The Oldest Woman

I don\’t suppose 56 is all that old. Actually, I thought I was 57 until ultrasignup.com corrected me. At 56, I am the oldest female in an ultramarathon to take place today. It starts at high noon in the middle of Texas. The main challenge is that it is hot. It will take me about 9 hours to walk and jog my way through 32 miles.

Today, I am on lesson 69 in A Course in Miracles: My grievances hide the light of the world in me. I am also reading The Power of Now by Tolle for the second time. The ACIM \”light of the world\” is Tolle\’s Now, pure consciousness, Presence, the life in me. So the point of doing this race today is to practice being being.

Yes I meant to say \”being being.\” Or rather, being Being. Out there in the heat, in a forest park, I\’ll be saying my ACIM lesson. Every so often, I\’ll say \”good job\” to some passing racer. No doubt I\’ll get into a conversation with some one. I\’ll be thanking the aid station volunteers for their help. At the end, I\’ll get my medal, get in the car and come home.

It doesn\’t really matter if I finish today. It matters that I was there.

Snowdrop T- 1.5 and counting

Tomorrow is packet pickup. Tuesday 7 am is the start.

Today I did a 6.6 mile jog walk in El Lago. It was a good chance to practice wearing a rain suit. I realized that I\’ll have to save the impermeable rain suits for the real downpours on New Years Day. For cold and wind, I\’ll use Gortex and my Texas wind proof jacket. Layers and fleece underneath. Head swathed in hat and buff. I\’ll have the down parkas for really cold times. I have adequate gloves.

But you know, it is illogical and nonsensical to spend 30 hours over 3 days walking around a dirt path just for a belt buckle; or to say I ran 100 miles. So why do this?

It is a mental exercise. It requires me to hone my patience and perseverance. How do I keep going when my brain is insisting I stop. And my brain is right. Keeping going doesn\’t matter. Except in a non-physical sense.

Very few get the point of this. I\’m not sure I do, except I keep doing it. Most friends I know say this doesn\’t make sense. They are right, it doesn\’t. The results are only in my mind.

Its not for Everyone

This week, I got in 62 miles, and about 17 total hours of workout. Saturday was my first 22 mile jog/walk in about 8 months. I was glad to get it done because I am concerned about the Calgary Marathon coming up June 1st. I think I\’ll be able to get that done.

But my mind is very endurance oriented. I still want to accomplish a multi-day event. I lay in bed and think about doing laps. I wish I could just go and go. Well, I still have some heel issues to work out. I know that any multi-day event I do will be slow. I\’m fine with slow. I need to prevent toe nail losses and figure out how to stay in the game for more than 16 hours.

What is not for everybody? Virtual events. I signed up for a 7 day virtual race. It is linked to my fitbit, and I get a buckle if I do 100 miles. This would be my second virtual event. I find that I do hold myself to higher standard than I would otherwise when I am even slightly accountable. The virtual event does push me. In my case, it is a test to see how long it takes me to get to 100 miles. I\’m hoping I can do it in 4 days.

This is leading up to a real race in December. It is also mind training. My mind needs as much work as my feet to accomplish a multi-day.

With the virtual event, I get to sleep in my own bed and eat my own food and save travel costs. I am racing less these days as races now cost over $100 and race directors try to pack more and more people in. I saw a race where the course was 100 miles, a t-shirt and belt buckle were offered and I suppose timing; but otherwise, completely self supported. Why is that so different than my virtual race?

Would I cheat? No. Cheating would bother my conscience. The accomplishment has to mean something to me. Since I don\’t talk to very many people, there is no point in having a belt buckle that I cheated to get. I need the 100 miles to be my truth, not anyone else\’s.

Endurance has been a part of my character my whole life, even when I was a teenager. Even when I was a kid on a swim team. My whole life I\’ve wanted to do endless miles. I continue to figure out how to do that.

Enough

I was just looking at the ads on a local running calendar. All the race ads were for races that featured spray painting, foam or warrior obstacles. What ever happened to just running?

Err, more races are put on by professional race directors. In the sense that there are more races, that is good. In the sense that too many people are allowed to enter, or expenditures for stuff like porta potties are cut, that is bad.

And fees go up. And you can have your splits show up on FB….  Wait, I don\’t belong to FB. How will anyone keep up to date with my life?

I have been running and racing for over 40 years. I am getting slower, yes. The thrill of racing is diminishing. My miles are not diminishing.

This morning, I jumped on my elliptical and did a great 40 min of cardio. I like this activity because it is so easy and relaxing. I have this wonderful benefit. I don\’t realize at all what advantage I have over the vast majority of mature adults. Nope. Exercise is just what I do.

I have wanted the Endurance State of Being since I was very young. It gives me a feeling of infinity. In Houston, in the humid summer heat, miles are still possible. Its just miles. Nothing fancy.

