Posted in Uncategorized

2015 Reflections

Welp, it’s about that time.

Time for the semi-obligatory “Year In Review”.

This year was interesting. Not quite as thrilling as 2014, but it still had its moments. Here’s my favorites from 2015:

Graduating. I FINALLY GOT MY MASTERS DEGREE. ‘NOUGH SAID. 

All things Kappa Kappa Psi. Being a charter member for my fraternity has taken me places I never thought possible. 2015 allowed me to serve as the Vice President of Service, once again be the chapter delegate at our Northeast District Convention, travel to the University of Arkansas for the Southwest District Convention,  campaigned for the Vice President for Student Affairs position at the national level, gained another amazing little and a grandlittle in my Diamond Line, and made so many new friends and connections across the country. I returned to Edinboro this fall and took part in the initiation ritual as the Epsilon class became brothers. “Miss Nu Zeta” is now my official nickname due to the blood, sweat, tears, and passion exhibited during my tenure to make NZ fantastic (and recognized by the current brotherhood). I look forward to seeing what I can bring to the table as an alumna; I’m already serving as an independent leadership consultant for chapters!

Traveling. I traveled SO MUCH in 2015…

    1. January: West Virginia University
    2. February: Orlando, FL/Disney World
    3. March: West Chester University (PA), Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas
    4. May: New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine
    5. June: Quebec City, Quebec
    6. July: Virginia, Kentucky
    7. October: Massachusetts, Washington, D.C.
    8. November: Texas
    9. December: Washington D.C. (again!)

planning the trip

Running: I maintained my legacy status for the Glass Slipper Challenge, and did the MCM Almost-Marathon thing…that was about it! OH! And I met many new friends! Taking part in Bibchat and Runchat on an almost-weekly basis deepens my love for the running community which I am a part of and serves as serious “runspiration” for me. Hell, I logged 47.2 miles during my holiday week in Washington D.C….

Anthems: I wrapped up my career as Edinboro Athletics’ Anthemist in April. Five years with six sports across three divisions resulted in 176 anthems. I returned to Edinboro in November for a weekend and sang two more anthems, so my current total is at 178. Trust me, this is one aspect of my life that I miss dearly.


Now that that’s done, let’s look ahead to a very sweet ’16!

Oh hey, let’s start everything right by getting a new car!

new car.jpg

I just acquired this snazzy 2011 Nissan Versa today. She still needs a name (taking suggestions!), but man…she simply purrs under the hood and handles SO well. There is abundant room in the back for all my stuff and then some. I’m THRILLED to go on adventures with her.

Speaking of adventures…

My first two adventures for 2016 involve runDisney! WDW Marathon is only a week and a half away, and the Glass Slipper Challenge is in February. I’ll be driving my lovely new Versa down to Florida for both of these races. (Trust me, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than flying, plus there’s the whole “road trip” concept that I’ve been craving ever since my California plans got dashed.) I am also looking forward to ramping up my running and fitness levels and being much more consistent in my training. My big 2016 goal, aside from running more races (and trying to find a source of income to fund my races and my life), is running 2016 miles! This is a HUGE undertaking, but I know that I can do it. It averages out to about 5.5 miles a day at a minimum. Knowing that I have serious support through my Bibchat, Runchat, teamRunDisney, and We Run Social crews, I see no reason why I can’t strive for the highest in my running endeavors.


Major thanks to all of YOU who have followed along on my blog and social media platforms! Feel free to follow along on Twitter/Pinterest/Snapchat @runDisneyBelle. You all are amazing, and I wish you nothing but happiness and prosperity in 2016!

See you at the finish line!

❤ Christina ❤

 

 

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Finish What You’ve Started, Part II

Did you read part one yet? If not, go here: http://wp.me/p3N8MQ-kI

All caught up? Yay! Let’s go…


 

Tuesday was the day. The day I was going to finish the rest of the MCM course. The route I was taking was going to consist of starting at Army Navy Drive (just after the bridge segments on the original course), going through Crystal City, and heading towards the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery. Sounds simple in context, right?

