DNF – Post Lude

Yesterday, I quit a marathon. I thought because my toe hurt and I was too hot. I didn\’t feel like suffering.

Today, indeed, the toe had a massive blister. I went for a 4 mile jog/walk. Indeed, my legs are tired and a little bit of DOMs; tape on the toe and a pair of shoes with the toe cut out and I think nothing is really that bad.

I ponder that strange synapse in my brain which triggers flight and I am powerless over it. I watch other people over come pain, much more than my own. But once my flight reflex / synapse trips, I\’m gone. Doesn\’t matter what you say to me. I can\’t solve any of my problems. I just go.

This has happened in several ultra-marathons. It happened yesterday in a marathon; probably because I had no real need to finish that race. Then the morning after: why didn\’t I think of doing X or Y or Z which would have helped the problem and I could finish?

Time after time, I approach the barrier and fall back. My brain says that the pain is illogical and suddenly, I am gone. Maybe my ultra-running attempts are about exploring this mental situation. That synapse is primal. It is triggered in my brain long before any serious harm.

Well, I had signed up for another double marathon at the end of May. I haven\’t cancelled my hotel. I\’m sure I\’m going to try the experiment again.

Marathon #46 plus a DNF

I am about to say something to the ether, that is anyone who reads this.

I am about to get tangled up in pseudo-spirituality and contradictory God consciousness.

Lets say I\’ve been directing my meditation and spiritual reading towards the inner. Towards service to The Universe and not myself. My life is not my own. There is a higher consciousness from which I receive intuition and guidance. I feel that today\’s DNF was service and not self serving.

Now how do I tell you a story and not sound egotistical. I can\’t.

Here\’s what I think. Several weeks ago, I went in the Irving marathon. I felt sure my friend cheated. Now I don\’t know exactly what happened but they did add about 2 hours to her time. She is the Race Director for the races I was at this weekend. She has always been super nice to me and was great yesterday when I finished marathon #46. I didn\’t judge her for Irving. I just wanted to do my marathons and she was having races for me to do.

Today, I was attempting to do another marathon; second in 2 days. I started at 5:30 am to get alot done before the San Antonio sun started to beat on me. Things went ok for about 4 laps, half way there. Lap 5 was hot. Lap 6 I was struggling with the heat and a toe nail. To finish lap 6 would give me almost 20 miles. But there was still 2 laps, about 6.66 miles to go. I would have had to walk those miles in the hot sun. I would have had to limp a bit because of the toe. I didn\’t want to do it. I could have. I didn\’t see the point.

During the 6th lap, I realized I could stop. I couldn\’t imagine walking for 2 hours in the direct sun. I could just stop. Pack it in for the day. Do marathon #47 some other day.

When I got back to the aid station, I told them I was quitting. It was too hot for me. The RD tried to convince me to keep going. But I just said I didn\’t want to kill myself over a race. I jumped in the car and drove the 4 hours back to Houston.

What did I do? I showed someone that it is possible to just quit. The egotistical part is thinking that I was serving The Universe, or carrying out God\’s will for me by showing this person that you can quit. It is ok to have a DNF instead of cheating and saying you finished.

This woman wants to break the Guiness record for number of marathons done. In the chase, she has stress fractures. In the chase, something fishy happened at Irving. I suspect if I go look at the race results from yesterday, it will show that she ran a marathon when I know she didn\’t.

What about marathon #46? I guess at this point, I say it went well but was fairly uneventful.

The race director insists on Iran colors and symbolism. Her heritage is Iranian, but she has been in the US for 40 years. So I bought myself a USA running top from USATF before going to this race. Here is a picture of me in my 1980 top with my medal. I hope I look as good as Shalane Flannigan.

I will also say that since I only went 20 miles today instead of 26, I\’m feeling pretty good. I\’ll take it.

That Time of Year

Interesting time of year. On Sunday, the Sri Chinmoy 6 and 10 day races got started. That means daily installments of the Perfection Journey blog. People are running around a park in NYC for 6 or 10 days. But also, Monday was the Boston Marathon. Totally different idea. Thousands of runners and streets lined with spectators, drama and specialness galore.

The 6 and 10 day races make me wish for miles and wish I could do a race like that. I can\’t. So what can I do? I am going to wander out of town and do two marathons in two days; in a small race, on a bike path, where I can pretty much lose myself in heat and sweat and miles.

Another retreat in the making. I wonder where my head will go this time.

Vegetarian

I am not a vegan. Occasionally I eat cheese and once in awhile an egg.

This week\’s news about bird flu in chickens in Iowa does cause me once again to evaluate my egg and or cheese choices.

I heard on NPR that in the US, billions of chickens are produced each year. The 5 million killed in Iowa is a drop in the bucket. Think about those numbers.

