Texas Triple

Well, the short form is: I did it!

Before I even went to Texas, I had asked the race director if I did two marathons and a half marathon, would that still count for a triple? Yes it would. My primary reason for this is that it is an 8 hour drive home from Dallas, and I didn\’t know if I would have to work the next day. So the original plan was always to run 2.5 marathons.

Day 1 went ok. It was really hot late in the race so I walked more than usual. I made a mistake with my knee so my ACL tightened up alot after I stopped running. A slight cause for concern.

Day 2 went better. I figured out what to do about the knee. It seemed a bit cooler. I got done a little bit faster. My left toe was seeping blood out from under the blister pads. I knew there was a blister but I didn\’t know how bad and I left it wrapped up since it doesn\’t hurt too much. I had another blister on the bottom of my foot. This was because the sock from the first day stuck to the show insole, and since I only had one sock on, my foot took a beating. I fixed this problem for day two, but still, that blister occasionally screamed at me.

Early morning day 3. I\’m sitting in my hotel room, dressed for the race and packed. Should I go? I felt like I could do a half marathon, and I came all the way to Texas to run a triple. So, lets do it!

I get to the race and look up the race director to tell here I am only doing a half. But as as soon as she saw me, before I said anything, she blurts out that if I run a full marathon, I\’ll win the women\’s triple division and be awarded a really cool trophy. It was a really cool trophy. The race director really wanted me to have it. But my mind was already made up about only running a half. I didn\’t think I had another full in me.

So that is how it went down. Since I only had a half to do, I ran almost all of it at 11:30 pace. I\’m really pleased that I went to the race and did day number 3. Excellent. I got done while it was a cool 78F. Then a stop at Starbucks before heading home.

I am happy to be me and happy to be a marathoner. I watched many Southwest airplanes land and take off since the race was right nest to Love Field. I decided I prefer to be running than couped up in an airplane. I\’m 60 years old and I can run multi-day marathons about as good as I could 5 years ago when I first started doing it.

Hummm…. now I need to think about what is next!

A Miracle

This trip to Dallas must be in alignment with my inner being. My usual mental hurdles are just not there. Like, making it to Dallas at.all given the 8 hour drive after a 6.5 hour shift which began at 4:30 am. Why did I NOT just get lazy as I usually do and blow it off?

Then, after yesterday\’s marathon, my right ACL tightened up a lot. It was difficult to walk and I was sure that getting up in the morning, I\’d be hobbling. But it was only mildly noticeable. So I went to the race anyway. Today\’s marathon seemed easier than yesterday\’s. Maybe due to cloud cover, but it was still hot/humid, and two guys went down with heat related illness. I don\’t know, but I got my second marathon in 2 days done.

However, after finishing, I looked down at my left foot. I could see a little pink color on the sock. This concerned me that blood was seeping out of the toe wrapping. But when I took the sock off, I couldn\’t see any bleeding. So, I don\’t know where the blood came from. The blister on the bottom of my foot did get a little worse, but not that bad. My left knee is not sore at all!

Within 2 hours of finishing this marathon, I knew I wanted to go do my half marathon tomorrow to make it  a Texas triple. I want to do it. That\’s weird. Usually, I\’d be finding an excuse not to go do a half marathon. But I feel myself wanting to.

During the race today, I found myself very conscious of the thoughts in my head and remembering that I get to choose the thoughts I am thinking and then ask myself what thoughts I wanted to think. What thoughts feel good? What thoughts would help me finish this marathon? This marathon. Not tomorrow\’s or some other thing that happened in the past or future. I stopped telling myself the various stories about my history which usually occupy my mind.

I saw a baby turtle.

Watched a hundred Southwest Airlines planes land and take off (the race is right next to Love Field).

Drink your fluids.

So, I need my body to heal up enough to tolerate a half marathon tomorrow morning. and, I need to not flinch or beg off. Not make excuses for my sorry self. I am ready to move forward.

What am I like as a person? I run marathons for no particular reason. I don\’t step on bugs.

Finally a marathon

It has been months since I did a long race, with so many failures. I signed up but did not start 3 races, usually due to cold or freezing rain.

Getting to the start of this race caused me some worry. Yesterday, I worked a 4:30 am to 11 shift at Starbucks, then jumped in the car and drove 8 hours to Dallas. I was worried about drowsiness in the car. But I was only drowsy for a brief few minutes during a rain storm just before getting to Wichita.
The drive went well. After getting to my hotel room, I fell into bed and was promptly asleep.

