All That Jazz


That's what I sounded like this morning when trying to wake up early after a late evening out.  Seven hours earlier, I had consumed a half-glass of wine, most of a Belgian beer and part of another, yet my hangover indicated I might as well have downed a bottle of Prohibition era hooch.  Or the Ropa Vieja from Cha Cha Chicken might have done me in. Far spicier than I was used to, especially for a late dinner.  It all added up to vaporize my ambitious plans for a 7:30 a.m. trail run followed by a 9 a.m. swim.

This put me in a foul state.

I nixed the swim and decided to move it until tomorrow since I "only" have a 45-minute core workout.  That still left a 1.5 hour trail run with a headache and a chip on my shoulder.

Fortunately, an unintentional music experiment saved the workout, and my entire day.

I put my iPod on Shuffle mode as I started up the Nike trail atop Hayvenhurst Street.  A Coltrane tune was among the first to pop up.  I was about to change it when the riff caught hold of me.  Or maybe it was the cadence matching my strides.  Slow.  Pained.  Purposeful.  Like my mood.  I was hooked.

I selected all my Coltrane songs and played the entire Ken Burns Jazz documentary album.  The music channeled my feelings into notes.  As if Coltrane himself was writing just for me in that moment, like some street-corner musician that read into my mood just by taking one look at my body language.  Some songs were leisurely and languid, like my zone 1 and 2 warm-up strides, or the rolling green hills leading towards the Pacific Ocean.  Other tunes were fast-paced, almost frantic, like my my hummingbird heart-rate climbing the hills back from Westridge at the mouth of Mandeville Canyon.  Some songs stretched on for what seemed like an eternity, just like those steep grades I was determined to scale.

Listening to jazz on a sunny Sunday morning also reminded me of sitting in the back of my grandfather's Cadlillac El Dorado enjoying the golden oldies tunes on Sunday drives with him as a child.  These images, and Coltrane's musical journey turned another otherwise drab solo run into something quite memorable.  It reminded me of the pure joy of exercise on a Sunday morning.  When I could be at home doing any number of things -- including sleeping -- but was making a choice to better myself.  To take care of myself.  To simply do something for myself.

Training doesn't always have to feel that way.  If you're lucky, it can become transcendent.

Today, I had just that sort of experience, when I was least expecting it, from the unlikeliest of sources.

220 days and counting.