Thursday, January 26, 2012

Danni's playlist

I've been working hard this week to make my legs as tired as possible. I only took enough time off on Monday to work out some kinks from Sunday's 50K trail race, such as the minor calf strain. I was up bright and early on Tuesday for a three-hour mountain bike ride (30 miles and 3,500 feet of climbing) and again on Wednesday for a hard-effort road climb (18 miles and 2,500 feet of climbing.) I went for an eight-mile trail run today (1,700 feet of climbing) and am planning another road ride tomorrow before another 50K on Saturday. This is my big week and this is my strategy — push just to the edge of exhaustion, incorporating cross-training to avoid injury, before an adequate period of recovery. This way I re-learn what it's like to run far on tired legs, and hopefully my muscles do too, because that's what the Susitna 100 is going to be like — tired legs, really tired legs, for a really long time.

Luckily, motivation is running high right now. My friend Danni in Montana, who is also currently in training to run the Su100, recently send me a playlist of awesome music for training. She listed each song, a few lyrics that reminded her of the race and an explanation of why she included them. For "Sail" by AWOLNATION: "This song because we have ADD, which is in part the reason for doing things like the Susitna." And "Hey Hey" by Dennis Ferrer: "This song because I could blame you for my Su habit ... It's all because I walked your way, and I should have known to stay away."

As I was pedaling to the lyrics of this song, I almost yelled out loud, "Hey, Susitna was your fault!" Actually, it was the fault of one of Danni's playlists. It was the summer of 2010, and I was preparing for  TransRockies, a mountain bike stage race. Danni sent me a training playlist, and on it was the song "D.A.R.E." by the Gorillaz. I was already contemplating dipping my toes into the intimidating whirlpool of ultrarunning, and there was the song I had come to associate with my first-ever crazy endurance experience, riding my bike in the 2006 Susitna 100. "I should enter the Susitna and run it," I thought. "It will be so painful and so glorious." Afterward, I told Danni about my flash of inspiration and she admitted she had been contemplating the Susitna 100 for years. After several weeks of mutual goading between the two of us and another new friend of ours, Beat, we all signed up for the 2011 race together.

Now Danni and I are going back for the glorious and painful 2012 edition. I'm still digesting Danni's Susitna playlist (and she may not want me to share it publicly), but it did get me thinking about songs I would include on a Susitna-specific playlist. Songs with a good tempo, but not too manic, with lots of references to running and walking, self-punishment, and discovery. I also tried to keep the music more upbeat, as Danni's 2011 race took a turn for the worse when her melancholy playlist plunged her into an irreversible cycle of despair. "I've learned the hard way that my normal sad music is like poison to the weary and tired mind after a while," she wrote in her song notes.

So here is my Susitna playlist for Danni. The links will take you to a YouTube video in case you're curious and want to hear the song. I also included the lyrics that remind me of the Su. It's turned out to be a motivating mix, for me at least. I downloaded the playlist onto my Shuffle before my trail run today, and knocked out a by-far personal best on my usual Rancho route (Finishing in 1:20 what usually takes 1:30 to 1:35) Now I just need to figure out how to burn a CD and send it to Danni.

Jill's Susitna 100 training playlist:  

"The Sun"  The Naked and Famous
Here it comes ... the unavoidable sun ... weighs my head ... and what the hell have I done?

"Zero"  Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Try and hit the spot ... get to know it in the dark ... get to know whether you're crying, crying, crying, oh ... can you climb, climb, climb higher?

"You Do Run"  Cocktail Slippers
You're gonna run until you can not run no more ... You are still fighting, tell me what you're fighting for.

"Specialize"  Tor with Sufjan Stevens, Pete Rock and CL Smooth
I only use this type of style when I choose it ... I speak for the hardcore.

"Something Is Not Right With Me"  Cold War Kids
Something is not right with me! Something is not right with me! Something is not right with me!
I'm trying not to let it show.

"Walk"  Foo Fighters (Side note: This music video is hilarious)
To keep alive ... a moment at a time ... But still inside ... a whisper to a riot ... To sacrifice ... but knowing to survive ... The first to climb another state of mind.

"Alina's Place"  Fredrik
Silly old parade ... where food gets thrown away ... digestive ill behavior forming.

"Little Lion Man"  Mumford and Sons
Rate yourself and rake yourself ... Take all the courage you have left ... Wasted on fixing all the problems that you made in your own head.

"You, Me, and the Bourgeoisie"  The Submarines
It's time to be so brutally honest about ... The way we know we long for something fine ... When we pine for higher ceilings ... And bourgeois happy feelings.

"Higher Devotion"  Jimmy Eat World
The quiet should be nice but isn't ... I guess we're going to spend the day like this ... In psychic screaming.

"Gimmie Sympathy"  Metric
We're so close to something better left unknown ... I can feel it in my bones.

"Kilojoules"  Freelance Whales
Well I've been making ... Some cold calculations ... Regarding our body heat ... It's not easy, believe me.

"Wrecking Ball"  Mother Mother
I aim to break, not one but all ... I'm just a big ol' wrecking ball.

