It is not a beginning time nor an ending time. It is the times in between. It is the time of the mid-day devil. Fears are not below consciousness. One wonders what one has gotten themselves into. The real deal happens in about 5 weeks. I signed up for a 50 mile race.
Yesterday I jog/walked 20 miles. At the end, I was able to question myself. Are you sure you want to keep going for another 30 miles? Yesterday, I might have said no. At the same time, It was not possible for me to make myself contact with the race and transfer to a shorter one. Some part of me wants to do this thing, 50 miles.
A 31 mile race is hard, but I know I can do it. A 50 mile race is hard and I don’t know if I can do it, except I do know. I know that I can walk it out when my feet get tired. Patience is the thing that is lacking. Why do ultramarathons at all? I want to have the mental experience that occurs in the final miles, and the amazing feeling that occurs at the end, a snapshot of triumph.
I’d rather train for and run 50 miles than have cancer. And we do have a choice.
I’m reading a book called “12 Hour Walk,” by Colin O’Brady. He is an adventurer, climbing Everest, dragging a sled across Antarctica, rowing through the Drake passage off South America. I’m not anywhere near his league. He defines the American Dream as, “…tied in with purchasing an agreeable house in suburbia, working all day, and being content with about fourteen day excursions.” I wouldn’t say that I was content with that life. It seemed more to me like a quiet hell. And that’s why I got out the instant I thought I could afford it. Realistically, one does need money. I focused on financial self-sufficiency in my life, not adventure.
Actually, really big adventurers never even entered my mind. I was focused on getting a good job. Now that I am older, what can I realistically do? A 50 mile race fits that idea.
So exciting because of all the stress leading up to this event. What idiot signs up for a 31 mile race on Labor Day weekend? We all know it is hot on Labor Day weekend. So I spent the summer running in the heat. I covered 290 miles in July and 370 miles in August. In both months, I averaged 5 weight sessions per week, of 25 minutes each. Going into this race, I was in great shape with no injuries.
Ten days out from the race, the last day to drop down in distance, the race day weather looked incredible: temps between 61F and 81F, clouds, and maybe some rain. But each morning thereafter, the temps got hotter and hotter. The humidity would be high. Finally, two days before the race, temps were predicted in the 90s, I freaked. It takes me 7.5 hours to complete 31 miles, and I was afraid I’d have to walk for two or three hours to finish the race if it got too hot. I freaked and turned inward to my higher power. I said, “Inner Being, I can’t do this.”
And then I sat quietly and waited for my Inner being to answer. Soon, a lady I knew from a 12 Step program popped into my mind. She is deceased and I haven’t seen her for decades. I don’t think about her often. I remember her as a wise woman who dispensed wisdom in 12-step meetings. It was quite a surprise to have her visit my meditation. She dispensed wisdom to me. She said, “I can’t, He can, I think I’ll let Him.”
I took this to mean, “Let go, Let God.” I did. I released my fear and came to believe that my Inner Being could do what I cannot. And so, the night before the race, I prepped my drinks and drop bags. I taped my toes and laid out my clothes. I went to bed early and woke up at 1:30 in the morning. The alarm wasn’t until 3:30, so I read a book. I was eager to go to the race. After I got up, I drank some coffee and ate a little. Then jumped in the car and drove an hour to the race.
All went well. I arrived in plenty of time and the race started at 6:30. It wasn’t really that cool for the morning low. I decided to jog as long as I could, to get in as many miles as I could, before the heat caught up to me, and I’d have to add in walk breaks. It turns out that I jogged up to about mile 18. I felt really good about these miles. At that point, however, it was getting hot so I added walk breaks to manage my heat stress.
I drank about one liter of Super Fuel (by Skratch) every 6 miles. Because of this, I got plenty of calories and felt really good the whole race. I also drank two packets of Pedialyte and took four Endurolyte salt tablets. I ate one gel and three Skratch bars. I had to stop at the porta-potties at every aid station every 6 miles, which means I was properly hydrated. But I took a lot of time in each aid station too. I am incredibly happy with my moving time of 7 hours and 5 minutes. I loved the ribbon and belt buckle we got as finisher awards.