More Miles

If you want to do endless miles, then just go do it. Today I did make it out of bed at a reasonable 6:30 and started walking at 7:50. I had no goal really. I just filled my hydro-pak with water and started walking in Meador Park.

I went 17 miles. When to stop?

The idea of miles is positively addicting for me.

I had 2 phrases from A Course in Miracles Chapter 6 in my mind: Alignment with light is unlimited. Allow no darkness in my mind. Over and over, realizing when I was thinking darkness and limits.

After about 3 hours, I had an enlightening moment. See, my mind had been roaming around the United States thinking of long distance races I want to do. Or just thinking of multi-days. Or thinking of how hard it is to do the miles without any sort of race or reward; just do the miles, write it in your book and go on. My left foot was slowly but surely getting sore.

Then after one of my phrase repetitions, it hit me: my mind IS unlimited!! That is IT! Yes, a crucial part of ACIM learned: I am not a body I am free. I am still as God created me. I get to choose all my thoughts. Nothing I see means anything. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….the little runner who could.

Saturday Walking

Today, when my alarm went off at 5:30, I easily got out of bed. An hour later, I began a 10 mile walk at 4 mph pace around Seabrook. I am walking because I am resting some aches and pains.

My thought was: The Holy Spirit\’s Love is my strength.

Now, a few hours later, my foot feels good enough to proceed with an afternoon workout: free weights and elliptical and bike.

I am not upset about not running. In fact, I don\’t really care if I never run again. The swelling on my heel may be with me for this lifetime, so I don\’t sweat it. But the achilles and plantar will heal and then I can walk longer and further. In a 24 or 72 hour race, most of the people are walking so I will fit right in. But until the plantar feels better, I can\’t even walk much more than I did today.

I can do sit-ups forever.

Badwater 2012 is over and the race reports are coming out. I read a particularly gruesome one today. the person did not conclude that this was the greatest thing he ever endured. It brought back my own \”Why?\” questions.

I can\’t explain endurance. Perhaps it is the same as an alcoholic getting drunk. Endurance is just something that must be done. That is why the thought of walking 24 hours doesn\’t phase me: it is endurance and it must be done.

The sisters in the monastery hardly walk at all, but the liturgy of the hours and daily hora et labora is a horrendous feat of endurance; lasting 60 or more years.

People who get up and go to work everyday might be enduring in a magnificent way.

I prefer my endurance with endorphins. So I walk and cross train. I am also fussy about my chiseled arm muscles, so I use the TRX for arm running.

Laying on my bed and reading this afternoon, I realized how wonderful the labor of endurance is. It enacts the most magic thing about any human mind: getting off the bed. How do we ever get off the bed?

While I walked, I dreamed. What should I do over Labor Day weekend? Should I go to St Louis and walk 12 hours? Or go to Utah and walk a marathon?

How many 50 somethings do you know who face such treacherous decisions?

True Identity

This morning I was on my treadmill for a couple of miles. I have there index cards with quotes from A Course in Miracles. This morning, I was reading this from chapter 31: \”The savior\’s vision is as innocent of what your brother is as it is free of any judgment made upon yourself. It sees no past in anyone at all. And thus it serves a wholly open mind, unclouded by old concepts, and prepared to look on only what the present holds. It cannot judge because it does not know. And recognizing this, it merely asks, \”What is the meaning of what I behold?\” Then is the answer given. And the door held open for the face of Christ to shine upon the one who asks, in innocence, to see beyond the veil of old ideas and ancient concepts held so long and dear against the vision of the Christ in you.\”

I was inspired by \”It sees no past at all\” and \”to see beyond the veil of old ideas.\”
See, in the past week, I\’ve poured another pile of money into somewhat helpful theraputics for my left heel; but was still left with annoyance of the practitioners or the business model they adhere to. In appointment number 3, the therapy was pain producing; and the practitioner was suggesting I spend more and more money on various things.
No matter my spiritual aspirations, I can\’t sustain endless expenditures. And then I said to myself, \”it would be much cheaper and probably just as effective is you cut back on running.\” Except for I wanted to go in a marathon in Utah on September 8, I have no qualms about less running/more cross training. Logically, the cross training is better for me physically.
This phase of my development means that I have to let go of old identities: I am a runner. But, as a Course in Miracles student, I know I need to identify with Spirit. And to the door is open to once again take a step away from delusional reality and step further into Spiritual Reality.
There is a great deal of inner peace in my cross training. It is not attached to the world. It has no goals. It is symbolic of becoming and \”inner athlete.\” Running is a hobby. Being an inner athlete is existential. And so I am free to choose from various endurance options. Endurance, no matter how it is achieved, is still a result of my inner being. In love with the energy, I allow it to express somehow.
During my vacation last week, I felt that spiritual pursuit is not a hobby, not a game, not an option. That other people have no spiritual connection does not mean I have to quit because mine seems so feeble even with the effort I put into it. Quitting God is not an option for me.

