Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Ironman Playlist - All Expendables All the Time

I'm working on my playlist for Ironman Canada.

I did this for IMAZ and, even though I thought I was crazy because no one else I know does this, I did it anyway. Then, a few weeks before that race, I read this article by Chrissie Wellington where she talked about collecting inspirational sayings and song lyrics to get you through your race and I felt vindicated.

Except, I still feel kind of weird about it because no one else talks about this. No one. I can't believe Chrissie and I are the only people in the whole world who makes a playlist for their Ironmans. So why does no one talk about it? It just seems like it should be part of the standard advice:

Figure out your nutrition. Check.

Make a packing list. Check.

Buy plane tickets and reserve hotel room. Check.

Figure out what songs to sing to yourself so you don't psych yourself out. Check.

Because, if I don't pick them ahead of time, I'm at the mercy of whatever pops into my head during the race. And what pops into my head isn't always that helpful. Or is the opposite of helpful.

Anyway, I went to see The Expendables back in February at Slims because I love their "Corporate Cafeteria" song and I bought the album it was on and it had all these great songs. I've been playing it in my car and singing alone and thinking how great many of them would be on my Ironman Canada playlist.

There's one that I originally thought was about sex, but it turns out it's about surfing (which made more sense, but I've never been surfing so I didn't pick up on that right away.) It also works really well for open water swimming.

I hadn't ever used a song when swimming before, but I gave it a try at Vineman 70.3 and Vineman Relay and it really helped not lose focus in the middle where I tend to slow down because I start thinking about other things that had nothing to do with the race. (Like working on my grocery list or worrying about job interviews.)

Plus the song has lyrics about not stopping until your arms fall off and, with my new strategy of putting more energy into the swim, I did think my arms were going to fall off during Vineman 70.3. The song helped me embrace that and not back off. (Not that I intend to use that fast of a pace for IMC - it doesn't quite work for 2.4 miles.)

There's another great song on the album that works really well for running. It starts off with "Relax. Take a breath. From your gut, not your chest." and that's just perfect advice when you get off the bike and are trying to get your run legs back and everything is tight.

It's called "A Positive Mind" which is definitely something you want to have during an Ironman.

Finally, there was a song about keeping safe from the rain that is very fun and I thought, if it rains again this year like it did last year, I could sing this and make biking or running in the rain almost fun. It's definitely the sort of song you'd belt out in the middle of a rain storm.

"There ain't no Higher Ground that we can run to. I've got a boat just in case."

So these three songs gave me an All Expendables playlist except for the bike. I then had to decide if I should branch out from that band and try something else or make do with a less than perfect bike song.

I went back and forth for a while. I found myself singing "A Positive Mind" on the bike during one workout. It can work for that but it's not really fast enough or the right lyrics to force me to keep pedaling when I'm tired or climbing a hill. Plus, I was worried that I'd get tired of it if I used it for both the bike and the run.

Then last time I biked we had all these horrible climbs and "Night Mission" popped into my head. It definitely helped. But, I looked up the lyrics and it's kind of, well, violent. Plus, I'm not going to be biking at night. Not to mention, I don't really want to sing about falling down while I'm on the bike and there is a line about how we'll fall down if we don't do something or other.

(There can't be even the hint of a suggestion of failure in an Ironman Playlist.)

I started giving up on finding an Expendables song and looked into some of the tunes they play in my spin class. The problem is, they work in class, but when you take them out of class and you only have yourself singing them, the words become super important. Every time I look at the words a bit closer, my choice didn't make the cut.

So I moved on to my normal radio station songs.

I did seriously consider Young the Giant's "My Body". The chorus is good:

My Body tells me no!
But I won’t quit
I want more, I want more

But then we have the verses:

The train is riding
Down to the station where you lived
When we were school kids 
The rails are caught now
And I am falling down
Fools in a spiral
Round this town of steam

So there is more stopping, falling down, and feeling foolish. Not good. This is not to say I might not find myself singing the chorus at some point during the race, but knowing that doesn't remove the need to find a good bike song.

At this point, I was starting to get desperate.

Then last night I went to see The Expendables (and Mordor!) down in at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz (both were awesome, by the way) and bought another of their albums. I was listening to it today and, while I don't like it quite as much as "Prove It", this one song reached out and grabbed me. It's about not fading, which is exactly what I need to avoid on the bike! It's got a strong, fast beat too.

Like some of my other potential choices, there are a couple of lyrics I'm not 100% sure of, but the song really works as a racing song (which is probably why the dude who made this video of truck racing used it as his background music).

Sing it with me:

"One step at a time too fast to stay alive
A heart attack is on the rise
Not Gonna Fade, Not Gonna Break
We're takin' over.
Not Gonna Fade, Not Gonna Break 
We're takin' over."
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