National Captal Marathon – Report

The boarding passes are printed. Spirit Flower will soon be going back to her little corner of the planet.

My Course in Miracles lesson for the day was: I rest in God, and I am as God created me. The rest in God bit is common to all religions. What I am is uniquely defined by A Course in Miracles. These two ideas were in my mind as I ran today.

There is nothing so wonderful as the tremendously achy feeling of post marathon legs.

Believe it or not, I booked my trip to Canada at the end of last year and the hotel in January. I feared that if I did not book the ticket and pay the money, I’d chicken out on coming to NCM. JoJo (an internet friend from runningmania) and I had been discussing what race it might be good for me to come to; and she wouldn’t let me come to ATB as it is always rotten weather.

So then, the task was to maintain my marathon fitness and not be stupid (hence incurring an injury). I ran 3 and 4 hour runs each weekend all winter, sometimes in crazy locations as I sought secure footing. Little old ladies ought not risk falling down to much. (LOL). I chaffed at the bit wanting to race but refraining under the “don’t be stupid” rule. Finally in March, I couldn’t pass up my dream race (80 miles in 20 hours); and seemed to come through that ok. Then, I guess I hit an impossibly stupid thing: the Olathe marathon. It was only 3 weeks after the 80 mile race and I shouldn’t have “raced” anything (but go read that report for further information). After Olathe, I had a tender Achilles and I have been babying it for the past 6 weeks.

After my 3 and 4 hour runs last weekend, I was sure of my condition (as any addict enabling themselves can be) and approved myself for running NCM, but going for a 4:40 or worse. My trip to Canada has been wonderful and JoJo is a great hostess and I’ve been thrilled to meet the runningmaniacs I’ve been following for the past 2 years. Ottawa is beautiful. Watching the Trifecta was great. I’ve never seen such a well managed event as far as crowds go. I loved watching the world class women in the 10k.

JoJo got me at the airport. I spotted her flirting with cute soldiers (really JoJo, maybe you should do the Army run and get a soldierly hug at the finish). First on Saturday, we went to Tim Horton’s and then JoJo’s parents. We went to Bruce pit with C-Moss and met Andy on Saturday morning. Andy gave me an orange buff. JoJo put on my tattoos. We went to the expo and met Turd (Mike) on Saturday (I needed to meet someone whose internet handle is Turd Ferguson). After tons of walking as we watched the races, my weak foot was complaining. I was up at 4:30, had my coffee and spiritual study and bm. I walked down to my corral at 6:40. I asked someone to take my picture with my bb; so I have a before and after.

The start was terribly polite. The green corral was half empty. Everyone had plenty of room and even the bunnies were not creating problems. So, I just started at an easy pace. At 5k and 10k, I was on a 5.5 mph pace and that seemed fine with me. I didn’t really look around at the scenery much but was impressed that so many people came out to cheer all along the course. I was so surprised the first time someone said, “Go Laura.” She told me my name was on my number (dummy). That was cool! The aid station near the half was fabulous with the men in dresses, and some guy who really could dance! I got into at porta-pottie without waiting at 17k (bonus points).

Finally, I saw some maniacs with hula girl. Their cheering brought tears to my eyes. After that, I started trying to decide when to turn on the afterburners. My Achilles was “not too bad” (which is usually an understatement for a runner), my energy level was great and I knew I wanted to put some effort into the race. I began to speed up. At 30k, I approved my self to fire the jets (hence the negative split). Surprisingly, when I go into high gear, I also go into meditative state and become something of a running machine powering ahead and mostly looking only at the road in front of me. Having the half marathoners join the course at the end disrupted my speeding as I started having to dodge them.

But I was starting to feel the race in my legs and knew I was achieving my happiness (I love that feeling). I kept “racing”, saw hula girl again and swerved to get a low five. I was soon into the crowds lining the final k. I’ve never been through anything like that before. Wow! Swell! Bosso, coolo, neato!

Finished: turns out chip time matched my watch (4:31). The medal is so pretty and I love the spinney thing. Worth the expense of the trip. I had my bb with me so I asked someone to take my picture.

