One of the most important things to remember when preparing for a race like the half marathon, they say, is that you should try not to do anything too differently to normal. Obviously, the presence of 20,000 other runners is going to be a bit of a change, but I'm going to wear the same trainers, drink the same amount of fluid beforehand... that kind of thing. I'm also going to be wearing a pair of headphones and carrying my iPhone strapped to my left arm. Partly that's because I'm going to have the Runkeeper application on and telling me how far I've run and what pace I'm running at -- it makes me run faster -- but also so that I can listen to music.
For me, music is a vital part of the whole process: apart from anything else, if you can focus on each song as it goes past, before you know where you are, you're another four or five minutes down the road and not worrying too much about how everything hurts. For the last few weeks, I've been training to a playlist made up of tracks by the likes of Metallica, Foo Fighters and Iron Maiden. There's something about the driving drums and screaming guitars that encourages me to pick my knees up and run as though the hounds of hell are on my trail.
For Sunday, I thought I might treat myself to a new playlist.
I've been combing through iTunes, pulling out songs that I think might be good. There's a fair bit of rock in there, but as I'll be listening to it on shuffle, I've thrown in a few wildcards to change the pace and to freshen things up from time-to-time.
I've been thinking about it for a little while now, and so, not surprisingly, this week's earworms are all taken from that playlist.
Earworms of the Week
> "Celebrity Skin" - Hole
Courtney has been in the news this week raging against the approval of Kurt's image for use in one of those Guitar Hero/Rock Band type games. As well as being able to play "Smells Like Teenspirit" (also on this playlist, of course), you are able to unlock the "Kurt" character and have him play songs by the likes of Bon Jovi. Yeah. I'd be pissed off too, but who gets the money?? Ah, whatever, this song remains a timeless reminder of the fact that the woman may be crazy but she does / did have talent.
> "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret" - Queens of the Stone Age
QOSA make good running music, and I've slipped a few tracks onto the playlist ("No One Knows" is always good). This was actually initially my favourite track on "Songs For the Deaf", even though it's only included as a live bonus and actually appears on their previous album.
> "Make Your Own Kind of Music" - Mama Cass
Something of a change of pace, especially if it follows something like "Master of Puppets" or "Battery", but hopefully it won't make me slow down too much and will give me a bit of respite from the relentless metal. I ran out of patience with "Lost" not long after, but that opening sequence of the second season that was soundtracked by this song was absolutely brilliant.
> "Search and Destroy" - Iggy & The Stooges
If this doesn't make me pick my knees up, then nothing will. I actually discovered this song initially through a cover version by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, of all people. It's a b-side to "Under the Bridge", and it's surprisingly good. Less surprising once I'd worked out the quality of the source material though.
> "Foux du Fafa" - Flight of the Conchords
Mock French whimsy? But of course. I had to have some Conchords on the playlist too. Baguette!
> "Souljacker pt1" - Eels
Watching Okkervil River last night actually made me pine to see Eels. They're a band that I've never actually seen, and although I didn't especially enjoy last night's gig, there must have been something in their style that made me think of someone who also does a nice line in downbeat, sometimes lyrically dense material. Mark Everett also does it a whole lot better than Okkervil River, if you ask me. I picked this particular song, from one of the less celebrated albums, for the simple reason that it rocks in a way that "Climbing to the Moon" and "Mr E's Beautiful Blues" just don't. Both those other songs included, mind you...
> "Safe European Home" - The Clash
I've been obsessing about the Clash for a while now. Usually, I focus my attention on their debut album and songs like "Career Opportunities" and "White Riot" (both included), but for now my attention has been particularly taken by this one from "Give 'em Enough Rope".
> "Chasing Cars" - Snow Patrol
Another change of pace, but incredibly satisfying to run to. I once listened to this about five times in a row when I was out for a lunchtime run at work. It's not that I especially like the song, although it's pretty good, but for some reason it absolutely hit the spot about halfway round a 4 mile track. If it has the same effect at the ten mile mark on Sunday, then I'll consider it a job well done....
> "Fireball" - Deep Purple
Another earworm I can safely dedicate to Des..... it's that keyboard solo and the fact that it throws me back to the first CD I ever bought ("Protect the Innocent"). Other songs included from that album: "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead and "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath.
> "Crazy Horses" - The Osmonds
Included first and foremost because it's a (surprisingly) good song. Also included because I've been reading "America Unchained" by Dave Gorman, and he spends a fair amount to time explaining in great detail the madness of the Mormons. I was only dimly aware of some of it, but a book of golden plates? the angel Moroni? Urim and Thummin? Goodness me.... Still, it's a great record, isn't it?
I reckon I need a playlist that's about two-and-a-half hours long, to over some mucking about at the start and the two hours or so that I'll need for the race itself. After a careful process of elimination, my race playlist is now complete. You know how long it is?
That should cover it, eh?
Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the sponsorship money we're raising for the MS Society. I was originally aiming to raise £1000, but the figure at the moment stands at the magnificent sum of £2,080... with £500 of that being matched by my office and still to be added to the total. That's pretty good, I reckon and you're generosity has both astounded and humbled me.
Still time to contribute of course - you can do that on our JustGiving page.
All that remains now is to forcefeed myself wholemeal pasta until the race starts on Sunday morning at 10am.
Wish us luck!
I reckon we'll have earned that pub lunch we've got booked for 2.30pm.....