The Crucible

My private gym is the place of intense fire. There is a treadmill, Nordic Track and Versa Climber in the first picture. There is an elliptical and ex-bike in the second. Also shown is a step platform. Not shown is the mini-trampoline, the TRX or the free weights.

This morning, I had another miracle run: 16.9 miles of sweat in Texas. Now, several hours later, I can tell my left heel is not in serious trouble. I wore my new Badwater hat. I\’m not ever going to race Badwater; but I can adopt the courage of someone who is. So the hat inspires me. While I was running this morning, I saw a fat girl out walking. The word Courage was on the back of her shirt. I teared up. I embody courage in my own way. Here are the simple things a long distance runner has: Badwater hat, Nathan hydro-pak, Garmin and shoes:

After my run, I enjoyed the feeling of a sore body. I can\’t explain why I like this but I do. I spent every day off work achieving it.

2 weeks to Ultra Monk\’s Colorado ultra training camp. Soon, I\’ll decide about Merrill\’s Mile. tomorrow the 3,100 Self Transcendence Race begins. I want to do endurance for my own reasons. Not Scott Jurek\’s or any other person\’s.

My spiritual thoughts continued to center on total willingness to be one with God. Enlightenment is expressed by a Course in Miracles as: God\’s Will (enlightenment) is an experience of total willingness. It is blocked by wishes for other experience. Now some people totally surrender in moments of despair or near death. Most others, like me, live lives of growing joy in the knowledge that we are light.

Making Connections

A student of A Course in Miracles reads about how he is not really separate from others. There is only one mind, one Son of God; not separate bodies who don\’t know God and can\’t stand each other either.

Some of these teachings seem completely impossible. How could I ever see my brother as myself? How could I ever see that it was my own projection which made the delusion/illusion in front of my eyes?

I sort of have an inkling of the oneness. It might be too complicated to write; and the excitement of the moment is hard to capture in words.

Two fronts: a book I am reading by Scott Jurek, \”Eat and Run\”, vs my struggles to let go of those I\’ve been secretly jealous of.

See, I\’m secretly jealous of real ultra runners who seem to accomplish what I\’ve failed at. But also, the sisters in the monastery who claim to be more holy due to their monastic profession. Also those people who our society deems successful: the rich, the doctors, the warriors, athletes in general, successful managers, mothers, etc.

So, I\’m reading Scott\’s book. Over and over I find myself in tears as I read his moments of triumph. I think of myself with my sore heel. I think of Scott floating through beautiful forests, running forever without physical debilitation. I\’m a 53 year old professional woman ultra-runner-want-to-be living in the devastatingly hot and flat, totally urban Houston. Scott is a strong young man with access to hills.

I stop my reading and listen to that inner Voice: Scott and I are one. See, the inner force which pulls him also pulls me. Scott\’s story is part of my projection. I suddenly realize that not all my projections are fat diabetics or sexual predators. Some of them are Scotts and some are Sisters. These are not separate people. We are one. I don\’t need to be jealous.

I am able to be touched by Scott\’s story because the same force which is in him is in me. We are not separate. The physical body is the illusion. The inner force is the reality; and that we share. We are not separate. The illusion does not exist. The inner force does.

The 3,100 miles Self Transcendence race begins this weekend. I love to read daily reports about runners going around a 0.5 mile block in NYC for 52 days. I love thinking about my own little loops that I run. I love thinking about my Colorado running vacation in 2 weeks.

This morning, I went running at 4:30 am. It was 81F and very humid. That is as good as Texas will get for 3 months. I was grateful for that run. I keep hoping I can get out of bed this weekend and do a long run. But even so, as I worked out yesterday in my home gym, I could feel the force of endless endurance. In the limitlessness is Eternal Silence and I appreciate its presence.

Travel Day – 3 Days as the Fair

I am in Houston Hobby airport. I got here early because there are usually long lines to check bags and get thru security. So I have been walking around the Southwest terminal. It is 900 steps per lap. I know this because I have a pedometer issued by my work place. The goal is 10,000 steps per day.

I am up to 5,153 today.

But wait, I am starting a 24 hour race tomorrow. I shouldn\’t be walking at all! I\’ll get to walk alot, without the heavy computer on my back, starting tomorrow at 9 am.

Ultras hurt. I admire those who ignore the pain. I know I give up at some point. Given the current situation with my body, I don\’t know how long that will take. No matter how slow, I hope to stay on course.

I am staring at a black hole. I don\’t know what will happen. I signed up for this race almost because I have to work nearby the following week. So the trip is free. The race will be an exercise in letting go, but moving forward. I seek endlessness. I will play with my thoughts; watching and dismissing.