It started with deciding to say yes to a challenge that felt impossibly out of reach, which led me to a beautiful city I’d never seen before and a finish line I never thought it would be possible for me to cross. A week later, I thought, I’ve come this far and learned so much about myself in the process—what if I kept going?

We leave on Friday for Eugene. The marathon is on Sunday. The marathon that I’m running in.

I pushed myself out the door a thousand times when I’d have given anything to stay home. I ran through wind and rain and dark night skies. I ran short, I ran medium, I eventually ran 21 seemingly endless miles, all in the name of preparing my body to endure 26.2. I spent money on tights and fuel belts and energy gels and music and hats and shoes. I got sidelined by painful injuries in my knee and hip and foot. I sometimes ran lonely; I always ran alone.

It’s been the hardest thing I have ever done, this training. A lot of it has been, in a word, miserable. I don’t know if I will ever want to do this sort of thing again.

But here I am, about to run a goddamned marathon. It’s not over yet, but I’ve put in the work to get this far and it is a nearly indescribable feeling. I read a quote once: “Out on the roads there is fitness and self-discovery and the persons we were destined to be.” I believe this is true. I believe these last several months of running have forever changed me. Or maybe just revealed what was there all along.

I’ll be thinking of you on Sunday, my friends, you who have helped me out so much with encouraging words and support from afar. Thank you for being such a positive presence in my life. Thank you for the kindnesses you’ve shown me and the advice you’ve shared. It makes a difference.

Now, assuming I don’t black out and die in a pool of my own vomit before I have a chance to make it past the audiobook section of my iPod and into the music, I need what can only be described as the World’s Most Epic Running Playlist, and here’s where you come in: what’s the one song that never fails to revive your flagging spirits, that you’d want piped into your head-holes to help stave off total physical collapse? The request line is OPEN.


386 Responses to “Out on the roads”

  1. Mandy on April 30th, 2010 8:48 am

    Wow, 350 comments! I hope you can feel the love and energy pouring out to you from all of us!

    I’m late to this, but my song pick is “Dirty Boots” by Sonic Youth.

    Good luck!

  2. Colleen on April 30th, 2010 8:56 am

    Mr. Brightside by The Killers.

    Best of luck!!!!

  3. Melissa on April 30th, 2010 9:06 am

    Ditto to Mr. Brightside and then Somebody Told Me by The Killers. Dr. Feelgood by Motley Crue. Extreme Ways by Moby. Enter Sandman by Metallica.

    Good luck and kick some marathon ass! You are a great inspiration, Linda. I have promised myself that I would follow in your footsteps. I had my third baby two weeks ago and will be training for a 5K in September. So thank you!!!

  4. Tricia on April 30th, 2010 9:08 am

    Static-X: Push It from the Wisconsin Death Trip Album. I hate running and this song makes me feel like a badass

  5. Lesley on April 30th, 2010 9:17 am

    This isn’t a song, but a suggestion for audio comedy. Ricky Gervais’ Guides to…(Art, Society, Natural History, Earth) with Karl Pilkington and Steve Merchant.

    It’s embarrassing laughing your guts out alone in public but it’s also very healing and energizing.

  6. Katie P on April 30th, 2010 9:20 am

    Definitely corny, but a good song… “You’re the Best” from Karate Kid! “You’re the best, around! Nothing’s ever gonna keep you down!”

    Good luck!

  7. Stephanie on April 30th, 2010 9:39 am

    Can’t wait to hear how the marathon goes. I have a 5K Sunday morning so I will definately be thinking about you! You have inspired me!

  8. Molly Brazeal on April 30th, 2010 9:55 am

    Jamiroquai “Canned Heat”

  9. Lo on April 30th, 2010 10:06 am

    A couple music suggestions –

    The Darkness – “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”

    Red Hot Chili Peppers – “C’Mon Girl”

    If that song doesn’t get your adrenaline pumping, check your pulse!

    and btw, go get ’em tiger!! YOU CAN DO THIS! You are awesome!

