Motivation, and The Playlist

On the loss of my best friend. On the discovery that I was never anything other than a magic doormat, something to wipe their frustrations out on whilst at the same time transporting them places they think they deserved to see. On the resolution to fool myself into thinking I am something other than their reflection of me.

On thinking that running around in circles for 24 hours might do the trick…

Wow, lucky, talented me. Still, one does what one can, right?

Of course, winning the Canadian Championship was never going to be as easy as saying ‘I’m gonna win’ (I understand that as I didn’t actuallly win the whole thing, just the men’s section of the event). I know the difference between good runners is often miniscule and in the mind as much as the legs. In the end it’d come down to who wanted it more, and who employed the best devices.

To chase my tail as best I could I’d need imagination, motivation, and to deceive myself every bit as well as she ever did me.

A question for you; how can you possibly ascertain that Judas wasn’t the kindest, bravest, most loving person in Jerusalem? You don’t have to be a Christian to meditate on this; I’m not, and I do.

Many assume it was Jesus who knew the score, going willingly with the soldiers that night in Gethsemene, forgiving Judas his 30 silver pieces-strong betrayal as he did so; but what if the future was hidden from him and instead it was Judas who understood that to absolve humanity it was he, not Jesus, who had to make the betrayal happen. That he, Judas, had to sacrifice himself not only then, 2,000 years ago but for all eternity, to have people from that day until now day hating him for being a traitor when really he was the essential, most caring wheel in the cog. Without the betrayal, perhaps, there would be no saviour, no taking on of the sins, no continuation of the analogy.

My point being that no matter how hard you try, you can never work out why people do things, or if what they did was to you, or for you. There are as many reasons as there are people, yet still most of us try to work it out; why, what, really, they did that?

Chances are they were just being selfish, most people are, but you’ve got to leave the door open for that special 0.1%, right? Otherwise what do you live for, is the most you can hope for a cold beer at the end of a hard day, or that your partner will have the decency to let you know before they fool around?

I’d decided, back when I first heard about this year’s 24 hour Canadian Championships that was to be held in London, Ontario in mid September, that it was going to be more important to me that any run I’d ever undertaken. It was going to give me the opportunity to repay a great debt, and to deal with a demon, let’s call it a most apt Kali, that’d been dancing in front of every thought and vision for way too long.

And, from a running point of view, I wanted to perfect my approach to racing after so many self-induced near misses. I’d had a 3rd and 4th place in previous 24 hour races, couldn’t I step it up a gear if I thought about it all a little more? Maybe. I wanted to get it as right as I was capable of and that in turn meant trying to raise the bar of my capabilities. Naturally I accepted that in the future I’d be able to achieve more than what I could do right now, that was obvious for one who enjoys growing, but I wasn’t going to let my current inadequacies get in the way of trying to be the very best I could be, despite my own best attempts to sabotage myself (if the truth be told, I’m lazy by default so in order to get anything done I always have to be on the lookout for myself blindsiding myself…).

If that sounds complicated, that’s sometimes how it is with ultra runners. I guess you gravitate to the discipline that suits your personality the best. With sprinting or middle distance you build power in the gym, learn how to keep your form and then explode for 10 seconds or a few minutes on the track. Personally that process would be unsatisfying for me but if it suits you, cool. With ultra runners there’s no explosion, just a whole lot of solitary training miles and then a 50 or 100 mile race where your best friend will be the version of yourself that’s the hardest to reach.

Nutrition and training are hugely important for any athlete and I’ll talk of them another time; for now I want to focus on motivation, inspiration and discovering the ultimate playlist. There may seem like some disconnect between those subjects but for one who has always loved music as I do, they’re intricately linked.

When you’re 12 hours into a day long run, I reasoned, then there’s only a certain amount of help your physical training and food can give you. From then on in your ally will be your mind, your will, and how you use your mental landscape to help, to trick, to cajole your physical self across the miles and eventually the finish line.

