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Jan. 30, 2005

Trying hard now

It's so hard now

Trying hard now

Getting strong now

Won't be long now

Getting strong now

Gonna fly now

Flying high now

Gonna fly, fly, fly

Today ended the first week of my latest 18-week marathon training regimen.

In training for marathons I am a slave to Hal Higdon. If Hal tells me to run off a cliff, I ask only whether I should do so at race pace or training pace. He has not yet asked me to run off a cliff. Not literally. Instead, he tells me to run fast on Saturdays and run long on Sundays. Having not been in training mode since October, I'd forgotten how challenging these weekend runs can be.

Most of my running has become pedestrian, ho ho. During the week my biggest obstacles are boredom and whatever techno music is playing at the gym. (I take it that gyms intend for techno music to inspire clients, but it merely inspires me to want to hurl dumbbells at the speakers.) Thus the iPod is invaluable. If I have it on shuffle, I'll sometimes run an extra mile just to find out what the next song is going to be, and if I turn it up all the way I can almost drown out the throbbing beat of the house music.

On the tough weekend runs, I must lean on a few playlists that help me forget how little I'm enjoying myself. The first is a series of songs with at least one of two qualities: Their beat comes close to my goal cadence, or they make me feel like I'm running in a commercial for the Special Olympics.

  1. Squirrel Nut Zippers, "Ghost of Stephen Foster"
  2. Squirrel Nut Zippers, "Hell"
  3. John Williams, "End Titles to Star Wars"
  4. John Williams, "Duel of the Fates"
  5. Neil Young, "Rockin' in the Free World"
  6. Richard Wagner, "Ride of the Valkyries"
  7. Twang Bang, "Driving Like a Maniac"
  8. Fiona Apple, "Fast as You Can"
  9. Rolling Stones, "Paint it Black"
  10. Gloria Gaynor, "I Will Survive"
  11. Hypnotic, "Caravan"
  12. U2, "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of"
  13. Andrew Bird, "Way Out West"
  14. Bill Conti, "Going the Distance"
  15. Gioacchino Rossini, "William Tell Overture"
  16. Bruce Springsteen, "Born to Run (Live)"
  17. Clyde Federal, "Silver Bootstraps"
  18. Sugarcubes, "Fucking in Rhythm & Sorrow"
  19. Violent Femmes, "My Way"
  20. Maynard Ferguson, "La Fiesta"
  21. Carl Orff, "O Fortuna"
  22. N.W.A., "100 Miles and Runnin'"

It's on the last mile that I really need to turn on the cheese, so I'll play one of three cheese-tacular songs:

  1. Maynard Ferguson, "Gonna Fly Now"
  2. Bill Conti, "Gonna Fly Now"
  3. Vangelis, "Titles from Chariots of Fire"

I like to simulate the marathon's homestretch with a 385-yard sprint. For this, only one track will do:

  1. Malcolm Seemann, "Giggle (Live)"

It's a 43-second recording my nephew made just after he turned 6 months old. It's perfect for the end of a run and any other time that rolling over and/or dying has appeal. According to iTunes I've listened to it 41 times, and not once has it failed to make me smile. This is ideal for maximizing oxygen intake, though it attracts some strange looks at the gym: "That guy was wan and lifeless a few minutes ago. What's with the sudden grin? And why is there smoke coming out of the treadmill?"