The next day, I was tired but nothing injured. I want to complete a 50 mile race in two months. I now believe that I am capable of completing 50 miles, however slowly. For this 50k, I don’t think I entered the pain cave like I did last April when I did a 50k on the same course. I did many more training miles leading up to this race.
The next day. I found myself also asking myself why I do these ultramarathons. I don’t think it is about accomplishment, because that feeling is so fleeting. I don’t think it is about ego, because no ego can maintain the momentum needed to train for and finish such a race. I think it has to do with my spiritual nature. These experiences have a spiritual component that I appreciate. My life is a spiritual experience. My life doesn’t have a purpose. My life is just existing and aligning with The Greater Consciousness.
This post is a story, a fable of the Universe. This story is an analogy, a display of my metaphysical reality. In a story of two dogs, I found my own behavior and how it should change if I want to receive good things from the Universe. I got this story from a YouTube video. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p14efOyweM)
Two stray dogs were lost out in the Colorado wilderness. One dog was a little bit older. One dog was a big puppy. Two nice people, a couple, were camping in the area. The couple saw the dogs and stopped their car. The puppy comes over, just like puppies do, licking and wanting a pat. The puppy slurps down a piece of salami. The older dog is afraid, too afraid to come near and get a piece of salami. The older dog gets too frightened and runs off into the bushes. The puppy jumps in the car and gets driven off to a wonderful new home. (Yes, start crying at this point at how lucky that puppy is).
My point? When the Universe answers your prayer with an unexpected handout, act like the puppy and not the older dog. Get in the car. Sure, life has beaten me up a bit, but it is not too late for me to receive a miracle. I need to put aside my fear or arrogance and accept the gifts. The gifts come, but it is up to me to try to act like the puppy. I should just jump in the car and get driven off into the wonderful new situation available to me. Be humble. Receive the surprise. Allow the miracle. You never know when some other person will stop and offer to help. Take it.
That is what I said to myself as I finished my run today. It was sunny, but not humid. 15.4 miles. I carried a pack with a liter and a half. I jogged through a forest. I felt awesome. (YouTube video linked under the picture.)
My 50k (31 mile) race is in two weeks. So far this month I’ve covered over 250 miles, 4 long runs, weights almost every day. I love living the life of a professional athlete. Yes, since quitting my part time job I’ve gone full on athlete. I love it. This is truly doing what I want when I want: training for long races. I just drank a green smoothie. That helps alot too.
I am dreaming. I found out about a running tour of Mont Blanc, in the French Alps. It is definitely on my bucket list, 2023.
Sunday two weeks ago, I was listening to an Abraham Hicks CD. Abraham said, “quit picking fights with yourself.” Somehow at that moment, my energy shifted. I had a moment of clarity regarding a fight I was having with myself. I know what I want to do with my life and I was suddenly able to do it. I immediately quit my part-time cashier job and focused all my energy on training for ultra marathons. The S&P 500 went up. My life expanded.
For the past two weeks, I’ve achieved 90 miles per week in jogging and walking plus an average of 20 minutes a day of strength training. Even some cross-training on exercise machines has been accomplished. No wonder I spent part of the afternoon laying on the bed, digesting food and reading books.
Every morning, for two hours, I study philosophy. I’ve recently been heavily interested in Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Plato plus Descartes plus NASA have given me an equation for the operation of the universe and the meaning of life. Yeah, I won’t bore you with the details of universal microwaves and folded dodecahedrons.
I always wanted to be an athlete and a scholar. This is what life looks like for such a person.
In 3 weeks, I have a 50k (31 mile) race. Barring a heat wave, I am ready to go. I am better trained than I was last April when I did the same course. But the real goal of this fall is a 50-mile race in October. The 90-mile weeks are really aimed at this. In the 50k race, I will be the oldest entrant. In the October race, some people my age will be doing 100 miles. I have yet to figure out that mental challenge.
I was jogging around a small park in Missouri, wondering when I would stop for the day. Other people were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Other runners were touring Mont Blanc. All of us were expressing the human need to expand; and not the chain of pain that most people drag around with them. I’m glad I’m a runner.
Thesis: I am not gender non-conforming but a radical feminist. There is a difference. The first is a negative label given to us by the trans movement. The second expresses a feminine ethos of expanding the envelope of what it means to be a woman. However, both of these are labels. Be who you are without society’s label.