The great runner Yiannis Kouros plays stirring folk music from his beloved Greek homeland when he needs a lift during low points of a run (he also sniffs a certain cologne, and eats ginger cake). This makes him think of the past and reminds him that he always has a point to prove. His childhood was far from happy, he wants to set the record straight. Of course, running isn’t going to do that, but I guess it helps sometimes to temporarily ease the inner pain. Many other ultra runners have copied his exact diet and training routine and yet still they can’t get near him. Probably because they didn’t grasp the vital fact; it’s not about your body after a certain time, it’s all in your head. How are you going to use your memories, your feelings, to motivate yourself? What devices are you going to employ?

One of my motivations, I decided, was going to be a few charities – Mercy for Animals, Amarok, SMA were 3 of them – that I was going to raise funds and awareness for. I asked my friend to post social media updates every time I completed a marathon in the race, mentioning a charity as they told of my race position. I figured that if I had to do a certain amount of marathons in order to help the animals and people I cared for, then it would give me extra incentive to push on when I felt like dropping down a gear.

I was also going to use my distant, happy childhood and recent, traumatic past to act in my favour, I decided; this 24 hour event was going to be the division between that which has been troubling me for a few years, and a much more hopeful future. I was going to win the Men’s 24 hour Canadian Championship for many reasons, and music, the music from my past, was going to act like a hoard of miners, digging up ammunition from the depths of my heart and memory, triggering emotions to help me do it. Music like this;

I’m not the smartest guy, in reality I didn’t really have a clue how to start the creation of such an important playlist. So I scoured the internet for tips on the music that famous runners listened to. I thought if it’d inspired them, it may do me. Then I watched films and read transcripts that might give me an insight into what was the best way to motivate myself when my limbs didn’t want to go on but my heart was still in the game.

Then I poured over all those websites that spoke of running music having to be categorized by beats per minute, so that you could pick up the beat as you ran and stay with it at a certain pace. Kind of like one of those metronome clock things that tick away on the top of grand pianos…

And that sounded fabulous in practice, until I got to actually trying it all out on my daily 10km runs to and from work. When I discovered that other people’s musical tastes didn’t help me and as for the beats per minute thing, like most techniques I discover via fitness websites, blogs or podcasts nowdays it was all just something to write about, something that sounded like it might be true but in reality wasn’t, something invented by a modern snake oil salesman to get us reading those paragraphs, subscribing to those magazines, increasing the website ‘monthly unique reader’ stats and clicking through those oh-so-valuable advertisers links…

Because you see, all that beats per minute stuff is junk, as least as far as ultra running is concerned (although it might be fine for lesser distances, 10k’s, half marathons, stuff like that). There is no right genre or style of music to help you run faster/consistently, even though you might read something that convinces you otherwise (in which case it’s not the beats per minute that is helping you, but your own belief that they can do). The most important thing is not the genre or the speed of the music you run to, but quite simply what that music means to you.

Sure, AC/DC, The Stooges or Motorhead are going to get anybodies heart and legs going faster if you’re using them purely for their power but that surge is only going to last a few minutes or miles before you burn yourself out and return to the sluggish pace that made you put the music on in the first place. What you need is something to set your soul alight, to ignite your determination, something that touches you deeply because it holds a great significance to you personally.

Before the race I wrote 2 lists of why I had to win, here’s the first, it doesn’t include the charities as they were a later thought.

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I’d left England, and my family, to come to Canada to be with my wife. I’d made my Mum and Dad sad by doing so. Now I wanted to give them something to be proud of, to show them I’d done ok in my new country. The same went for my siblings, Chris, Dee and Phil.

