My biggest fear about running the marathon is that my music will die at about mile 16.

If you know me outside of my blog, whether it’s through the #runchat Twitter community or have spent any time with me in person, you know that I could probably talk about music until the end of time. I think music is really the truly great love of my life. And yet: I think one of the great tragedies of my life is that though I have been listening to music and am incredibly stimulated by music, I have NO musical talent to perform or write music.

I took voice lessons and sang in the Chambers Choir in high school, and tried to keep it up a little bit when I went to college by singing in the Honors Chorus. I took clarinet lessons for a year in the fifth grade and piano lessons in middle school but I never practiced. Practicing was never something I had a whole lot of discipline for. And I think playing music is like speaking another language – it’s much easier to become fluent when you learn it young. And I didn’t.

But I did learn how to love music.

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Probably most of my exercise as a young kid did not come from the soccer team I played on but from dancing around in my room to my prized CD collection. I was the goalie on my soccer team because I was tough and didn’t want to run. But though I never took dance lessons and I’m absolutely horrible at trying to memorize choreography both cognitively and in my muscles (again, I’m not much of a “practice” person), I could spend an entire day in my room with my purple boom box pretending I was a rock star or pop star performing for an audience of my stuffed animals. I could lip-sync like nobody’s business.

I had this look down by 7, only instead of Beyonce it was Mariah Carey I was mirroring back in that day.
I had this look down by 7, only instead of Beyonce it was Mariah Carey I was mirroring back in that day.

For every hobby I’ve picked up and cast off, those piano lessons included, running has been the only one I told myself to start doing and actually stuck with. Nobody was telling me I had to get out and do my run. I didn’t think of running 2 miles around my neighborhood as “practice.” There was no fear of hitting the wrong note when going through a training run. Every run was a victory in itself, and I for some reason just couldn’t think of practicing the piano the same way. If going to my lesson at my instructor’s classroom or home was the race, practicing the instrument would have been like a training run, only I rarely did them.

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How do I make my hands do two different things with their different fingers at the same time?!

In my plans for “what I’m going to do with all my time when grad school is over!!!” one of the things I want to do is actually practice learning how to play the guitar. I own a guitar. And like every instrument, I worked at it for a hot minute, learned how to play Ode to Joy, and promptly got anxiety every time I looked at it after that. Playing music and practicing it is hard for me. And though running is hard – it’s hard on my body, it’s hard on my lungs – it doesn’t give me anxiety to think about lacing up my shoes and hitting the pavement. I’ll go as far as I go. I’ll walk when I have to. Nobody is paying for me to go for a 6 mile run tonight — I don’t feel the pressure to practice for an hour like my paid instructor told me to.

And part of the reason I really, really love to go for a run is because it’s alone time with my music.

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Me at mile 10 of the Brooklyn Half. You are WELCOME, Sheepshead Bay spectators.

So while I may have no musical skill, I have all the heart in the world for the love of music. Maybe if I’d started taking lessons at like age 4 instead of age 11, I might be a pretty proficient musician. But my music lessons were hanging out with my dad talking about great musicians, and discovering how good it feels when music is loud, and how much more happens in the music that you can hear when it’s loud, and how much better music is when it’s loud.

Music gives me the feels, guys. And the feels keep me going, literally.

Which is why I need you guys. 

As I go into marathon training, and eventually, when I run the marathon, I’m not sure that my phone’s battery will hold out to play music for the full length of my longer runs. I’ve never even run a 5K without music before. All of my best runs have come from when a really amazing song hits me in just the right spot and breathes fresh life into my legs and lungs.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to run without music. But I know that on this first round of training and working my way up against the anxiety of “okay, someone [Hal Higdon/my marathon registration fee] is telling me I have to run this many miles today, I’ve never gone that far before” I am going to need music for every step.

So for those of you who’ve run marathons, and need music, and go for about 5 to 5 1/2 hours, which is where I’m expecting/hoping to fall, what do you do? Do you keep your phone on? Do you have any long lasting battery tricks? Do you carry an extra iPod? Do you keep your phone on for the whole run? (I’d like to be able to text my family along the route every five miles or so.) What arm bands or flip belts do you use to carry all your stuff, music included? HOW DID YOU DO IT?!

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Thank you in advance you beautiful people!

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