The Value of Incline

During the past two and a half months, I’ve been doing virtual races. Hence, I’ve been focused on doing as many miles as possible every day. Most of the miles were slow, even walking a lot, in order to keep from injuries. I’ve not been doing any cross training. Having finished a race on Sunday, I got on my elliptical machine today. I found that the usual settings which I was using last winter were hard. I became winded. I suddenly realized that the elliptical had been a valuable tool in maintaining cardio vascular fitness for a runner who gets slower over time. Even though I was winded, I took short breather breaks and got my hour of exercise in. Now, I’m glad the virtual races are over and I can again focus on cross training. Also, my running should speed up as I do less miles. Once again, I was astonished to see how winded I became on the elliptical. After only two months break from using it. Wow! Use it or lose it. I need to get back to weight workout also.


The Wonder of It All

Yesterday evening, I ran 8.2 miles around Brummerhop Park across the street from where I live. I didn\’t know how that would feel this morning, but all was ok. So I did a jog/walk of 18.12 miles at Meador Park. This evening, I lifted free weights and did another 10 minutes on the ex-bike, 30 minutes on the elliptical and 5 minutes on the Versa Climber.

While I was running today, I decided to sign up for a 12 hour run in St Louis over Labor day weekend. This will keep me from going to Silverton Colorado (a good thing), but still give me a race to look forward too. St Louis is very easy to get to also.

And that is why I pile up the hours of exercise. I look forward to 12 and 24 hour races. I still have a race in Oklahoma in October I\’m considering and another in Dallas in November. Plus the likely possibility of running a night race in Oklahoma over 4th of July.

While I was exercising tonight, I closed my eyes and thought about my spiritual phrases for the next 24 hours: \”There is a peace which Christ bestows on us,\” \”The gift of Christ is all I seek today.\”

Christ, that inner presence, not anything to do with the denominational Christian Christ.

As I think of sharing my life with the inner Christ, it seems like a joining a poignant as making love.

Fenton City Park, here I come:

Snow Day – I Feel So Good

I got up at my usual time. There is an unusually bad snow storm predicted for this area today. I have my work computer at home and will stay here.

First I jog on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Then, I move into my bedroom. There, I have a TRX hanging in the closet door, a step platform and a mini-trampoline. I work with the TRX for 15 minutes doing several suspended lunge exercises and some upper body strength work. Then, I strap weights on my ankles and wrists. I go to the step platform. Every time I step up, I raise my arms over head; forward back forward back and the side to side to side to side for 5 minutes. Then, 5 burpees. Then onto the mini-trampoline for 5 minutes. Than back to the step platform, then the burpees, then the min-trampoline again (20 minutes total). Then back to the treadmill for another 55 minutes. I\’ve just had a two hour workout while the snow came down. There will be another workout this afternoon, after I work all day.

I feel so good while working out. I dream of my next race: 12 hours about 7 weeks from now. There really isn\’t a substitute for running when training for an ultra-marathon, but I have no choice with the weather.

People wonder why I do this. I feel so good. I\’m 52 years old and dreaming of running 50 miles. All the other 50 somethings I know are thinking about their medications and their over-eating. I feel so good, so energized. I\’m dreaming of what it is like to run all night, how it feels. Yes, the legs hurt after awhile. I am in better shape this year than I was last year when I ran 80 miles at the same race. I can hardly wait.

In the mean time, in the quiet of my one bedroom apartment, with snow falling outside, I work out. I do endurance: ex-bike, nordic track, tread mill, TRX, step platform, mini-trampoline, free weights and core. I do it all. I feel so good.

Name Change

Why did I change my name to “Ultra Monk?”

1. I have been a Course in Miracles student for 3 years. Had these three years been under a monastic authority, I’d be making monastic profession; and I’d get a new name.

2. I am one hearted with God. The word “monos” from which monk derives is one. Monks are one hearted, they attend God. Though I don’t live in a monastery, I am a monk. God is the focus of my life and has been for umpteen years.

3. Yesterday, I went to lunch with my boss. He asked me about friendships. I had to mumble through some cover up story. Add that to the way people tell me, “you need to get out more.” I can’t explain to a non-monk what it is like for God to be my entertainment, Friend and Advisor. As a monk, I really don’t spend my time as most people spend their time. I have not much to converse about and little relationship to the typical conversation most people would have about their lives. To a non-contemplative, spending time with God is nonsense. If you haven\’t done it, I can\’t explain.

4. I have a dream of fitness. Yesterday, reflecting on an incident with my trainer, I realized how much more there is for me to do in the arena of stretching and strength training in order to realize peak performance. I can do it. It means an even greater time commitment. Truly being an athlete is a monumental job, monumental beyond belief. As much as I currently do, it is not enough. And I intend to keep growing in the ethos of an athlete. I even ordered the foam tube she recommended for me.

5. A monk has few possessions. I possess little. No people, property, pets, plants, privileges, pride, prerogatives or posterities. I have no fat (really). I do have the holy instant, the real relationship, forgiveness (ACIM style), Christ vision and inner peace. I live in silence.

-Got up at 5:30 with alarm.
-Read in the ACIM Text 20.VIII.1: “Open the holy place that you closed off by valuing the “Something Else,” and What was never lost will quietly return.”
-ACIM workbook lesson: “I will be still an instant and go Home.
-I worked out for an hour on the machines. “Only A Game” had a story about ultra-marathoners.
-Got to the park at 7:30 and ran very well even if it was hot. I was going about 10.2 min/mile the first 10.8 miles. I would have slowed down after that, but Yvette joined me on the fifth and sixth laps; and she is a tad fast. I ended up doing about 20 miles, 7+ laps, 3h22.
-Yvette is God’s gift of a friend to me. She just came along and decided to run with me. I don’t really have any friends. My conversation with her today is the longest I’ve talked since I went to Canada in May.

