The Road to Maryville

The Maryville Marathon is in two weeks.

I had a great 16.2 mile run this morning. I\’ve decided to go ahead and \”race\” the Maryville Marathon. All systems are go, so I will taper a little and Gu-up on race day. I could go under 4:20 ( not a PB or BQ), but I would be extremely happy with that.

Now, the rest of the story…

I got up this morning at 2:45, and actually leapt out of bed instead of shutting off the alarm and thinking, \”the heck with those people, let them get along without me,\” and going back to sleep. I did an hour of prayer. I was again pondering the 50 miracle principles from ACIM. For the first time, I actually want to be a miracle worker. I’ve been studying ACIM for nearly two years but the consciousness of wanting to be a miracle worker didn’t really come forth as a commitment I want until today.

After the prayer, I got all my $h!t together and jumped in the car just before 4. Got to the city park just before 5. Ran 2 hours 42 minutes, marveling how well I was despite trying hard to wear out my body the past 2 weeks. After my 50k in April, I had experienced a tender achilles and had to baby it a lot, but today, I realized it was ok with me running as I want to. I made it to the 8 am fellowship meeting. Got groceries. Drove the 50 miles home. Stopped at the lawn mower place to get my mower. Came home and decided to mow the lawn before I sat down (or who knows when I would want to do it).

As I mowed the lawn I marveled at a couple of things. Despite a strenuous run, neither my knee nor my achilles hurt. More importantly, I was wearing a pair of shoes that had not had a hole cut in the left toe box (because of the third left toe nail I nailed last weekend), but the toe was ok with it. Whereas, yesterday when I tried unmodified shoes, it was still a little touchy.

Now, to be honest, I don\’t accredit food or medication or shoes or even genetics with my ability to be uninjured at this point. I\’m sure it is that my worldly plans are aligned with my spirituality, and my thoughts and beliefs are not working against me (i.e. the metaphysics are working). I am responsible for my reality and I\’ve persistently worked at limiting beliefs. I happen to believe that I must have worked enough on myself that I\’m not causing injuries.

I relaxed a little bit, nap and read. Then went for a walk 90 minute in the stupid 90F sun. My afternoon walks in the hot sun are tremendously important for heat acclimatization. My next two races will be hot hot hot. During my walk I thought more about injuries. I thought about the word pain. I decided that outer pain, that in my body, comes from inner pain, that in my mind. So, I looked inside and tried to find pain in my mind. I find that at this point in time, there is much more fear than pain: what if….

My fear is more spiritual: what if God….

God never would ______, but I find my self standing in the shoes of most humans: learned but intangible fear of God. So, I can give the fear up. Or I can allow it to fester and eventually get outer pain or some sort.

Tomorrow will be a long jog/walk at Ultra marathon pace.

From A Step Beyond: A Definitive Guide to Ultrarunning by Don Allison:

Why? … We ask it and search desperately for an answer, in each training run and especially halfway into a race. We are left largely clueless, because the answer is not in our proximate rationality. It is far beyond that, and deeper. The fact that we may get a T-shirt or a worthless trinket for finishing a race only confuses and demeans the effort – it’s as if these nominal awards are designed to trick the rationality that the race is for something, regardless of how trivial and in a total mismatch between what we put in and what we received.

But we don’t run for baubles. We run long distances because in the deep dark recesses of our minds there still resides….(Spirit Flower has her own thoughts).

Only those …whose mentality gave them pleasure in the chase as such, without immediate reward but with the vision of a possible payoff far ahead, would give chase, or “race” as it were. Only those with the mentality to endure would push the evolution of their physiology to match the required effort. That mentality allows us to endure, if not honor, voluntary privations.

Psychology matches physiology…We developed mind power – the ability to project far ahead to the prey that is out of sight and sound, to the finish line of a marathon or ultramarathon.

To be an ultrarunner is not to be weird. It’s to push through the tough crust of customs, to the core of what makes us human.

The fact that ultramarathons are so difficult is exactly the draw. The possibility that an individual will not be able to complete the event – or will have to reach down the very depths of their physical, emotional and spiritual reserves to do so – is just the element of challenge and competition that many athlete are seeking…

Ultrarunning is too important to be taken seriously.

Ultrarunning is a wonderful tool for learning about our selves – not only our physical abilities, but our motivations and inner psyches as well. End quote.

