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  • Melissa Trier Kirk, viola

Mimi, Music, and the Marathon

There is something that attracts musicians to marathons. At least half a dozen members of our orchestra have run a marathon over the years, some multiple marathons. Our dynamic Principal Flutist Marie Tachouet (or Mimi as we know her) has run three and ran her first Chicago Marathon last month. We recently sat down together to talk about marathons and music. Here’s what she said:

“I’ve been running on and off since I was in high school but it was in graduate school that I started running every day as my primary source of exercise. I love to be outside and it’s a great way to get rid of the extra stress and anxiety of what we do. I won’t play a concert unless I’ve run that day!

About 6 years ago, I was inspired by musician friends of mine who were doing long distance running. I saw that normal people could do it and thought maybe I could too. Basically, I started running marathons because I couldn’t get a job! I’m goal oriented and schedule oriented in many ways. It was very frustrating trying my hardest, preparing for auditions and not having anything pan out and not having any control over it. Running was my outlet for that when I was taking auditions for years. With running you can follow a training plan and even if you’re slow or have to walk, you can accomplish your goal. Running was something concrete that I could do.

My first Wagner opera was Die Meistersinger. The mantra of marathon runners is to get one mile at a time, one step at a time, and that’s sometimes how you feel when you’re playing a Wagner opera. Let’s get through this page. You also plan what you eat like you do for running. You eat snacks at intermission because you don’t want to tank and lose your energy later. For musicians, playing conservatively before a performance and then resting afterwards is very similar. They’re both physical activities. It’s the same thing when you’re preparing for auditions. You have to have the discipline to plan your practicing. You have this big list of excerpts and you have to start way ahead of time and do a gradual build up. The best players are the ones who plan what they want to accomplish practicing and don’t just run through stuff. It’s the same with running. You have to plan. You can’t cram for a performance or audition and you can’t cram for a marathon.

Before the race I e-mailed a few friends that I knew lived near the course. Jeremy Moeller (principal trombone) lives in the West Loop right at mile 14. He had signed up to track me and using my pace, estimated when I’d be coming by his home. I knew where his building was so I wove my way to his side of the street. He jumped in, ran with me for 5 miles, grabbed and carried a water bottle for me, and lent me some spf chapstick. You have to protect your embouchure!”

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