Then I basically hobbled back to the hotel to clean up and go to the M&G. It was great to meet more runningmaniacs. After a marathon, I usually get to a prone position as soon as possible, so it was outrageous to spend 2 hours shouting at people you just met. I am exhausted.

After a nap, I’ll still swear the Achilles is “not too bad.”

National Captal Marathon – 1

I arrived yesterday in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. United Airlines did an excellent job of delivering me and my luggage. For some reason, all crowds and lines disappeared before me and I breezed along. I almost cried when the customs agent asked what my business was and I proudly answered, “National marathon.” Even now I feel the tears inside. Ottawa is very beautiful and my hostess (one runningmaniac named JoJo) is superb.

From A Course in Miracles this morning, I pondered this: “Beyond the poor attraction of the special love relationship, and always obscured by it, is the powerful attraction of the Father for His Son. There is no other love that can satisfy you, because there is no other love. This is the only love that is fully given and fully returned. Being complete, it asks nothing.”

There is much in ACIM about the ego and its special relationships which distracts me from the one real relationship, that with God. It takes an act of will to stop my ego activities and remember God. However, one I make the decision and set aside the space, God comes and I am aware of Him. It is for this awareness that live.

Simple Presence

It is enough to simply sit in awareness of The Presence. I don\’t need to ask anything or expect anything or call it anything. I am willing to accept The Presence and enjoy simple awareness.

\”Let me be still and listen to the Truth.\”

Update:
I might go to Germany again in September: perfect timing for the Cologne Marathon. I\’m thinking I will try to learn some German this summer.
I am going to Canada tomorrow: to run in the National Capital Marathon and meet tons of Running Maniacs.
I just had a printer emergency: no ink. So I ran up to Office Max a couple of blocks away. For some reason, they were giving out $10 gift cards if you spent $40. No problema, ink is expensive, so I liked $10 off.
Yesterday, I bought a bosso coolo belt to go with the Ultra belt buckle I got at my 80 mile race. I bought it at the Harley Davidson dealer; many years since I\’ve been in one of those places. They had moved and now reside in an old Lexus dealership.
I love being a runner. My goal this weekend is to finish without any injury. I won\’t be in a hurry.

Another Long Run

Today I jog/walked 20 miles in 4:18. My shoulders are sunburned!

There is a running blog called Monumental effort. The title speaks of greatness. The Japanese running monk speaks of holiness. Who am I? Just a girl.

From A Course in Miracles, (ACIM) this morning I read (15.IV.4): \”Would you learn how perfect and immaculate is the holy altar (us, the Son of God) on which your Father has placed Himself? This you will recognize in the holy instant, in which you willingly and gladly give over every plan but His.\”

As I was meditating, I watched plan after plan jump into my mind; and I let them go. As I was running, I thought about the many people who want to know God. Many people say they want my spirituality but I see that they are not willing to focus and spend time on the endeavor. In general, these people don’t have any plans for knowing God, so their saying they wish they knew God is just idle chatter. Most of the church goers don’t know God. Well, I admit that I no longer think church really has much to do with God at all.

Out running, I was again marveling at my new realization of my job here on earth. All I need do is stop thinking my thoughts and hold in my mind a thought of God. And, having practiced that for a little while, I’m getting better at it. But I am relieved most because I have let go of all expectations regarding spiritual achievement. I had read so many books by so called illuminated people, religious authorities and various eastern gurus. But I haven’t achieved the euphoria, I haven’t written a book and my house is not full of disciples. I have nothing wise to say.

But I am a Course student. Inner peace is my goal. This world is an illusion and the books of the gurus are just part of the illusion. Yet if I hold a thought of God in my mind, I am transcended and I have stopped perpetuating the illusion. The end of the illusion means peace is the reality; and that is all I’m doing here.

I am at peace with this idea because it sets me free. I’ve wanted to know God since I was 22! I don’t think God meant to be difficult. I think we humans trained ourselves to think that. If I sit in church, I’ll be taught to wait until the next life or some other worldly reason for why I don’t know God.

