I ran with music for the first time in quite awhile on Saturday. (A few weeks ago, I used my Shuffle on the treadmill, but I hate the treadmill with music, without some tunes, there's no way I can could endure the torture.But, I digress.)
I purchased my remanufactured (discounted!) iPod shuffle back in 2007, during my first summer of 5Ks. It's proven reliable and easy-to-use, and I used it during almost every training run and every race from then until October 2008, when I started running regularly on my 10-mile York Haven-to-Goldsboro route, on which I feel the road is too windy, hilly, and narrowly-shouldered to navigate safely with the added distraction of music, as I prepared for the Philly Half. I got used to not having it, and for the next three years, I did almost all my running with only the sound of my own footfalls for accompaniment. Over the past year, I've done more long runs in the more suburban, residential neighborhoods of Manchester and Mt Wolf and even taken to the Rail Trail a few times, but the Shuffle has generally remained at home.
What was I thinking?
Afraid that the Rail Trail would be a swamp after all our rain last week and not having a good 17-mile course planned out along the river without the risk of bonking 6-7 miles away from my car, I chose to stay in Manchester and Mt. Wolf, since I have courses of many different lengths mapped out and am seldom more than 1.5 miles away from my car if things go south. On the downside, this route is boring. That, plus a warm, disgustingly humid day equaled drudgery. If I was to have any hope of finishing my 17 miles, I decided that the Shuffle had to come along for the ride.
I think it made a huge difference -- probably in this case the difference between success and failure. Without it, every single thought would have been "It's sooo humid", "I've never sweated so much before," "This is so gross," etc. Instead, every step was powered by pop-punk angst, and while I still had those negative thoughts, I didn't focus on them as much as I did on other disgusting, humid days over the summer. Especially helpful was a long block of music from The Offspring as I was struggling for the last 5 miles. That anger, cheesy 90's suburban anger though it was, helped me get through.
I've got 18 this Saturday. That'll tie my 2nd-longest distance ever. The weather's supposed to be a lot more Brian-friendly, but I'm planning on running it on the Rail Trail, which has proven scenic but also very boring. I'll be sure to bring my background music with me.