I Guess I Love Marathons

Keep it simple. This is the autobiography of a runner.

Do I not look fantastic for a 56 year old female?

I bought this picture so it is great to post it.

How do I know I love marathons? I am currently entered in 8 of them. Three are in 2016! Why 2016? Well, the Texas marathon on 1/1 sells out, so I entered already. The other 2 were early bird specials. I am entered in one more race which is only 25k; but on a trail which will take me a long time to finish. I entered it because it is close to home and in a park I\’d like to see.

I own airplane tickets to go to marathons. Yesterday, more shoes were purchased. Plus my favorite fuel: lemon lime Accelerade.

During January and February, I had to recover from a NYE ultra-marathon which damaged my knee after 45 miles, and a couple of marathons only 1 week apart. Then I swung into a pattern of 2 weeks between races. This works good for me. But also, it means I can support twice daily workouts of an hour or so. This works for daily health maintenance and longevity.

I don\’t run for a reason. I\’m not in it for cancer, veterans, homeless, als, peace, what ever. I run for me.

Beyond the racing is my essence of endless endurance. I love to strap on my hydro-pak and just slowly do miles for hours. I love the self sufficiency of it.

Otherwise, I am experiencing a spiritual dark night and a sobriety renaissance. I am loving the writings of Bill Wilson and his emphasis on humility, right living, true ambition. I love my twice daily silent prayer and spiritual studies. An outcome is my ego has less to expound on in spiritual matters. The dark night only seems dark because the ego is losing. When the ego loses, perception of spiritual highs goes away. So the ego thinks it is having a dark night. But overall, inner peace grows. This is why no one wants inner peace; it doesn\’t have an ego reward.

I am living through this.

Marathon #44 – Seabrook Lucky Trails

This story is as much about my life at the moment as about my 44th marathon. Topics include: parking, bread, oh and running marathons. This is what is on my mind at the moment.

The most memorable part of this marathon for me was a mental problem. The course is in my back yard. I run on Seabrook trails every weekend so know them intimately. The course is 4 laps for a marathon. It takes me more than 5 hours to do a marathon so I know I\’d be into the heat of a Gulf Coast day. I ran a half marathon race on Saturday so I was starting Sunday\’s marathon already a little tired.

The mental problem: for laps 2 and 3, my brain kept trying to find some acceptable way to cheat and get done sooner. Where could I short cut without being caught? I knew all the places. I know I could never live with myself if I cheated but that didn\’t stop part of my brain from whining about it. But I just kept jogging past each opportunity. Finally as I headed in to lap 4, I knew I\’d make it. Marathons can be long ass ordeals sometimes. I finished in 5:31 which was good for 1st place in my age group. It felt good to know I got thru my mental struggle. Marathons are a mental struggle. I have run 44 of them, 4 so far this year. After the race, I was at my car in a mostly empty parking lot. A man I don\’t know walked over and asked how many marathons I had run. I told him that was my 44th. He said it was his 150th. Hoopla! He had to tell someone. I was the only one there.

Parking. Well, I won the parking spot by the gate for this month. This parking spot is symbolic of a loving universe which I access through cooperation and connection with the spirit of the universe. If you were a Course in Miracles student, you might say it is a good dream. Every time I think of the Prius parked in that spot, I feel love. Things have been going well at work. One person asked me to be their mentor. I am relied on for work product and helping others.  Success pulls at me. Is it pulling me into the world? Here is the view from the driver\’s seat.

Bread. Somehow, 2 weeks ago, the idea that I wanted to separate myself from commercial bread purchases came into my mind. It somehow became time. This is one more way I am separating myself from society. I am a person who buys flour and yeast, not bread. I took out a middle man between me and real food. My world is one more step different than society. So I did some research and asked around and bought a machine. It arrived on Friday so Saturday afternoon, I got my courage together and made my first loaf. It came out fine!

I hope I am not slowly losing my spirituality in the mix of successful career and world. When emotions decrease in inner peace, including the highs of spiritual inspiration, you wonder if you are still spiritual. It requires more silence and inward focus to know what is going on. There is nothing for the ego to grasp.


Count down to marathon #44.

Next Saturday and Sunday is the big event for this area. No not Spring Break. No not the Houston Rodeo. But Seabrook Race Weekend. Races both days on the Seabrook trails; and the best swag evah.

I\’m going in a half marathon on Saturday and  full marathon on Sunday. A full marathon is 4 laps. I\’ll pass by this place 4 times before my hands go up in the air:

I didn\’t exactly taper this weekend. Yesterday I ran 14.1 miles plus 30 min of strength work. Today I ran 9.1 miles in the rain and then did 70 minutes of elliptical/ bike/ nordic track/ versa climber and rowing.

I feel great.

I also did some shopping. Somewhere during this week, I decided I wanted to make my own bread. So I consulted with a friend and today ordered a machine. It is not so much that I want to knead dough, but that I want to know what ingredients are in the bread and be separated from the bread industry.