But when I changed the curriculum, I had success. I was taught that God was already here, I just had to let go of my ego toys. Simple right? Well, yes and no.

So, I am a runner. I spent a lot of time on my run realizing that I just love my weekend long runs. I love the endless hours in either freezing cold or sweltering hot. I love the endless hours of repeating my God thought over and over, with no other agenda. Training for speed in order to race fast seems to have slipped off my radar. So, I don’t know any more why I would sign up for a race, except to complete a measured distance and have someone else provide the drinks. I like ultra races because I can go farther than I normally would on my own.

So anyway, that’s where I’m at.

Solitary Running

Ever noticed how I keep returning to the topic of solitude? Yes, I am trying to explain it to myself.

Thoughts about solitude while I ran this morning: I find solitude so misunderstood; and so indefensible. In spiritual practice, silence, my mind goes beyond the boundary of tumultuous thoughts laid out by my ego nature. Beyond this layer, all is silent. There is nothing there for the ego to grasp, so utter peace does not seem desirable. But I go there over and over when I am meditating. It is my primary practice. I simply hold in my mind the daily lesson from A Course in Miracles and rest in the Presence it brings to my mind. Nothing need be done and nothing need be accomplished. Victory is to keep only that one thought in the mind. When I am out running, I think about that place of silent peace and also use the daily thought as a mantra. That is it. That is all. Nothing more need be said or explained.

Well, I need to add that I did understand something for myself today. Since I visit this place beyond the ego, I am starting to think of it as my home, my origin. So when I enter ordinary life and relate to others, I am coming from the other side, a different reality; while most of those I relate to have never been to the other side. This explains why I don’t understand everyday worldly doings so much anymore and don\’t participate. I come from the other side, never really come fully into this world, and then return to the other side.

The thing my ego can’t stand is that there is no advantage to this shift in home base. In fact, it is a detriment for the time I am in society; because I’m not playing the system to the best of my advantage. I don’t look good. I take flak from colleagues who eat meat and are out of shape. Yet, then they turn around and appreciate my peaceful approach to our sometimes stressful work.

Yesterday evening, not getting started until 7:30, I walked on the treadmill for 45 min and rode my ex-bike for 45 min. This morning, feeling no pain, I decided to do an easy run; even though I have a marathon in a week. I jog/walked at ultra pace for 15.5 miles. It was very wonderful as this is the first really warm day we\’ve had this year. I jogged along the levy which is flat, gravel and windy. Despite no trees, the wind helps alot with drying the sweat. I drank about 40 oz of sports drink, but still lost a pound or two. I saw something new: small birds have built mud nests on the underside of a freeway overpass.

Afterwards, while eating, I put together this wish list of 2010 Ultras:
7/23: http://www.lunartrekrun.com/home
9/18: http://www.katy50.com
10/16: http://www.stpats24hour.com/
10/31: http://www.bsrun.com

The 10/16 dream is most likely to be cancelled due to a potential trip to Germany, but we\’ll see. I realized this morning that running fast marathons really really does cause injuries for me. I\’d rather not have an impressive marathon time and still go for a long run the next weekend. I dream of endless hours of mindless running or even working out in my apartment.

Now, I will quietly go about an easy weight lifting and core session while I listen to NPR. then maybe go get some groceries.

Silent Running

This morning I read from the Course in Miracles text (15.III): \”Be not content with littleness. But be sure you understand what littleness is, and why you could never be content with it. Littleness is the offering you give yourself. You offer this in place of magnitude, and you accept it. Everything in this world is little because it is a world made out of littleness, in the strange belief that littleness can content you. When you strive for anything in this world in the belief that it will bring you peace, you are belittling yourself and blinding yourself to glory. Littleness and glory are the choices open to your striving and your vigilance. You will always choose one at the expense of the other.\”

I want God more than I want an ego. I value the spirit in me more than I value ego accomplishments. When I renounce the world, I am taking away the ego\’s toys. My ego\’s toys are most generally things which society teaches me are to be sought (money, important positions, achievements, legacies). I renouce these things and seek deeper values.

