Last Saturday, I participated in the Shamrock Run, a four-mile race through Syracuse’s Tipperary Hill neighborhood. More then 3,500 people registered for the race, and more than 3,100 of them actually ran or walked the course. It was an amazing sight. I grew up in a town with a population of 2,000. To see that number and more running through city streets with me on a Saturday in early March was awesome. There were half a dozen bands playing on people’s yards throughout the course, runners dressed all in green. There were even a few guys running in kilts. I wonder how that worked out for them; they’re lucky it wasn’t a windy day.
Normally when I exercise, I listen to podcasts on my iPod. I’m a self-confessed podcast junkie. If you see me with my earbuds on, I’m more likely to be listening to a segment of Talk of the Nation or an episode of Podcastle than I am to be listening to music. As I was waiting for the starting horn to sound before the race, I started listening to a podcast, but it didn’t feel right. There was so much energy in the hundreds of runners all around me that I needed to listen to something that would pump me up even more.
I quickly scrolled through my iPod and landed on Led Zeppelin’s PHYSICAL GRAFFITI album, which I had not listened to in some time. Perfect. As the race started, the opening chords of Custard Pie got my legs moving and I was off to the races, as they say.
Now, they call it Tipperary Hill for a reason, and the course for the run involved running up two steep hills. A mile or so into the run, we went down North Lowell Avenue and made a left turn onto Ulster Avenue, the first significant hill. As I was leaning into the hill and shortening my stride (techniques that I learned as a member of the high school cross country team; thanks, Coach Bachner), the third song on the album started. If you are familiar with the album, you know what I’m talking about.
Yes, as I was running up a steep hill, I was listening to In My Time of Dying. Had I not been panting from exertion, I would have laughed out loud. I could not have planned a more ironic music choice. You have to love these little ironies in life.
I finished the race with a time of 36:59, which I was pretty happy with. First long run of the year and all that. The race was so much fun that I’m already planning on next year. And henceforth, I will always think of that hill on Syracuse’s west side whenever I hear In My Time of Dying.