On the day I arrived in Canada and converted to Islam so as to please my future family, who were of Bengali heritage (I say converted but the reality is that I came from nothing and went to nothing other than a face-saving facade) my girlfriend’s brother, Mehrab, gave me the most genuine welcome anybody could have asked for. Whilst much of her family were in some sort of shock, at times openly sobbing at her bad choice of husband or emanating sadness in some way – I wasn’t brown, young, muslim, rich and I didn’t give a damn about university degrees or social status and in turn they didn’t care at all about things that were important to me; in short, I was a disasterous match! – yes, all the while this was going on around me in a very visible and unsettling manner Mehrab was allowing his strength of character to shine. He stayed loyal to his family yet also to me, which was testament to his integrity and kind heart, and I had never forgotten this. Such quality is rare and often overlooked in our world and I decided that Mehrab should know that I’d seen him, had understood what a great man he was, and is.

I could have taken him out for a few drinks, said a few words. But that would’ve been a poor excuse for a thankyou. Instead I decided to train hard and win the championship in his name, and then hand him the medal afterwards. He would know then, he would understand how I admired and valued him. All those weeks, months I’d gone running in the snow, the minus 15 days of winter, all those marathon training sessions, all those daily half marathons to work and home again, all the effort of working out one’s own mind in order to be the best one can be, it was offered primarily as a salute to the finest man I’ve ever met.

And finally, about my hands. My wife to be, as I fed her sweets after my conversion to Islam, said that I had the nicest hands she’d ever seen. That was roughly 3 months after she’d played around with a few guys from college, and 9 months before she had her first real affair. But my hands, they were special, apparently, and isn’t it lovely to be special in some way?

We were never a good match. Forget the age, colour and religion division, the fact was I was in love because she seemed great and I wanted somebody to love and she was in love because I must of seemed great and she needed somebody to deceive. Call her condition what you will, trickster, sociopath, whatever you like, in the end it’s the Judas thing again. I ended up in Toronto, after all, and it’s great here, I became a good cook, intelligent traveller and considerate lover in my attempts to please her, I continually attempted to better myself in all ways to be the man I thought she wanted, so did she not do me a great service?…

A great runner recently advised me that to do my best I had to stay positive during a race. ‘All physical problems stem from a negative thought process,’ she said. And I do believe that in the majority of cases she’s right. But before this championship I realised I had to partly use the negativity of my marriage to fuel my race. There would be the joyful memories of my earlier years and my family to help me as I ran but I wouldn’t shy away from the more recent sadness. In fact, perhaps the race could also act as a scapel, cutting away the memories I no longer wanted, mile by mile, betrayal by betrayal.

This is more than you bargained for, right? You just wanted the bit about the motivation and the playlist. I could give you that but then you’d be reading Buzzfeed and I’d be selling you short, because it’s never just about the soundbite or the life hack, not for me, not for you, not for anybody.

The first song on my playlist was ‘Song for my Sugar Spun Sister’ by The Stone Roses, which was a favourite of my wife.

It was there to stir the memories of all the times she laughed as she hurt me. It was to remind me of how it felt to loose my best friend. It was to conjour up the taste of the cruelty of her showing me shirtless photos of her new lover, of her asking why I thought a guy might go to bed with a girl on the first date but not want to when they met again (a question she knew the answer to already of course, having given herself away so easily, so often, yet it was asked just to see my face as the knife was twisted), of me listening from the spare room to the clacking of her heels on the wooden floor that told of her leaving to go out on dates, of the joy she must have got from sitting with me and one of her many flirtations at parties when they both knew the score and I was the silly, old man out. Of the duplicity of her close friends who knew what was going on and yet still smiled and pretended they actually liked me, and oh, so much more. It was to remind me that perhaps I was more than the idiot she and they thought I was (could I blame them? I still loved her after all that; how, Dave?), that I could be somehow worthy of myself.

It was also to remind me as I ran that the winners medal was already promised to Mehrab, as a way of showing gratitude for his generous spirit, his kindness, his loyalty, and that I had no choice but to run on, and on, and do my very best.

The Stone Roses have an easy vibe, it’s a vibe I can lope to, not run hard but lope, sort of like moving for hours on end at a rave but instead you’re on a track. I’ve always liked them. And so the memories conjoured up as it played were not only of my wife but also of parties in the underground England of a distant past, of barely remembered times with decent friends.