I also bought a new hydro-pak. I love hydro-paks; but lately I\’ve also realized I don\’t like leaving wallets and phones in the car during races. And I like drinking protein laced sports drink; which I don\’t put in a bladder but a bottle in a front pocket. So a different type of pockets from my Nathan seemed in order. My old Nathan will still see plenty of usage on training weekends,

I am totally jazzed. Marathons: fuck yeah!

The Search for Happiness

I have been reading Paul Brunton\’s book Advanced Contemplation. I came on this chapter about happiness. Happiness is the American Dream. We think happiness is an inalienable right. And this situation has driven us crazy as well as made us sick and robbed us of integrity.

To preface this chapter on happiness, Brunton says, \” Outwardly we live and have to live in the very midst of cruel struggle and grievous conflict, for we share the planet\’s karma; but inwardly we can live by striking contrast in an intense stillness, a consecrated peace, a sublime security.\”

And in the first few lines he says, \”When people seek excessive entertainment and amusement what are they doing but confessing that few of them enjoy real happiness for long without some complimentary source of unhappiness.\”

And so for myself, things I\’ve been thinking about lately.

I am a person who has solved most of life\’s annoyances either because of a good salary or because I abstain from many social activities and norms. In fact the things that bug me are extremely small. What I know is my daily spiritual activities are my life\’s blood. This is where inner peace is born. The one thing I can do with my life is generate inner peace.

Inner peace is a situation which does not come from this world. It can be brought into the world, to the extent the practitioner is adept and matured.

Alcoholics Anonymous gives us the satisfactions of right living found in step 12 of The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. \”Still more wonderful is the feeling that we do not have to be specially distinguished among our fellows in order to be useful and profoundly happy. Not many of us can be leaders of prominence, nor do we wish to be. Service gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God\’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world we are partners in a common effort, the well-understood fact that in God\’s sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given surely brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in self-constructed prisons, the surety that we need no longer be square pegs in round holes but can fit and belong in God\’s scheme of things–these are the permanent and legitimate satisfactions of right living for which no amount of pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions, could possibly be substitutes. True ambition is not what we thought it was. True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.\”  [underlines mine]

And so I venture out onto the trails of Seabrook.

Marathon #43 – The Woodlands

Wow! I really had a great race and a good time.

(I waited to post this report until I could get pictures, and I am buying these proof. I still loved this race)
Reflecting on marathon #43. Despite 7x1s, I averaged better than 12 min/mile. What is the limiting factor? I think it is my desire to keep my knee as healthy as possible. Its problems are due to age, and cannot be healed (hence the tape). But if I treat it right, it doesn\’t hurt, glitch or strain acl. I think trying to run a marathon faster would cause problems; as the fast Baytown half marathon showed at 12.5 miles. But I have a good time and enjoy the people and the swag. I like seeing what I see along the course in terms of various struggles and victories and team support. Like my relationship with Beer man, or the talk with Mathew about Las Cruces. Or watching Team Keith support Keith. Or stupid teen ager at aid station who wouldn\’t come out from under umbrella to hand me a cup, even though it was barely sprinkling; and teen age guy not under umbrella who teased her. The lady at the hotel desk who was also racing. Mini-retreat from the world as I lay in the hotel room with a book and reflecting on my life. Hanging one more medal on the wall and feeling the desire to go in another race as soon as possible. Eventually getting photos and putting them in my running diary. What is not to like about all this?

When I was a kid, women didn\’t exercise and certainly didn\’t run marathons. Now, I have run 43, and only 2 of these were pre-monastery (the big event in my life). Now, I go to races and there are women all over the place and of all ages. Many older than me are completing marathons. We do it together! We laugh at the pain and b!tch about parking or portas or that damn hill. It is all good. Ya gotta love it.

I love all my exercise. I love the elliptical and much as the jogging. I\’ve barely broken the surface of what I need to do strength wise. I think that without the daily calorie burn, I really would gain weight and end up like my unhealthy sedentary peers.

Marathons have many dimensions. I am seeing all of them. So, therefore, the purpose of my life is marathons.period.

Fastest since 2011 Vancouver!

Short form: Garmin was 5:15 (doesn\’t count pit stops), chip was 5:26.

Here is the long story of #43:

Somehow I have been inflicted with marathon fever. Since winter is racing season in Texas, katy bar the door. This is my 4th race this year. I\’m feeling very Texan.

I didn\’t sign up for this race until 2/11, which means it was a tiny bit expensive. Since I cashed in hotel points however, that part was free. So, click submit.

