Saturday, October 24, 2009

Race Report Part 2: The Regularly Scheduled Nike Human Race Report

Had I waited in the line in part one for 5-10 minutes the Nike Human Race Report would have gone something more like this:

Today I took part in the Nike Human Race NYC! This is probably the quickest I have churned a race report but the event is centered around the idea that people are running this race all over the world today. There is something pretty cool about that.

My goal for this race was to set a new P.R. for the 10K. I ran my last 10K with a total time of 59:06 and a pace per mile of 9:31. I figured after running a 5 mile race at an 8:51 min pace and a half marathon at a 9:25 min pace, I was due for a better 10K time. I seem to think more in pace per mile than total time. So for this race I was thinking I wanted to run as close as possible to a 9 minute per mile average pace.

The other test was that I had my iPod for the first time ever in a race situation! I figured this would be one race where they wouldn't mind if I was tracking it with my Nike+. Therefore, I shall breakdown this race in the form of my playlist:

Track 1: "You'll Find a Way," by Santigold

I used this in an iMix last summer and I swear I remember it clocking in at least the high 170's beats per minute (bpm) wise. I put it first because it usually gets me jazzed up and I figured the slightly lower bpm (from my usual 180) would be O.K. as a sort of warm up track. This may be true in a training run, but at the start of the race I was bursting with adrenaline. The slower tempo was really aggravating. In fact, I just re-measured it and it is actually closer to 165. So it turns out I tapped out the remix before and then downloaded the original version, genius. I can't believe I didn't notice that before today.

Track 2: "Why I Run," by Lady Southpaw

Of course as long as I was testing running music in race situations I was going to try out my own songs. The 180 bpm came as a relief after the Santigold incident. I started getting my footing and feeling more comfortable. It felt so good I hit the back button to repeat it but my iPod actually rebelled! A couple seconds into the song and it skipped to the end of the song. The weird thing was when I tried it again it did the exact same thing. I still have no idea how that happened but I gave up and let it go the second time.

Track 3: "Run On Sentences Volume 1.1," by Jonathan Jones

I have gotten to know Jonathan Jones through twitter in the last couple months. He writes scenic, inventive instrumental rock and is a great social networker and campaigner for independent music. He's been trying his hand at running music with a series of songs called "Run On Sentences." Volume 1.1 is my favorite but they're all good. Check them out at Also we've been collaborating on a project called Shock Pilot. Check that out here.

Track 4: "Flying On Glass," by AudioFuel

Again, thanks to the world of social networking I found myself writing back and forth with Sean from AudioFuel. He sent me this track he was working on. It is a remix of a Philip Glass piece at 175 bpm. Despite the slightly low bpm, it has become my absolute favorite track written for running. Of course I am going to be glowing about all of these songs there's a reason I put them on the playlist but I mean it, this one is amazing. Some of the credit goes to Mr. Glass's composition. It is just so smooth in the way it transitions from one variation to another. There is a lot of really blatant repetition in it, which is really soothing, something Glass is known for but most musicians tend to shy away from (myself included) for fear of boring the audience. Unfortunately, I'm not sure where you can get this particular track but definitely have a look at AudioFuel. They are a running music project in London. Apparently some of their composers worked on the Matrix soundtrack. This song really helped me get up Prospect Park's tough "North Hill."

Track 5: "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker," by The Ramones

This song came on once I got over the big hill and was a great reward. Running to it is like eating candy. It's quick, light and fun. I especially liked the line "New York City really has it all," during this race because we were representing the NYC version of the race.

Tracks 6 & 7: New song + "How To Turn Around a Bad Day," by Hella Sound

O.K., this is the last twitter reference. Although, I have to say it makes something as seemingly obscure as "running music" seem like a growing community. John Frenette from Hella Sound sent me their new track to give a test run. I thought this would be a good time for it before I decided I would be detailing these choices in this blog. So, I'm not sure how much I should say about the new song because it hasn't been released yet. I will say this, it is the light fun side of Hella Sound. I could imagine running to this song on a beach somewhere and chilling out with a pina colada afterwards. Then at some point it turns a bit CSI Miami-ish, like there was a murder on the island that needs to solved by some Tom Selleck type character. Ha, how's that for a review John? When it finished I listened to "How Turn Around a Bad Day," for a bit until I got closer to the end of the race. Hella Sound songs are always a go to for training runs. They're long and consistent and crafted with some solid song-writing skills.

Track 8: "Half-Cocked Concepts," by P.O.S.

To use Nike+ jargon, this is my "Powersong." It's a song that always gets me jacked up and makes me want to start running fast no matter how tired I am. Whenever anyone asks me what I listen to when running I usually have to mention P.O.S. I'm not sure how well known he is, but I totally enraptured by his music. He's a punk influenced rapper from Minnesota. His beats and samples are just sickly cool and his lyrics are so entertaining. This song perfectly sums up the anger around the time Bush was elected for his second term. I love listening to it now with the perspective of how things have changed in the oval office. It's empowering and humorous at the same time. Here are just a couple lines:

"Busy bees making our honey but ski ball tickets still don't count as real money. It's something so ridiculous, funny so f*ckin sick of this consistent lack of vision from children claiming they're listening." "Holler if you hit the bottom running..."

"Lean back and relax and tell 'em: Get up, get up, get up and get something, put the mother f*cking Fresca down!"

Track 9: "Engineering Masterpiece," by Lady Southpaw

I had to end with this song because it is all about coming up to the finish line and summoning that last ounce of strength. I have to say I was pretty exhausted at this point and it was pretty cool to listen to something I wrote.

So my final time was 57:25 with a pace per mile of 9:14 per mile. I succeeded in getting a new personal record. However, I still think I could run a faster average pace if I did it again.

My conclusion on the racing with iPods is that it can be enjoyable. I did not feel out of touch with what was going on around me. Similar to most races I had moments of speeding up and slowing down. However, I don't feel like it improved my performance at all. It was similar to running with a companion sometimes it boosts you other times it holds you back but the difference is not as significant as you would think. Overall, I still think running solo without music is best in race situations because I like having it as a special time to test your metal as an individual and perform to the best of your ability in that moment. I might feel differently about a marathon length race, but anything shorter is better unencumbered.

At the same time nothing beats a good running buddy or a great song when you are training. They can make the world go round on endlessly long runs.

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