter. First baby step: add some fresh blood to the running playlist.
Anyone who knows me knows how huge a role music plays in my life. It’s only recently that I’ve realized how much it impacts EVERYTHING. Obviously, going to shows is my happy place. This is not news. But life does happen off-tour, and we have to find a way to make the best of it until the next. Music is the most consistent and pervasive element in my daily life. It wakes me up, it’s the first thing I deal with in the car, it keeps me company when I’m on the move (be it on the road or in the gym), it soothes me to sleep. It makes me smile, it makes me cry, it makes me think. So, given the fact that biggest ticket item on the “big things horizon” list (the NYC Marathon, which is indisputably número uno) involves a whole lot of time in which to listen to tunes, things haven’t been as brutal as they could. That being said, I’ve been training my ass off, and (shockingly!) keep very particular records and notes for every run. As I looked over splits the other day, I literally saw with my own eyes how much music impacts a run. As soon as I got home, I took to Spotify to infuse some fresh blood into my already awesomely eclectic playlist.
When I went out tonight for my longest run yet (since my last half marathon, which took place last April (yikes!)), one of the first songs that came on totally knocked me out. At first, I said to myself “why did you put this on here?” It took mere seconds to realize that holy shit, this is a powerful moment. I didn’t even make the connection when I tapped the song into the playlist, but it spoke to me on the trail tonight in a way I was completely unprepared for but totally in love with once it went down.
I pondered and pushed throughout the remainder of that 10 miles and decided that although I love me some tweeting, sometimes 140 characters just ain’t enough. This was a shareable moment and an interactive topic, one of so many I hope to write and talk about in bringing this blog back from the almost-dead.
What does music mean to you? I’ve already (barely) touched on where I stand, and I love hearing stories about how it moves others. When I run, it literally moves me. Here are a few reasons why (drawn from the aforementioned badass playlist):
“Olympic Fanfare” – Boston Pops
Cheesy starter? You bet. I’m OBSESSED with the Olympics. Seriously. Like, “will watch synchronized swimming” obsessed. Will I ever be an Olympic athlete? Never say never. Let’s err on the side of caution and say “unlikely.” Either way, this flashes me back to every medal ceremony I’ve teared up at, every NBC Sports human interest story that’s given me chills, every shot or story of a competitor who legitimately understands the enormity of their experience and does more with it than s/he ever could have expected. I think about that against what I’m doing now. This is my Olympics. For now…
“Touch Of Grey” – Grateful Dead
When the going gets tough, the hippie tough get going. I’m a multifaceted person to the extreme, and I wear a ton of different hats. All of my hats miss Jerry. This is one of the easiest examples of the intersection of my first truly soulful musical influence and the experience of training for something I could have never dreamed of for most of my life. It’s a lot to process. It’s also awesome. Good pace, but more importantly, it boils down to “Shit happens, but whatever – you got this.” I’ll take it.
“Enter Sandman” – Metallica
Any real Yankee fan (or let’s face it, real baseball fan) knows that this is THE CLOSER. No exceptions. To me, it goes beyond. Every fan has memories of special people and special experiences at the rink, ballpark, whatever. This brings me back to the old Yankee Stadium, where I went to countless games with my dad. We had some of our best times in “The House That Ruth Built.” All of the bullshit would melt away, at least for a few hours, when the sea of pinstripes emerged on that field. I learned a lot of lessons at those games with my dad. One: ice cream tastes better when eaten from a little plastic helmet. It’s science, and I dare you to prove me otherwise. Two: parents are human. It’s sometimes hard to remember, but it’s something you don’t want to forget. Three: I had the best dad ever. I miss him every day. His spirit is with me on this journey, and that gets me through.
“2001” – Phish
Been through a LOT with The Phish From Vermont, and they have brought me, above all, tremendous joy. To the surprise of no one, they occupy a few spots on the playlist (but not nearly as many as one might think). Right here is a musical manifestation of “hold on, here it comes.” I can’t explain it better than that, but it’s the perfect soundtrack to significant and positive life changes. I feel like I’m breaking through something, in a great way, every time I hear it while hitting the trail.
“Thunderstruck” – AC/DC
I’m embarrassed to say that this is a recent add. How the UVM Women’s Hockey “taking the ice” song didn’t make it on the list until now is something that will forever remain a mystery. What’s important is that it’s on there now, and it’s not going anywhere. Hockey has played a significant and often tumultuous role in my life. This track makes me reflect on that, let the bad shit motivate me, and look forward to the cross-training I’ll get in the net as soon as I have some free time for pickup.
“Three Little Birds” – Bob Marley
Sometimes a song’s pace is less important than its message, which is especially true during the rough moments of a run. This one is fairly obvious in that regard, but it has a more personal meaning to me. When I had surgery in October 2010, this was the very last song I heard before I went under (actually, it was the B-side, which is an amazing version – just not the one I run with). All of the doctors and nurses loved it and were totally jamming out. I knew I’d be fine, and I drifted off content, knowing my life would be forever changed when I awoke.
“Girl On Fire” – Alicia Keys
It was a toss-up, and “Brand New Me” gets an honorable mention, but circle wins the square on this one. I know things don’t change overnight, but I’m making strides and in so doing, I’m kicking ass and taking names. I’d rather focus on the drive behind the brand new me and keeping that fire burning. However, writing this all down has me thinking: perhaps a mash-up is in order (“This Brand New Me Is On Fire”?!?)…
“Till I Collapse” – Eminem
26.2 miles. Duh.
“Praise You” – Fatboy Slim
The song that spawned this post and the resurrection of this blog. As I set out on my run tonight, knowing it would be my toughest in recent history, I spent the first few minutes mentally preparing. I decided not to dick around with skipping songs and instead focus on form, keeping the abs tight, yada yada yada. After two songs, this little ditty popped up on the shuffle. I thought back to a few days ago, when I brought it and a bunch of other songs into the fold. I thought, “I must have been in a very Fatboy Slim mood because is this really a running song?” Dumb question. Half of my songs aren’t “running songs.” I took a second to listen to the lyrics and slammed into a wall of “wow” – it was totally unreal. For the very first time in my life, I immediately thought of my body as something to praise. The strange part was that it felt natural. I realize now that that’s not strange – it’s fucking amazing. This body and I have been through a lot together. I’ve never given it enough credit. I’ve always seen it as a huge burden to overcome rather than something to be thankful for. But, in that flash, I appreciated it for hanging in there during the really dark days, and basically saying, “it’s ok – we got this.” I’ve been really bad to it, and it is forgiving me by recognizing what it is training for and doing what it takes to get there. Although we don’t always get along, I’m pretty sure there’s some stuff that I can do to make our relationship a bit more symbiotic. So, thank you, body, for pushing when I’m over it. In return, I will start drinking more water (and on a bigger picture scale, I will quit my nasty soda habit). Thank you, body, for letting me know that I can do this by getting stronger every day. In return, I promise to improve the quality of everything I put into you…because you deserve it. Thank you, body, for seeing no limits. In return, I pledge to listen to you more and respond the right way.
The full playlist is here – feel free to pick through and trade recommendations. Let’s talk.
Happy running. Happy living. Till next time…