Wealth

Fridays are my special day. I get up a few minutes early, 2:45, spend my hour in spiritual study, skip the weights and go for a long pre-dawn run.

This morning, I started again on the ACIM (A Course in Miracles) text at 1.I, where is listed out the 50 principles of miracles. At first, #2 caused me to pause, “Miracles as such do not matter. The only thing that matters is their Source, which is far beyond evaluation.” I stopped to allow the reality of Source be preeminent in my mind. Then I stopped again at #4, “His voice will direct you very specifically. You will be told all you need to know;” where I allowed myself to not only believe that this is true, but experience a deep sense of trust in Source. This morning, I only made it as far as #22 where it says, “You believe that what your physical eyes cannot see does not exist. This leads to a denial of spiritual sight.” Somehow at that point, my thinking shifted. I started to think that I might be sitting on spiritual and metaphysical wealth beyond my wildest worldly imagination. The idea of having just enough money to retire pales in comparison to the spiritual wealth I already have (which everybody has with out knowing it). As I write this, I realize I am much closer to understanding that what I have in the spiritual realm is so far above the ego\’s paltry little trinkets, that I\’m willing, eager in fact, to drop all ego stuff in favor of spiritual stuff.

When I first encountered ACIM, I realized it would take me at least 5 years of study before I would have much grasp of what it means and internalized alot of it. For nearly 2 years I’ve been investing in ACIM and the Holy Spirit’s thought system. I must be giving and receiving in the metaphysical and spiritual worlds to the extent that my wealth in that world is humongous. I need worry about nothing in the ego material world of fear and pain because I am sitting on massive wealth in the world beyond this one. My wealth is love, joy and peace; plus never dimming spiritual sight.

Of course, I’ve nothing to prove this; and metaphysical wealth and talent don’t at all mean that materialistically bad things won’t happen to me. It just means that I know my truth is not here where materialism matters. Only God matters.

Every morning, no matter what, the first hour of my day is spent in spiritual study. Running actually comes second. The world thinks that prime time is the evening where people sit on couches and watch TV and allow their brains to be corrupted by nonsense. My prime time is at 3:15 in the morning when I sit and turn my mind over to The Holy Spirit’s thinking. Running is an extension of spirituality. I am an ultra-marathoner because I was first a spiritual marathoner.

Spirit Flower…spiritual athlete!

Morning Meditation

I said recently that I was determined to remember God in this lifetime. More than ten years ago, I said I want to shamelessly follow Jesus. The Spirit’s response seemed to be to live a life of prayer. This morning as I started A Course in Miracles (ACIM) text for the fifth time, I read that prayer is the medium of miracles. [But I caution you, a miracle is not what you have been taught in church or by society.] When I left the monastery, I had a revelation: Love is the predominant mode of existence.

So this morning, as I was doing my lesson, “I feel the Love of God within me now,” I knew I didn’t and I could only turn to Jesus for help. I wondered what barrier I have erected to keep the Love of God out of my awareness. I thought, “I so deeply don’t believe God loves me…so I have separated from God… and now I hate God and am afraid of Him.” This darkness can only be given to Jesus. How happy he is to take my errors in thinking and heal them.

Towards the end of my hour, I remembered my goal: to achieve the remembrance of God in THIS lifetime, now. Yet…how? Only by accepting Jesus’ help. Some ideas from the ACIM text, 1.I, filtered into my meditation (and I think they were intended to be Jesus’ help). I thought, in conjunction with my goal, “I am willing and insist on being spirit, allowing spirit to be my primary reality and spirit is my altar of truth.”

Then I went to lift weights. My desire to be spirit got mixed in with some thoughts about dieting; and I thought, “How do I keep promises to myself?” I saw the promise to be spirit and the promise to not over eat as one and the same.

I kept lifting weights and suddenly thought, “Spirit is the Love of God.” Ah hah! That is today’s lesson: I feel the love of God within me now. Feeling spirit, I feel the Love of God. They are the same. I know how to feel sprit. I think it is the Life Force within me. The Life Force is apparent and it is not ego. I can discern the difference. The Life Force is an energy and power, but it doesn’t really have words; whereas my ego is continuously shrieking and yammering and causing me to be hateful and afraid.