Not so simple when there’s no course already marked off for you and people telling you where to go.

I took the Metro in to Crystal City and found myself walking around in circles trying to find my starting spot. I pulled up the Google Maps app and started navigating around the city, eventually finding S. Eads Drive and heading towards my destination.

Did I mention Crystal City is kind of creepy, even in broad daylight?

Eventually, I found it. Time to go!

I took off into the city, and after a couple of wrong turns, finally found myself on Crystal Drive. The crowds down here were much more sparse and this gave me more room to move. I ran down to 23rd street and looped back around, heading towards Long Bridge Park. (The directions call for Long Bridge Drive to 10th St. South, etc., and not running through the park per se …but I’m not passing up scenic adventures!)

The walkway for the park (middle picture) was long and near desolate. It ran parallel to a set of train tracks and the Potomac River. There are soccer fields for athletes to practice on, and Crystal City loomed in the background. On this stretch, I took advantage of the openness and sprinted to the pulse of the music, heading down some steps and around one of the lower fields toward Boundary Channel Drive.

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Found this on the route. It was a sign.

 

Exiting the park, I got to run in the grass when the sidewalk disappeared. Traffic wasn’t too bad, and I reached a median and a very familiar bridge to run under that I recognized in 2014. I exited and saw the Pentagon on my left.

My Google Maps were pointing me in the direction of the Pentagon Access Road. I kept running myself in circles and across the road at least five times trying to find it. At one point, I went about a quarter mile down Boundary Channel Drive, then turned around and went back the way I came. Eventually, I put two and two together and followed the road around the Pentagon. (Once again, deviating from the actual instructions on the MCM website.) At this point I had typed in “current location to ANC” and was following those instructions. I had about two miles to go (apparently…it never really ends up being two miles). I slowed up walking around the Pentagon and walked towards its Memorial…

…and saw bathrooms. YAY!

(Anyone else get super excited about bathrooms on their running courses?)

I stepped back out and continued on, consulting my maps again. I was So. Close. at this point. All I had to do was find Patton Drive and I’d be good to go!

Yeah, not so easy.

I saw ANC on my right, and started trekking up the hill that ran parallel to it, not knowing I was about to run into the Marine Corps HQ at Henderson Hall.

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I tried running through their gated opening, aaaaaand got stopped. Naturally.

I finished the run to the top of the hill and went all the way back down. There was another opening at the bottom of the hill. Maybe I’ll go through that one.

I dashed over to their security guard and asked if pedestrians were allowed to go through that entrance. He replied, “Oh yeah, sure! Just no running through the cemetery.”

“Oh yes, absolutely. Respect for the dead and all that.” I responded.

…so I was in. YAY!

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This was my first time ever being IN the cemetery, and I took it in as an experience. The simple white headstones were aligned precisely with their predecessors in long rows that dotted the green landscape. There was a sense of quiet and revere that accompanied the atmosphere, especially along Eisenhower Drive where there weren’t many people (around Sections 70, 69, 68, etc.).

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At one point, I saw Marines and their horse-drawn caisson pulling a coffin draped in black. Out of respect, I didn’t take pictures of this, but merely stood silently as they passed. Soon after, I heard the rifle volleys in the distance. Chills.

I followed Eisenhower Drive all the way through….and ended up right where I stopped the night before. I knew where I was. The Iwo was just ahead. I couldn’t believe I was almost there. I took one hell of a route, but damn it, I was actually going to finish this!

I kept trekking, almost falling on my face down the steps on Custis Walk. I couldn’t help but notice the amount of wildlife that was fluttering around, specifically the robins. I’m pretty sure winter has evaded most of us this year.

I kept straight through this portion of the ANC…and saw it. The familiar right-hand turn that MCM finishers take to get across the finish line…

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I walked towards it, took the picture, and realized, “Oh nuts. There’s still traffic on this road….ooooh sidewalk!” I backtracked a bit and used the walkways to end up FINALLY at the Iwo Jima.

