I can work my iPod blindfolded. It is always on my left hip, cord threaded under my shirt, ear buds tucked in my sports bra. I always hit random shuffle as I don't like playlists. I have a general rule that I don’t listen to music until the last three miles of my run. But, tonight was different. Tonight, I wasn’t training for anything, I was running because it was fun, and I was listening to my tunes for all fifteen miles.
Just as during races, I dedicate miles to loved ones, I have songs that will forever belong to someone or some special moment in time. The song could be dedicated because it reminds me of the person, the person selected it or it was playing when I was with or thinking of that person. Whatever the reason, when I hear that song on a run, I’ll think about the person who owns it.
Some people are easy. Mark (Smiling Face), Noah (You’ll Be In My Heart) and Natalie (God Bless the Broken Road). My siblings have songs: Rick (Boatman), Mark (I am a Lineman For the County) Danielle (Truckin), and Jeannie’s (Somewhere Over The Rainbow). For my dad, there is a local artist who sings a song called “Ode to Eddy” about an empty chair. I don’t know who Eddy is, but the song is Dads. For my mom, it’s Garden Party.
My iPod has a skip button, and sometimes I will not want to go where the song takes me. Other times I’ll listen to 'Addicted' and remember the Mark before Mark, who opened my eyes to love. Or 'Far Away' which reminds me of my good friend Linda who died much too young in a snow mobile accident. Or 'Go Your Own Way' which is dedicated to the babies I don’t get to hold. Like I said, sometimes I don’t want to go there, sometimes I do.
I have songs for students. Sometimes I’ll be approached when I’m out in the world. Some kid I taught years ago will hug me and thank me for making an impression. I’ll ask them for a song they like. That song will be theirs every time I run to it. That never ceases to motivate me. I also have a song for some of my all time favorite students (Corey, Joe, Matt, Donald, Jade and Crystal). These kids left a lasting impression on me and 'Ain’t No Mountain High Enough' reminds me of how they busted through labels and disabilities to find successes even after challenges.
With teaching, you don’t always knock it out of the park. Running tonight, I thought of kids I have worked with who are incarcerated, committed suicide, permanently changed as a result of a bad decision, institutionalized or the like. The song I heard when I thought of them will forever bring them back to me. I also have a special song for that one student, who did all he could to break my spirit, and nearly succeeded. It’s a song from a kid’s movie and it’s called 'Get Off Of My Back'. I love it!
Sometimes I will have a song on my iPod that I just like, but because I heard it at a special moment on a run, I will always associate it with that spot. During the Dirty Girl run, I heard 'Bye Bye Miss American Pie'. Being one of the few Americans in the race, I decided to represent and sing it out loud and strong. When I heard it tonight, I was back in that moment. And my running friends know why I LOVE 'Sweet Caroline'.
I have songs I use to pump me up. I start nearly every race with 'Takin’ Care of Business'. I have a song for each leg of the triathlon: Swim (I’m Diving In), Bike (Roll to me or Good Day to Ride) and Run (It’s Not My Time). I have songs that just make me feel good about running (Extraordinary, All In, The Time of My Life, Southern Cross).
When I run without music, I let my thoughts wander. When I run with music, my thoughts are taken on a journey.
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
~ Plato ~