I went for a 6 mile run. No big deal. To be spirit is why I run, especially in the early morning. My running is so unspectacular. If you could see me plodding along, dreaming of finisher medals and age group awards, you would immediately think of how pathetic I am. But if my running is not about races but about experiencing the Life Force, then it makes sense. It is Life Force for which I live. To allow Life is to shamelessly follow Jesus, to live a life of constant prayer and to be Love, the predominant mode of existence. In constant prayer, I am the medium of miracles. As the medium, Jesus can work through me.

Personal statistics: yes, I am starting the ACIM text for the fifth time. The first time I read it, less than two years ago, it took me about two months to complete 669 pages. The fourth time I read it, it took about ten months. It would be a privilege if I can take even longer this time. But sometimes I get eager and run through the text gobbling its words like candy.

Spirit Flower. Spiritual athlete. Spirit of the Prairie.

Heartland Prairie – Course Views

Here is a shot of the \”seemingly endless\” Heartland Prairie ultra-marathon course. 135 days away.

Otherwise: I ran 5 miles this morning. I checked the radar before I went and it looked like all the rain was a hundred miles away. Wrong! There was a small downpour that got me soaking wet the last mile of the run. But you know…I wouldn\’t have missed this run. Not because it was special but just because \”it was.\”

My prayer and meditation this morning were dry. I was absolutely brain dead. I could not grasp the lesson: The peace of God is shining in me now. I\’m like that sometimes. The most beautiful and enlightening and hopeful words bounce off my brain and fall useless to the ground. Jesus says not to worry about it. Jesus says to sit quietly and listen. I do that and discover it is silent. Hence, the frustration of peace is silence. Its not birds or wind or beautiful images. Peace is silent.

Multi-day 5 – Postlude

I ran 20 miles this morning; at slightly less than marathon pace and running all the way. I saw two baby frogs on the levy path, one baby turtle on the levy path, and a doe with a baby running in the field next to the path. I saw a baby snake, but I can\’t remember if it was alive or not.

Today, I got the message: re-birth, re-newal and resurrection. If you have read of my saga so far, you\’ve already read of the renewal symbolism of the frog, the deer and the snake. Today, I saw the babies as if to reinforce the message. Today was added the baby turtle. Turtles have been a totem of mine for a few years. [Symbolism of the turtle: an innocent energy, longevity, the wisest of souls, the turtle takes its wisdom one day at a time – not reacting, simply accepting and moving on in its natural methods.]

Jeez, I ran 111 miles in five days! I am well aware of ultra-runners who go 100 miles in a day. I\’m not trying to say I am great compared to them. I am just flabbergasted at what I did; because it is so far beyond what I have ever done before.

In retrospect, I would say I experienced an inner death on Friday when I went to my old convent. Something died inside me and I do know what it was. But, I kept up the multi. It is not explainable to most why a personal multi would be done anyway, except in the context of \”training.\” But as you can see, mine turned into a vision quest. The results, as I go to work tomorrow, will be subtle. But, I do feel as if I passed into a new phase of my development. It won\’t look very different on the outside, but inside I can feel a new perspective. The turtle promises that the new perspective will last.

Multi-day 4 – Intermission

I felt it a good idea to keep from pushing myself too far, beyond prudence, with the running. My mind was filled with what if injury scenarios and that any one of them could sideline me for the Maryville Marathon. I had already pushed the envelope by going about 83 miles in 3 1/2 days. So I decided to walk today. I walked 210 minutes and lifted weights.

This afternoon found me once again asking myself Why?

1. Why run a multi-day?
2. Why run at all?
3. Why be alive?

Question 3 is my ancient question and it echoes Heidegger’s metaphysical question: Why is there anything at all instead of nothing?

If today is an intermission, is my multi-day a symphony with several movements? If today is a Selah, is my multi-day a psalm, a song or a love poem?

Let me review:

Wednesday afternoon I had written a prelude with these main points: the multi-day is about prayer, not training; about contemplation, a place to merely be. It turns out, merely being is a hard mentality for an ego to tolerate. Wednesday evening I walked 2 hours.

Thursday, I went 28 miles and I said: running a multi-day is done for its own sake, to be only spirit.

