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Friday, August 26, 2016

Marathon Earworm: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Time spent on book: Still working. This is my "break."
What I did: Reviewing a manuscript
Grade for the day: TBD

Earworm: A song that sticks in your mind, and will not leave no matter how much you try. The best way to get rid of an earworm is to replace it with another. Be prepared to become a jukebox.
Via Urban Dictionary 

Earworm. If you run, you've had it. And if you've done a marathon, you know that good earworm can be the soundtrack for a strong finish.

But bad earworm? That's just another layer of misery.

For me, the Harrisburg Marathon conjures up positive memories of earworm.

I was somewhere in the final three miles, tossing up my usual petitions to God, Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Vishnu, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Gotta cover all your bases.

And then, almost on cue, Johnny Cash started singing....

"Lord have mercy on me, was the kneeling drunkard's plea." 

Could there possibly be a more appropriate lyric?

While the first three miles of a marathon are a blur of excitement and swirling emotions, the final three are a quiet, dark, and delusional place. And it is here where I confront all of my faults and shortcomings, large and small. Inadequate training; a fast start; poor hydration; carbohydrate depletion; blisters; cramps; an irrational dislike of cats.

Whatever my sins are, I can't escape them in the last three miles. I can only beg for mercy. And the finish line.

So yea, Johnny Cash. Good earworm.

There are other examples that come immediately to mind.

At a 15k this summer, Kendrick Lamar was along for the ride. The Augustines was part of my DNF at a Vermont marathon. And AC/DC is a frequent visitor to my musical memory.

But then there's bad earworm. This tends to be the norm. Because a marathon isn't punishment enough.

In the early miles of the Atlantic City Marathon, someone was blaring "Blurred Lines" along the boardwalk.  I can't begin to quantify my hatred of that song. But I did get to think about this hatred for the remaining 26.2 miles. I mean, Kenny G would have been an improvement. Or waterboarding. Same thing.

Here's another one: Supertramp "Take the Long Way Home." This one started up in my head during a long training run. I had decided to add on 2 or 3 more miles by--wait for it--taking the long way home. I have no one to blame but myself for that one. At the time, I didn't necessarily hate this song or Supertramp. But now I do.

This last one hurts to admit, but hey, we're all friends here. The Backstreet Boys, "I Want It That Way." I know, I know. Just typing that made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. A lot. I remember two things about the Nashville Marathon: 1) My foot cramping up at mile 18 (because I wore new shoes.... because I'm a moron); and 2) this song burrowing into my brain. I probably heard it along the course somewhere. At least that's what I tell myself.

In a little over two weeks I'll be running the Erie Marathon. Until then, I'll be packing my playlist with Lord Huron, Father John Misty, and Sufjan Stevens. And because of that, none of them will become marathon earworm.

I'm bracing myself for Taylor Swift. If I'm lucky.

Happy trails, friends.

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