Aslinger Endurance Run

What is this story about? Getting to the finish line is difficult, but if you do, it feels good.

If I tell people that I ran 50 miles last weekend, they say they are amazed, but actually, they have no idea what running 50 miles could be like. It is inconceivable. That I am able to do it is inconceivable to me. 

So, part of my brain thinks that 50 miles is easy and that part of my brain signs up for a race thinking it will be fun. Then, another part of my brain kicks in and says, \”well the race is in so many weeks. We need to get on the training.\” And I do get on the training because I like running. And if I am lucky, I don\’t overdo the training and I don\’t hurt myself. Then, several days before the race, a sense of dread sets in. The logical part of my brain speaks up, \”Why have I signed up for this race. It will hurt and I might not finish.\” And the logical part of my brain tries to come up with some really good reason for not going to the race. Or maybe no reason, just don\’t go. \”You are 62 years old, what makes you think you can run 50 miles. Forget it. You could really hurt yourself and have to quit. Wouldn\’t it be nicer to stick around home and have a nice 10 mile run in the forest?\” Since most races involve an effort of travel and picking hotels, food for the journey, planning nutrition for during the race, and preventive measures like taping, and shoe choice, just getting to the start line is a major undertaking. So many hurdles beyond the training.

Just that many hurdles came up with the Aslinger Endurance run which took place last weekend. Throw in there a mid-week COVID shot, and I had an excuse. I would tell myself, and everyone else, that I didn\’t go because of the COVID shot. There. Face saved. No need to stress myself out with a long drive and a run all night. Don\’t worry about how your feet will feel, just don\’t go. So, there. Many mental hurdles to overcome.

 Hard things involve doing what some part of the brain doesn\’t want to do. A step-by-step process got underway. I needed to go to the store to buy food for the journey. I needed to haul my little wagon out of the basement and pile the necessary stuff in it. I also lollygagged and took it easy, resting my legs. I wrote in my journal, asking myself: Why are you doing this? Why would you want to do this?\” I remembered a race in 2019 where I did 50 miles and remembered how amazing I felt as I finished.

I also backstopped myself. I set off several foggers in the house so I knew I couldn\’t come back for at least a day. And off I went on my 5-hour drive.

I made it to the site.

I set up my personal aid station. The wagon is filled with extra clothes, drinks and snacks.

The course was a 1.15 mile loop. 50.6 miles was 44 laps. You get a belt buckle if you go 50 miles. About 80 people were entered into the race.

At the start of most races, they play the national anthem. The men take off their hats. People put their hands over their hearts. On this day, I put my hand over my heart. 2020\’s numerous disasters flashed momentarily through my head and I became a survivor. Tears welled up in my eyes. This 62-year-old lady is still kicking. I ran so many virtual races. Finally, I am at a race in person and plan to run 50 miles.

The race starts at 7 pm. Now, for a 24-hour race, the point is that you stay on course for 24 hours. But I already know that I can\’t force myself to stay on my feet that long. Part of this has to do with poor nutrition execution and a lack of crew and painful feet. I am bad at eating during running so I bonk around 34 miles. I look at those snacks I bought just for this race and don\’t want any of them. So, for a 24-hour race like this, I just plan on taking a long break in the middle of the night when I retreat to a hotel to eat and rest and make any necessary repairs (if I had a crew, they would solve my problems for me). Then I come back to the race and complete the miles needed for 50. I don\’t try to do as many miles as possible like the race would seem to demand because I already know the results of completely trashing my body. I don\’t prefer to need weeks or months to recover from one race. So I go to a limit of health and well-being. This attitude is somewhat anti-ethos for ultra-running, but hey, I\’m 62 years old and still out there so let me manage my body as works for me.

This particular race was projected to have clear weather, though a bit chilly in the night. We start off at 7 pm. I begin with my easy pace of 5 miles per hour. I figure that I will run like that for about 14 miles, then add in walk breaks and quit sometime after mid-night with more than 20 miles. Then the next day there would be plenty of time to finish off the rest of the 50 miles before the race ended. My feet started to hurt sooner than I thought they should. I began to think that I had made a mistake with my shoes. I fought with the idea of canceling Saturday night\’s hotel reservation, finishing 26 miles on Friday night, collecting a medal for a marathon, and going home on Saturday morning. See? I\’m trying to escape, to quit. But somehow, I never got the energy to pull out my phone and cancel Saturday\’s hotel. As 11:59 pm passed by, I realized that I was going to have to pay for the hotel anyway so I would for sure need to come back to the race on Saturday. Backstopped by a hotel reservation.

