Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Playlist: "We're On Each Other's Team"

I don't have the energy for more than one big project at a time, it seems. Disappointing, huh? Recently, all of my extra energy has gone into our house, the location formerly referred to as The Bermuda Triangle. As it stands now, the purge is complete and all of our extra stuff is out in our garage, waiting for me to make the call to Salvation Army. We intended to have a garage sale, but we decided that the time and energy required to organize and price it all, not to mention sitting in the heat with it for more than one day, just didn't seem worth it.

Now that the purge is complete, it's time for me to focus my energy on regaining a healthy weight following Van's birth. I'm still packing some pregnancy pounds, which honestly doesn't bother me too much, but I'd like to fit into more of my older clothes. Mostly, though, I want to be in better shape because I enjoy setting running goals. During the purge it was impossible for me to jog because I was up until the wee hours of the night working each night, which zapped all of my energy. Even prior to that though, I was really struggling because of lower back pain. I have found that I can usually keep this managed with ice packs, and I suspect that building some core strength through yoga would do me a world of good, except that I still need the nerve to find and join a class. We are strongly considering a family membership at the local Y. Childcare while I take a yoga class or go for a jog sounds pretty fabulous, and I think we would really like being able to take the kids swimming regularly.

Since I'm keen on getting my feet back into the old running shoes, I've been doing some short jogs this past week and setting a new running goal. This one is going to be a real doozy for me, but it's manageable: at the Yukon Chill Your Cheeks 5K, which is held annually the Saturday before Thanksgiving and coincides with the lighting of the park, I hope to run a 5K race in 29:59 or less. That would mean picking up my current pace quite a bit. In recent years I have found myself able to gut out distance when I really need to, but my pace is something like a disgraceful 12 minute-mile. At this point I'm not interested in adding distance accomplishments as much as I am speed ones. My fastest 5K time to date is 33:50, and that was when I was in good shape, so I will need to shave significant time off that. I have every intention of giving it my all though, and I'll be dedicating my efforts to the memory of Ben Sauer. (In case you missed my previous post about Ben and his influence on me in my role as a mother, read it and weep.)
My favorite picture of Ben, hugging his identical twin brother Jack
Jogging, for me, is an act of spiritual unification with other people. That sounds really weird, I know, but really and truly, I find myself connecting to humanity in strange ways when I am grunting out my efforts into a jog. It's suddenly like everyone everywhere is my friend, and my sense of being joined to others becomes rich and complicated. This is why I always dedicate races and running goals to other people; it instills within me a sense of thanksgiving for other people in this life. My music playlist reflects this sense of connection that I feel, as my songs are primarily chosen to remind me of good times with others, as well as positive associations that naturally come with good relationships. A few songs, like Lady Gaga's "Just Dance," are on there purely for the beat, but they are few and far between. I always start a race with Florence and the Machine's "Dog Days Are Over," using as the chorus my mantra of "Run fast for your mother and fast for your father, run for your children, for your sisters and brothers." I don't always run fast for them, but I always run for them! Here are some other examples from my jogging playlist and why they were selected:
  • "Mountain Sound" by Of Monsters and Men, which always reminds me of a fun day in the sun at Andy Alligator's Water Park in the summer of 2012. George was a baby, Silas was a toddler, and BJ and I enjoyed the day with my sister and her awesome little family. I heard this song on the loudspeaker that day.
  • "We Are Young" by Fun, which instantly transports me to the early months of 2012, as I rocked my newborn baby George on the right-hand seat of our bedroom couch and watched old reruns, falling in love with a new little boy.
  • "Home" by Phillip Phillips, a song that brings to mind positive memories with Owen, as well as the Summer 2012 Olympic Games, for which it was a theme.
  • "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z, which reminds me of fun times spent in one of my favorite cities in the world. I love New York. And Raine's Law Room with my best friends. The song also reminds me of the indelible Betty White, whose one-time hilarious hosting of the Mother's Day SNL episode in 2010 left me begging for more. Jay-Z performed "Empire State of Mind" that night and also dedicated his performance of "Forever Young" to Betty White.
  • "Walking With A Ghost" by Tegan and Sara: Every time I hear this song, I'm suddenly 23 again, enjoying a walk on a fall evening in 2004 with BJ and Tex in Logan Park of northeast Minneapolis, smelling Cinnamon Toast Crunch as it bakes at the nearby General Mills plant.
  • "Brave" by Sara Bareilles, a song which conjures within me a sense of unity with womankind in all of its bold little pieces
  • "Slide" by GooGoo Dolls: I can practically smell the Lake Texoma air and the hot dogs sizzling on the boat grill. This song, listened to a million times with my parents as part of "the lake tape," will always transport me instantly to the sailboat days of college summers.
  • "Machinehead" by Bush brings about a rush of adrenaline as I think about cheering on the Thunder in a close game from the friendliest section in The Peake, Loud City 303!
  • "Team" by Lorde, during which I always imagine that Sommer is running alongside me. I feel particular regard for these lyrics: 
We live in cities you'll never see on the screen,
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things.
Living in ruins of a palace within my dreams,
and you know, we're on each other's team.

I'm a lucky girl. So many memories, so many good people that have guided me and are there for me even now when I ask for support. What a neat thing, this notion that this handful of songs that remind me of so many good people, can once again help me as I work toward my own personal goals--goals I want to meet to honor other people. It's like each memory that goes into these songs comes back to serve me yet again as I need it. And so I will run on, going faster and faster, fast as I can for Ben. Time to lace up the shoes, strap on the ice pack, and get busy. Ben is worth it, and so am I.

My first song during every race: "The Dog Days Are Over" by Florence and the Machine

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