I like the sound my feet make on the crushed limestone path at the Trinity Trails here in Fort Worth. I like hearing the squirrels scatter. I like hearing the beep of my Garmin Forerunner 305 go off every mile. I like the sound of my own breath. It's fun hearing yourself be alive. If I listened to music, I couldn't hear all of that.
However, if I did listen to running music, if I did wear an Ipod when I run in Fort Worth during the mornings, there is no doubt about what I'd be listening to: Rocky music.
How can you not get fired up about “Gonna Fly Now”? This is the theme song from Rocky I, the music that would play when Sylvester Stallone's character would train while preparing to fight Apollo Creed. The song ends as Rocky runs up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art . “Rocky's Reward” and “Free Redemption” are also classic songs from that first Rocky movie that would absolutely go great with running. The composer of these songs, Bill Conti , is an absolute genius.
These songs, and a few others from the soundtracks in Rocky II and IV, are the Underdog Anthems of America. And when its you against the marathon, you against cramps and dehydration, against blisters and a bum knee, against hills, hamstring pulls, and heartbreak, you are the underdog my friend.
I can remember now, driving to my first marathon and I was playing this music. I was blasting this music, Central Expressway all too myself, and must have been going 85 miles per hour in a Jeep on its last tires.
I was envisioning myself making the final turn at the marathon, the finish line in site, and I was thinking about how happy I'd feel once I'd cross the finish line. I had goose bumps.
I had my heart rate monitor on. And no lie, my heart rate topped 140. My heart rate is in the mid 50s when I'm sitting around. But on this morning, it was 90 plus beats higher. I was hyperventilating. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I had to turn it off and put in a Yanni CD just to calm me down. (I finished the marathon that day. But trust me, there was no triumphant gallop to the finish line at the American Airlines Center. It was more like a pissed off limp. But more on that race later.)
When you listen to Rocky music, you just feel like you can accomplish any athletic feat. And I get real weird about it when I'm listening. My lip curls up and I envision what I have to do _ a long run, an interval run, a race _ and if I'm driving in my car, I just play scenes from his movies over and over in my head. You know, scenes like Adrienne making her way to the ring at the end of Rocky I, scenes like Rocky being chased by all those kids in the second movie, or Rocky training to beat the Russian in Rocky IV. It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that I have Rocky I and II on DVD as well as the original soundtrack from the Rocky Movies.