I left the race a little after midnight with 23 miles. That left 27 miles to finish on Saturday. No biggie. But not all was great with my body. The 23 miles had been more painful than I thought they should have been. In the night, I ran in two long sleeve shirts and a fleece, but I must have been more chilled than I realized. After I got into my hotel room, I ate and cleaned up. I decided to switch shoes for the next day. I planned to just go to the race and lazily walk around if I felt bad until at least check-in time for the next hotel (the next hotel was 90 minutes drive up the road. I knew I didn\’t want to drive all the way home after the race but just far enough to get near a city where the hotels were nicer). After I got in bed, I began shivering uncontrollably. My heart was racing like my metabolism was working hard on fixing my chemistry. What was happening? Well, nothing really. I drank more water. Read my book. Put in earplugs because the hotel was noisy even at 2 am. 

I got up at 7. I drank coffee. Ate a large peanut butter and butter sandwich. Packed up my stuff and went back to the race. The sun was out. I felt good. The shoes felt good. I set my Garmin for 3 minutes jog x 2 minutes walk. I really felt good. My feet weren\’t hurting at all. Even with a terrible night in the hotel, my body had healed itself. And so a very uneventful but glorious day unfolded. I actually was in a sort of zone. My feet never really hurt. I stayed enough ahead on nutrition that I didn\’t bonk. The miles passed easily. This is why I do these races, this zone feeling. Soon I was on the last lap. I rejoiced, \”Hey, look, I did it. I met my goal!\” All those tons of quitter thoughts had been refused. Here I was, finishing my race.

I packed up my stuff. I gave the race director a hug (my first mask-less hug in a year but who gives a shit about masks when they just ran 50 miles) and collected my belt buckle. The actual running time was 11 hours and 15 minutes (damn that\’s fast). Elapsed time was 21 hours. 

I look like a little kid. My dream came true. This little old lady is still out there. 

Book Review — "Beyond Order" by Jordan Peterson

 I am a Jordan Peterson fan. I often eat dinner and listen to his lectures. I read his first book, \”12 Rules for Life\” several years ago and was thoroughly engaged with it. Jordan Peterson claims to be a psychologist, but he is a very well educated man. Well educated in subjects beyond psychology, such as philosophy, religion, and even biology. He is a university professor and taught at Harvard for several years.

The book \”Beyond Order,\” a kind of sequel to the first 12 Rules book, was written during a very difficult time in Jordan Peterson\’s life. His daughter and wife had some severe health problems over a span of a few years; then Peterson himself had to go through a very difficult detoxification from benzodiazepines, an anti-anxiety drug. I think this journey through a dark valley is reflected in Beyond Order. While the cover of Peterson\’s first 12 Rules book is white, Beyond Order has a black cover. The darkness shows up in the writing. Beyond Order is much more complicated to read than Peterson\’s first 12 Rules book, and projects a much darker, or deep, human ethos. Peterson\’s favorite word in Beyond Order seems to be malevolent. I think that I only understood portions of Beyond Order because I have listened to many of Peterson\’s podcasts.

It was at rule eleven and page 353 that I received a great message. Rule eleven is \”Do not allow yourself to become resentful, deceitful, or arrogant.\”

     After seemingly endless discussions of how the world and other people are malevolent: \”The right attitude to the horror of existence–the alternative to resentment, deceit, and arrogance–is the assumption that there is enough of you, society, and the world to justify existence. That faith in yourself, your fellow man, and the structure of existence itself: the belief that there is enough of you to contend with existence and transform your life into the best it could be. Perhaps you could live in a manner whose nobility, grandeur, and intrinsic meaning would be of sufficient import that you could tolerate the negative elements of existence without becoming so bitter as to transform everything around you into something resembling hell.

