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What If You Could Run Without Feeling Time Or Distance?

This week was a hybrid, both musically and I ran outside and inside on the treadmill. I've also mashed up a couple playlists here because I've been making smaller playlists throughout the week instead of one long one like I had been while training for the half-marathon. This is because I'm not running those long runs anymore because running long runs is harder than running short runs.

Your playlist is here; and away we go.

"First Time," Lifehouse

Let's get the ugly stuff out of the way right now: I love this song. It's cool if you don't, though. I'm sure you have your own song that you love that is an embarrassment to humanity so I don't feel too bad about admitting to mine. If you don't have one of those songs, you're either lying to the world or to yourself but you are for sure a liar. It's actually a liberating feeling. I just told a whole bunch of people that I liked a Lifehouse song and now nothing can ever get worse.


And I really do love it. I hadn't heard it in a long time and just randomly threw it on a playlist, forgot about it and then ran all happy for three minutes when it came on. I'm not sure if I was smiling because I was enjoying the song or if it was because I was laughing at myself for liking such a goofy song, but it served its purpose.

"Where The Streets Have No Name," U2

Before I forget, with respect to the subject of half-marathons, I just remembered something that kind of annoyed me. So, if you've ever run a race, you know you get like a goody bag. Like six-year-olds at a birthday party. And, like a six-year-old I am going to complain about mine.

There were shitty muffins and coupons and all that other crap; which, whatever, I gave to my wife. She loves that shit. What was not in the goody bag was a 13.1 sticker. Now, listen. I'm not saying I was going to put it on my car; that would be embarrassing. But I would have put it somewhere in my house or something. Or a garage, if I ever get to the station in life where one has a garage. I always assumed that's where people got them from. Oh, you just ran 13.1 miles? Here, have a sticker to prove it.

Now, either this particular race dropped the ball and didn't give out the stickers, or anyone can just go out and buy themselves a 13.1 or 26.2 sticker. That's problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which, who in god's name is buying that sticker for themselves? I would have gladly accepted the sticker. I'm not going to go out and buy my own pat on the back, though. Have some pride, for chrissakes.


"Black," Pearl Jam

The beginning of the week was the calm before the remnants of the storm, I suppose, so I was able to get back outside and run. After all that rain last week, the trails I usually run through went through an incredible growth spurt. I imagine time-lapse footage would look something like that scene at the end of The Matrix when Neo becomes Neo and the whole apartment hallway pulses green and pushes out a bit and then bam!: huge, lush, jungle landscape in the middle of the Bronx. It's actually beautiful. It is so green and so dense, that you actually forget that you're walking a stone's throw away from the Major Deegan Expressway. Dense is the only way to put it; pathway sizes that were once perfectly acceptable for regular human beings to walk for now feel as though they've been made specifically for hobbits.


"The Great Decay," Cursive

And, of course, with all that dank greenery comes a shitload of pests. Spiders, mosquitos, squirrel-eating spider-mosquitos. You know how crazy you look when you just walk through a spider web? Imagine running through one and continuing to run/walk/spazz out while trying to get the spider web off you. On the whole, I consider myself to be a pretty rational and even-tempered person. My highs aren't too high and my lows I usually just pretend aren't there. But spider webs are the one thing that make me feel like I have the potential to go just straight up insane. Even if I get the spider web off me, what about the spider? I didn't see the spider, it could literally be anywh—what was that on my leg? Now every single sensation on my skin is because of the spider who is probably either dead or in some tree back by its broken home.


"Terrible Love," The National

The other thing I became obsessed with was wondering if I swallowed a bug. There are so many flying around and since you're out they're sweating they are drawn to you and your stupid ruddy face. So you're feeling around for invisible spider webs and swatting away flies and also, you know, breathing and all I can think about is swallowing a disgusting insect. Maybe it's an old wive's tale that flies poop whenever they land, but just the possibility of a fucking fly shitting in my mouth is enough to make my skin crawl.


"Helter Skelter," The Beatles

Or, maybe that's the spider. Fuck.

"Monkey Wrench," Foo Fighters

Wanna hear some shit? I know you do. My wife told me about this woman, Diane Van Deren, who had a small part of her right temporal lobe surgically removed because she suffered from seizures. An interesting side-effect is that when she runs—and, boy, does she ever run— she has no idea how long or how far she has been going. Here's neuropsychologist Dan Gerber with the money quote:

Gerber, who works at Craig Hospital, a rehabilitation hospital in Englewood, Colo., for people with brain or spinal-cord injuries, said that Van Deren “can go hours and hours and have no idea how long it’s been.” Her mind carries little dread for how far she is from the finish. She does not track her pace, even in training. Her gauge is the sound of her feet on the trail.