Strangely, I found as I ran, listening to this song, that even thinking of my wife’s worst actions didn’t cause me the pain it once did. I thought I’d be crying as it played yet that wasn’t the case. You never can know exactly how a process will pan out, all you can do is set it going and leave space for it to develop. I wanted to exercise her ghost once and for all but didn’t know quite how that could be done, not by running anyway, but I thought that perhaps as the miles passed and the music played, the experience might present answers. I guess it did, or perhaps I willed it to be so and this was my excuse. The games we play, the angles we work.

It may seem like I’m over-reacting. She only cheated on me a handful of times and destroyed the beautiful, fragile bridge of understanding we’d built between us; no big deal, right? But I’ve been on the end of violent muggings, and domestic violence – having a girlfriend throw a bottle of wine at your head in England isn’t that unusual although quite distressing if it’s on target, or if it has a drink left in it – and it’s all the same when it’s happening to you, there’s no sliding scale that you can refer to and say, this is only a 5 out of 10 pain, it’s not so bad…

And the crime is not only against you but against the concept of love, and fairness. It shatters your trust, and then they just carry on talking to family, to friends and online fans, about their poetic feelings, quoting old authors and pretending to be Anais Nin in some attempt to add gravitas and sound reason to flippant, childish cruelty, and to mask their own emptiness. And you see their sadness and want to give them a cuddle and say it’ll be ok until you remember what they did to you and think, hang on, I’ve got to remember, she’s not my friend, she didn’t want to be that, shouldn’t I just be forgetting her right now? And the memories, you go for months thinking that these crimes must surely be paid for, that somebody who loves her is surely going to take it on themselves to teach her a lesson, for her own good, but it’s not like that, especially when the perpetrator is young and beautiful in a society that values such attributes above all else save power and selfishness.

Judas, right, that’s the key. You never know why people do things. Sometimes it can seem like the whole of society is just one free for all, when lovers morph into tricksters after a set amount of time of playing the part of loyal friend. Nobody has anybodies back and everybody is in hell.

But maybe they’re not tricksters after all, simply lazy fools. Camus does not an intellect make.

I didn’t watch my wife act badly to me, I reasoned as the hours went by in London and I moved towards my aim of winning the men’s race (actually, I wanted to win the whole race but one lady was too strong for me so I settled for just beating the other guys), what I witnessed over the years was my friend destroying herself, and the realisation of that hurt every bit as much as when I thought myself to be the victim.

She was once a beautiful person who could see the moon and smell the evening flowers yet now she was just pretending she knew these things, and how could she ever recover herself from that? She once cried whilst reading Tagore and from dancing in the rain at Eid yet now, there she was letting any pretty boy with a rollneck sweater and a vague interest in photography and bookshops take her to bed.

And then, as dawn broke over the race, I saw that this was just my defense mechanism, for who knows what she was or is. All I know is my view of her and despite my best efforts that’s not pretty, and maybe people should have a chance to change and how can she do that with me thinking these thoughts, with me knowing what she did. Energy is real, if I’ve got a bad vibe heading her way it won’t be good for her. Her future partners, who’ll know nothing of her actions when she was married to me, they won’t judge her on what they don’t know, they’ll let her be as she is at that time, sometime in the future, and that’s how it should be.

I’ve got a decent girlfriend now. She may well have utterly screwed some poor guy over back in the day because rare is the person who doesn’t do that, but does it matter to me? Not at all, as it shouldn’t. We’ve set our boundaries, at least those on the surface – life is about second chances – so we have to abide by them if we still want to engage and make another more significant to us in the long term.

You can decide to carry bad feeling around with you, or jettison it. The effort involved is the same, you make your choice. You carry injustice and unrequited love around with you and chances are you’ll infect new love with it, and why should I let her hurt me twice, why should I allow her double the enjoyment, why should I encourage her to drive herself further off the lotus pad and return into the mud?

