Friday, November 27, 2015         


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Soundtrack of a journey starts with the right beat

By Christy Wong Yee


"You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime ..."

-- Eminem, "Lose Yourself"

Music -- the universal, quintessential motivator. It can galvanize a couch potato, inspire a would-be runner and help a struggling marathon trainee maintain faith, hope and a decent pace. Music has the ability to invigorate and the even greater ability to calm. It has the power to rile us up and the power to focus our energy when we are pushing ourselves to our farthest limits.

I haven't been listening to music during our outdoor training runs; we were advised from the very beginning to pay close attention to our surroundings rather than drowning them out with music. I have to admit, at the outset of each run, Scott and I would talk more than we'd listen, but as the miles piled on, conversation became a waste of precious oxygen and we finally shut up.

We became aware of all the things we had been instructed to listen to: irregularities in the steady whoosh of traffic, the rhythm of our breathing and other runners' helpful cues, especially ones like "BIKER ON YOUR LEFT!" and "HEADS UP! TREE BRANCH!" The cadence of our tread became the "music" that sustained us.

But now as we draw ever closer to December, I know that we will need real music, with lyrics to hearten us and a beat to move us. My current project: creating a strategically designed playlist that will take me from start line to finish, with emergency stashes of uplifting titles and even a few wordless songs with tempos as relentless as our course.

From the obvious ("Pump It," by the Black Eyed Peas) to the cheesy (Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive") to pure ear candy (the Pointer Sisters' "Jump," newly electrified by British pop group Girls Aloud), I'm slowly, carefully cultivating "Playlist 26." I would love to begin with "We're All in This Together" from "High School Musical," as I can't fathom thinking anything else when surrounded by 25,000 people all sharing the same goal: to get across the finish line in one piece later on that day.

I know Eminem's grim anthem to success will be somewhere on the list; so will Gwen Stefani's "What You Waiting For?" The underlying beats of trance artist Matt Darey's "Beautiful" featuring Marcella Woods; "4 Minutes," by Madonna; "Rockafeller Skank," by Fatboy Slim; and Caviar's "Sugarless" will move the most exhausted of bodies.

For a mellower stretch, Tal Bachman's "She's So High" and "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies; for girl power, Liz Phair's "Extraordinary," "Wonder," by Natalie Merchant, and KT Tunstall's "Suddenly I See."

There are songs whose words are less important than the urgency their tempo imparts (anything by the Prodigy or Quad City DJs), and there are songs I choose for their words alone ("It's My Life," by Bon Jovi, and "These Are Days," by 10,000 Maniacs).

I don't know what song I'll be listening to when Scott and I cross the finish line. Maybe it will be the ubiquitous theme from "Rocky." Maybe by then we will have reverted to listening to our own feet hit the pavement, one after the other. But until we get there, I have Christina Aguilera's "On Our Way" looping in my mind: "Through all the lows and highs, I need you by my side ... I think we're on our way."

Follow Christy Wong Yee's adventures training for the Honolulu Marathon on the second Tuesday of each month.

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