  10. Julie on April 30th, 2010 10:20 am

    Well I pretty much read all the other posts and tried to post stuff no one else did :-)

    Aint no rest for the weary by Cage the Elephant
    Grounds for Divorce by Elbow (also fun turned up super loud in your car!)
    3 By Britney Spears
    Love is a Battlefield by Jordin Sparks
    Army by Bjork
    Revelry by Kings of Leon
    Please Don’t Leave by Pink
    With or Without you by U2

  11. Lola on April 30th, 2010 10:29 am

    Girlfriend – Avril Lavigne
    Hey Ya – Outkast

  12. Anais on April 30th, 2010 11:23 am

    Deelite- Groove is in the Heart

  13. Thursday on April 30th, 2010 11:35 am

    “She sells sanctuary’ The Cult.

  14. Kristen on April 30th, 2010 11:53 am

    Linda – congrats! As a marathon runner myself, I’ve felt everything you are expressing and give you a virtual high five!

    Chris Cornell’s “Scream” album…the entire thing, should be added to the Epic playlist immediately, you will love it. Every song keeps you moving, and at times I’ve wondered if it was produced just for a running playlist! I’ve started many a run on the Burk and Sammamish River Trail to this album. Also, “The Rhumb Line” from Ra Ra Riot. Very different, but picks up my feet each time.

    “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

  15. Jenn on April 30th, 2010 12:24 pm

    Pump It – Black Eyed Peas.

    Good luck and have an effing awesome time on Sunday. Take a look at the people on the sidelines, they wish they could do what you are doing. Less than 1% of the population will run a marathon!

  16. Anonymous on April 30th, 2010 12:45 pm

    Here’s a no-fail long-distance running playlist of mine!

    I’m Shakin’ The Blasters
    I Will Dare The Replacements
    18 Wheels & a Crowbar BR549
    Burning with Optimism’s Flame XTC
    Feeling Good Muse
    Skateaway Dire Straits
    Kick the Stones Chris Whitley
    Coma Girl Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros
    Stop your Sobbing The Pretenders
    Deja Voodoo Kenny Wayne Shepard
    On the Run Gangstagrass with
    Gin & Juice The Gourds version of Snoop Dogg
    Hellhound on my Trail Robert Johnson

    Did anyone mention Run Like Hell, Pink Floyd?

  17. Erika on April 30th, 2010 1:34 pm

    Linda, have a fantastic time with your first marathon! It’s so exciting. As for music, I must admit I’ve never ran a marathon with an Ipod, but I soaked up the crowd’s encouragement. Plus, there are likely to be live bands and music along the route. So much atmosphere! But that’s just me. I know people who chat with fellow runners (strangers) along the course to pass the time. Whatever gets you to the finish line smiling! Erika

  18. Frema on April 30th, 2010 1:49 pm

    “Martyr” – Rusted Root
    “Least Complicated” – Indigo Girls
    “Woman” – Wolfmother
    “Gel” – Collective Soul

    These are the songs in constant rotation on my running playlist. Good luck! We are rooting for you!

  19. Audra on April 30th, 2010 3:17 pm

    I’ve been reading since 2005. You’re inspiring – Go get em!

    The entire Hex Dispenser’s album “Winchester Mystery House” – totally awesome.

  20. Tiff on April 30th, 2010 4:06 pm

    “Time is Running Out” by Muse
    “Forever Young” Jay Z
    you rock!

  21. amy on April 30th, 2010 4:11 pm

    Wow, there are a lot of comments here, and I don’t pretend to have read them all, so forgive me if all my suggestions are duplicates. But wow, so many people cheering you on!

    My favorite exercise songs…

    The Hives – Hate to Say I Told You So
    Le Tigre – Get Off the Internet
    Outkast – Hey Ya [I didn’t promise cheese-free songs, hah]
    almost anything by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Prodigy or Rage Against the Machine

    Have a wonderful run!

