I screwed up big time. I skipped my final long run before the race and barely ran all week. I am a real bastard sometimes. What follows is the playlist I would have listened to, had I not been so characteristically lazy and good-for-nothing. Here's a Spotify version for you, if you are into sonic representations of failure.
"The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows," Brand New
I blame my wife, really. She came home from a work cocktail party last Sunday night a little tipsy and with a bottle of wine. She wanted to drink. She never wants to drink like I do, so, since I was finishing up work myself, I joined her. The next morning I was all fuzzy in the head and unmotivated to do anything. I especially did not want to run 12 miles. So I did nothing. I told myself I would run the 12 miles the next day. This was a blatant lie. Realizing the lie the next day, I told myself I would still run, just not 12 miles.
"Moments Pass," Hot Water Music
And here I am on Thursday and I am writing instead of running. I am the worst. There's no way around this one; I am just a poor excuse for an adult human being. I mean, I blamed my wife for this (seriously, though, it is kind of her fault).
"Welcome Home," Coheed & Cambria
Part of me is concerned, but the other part of me is supremely confident for some reason. I've noticed this about myself: For a not-all-that successful-and-actually-pretty-average guy, I am so insanely confident in myself. I think I am smarter than most people. I have absolutely no reason to think this and I haven't contributed a single thing to the world suggesting it is true, but I believe it in my bones. So when I think to myself I'll be able to finish this race without total preparation, I believe it. It's either textbook psychopathy or I've perfected mind over matter.
"Travelin' Band," Creedence Clearwater Revival
When you sign up for a race, you get this whole packet of stuff, mostly bullshit advertisements and brochures, including a bib and usually a shirt. Because we live in the kind of world that would presumably spin off its axis if someone did not try to sell you some shit you do not need at every possible moment, race organizers make you pick these packets up in advance of the race—to "check in"—in the middle of an "Expo." An Expo is just a warehouse full of activity-appropriate shit that you are forced to walk through in order to run 13.1 goddamned miles at another time and place entirely.
Want some sneakers? Check out the Expo! Wanna get taped up like you see real, professional athletes getting taped up all the time? Check out the Expo! Hey, we have basically the IHoP-carousel-of-flavored-maple-syrups in little aluminum pouches with haute-Garbage-Pail-Kids names like "Gu" that we are selling as "endurance nutrition." Check it out, here at the Expo!
"Stop the F****n' Car," Circa Survive
You can probably guess what the worst part of these Expos is, though. They are crawling with Runners. I swear to Christ, people were actually in workout gear at the Expo. Like, they came dressed up. Lots of them. Special running shirts (scam), shorts, sneakers, performance sunglasses (scam), and hats (super scam). I began to wonder, though, is this like wearing a jersey to a sporting event? Like, are these guys just huge fans of running so they wear the gear to places as a display of fandom? And if so, is that OK?
No, it is not OK.
(As a total aside, I am on board with adults wearing jerseys. I know it's a thing to make fun of grown men wearing jerseys or whatever, but I don't have a problem with it. Especially people my age and older. Now, you can basically get a jersey for any person who has ever played any sport in the history of athletic competition and mesh. But there was a time when it was not possible and just the thought of wearing the same shit as your hero was cool. I get that. Would I ever in a million years wear a jersey to any place other than an arena where professional sports were being played? No. But I would, and do, wear a jersey to a football game or to a baseball game. It's part of the fun. You are allowed to act like an idiot for a couple hours because you already look like one.)
"Blister," Jimmy Eat World
It's not OK because the equivalent to other sports would be wearing that gear to an actual race that you were observing. For it to be OK, someone in the area in which you are wearing your gear must be engaged in the activity for which your gear is required. Wearing that stuff to what is essentially a catalog in diorama form is just weird. And such a Runner thing to do.
"My Hero," Foo Fighters
While waiting in line to actually get inside the Expo, two guys behind my wife and I were discussing their times and training methods as they've progressed through the years. I could feel the piss splashing on me. This reminded me of something I was told when preparing for the bar exam. During your lunch breaks on exam day, do not talk to anyone about the test. Don't ask what someone thought the answer was to a tough question. Don't even talk about your overall, general impression of the test thus far. Why?
"Beating Heart Baby," Head Automatica
Because you will invariably come across the douchebag who is going to try to psych you out. Or the douchebag who is just a douchebag and whatever he says will psych you out. "Oh, see, I thought that was an intentional infliction of emotional distress question because ..." And here you thought it was a property question. Now you are fucked for the rest of the exam (which is two days; Enjoy!) "I've been running at a two-minute mile pace, but this course is super hilly so I'll probably slow down to 2:01." Good luck getting those hills and the Rocketeer over here out of your head.
