Listen uP: Musical Highlights from a 13.1-mile Run in the Rain

28 09 2009


During my eight-week training period for the Jersey City half marathon, I would put my iPod on shuffle and take mental notes of those songs that gave me a little extra energy; that little push that made me want to run just a little further. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I was brushing up on my French at the time so in between songs little snippets of Francais would randomly pop up –“Je suis fatiguee” (I am tired) or “Je voudrais une biere” (I would like a beer) were amongst my favorites.

So when it came time to put together my 13.1-mile iPod mix, I reflected back on my favorite training moments and incorporated a bit of French to create the perfect half marathon mix. Here are some highlights.

Mile Un (1):

“Two Step” (Dave Matthews Band)- Despite what the vegan hipsters in Williamsburg might think about DMB, the frenetic pacing of “Two Step” really creates a moment at the starting line. Look around at all the people running in the rain and smile.

Mile Deux (2):

“The Light” (David Gray)- People either love or hate David Gray but when you’re running, completely in the zone, and this song is playing, it’s like your own personal movie soundtrack.

Mile Trois (3):

“Here Comes the Sun” (Richie Havens)- I love every version of this song and even walked down the aisle to the Nina Simone version. My parents were waiting for me at mile 3 and it was the only break of sun during the entire race. Pure perfection.

Mile Quatre (4): Entering Liberty State Park

“Neighborhood #1 Tunnels” (Arcade Fire)- One of my favorites during the grueling training period.

“Lost!” (Coldplay)- I’m sorry, but there’s absolutely no feeling in the entire world like running into Liberty State Park, past the Statue of Liberty, listening to this song.

Mile Cinq (5):

“Hateful” (The Clash)- The Clash’s “London Calling” is a brilliant album and nothing fires me up quite like “Hateful.”

“Victoria (Live)” (The Kinks)- What a way to finish up the 5th mile—Loud and live with a great pace.

Mile Six (6): a.k.a. The Theater Dork Mile. What do I think about while running? Dancing, mostly. Mile 6 was 100% choreography. Soundtrack of choice: “Jelly’s Last Jam”

Mile Sept (7):

“Rip this Joint” (Rolling Stones)- “Exile on Main Street” is perhaps the best rock album of all time. What an amazing energy boost at the halfway mark.


Mile Huit (8): a.k.a. Sisters are doing it for themselves.

“Valerie” (Amy Winehouse)- Love her or hate her, this is a killer track. And I laugh at the fact that Amy can barely get off the couch, let alone run, but this tune is a dance floor fave.

Mile Neuf (9):

“With a Heavy Heart (I Regret to Inform You)” (Does it Offend You, Yeah?)- Part hard rock, part glam, this sticks to your ribs like a hot toddy.

Mile Dix (10): a.k.a Take your last breath

“Manhattan” (Kings of Leon)- When you’re looking out across the water at the Manhattan skyline and you’re not sure if you’re going to pass out and this song is playing…it’s pretty magical.

Mile Onze (11): a.k.a. Last mile before I fell apart

“Oh Saya” (Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack)- Oh, those drums are intoxicating.

“Wolf Like Me” (TV on the Radio)- Back to choreography…I hear this and want to dance.  Strangely.

“Pencil Full of Lead” (Paolo Nutini)- A silly, 2-minute ditty that pushes you that much closer to the finish.

Mile Douze (12): a.k.a. Kill Me

“Breathe Me (Mylo remix)”  (Sia)- The first time I ever ran a 10-minute mile was to this song. I equate it with victory. And Six Feet Under. And breathing.

Mile Treize (13): a.k.a. The End is Near

“Lust for Life” (Iggy Pop)- 5 minute tune with a frantic, punk beat? The end is near.

“Canned Heat” (Jamiroquai)- I like to end everything with this song: weddings, races, it’s simply perfect when you feel like you’re going to puke your guts out but spot that finish line 4 minutes away.

Twelve hours later, I’m thankful to be sitting in my living room in oversized (dry) sweatpants drinking a glass of wine. I think there’s a good chance of me doing this again some day, hopefully in better conditions and with a few new tunes, but I’ll remember fondly the soundtrack that dragged my soaking wet, sick self over that finish line. And for now, that’s enough.