In 1972, Helen Reddy was belting out “I am woman, hear me roar…” I was thirteen. I still remember that song. I went on to study engineering and have a career as an engineer. I was smarter than the boys. I didn’t marry or have kids. I more or less continued on with life as a well-funded single woman. I didn’t take up the stereo-typed life of a mainstream woman: married, kids, job, house in the suburbs, debt, etc. I never conformed to the stereotypical female lifestyle.
Along comes 2016 (I was 57) and Caitlyn Jenner comes out as trans. I hadn’t thought about trans-gender until that point. Suddenly, I wondered if that was what was wrong with me. After much soul searching I knew for a fact that I didn’t want to be a man. But I’m still wearing boy’s Levis and no makeup and getting called “sir” pretty often.
As a result of the LGBTQ+ movement, this new terminology and labeling have emerged. I suppose I could call myself gender-nonconforming, or AKA genderqueer. What a derogatory label to put on oneself. I’ve ever since been hateful towards trans-women because they are not women and in fact downgrading the power of the true feminine. A woman’s biology is what it is and no man can claim it just by taking hormones or having surgery.
Oh well. If you are Q then, eff it. Go on with life.
However, I am also a meditator and a person in connection with my higher self. And a person who more and more loves the inner child or true self who came to be on the planet. My higher self loves me and doesn’t think of me as queer at all. This morning, I was writing in my journal and then I meditated and then I wrote in my journal some more. Suddenly the words “Radical feminist” came into my mind, out of nowhere. And suddenly I felt my life re-framed and transformed. I’m NOT some queer gender non-conforming person. I’m a radical feminist. I’m a powerful example of expanding the type of life available to a woman.
I fully accept my female biology and my life outside the gender box. Sing along with me.
Helen Reddy, I Am Woman Lyrics:
I am woman, hear me roar In numbers too big to ignore And I know too much to go back an’ pretend ‘Cause I’ve heard it all before And I’ve been down there on the floor No one’s ever gonna keep me down again
Oh yes I am wise But it’s wisdom born of pain Yes, I’ve paid the price But look how much I gained If I have to, I can do anything I am strong (strong) I am invincible (invincible) I am woman
You can bend but never break me ‘Cause it only serves to make me More determined to achieve my final goal And I come back even stronger Not a novice any longer ‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul
First of all, I did a really great job of running a marathon. Second of all, the cabin sucked. Driving went fine.
I drove from Kansas City to Fulton Illinois, directly to the race course on the day before the race. I wanted to make sure I knew where the course was. I met Clint and Tedford there, so I knew I had the right place. Then I proceeded to the campground.
I think I realized from the instant I first walked into the cabin that I didn’t like it. Mostly because it was dark inside (no windows) with poor lighting. The air conditioner was very noisy. The porch might have been nice to sit on but it was in the sun, so too hot to sit there. I put my chair in the shade in the grass and found it very buggy. The shower house was dark also, though it did have real toilets. The camping area only had a pit toilet with no light or door. During the night, I found my sleeping situation not comfortable, being too hot or too cold depending on if the AC was on. The AC kept waking me up. I found myself peeing in a plastic tub I brought for that purpose, but still, it was awkward and made me wonder what the hell I was doing there.
I got up around 3:30 to prepare to drive to the race which started at 5. I found myself with the phone, looking at hotel rooms in nearby Clinton Iowa. I was realizing that it was an impossible task to recover from a full marathon in that cabin and be ready to go to a 5 am race the next morning. There was no way I could relax and re-hydrate in that cabin. As well, it would take extra time to pack up my mountain of stuff in the morning.
I drove to the race. After parking, I immediately took out my phone and booked a room at the Hampton Inn for that night. This was very fortuitous. It meant that I could relax and run my marathon knowing I would have a shower and a bed waiting for me afterward. It also meant that I would finish my race because I had already paid for the hotel room. I had nowhere to go so I might as well run 26 miles. My mind bought into this perspective and I had a great race. There was a cool breeze coming in from the north, keeping the weather mostly cool. I loved it. It was the first time in awhile that I ran in joy and not in wanting to quit. The 26 miles went by easily and fast.