"Woe Is Me," The Walkmen

She runs multiple ultra marathons a year. Is that not the biggest load of bullshit you've ever read? I can't believe I hadn't heard about this on my own as some crazy sports scandal. The whole point of running is that it is hard to do because it feels hard to do and she's getting away with just running with "little dread for how far she is from the finish." That part where you feel like crying because you have [x] amount of miles left and you've been running for [x] amount of miles already? That's the worst part.


It's like if the T1000 came back to present day just to be a matador and not a time-travelling robot bent on murdering Edward Furlong. Or you're an actor and you get cast in the Biopic on your own life. Or if Yoko Ono's agent was deaf. You get the idea. So next time you're out there absolutely killing yourself and you look at your watch or phone or whatever it is you use to keep time/distance know that there is a lady out there cheating her way to not only multiple ultra marathon wins but even just her regular runs are not the worst things ever.

(Other parts of her life, that we take for granted, are fucked up, but this isn't an Other Parts Of Life That We Take For Granted column, so there.)


"I Still Remember," Bloc Party

I have a really thick, full head of hair. I only know this because every single barber or hairstylist I've ever gone to has always remarked "You have really thick hair." I don't, like, go around comparing the thickness of my hair to other people's hair so that I can then boast about the thickness of my own hair. I actually wish it wasn't so thick because it just adds to the sweating issue I was talking about the other day.


I don't know why, but I hate getting my hair cut. I will put it off forever and especially now that I'm not going to court or anything anymore, I really test the limits of acceptable lack-of-grooming. This is stupid because I feel like it makes running that much less tolerable and yet here I am, in need of a hair cut I won't get for another two weeks. When given the chance to either fix something or complain about how it needs fixing, it is always easier to complain.


Anyway, a lot of hair almost serves as a lid to all your heat, like when you buy a cup of coffee. If you chopped off the hair, maybe it would be less hot. At the very least, you wouldn't have sweaty hair getting in your face or needing to be tucked behind your ears or something. I see people wearing hats or bandanas running and, just think no. I won't wear a bandana because I am not a filthy hippie and a hat is like an extra pound or something that I don't need weighing me down when I run. It's just another thing to bother me and I'm all set in that department.

"Red Wine, Success!," Cold War Kids

I used to be on a one-haircut-a-year schedule. I would shave my head in the summer and then let it grow out through fall and winter. That was in high school when you were allowed to be worthless and do things like not get a haircut for an entire year. Now I'm an adult so I keep it pretty standard and short, but whenever I am running and my hair is on the longer side, I start thinking about shaving it all off again. But at this point, I feel like it's tempting fate: lots of bald men in my family and I don't need to go lopping off all my hair or complaining about how thick it is ohmygodI'msosorrypleasedon'ttakemyhair.


"Arms Can't Stretch," Hot Water Music

I try not to talk too much about music here because everyone has varying tastes and the point of this column is for me to bitch about running, not for you to bitch about me talking about music. But there is obviously an intersection here; enjoyable music makes running something that approaches "enjoyable." These guys, for me, are the ultimate fire up music. Their songs are always about shit like friendship and being an overall good dude, sung in the most guttural voice you've heard and set to some chugging guitars. It's very hard not to feel like something important is happening and that is a really great way to spend three minutes running.


"Ashes In The Fall," Rage Against The Machine

This was a surprise pick and it wound up being a big winner for me. I had listened to this album when it came out, but I was a much bigger fan of Self-Titled era Rage. I forget if this was a single or not, but I definitely recognized it when I picked it and, man, it was awesome. I felt like I should be in some spy-thriller set in some old city in Eastern Europe, tearing around in a Mini Cooper or something, successfully evading the KGB and then just cruising down a wooded highway to my freedom.


"MakeDamnSure," Taking Back Sunday

"Stare At The Sun," Thrice

I said I would do it after the half-marathon, but still haven't made another training calendar. To be fair to me, I don't really have anything specific to train for that would require a calendar yet. To be unfair to me, I shouldn't need a training calendar for my life, but I am lazy and childish and I've made it pretty clear to myself that I need overbearing structure in my life or I will drive this train completely off the rails. Well, I already pretty much drove it off the rails and have since regained a modicum of control. Maybe a train isn't the right image, maybe the best way of looking at is to just try to keep my life like the car ride at Disney World. I can deviate from side to side every now and then but I'm still on the tracks, moving in the right direction, because I am anchored. Swerving around is a lot of fun, some might say it is the most fun, but it's only fun if you can keep doing it and the car's not a burning heap on the side of the road.

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