Tag Archives: Tesla

EQT 10-mile training – Week 5 9/22/15

Inspiration, move me brightly. light the song with sense and color;
Hold away despair, more than this I will not ask.
Faced with mysteries dark and vast, statements just seem vain at last.

Some rise,
Some fall,
Some climb,
To get to Terrapin.

Counting stars by candlelight, all are dim but one is bright;
The spiral light of Venus, rising first and shining best,
On, from the northwest corner, of a brand new crescent moon,
While crickets and cicadas sing, a rare and different tune,
Terrapin station.
In the shadow of the moon,
Terrapin station.
And I know we’ll get there soon,

(Terrapin! )
I can’t figure out,
(Terrapin! )
If it’s the end or beginning,
(Terrapin! )
But the train’s put it’s brakes on,
(Terrapin! )
And the whistle is screaming,

Let my inspiration flow!

Let my inspiration flow!

Those words – written by Robert Hunter, sung sweetly and soulful by Jerry Garcia and performed by the Grateful Dead – are goose bump-inducing. “Terrapin Station” – an epic, multi-part anthem performed 302 times by the Dead beginning in early 1977 – produces a state of euphoria. Its lyrics inspire freedom, and, for me, it’s the perfect running song. When a run begins to flatline and “Terrapin” enters my headphones, my legs and lungs find something extra. It’s like Jerry’s voice is guiding me through the run. My lips mouth the words. Sometimes, my arms even raise in triumph. (Yep, if you’ve seen a short, headband-wearing dud running the streets of Greensburg while jamming out, it’s me.)

Sound stupid? Maybe to some, but, to me, the right music is as essential to running as stretching, the right shoes, hydration and determination.

Music is moving, and the right songs can shave seconds off the pace and help set personal bests.

Generally, I prefer running to the Dead. From “Bertha” to “Promised Land” to “China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider” to “Morning Dew” to “Touch of Grey,” the Dead’s expansive and easily accessible catalog provides ample choices for this runner, but it’s certainly not the only band worth a listen when pounding pavement or staring at the television screen on a treadmill. Glam/hard rock like KISS, Guns n’ Roses, Motley Crue and Tesla get the job done. So does rap, particularly the early 1990s gangsta sounds of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Nate Dogg (R.I.P.) and company. Eminem usually works, too. I’m not likely to see Foo Fighters live, but no song makes me dig deeper than “Walk.” I’ve nearly pushed myself to tears while listening to that amazing call to action. Matthew Wilder’s “Break My Stride,” Katy Perry’s “Roar” and DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” work perfectly.

It doesn’t matter what music moves you, but it is important to play the right music for you when breaking down barriers and going for goals.

Music played an integral role in a solid week of training for the EQT Pittsburgh 10-miler.

9/14/15 – Last week, I said on this blog that I didn’t mind missing Sunday’s long run because of illness. That’s only part true. Missing a run made me determined to make up for things, even if my sinuses weren’t cooperating.

After dropping Anna off at school and walking Ringo, I went to the basement for a programmed, 30-minute ride on a stationary bike. A couple moderate hills helped provide resistance and I covered 11.1 miles in 30 minutes. From there, me, myself and my tissues hit the streets for a 4.52-mile run in 34:39. My first mile was a 7:50 pace. The second mile was 7:12. Seven friggin’ 12! The third mile was 7:33.

Not going to fib, I surprised myself.

9/15/15 – Kicked the distance up to 5.38 and got it done in 43:58 – not as fast as Monday’s run but a solid pace.

9/16/15 – Erin had a rare Wednesday off, so we did spin class together. Great ride. Felt it for hours after completion.

9/17/15 – A couple of variables forced changes in schedule for the fifth week of training. 1. Erin was off Wednesday and Friday, and since I missed the long run in Week 4, doing two spin classes sounded like a good idea; and, 2. Erin was working in Pittsburgh Sunday. Anna needed to get to Sunday School and church, so that meant Sunday was not a good day for my long run.

So, with legs still tired from spin class, I stumbled onto the streets of Greensburg, where I completed a 7.03-mile run in 1:01.04. Given Greensburg’s terrain, hills were unavoidable, and I encountered four of them on this run. It was tiring, my pace wasn’t outstanding, but I conquered the distance.

9/18/15 – Second spin class of the week and, for the first time in 2-plus years of spinning, I didn’t enjoy the class. The music mix had too much pop. Only one song – Eminem’s “‘Till I Collapse” – moved me. About 50 minutes into class, I was wishing I lifted weights instead, but I finished anyway.

9/19/15 – I digested plenty of vegetables Friday, which made Saturday morning slightly uncomfortable, but I had to get out before Anna’s 11 a.m. soccer game. I covered 5.23 miles in 43:09 – another decent, but not great run.


Top 10 Desert Island Go-to Albums

Facebook is chock full of challenges of late, and I finally was called out on one (with the exception of the ALS ice bucket challenge) by my great friend Bradley Rhea, one of the best bass players I’ve ever heard and a member of such incredible bands as Grinning Mob, Terrapin ¬†Flyer and Flowerchild.

