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Marathons , Mid-life and Music Oh My …

the Long Run

2013 NYC Marathon was the largest in history with almost 50,000 runners of which, 19,000 are entrants from the 2012 NYC marathon, canceled due to Hurricane Sandy.   What drives someone to train for/run a marathon?  How important is music during a 26.2 mile challenge?

 I have trained for and completed the NYC Marathon three times (1993/4:39:07; 1997/4:04:32; 2009/4:37:03). Experience has shown me, you cannot predict when and if you will hit ‘the wall’ but you can make adjustments with each run.  Basically, it comes down to proper training and preparation for race day and doing everything right – hydration, fuel, and focus.   

In 1993, I needed a BIG goal which I think helped me get my first ‘real’ job where I met Iman Lababedi – my former boss!  No music.  In 1997, I was turning 30.  No music.  In 2009, guaranteed entry because the three consecutive years I did not get a number through the lottery.  Trained with music and ran the last six miles (typically the hardest for me) with music which definitely brought me to the finish line.

My brother-in-law, Charlie, ran his 5th marathon (trained for six – 2012 #5) because he enjoys having an annual goal, putting the time into training, focusing and getting into shape.  As I write, I am tracking his progress and he’s running faster than I am writing.  He is almost at mile 26 and I have tears in my eyes.  There is nothing like crossing that finish line.  Run, Charlie, run!   And he’s DONE!  I am so proud of you, Charlie!  I know exactly how you feel –relieved, a sense of overwhelming pride and that feeling of invincibility – if I can do this, I can do ANYTHING!

When I started this series on workout music it was always my intention to finish with the NYC Marathon.  So far I have completed a Tempo Run Mix and a Spinning Mix and love all the music everyone has submitted – thank you!  While I did not run, I did get out for a 3 hour walk Sunday to listen to your workout music and clear my head.  The playlist is designed as a long run with chill music and the last hour music to bring you to the finish line – 50 tracks for 3:19 workout. 

Here are my favorite tracks.

Where the Streets Have No Name – U2: In college, my girlfriends and I (one or all) would set off on a long walk through the woods never knowing where we would end up.  Sometimes the imaginary path took us across a frozen pond, through knee-deep mud, to a maximum security prison where the police warned us to get away from the area or down a country road.   We would be gone for hours but always found our way back.  Yesterday was one of those walks.  A long walk to get lost in thought along the country roads – ten miles worth.  Of course, now we have navigational systems which I checked a few times to make sure I wasn’t headed too far off course.  Where the streets have no names for me was mindlessness.  Didn’t really care where, I wanted to take a path I hadn’t taken before.  I want to roam, I want to hide, I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside … and find my way home.  Look forward to seeing my college girl friends, who we have shared so the past twenty-eight years, this month!

The Underdog – Spoon:  Always try to understand where the artist is coming from and research the meaning to songs.  Amazing how it is perceived so differently.   The sports fan is reminded of a Super Bowl, the musician thinks it’s about dishonesty within the music industry, the religious think it’s Jesus … I hear the call of a lifetime ring, I felt the need to get up for it … you got no time for the messenger, got no time for the thing you don’t understand … you don’t want to talk to the water boy, And there is so much you could learn but you don’t want to learn … you’ve got no fear of the Underdog, that’s why you will not survive … what this means to me is underestimating someone, arrogance, dismissal, waking up … survival.  I am a sucker for the Underdog.  It’s a great song.

Gold in Timbuktu – K’NAAN:  A portion of this song reminds me of a recent conversation with one of my best friends.  We were talking about relationships and how important it is to connect with a person mentally (simpatico) because physical beauty may not be forever … when I am old and lonely, would you still be there for me, ‘cause now I have all my strength and you have all your beautyyouth one day you have it, then poof … when you’re young life is just one big weekend and then you hit middle-age and you take an inventory of your life.  Is this what I want in twenty years?  Twenty years, my parents age … poof.  Interesting how and when we connect with songs.  Gold in Timbuktu is off the album Country, God or the Girl and was said to be written after his divorce and the break-up of a relationship – incredibly touching song about mortality.

Right Now – Van Halen:  There are several VH songs on my ‘former’ playlist but this is the most directional, action-oriented song not only for running but surging forward.  Acknowledgementone more walk through problems, built up and stand in our way, one step ahead, one step behind, now you gotta run to get even, make future plans, don’t dream about yesterdayActionCome on turn, Turn this thing around, Right now, Hey, It’s your tomorrow, Right now, Come on it’s everything, Catch a magic moment, Do it, Right here and now … truly inspirational song speaks to making positive changes.

Chicken Fried – Zac Brown Band: My brother Patrick and I have always been close.  He moved out to Atlanta and lived with us for a while.  We always enjoyed sharing music (you never gave me back my Gypsy Kings CD!) and not only did he submit this song he used to have it on his phone instead of a ring. Every time I called him it put a smile on my face.  It is about finding happiness in the simplicity of life – love, comfort, family, a cold beer and a pair of jeans of that fit just right, music, sunrise (sunset)!  I’m sure Patrick, a former Marine, connects with the military portion of the song.  What more do you need in life?  Perfection!

Wildflowers – Tom Petty: A beautiful ballad about setting a love free and having no hard feelings about it.  Runaway, let your heart be your guide, you deserve the deepest of cover … you belong among the wildflowers … you belong somewhere you feel free … It emotes a peaceful easy feeling.

Gonna Fly Now – Bill Conti (Rocky): I started running years ago as a young girl with my Dad and younger brother Tommy.  Our route took us from the West End of New Bedford over the Fairhaven Bridge and back – meaning I had to run up the hill of the Common Park.  I hated every minute of it but I did it.  My Dad was an athlete.  He was a Golden Glove boxer in the U.S. Marines and was selected as an alternate for the U.S. Olympic team in 1964.  He was inducted in the Amateur Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004. This song reminds me of him.  He used to run around Buttonwood Park, fists in the air, all the time – with plastic on so he would sweat.  When home, I can often be found running around the same park.  It is a song about commitment, working hard to get strong and eventually reaching your goal.  One day I WILL run the steps in Philadelphia just like Rocky!

300 Violins – Jorge Quintero: I added this song to my RockNYC Tempo Run Mix and I love it so much I added it to this one too.  When I listen to this song it makes me think of Gladiators – incredibly strong men fighting in battle until the very end.  Victory!  When I run my next marathon this will be the song I hit replay 3-4 times while I make the turn to the finish line.  Thanks Aileen and Stephen.  Fabulous song!!

Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z and Alicia Keys: Mentioned earlier in the piece that my brother-in-law Charlie ran the NYC Marathon Sunday.  Asked him what song took him to the finish line and he said he turned his music off as he rounded Columbus Circle through the finish line but just before he played this song.  Great song to end his four months of training in fabulous New York City!!  Way to go, Charlie.  Your fan club is proud of you!!!  xo

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