Friday, I went 22 miles and visited my old monastery. That day, I practiced the Name of God as I ran. I said the multi-day should be allowed to be meaningless. A multi-day is an optional thing, and so is my life. The monastery trip was difficult. I saw things I didn’t want to see. I realized that as much as I want to be a monk, I am totally grateful God saw fit to ensure I didn’t stay there. It seems a place of stagnation and death.

Saturday, I went 26 miles. Mulling over my convent visit and working on that day’s ACIM lesson, the realization “God is my inheritance” solidified and became a reliable belief for me. I was moved by the messengers from nature: the frog (transformation, the path of change, natural healing), the deer (their heart rhythms pulse in soft waves of kindness) and the frustration of the deer thwarted by the government fence; and the snake (throwing off the past and continuing to live). I thought about ultra-sobriety as continuous conscious contact. I reached that sweaty place of stillness and silence in the hot sun where wordless “knowing” was my reality.

Now Sunday, my intermission from running, I walked 210 minutes. I do everything for spirituality. In the multi-day I seek contemplation, silence and prayer. Hidden is the desire for God to yield “something” which an ego could grasp. But in contemplation, I realize that God yields peace. I contemplate peace. Peace is not just lack of war, it truly is nothing. Real peace, total nothingness, is appalling to an ego. The truth of nothingness is why I keep questioning the running activity. The avoidance of nothingness is the reason why people “train” for races instead of just run (including me). The ego cannot accept that it is nothing. I look inside and see nothing. My multi-day, being not-racing, is nothing.

And then, the big one finally clicks: the way to find joy in nothing is to realize you are free. My multi-day is done in complete freedom. I run free for days. Think about freedom, not just the silly American type of freedom where we go around doing what we want; but freedom of the spirit escaped from the ego’s limitations and rules and silly worries. The free spirit is nothing of this world, and it soars beyond ego. This freedom is what endless running brings me, because the running means nothing.

Now I am happy, joyous and free.

Multi-day – day three

I got up at 5 with the alarm, late for me. I considered going back to sleep. “Why am I doing this?,” was my thought. Thoughts of what I had seen at the monastery yesterday crossed my mind. Then my ACIM (A Course in Miracles) lesson crossed my mind: The Name of God is my inheritance. The word “inheritance” sunk a little into my conscious awareness. God is all I need. I needn’t be afraid. I am safe in God; where it is true that money and health don’t matter. I needn’t judge. I need only return to my Name of God practice. The practice is to say the name of God frequently to myself and be oblivious to everything else.

I woke up without aches or pains from running. On Wednesday evening I had walked 8 miles. Thursday, I had gone 28 miles and on Friday 22. Now, it is Saturday and I have no time constraints. After an hour of spiritual study, I lifted weights and got my provisions ready for the run. I got started at 7. It was about 60F. I started running and started my name of God practice. I noticed that I would breathe in God and out Self. I recognized that it has taken me more than a day to accept the ACIM teaching that the Name of God is Self because they have the same Name. A father gives his son his name; so God has given His Son His Name. The Self is the Christ and has That Name. We are Christ. But, I have been slow to use it, saying love or peace instead. Finally today, whatever barrier my ego had erected was gone. As I used the word Self, felt drawn in. All things were one and the physical bodies became illusions, the meaningless veils our egos made. I was not a self. I was part of Self and Self was everything with God as everything.

In the park, I saw someone tipped over the trash and I was able to see it was an illusion. I was able to resist judging and resist the attraction of guilt. I remembered that I saw what I wanted to see. I thought more about the monastery and was able to not judge; able to accept responsibility for my projection, my attraction to guilt and give it up to Self. Then joining God/Self as part of Mind, not a body.

During the third lap, I noticed the third toe on the left was hurting. I had looked at it before starting and decided not to do anything for it because it was already a goner and didn’t seem to be in pain. However, now, it was starting to whine. My first thought was, oh, its not that bad. Then I thought, ultra-marathoners pay attention and do something immediately. So I decided to be wise, run the 4 blocks home and put the Compeed on it. This helped a lot; saving not only this run but the rest of the multi-day.

I spent alot of the run listening to my inner procurement department state its case for going to the city this afternoon and satisfying it\’s desires at the sporting goods store.