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It took me two months, a lot of antagonizing, thinking, and overanalyzing my performance…but I finally finished what I started. I took a few wrong turns along the way that led to a much more scenic route, and I think it helped to enhance this experience (which turned out to be ten miles. Woohoo!). There’s no shiny medal commemorating what I have done, only these here blog posts. I feel like I’ve quenched the feelings of unfinished closure, and can say:

Mission Accomplished.


 

After-run thoughts…

Welp, it’s done. About time!

I’m glad I took the time during this vacation and ran the last part of the race. I managed to make an 8.2 mile route into a 16.2 mile route. I’m okay with this.

For the week that I was down in D.C., I managed to put 47.2 miles on my legs (with two rest days). Apparently, that’s relatively high mileage for a marathoner during training. I leave for Disney next week, and I’m somewhat comfortable with tapering a little before race day.

This experience was a great lesson in perseverance. I could have easily said, “I’m going to wallow over the fact I got swept and let it fester in my mind for the next billion years.” But I got out there and did something about it. It also goes to show that “not all those who wander are lost”…there were quite a few detours, but they all pointed to the right area in the end. Take the more scenic route; you might not get a chance to do it again. Grit and tenacity go a long way, too. Both days, the weather was far chillier than expected. There were hills, people, cars, more people, uneven terrain, smells of food stuffs…but I kept going and logged those miles. Mentally, I asked myself why the hell I was even doing this. Then I reminded myself, “’cause you’re gonna finish what you started, that’s what.”

And I did.

Posted in running, Uncategorized

Finish What You’ve Started, Part I

We’ve been told at some point in our lives, “Finish what you’ve started.” To leave something wide open without a resolution (such as ending a musical scale on the leading tone without resolving to tonic) results in a lot of discord, cringing, and thoughts of “what could have been”. There’s also a lot of “what ifs” thrown in there, too: “What if I had finished that manuscript?” “What if I had asked that cute person out on a date?” “What if I had trained just a little harder for that race?”

And so on, la dee dah.

As many of you know, I was swept at mile 18 this year at the Marine Corps Marathon (if you’re unfamiliar with this, I invite you to read my recap here: http://wp.me/p3N8MQ-f3). I signed up for the WDW Marathon as a sort of “revenge marathon” to make up for a lackluster performance at MCM, and to reassure myself that, “You’re still a marathoner. You know what went wrong this time. You know what works. You’ve crossed that finish line before.  Train up, eat better, get some more miles, and go slay it, sister!”

About a week or so before I came down here to D.C. for the holidays, Patrick and I were chatting about the trip, and he made this suggestion:

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This seriously got me thinking. I’ll already be down here. I need training. I told myself that this week was going to be Hell Week for my legs and mileage. This might be my only chance to do this for a very long time, since I didn’t know when I’d be coming back to the city…

Why not. Why not do it? Bragging rights forever, right?

So today I got the course directions from the MCM website and took off towards the Mount Vernon Square Metro (which is an easy .56 miles away from the apartment). The weather has been a roller coaster the entire time I’ve been down here, alternating between hot and cold, sun and rain…I’m surprised it hasn’t snowed. Yesterday was 70 and sunny. Perfect weather.

Today? 45 and rainy. With wind. It felt like 37 degrees at one point.

I got off at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro stop, and immediately headed into Starbucks for some tea. Even with hot tea in my hands, I was already frigid. I walked back up 7th street towards Constitution Ave, and beared right to head to the Capitol. Walking long this road triggered a little bit of anxiety as I recalled the vivid scene of slowly shuffling my feet along and seeing the sweep bus just up ahead…

No. Not you. Not this time.

I crossed the road and stood next to a tree to take my obligatory “start line” picture. It looked awfully similar to my “sweep picture” taken in almost the exact same spot roughly two months ago:

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I started out with a semi-slow walk, getting some blood pumping and the muscles warmed up. (No need to run with hot tea, either!) The throngs of holiday tourists were still lingering, and this would play a part in my pacing later on. I swung back down Independence Ave. and started the lengthy journey towards 14th St. (Note: Yes, I should have went down Jefferson Dr. as per the instructions. Oh well, it was only one street over, and they still ran parallel. Onward…)

I ditched my empty tea cup and started running at this point, dodging tourists and getting stopped at all the lights. It was rush hour, so traffic and people were expected at this point. The stretches of sidewalk that I could get some room to run…were fantastic. I’m not a fan of running outside… but this time, I felt like I could fly. Feeling the pavement against my feet as I propelled myself forward was so gratifying, and this feeling would linger during the rest of the run whenever I’d have this opportunity.