What happens at the farm with the diseased birds? The USDA moves in. Birds are sprayed with some type of poisonous foam. Then a hole is dug on the farm and they are buried there. Wonder how big a hole is needed for 5 million chickens?

So really, am I proud of supporting this industry by buying an egg now and then?

A Morning of Inspiration

When I went to bed last night, I was pondering how I haven\’t had a feeling of spiritual energy in a while. That is, I used to get all excited about some new conviction but as I let go of my ego involvement, I feel conviction less and less. I purposefully restrict ego reward activities and instead sit in silence. So the high points go away. I edge toward Truth which must be a non-ego event.

This morning, I couldn\’t focus on my watch and thought it was late so I leaped out of bed. Getting down stairs I realized it was an hour earlier than I thought. So I had plenty of time for spiritual study and meditation.

\”Begrudgingly\” was the word that came out of my first meditations. What I was feeling was sort of like this: new people come begrudgingly into AA and begrudgingly try to work the steps. What is received, even from a begrudging effort, is so fantastic. A whole new body, mind and spirit comes through this way of life; totally different from the drunks we come in as.

This brought me to my long term sobriety and how did it come about. The words that meditation brought into my mind were \”Spiritual Sobriety.\” See, I have been a seeker after God for decades; but a majority of that time, at least until recently, was chasing after \”Enlightenment.\” Today for the first time I realized that enlightenment, and my efforts to force God to give it, is spiritual drunken-ness. Not spiritual sobriety.

But recently, my efforts at life have been directed toward what the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions calls \”the satisfactions of right living\” and \”true humility.\” I\’ve been actively attempting to stop living my life by self propulsion and running the show myself. I feel much more spiritually sober.

I was pondering the situation which happens with meditation; how we can keep our thoughts quiet only for very brief periods of time. Then two thoughts from the Big Book came into my mind. First the one about how some of us grasp AA as a drowning person grasps a life preserver. Second about the Sunlight of the Spirit. I thought of my life as a drowning person who occasionally has the strength to kick their head above water and grab a lungful of wonderful life giving air; and then sinking back down into the underwater struggle. Above the water is the Sunlight of the Spirit. The water is our resentments and ordinary ego world.

My spiritual life is like this. When I quiet my thoughts for even a few seconds, it is like sticking my head into the sunlight of the spirit. My begrudging part is that I don\’t sit in silence for hours a day. I spend about an hour in the morning and 10 minutes at night. Not much. But for even this paltry effort, I receive so much.

Of Bunny Rabbits and Fiddler Crabs

All is well with the wild life in Seabrook.

Yesterday, I did a 16,5 mile jog walk around all the trails in Seabrook. I noticed many bunny rabbits. I hadn\’t seen them in previous weeks, so maybe they wait until after Easter to come out.

Yesterday it was supposed to rain. It did not. It was warm and cloudy and about 70F with a breeze. I had enough drink to do 4 hours or more, so I did it. I love the new trails with their trees. I liked saying hi to the regular runners. All the dogs owners were mindful to keep their dogs to themselves. I really enjoyed that run. It hardly feels like I ran the Irving marathon a week ago.

Today it was raining, but hey, this is Texas so it was warm. I got wet but not terribly so. I stayed in Meador park where there were puddles on the trails but it wasn\’t muddy. I saw more bunny rabbits but also the snails in the bayou have been replaced with millions of fiddler crabs. I once again had to watch my step to keep from crushing one or two. And the ducks and other sea birds.

The rain and clouds kept the temps down for about 8 miles. Then the sun started to peek out. Temps soared and I was in a sauna for about an hour. My first sweat fest of the year. Bring it on!

In two weeks I\’m doing a double marathon in San Antonio. That is, two marathons in two days. It has been more than 2 years since I did such a thing. That is why I have been doing high mileage both days of the weekend.

These races in San Antonio are very small, maybe 20 people, but they qualify for Marathon Maniacs, they do provide aid and timing. It is very relaxing to me. I crave the idea of just doing miles and then retreating to a hotel room until the next day.

A Day of Good

Are not these nuns dressed in ridiculous fashion? They think this habit adds to spirituality. the habit is a sign of renunciation of the world? The men are dressed as Benedictine monks have dressed for centuries. I think the women should not cover their heads. That is Pauline Christianity; not what Jesus said and did.

I was happy yesterday. I felt happy.

My day started at 4 in the morning by doing something for work. It was for a guy in Germany so I did it. Then I could see that the colleague who annoys me had sent an e-mail. I knew that I would be annoyed when I opened that e-mail so I left it for later. I got on my elliptical and prayed for myself, that I could help my colleague and not accept my ego anger. I needed spiritual help.