The run (at ultra-marathon pace walk/jog) lasted over 5 hours and 23 miles. It finished in 83F heat. So far the multi-day is up to 79 miles. Over the course of today’s run I ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich cut in 3 pieces, 4 Gu packets, one electrolyte S-cap, and 3 Succeed drink packets with 90 oz of water. Next to the dumped over trash was a discarded Crown Royal bag (which explains the trash situation I guess) and I salvaged it. I haven\’t drank any alcohol for over 23 years and never drank Crown Royal. The words \”Crown Royal\” and the purple and gold sack remind me more of Jesus than anything. It reminded me of ultra-sobriety and my current definition of continuous conscious contact. Then, I thought of a way to make a neat spiritual ultra-sobriety gift using that Crown Royal bag. (The first person from the Parkhill group who contacts me gets the gift. Hint: push the comment button located below.)

There were many small planes flying about as there is a fly-in at the Amelia Earhart airport. At one point, I was watching two ultra-lights and a helicopter flying together, and thinking that I shouldn’t spend too much time looking up, when I noticed movement at my feet. Startled, I looked down to see a huge bullfrog hop across the road in front of me. What is the symbol or meaning of the bull frog? (see below) I saw a bewildered deer which wanted to escape south but kept crashing into the government fence. I also saw a big black snake lying on the road as I tip toed around it. I saw the black birds chase a hawk. I saw into myself and there was nothing there.

During the 11th lap, I finally “got there.” I came to the top of a ridge, hot sun, no wind, silence, stillness, reduced to a shuffle; I knew it was a moment for which I had begun this multi-day. It took three days to get me to the indescribable place of “knowing.” And….I’m not done yet!

My walking this afternoon will probably first involve pushing a lawn mower, then perhaps a relaxing speed on the TM while I listen to the radio (a little walking will actually help my recovery). But first, a nap. The procurement department is closed. The responsible adult department will probably get it\’s way and force me to mow the lawn (the laundry is already in the dryer!). But, the take care of yourself department got first dibs. I made a green smoothie, then a salad; and the nap is next.

ps: Frog Symbolism: Sensitivity, regeneration, renewal. In many cultures, frogs are a strong symbol of luck and wealth. Frog medicine teaches the power of transforming oneself, a natural path of change that occurs over a lifetime. Frog is also a symbol of femininity and fertility, and natural healing. Frog people tend to be pleasant, positive, and well in-tune with the energies around them. …The snake is the symbol of life throwing off the past and continuing to live. The deer (particularly the doe, females) has the capacity for infinite generosity. Their heart rhythms pulse in soft waves of kindness. For the two-legged beside whom Red Tail Hawk flies, a sharp mind will be evident, and these souls will possess the ability to perceive the subtlest of nuances that might escape other less \”observant\” individuals. (obviouly, I could have pasted in any number of things for these animals)

Multi-day – 2nd walking afternoon

There was morning and then it was afternoon. Time to get off the bed and go for a walk.

I did it. How? I had this violent thought: going for a walk will starve my ego and tear away its face. Ummm…well, I don\’t know what to say about that but it motivated me. This multi was supposed to be about self-transcendence after all.

I think walking off an 18 mile morning with 8 more miles was a very good idea.

Just before getting up for the walk, I had a tremendous intuitive thought related to ACIM: My involvement with miracles is larger than I can imagine. For a few precious moments, I felt like I actually was a miracle worker and something was happening \”out there\” because of it. Talk about the veil being very thin! Believing the Course is real and that my work in it is real is difficult because the ego absolutely does not know anything about Jesus or the Holy Spirit or the Real World. So to notice a little thinning of the ego\’s defenses, enough to believe the Real World is true and that my mind is really not in my body is tremendous. Just a few brief seconds, easily missed; but I saw it. IT is true.

Tomorrow will be an easy day. I\’ll get up super early and do 3 hours in the park. Then it is off to the monastery to see Sr Priscilla. I don\’t know what time I\’ll be able to politely escape from all those sweet little old ladies! So the afternoon walking may be shorter.

Multi-day – Day 1

I began my 5 day Multi-day event yesterday evening at about 5 pm. I put on the new Sahara hiking shorts and hiking boots and hiked 4 laps around the course; a 2 mile loop of hilly dirt road.

Today I continued my personal multi-day with 18 miles at ultra-marathon pace (walk up/jog down), 9 laps in 3:45; plus the weight lifting. Then I showered, vacuumed all the floors and now I am having a smoothie.