There’s only one way this can go, I reasoned as I ran and thought, ran and thought, and that’s for me to just airbrush her completely out of my mind. Delete all the photos, block all the social media, break contact, forever. We’ll cease to exist for each other, and it won’t be good, but it’ll be better.

For me. For her though? Perhaps. When she remembers the first time she climbed a mountain, the summit will be a lonely place. The time we sheltered in our little tent through not 1 but 2 hurricanes in Scotland, when she thought of that from now on she’ll be there battling the winds on her own. Dining overlooking the Colleseum will be a sad affair of the mind for her, as will admiring the sun glint on the Parthenon from her hotel balcony. When her grandma sits at her wedding with her hand on my head, blessing me, I’ll no longer be there. She’ll be speaking into space as she recalls the words she utttered when she first saw Klimt’s ‘Judith’ at the Belvedere, and looking around in her dreams of peddling a bike for the first time, turning to thank the person holding the back of the saddle steady only to see, nothing. When she flicks through the book we published together she’ll know that emptiness has replaced love. She’ll reach out to hold my hand as she swims at midnight in the warm Indian Ocean after having the best birthday ever and there will only be darkness. She’d loose the friend who gave her so many firsts and I, having already lost my friend, I’d loose the sadness she paid me in.

And as I thought that, as I write this – for writing this blog is the final act in our play for me – she fades away and that is, sadly, that.

Oasis are a band that I’d loved since they first appeared. They, The Who and Blur shared soundtrack duty for most of my 20’s. This was the music I listened to in England during temporary stays between months away travelling, they were on full volume in the pubs and in my bedroom, getting me through the boredom of a variety of dumb jobs that I took to pay for airfares.

Saying goodbye to your ex, in my case, meant saying goodbye to her best friend, who tried, I think; I understood the times she couldn’t look me in the eye, in retrospect, and in return Koroviev thought of her occasionally, with fondness, as the night of running wore on.

Poka, Margarita.

Sometime around 3am, Cast was just what I needed. I’d thought they would be. I also had their version of The Seeker on the playlist. Cast hailed from Liverpool and were one hell of an underated band. There was so much great music coming out of Liverpool and Manchester around this time, it infected my latter school years in the best possible way. I’m not saying school was great for me but it’s far enough away now for it to seem ok. I just remember the faces now, of friends, of sports games that went our way, of tests that were passed and girls that were blushed over.

Frank Turner has become a favourite of mine recently. I adore this song, it’s another one I can lope along to, it taps into my punk rock years.

Also from Frank on my playlist were Glorious you, Love Ire & Song and this one.

Jimmy Cliff is a blast from my schoolyears when Ska ran hand in hand with punk. The whole ‘The Harder They Come’ album is epic and this is the title track. See the film if you haven’t, and listen to the album. It reminds me of so many friends and running through the forests after school, and of knowing best (ha, teenagers!) and of facing adversary with a stout heart.

You can tell I’d been listening to Jimmy during the run, this is me just after the race had ended, complete with banana revolvers :)

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Jacque Brel has, in singing this song, produced one of the greatest shows of passion ever recorded. I knew that simply the memory of watching him performing it would help fire me as I ran. I was tired when it came on, and in the darkness I wept and smiled and found heart.

The Arctic Monkeys sang…

and The Hives chipped in with…

The Len Price 3 are the town of Medway, the town lived in through most of my 20’s and 30’s, all over. They played at my club often. Zara and I ran the music club, Wolf and I ran the poetry and live art club and our wide circle of pals played, painted, read their poems and just turned up and added to the vibe with their unique and independent personalities. They were both held in the same basement on Wednesdays and sometimes Fridays or Saturdays. On Monday’s and Thursdays the room was used as a strip club so the floors and tables were always sticky as hell when we arrived to set up, it provided the backdrop that suited our downbeat style, Rimbaud, Fante and Bukowski poseurs as we were.