"97," Alkaline Trio
Runners and attorneys, all they want to do is show you how big their dicks are. Two of the worst kinds of people out there; don't give 'em the satisfaction.
"Hide and Seek," Imogen Heap
I only know this song because of The O.C. God, I loved The O.C.
"Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," Led Zeppelin
I forget if I've included this song here before, but I know it's been on several of my playlists. I'm not sure what it is, but I haven't been desensitized to it yet, which is nice. There's nothing worse than listening to a song so much that it no longer produces that feeling you remember it producing. You feel some regret or remorse in abandoning it, but hopefully you've given it the respect it deserves and made use of every possible aspect of it before discarding its corpse for the next song that gets you through the cruel, bitter winter that is running for fitness.
"There's No Way I Can Talk Myself Out Of This One," Texas Is The Reason
"It's Not A Fashion Statement, It's A Death Wish," My Chemical Romance
"Release," Pearl Jam
This is a great song, but these kinds of songs are the worst on playlists. It's a nine-minute-plus song and probably five minutes of it is just ambling outro music. Even worse are the songs with just dead air for minutes before leading to a hidden track or something. I did this once and wound up trying to skip it and fumbled stupidly with my iPhone and the iTunes screen froze in landscape and it wouldn't revert back or even recognize me touching it so I could not change the song. I was just running looking at my stupid phone with its stupid, frozen screen not playing the song I wanted and I kept shaking it to recalibrate itself and it wouldn't and I was cursing and running and shaking my hand. Like those people who walk around talking on tiny, almost imperceptibly small Bluetooths (Blueteeth?) except much more violent. This is like the evil twin brother of the "Wild Horses" train of thought from last week. Sure it killed some time, but it was almost as annoying as running. Almost.
"Try Not to Breathe," R.E.M.
"Bullet With Butterfly Wings," Smashing Pumpkins
"Seven," Sunny Day Real Estate
I just made my playlist for the race. It is Saturday at 10:41 p.m. I run in, like, 10 hours. I am the absolute worst. I feel like I rushed it because I put it off until it was almost too late and it wasn't the exciting, rewarding experience I wanted it to be. Yeah, this one'll work. Uh-huh, uh-huh, put it on. Am I forgetting something? Whatever, I'll hit repeat if I have to. OK, done.
"Breakfast of Champions," Rainer Maria
I did basically make the Mega Voltron Playlist I had wanted to do, so that will be fun, I guess. If I'm being totally honest, though, I'm starting to bug out. I keep thinking something bad is going to happen like I'm going to fall and break something or pull a hamstring or some other annoying thing that will keep me from finishing the race.
"You Know How I Do," Taking Back Sunday
Oh God, I just thought about cramping up. That would be really annoying. That's happened to me a couple times when I've clearly jumped out to a pace that is well beyond what I am capable of sustaining. I know I'm going to have to be hyper-aware of that at first and in the other races (5Ks) that I have run, I've done a pretty good job of that.
"It Ain't Me Babe," Bob Dylan
What I am terrible at is judging when I have paced myself enough. With my goal as stated, I try to pace myself in such a way so as to ensure I both finish and finish without having to stop. I think a lot of the time, however, I leave too much in the tank. If that makes sense. I often find myself waiting until the last quarter-mile or something and then really turning it on. I'm not sure if that's just a natural reaction to being close to a goal and you just find another gear or it's a result of not spreading out the energy better. Can I change my perception of what is an acceptable distance to empty the tank and make it a half mile? Are these things that Runners think? I hope not; I just want to finish as soon as possible. Not because of a number, but because I want to finish.
"The Story," Brandi Carlile
Yeah, this song was in, like, a Chevy or GMC truck commercial during the football season a few years ago. And I love it. There is a moment when her voice cracks that makes me legitimately believe Brandi Carlile is dealing with some serious strife the very moment she is singing and it gives me the chills. I am here for you, Brandi. I am running for you, to ease whatever pain it is that you are feeling. Know that your voice wills me to further and greater lengths than I previously believed possible. I am sorry that I only know you because of an advertising campaign, but I am not sorry: because I know you.
"Jodie," Saves The Day
So, depending on when you read this today, I am either still running, taking a nap after heroically finishing my first half-marathon or getting wasted on margaritas and Mexican food with my wife after heroically napping after finishing my first half-marathon. The possibilities are
threefold endless! Catch you all next week.