Final Marathon Details

Mar 4, 2012 by

Final Marathon Details

Less than one week to go, and I’m in taper mode leading up to the Columbia Marathon, winding down the training to allow my body to recharge for the big day. I’m trying to refrain from attempting anything dumb that might cause a senseless injury.  Now, it is time to turn my attention to one final detail that will be of great importance come race day.  Plan this wrong and dire consequences could arise.

Of course, I’m referring to my playlist for the race.  Some people may just hook up the old tunes player and hit shuffle.  Not me.  As you maybe have figured out by now from this blog, I tend to put too much thought into some things.  This might be one of those times.  Here’s my playlist thinking.

Short Distance

For shorter races, like a 5K or 10K, I like to have upbeat music almost immediately and throughout the run.  Inevitably, there’s some rocking, guitar driven ’80’s throw back to my revisionist history glory days of high school.  Most Night Ranger is good for this, and tunes from one of my all time favorite albums, Van Halen’s 5150,  have been known to be in my lists (Hey, 1986 was a good year!).  Finally, at the end, I’ll make sure I have a power song to push through to the finish. A 10K is very similar, but I may start out with a bit slower music to remember to not get caught up in the opening surge.

Different Story

For marathons, my thinking is different.  I view the playlist in 3 parts – beginning, middle, and pain, I mean end, each serving a different purpose.  The beginning of the marathon play list will usually last 30 minutes or so with slower tempo music.  The adrenaline will be flowing as I run with the crowd, and I need to remind myself to keep the a slower pace.  It is going to be a long day.  Once that early easy pace is established, I’ll put in a about 2-3 hours of various stuff from my tunes library.  Nothing here with any real rhyme or reason, just passing time.  Mostly, this section will remind me that my musical tastes are stuck in years gone by.   Finally,  there’s the pain part – the last hour or so; the part of the marathon where you ask yourself “Why did I pay good money for this?”.  For this section, I’ll throw in some songs with relevant titles like “Used to the Pain” by Keith Urban or “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac, all leading up to the end of the suffering – The Grand Finale.

The Grand Finale

Finally, the playlist and run come down to one last song, assuming I’m on pace to hit my target time.  This needs to be a tune that can really get me pumping when I’m physically exhausted.  It also really needs to be a fairly long song – this helps to hit the finish window with the song actually playing, and I really prefer it to be a live concert song.  That is why for my first two marathons I have used “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd as my closing song.  (I’m a Southerner, what can I say?). I’m not talking about the 9 minute studio version, either.  I mean the 13 minute 41 second live version from Atlanta’s Fox theater. I’m getting pumped just thinking about it now.  For Columbia, though, I think I’m going to shake it up.  I have a lot of changes going on in other parts of my life; I might as well shake up my iPod, too.  I have not decided what to use just yet.  I’ll reveal my final decision in a race review post.  Right now, here are my top 5 candidates for The Grand Finale:

1.”Rain King” by  Counting Crows from the album August & Everything After  Live at Town Hall.  This live version has their rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” brilliantly blended in the middle. Almost 9 minutes long. Leading candidate. Hard to go wrong here.

2. “Do You Feel Like We Do?” by  Peter Frampton from Frampton Comes Alive.  I’ve heard this is a song about a hangover, so if it is about pain I guess it could apply to the last miles of a marathon, too.  Almost 14 minutes long.  Maybe not upbeat enough, though.

3. “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” by Billy Joel from the album Live at Shea Stadium.  Almost 8 minutes long. Walking down memory lane with Brenda and Eddie.

4. “Jessica” by The Allman Brothers Band from the album Brother and Sisters. Seven and a half minutes long.  No words (sometimes you don’t need them!), but an upbeat jam.

5. “Somebody to Love” by Queen from the Album Queen Rock Montreal.  Almost 8 minutes long.  Awesome Freddie Mercury.  This entire album might be a good choice to put in the middle section of my list.

There you have it.  If you have any other suggestions, let me know.

What a Nerd

One last thing.  How do I know when to start the Grand Finale?  Since, I’m using an iPod and iTunes, I’ll create a new playlist and name it Race+year, like LRAH2012 for last week’s 10K.  Then as a drag songs into the list folder, the total time of the music displays at the bottom.  At this point in my running journey, I understand my abilities and pacing pretty well, so I have a pretty good idea of my finish time and, therefore, how long to make the playlist.  I just make the playlist the same length of time as my target finish time and plop the Grand Finale at the end. Doesn’t everyone do this?


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