    \”Of course, we are oppressed by the fundamental uncertainty of Being. Of course, nature does us in, in unjust and painful ways. Of course, our societies tend toward tyranny, and our individual psyches toward evil. But that does not mean that we cannot be good, that our societies cannot be just, and that the natural world cannot array itself in our favor. What if we constrain our malevolence a bit more, serve and transform our institutions more responsibly, and be less resentful? God only knows what the ultimate limit to that might be. How much better could things become if we all avoided the temptation to actively or passively warp the structure of existence; if we replaced anger with the vicissitudes of Being with gratitude and truth? And if we all did that, with diligent and continual purpose, would we not have the best chance of keeping at bay those elements of self, state, and nature that manifest themselves so destructively and cruelly, and that motivate our turning against the world?\”

It occurred to me that I don\’t see such great malevolence in the world as Peterson. I see greater well-being. Especially, I see Being as benign. Nature is not out to get me, and neither are most people. I can take Peterson\’s advice and live in such a way as to make the world a better place. I do not at all have the temptation to warp the structure of reality by doing evil. I have a conscious and continuous practice of gratitude. I have tools to deal with my resentment and anger. And, all I need to do is continue to live in the energy of well-being. Manifesting well-being is the purpose I carry out and my contribution to the world. These realizations about myself reflect many years of emotional work on myself, so it is awesome to feel as wonderful about myself as I do. 



Credit for image:

   In the past few weeks, in daily encounters with people trying to make conversation, people have asked me in a casual way, like asking about the weather, “Did you get your COVID vaccine?” Actually, I am still waiting. I am far down the priority list. I’m Only 62. I’m not fat nor do I have any other chronic lifestyle disease. I don’t work in a special job. When I reply with, “I’m not eligible,” people often offer suggestions about how I could beat the system. Beating the system often involves lying or cheating in some way. I can’t do that. This brings me to the topic of ethos. My thesis: the methods by which people obtain a vaccine show their ethos. White privileged Americans are showing their ethos. The predominant ethos is deservability and unqualified right.

            What is ethos? Your ethos is your character. In a rhetorical argument, good character is important. You can believe and trust someone with good character. Ethos is how you show up in the world. What is your ethos?

            There are some basic privileges which the currently vaccinated have, although they may not recognize them. They are things like internet access, transportation, and time. These privileges do makeup one’s ethos, even if one doesn’t think about them. If one didn’t have these privileges, one wouldn’t yet have received a vaccine. Another way to get vaccine privilege is to work adjacent to a privileged category, like to have an accounting job in a hospital or the business end of a nursing home. This person is not exposed in their job, but the hospital will finagle an extra dose for these employees. Some people have bribed their way into the vaccine line. Money buys many privileges, vaccines are just one of them. Some people are just lucky. They were standing in the pharmacy at the end of the day and happened to snag an extra dose. Maybe in today’s moral environment, there is nothing immoral about any of this. But somehow, other than old people, I know many younger people who got a vaccine through some back door method like this.

            Another way to get a vaccine is to have a lifestyle disease like obesity or diabetes. Yes, I say it now. These people are at higher morbidity risk from COVID. But their problems are of their own making. Why should they get special privileges? From a public health point of view, yes, special categories of people should get vaccines as soon as possible. But it is a situation tinged with special privileges, maybe earned through years of physical neglect. Victimhood is another description of “specialness.”

            Where you live is a vaccine privilege. It is not just the country, but where in the country. Notice that in the US, within any state or county, vaccine privileges vary. I live in a Democratic city in a state with a Trumpist Republican governor. Despite the state being short of doses in general, the Republican governor sent more vaccines to the Republican countryside first. Presumably, that is where his voting base resides.

            If you don’t have vaccine privilege, what do you have? Vaccine poverty. Many people who were poor to begin with don’t have the rest of the means to obtain a vaccine. Many people don’t have specialness, or luck, or some other back door. So they are vaccine-poor.

            The liars are the ones that really bother me. I have been offered several methods for lying in order to get a vaccine. People I thought were pretty good people are telling me to lie to cut in line. I can’t do this. My ethos is not that. The other people who bother me are those who flaunt their vaccine cheating without at all realizing that they are flaunting an ethos of cheating.

            My ethos has something to do with personal integrity. Only a humble or sincerely honest ethos can defend against claiming unqualified rights and privileges. I am politely waiting in the vaccine line until it is my lawful turn.

Psychic Epidemics

 I am just sharing something I read and thought interesting. I have to question myself: what psychic epidemics am I participating in? How is my mind infected?

Carl Jung wrote of the dangers of what he called psychic epidemics, collective outbursts of mass psychosis that can take hold of entire societies and sweep them along to disaster. Having witnessed both World Wars, he warned that these were not unique events:  “the gigantic catastrophes that threaten us today,” he wrote, “are not elemental happenings of a physical or biological order, but psychic events.  To a quite terrifying degree we are threatened by psychic epidemics.” 