*insert quick potty stop at the Air and Space Museum*

I got to experimenting around with some of my Project Playlist songs and lined up my footstrikes to the tempo of the songs. Once I settled into a groove, I lost myself in the music. It was a nice distraction from the chatter of society.

I was coming up on 14th Street, which is *the* critical point for the MCM. It was the cutoff point that I never made it to in 2015, but squeaked into (by five minutes) in 2014. The difference between the two years, though, were the bridges: 2014 has us going across the 14th St. Bridge, and, according to the 2015 map, it was the Rochambeau Bridge.

Herein lies the problem: Each go toward Crystal City, but neither has sidewalks for safe running.  *insert table flip here*

Alrighty, I’ll just detour this somehow….too bad I can’t take a boat across…oh hey, footpath to the Jefferson Memorial! He’s my favorite! Let’s go there!

I dashed over to see good ol’ Tommy J. (who really is my favorite Founding Father), pacing myself along the Tidal Basin and running up the steps.

Stepping out of the Memorial, I checked my Google Map and looked across the Basin. Crystal City was plain as day on the left. Rosslyn was on the right. Both were key areas on the race course. And there it was…Arlington Memorial Bridge. I could get over that and be on the other side of the water and maybe have a chance of getting into Crystal City. At this point, it was nearing 4:45 and the light was fading rapidly.

For those familiar with the course, I’m at Mile 11 on the Rock Creek Park trails.

I darted up 23rd St. SW and took a left towards Arlington Memorial Bridge. I checked the National Mall map that was there and saw that the Arlington National Cemetery was ahead. Wooooo!

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Rosslyn from the bridge.

 

I took off across the bridge, and ran the majority of it. (I typically utilize a Galloway Run/Walk/Run method with my running, but I’ve been attempting to wean myself away from too many walk breaks in my running. Today was a great example of how amazing it feels to run for long periods of time.) Once off the bridge, I kept straight on to Memorial Ave. I was in the vicinity of ANC, and kept going…

Right to a dead end. (Not quite, the monument below was there.)

The cemetery is only open 8-5. I got there at 5:15.

D’oh!

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Women In Military Service For America Memorial

 

I snapped the above picture and turned around to the ANC Metro station, which was only a little ways back. It was totally dark at this point, extremely cold, and the post-run shivers were starting to take over. I navigated my way back to Mount Vernon Square Station, and was greeted with drizzle to accompany the cold.

I don’t think I’ve ever ran .56 miles faster in my life.


After-run thoughts…

I. Am. Not. Done.

I may have detoured myself six ways from Sunday on this run and made it up as I went along, but I managed a solid 10K out of it.

I may not have reached Crystal City and experienced its role in the MCM course, but that’s what tomorrow is for. When it’s light outside, and not dark and scary and cold.

I haven’t Taken the Iwo like I did last year…yet. It’s there, waiting for me. And always will be. For those that keep the promise and accomplish the mission. That’s what tomorrow is for.

I’m going to finish what I’ve started.

How about you?

Posted in Uncategorized

Holidays In D.C., Part II

So I’ve been biding my time down here in D.C. this week, going on adventures and staying in with the animals. It’s hard to believe that 2016 is ON FRIDAY. Seriously, where did this year go?!

 

natgeo camera mug
DSLR camera lens coffee mug. Perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday, I went to the National Geographic museum. Having just been introduced to the Indiana Jones movies last month by my amazing runner friend, Patrick, I had to go immerse myself in this exhibit. (If you’re an archaeology nerd, I’d suggest you go see it in the next week before it gets replaced!)

