My Marathon Playlist: 26.2 Trigger Songs

It’s been almost two months since my last marathon. Believe it or not, all I can think about is running another dang marathon. I’ve been considering squeezing in the El Paso Marathon in my hometown between Disney and (hopefully) Boston. And thanks to twitter, I physically can’t avoid seeing everyone’s super inspring tweets about their races each weekend. (Oh and Spirit of the Marathon II literally made me want to go for a run right after the movie). Bahhh can’t Marine Corps come any faster?!? 129 days is way to far away. I’m in full-blown marathon withdrawal – it feels sort of like…taper crazies?

So with that said, here’s my not-mid-marathon-training-but-still-marathon-related post about what I call “26.2 trigger songs.” During a late-night convo with my roomie (check out her blog if you’re a fitness junkie – it’s awesome!), I realized that I have a song or two for each of my marathons that, whenever I hear it, reminds me of the race. For some, it’s a specific moment and I can picture it clearly. I’d bet I’ll forever associate those songs with each marathon. That’s why I call ’em trigger songs. Without further ado, here’s my playlist so far!

1. Steamtown Marathon, October 2012 – “Twist and Shout”


This came on around mile 24, and, despite the crazy amount of pain I was in, I began singing along, completely and entirely having a blast. Then I turned the corner away from the music and the hurt returned. Still, it carried me through some vital moments in that first, perfect marathon.

2. Walt Disney World Marathon, January 2013 – “Gangnam Style”


I will shamelessly admit that I LOVE this song. And yes, I’ll break into the dance whenever it comes on regardless of where I am. This race happened in the midst of the Gangnam craze, and it’s all Disney played all weekend long (except they bleeped out “sexy” in the chorus, so it was more like Heyyyyyyyyyyyyy…ladyyyyyyy – it was as awkward as it sounds). I danced to it in the pre-race tent, during the race, and even managed to eek out a few moves post-marathon despite my cramping legs. Way too much fun.

3. Boston Marathon, April 2013 – “YMCA” and “Thrift Shop”


This came on around mile 10 (maybe?), and I’ll never forget seeing the sea of runners in front of me throwing their arms up in the air doing the dance while running. It’s such a classic song, and it was so fun seeing everyone do it in unison.

My brother is a boss at finding songs before they become mainstream and popular. This is one of them. He’d been playing it for me when I was home for Christmas, and I always think of him when it comes on. It played a lot between Hopkinton and Boston, and I smiled to myself every time – carried me through some tough miles! Love you (big) little bro!

4. Big Sur Marathon, April 2013 “A Thousand Years”


Played by a tuxedoed man on a baby grand piano next to the Bixby Bridge, this echoed throughout the canyon at the halfway point of Big Sur. It’s by no means a “pump up” song, but given the breathtaking setting, it felt so right at that moment. And with all that happened at Boston and what this race signified because of that tragedy, this song brings me to tears without fail. I’ve heard the original Christina Perri version on the radio a couple times since then, and it instantly reminds me of how I felt in Boston and Big Sur. It’s an elegant, poignant song that makes those emotions bubble right back to the surface. Music has a way of doing that, huh?

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I’ll update this post as I do more marathons. No doubt each will have its own trigger song.

Tell me about your trigger song moments below!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.’ It’s more than just a race, it’s a style. It’s doing something better than anyone else. It’s being creative.” – Pre

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What a Whirlwind of a Year

photoA couple weeks ago was my alma mater’s graduation day, and a couple weeks before that was my one-year “run-iversary” (I consider mine May 4, the day of my last collegiate race, because I couldn’t tell you what day I started running!). And somewhere in there was my official one-year anniversary at Runner’s World. Seriously, say what? It’s been a whole year?!?

The last time I spoke with my Dad, he said, “Can you believe how much you’ve experienced in just one year?”

After falling right back in sync with my college teammates like nothing had changed, like the year had been shortened to maybe a month, I genuinely can’t believe how different a runner I am today. I’m thankful to report that I’m still just as in love with the sport as I was a year ago. I’d even venture to say that that passion has grown deeper. Career-wise, to say it’s been eye-opening is an understatement.

