Music Motivates

I have previously waxed nostalgic in this blog space about the amazing impact music has on our lives–whether we realize it or not–and I had another defining moment involving music that I wanted to share.

Do you have the Eye of the Tiger in you?

Earlier this week, I was up early–like 3 a.m. early–writing, as has become my habit since moving into full-time photojournalism a year ago.

I write better in the early morning when everyone else is asleep, so I was getting some serious work done.

But after two hours and two cups of java, I was ready to get up and move.

So, at 5 a.m., I donned my PT (physical training) gear, what I call S4 (shorts, shirt, socks, shoes), which also includes a shuffle iPod and headphones, for a walk/run.

I say walk/run because that’s what I do. I walk flat land and up hills, and run down hills. I find it’s easier on my back, knees, neck, joints, etc. Those over the age of 40 will understand my meaning.

I do this often. I tell my wife it’s my “walk-about,” where I walk and think about things.

I also call it my “neighborhood patrol,” where I walk/run the streets of my “hood” and make sure everything is secure. Hey, I’m a Marine; walking post is in my blood.

It is a different world at 5 a.m. Nothing is stirring; it’s very dark, very quiet, and very cool. The darkness masks out all the background so that the world consists of what your eye can see from ambient light. It is a world dominated by shadows.

My peripheral vision must become more acute so I can see into the shadows; in the dark you can see more if you don’t look directly at objects, something to do with the rod cells that are on the outside edges of your eye.

Maybe this change in vision is why it’s easy for me to think, because all the background distractions are masked out.

I am armed with a flashlight, but I try to keep it off because it zaps my night vision and it ruins the mood. Sometimes the darkness is so complete I can’t see my feet, only hear them as my footsteps echo off the houses on either side of me.

The "poolies" provide Randy with inspiration.

As the Georgia summer gets hotter and more humid, it’s good to have this early-morning habit; only mad dogs and Englishmen work out in the mid-day heat–though Marines are known to do it as well.

There’s a ginormous hill in our neighborhood. It slopes down (or up, depending on which end you’re on) at a curvy 40-degree angle for about a third of a mile.

I walk/run a one-mile loop, two to four times, reversing direction so sometimes I’m run/walking backwards or side-shuffling up the hill (helps develop those small flexor muscles in your lower legs) and sometimes I’m running down the hill.

This early in the morning, if somebody sees me they’ll probably call the police: “Hey, there’s some dude running sideways up our street.” No danger, just me trying to stay in shape.

My generally serious desire to stay in shape has been heightened after a Saturday of interviews and photos of Marine Corps “poolees” in Atlanta for an article I am preparing for Leatherneck magazine.

Poolees are 18- to 22-year-old men and women who are preparing to enter Marine Corps boot camp; 13 weeks of the toughest basic military training in the world. They are taking their initial strength test–a 1.5-mile run, pull-ups and crunches.

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