 

Just before Indiana Jones, though, the Photo Ark exhibit awaits. It’s great for nature photographers and enthusiasts alike. Photos of endangered species grace the walls and display cases, and its purpose is to showcase the dire need to keep these animals in the circle of life.

photo ark

Christmas Eve was a bit of a doozy. I spent most of the day walking around alone, getting more mileage under my legs in preparation for the WDW Marathon in two weeks. I circled around and landed at the National Christmas Tree. Being the photo nerd that I am, I knew I’d have to bide my time before it got dark enough to take some good pictures, so I took photos for other people instead!

I know and understand the importance of good family pictures and pictures that aren’t selfies that you can show parents or grandparents. Trust me, I’m a social media crazy person and after studying thousands of pictures, it’s always better when someone else is taking them and has that photographic anticipation! I remember doing this at Disney during PHM this year and people are seriously happy that they can all be in the same picture and someone doesn’t have to be left out. Or, even worse, balancing those infamous selfie sticks and taking 481028 pictures before settling on a halfway decent one.

Christmas Eve night wasn’t the best. If you can recall from a past post, I’m not hunky dory with holidays. They tend to conjure up a bunch of feelings I’d rather not be dealing with. Well, I ripped into a friend who was trying to remind me of all these supposedly amazing attributes I have (which I read as, “Hey, you’re awesome, but society still thinks you suck because you don’t have a job or anything else related to ‘adulting’ going on in your life.”), and simply dissolved into a puddle of tears. I was a wreck, and honestly, if it weren’t for some of my fellow Twitter peeps checking up on me, I’d be in a worse state at the moment. I’m doing better at the moment, but I’m still watching myself for signs that I might not be…

I’ve spent the last couple of days on the downlow at home with the animals and away from people. I’ve introduced the cat to Supernatural and I think she likes it.

supernatural cat
She picked Dean. She chose wisely.

 

Going to be wrapping up my time down here with some shopping, running, and trip planning in the next couple of days. I hope you all had a good holiday!

national xmas tree

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World War II Memorial

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I finally got around to experimenting with night photography (exposures, apertures, etc.) on Tuesday night. The World War II Memorial in D.C. is a great place to start. Unlike seeing the memorial in the daytime, when there’s 589265 people milling around, heading there at night is a total 180. There were less than ten people there, and a few of them were photographers doing the same thing I was.

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In a shot such as this, I strive for symmetry. The walkways on the Pacific and Atlantic sides are at an angle, so I had to adjust my tripod balance to get a semi-decent level shot. Thank goodness for photo editing software that can get it perfect later on.

Speaking of editing software…I honestly hate using it. I prefer to get my shots right on the first try and using them as-is. Overly-edited pictures look realy obvious and detract from the subject. When I shoot nature pictures, I don’t touch them. Nature is perfect the way it is, so why alter it?

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(^^ Not so perfect shot, but this one gets extra points for the airplane streaks in the upper right corner.)

 

Posted in Project Playlist, Uncategorized

WDW Marathon Playlist

What do you listen to? What gets you moving? Need some new tunes for your next run?

You’ve come to the right place.

I’ve been cranking out what I call “Project Playlist” the past few days, investigating the cache of songs in my iPod and determining which would make the coveted WDW Marathon Playlist. While the final list is still in the works, I’m happy to share what I have so far.

I listen to a wiiiiiiiiiide variety of music: slow, fast, orchestral, heavy metal, bubble gum pop, Broadway, Disney, awesomely cheesy ’80’s tunes, it goes on…

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Now, being a musician, I went total band geek on this. (Pictured above is the timpani part for Sam Hazo’s Rush, which is a song listed below. See? Band geek.) Not only have I provided the title and artist, but its length of time and beats per minute (bpm). I utilized tempotap.com to determine roughly what each song’s bpm is. As I continue to alter the list, I’ll post additional songs in subsequent posts.

So here we go….