I worked last Saturday night, so I had some comp time coming to me, and I needed it because this race is all the way across Houston and always has terrible traffic. The packet pick up was on Friday also and I knew I didn\’t have the patience to drive to the Woodlands twice. My drive on Friday was very uneventful. I got to packet pickup without too much trouble. I turned in 3 pairs of shoes to a charity. The packet was minimal. The expo was expensive so I didn\’t buy anything. Then I went to Panera to get dinner. Despite it being in a mall with a huge parking lot, the darn thing was very full. So I had to park a long ways away just to go to Panera. At Panera I got a salad to go and some bagels and a cookie. Then braved the traffic for 8 miles to my hotel. Candelwood Suites (Holiday Inn) turned out to be exceptionally nice. I settled in, ate my supper and read my books.

I set 2 alarms for 3:35. I whipped out of bed the iphone scared me so bad. Made coffee and headed out at 5 am. That is 2 hours before race time but I wanted a parking spot in the lot near the finish. I dislike walking another mile to get to the car after the race. I scored a great spot right next to a bush. This meant I didn\’t have to wait in porta line and could stay in the warm car longer. It was 36F (about 2C) which is cold for Texas. A bit breezy. I had on two throw away jackets.

At 6:30, I started walking to my corral. The announcer started saying corrals were closing. The half marathoners were headed one way and the marathoners another, with fences along the road; it was quite exciting. I got to my corral and started looking around for my friend Parvaneh, the one who does the races in San Antonio. Finally saw her and said hi. She was all worried about finishing this race and then driving to Dallas for the Cowtown marathon, hoping it wouldn\’t be cancelled. Her backup plan was to go to Killeen, TX. I met Mathew and Andy and Tracie. Parvaneh is excited that I have planed to make my 50th marathon at her race in July. Actually, I haven\’t been in a marathon with 6,500 people since last year. I thought The Woodlands had done a decent organizational job. Tracie agreed with me. Our only complaint was it was in The Woodlands! Yes there are may people who go around Texas trying to do 2 marathons every weekend. I told Parvaneh I couldn\’t come to her race on 3/21 since it was my weekend off. She said, \”there is such a thing?\”

The girl singing the national anthem did a fantastic job on that one difficult high note; everyone applauded. And then we are off. I suppose the Kenyans and Ethiopians were up there somewhere but I think they hide in the VIP tent until just before the race.

I had my Garmin set for 7×1; but feeling good, I ran thru the first 2 miles in 22:22. Oops! Slow down Spirit. Ok, I started doing the walk breaks. The course is very nice. Lots of trees; hence why they call it The Woodlands. Lots of wealth too. The Woodlands is where the petro-chemical executives live and work. Personally, I live and work where the plants are. At 4 miles, I come to the first bank of porta potties; except 7 of 8 of them are laying on the ground. Welcome to the rich part of town. Only one person was waiting so I decided to wait.

Feeling good, both throw away jackets gone. I cross the 10k mat and wait for the text. Finally I hear a ding. Good, the chip is working. I think of Dee and hope she is updating Habs. I think I felt so good because Habs had a good feeling about this race. But also, I have been getting better lately. At least twice during the race, I realized that my mind was very blank. That is, no resentments, no worries, no mantras; just blank. I think that was due to more effort going into running and less into thinking. PTL for mental quiet.

At 8 miles, there is another bank of porta potties, all of them upright. I decide to take my time here since there is no waiting. I come out and start yanking on my compression shorts as I always do. Looking up, I notice they have positioned 2 photographers right there. I shout, No, don\’t take my picture. Then I composed myself for photos. At 13 miles was another bank of hardly used portas. I decide that I would take an optional break since I don\’t know what will happen at the next bank. I did skip the ones at 20 miles. I took another optional break at 23 miles since these were not used at all and I figured that they would be cleaner than the ones at the finish line and I could get to my car quicker.

Have you heard enough about portas yet?

It rained from miles 8 to 10. I was concerned about being too cold. But it stopped and I got warm again. Somewhere in the rain, a big dude was passing me. I looked over and said, hey I know you! It was beer man from Galveston marathon. He is pretty cute and doing much better in the cold weather. He said he had been stalking me for awhile and knew it was me. I Galveston, I had chided him for getting chicked by a little old lady. Now, he chided me for leaving him in Galveston. But I did it again today. I saw him again later on a little out and back; where we high fived.

Ok, the race is really going well. I\’m feeling good. I got to 25 miles at exactly 5:00 on my Garmin. All the aid stations had plenty of cups! Lots and lots of cops directing traffic; and lots of traffic for that matter. I continued to feel really good; but a marathon is a marathon and I was hoping for the end.

I was running good at the end and skipped that last 2 walk breaks. They announced my name as I crossed. I was happy so I posed smiling in front of the sheets with my medal. Got a finishers shirt and headed directly to the car. I had lunch in a cooler on the front seat. Very uneventful drive home.

Really happy. I had my knee taped perfectly so no trouble there. The shoes were comfy and almost new.

Marathon #44 is in 2 weeks.

Thats all for now.
Spirit out!