Glenn, the lead singer, often dedicated this one to me. He and the group were all such nice guys, super polite, great performers.

Other Len Price 3 songs on my playlist were Fire in my Heart, Hard Times Forever, Heavy Atmosphere, Lai Ha Lam, Viva Viva and this one. Shirley Crabtree was the name of a wrestler back in the days when wrestling was loved by old ladies and it was all a fix. He’d call himself Big Daddy and like his main adversary, Giant Haystacks, he was a fat middle aged man. We’d watch the wrestling at home on Saturday afternoon when I was a kid; happy family times, it was like a pantomine.

Theatre Royal also played at the club often, and I thought fondly of the lads. All of them lovely people, very funny, smart and excellent musicians.

The Who were gods for me as a teenager, Quadrophenia was the film of Dean and Jon and I, all of us on the outside, not skinhead, not punk but still with huge reserves of isolation, style and the desire to be special. In the summer when we left school and had no work and no desire to find any Dean and I would commit non violent petty crime with great style and climb buildings after midnight, sitting high over Maidstone on some rooftop or steeple, watching the lights dazzle drunks and roads fade to silence.

The Who also provided You Better You Bet, I Can’t Explain, Won’t Get Fooled Again, Pictures of Lily, Pinball Wizard, The Kids are Alright and Behind Blue Eyes.

I knew this last one would help as I ran. Who are you Dave, it was asking, as it always has done since I was 14; who are you? You made all these promises and thoughts and desires public and now who are you, limping along at 150km and fading, who the fuck are you? Have you got any backbone at all?

And then there was this. I melt, cry and smile at this song, every time.

The Doors have that same groove that The Stone Roses have. I can lope along to this stuff quite easily, very cool. The music isn’t significent to me in any way – my sisters were into Elvis and played him constantly but The Doors were never heard until I discovered them in my mid to late teens – but it’s powerful, semi (hipster) thoughtful and also easy to move to and, I figured, it could be a backdrop to a thought pattern that may have been started in a previous song.

Also from The Doors was Hello I Love You, Lover Her Madly, Roadhouse Blues and this.

The Jam, a decent Mod/Punk outfit from my youth, offered up…

There was double edged passion conjoured up by the Manic Street Preachers, another band from my youth. Judas stole or gave, it was always there floating in the background of any thought. I knew it would be. I knew it would hurt and I knew it would help.

Iggy and the Stooges gave this;

The Charlatans did this;

Happy Mondays sang Step On and this;

Primal Scream offered this;

It got heavier for a while with Iron Maiden, I used to play this music in my old band when I was in my late teens. Hallowed be Thy Name and Run to the Hills.

The Buff Medways – I’m Glad I’m Not Like David Wise. Billy always said this wasn’t really about me, he just called it this as my name fitted the title riff, but with Billy it was never clear what anything was about. Still, if you’re going to have a song named after you, it might as well be as good as this one is.

Billy wasn’t as authentic as he liked to make out but he did a better job than most of hiding the pinstripe. Creatively, I haven’t met anybody his better.

Kate Bush gave Babooska, Running up That Hill, Wuthering Heights and this beauty.

Thin Lizzy gave The Rocker and these two. All songs I used to play in my band back when I was in my late teens. Lugging gear in and out of pubs, long drives is shitty vans, being admired or shouted at for no sound reason whatsoever, friendships formed from lightweight hardships. Good times.

David Bowie was, is, the ultimate Gatekeeper. He allowed me entry to a different way of being. He lit the way. There are so many stories I can tell of his influence over me, of me going out in full make up, and sometimes sparkling dresses, in a dockyard town, of drinking long into the night in flamboyant gay clubs (they had great music, and a refreshing lack of macho silliness), of being gentle and strong and wise and reckless and of demanding more from myself. How did I come to French Chanson, to Jan Swankmayer, to Werner Herzog, to anything worth talking of, if it weren’t through Bowie?!

