Distance On My Mind

I am in the middle of a special period of time; the Sri Chinmoy Ten and Six Day Races. There are these marvelous people, some very fast, some slow and old, who are spending 6 or 10 days completing a 1 mile loop around a park in Flushing Meadows, New York. There is also a daily blog which gives pictures as well as spiritual insights of the runners. It always inspires me to want to do more miles.

At the same time, at least for 48 hours this weekend, there is a similar race here in Texas; the Jackalope Jam. A one mile out-and-back on a treeless Texas cattle ranch. And it is already hot here in the Houston area. I know one of the people in this race. This race is posting live results. So I have been checking in on my friend. I know her physical struggles and I know she only walks. I know it was hot yesterday. But she did get 56 miles in her first 24 hours. I am impressed. As of the moment I write this blog, she is up to 71 miles, with 20 more hours available in the race. I wish I had the patience to walk back and forth on a dirt road for 71 miles.

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I wish I was like that. By myself, I took 2 long runs this weekend. Yesterday I got myself 21 miles and today I got 20 miles. In the heat, my speed slips to nearly 4 miles per hour since I walk so much. I\’m impressed I stayed out there and did it. It is a sweat fest for every run until November.

Most of my runs today were spent jogging back and forth in a small forest near me. I need the shade. I was saying my Course in Miracles lesson. I kept diverting my brain from wanting to argue about some work issues. But finally, I remembered this line from the lesson, \”…and I choose the world I want to have…\” Immediately, this caused my brain to shut down and instead I felt as if I was beaming positive light into the world. Like I was choosing joy and sending it out. I need to remember that. I have a challenging week ahead.

The People Side of Retirement

I am reading a book about the joy of retirement. It says that one reason people fail at early retirement is that their buddies are at work and they miss them when they retire. On the other hand, it says that one reason people retire early is that the people at work are an irritation. These are seemingly contradictory reasons. Two camps of people.

I am in the camp that would be glad to be rid of the people at work. Not because they are bad people; they are a very nice group of people. But because I am never my real self when I am around them. For instance, the depth of spirituality I experience in the fellowship is incredible. But the fact that I am a recovered alcoholic at all must be hidden from the people at work.

For instance, my boss is a very competitive man. So if I allow my natural creativity and quick thinking to come out, he squelches it. He has to win against me. Work coaches say that I should sell my ideas in some undercover way so my boss accepts it. So, guess what that means? It means I can\’t just freely be myself. Politics and corporate hierarchy cause people to not be themselves.

The whole spiritual side of my life is hidden from the people at work. Is that necessary? Well it is until I can figure out if someone there has any sort of practice close to mine. So far I have noticed one person who belongs to an alternative church and we are inching towards more disclosure. Perhaps if there is someone else, they are hiding as much as I am.

There is my problem of being gender non-conforming. As far as I can tell, all the people are normal heterosexuals with statistically normal families. Suburban families all the way. Divorces here and there as you might expect.

There is the problem of being an ultra-marathoner. You know, I don\’t run for training or for running races. I run for quasi spiritual reasons. I can\’t discuss with someone who never exercises at all exactly what is going on with my workout regime.

For my whole career, I\’ve not related well to the people at work. For most of my career, I worked with white males. I had no interest in golf or fishing or hunting or football. So these were nice guys but not my buddies.

So for me, yes I am tired of not being myself most of the time. My handicap is that I don\’t really know what it is like to be me around other people. The true inner me wants to be alive. Where should I go? Is it possible in a corporation?

Enlivening Activities

This morning I ran 11 miles at an 11 min/mile pace. That might not sound like very much to many people. To me, it felt great. It was a hot Texas morning and I sweated like crazy. It felt great.

Earlier, while I was doing my morning spiritual study, I thought about my life and the dilemma of retirement. Recently, my employer offered a small incentive to people who retired within a certain time frame. I was eligible. The deal caused me to really look at my desire to retire as well as my finances. I decided that it was just a little too soon for me to retire. But I also decided to do something about my life. That is to do something about intellectual stimulation in general but more specifically my declining intellectual stimulation at work, and the sapping of energy which goes along with it.

Some people retire because they want to do something meaningful with their lives. At some point the factors of money, age and desire for enlivening come together and the decision is made to leave. I am near enough to that tipping point that I need to prepare consciously and seriously.

So this morning, I made a list of enlivening things in my life. It turns out that running, fitness and racing are enlivening. That is why I do it. It is enlivening to be on the starting line of a race with a number pinned to your front. Just being there ready to finish the race. It doesn\’t matter how fast, just that you are. \”Beingness\” at its finest.

I thought about a 70 year old lady I met at a race once. She plans to do 7 ultra marathons this year. She got one done already. She walks them in races which have a generous time limit. I want to be able to walk 70 miles when I\’m 70.

Last week, I did my first ultra marathon in a couple of years. There were 16 ladies in the 50 something age group who also did the ultra marathon. That is quite outstanding.

Enlivening just to think about.

I\’ve signed up for a 50 mile event in October, including cashing in my frequent flyer miles to get there. Enlivening.

My morning spiritual study is very enlivening. Sometimes AA meetings are enlivening.

But work is usually not enlivening. I need to drop the rocks and let it be.

See you on the trails:

It Takes an Ultra

Yesterday was the first 50k race I\’ve done for awhile. The reward was 11 hours of sleep. I haven\’t slept that long in ages.

For once in Texas, the day began rather cool at 55F; though it would get into the 80s by noon. So I decided that even though this was an \”ultra\”, I\’d get lots of miles done before the heat set in. I decided to run the first loop and then do walk jog on the second loop. I knew I\’d be dying in the heat and the sooner I got done the better.

So, I ran the first half in 2:58, and completed the whole race in 6:35. The time includes 3 bathroom breaks and 3 slow pit stops in the final 10 miles to get ice and take an icy sponge bath.

This was my 78th endurance race of 26.2 miles or more. I know there is more to running races than shiny medals or the goal of 100 marathons. I wish I had some words of wisdom.