Truly, I forgot my resentment. Truly, when I got to work (at 6:30 am), I also had e-mails from Chinese colleague who also annoys. I treated the requests very well. I was not annoyed. I attribute this to honest spiritual work. I know I have no right to be annoyed by anyone.

On the way to work, I noticed that NPR was having their pledge drive. I was 100% certain I wanted to give this time. I did remember to do it when I got home from work.

One colleague is going to Germany next week. She was on her own and a bit frightened. I told her about calling credit card companies, contacting the company cell phone person to get international service turned on, to get the proper hotel bill, about getting cash in the airport, about the ICE train, about the taxi in Leverkusen, about the shopping around the hotel. No one had told her.

I did have a friendly talk with a colleague. She was happy for that.

I did do some of the more boring and tedious parts of my work. I felt good about that.

I got groceries after work. The Kroger hires mentally challenged adults to bag groceries. One time several months ago, I had been in the store in a bad mood and was rude to the guy who bagged my groceries. I felt bad about it later. He had bagged my groceries perfectly but I had been rude. Yesterday was the first time I had seen him since I was rude. I remembered to be very nice and tell him he did a good job. This guy always asks if he did ok; so I was happy and told him so.

In between all this goodness, my ego had time to bad mouth someone and act immature and complain. Occasionally, I get a day of ego peace. But mostly, my ego spews out negative thoughts about everyone. Only by conscious continuous effort do I have inner peace. I need to know I am worth it and keep up the activity.

I look forward to about 2 weekends with no races. I look forward to the nice trails of Seabrook and hours spent in slow walk/jog. It is the sweaty time of year. From now until October, only humid and warm weather. I think I like it though. Some part of my mind wants to be out in it.

Just run marathons. It is good for you.

Marathon #45 and spiritual practice

When I went to The Woodlands marathon about a month ago, I took along a spiritual book. As I sat in my hotel room for an evening reading that book, I felt like I had a mini-retreat. I decided to do that again with the Irving marathon.

I arrived in Dallas on Friday about 2 pm. Packet pickup was near downtown so there was traffic even given it was Good Friday. Packet pickup was at Luke\’s Locker. I have never been in such a huge running store. Amazing, all the bright colors. Unfortunately, every thing cool was $150. So I used my $10 coupon to get some insoles and a seat cover.

Another traffic jam getting to my hotel next to the Irving Convention Center 12 miles away.

Very nice room at the Holiday Inn Express, an easy 2 min walk to the starting line.

I settled down with my spiritual book \”Humility Matters\” by Mary Margaret Funk. There is a history between Sr Meg and me which I won\’t go into now. But because of the history, I respect her spirituality and teachings. Regarding humility, I was reading about how to de-rail thought trains. Her technique, which is not unique to her, she terms \”un-thinking\”.

So I was thinking about the various times my ego gets all fluffed up over some behavior of some person out there. My ego begins yammering and pointing fingers and having an amazingly loud go of it in my head. I hate this but I often fall prey to it. I was reading Sr Meg\’s procedure. Now get this: the procedure is fresh in my head. Also is some silent meditative practice as I watch the sun go down on the Irving Convention Center.

I slept good and was awake early. I shuffled around the hotel room getting my race gear in order and packing and another period of quiet time with Sr Meg. Then I waited in the lobby since it was windy and chilly outside. Also, figured the hotel restroom was the best place to snag a last minute pit stop.

Then I walked with others over to the start. There was lots of traffic for other people trying to get parked. I was happy my car was at the hotel.

While waiting in the starting area, I said hi to a guy from Ottawa, Canada who noticed my blue BMO gloves and wondered if I was Canadian. I confessed to having got them at Vancouver, but that I was the only American in a Canadian running club. I also praised NCM as the best organized marathon I\’ve been to.

Off we go. The course starts off on city streets, goes onto a bike path with two out and backs, some city streets on the second out and back, then returns to the convention center. The marathon starts a few minutes before the half marathon. The bike path was very scenic, lined with upscale Dallas suburbs.

They had some exercise equipment along the bike path. One was a rowing machine peacefully placed under a tree. This reminded me of a guy I know who rows alot.

I\’m chatting here and there with people I\’m running with. I spent much time with a young woman running her first marathon, Lindsey. The half marathoners quickly caught up with us and it was impossible for me to maintain a slow pace. Consequently my first 10k was done at 9 min/mile pace. Since it was out and back, I kept looking for people I knew, one lady in particular. This lady was claiming this as her 800th marathon and there was a press release about it. I see her in many races as well as go to the races she directs. So I was looking to say hi.