So here’s what happened this year and a bit of what I learned along the way:

  • I helped cover two major marathons that (unexpectedly) turned into major nationwide events: At the New York City Marathon press conference, I sat beside one of my professional and running idols Amby Burfoot as NYRR CEO Mary Wittenburg announced the cancellation of one of the world’s most famous marathons. After the Boston Marathon, my post was published on runnersworld.com, and the positive feedback I received played an essential role in the healing process. Interviewing witnesses of the tragedy further helped me process all that had happened. After both events, I watched the stellar RW staff pull together two of the most powerful issues I’ll likely ever be a part of in my career. They are the very definition of professionals. I can only aspire to be even a little bit like them in the future. And in both instances, I witnessed the running community unite to support each other and complete strangers. All around, very powerful experiences.      
  • I ran FOUR marathons! I still remember the spring of last year when I registered for my first marathon. I spent the rest of the day in sheer disbelief that I’d just paid $80 to run 26.2 miles…voluntarily. Turns out, it became one of my all-time favorite experiences so far in life. 104.8 miles later, I can say I learned: that following my veteran colleagues’ advice will more than pay off, to respect the distance (feeling like crap at mile 10 sucks) but then discover that mystical “marathon magic,” that the running community is far greater and more awe-inspiring that I ever imagined, and that runners can endure far more than the 26.2 miles in front of them.
  • I started this blog! Beyond helping me grow as a writer, this digital diary has introduced me to SO many incredible runners. Having a platform to share experiences with others and compare notes on all things running has been way too much fun. (I now understand why y’all do it! =) ) I get totally engrossed reading blogs, virtually taking part in your running world. I’ve learned so much, and I’ve grown as a runner and person. I really can’t thank y’all enough for the words of support and encouragement. I hope you know that you have inspired me, too!   
  • I took up running naked (meaning sans watch, not actually naked, hah) most days and adopted what my boss calls “secondhand training.” It’s been a pretty drastic, but freeing change that’s helped me enjoy running for what it is, plain and simple. Rather that worrying over my paces or what workout is coming up on the calendar, I’ve embraced the spontaneity and learned how to love racing again. Let me put it this way: I PR’d after a day (and night’s) worth of St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans, just four hours of sleep, and arriving to the race maybe five minutes before the gun. Compare that to my college self who would hyper-worry over every pre-race meal and warmup drill. Personally, I like modern-day, let’s-just-have-fun-and-see-what-the-day-brings Megan.

And for some not-nearly-as-life-changing, but still pretty sweet highlights:

  • I ran up the Empire State Building and got my butt whooped by Kelly Ripa along the way.
  • I ran my first long-distance, over-night road relay and learned what it’s like not to shower or sleep for 30 hours straight.
  • I met the U.S. women’s marathoning trifecta: I ate Dunkin’ doughnut-holes with Shalane Flanagan, told Colt that his mommy Kara Goucher is one of my running heroes, and ran into (and probably scared the s*** out of) Desi Davila at our hotel at the Walt Disney World Marathon.
  • My current track record for throwing up after a marathon is 50/50. So there’s that.
  • I won the media heat of the 5th Avenue Mile. (It’s not as impressive at it sounds, honestly).
  • I got Nick Symmonds’ sweat on my jacket when he hugged me at the Millrose Games. He’s an incredibly nice guy, and it was very cool getting to meet him in person. (And seriously, where can I sign up to be a contestant on The Bachelor if he ends up being on the show?)
  • I lost whatever upper-body strength that I once had (and likely–hopefully?–channeled that “strength” toward those absurdly long marathon training runs).
  • I ran over the Golden Gate Bridge at midnight and through a closed-down Times Square.
  • I learned how to snot-rocket in motion.
  • I freaked out my 10-year-old self when I met “Figure it Out” (from Nickelodeon, remember that 90s kids?) host Summer Sanders and was meters away N’SYNC member Joey Fatone.
  • I’ve held an Olympic gold medal. Literally made my heart race.
  • I can now run or race at all hours of the day or night, thanks to Disney’s 5:30 a.m. race starts and the midnight relay legs.
  • I’ve done a lunch run in a tutu and did a (totally legit) stair-climb race at RW HQ.
  • I began blogging for–and therefore became friends with–Lauren Fleshman. Love this girl and everything she represents. ‘Nuff said.
  • I’ve almost gotten over being star-struck around elites. This past year, I’ve met or been in the presence of: Bernard Lagat, Meb Keflezighi, Evan Jager, Kim Smith, Alysia Montaño, Hannah England, Anna Pierce, Matt Centrowitz, Leo Manzano, Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce, Jenny Simpson, Brenda Martinez, Mary Cain, Jordan Hasay, Molly Huddle, Amy Hastings, Derrick Adkins, Dean Karnazes, (…and I’m sure a few more) and the legends Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Katherine Switzer. Crazy.

Since it was such a whirlwind of a first year in the “real world,” I wanted to take the time to collect all that happened in one place so future me can go back and remember it. Looking back on this year, all I can say is that I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities my work has given me and the people who I work with who have made me a better, happier runner. It’s opened my eyes to how truly unique the running community is, and I’m reminded every day of how lucky I am to be a part of it. Runners are a different, but brilliant breed. This year–maybe more than any in at least my life time–this fact was all the more apparent. And I got a front-row seat. What a whirlwind.

Here’s to another incredible year!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.” – Shalane Flanagan