I work out and run; but have needed to stop being attracted to shiney age group awards and Boston qualifying times and bragging about races. My workouts are being taken into obscurity as I complete my home gym and content myself with hours on machines in solitude or hours of slow jogging on a boring loop.

I don\’t eat a bunch of sugar, fat or preservative filled goodies. I stopped rewarding myself with food. I stopped spending my thinking hours planning meals.

I spend time in spiritual study and meditation. I spend time with a quiet mind. To have a quiet mind, I limit my exposure to media. Why? For example: in a meeting at work, my colleague showed a computer tape of a mother singing about what she says to her kids accompanied by The William Tell Overture. Now, 2 days later, that song is still preoccupying my brain. I want silence and light so I can hear the Voice for God, not a joke about child rearing.

So this is my choice. My choice takes me off the map of society. I no longer understand the busy people, the gourmet or the meat-eater, the smoker, the tv watcher, the shopper, the career-ist, the drinker, the church-goer; well everything normal.

Quiet and Miracles

From the Course in Miracles Text 28.I:
\”The miracle comes quietly into the mind that stops an instant and is still. It reaches gently from that quiet time, and from the mind it healed in quiet then, to other minds to share its quietness. And they will join in doing nothing to prevent its radiant extension back into the Mind Which caused all minds to be. Born out of sharing, there can be no pause in time to cause the miracle delay in hastening to all unquiet minds, and bringing them an instant\’s stillness, when the memory of God returns to them. Their own remembering is quiet now, and what has come to take its place will not be wholly unremembered afterwards.\”

Nothing more need be said I suppose. I spend time with a quiet mind. I intend to be in quiet as much as possible for life. I believe that if I am just quiet in my thoughts then two things happen: a) I stop projecting ego nightmares of fear and hatred on the world, and b) the Holy Spirit has access to my mind to use it for healing all minds. I just need to let go. No, I don\’t think I\’ll get Alzheimer\’s disease because I didn\’t keep my brain active. No, I don\’t fear all the other tales of old age diminishment. I believe in God.

It is hard to describe how satisfying it is to sit with a quiet mind.

This morning, I worked out on the machines for 30 minutes and the ran 52 minutes on the hills. this evening, I skipped my evening exercise and sat in silence.

Holiness Revisited

From ACIM text 14.IX and X:
>The Presence of Holiness lives in everything that lives, for Holiness created life, and leaves not what it created holy as itself.

>In this world you can become a spotless mirror, in which the holiness of your Creator shines forth from you to all around you. You can reflect Heaven here. Yet no reflections of the images of other gods must dim the mirror that would hold God’s reflection in it. Earth can reflect Heaven or hell; God or the ego. You need but leave the mirror clean and clear of all the images of hidden darkness you have drawn upon it. God will shine upon it of Himself.

>God is no image, and His creations, as part of Him, hold Him in them in truth. They do not merely reflect truth, for they are truth.

>The reflections you accept into the mirror of your mind in time but bring eternity nearer or farther. But eternity itself is beyond all time. Reach out of time and touch it, with the help of its reflection in you. And you will turn from time to holiness, as surely as the reflection of holiness calls everyone to lay all guilt aside.

(note about the mirror: people familiar with the Bible, will recall St Paul’s mirror images; but note here that the point is to let God shine brightly, almost the opposite of what Paul was saying)

My morning ACIM study again touched the topic of holiness. My lesson today overlaps because it mentions truth: I will be still and listen to the truth.

I admit to Jesus what is really in my mind at the worldly level. I recognize my hatred of various people from my past and how disrespectful of my current boss I secretly am. Well, nothing stays secret. It leaks out in pointed comments; of which I am ashamed and feel guilty and consequently afraid. As I admit my true feelings, I once again return to the self hate. I once again feel the ego’s utter hatred of God. I bring these thoughts to the light of the Holy Spirit instead of keeping them in my secret darkness.