Stand My Ground – Within Temptation (3:52/90 bpm)

Burn It to the Ground – Nickleback (3:28/135 bpm)

Hey Brother – Avicii (4:14/125 bpm)

Wake Me Up – Avicii (4:09/125 bpm)

Chasing the Sun – The Wanted (3:18/128 bpm)

I Believe – Timeflies (3:50/128 bpm)

Charlie Brown – Coldplay (4:45/138 bpm)

American Kids – Kenny Chesney (3:03/170 bpm)

The River – Jordan Feliz (3:15/125 bpm)

Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon (3:19/126 bpm)

Shake It Off – Taylor Swift (3:39/160 bpm)

Bartender – Lady Antebellum (3:18/101 bpm)

Break Free – Ariana Grande (3:34/130 bpm)

Honey, I’m Good – Andy Grammar (3:19/123 bpm)

Hall of Fame – The Script (3:22/90 bpm)

The Other Side – Jason Derulo (3:47/128 bpm)

Crazy Kids – Kesha (3:50/128 bpm)

Applause – Lady Gaga (3:32/140 bpm)

Timber – Kesha (3:24/130 bpm)

He’s a Pirate – POTC, Curse of the Black Pearl (1:30/140 bpm)

Barbossa is Hungry – POTC, CBP (4:06/varies; 95 bpm—132 bpm)

The Black Pearl –POTC, CBP (2:16/varies; 70 bpm—175 bpm)

To the Pirate’s Cave! –POTC, CBP (3:30/varies; 67 bpm—140 bpm)

Be Yourself – Audioslave (4:38/115 bpm)

Big Machine – Goo Goo Dolls (3:10/108 bpm)

Bringin’ da Noise – N*Sync (3:32/112 bpm)

Bring It All Back to You – S Club 7 (3:34/108 bpm)

Broadway – Goo Goo Dolls (4:02/130 bpm)

Sideways – Dierks Bentley (3:04/110 bpm)

Sing Me Spanish Techno – The New Pornographers (4:16/130 bpm)

Something In Your Mouth – Nickleback (3:40/130 bpm)

The Story of Us – Taylor Swift (4:25/140 bpm)

Little White Church – Little Big Town (3:07/107 bpm (214 bpm double time) )

Gangnam Style – Psy (3:39/132 bpm)

Run It – Chris Brown (2:52/100 bpm)

Real World – Matchbox 20 (3:51/118 bpm)

Reflections of Earth – EPCOT Millennium Celebration soundtrack (9:31—bpm varies about 73 times. Good luck with this one!)

Rent – Rent movie soundtrack (3:58/183 bpm)

Reckless – Alabama (3:19/140 bpm)

Roar – Katy Perry (3:43/90 bpm)

Run Around – Jason Radford (2:07/170 bpm)

Runaway – Love and Theft (3:50/140 bpm)

Runaway – Mat Kearney (3:51/138 bpm)

Rush – Sam Hazo (3:34/146 bpm)

Carrying the Banner – Newsies OBC (5:08/varies; 150 bpm near the end counterpoint)

It’s Chili Time! – Red Hot Chilli Pipers (5:12/115 bpm)

Days Go By – Keith Urban (3:55/133 bpm)

Devil Down Below – Gaelic Storm (3:28/145 bpm)

Dragula – Rob Zombie (3:43/125 bpm)

Everybody Have Fun Tonight – Wang Chung (4:17/130 bpm)

Firework – Katy Perry (3:45/125 bpm)

Fly on the Wall – Miley Cyrus (2:31/145 bpm)

Girl on Fire – Alicia Keys (3:44/92 bpm)

Green Green Dress – Tick…Tick…Boom! OBC (2:22/151 bpm)

Hey Baby (Drop It to the Floor) – Pitbull (3:24/128 bpm)

I Get Around – Beach Boys (2:13/145 bpm)

The Impression that I Get – Mighty Mighty Bosstones (3:15/180 bpm)

In a Hurry – Alabama (2:48/130 bpm)

It’s America – Rodney Atkins (3:29/136 bpm)

Fourth of July – Shooter Jennings (3:47/133 bpm)

Karma Chameleon – Culture Club (4:15/185 bpm)

We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel (4:50/146 bpm)

Seize the Day – Newsies OBC (5:22/varies: 85 bpm—120 bpm)


What music are you running to during your races?!