I finished the race in 5:57 by my Garmin, which didn’t include pit stops. I jogged most of the first 20 miles. Very happy with that.
After the race, I drove to the campground, packed up my stuff and checked into the Hampton Inn. The AC in the room was quiet! The room was clean. I showered. I began to re-hydrate with a real bathroom nearby, not having to pee in a cup (like at the cabin). I felt like a queen in my hotel room.
Day 2: The racing company gives you the same medal no matter what distance you do and you can switch distances after the race starts. I knew I didn’t plan to go more than 13 miles for a half marathon. I started jogging. After 5.5 miles I realized that my legs were tired and I didn’t want to push them. So I finished off a 10k and collected my medal. The sunrise was worth getting out of bed for.
I am extremely pleased that I had enough positive mental attitude to enjoy a full marathon. I am entered in a 50k in 6 weeks and I feel optimistic about that. My training plan is to keep lifting weights and keep putting in hot miles, even if walking. I have no injuries from my marathon.
As I started heading home, west bound on I80, I noticed that there are more semi-trucks on I80 than cars. It made for a slog from Davenport to Des Moines. But as I turned south on I35, it was smooth sailing. I guess no one wants to go to Missouri!
I will be participating in a two-day endurance event next week. I decided that instead of staying in a hotel, I’d try staying in this cabin in a park. Should be different. I don’t have a habitual pattern of behavior for a cabin, so my brain will have to work harder to figure things out. The campground does have wifi, but I won’t be bringing my computer. I’ll have a paper notebook and pen. I wonder what I will spend my post race afternoons and evenings doing? Alone with my thoughts, in a cabin, by a river, with no YouTube.
The endurance events are in Iowa, 5 hours north of here. The weather looks great: not that hot. Now I only need the patience to complete the events.
I am focused on endurance events. You would think that a sixty-something woman would forget about ultramarathons, but I haven’t. I am afforded this luxury because I go slow and the events have long cutoff times. I am afforded this luxury because I cover 70 to 80 miles every week. Oh, and I do a small amount of weight lifting. In fact, I retired from my career in order to run. So I am doing it.
In real life, the people I know think that old people have to be sick or on medication; and they are sure I’ll get mine. I’m just saying that you have a choice about well-being. Choose it. As I was out running this morning, it occurred to me that I don’t play by other people’s rules. I have ripped off the virtual reality headset of American mass consciousness.
Wait, I signed up for a 50-mile race? Is that not crazy? Of course, maybe. I love shuffling into the finish line after 13 hours of jogging.
Walking is one of the 4 Ws that I live by: worth, wonder, wealth, and walking.
If I never type another word in my life, then remember this, “Life is amazing.”
Not because any great thing happened to me today. Actually, I went running and got caught in a downpour. I mean, DOWNPOUR.
I was running on the above pictured trail, only on a day with 2-4 inches of water on the path and sheets of rain. Pretty funny. A 63-year-old woman who ought to know better, trying to sneak in a run between thunderstorms.
The run alone didn’t cause me to think life was amazing. Turning my life over to the care of my Higher Self is what makes life amazing. Knowing for a fact that I am cared for and I can trust my higher self with my life is what makes life amazing. I feel great when I get this trust.
I actually do know what I believe about the universe and how I fit within it. When I left my career, nearly 4 years ago, I stepped outside of the corporate culture and the busyness of salaried life. I faced the chance to experience reality in a new way, free of the corporate culture. I had the ability to pick and choose among society’s cultural offerings. I have been winding my way into more and more sunlight. Sunlight is what life should feel like, even when running in a tremendous downpour.
I woke up at 5 am today, and very soon, I got out of bed. I was thinking of going running very early since the day is to be very hot. I started running around 6:20 am. It was 76F and humid. I came upon this little fawn next to the bike path. There was no mama deer. This one’s eyes and ears were being attacked by bugs. So, I knew that it is not long for this world.
Anguish overtook me. It is this feeling that lets me know I am a normal human being and uniquely a human sentient being. It is to cherish, this feeling of anguish that only a human would have.
RIP little one. I appreciate the presence of life within you and respect that it will be leaving shortly.