What should you do?

This is a good time to walk away from activities that bring you too close to the collective mind.

Second, put more time into your spiritual life. That’s a risky thing to suggest just now because certain modes of popular spirituality function very efficiently just now as conduits for the psychic epidemic building around us

Third, spend time outdoors in nature as often as possible.

COVID Vaccine Thinking.

 Are you a young person who has not yet been vaccinated against covid? Do you wonder if the vaccine is good for you and your biome?

Go to minute 32 of this video and listen to the vaccine discussion:

Make your decision. 

Now, the whole video is fascinating regarding human activity on the plant. If you have the time, listen.

Honesty and Integrity, Anti-corruption

 Here is an article in The Atlantic that interviews Adam Kinzinger. Adam is one of the Republicans who stood up to Trump. And he makes a point that the other Republicans are afraid of losing their jobs, so they don\’t stand up to Trump. I totally agree. As a person who had to quit a job over ethical matters, and whose career in process safety meant dealing with ethical matters on a daily basis, I say to those frightened Republicans, put on your big boy pants. Stop lying. Also, Trump is busily TURNING more legislators, somehow blackmailing or bribing them to obey him. We need to stop this. 

Check out a new movement. I joined it.

Democrat or Republican, bring back integrity to legislators. And don\’t vote for any Trump syncophants. 

A golden Trump image = Disgusting!


Adam kinzinger is a liberated individual—liberated from his party leadership, liberated from the fear of being beaten in a primary, liberated to speak his mind. The 43-year-old representative was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“I don’t have a constitutional duty to defend against a guy that is a jerk and maybe says some things I don’t like,” Kinzinger told me, explaining what had pushed him to finally break with the president. “I do when he’s getting ready to destroy democracy—and we saw that culminate on January 6th.”

This was the sort of language a number of Republicans used in the immediate aftermath of the riot. “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on January 13. But by the end of the month, McCarthy was traveling hat in hand to Mar-a-Lago to meet with Trump.

“I was really pissed—I wasn’t surprised, but I was really upset,” Kinzinger said. “And to have seen it in just such a short amount of time go from ‘Donald Trump bears blame’ to ‘I’m going to go down and kiss the ring’ because you want to win your speakership. I mean, really? It’s that important? For what?”

In Kinzinger’s view, McCarthy’s Florida trip was an act of betrayal by a man who was supposed to put the interests of his own caucus—and of the country—first. “Starting about eight months ago, I noticed that he was never interested in defending [House Republicans] … He would throw us under the bus and defend Donald Trump,” he said. “And that was just more of what this is. And then [Minority Whip] Steve Scalise goes down” to Mar-a-Lago, two weeks later. One by one, most of the leaders of his party knuckled under—but not Kinzinger.

“I just refuse to bow.”

Kinzinger is a man on a mission; he sees politics not merely as a way to gain power but as an arena that tests character. In 2008, he watched John McCain run for president. “He said, ‘I would rather lose an election than lose a war.’ I admired that.” Inspired, Kinzinger ran for Congress in 2010, and won.

Like McCain, Kinzinger served in the military before entering national politics. He joined the United States Air Force in 2003 and flew missions in, among other places, Afghanistan and Iraq. He’s still a pilot, now a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard. Military service “made me a much better person in terms of being able to relate to people,” he told me.

“I think any time you fight for something bigger than you, that is life-changing. I think any time you are willing to put your life on the line for something, that’s life-changing.” That belief, he continued, is “the thing that has always driven me, ever since I’ve gotten into politics.” He’s attracted to the idea of voluntary national service, because like military service, it takes people from different life backgrounds and life experiences and creates bonds, mutual understanding, and greater unity.

Kinzinger’s political stance—his willingness to criticize the most popular and feared figure in his party, when the overwhelming majority of his colleagues have either gone silent or defended the ex-president’s indefensible actions—can’t be understood apart from his military service.

“Because we ask [service members] to die for the country, we have to be willing to do the same thing. But”—here he turned incredulous—“we’re too scared to vote for impeachment, because we’re going to lose our job? Like, seriously?”

For most of Kinzinger’s colleagues, the answer is: Yes, seriously. When I asked Kinzinger how many Republican votes there would have been in favor of impeachment if it had been a secret ballot, he told me 150. Instead, there were only 10.