  22. Alison on April 30th, 2010 5:50 pm

    They are all ridiculously cheesy songs, BUT: the beat goes on and helps those shoes move along…
    -Pink: You and Your Hand
    -Kanye: Stronger (I know, it’s been mentioned, but it’s GOOD.)
    -Five for Fighting: Timberline (good for that “I need some goddamn inspiration” moment)

    Have fun, enjoy the run as much as you can, and be fucking glad that it’s finally here and you can cross it off your list. Rock on, girl.

  23. erin on April 30th, 2010 6:24 pm

    i’m sure somebody already said this but i’m not willing to commit to perusing your 390 million thousand and a half comments so here it is again – USE SOMEBODY by Kings of Leon. go get ’em, linda…job well done! i ran the USMC in 2000 and have marathon amnesia which makes me think i’d like to do one again soon, like this year. it’ll happen to you too. :)

  24. Tina B. on April 30th, 2010 7:08 pm

    I would have to say “You’re Going Down” by Sick Puppies and “Invincible” by Adeltia’s Way (SP?) both kick a$$ songs!!!! Good luck Sunday!!!!

  25. Camille on April 30th, 2010 8:06 pm

    I’m too lazy to read all the way through the comments to see if someone already suggested this, but “You Can Do It” (Ice Cube). Don’t stop, get it get it!

  26. thejunebug on April 30th, 2010 8:33 pm

    My brother-in-law is running in the same marathon. :) Kick his ass, Linda!

  27. Debbi Osowski on May 1st, 2010 4:29 am

    Proud by Heather Small. Totally gets me going every time!! Good luck!

  28. Mona on May 1st, 2010 10:27 am

    Wow, ready for that marathon finally. Good luck, I get worn out after a 10K, but I don’t really run. My doctor’s have advised me against it. (I have broken my right ankle 3 times and dislocated my left knee too many times to remember.) Have fun and listen to some DMX, his gruffy barks and yelling always pumps me up!

  29. Sarah on May 1st, 2010 12:14 pm

    Beats that will not let you down:

    Kick Push (Lupe Fiasco)
    Something for Nothing (Heiruspecs)
    5ves (Heiruspecs)

    Go Linda!

  30. Jane on May 1st, 2010 2:39 pm

    I second Brooke on ‘The Middle’ by Jimmy Eat world. Also ‘Song 2’ by Blur, ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ by My Chemical Romance (you’re trying to run a marathon, not be a cool indie kid, right?)


  31. Kinak on May 1st, 2010 5:49 pm

    I just ran my first 5k of the year today. I was thinking how I’m at the place in my running history that you were Way Back When! I am so in awe of you and your commitment to this marathon. You are amazing, strong, and so capable of really doing well tomorrow! I’ll be thinking of you, knowing that you will be spectacular. Can’t wait to see pictures and hear all about it :) Run like the wind!

  32. Brad on May 1st, 2010 7:11 pm

    “DLZ” from TV on the Radio, couldn’t get it out of my head after hearing it on Breaking Bad.

  33. veralynn on May 1st, 2010 10:18 pm

    First, GOOD LUCK! You have a global internet cheering sections!

    “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour

    “Brother 52” by Fish

    John Wesley’s full band cover of Seal’s “Crazy” (available to download free from

    Marillion’s “Between You and Me”

    (not that I am a runner, but these are songs that really push me through at the gym when I seriously need an energy boost)

  34. caradawn on May 2nd, 2010 7:42 am

    A quote I’ve always liked says, “The race goes not to the swift or the strong, but to those who keep on running.”
    Rootin’ for ‘ya like everyone else! Can’t wait to see a post-race-post! You rock so much. :)

  35. jolie on May 2nd, 2010 5:17 pm

    Today I had a terrible run. I am training for a half, am up to 7 miles, and was only running 4 today. In the midst of wanting to barf and walk, I thought of you, probably starting your marathon about that time. Congratulations on achieving such a ridiculously awesome goal!

  36. Erin on May 2nd, 2010 8:12 pm

    I hope you did well! I thought of you today, because I completed my first half-marathon and it started off horribly (thunderstorms) and ended okay.
    I hope you made it through and enjoyed it as much as possible! :)

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