My boy BTR asked a handful of people to come up with the 10 albums they’d need if deserted on an island. For a music lover like me, it couldn’t be a more difficult decision. But I was able to come up with the following list.

Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses: Arguably the best debut album in rock history. Guns brought the heat and the melody, a rare combination in the latter half of the 1980s. “Rocket Queen” is a personal highlight and Guns’ best song in this blogger’s opinion.

Odelay – Beck: No album captures my time in college better than this. Every song hits just right, and proves Beck was the best thing happening in the mid 1990s. “Going back to Houston, to get me some pants.” All killer. No filler.

American Beauty – Grateful Dead: My favorite album, which also includes my favorite song, “Brokedown Palace.” Then there’s “Box of Rain,” “Candyman,” “Ripple.” Just ridiculous.

Europe 72 – Grateful Dead: My favorite album of live music, and it just happens to be a double album (Yes!!)

Thriller – Michael Jackson: It’s the first vinyl I owned, and still sounds as fresh today as it did when I was 10 years old.

Sticky Fingers – Rolling Stones: Can’t get enough of this album. “Sway” and “Dead Flowers” are strong enough on their own to make a great album.

Mechanical Resonance – Tesla: Another killer debut from a band I believe is as underrated as any in history. Check it out if you’ve never listened to it.

Who’s Next – The Who: The best album from my favorite British band (sorry Beatles and Led Zep). There’s no slacker among the tracks.

Blood on the Tracks – Bob Dylan: Gotta credit my mom, Mary Kovak, with getting me into Dylan at a relatively young age, and to me, there’s nothing better than this 1975 masterpiece. “Simple Twist of Fate,” “Shelter from the Storm” and “Buckets of Rain” enough said.

The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem: My favorite rap album, just edging out Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle, and Paul’s Boutique or Check Your Head from the Beastie Boys. I defy you to jam to this on your headphones at the gym and not get in an incredible workout. It’s hilarious. It’s raw. It’s brutally honest. Incredible.

So, that’s my list. The crazy thing is there’s no Bob Marley, Prince, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Led Zeppelin, KISS, Snoop and Dre, The Beatles, Red Hot Chili Peppers or Beastie Boys – all musical acts I hold near and dear to my heart. Is there anyway I can bump the number up to 100?

Tesla still gots the chops

More Aerosmith than Def Leppard, more swagger than glam, Tesla continues to fly under the radar as rock’s most underrated band despite yearly touring and an impressive output of new music the past decade.

Tesla's Dave Rude, left, and Frank Hannon form a formidable 1-2 guitar punch.

Tesla’s Dave Rude, left, and Frank Hannon form a formidable 1-2 guitar punch.

The Sacramento, Calif.-group’s chops were on full display last Thursday at Stage AE, an indoor/outdoor venue just across from Heinz Field along Pittburgh’s North Shore. Tesla played indoors, and overwhelmed an appreciated audience with a mix of new tunes off the band’s latest release, “Simplicity,” and timeless Tesla classics. And, yes, many of Tesla’s older tunes have more than stood the test of time. “Modern Day Cowboy” sounds as fresh and urgent today as it did when the group dropped its debut album, “Mechanical Resonance” back in 1986.

Tesla’s setlist went as follows: MP3, Edison’s Medicine, I Wanna Live, Hang Tough, So Divine, Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out), Mama’s Fool, Life is a River, The Way It Is, Burnout to Fade, What You Give, Signs, Love Song, Gettin’ Better, Modern Day Cowboy, Little Suzi.

Lead singer Jeff Keith delivers whether it's a rocker like "Hang Tough" or a ballad like "Love Song."

Lead singer Jeff Keith delivers whether it’s a rocker like “Hang Tough” or a ballad like “Love Song.”

Hard to believe the band had only two top-10 hits during its peak (Love Song and Signs), but that’s part of Tesla’s appeal and that appeal is a reason why the band can tour every year and still pack people into smaller- to mid-size venues. The guys in Tesla – lead singer Jeff Keith, lead guitartist Frank Hannon, guitarist Dave Rude, bassist Brian Wheat and drummer Troy Lucketta – have an every-man appeal. They come across as the guys you might be living down the street from and can hang out with while slamming beers at a backyard barbeque.

Tesla truly plays like a band that wants to be on tour, not one that needs to tour.

Frank Hannon. Enough said.

Frank Hannon. Enough said.

And with a guitar player as strong as Hannon, a criminally undervalued axmaster who blends expertly with Rude whether the song is electric or acoustic, and a solid rhythm section, Tesla brings energy and raw power to its shows. Even if Keith’s voice isn’t as strong as it was when the band supported its “Twisted Wires & The Acoustic Sessions” album two tours ago, it’s still got plenty of mileage left. And Keith’s voice is one of rock’s best – part Mick Jagger, part Steven Tyler, part Joe Elliott, 100 percent awesome.