Jesus, in ACIM, teaches that the hatred is of the ego and doesn’t really exist as the ego doesn’t exist. I always get to choose what voice I want to listen to: the ego’s hateful spewing or the quiet Voice of the Presence of holiness within. It strikes me that the listening to The Voice and the turning to holiness is a life or death matter. I must choose The Voice, accept the holiness and only see holiness in others as well. This choice and practice means life.

If I cry out, “Oh God, why have you forsaken me?” it is my desperate cry because I feel powerless over the pus-filled and putrid ego which normally fills my consciousness. If I whisper, “Into your hands I commend my spirit,” it is my utmost and heart-felt surrender to Love; compunction at its finest. I need help and help is here. It still means that I must give up every ego thing in order to reflect the peace of heaven. This is the way to God consciousness; THE one thing I want.

So, I worked out on the machines for 2 hours and then ran for 90 minutes. I think my ankle will be fine for the marathon in 2 weeks and I am starting to look forward to the trip.

Holy-ness Resentment

What do I do in solitude? Listen to my thoughts, work out, eat, read and sleep. I practice having only light in my mind. I remember God.

This morning, I read the following in the ACIM (A Course in Miracles) text (14.VIII): “The Atonement does not make holy. You were created holy. It merely brings unholiness to holiness; or what you made to what you are. Bringing illusion to truth, or the ego to God, is the Holy Spirit’s only function…. Bringing the ego to God is but to bring error to truth, where it stands corrected because it is the opposite of what it meets…. The holy meeting place of the un-separated Father and His Son lies in the Holy Spirit and in you. All interference in the communication that God Himself wills with His Son is quite impossible here. Unbroken and uninterrupted love flows constantly between the Father and the Son, as both would have it be. And so it is….Let your mind wander not through darkened corridors, away from light’s center. You and your brother may choose to lead yourselves astray, but you can be brought together only by the Guide appointed for you.”

Some pieces fell into place for me today.

All the time I think about my journey through the monastery. I know I wouldn’t have been happy there, but I continue to ponder its meaning. Why God did we go there and do that? What does it mean for my spiritual learning now?

First let me share that within 3 minutes of driving away from the monastery, just over the first hill, I had my first post-monastic realization: my ego desperately wanted to gain the title OSB (Order of St Benedict) in order to feel validated. I had my life riding on that one achievement. I had nearly four years of life with the sisters, being taught that professed monks were holier and closer to Jesus than the non-vowed non-ordained ordinary lay person. The result of my 3 year participation in a religious formation program was to totally believe that after monastic profession, I would be holy.

I have continued to chew on the holiness idea in the 7 years since leaving the monastery. Being kicked out of the monastery, I felt they didn’t have the right to deprive me of my shot at holiness. As you can see from the above ACIM quotation, holiness is part of the learning objectives of The Course. Last night, lying on my bed, I asked myself, “Can holiness cover my nakedness (ie hide me from God)? Can holiness make me better or validate me?” Then I was finally able to say to Jesus, “I don’t accept the equal holiness put forth in ACIM because holiness in this world is an ego concept,”

Last night, I walked on the tread mill and rode the ex-bike. I was doing nothing and being nothing and living in timelessness.

During my morning meditation, thoughts about holiness continued to surface. We use holiness against each other. We use holiness as a status symbol. We use holiness to differentiate people. We teach that holiness can be gained behaviorally and by completing certain institutional processes. We use holiness as a discipline enforcer to keep people in line. We don’t teach holiness as an inherent quality in everyone. We don’t freely give it. Holiness was meant to be freedom, not prison. Holiness and love and human dignity are synonymous, and the opposite of ego.

God is. Holiness is. Holiness is eternal, unchanging, and independent of all human and egotistical thought.