I woke up before my alarm this morning and easily got to the race site by 5:15. The race started at 6. The first couple of hours were pretty nice as far as not being that hot and there was a stiff breeze. I ran the first 11 miles at 11:30 pace and then switched to a 3×2 pattern ( 3 minutes jog, 2 minutes walk). The last 6 miles were undertaken in hot conditions. My feet had begun to hurt and a blister was on the ball of one foot. I walked much of the last 2 miles as it was so hot. But, I finished the whole thing in 5:49. I was glad to break 6 hours considering I walked alot.

I forgot how much marathons hurt.

Tomorrow, I plan to try another marathon. I\’ll have to go slow. One of my knees hurts.

But still, I feel very good about being here and doing marathons. There isn\’t a logical \”why\” explanation for running any marathon let alone two in two days. But I am jazzed about it and have prepared for tomorrow.

Here is a short video taken right after finishing.

It was also exciting to be in Texas. I almost felt like a Texan coming home. Weird!

What its like now.

I have been a spiritual seeker for many years. I have studied the works of many spiritual adepts. I mean, over 30 years worth of study.

I have gone once before through a period where I wasn\’t teachable. I couldn\’t go to church because every pastor seemed un-meaningful to me. I wasn\’t inspired. What they were saying was fake, not a deep enough truth. All I could grasp for years was A Course in Miracles and the works of Paul Brunton.

I ran many many miles. Why was doing 22 marathons a year so important?

Then, I started working on my own spiritual writing project. It was conceived as an app for addicts. I continue to slowly type what I have already written. My own writing inspires me. I don\’t know where this work will end up, but it continues.

Along the way in the past three years, I met the works of Abraham Hicks. This information helped me to improve my connection with my inner being. This information helped me get out of my corporate job and into a semi-retired life.

In semi-retirement, Starbucks has somehow captured me. I can\’t explain what is almost addictive about working at Starbucks. I look forward each week to another set of shifts, yet each shift is difficult to get through. Working at Starbucks is not easy. We rush almost continuously. Driving home, I feel good. I have a load of endorphins from six hours on my feet.

Along side my app for addicts, I got the brilliant idea to write a novel. Because I am writing a novel, I need to learn how to be a writer. Because I need to learn how to be  writer, I have been reading books on that topic. This morning, I was reading such a memoir from an author which was dull. So dull a tedious, I couldn\’t do more than skim it. I wasn\’t at all gripped by the story of her life.

I teetered on the edge of giving up my own writing. What would make my novel gripping so others enjoy reading it?

I\’m not at the place which Abraham Hicks describes as \”alignment\” or \”in the vortex.\” Further, I can\’t seem to get there from here.

So I stopped to meditate. I prayed for an intuitive thought, inspiration or decision. I took stock of my life now. I love running and being in the forested parks available to me here where I live. I love my sober life and AA fellowship. I am captivated by Starbucks. I have two writing projects for which self motivation is needed. I still want to know my higher self more and more.

And so I decided. Pull yourself together and go on from here. I\’m again in the place of \”unteachable.\” Which means total trust in whatever intuitive thoughts I receive. I will walk forward each day. I want to succeed at being a writer, no matter how long that takes. I want to be sober for life and go to the Big Meeting sober. (This thought brings me to tears it is so meaningful to me). And, I will continue to seek and listen to my Higher Self. That pursuit will never end.

And so?

I am no longer trying to find something out there, from some other spiritual author. I am finding it within.

Get the clothes out of the dryer. Go to the grocery store. Got to an AA meeting. Go running. Meditate again.

Why FIRE? – An Engineer’s Existential Angst

FIRE, financial independence retire early, is a thing nowadays. Technical professionals saving money and then quitting their corporate jobs in order to be free in life. Many of these people seek a more creative or energizing way to spend their time.
My proposal is that many smart people become engineers and believe in a creative and exciting and lucrative career. But they find, once they have worked for a few years in a famous corporation, that their job becomes somewhat boring, possibly meaningless. Some engineers, find that their engineering is actually inflicting moral harm on their existence. Many engineers feel, consciously or unconsciously, an existential angst created by their disillusionment over actual engineering careers versus the idealism generate by their professors in school.
An example would be that your brilliant coding is actually for the purpose of addicting and harming other human beings, and you secretly know it is wrong. But the money is good so you decide to take the money, save it and get out as soon as possible. Another example would be a chemical engineer in a manufacturing plant. After a few years, you realize you are replacing the same pump and are bored with it, or your job is focused on clicking meaningless buttons for tracking systems.
In my own case, I spent most of my career in environmental and safety engineering. The last ten years in process safety engineering. I was proud and it felt good to tell others I was a process safety engineer and my job was to keep the nasty stuff in the pipes and not in the city. Secretly, I knew that corporations were far more likely to implement a safety solution if it was also a production improvement. And that some of the safety suggestions were implemented with human interventions, training and procedures, instead of hardware changes, if fixing the problem did not have a return on capital.
Engineers become bored in a manufacturing environment because the physical surroundings change very little day to day. They do their job making sure that production goes on, but then find activities outside of work to gain meaning to their existence. Frequently, the meaning of life is associated with family, and a tension develops between the boring lucrative job and time away from the family supported by the job. The irritation changes the person who can’t stand the irritation. Either they go dead in order to tolerate the irritation, or plan a way out. The FIRE people are finding a way out.
Are FIRE professionals just selfish assholes who game a system and get out? Or are they the really sensitive types who want to find a better way? A little of both, with the over whelming drive to find something more for their lives.

