New Lily

To Plug-in or Not to Plug-in…That is the Question

I ran a ten miler hard this morning with my iPod “plugged-in”. This is the first time since starting my marathon training that I have used the iPod. I actually don’t even own one; I used my husband’s and my kids created my playlist. It wasn’t a great run; but that’s for another post, actually it was the iPod that saved me. When I felt like I was dying and wanted to stop, the music motivated me and the words kept me moving. I ran the trail near my house which is about 5.8 miles out to the turn around. I was cruising at about 7:20 pace until I reached the turnaround…then my legs decided they had really had enough of my silliness and they were done.

I wanted to call it quits at that point but I knew the almost six miles back would be much worse if I walked it than if I ran it. At that point Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” came blaring at me through my headphones. It literally got me through the negative self-talk that can be debilitating on a long run. Once that song was over, another one that my 15 year-old son Peter (#4) had put on my list started. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” (a rap song – not typical for my taste in music) got me through the next tough mile. I had to laugh, the words were just right! Next was “Chances” by Five For Fighting…one of my favorite songs. By this time I was getting through the worst of the run, although my legs never recovered from those first fast miles. With three miles to go, “Free Falling” -another Tom Petty tune helped me kick it up a notch.

Needless to say, the songs on my iPod today were like good friends, encouraging me to keep going, and that’s what I am hoping for on marathon day in two weeks. Why would there be a question at all about whether or not to bring it along on race day? Well…I have to go back a year ago to explain. Last Marine Corps Marathon, I lined up at the start with my gear all together…waterbottles on, Gu in tow, and an iPod turned on and ready. The first 10 miles felt pretty good…the adrenal of race day kicked in and the music on my iPod was rockin away. Then at about mile 12, I reached down to my belt for a drink of water…and…then…deafening silence. Suddenly, without warning, my iPod stopped working. At almost the halfway point in the marathon, this was very bad news. I struggled to see the screen to try and fix it, but the glare of the sun on that otherwise beautiful 55 – degree day, made it impossible for me to see it.

Worse than the deafening silence that is the result of listening to music very loud for a long time – and then suddenly it disappears, was the deliberate sound of my heavy breathing. Within seconds I started to feel the pain in my hamstrings that had been there the whole time, but that I had not noticed as much because of the tunes singing in my ear. Now I was stuck with this new sound (me) and the pain in my backside…and thats when the negative talk began in my head. I guess my brain had gotten so used to hearing noise that my own inner voice kicked in to fill the void. Unfortunately, that was the one sound I wasn’t ready for. Not only did I feel and hear myself more intensely than before, the broken iPod now began to feel heavy in my water bottle pocket (as did my empty water bottles) and I began to curse myself for not going “au natural” (that is, un-plugged).

Somehow I finished the race, but I told myself I would not rely on music again for a long race, its just not worth it. But here I was today…running plugged-in again, and preparing to do it for the marathon. I guess all I can say is that I have decided it’s a risk I’m willing to bear, and some extra baggage Im willing to bring along. Besides, either I run with self-talk the entire race, or risk running with it for some of it. Since I know myself pretty well by this point in my life, I realize that my own thoughts are just as risky. That’s why I’m seeking some really good running tunes to make the iPod worth it.

Do you run”plugged in” on race day? If so, what is your favorite running song that gets you pumped up?

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