While jogging, I ate one peanut butter w/honey sandwich on wheat, 2 Gu and about 40 oz of Succeed mixed 1.5 times directions with 2 packets of Emergen-C added. The Emergen-C really boosts the vitamin C and potassium plus a few other goodie vitamins.

The marathoner in me scoffs at spending nearly 4 hours running 18 miles. The ultra-marathoner thinks I\’m doing great. Actually, I\’ve always wanted to be able to spend long long periods of time just keeping moving. Now, I am, for the first time ever, free in that world.

I was up at 4 am for one and a half hours of spiritual study. I realized I have at least 3 gifts today: First, I woke up with no aches or pains. Second, the multi-day is for its own sake. It is not in conjunction with some training goal. It is established as an event with its own unique experiences. Third, I am running the multi-day as spirit, with awarenes of Christ within. My inner running is running into the inner silence. The outer running is running through the veils of illusion which appear to be a real world. The time spent in prayer during the multi-day is as important as the time spent doing laps. I\’m spending gobs of spiritual energy along with the gobs of physical energy.

At the end of today\’s run, it was about 70F. I was feeling hot and tired and reality hit home: I have decided to do something hard, or at least challenging to me in body, mind and spirit. The thought of not going back to hike this afternoon crossed my mind: Why not just lay on the bed and read? I don\’t have an answer to that. I could you know. So if I do what I want to do (continue the laps), it will be amazing.

To patiently stick with the multi-day is to practice ultra-sobriety. The sober person lives one day at at time and they keep coming back.

Preliminary Visions – Prelude to a Multi-day

Personal statistics: 142 days until Heartland Prairie. Lesson 181 in ACIM workbook. Yesterday, I was false positive for a second birthday this year. What? Ok, I don\’t know how it could happen, but they announced my name and birthday on the local radio; so all day at work, people were saying happy birthday. But it wasn\’t my birthday! There is someone else with my name here in this dinky town? No one with my last name in the phone book, but there could be a student.

Well, today after work vacation starts. “Spirit Flower,” they ask, “Where are you going on your vacation?” “Running,” she says. I know my legs will hurt.

Outside of “training for an ultra,” why do a personal, 5 day multi-day?

1. I’ll probably never go to a real multi-day.
2. It is my Suprabha Beckjord imitation.
3. I want to have an experience.
4. A new pair of Sahara shorts will be delivered to my house tomorrow.
5. I can.

Thoughts on Training by Satyajit Saha

“Self-transcendence is the essence; the quintessential core of what multiday running is about. During a multiday transcendence event all the trivial nagging minute forces of human frustration and sorrow that dog mundane, habitual living melt away and dissolve in the one-pointed focus and mission of covering at least one more mile before taking pause, or giving in. The struggle of running becomes the sole mission, the all-consuming purpose of the runners’ consciousness. The runners’ consciousness becomes clear, uncluttered and untrammeled in its singleness of purpose. Just run one more lap. One more lap. One more lap. Nothing else matters. The body aches, the nervous system is taxed to its limit. But the mind is clear. The heart is clear. There is nothing to prove to anyone. No place else to be. No bonds, no cares, no worries. Just run, or walk, and be free. The rest of the world takes care of itself. Just run one more lap.

It seems to me that the other runners feel this and commune with this Spirit which percolates through the struggles of each. It is unspoken, but the runners know”

First of all, running a personal multi-day is not the same as running a race. There is no claim on finishing. No experience of camaraderie with others. There is no guide book detailing the satisfactions. It does not prove anything. It is done in silence. I will be a solitary person rounding a hilly 2 mile loop, walking and jogging, and going home to re-stock every few hours.

This a time of extreme joy; yet discerned in subtleties. It is not for training; but more for prayer. There is not really a goal, only a mentality: just a little more time, one more lap. It is an environment of infinite existence. It is a place and space to merely be.

Only someone who has considered this as a real possibility would “get” the idea of why I do this. The nuns don’t understand why I am not happy to stay there and do liturgy with them. The people at work don’t understand why I don’t do something sensible like shopping or a trip to the boat. Some people think I am doing something impressive or extra-ordinary.

What do I think I am doing? Ultimate contemplation, the darkness of unreflected light.