More On Inner Freedom

I continue to be astonished by the incredible prose of Viktor Frankl in his book \”Man\’s Search for Meaning\”. It is his reflections on life in a Nazi concentration camp during world war II.

Here are some more excerpts on inner freedom, or spiritual freedom.

This one from Page 62 is a comment after Frankl describes those men who comforted others and made sacrifices for them in the concentration camps. He is pointing out that a man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in the most terrible conditions.: \”…they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms–to choose one\’s own attitude in any given set of circumstances…\”

Think about that the next time you want to cheat on something, or live at a lower level of human dignity than you are capable, especially if you are a pampered American.

No one can take your spiritual freedom from you. But you can give it up, and many people do.

Frankl also points out that while some men rose in integrity in the concentration camps, others, most, gave up their humanity and became animals. \”…man\’s inner strength may raise him above his outward fate…\” (page 64).

Then he makes the point about outward great versus inward great. If you are living whatever life you have with courage and dignity, then your life is worth while. \”…a few were given the chance to attain human greatness even through their apparent worldly circumstances…One could make a victory of [bad] circumstances, turning life into an inner triumph, or one could ignore the challenge and simply vegetate…\” (page 68).

\”We have stated that that which was ultimately responsible for the state of the prisoner\’s inner self was not so much the enumerated psychological causes as it was the result of a free decision\” (page 65). This reminds me of a few critical decision points in my own life. To get drunk or get sober. To kill yourself or figure out how to get mentally well. To give up or try again.

A meaningful life is only a meaningful life if it means something to me. The goal is not money or status, it is how well did I live today according to my insides. On the inside, did I have spiritual freedom, human dignity, access to inner strength. What choice did I make? Did I wallow in self pity, and lay about as a vegetable or did I take up my cross and do the best I could?

Well, this blog is not so well organized. I am too excited at Frankl\’s writing.

Suffering

From Viktor Frankl\’s book \”Man\’s Search for Meaning\” page 42:

\”The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of trick learned while mastering the art of living. Yet it is possible to practice the art of living even in a concentration camp, although suffering is omnipresent. To draw an analogy: a man\’s suffering is similar to the behavior of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the \”size\” of human suffering is absolutely relative.\”

I find this explanation completely astonishing. Like, wow! It is only recently that I began to find joyful thoughts before I went out in the world. And it was this morning that I decided I could feel my life full of love, even there is no husband/lover to focus on. I could still just tap into an existential love; hence I no longer needed to be pissed off because I don\’t have a lover. Then, this evening, I read this little bit from Dr. Frankl and feel completely filled with the rightness of my current approach to life.

But, I still eat my broccoli.

FIRE Update

Here is my success video:

(watch it on YouTube to get a bigger picture)

I am very happy with myself today because I had a break through in the writing world. I\’ve been a little stuck since the publishing workshop last weekend with a literary agent. I almost quit because I didn\’t really have the plot for my novel nailed down. So, why would anyone else want to read it? I had almost decided that I would just proceed with my app writing project because it pleases me and has no goals.

I didn\’t have much goal for any of my writing when I retired, just maybe a few thousand dollars a year. But working at Starbucks is definitely the easier path of least resistance if my only goal is a few thousand dollars. But if the plan is also to produce something creative, then writing should stay on the table. And writing feels like something I am called to do, like my life needs to get a story onto paper in order for my life to be complete.

So unexpectedly, I had a writing victory this morning. I was sitting at my table looking at someone else\’s book when I spied a piece of paper which I had printed, a mini-part of my novel plan. I thought it was about one topic, but when I read it, it was about the plot for my novel. And I was surprised.
This one page, written a few days ago, very clearly described what the book was about and what was to be gripping for readers. After reading it, I realized how easy it would be to tie each scene to one of the gripping subplots. Easy peasy. Just get to work. I did. I wrote two scenes directly onto the computer.

So life goes on. I am very stable. Some mornings I work at Starbucks. Other mornings I work on writing. Frequently, I do both. In the afternoon, I am most often found in a park, running.

Such a great life. I am living for free. My assets are the same as when I quit my job.