Didn\’t see her on the first out and back. Hummm, strange. Heading into the second out and back, I crossed the half way mat at 2:21. Wow, too fast. But I was feeling good. My Garmin was set for 7x1s. So even with the frequent walk breaks, I was running fast. During this stretch, I was worried why I didn\’t see any faster runners coming back. But the mat and mile markers assured me I wasn\’t off course.

Finally, speed demons coming with a lead police motorcycle. Yay!! Good job!!

When I was at about 13.5 miles, I finally saw my friend walking towards me at what would have been mile 21+ for her. I said hi and got a hi five. But my mind immediately started doing math. How fast is she? She normally does marathons in 5 to 6 hours. Then, the 3:30 pace bunny passed me. My brain said, \”No freaking way.\” She can\’t be ahead of that bunny.

Stop pause. Remember I mentioned Meg Funk and humility and un-thinking? Here is where my spiritual work begins. So what if my friend is cheating her way into the Guinness Book of World Records. I can\’t afford to have my ego start yelling at me and having a conversation about others behaviors. Any spiritual seeker knows this. So I have to practice unthinking. I need to run my race for me now. My life is my business and my business at the moment is managing my thoughts.

I pray. I offer the budding resentment to my Higher Power, Spirit. I ask for help with my thinking. I occurs to me that this incident is not by accident. I must have asked for practice while I was studying Meg\’s book on Humility.  Then, some miles go by where I\’m not thinking about my friend at all. Then, my ego fires up again. Then I redirect my thinking again. Then my mind is quiet again. Repeat for 2.5 hours in the sun while running a marathon. I say hi to some others I know. There are many Marathon Maniacs so I am saying \”Go maniac\” alot.

Towards the last few miles, I am feeling good. It is warm but not too bad. I have enough liquids. My legs are achieving tired but not injured. I decide to run it in. I catch up with Lindsey at about half a mile to go and she decides to hang with me. From that point, we can see the convention center and it is a light down hill around a curve. Great view. We run fast, side by side, to the finish. I clock in at 5:06.

Incredible, my fastest marathon in several years.

I\’m 5th of 5 in my age group. And this too requires thought management. I\’ve won aG awards in 4 of 5 races this year. Have a good day and finish last.

I walk back to the hotel. Change in the lobby restroom. Jump in the car and high tail it to Houston. For once, I45 is a breeze.

Last night, in my quiet home, I think more about my friend. I have looked at her race results including the several places where she is missing splits. I may be right, but my thoughts are my problem. I think about A Course in Miracles. I realize I have projected this. I have asked Spirit for a lesson and Spirit has provided. I remember the ACIM lesson that says, \”Give me your blessing Holy Son of God.\” And I mentally fell at the feet of my friend. The only way to deal with this problem is to realize that I am looking with the body\’s eyes, not Christ Vision. But remembering the lesson, I am granted knowledge. I know I can see it differently. I know I can look beyond. I know I can see the Real World by seeing my friend through Christ lenses. I do it.

I also thought about the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I thought about the prayer from it I use, \”I pray for ____. I pray for her health, her prosperity and her happiness. I pray that everything I want for myself be given to her.\” And then I realize I got nothing. I just gave it away. I ask my Higher Power how I may be of service. My life is service. In this case, a spiritual service.

Funny thing is, this lesson is not over. At the end of this month, I\’m going to two races put on by this lady. They are small races so I will of course say hi and be gracious. It is not up to me to make her feel guilty. It is up to me to accept the Universe\’s lesson on humility and thank her for my salvation. I have to go to work for the next 10 years with people who similarly behave in ways I judge as wrong. For them, I cannot afford the resentments. I need inner peace. Well an objective lesson with one person can be practiced and improved with all these other people.

That is my Easter Story.

Today, I am making my beans and bread. Laundry is done. Car washed. I might need a nap.

Irving Marathon course video

Good Friday

Good thing Jesus died on a Friday so I could have a 3 day weekend.

I\’m on a mini-retreat, having driven to Dallas for a marathon. I\’ve been thinking alot about my monastery days, reading religious blogs and reading a book by a religious sister.

I am not a monk; just a householder, almost nothing in most people\’s eyes.

But clearly, I have an interest in spiritual matters. It strikes me this year that I have no idea what Christianity really is. Yes, I know the creeds and I\’ve read the Bible, taught catechism myself. But it all seems meaningless to me. Once I decided that religion was man made and not a creation of God. That decision means I don\’t get why people practice religious services.

But clearly, I have an interest in spiritual matters. I keep looking the web pages of my former monastery and wonder. In my inner most being there is nothing.

In this world, you have to either join a movement and throw your heart and reality into it, allowing it to be your world; or let go of everything and face the blankness within. This blankness is your truth as a human.