It’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve run a decent interval workout. I’d lost my ambition to push in favor of taking it easy and slipping in some slow, easy kilometers around the neighborhood instead. It’s also been hot and humid as all get up so, yeah, it was as good a time as any to be lazy I suppose.
Today, however, the humidity has broke and it’s relatively pleasant out so I’m going to try and kick start my weekly fartlek workouts back up beginning with this afternoon’s 11.75k run of [5 x (2 minutes hard / 3 minutes easy), 10 x (30 seconds HARD / 30 seconds easy jog)]. I’m sure it’s not going to be fun. I figured then that I’d go with a little Canadiana this afternoon to keep me motivated, the ‘Road Apples‘ album by Tragically Hip.
It’s sad news lately that lead singer/songwriter Gord Downie has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and their final Farewell series of shows were marred by the poor and questionable distribution of tickets at the behest of the evil Ticketmaster conglomerate. I’m going to forget all that today however and just enjoy the moving collection of songs that make up this incredible album.
This album is exactly 25 years old this year (released in 1991). It was released back when I was in high school and just about everybody played it over and over and over again – myself included. It was their first to reach #1 in Canada and has since been certified 8x platinum in Canada. This was the album that basically put the Hip on the map and making them legends north of the 49th parallel.
The band have always taken a certain modest pride in their Canadian roots. The group wanted to originally title this album ‘Saskadelphia‘, but the record label found it “too Canadian.” The group then suggested ‘Road Apples‘, local slang for horse-shit (of which we have a lot around here), and the record label, unaware of its meaning, liked it. Don’t let the title fool you; this is some of the best of the Hip’s best work.
Recorded in New Orleans under the watchful eyes of producers Don Smith and Bruce Barris, the album is certainly more of a polished effort than the group’s previous two albums. There’s just so many great moments: the Southern twang of ‘Twist My Arm‘, the powerful and driving urgency of ‘Little Bones‘*, ‘On the Verge‘ and, not to be outdone, ‘Cordelia‘ and ‘Three Pistols‘ (which definitely inspired a fast pace, if anything than to get past the stench of algae wafting off the lake down MacDonald Rd). When placed all together they pack a huge wallop of adrenaline with which to maintain a steady pace on this “comeback” run.
There are also some excellent recovery songs for after the workout (ie. recovery). The last song on the album actually is the gorgeous ‘Last of the Unplucked Gems‘ – especially now that the suffering is over (thank God!). ‘Long Time Running‘ is also an extremely beautiful tune.
All in all, I’m happy with the way the run went. There was adequate doses of suffering despite the lack of humidity and the legs felt strong. My cardio? Well, not so much but that’s to be expected after two weeks off of interval work. While I didn’t set any PB’s today pace-wise, I’m happy in that I accomplished the goal of simply completing the workout. The last two 2 minute intervals might not have been my strongest, nor were all my 30 second sprints all out but, hey, they got done. And that’s all I was hoping for today.
*If there is ever a referendum on naming another Canadian national anthem, this song is likely to be named as the successor as every Canadian (well, any self-respecting Canadian anyway) will already know the lyrics word by word.