Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fun at its peak

A few people have asked me how Geoff is dealing with his foot injury. Today, he had a really good day. Not only did he get a job offer to be a cook at a natural food grocery store and deli, but he also ran four miles without any pain in his feet. A pain-free four-mile run does not a successful 100-mile race make, but he's feeling less certain that he has a stress fracture, and more certain that he his going to run the race. Certain enough that he's at least going to stand at the starting line Saturday morning.

I spent the morning fixing up my bike so I can take it apart tomorrow. I've spent a better part of the evening creating an iPod playlist for the race. Intertwined with my old staples like Modest Mouse and Built to Spill are a few random selections that carry vivid memories of last year's Susitna 100: "D.A.R.E." by the Gorillaz and "Scrub" by TLC. It's always interesting to me when certain songs tie themselves irrevocably to particular moments in the past. So it's unfortunate that the one song that sweeps me instantly back to the dripping darkness of that soggy night in February 2006 isn't actually a song at all - it's a jingle.

Before Susitna 2006, I never listened to music while riding - at all. But people mentioned that if I found myself alone and struggling in the middle of the night, a little FM/AM radio would help me stay sane. So I took their advice, and when the night became really dark and lonely, I turned it on for the first time. I had to flip through every single notch on the dial before I came to the one station the radio could pick up. It was some top-40 station out of Anchorage, playing the most random mix of pre-selected music that any midnight radio show could hope to find. And between broadcasts of choice selections like "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt and "Unforgiven" by Metallica - literally after every other song - the station played its one and only commercial: a promo for the Mat-Su Valley tourism board. So every ten minutes, a giddy group of singing banshees would wail in my ear ... "Yahoo, Mat-Su! Fun is at its peak in the Valley!" That night, as fatigued and desperate for companionship as I was, every single advertising spot made me cringe.

But now, every time that hideous jingle enters my head, I think of the way the distant city lights of Anchorage burned orange over the wilderness. I think of the way those Valium-laced voices sang, "Don't miss the sights ... Nature puts on a show with the northern lights." And it makes me smile.

And if I could find an mP3 of that commercial, I'd definitely add it to my Susitna 2007 playlist.