"History Sticks to Your Feet"  Modest Mouse
All those red marks ... on our shoulders ... self back patting ... homemade trophies ... well the path only exists as tiny bricks ... We burn to release all its memory ... I've had enough with rolling boulders ... I want more moss on me.

"Second Song"   TV on the Radio
Confidence and ignorance approved me ... Define my day today ... I've tried so hard to shut it down, lock it up ... Gently walk away.

"Not Like Any Other Feeling"  The Thermals
When you're ascending you glow ... When you hit a dead end you know ... It's not just a feeling you get ... It's a feeling that you fight against.

"Born This Way"  Lady Gaga
(I added this song as a joke for Danni, but it is an awesome song for injecting energy into drab situations.)


  1. I can just download those songs -- don't worry about burning them. And I don't mind you sharing the playlist -- it's not patented or anything :p (unless you don't want people to know that our doctors say we're the illest cause we're sufferin' from realness). I think it's more fun to blame Su on you but tis true that your story is actually the accurate one :p

  2. Danni's playlist helped me run a PR in Phoenix earlier this month. It was pretty fabulous. I vote for "Swamp Buggy Badass" as running song of choice.

    Good luck to both of you in Alaska.

  3. The picture above looks like it could be Montebello Road.

  4. Danni ... don't feel obligated to download. I just enjoyed your Su mix and wanted to make another one. The Su's such a long race anyway that one mix CD is only going to cover about four miles.

    Tom C — Yup, Monte Bello Road as seen from the hairpin in front of "The Ridge" winery. I received an e-mail today complaining that my blog photographs have been "so lame" since I moved away from Alaska. I haven't lived in Alaska for 20 months, so I'm not really sure why this person is still browsing my blog. But I still get a kick out of the occasional e-mails and comments from people who are extremely disappointed that my online persona has failed to live up to their expectations. It almost reads as though they think blogs should be a "Choose Your Own Adventure" type of story rather than a chronicle of the disjointed and ever-changing events of a real person's actual life.

    Oh, and sorry Tom, didn't mean to vent in my reply to you. I just don't feel like actually replying to this random e-mail to justify my existence, so I am venting here instead.

  5. Okay, what is the song Swamp Buggy Badass? I used to drive a swamp buggy as a firefighter in Florida. I must go look it up.

    BTW I love your pics, Jill. Don't listen to haters.

  6. I love inspiring playlists! Here are a few more that I think you and Danni would like (you know, never having met either of you...but I have read your blogs for a while!):

    Dig a Little Deeper, Peter Bjorn and John

    Between Two Lungs, Florence & The Machine (this one gets me cranking)

    Run, Vampire Weekend

    We Are the Tide, Blind Pilot

    First Light, My Morning Jacket

    Wonderful, My Morning Jacket (slower, but you can't run full speed the whole time! And it's not sad)

    I think you'll find meaningful lyrics in all these songs too. I'd love to see Danni's mix; thanks for sharing yours.

  7. Jill,
    Your adventures have just changed!! More races and different places across the entire world. I enjoy your blog and photos now as I once did when you lived in AK. The only thing I miss is the connection to the places that you visit and have visited in Alaska. This is a personal thing since I live here and can see your photos and feel the same connection of skiing in the SU valley and hiking Lazy mountain (only I'm not as talented as writer so I can't put it in as good of words) Keep up the posts I'm exicted to read about UTMB and other trail races!

  8. It has been interesting to me to read and see your perspective of the Santa Cruz mnts.. Monte Bello, Stevens creek Canyon, and Black Mnt. are some of my favorite places to be - even since I've lived here all my life. Montara Mnt is a special place too.

  9. I think the entire AWOLNATION album is worth checking out....I really enjoy it out on the trails...the whole album flows and makes being out there a blast... It may be a little annoying later on in a ultra, or the pick up you are looking for...good luck!

  10. Jill,

    One more for your playlist. This is sometimes how I kick off the run because this song is full of energy.
    Flogging Molly- Drunken Lullabies

    Great blog!

  11. Thank you, Jill, for sharing these songs with the non-Dannis of the world, even if we don't deserve such a great gift! I knew I would like your list when I saw two of my all-time running faves on there: Zero and Little Lion Man. Now I already like Wrecking Ball and Alina's Palace. Thank you. Good luck with your training. I can't believe you two are doing Susitna again!! Hey, I wonder how long it would take you to drop out if you only had Lady Gaga playing the whole race...?? Knowing you, you'd still finish.

  12. Thanks for the tunes! That Swamp Buggy Badass song is awesome.

    I was just thinking today how envious I was of the gorgeous weather you seem to enjoy all the time now that you are in CA. I read from Juneau though so I know what you're missing. I don't think your photos are boring just different!

  13. If Danni Playlists help keep you going, where do I sign up? :)

  14. Thanks everyone for the playlist suggestions. Sea Legs Girl, I admit Lady Gaga has become a guilty pleasure of mine, even after Danni and I gave one of her friends a lot of grief for admitting the same. Although 100 miles of Lady Gaga probably would drive me stab my eyes with icicles. Karen, I'm sure Danni will send you one of her playlists. They are good.


Feedback is always appreciated!