Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Top Three Running Anthems

In the book "Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life," Steve Almond (he's reading tonight to introduce songwriter Danya Kurtz at the Oberon on Arrow Street in Cambridge at eightgo, go, go!) writes about how "drooling fanatics" fall for different musical myths: the owner of an Air Supply album is pretty much guaranteed to harbor a different world view then, say, a Nine Inch Nails fanatic, for example.

But because most running playlists are built around a target tempo, it's almost impossible to get a clear sense of musical bias based on the tunes a runner throws together to encourage her feet to keep running around mile twenty. Case in point: no one would ever confuse me for the kind of girl who actually knows how to shake it like a Polaroid picture, and yet I get a goofy grin on my face every time my iPod shuffles around to "Hey Ya." And though I've been known to shake my hands like an idiot when André Benjamin demands I shake my aforementioned "it," no one's gonna confuse me with an Outkast fanboy.

But if you ask a runner for her top three running anthems, you can get a glimpse of that person's inner core, or as Steve would call it, her personal myth. And though I tend to be a handwringer in practice, most of my anthems are about quitting the handwringing already and embracing life. And frankly, it's refreshing to see the childlike optimism in me making a play for it, even if it's just bubbling up through a playlist.

And so without further ado, my top three running anthems:

"Life is Large" by The Kennedy's
—A buzzkill once told me this song is the worst kind of saccharin, but I decided that the way this song makes me fly was all I needed to know about it merits. And I'm not ashamed to admit that every time Maura Kennedy sings the lyric"How do you want to be remembered? A raging fire or a dying ember?"some little girl voice in my head screams: "Raging Fire! Raging Fire!"

"Gone At Last" by Paul Simon
A Southern-Gospel romp by a Jewish singer-songwriter from New York? Why the hell not?! Although my heart may explode as a direct result of my legs trying to keep up with the rollicking tempo of the piano in this tune, there's nothing quite like a gospel choir insisting that my steak of bad luck is gone, gone, gone at last to put a little pep in my step at the end of a long run.

"Losing Streak" by The EelsIf you're dubious about how a song called "Losing Streak" could possibly qualify as an anthem, you haven't heard the horns that chase the tail end of this chorus. "I said my losing streak is done," indeed.

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA. Sponsor the run (and quite frankly, her second wind) at

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