Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Running Song #5: Why I Run

All this packing is making my brain soft (I'm going away for a month see blog from 6/12.) Instead of leaving my blog on a marketing note, I'd rather leave it with a song. The song "Why I Run" has a special place in my heart. It is the most basic, stripped down song in the set. It's just guitar, a beat and my vocals. I was inspired to write it after reading a blog by my friend Lela titled, Why I Run. I am always touched by stories from runners who run for something bigger than just looking fit or being fast (not that there's anything wrong with either of those things.) It has become a great way shed light on causes and lost loved ones by participating in a running event and raising money for charity while doing it. There is a whole higher level of strength that is drawn from making something emotional into a social and physical event. It is so healing.

When I started to get into the song I wanted to focus on some one in my life that I draw strength from when I feel weak (on runs and in life) and it got me thinking about my Dad. Thank god, he's still with us and in good health (knocking vigorously on wood right now) but in my early days of running when I wanted to quit I would think of my Dad, his discipline and how he would approach difficult moments. Then I'd know that I had to hang in through those parts.

It's on those runs where you overcome your mental barriers and face the tough stuff that you have the most rewarding breakthroughs.

Songs For Running on Amazon

I'm pleased to announce that the Songs For Running E.P. is live for sale on Amazon!

Check it out:


And if you really want to support independent music there are t-shirts too ;)


Friday, June 12, 2009

Song #4 - Get Out of My Head - and other musings

I have been a bit out of it lately. Last week I had to go home to Michigan for the double whammy of High School reunion and my cousin's wedding. It was fun but exhausting because it meant seeing people I had not seen in a long time and also introducing my boyfriend Chris to some of my extended family for the first time.

Next week I am leaving for a month long trip to Italy to see the town where Chris' family is from originally. It is a very remote town in the northern Italian mountains (more Sound of Music than Roman Holiday, I'm told.) It will be exciting but isolated so we may not have any connection to the internet. I have decided to consider it a social networking detox. Don't worry, "I'll be back." ;)

Today I am posting the song "Get Out of My Head." I wrote most of the lyrics after I came home from a night drinking and Chris was on business trip, so take it how you will, haha. The tempo is 180 beats per minute.

Here are a couple pics I snapped when I was at home. One is of my parents dog, Leo (he's a labrador retriever.) I LOVE this dog. We really bonded after I graduated from and was home for the summer. I was so burned out and totally clueless about what direction to go with my life. He was barely full grown and the first time we went for a walk he drew my blood because he pulled so hard on the leash going after another dog. I made it my mission to whip him into shape. The long walks became a very meditative process for me as I mentally sorted things out. It was so hard for me to leave him when I moved to New York. I took him for walks this last week like I do every time I visit and we fell into all of our old patterns as if no time had passed. It really made me look forward to a living situation where I can get a dog.

To leave you with "a moment of zen," here is a random shot I took right after some rainfall. I thought the robin on the branch was appropriate because it is Michigan's state bird.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Brooklyn Half Marathon Report

OK, I am coming clean today. I am not a fast or competitive runner. I have been running pretty consistently for the past decade (2 times on a bad week 4 or 5 times on a good one) it's very rare for me to get through a week without running unless I am really sick. I love to run on my vacations and I haven't had an injury to hold me back (aside from post marathon stiffness that had me out for awhile.) Still I have never been serious about time goals and I was very reluctant to get involved with racing. Last year when I started training for a marathon was the first time I entered a race of any kind. Through Team in Training I did a 5k, a 5 mile, and the 18 mile marathon tune-up race with the New York Road Runners Club as part of the marathon training program. It was very strange to see my running performance broken down to a series of numbers next to my name. Numbers completely freak me out, in general objective data measuring me tends to make my inner 8 year old cower. That's why I've always been a fan of the arts. I like that it usually isn't measured in any empirical way. There are no points or rankings. It makes it much easier to delude yourself about how talented you are.

Anyway, my running buddy Jess got a new watch. So she timed our splits. I think it really pushed us to keep our pace and as a result we finished in around the time I was hoping we would. The pace was about 10 and a half minutes per mile and the total time was just over 2 and a quarter hours. Whatever time I finished with was going to be a personal record because this was my first half marathon on record. As a result I was fine with it.

At one point Jess recommended I get the watch because I would like it too and I joked, "Me and time really aren't such tight friends if anything we are just casual acquaintances."

Ughh, thus the sad truth making me squirm as I write this. Overall the race was not what I hoped it would be because of the way I felt at the end of it. Had it not been for the watch I certainly would have slowed down in order to feel more comfortable. I am glad that I didn't because I also felt that ideally I could have run it faster (given my times on shorter distances.) So I am left wanting to run another one with more conscious time goals.

I can make excuses about how I felt like I was over-heating (I swear every time I looked at the weather report it said low 60's and cloudy which would have been fine for the black running t-shirt, it was an awesome shirt by the way except that it was turned out to be so freaking hot.) Or that I was distracted by the fact that I couldn't find my boyfriend in the crowd in Prospect Park. Also, the water stops were seriously under-staffed which made that process more stressful because I really needed the water. The truth is in that last mile I felt like I wanted to die and had to let my running buddy Jess charge ahead without me. My engine dropped out from under me as I struggled to the finish line. When I saw Chris in the final stretch beaming at me and trying to run beside me with his video camera it made me want to break down and cry right there for ever doubting him.

When I finished my marathon last fall I was extremely emotional at the end out of euphoria for finishing. This weekend I felt the same wave of intense emotion but it was because I felt so awful and wrong about things. It was the ugly side of my human competitive nature that tends to make me want to shy away from the whole thing. I don't have the drive or natural talent to be a super fast runner but that doesn't stop me from feeling so weak in the face of inadequacies. My goal has always been to not worry about that stuff and just try to run strong. So therefore I didn't make my goal. Although the end number itself didn't upset me the feeling of defeat at the end did and the knowledge that had I not been conscious of the time I would have run it much slower made me see the possibility of using numbers as more of a help while training and not such a hindrance while racing.

Reading other people's blogs it comforts me to find that these ambivalent feelings are pretty universal among runners regardless of pace. The fact is it's not always a good high, you are going to occasionally have a "bad trip." As far as my music goes I am not discouraged. I want to be able to articulate all those hills and valleys, that's what art is all about. It also works to my advantage that there is a consistent inherent tempo for running regardless of your speed.

One last thought on the music front. I am not an advocate for racing with headphones but I was really surprised by how many ipods I saw out there! I sang a few songs in my head which I think helped a bit during the hard parts because I never actually stopped running except at the water stations. Also, a Ting Tings song was blasting over the finish line when I crossed which was awesome because I have a definite soft spot for The Ting Tings.

Now that it's done I don't regret anything (except not communicating a better place for Chris to stand in Prospect Park.) I still love running and want to keep training for races. Although I also want to re-evaluate some of my mental hang ups about time and get more friendly with it.