Late on the night that he died I thought to myself, wow, what have I been thinking, I haven’t heard Bowie’s recent music! I’ll search it out. So I did, and this song struck me as magnificent. I listened over and over, not knowing that he had died that hour. I remember travelling to work the next day and the subway was heavy with people in tears and others who wanted to make eye contact when usually they can’t wait to look away. He had reminded them to be human, just for one day

The Clash sang Rock the Kasbah and this, it reminds me of when I was 16 and travelling up to London every Saturday to watch the football, getting off the tube in West Ham, Tottenham, Highbury or Shepherds Bush and being escorted through tunnels of police horses to the stadiums, it was the time of mindless violence and times like that are exciting when they don’t kill you.

Motorhead, who were the first band I ever saw live and loved, gave Enter Sandman, Eat the Rich and, of course, Ace of Spades.

Bloc Party gave Helicopter and this;

Blur with Song 2 and this; again, memories of London but later memories than the football, these were full of art galleries and me with a high chin and a mischievous eye, more confident now I was older.

Flock of Seagulls with Wishing, and Foo Fighters with this.

Pearl Jam – Kick Out The Jams and Alive. And then the MC5 version of Jams. Who doesn’t love the MC5 and this song. They were very like Jacque Brel in their energy level. Epic.

Neil Young with Rocking in the Free World and my favourite;

was followed by The Kinks – another band of my childhood. Like The Who, they oozed class and cultured rebellion.

AC/DC. I put these in the playlist as firstly they’re a band I used to rock out to in my bedroom when I was 16, and I wanted to remember the hope and fight I had in me at that time. Also, they’ve got raw passion and it’s infectious. I knew I had to watch myself though, they can get you running too fast.

They also offered up If You Want Blood, Thunderstruck, That’s The Way I Want to Rock and Roll and this.

The White Stripes; along with Seven Nation Army and Blue Orchid, sang this great cover version.

Julien Cope was awesome with Teardrop Explodes and also ever since, in whatever he does. An inspirational genius. I saw him singing a full set to something he thought was a person but was in reality a stone bust of Queen Victoria. Magnificent, even when out of his head.

On a side note, if you’re into Julien, and I think you should be, check out his hour long documentary of one of his other loves, antiquity. Google ‘The Modern Antiquarian’.

Eminem – Lose Yourself. An easy song to get pumped up to and at the same time not so fast you are in any danger of burning out. There’s that message there also, about having one chance. I don’t believe that to be true, we have many chances, only some might not be as obvious as others. But I knew that during the race I’d be able to just focus on the surface message in this one.

The Beach Boys. The penultimate artists on my playlist, chosen for the bizareness of listening to such songs as you run through a forest after dark. And I do like bizarre. I did a 24 hour run once and at about midnight I entered a forest and the trees were strung with fairy lights. I had Surfin USA on the headphones and a girl dressed like Cinderella appeared, all part of the race organisers’ fun and games. That memory always makes me smile. I don’t think there’s a single situation that you could play Surfin USA, outside of a beach area, when it wouldn’t seem magical, insane, brilliant.

The final artist is my patched up with scotch tape, sweet, brave friend, Lupen Crook. Of all the artists I know, he has the most direct line to his creativity. I urge you to delve more into his music and art. I had many tracks of his on my playlist, just the memory of him gives me energy.

I hope the music has been fun, and maybe I’ve introduced you to a few songs you didn’t know and now like. I also hope I’ve convinced you to dig deep when you’re looking for motivation or indeed, as I was, some closure.

I finished the race having done 193km. Not my furthest distance ever run but enough to win me the men’s race. I was happy with that. It was over.

My Mum and Dad said they were proud of me. So did Chris, Dee and Phil.

A few days after the race, I packed up the medal and sent it to Mehrab, together with a note saying what a great guy I thought he was. He received it in the spirit in which it was sent, as I knew he would.

I don’t have the nicest hands, I never did have. I didn’t loose a best friend, I never had one. But then again it’s all in your angle, isn’t it, Judas. And that’s allright by me.

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