Now, it is 8 am and I begin my walking on the tread mill. Walking and listening to NPR, I am again entered into the nothingness and egolessness of the reclusive athlete. Suddenly, another realization hits me. Since the moment I drove away from the monastery, the hallmark of my life has been ego renunciation. All the jobs I’ve had have taught me to let go of the ego. The shifting of my spirituality away from religion and denominational Christianity has caused me to renounce the ego world. If Jesus said one thing that matters most to me, it was, “…lose your life to keep it…” The life I lose is the ego life in the ego world. Everything in this world, religion and position in society, is ego fabricated and ego feeding.

But one by one, I’ve been laying aside my ego toys and ego joys. Each bit of littleness and grandiosity and ego satisfaction is renounced on a daily basis.

The purpose has been my desire for God consciousness. The one thing I really want is to know God. I do it mainly by laying aside the things the ego has placed between me and Him.

After an hour on the machines, I went to the park and jogged 13.5 miles. I jogged at my go-forever-without-injury pace of a little over 11 minute miles. It was somewhat rainy so the park was pretty empty. I had on my new rain jacket and put my stamp of approval on it: Eddie Bauer. I lost myself in the slow jogging. I was happy. I was free. I was holy.

Change Planning

I need a real thought. This is what I thought last night. This morning, I wrote the below featured blog. Now, it is several hours after I wrote the blog, but I\’ve been at work and in meetings.

As I sit down to read this blog before posting it, I wonder, \”What for?\” Or another thought is, \”Why bother?\” Now I am going to read it and maybe answer these questions at the end.

A funny thing happened yesterday. There was a 2 hour “discussion” in my office between me and two colleagues. I am a plant P&PS practitioner. One of the gentlemen is the Regional P&PS Subject Matter Expert. The other is the Vice President of QHSE. Well, the regional guy has a combative sort of personality and when he thinks he is right, there is no open-mindedness to him. Well, me and his boss, the VP, happen to agree on the issues at hand; and I happen to be respected as an equal in expertise in this topic (that is why they were in my office in the first place). However, the 2 hour “discussion” still took place.

When it was over, I wanted to be drained. I wanted to rail against how terrible the experience was. But, I couldn’t. You see, I am a student of A Course in Miracles. My choice has been to practice inner peace and seeing Christ in my brothers. Yesterday I found, to the dismay of my ego, that I had no enthusiasm or habitual desire to develop a huge angry case against my colleague. This peaceful state of affairs is a witness to the power of truth, if you will let it exist on the forefront of consciousness instead of ego.

This morning, I was up at 3:33. I spent an hour in spiritual study and holy listening. Then, I spent 80 minutes on my ex-bike and treadmill. Then I jogged for 20 minutes. My weight was at 126.8 lb. I sense a change in my fitness life: towards less long distance running and more varied fitness. I sense a quantum leap in fitness. At 51, I must be approaching a hidden corner: the change. I intend to approach and go through in quite unexpected ways as I have done everything else in life. I don’t do things the average way and I don’t plan on doing this the average way. Change is always to be embraced as the exact perfect thing needed for spiritual partnership and communication with God at that time.

From my ACIM study this morning:
“The search for truth is but the honest searching out of everything that interferes with truth. Truth is. It can neither be lost nor sought nor found. It is there, wherever you are, being within you. Yet it can be recognized or unrecognized, real or false to you. If you hide it, it becomes unreal to you because you hid it and surrounded it with fear. Under each cornerstone of fear on which you have erected your insane system of belief, the truth lies hidden. Yet you cannot know this, for by hiding truth in fear, you see no reason to believe that the more you look at fear the less you see it, and the clearer what it conceals becomes.” (14.VII)

From my ACIM lesson today:
Today we would remove all meaningless and self-made gifts …Then lay aside the conflicts of the world that offer other gifts and other goals made of illusions, witnessed to by them, and sought for only in a world of dreams….We clear a holy place within our minds before His altar, where His gifts of peace and joy are welcome

I needed to read these bits and pieces from ACIM. I need to remember that eschatologically, ontologically, existentially, metaphysically, I have made the choice to believe in God. God is love. Nothing else exists. I can live in the quiet holy place of peace or I can be in pain, demoralized, angry and afraid.

What is this blog for? Me. I\’m the one that needed it.