Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Oh! The Places I'll Go! Oh! The Things I'll Hear!

Cute, isn’t he?  I stopped to snap his portrait during my long run last week.

That’s right – I stopped.  In the middle of a long run.  To take a picture of a lizard.  Know what’s even crazier?  I stopped a few more times.  Too.  Was I tired?  Out of shape?  Not feeling the run?  Nope, nope and nope. 

What I was was r e l a x e d.  I wasn’t worried about what my average pace would look like on Facebook.  I had no particular time or distance goal in mind.  I was just out to enjoy a good run in a great place – my favorite nature park.

I just love how the paths curve around through here, inspiring a sense of never quite knowing what might be around the next bend.  The signs advising one not to molest the alligators help with that.

I’m between big races now and not in active training for anything in particular.  Which is a big departure from where I’ve been for the past year.  I’ve chosen to embrace it and make my long runs, especially, about quality time.  Location is part of that; I want to vary my routes, change up the scenery, try some new places over the coming months. 

I’ve also decided to dump my Shuffle. 

Once upon a time, I’d pull a matte disc of black vinyl from its paper sheath, taking a moment to enjoy a particularly lovely album cover or especially intriguing liner notes.  Carefully placing the needle at the record’s shiny outside edge, I’d sit back and take in the sounds of an entire album, listening to each song in the order intended by its artist. 

Those days are long gone now.  I forfeited my turntable and massive collection of vinyl many years ago, when replacement needles became impossible to find and entertainment furniture no longer offered adequate space to open a record player’s lid.  I have plenty of CD’s, but rarely have time to listen to them; what busy single parent does?  My iPhone’s Music app is chock-full of new and old music; mostly singles, but a few tried-and-true full albums can be found, wedged between LMFAO, Britney and Psy (don’t judge – it’s got a great beat and I can dance to it. RIP Dick Clark.) 

It hit me during a post-Princess run… I was listening to one of my running playlists, customarily shuffling its little heart out to keep me on my toes.  The Police’s “Synchronicity I” came on, an old favorite, and as it wound down, I found my brain expecting to hear the next song form the album.  It came as something of a shock when, not “Walking in Your Footsteps,” but “Gold Digger” (again – don’t judge) began.  I didn’t quite stop in my tracks, but I did stumble a bit (could’ve been a root, not the Kanye, I s’pose…).  It felt so… wrong!  I resolved then and there to spend some quality time listening to full albums again, in order and with the Shuffle switched firmly to the “off” position.

And what time do I have to indulge in an hour or two of album listening these days?  Long runs.  An hour or more of pure, uninterrupted me-time.  And, with no particular training pace to maintain, I’m free to listen to any format, any speed, any genre of my choosing.  Yippee!

I began my Running Album Adventure this past weekend – the same weekend that I stopped to take some photos.  Album of choice?  Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy.   An oldie-but-goodie – kinda like me! ;)

So how was it?  Pretty freaking awesome.  Really.  Generally, I find disco-ball-twirling-lights pop and dance music to be my best bet for running, simply because it’s simple music; easy to find and keep the beat with what is nearly always an outrageously exaggerated bass rhythm.  (And I use the term “bass” lightly here, as I challenge anyone to find an actual stringed instrument in use in any of those songs.  Not that I’m a music snob.  Okay, I am a music snob.  Deal with it.)  So, running to Zeppelin was, in a way, far more challenging – what to tune into, Jimmy’s guitar licks?  Robert’s throaty vocals?  John Paul’s  complex bass line?  Bonzo’s incomparable percussion work?  Don’t even talk to me about the full orchestral segments.

Yes.  All of the above.  I found myself mentally picking apart the pieces and putting them back together, dissecting the sounds that comprise the whole of each song, but hearing them work together, blending, blasting, piercing and weaving through the musical fabric like a needle through a tapestry.  And the really neat thing is that I found my body begin to do the same – each breath, step, arm pump working in isolation and as part of the full mechanical process of forward movement.  Taking it a step further, I wasn’t moving in isolation, either; I was as tuned in to the environment around me as I was to my own inner workings and to the music.   Hence, the photo stops.

I was, in fact, so tuned in that I tuned out – it took several full minutes before I realized that the album had ended, there was nothing but my own footfalls and breathing to be heard, and I was half a mile away from my car.  I tried queuing up another album, but it didn’t feel right; Houses of the Holy had been the right music for the right day and I chose silence for the rest of my run.

So was it that particular album or artist that made the run so great?  Could it be that simply hearing an album in entirety, rather than a random shuffle of differing tunes, made for a smoothness of mind and body?  Or am I reading far too much metaphysical malarkey into it all? 

I don’t know.  But I do know that it was an incredibly happy experience, one from which I gained much inner peace and energy.  So I’m totally doing it again.  And again.  I’ve got a few albums lined up for the coming weeks – Live in Swing City (Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orhcestra), Space Wrangler (Widespread Panic), The Yes Album (Yes), Four Seasons (Vivaldi),  Tron: Legacy (Daft Punk) and, for sure, Synchronicity (The Police). 

Yes, I have very eclectic taste.  Which means I’m open to suggestions – tell me, what are some of your favorite albums?  What should I try next?!

Oh the places you’ll go! 
You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

-                - Dr. Seuss

Eagle Lake Park on a spectacular spring day!

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    I have a question about your blog, could you please email me? Thanks!!