Two days ago it was 13° and I was running outside in shorts and t-shirt. Now I’m in the position where,there’s a light snow on the ground and I have to bundle up lest I end up as a frozen Popsicle at the side of the road somewhere. Plus, this is the last of weekly workouts prior to shipping out to San Antonio this afternoon. Time to nut up or shut up. So I’m bring in the big guns for this morning’s sub-zero distance run, the ‘Physical Graffiti‘ album by Led Zeppelin.
‘Physical Graffiti’ is the 6th studio album by the English uber-rockers, released as a double album on February 24th, 1975 by their newly founded imprint label Swan Song Records. The band wrote and recorded eight new songs for the album at Headley Grange, which stretched the total time of the record beyond the typical length of a single LP, so the band decided to make this album a double album by including unreleased tracks from earlier recording sessions: one outtake from ‘Led Zeppelin III’, three from ‘Led Zeppelin IV’, and three from ‘Houses of the Holy’, including the unused title track from the latter album.
The Zeps returned from a nearly two-year hiatus with this, their most sprawling and ambitious work. Where Led Zeppelin ‘IV’ and ‘Houses of the Holy‘ integrated influences on each song, the majority of the tracks on ‘Physical Graffiti‘ are individual stylistic workouts. The highlights are when Zeppelin incorporate influences and stretch out into new stylistic territory, most notably on the tense, Eastern-influenced ‘Kashmir‘. ‘Trampled Underfoot‘, with John Paul Jones’ galloping keyboard, is their best funk-metal workout, while ‘Houses of the Holy‘ is their best attempt at pop, and ‘Down by the Seaside‘ is the closest they’ve come to country. Even the heavier blues – the 11-minute ‘In My Time of Dying‘ (aptly named for this morning run, I might add), the tightly wound ‘Custard Pie’, and the monstrous epic ‘The Rover’ – are louder and more extended and textured than their previous work.
Also, all of the heavy songs are on the first record, leaving the rest of the album to explore more adventurous territory, whether it’s acoustic tracks or grandiose but quiet epics like the affecting ‘Ten Years Gone‘. The second half of the album kinda feels like the group is cleaning the vaults out, issuing every little scrap of music they set to tape in the past few years. That means that the album is filled with songs that aren’t quite filler, but don’t quite match the peaks of the album, either. Still, even these songs have their merits – ‘Sick Again‘ is the meanest, most decadent rocker they ever recorded, and the folky acoustic rock & roll of ‘Boogie with Stu‘ and ‘Black Country Woman‘ may be tossed off, but they have a relaxed, off-hand charm that Zeppelin never matched. It takes a while to sort out all of the music on the album, but ‘Physical Graffiti‘ captures the whole experience of Led Zeppelin at the top of their game better than any of their other albums.
As you can tell by my distance, today’s run was an epic fail. In fact, I covered less than my anticipated distance (15k) in exactly half of the planned time (90 minutes). A measly 6.7k…total fail. Where on Friday’s run the flesh was willing but the mind was weak, today the mind was willing but the flesh was all “fuck this!”. And believe me, with the amount of flesh currently hanging off this frame that’s a whole lot of fucks given.
I knew I was in trouble in the first 5-10 minutes of the run and by the 20 minute mark along Erie Rd. I was reduced to walking. I tried to get it going again but knew it just wasn’t going to come together so I an abrupt right turn on Willowood Rd. and started my pained shuffle run for home with my tail between my legs. I had barely made it to Smalls Rd. (which adequately sums up how I was feeling by that point – small) before I was walking again.
The Coach says that failures are good in that there are lessons to be had and learn from and in the 20 or so minutes it took me to drag my sorry ass home, I tried to reflect on what those failures were exactly. I could chalk it all up to the mounting work stress lately and this pending two week trip to Texas, not to mention that I haven’t been sleeping well the past few nights (in fact, I haven’t been to bed before midnight the past two nights). That would definitely explain my weary mind and body today. I could also chalk it up to my poor diet lately, especially on the weekends. After all, one cannot fuel long runs on movie theater popcorn and Reeses trail mix alone, so I need – need – to get my eating under control. I need to begin thinking and fueling like a long distance athlete once again. Also, I believe I have to figure out a better weekend plan for accomplishing three long workouts in a 48 hour period. Sure, I’ve done that for the past 2-3 weeks or so, but today it just wasn’t going to happen. Maybe I’m just due for a recovery week. I’m not sure but I definitely have lots to think about in the meantime.
Now with this final craptastic run behind me, it’s time for a hot shower and a quick feed before heading to the airport to catch my flight.
God help me, but San Antonio, here I come.
Let’s get this bullshit over with.