Bryce Canyon Ultra – the morning after

I am sitting in a very nice Best Western, getting ready to drive to the airport and go home. No 50k medal, but a great vacation experience.

Yesterday I completed 19 miles of a mountain trail 50k race. The trail wound up the mountain through pine trees and mountain meadows going from 7,000 to 9,000 feet. At one place I got to stand at the bottom of a beautiful Hoo Doo type cliff, and then stand at the 9,000 foot top looking over a vast horizon.

The trail was difficult in spots being steep in places. Not a problem going up, but my mind snapped shut at the thought of going down. I have no quads because there are no natural hills where I live; and anyway, my knees are not perfect.

I spent most of my time in pine trees looking at the trail in order not to trip. There wasn\’t much time to see and enjoy as I was trying to meet cut off times for the race. While the race management was allowing people to keep going as long as they wanted, they were closing aid stations; which meant no water if you got there too late.

At 19 miles, I was a little past cut off and heading into the severe down hill part of the course. It would have taken me more than 4 hours to get down the mountain, with tricky steep downhill parts. I couldn\’t imagine doing it. So when they said that the extraction vehicle was there, I jumped in it. I was going to get a \”did not finish\” (DNF) no matter what I did, so might as well skip the pain.

I have to admit that the trail in the mountain was either too long or too difficult for me. I see that I have limits. I can do alot but not everything. Or if I plan on doing everything, it might take awhile.

Trail runs are a weird animal. You must look down and watch the tripping hazards or you are going down. Even a second of inattention can bring you down. This concentration and focus is meditative in the sense that you can\’t think of too much else. If you want to look around, you have to stop or find a piece of trail with no hazards. My life is like this. Most of it has been spent concentrating on the trail in my immediate view, not looking around to enjoy anything.

I wonder if I can fix that when I enter retirement? Both inner and outer vistas need to be enjoyed and pondered. Stop trying to achieve, or ward off the competition, or finish projects at work as I people please bosses. My life so far: Survive a dysfunctional family. Go to college and get an engineering degree. Get a job and then get another job and then another job and so on. Who am I in all of that?

Getting sober was meaningful. Getting spirituality was meaningful. Running was meaningful. But these are things hidden from my co-workers. So, while I\’ve spent humongous amounts of time at work, most of it was acting. I wasn\’t really me.

In a weird way, I am DNF-ing my career because I am resigning at the age of 59; with money but not a retirement as far as the company is concerned. No gold watches. The golden hand cuffs are being ripped off, not released. But I don\’t think I will DNF my life. I think I must quit my career in order to finish my life successfully.

Success for me is more about thinking than achieving, even though I have spent a good deal of my life beating other people.

You know, you can run laps around a small park for hours and look inward toward greater things. This is prayer. You can sit in your house meditating. This is prayer. You can wonder why you were at a trail race and what happened to you during it. This is prayer. I look at my career and admit my feelings about what happened. This is prayer.

During my 3 day vacation, I felt alot of appreciation for seeing Utah and hiking some incredible rocks.

See you again soon.

Zion Reflection

It is a Friday. I am in Utah in order to run a 50k race tomorrow. The race is in Bryce Canyon, which is why I was inspired to come here. I saw the pictures and said, \”I must see that place.\”

Yesterday, I hiked around Bryce Canyon National Park. It was every bit as spectacular as I imagined. Incredible. No matter what happens with the race, I got to see that place.

Then there was the dilemma of what to do today. Lots of suggestions for beautiful things to see in this area. \”Everyone\” says to go to Zion. I don\’t want to go to Zion because I don\’t want to deal with crowds of people and shuttle buses. I want scenery, yes; but I also want quiet reflection walking. So I picked 2 other places to go to today.

Because I am not trying to organize a trip to Zion, which would have involved getting up early and beating everyone else to the parking places, I have time to reflect here in my hotel room.

I\’m missing Zion, the most spectacular, in order to be quiet. Hummm…

I have a book called \”Career Success Without a Real Job\” by Ernie Zelinski. I brought it with me. I read it a few months ago as I pondered my decision to retire from my real job. Now, decision made to retire and I know what I am going to work on next, I brought the book for review and inspiration.

The second page caught my eye. \”The purpose of this book is to inspire people loke you to reclaim their creativity, their freedom, and their lives.\” This sentence coming after a paragraph about engineers unsatisfied with corporate live and \”they suffer their jobs badly and with silent indignity.\” EXACTLY!

The book is also for those who: want to find their own important mission, true calling, or passionate pursuit; want to gain courage to leave the corporate world; want to live an extraordinary life.

Yes to that. I need courage to leave mother corporation. I feel the call to do something more of my own creation. I have the desire to soar. I want to escape the boredom and waste of my job because it is killing my spirit.

I order to do this, I have to continually pump energy into the project of retirement and plans for \”employment.\” Otherwise, I would succumb to the attitude of my current co-workers: just kick back and earn this great salary. Why pay for your own health insurance? Isn\’t it easier to have this salary than to try to do something on your own?

Years ago, more than 30, I was introduced to \”The Road Less Traveled\” by M. Scott Peck. I have mentally and spiritually been on that road. The energy of the words has never left me.

I must fly free. I have a budget which say yes I can. Somewhere I crossed a line which said, \”more money is not the most important thing to me.\” Now, I am breaking the rules of corporate culture and also facing humanity\’s rules of survival. I must fly free.