In July, I did 86 hours of aerobics plus 18 strength workouts.

This Ultra Life

Friday evening I drove 200 miles and began a 31 mile race, finishing around 7 am Saturday morning. Then, I downed a glass of protein, rinsed off in the shower, went commando style in my clean clothes, and drove the 200 miles home.

Yesterday afternoon, I ordered some new socks. The smartwool socks work great as far as preventing blisters, but they were too tight around the ankle; preventing good fluid flow and causing heat rash on my legs. Get this: the Lunar Trek night was barely over and I am planning the next race? I have run 2 ultra-marathons and 2 marathons this year; and plan on at least one more marathon and two ultras. What cheek?

I slept a good hard 10 hours last night. I woke up with the usual stiffness but no injuries. Am I too old for all nighters? Many people my age say that. It is an excuse. All but a few are tired after 7 hours of jogging, no matter what their age. I may or may not like staying up all night, but don\’t blame quitting on age. Blaming anything on age is a self sabotaging event and guarantees you get more of the deterioration. You\’ll continue to think you are powerless over \”aging\” yet it is your own thoughts which are creating and accelerating the process. I got my period today: a nice flow of bright red blood to remind me of youth!

I did a stretching/legs/core/free weight workout and 90 easy minutes on the ex-machines.

I worked on my diet spreadsheet to incorporate my trainer\’s latest suggestions.

My obsession with training and racing is not sick. It is an embrace of the Life, the Spark Which Enlivens All Beings. We all have it. For many it remains dormant and life is a drudge. Some find ways to embrace the energy and bring it forth in various ways. Mine happens to be fitness and endurance.

Business As Usual

Maybe I have reached a place in fitness where I always wanted to be: 5 or 6 hours of working out is normal. Worked out several hours today? Yes, business as usual.

Today I went 27 miles of 8x2s in 5h05min. I felt strong the whole way. I felt like running that far every Saturday is my new normal. I used to think a 3 hour run was something to tremble over. Now, its more like 30 miles is a distance I might have to ponder.

How did I get like this?

I\’ve been changing my body over the past 10 months. I\’ve been doing more cross training and more weight lifting. I\’ve been losing the fat.

But success at unlimited fitness comes first from the spiritual level and then the mental level. Inertia needs to be over come. Before it manifests as a physical action, there is a spirit-mind-body process. First, a spirit becomes conscious of a desire to wake up, or move, or be alive. Then, said spirit cries for help. Help arrives from Source; always. The spirit has to accept the help. The help may or may not be accepted. The barriers to acceptence may need to be taken down through a spiritual practice. This letting go is part of the process of overcoming inertia. Help accepted, barriers lowering, the help flows into the mental level. Here, in the mind, what happens? Has this mind joined sufficiently with spirit to receive the flow? Or is this mind still enamored with the ego\’s material world? The spiritualized mind will take spiritual help and translate it into overcoming inertia. The ego mind will take spiritual help and turn it into fat, or poor health or old age, or ______(you name it).

What am I trying to say and why do I try to say it? I am grateful for what I am. I am happy with what I am. I\’m more at peace with myself than ever. It seems to be because I am not worried what others think about my life. I used to worry that I should \”get a life.\” Or find a way of life that others would respect. But all I really want is to run for miles and have rock hard abs. Well, that and communication with God. I\’ve been promoting that my fitness is a function of spirituality. I am promoting that putting spirit first enables me to over come the inertia of death. I am promoting spirit. Yes.

God doesn\’t need my help. I just want to share my happiness.

Morning After Reflection

Today I slept until 6 am. Yesterday’s 5 hours of sun seem to have pushed me over the top and broken me. The good news is that I did not wake up limping. I woke up in lethargy.

I find myself at a moment of truth: It is not how far I went but how long, not the difficulty of the trail but the long term patient endurance of the workout. Anyone who has a seeker’s mind and determination will seek the edge of their envelope, their cloud of lethargy, and push through that cloud to something else, the extraordinary. There beyond the cloud, with enough patience, an extraordinary world is found. But that extraordinary world vanishes into memory as the seeker stops to rest for the night.

In the morning after doldrums and dregs, the seeker’s mind finds a thick lethargic cloud between their current state of consciousness and that extraordinary state. It may seem like a physical action generates the energy to get going again, like drinking coffee or eating. But the physical world action is really a lagging illusion which follows behind the seeker’s mind. That is, my seeker’s mind has already begun movement through the cloud of lethargy as I begin to feel like I will get up and go today. The feeling of hope, which I follow and experience as ordinary reality represents the fact that my real mind is really always in the extraordinary reality and I am hearing its call and allowing its grace to pull me into the extraordinary.

For today I define the cloud of lethargy as ego. Whatever I see in the cloud that holds me in this world is ego. Even prideful things can hold me in this world. Even religious trappings can hold me in this world. Fame and fortune, donuts and steaks can hold me inside the cloud of lethargy.

As a seeker, I use endurance to shut down the ordinary, the cloud, and join the extraordinary. The extraordinary is the real home of the Son of God (our one Self).

The lethargic cloud can be pushed through, superseded, dispersed, in a variety of ways. I choose fitness. So every day I work out. Even today: I woke up in the dregs with red splotches of heat rash on my legs and soreness in my shoulders from carrying a hydropak yesterday. At first, exercise seemed out of the question. As the physical world me drinks coffee and completes spiritual studies, my seekers mind has metaphysically moved forward through the lethargic cloud and sees already the sunlight of the extraordinary.

The feeling of hope is the call to move into another reality. The feeling of getting through the cloud is the joy and gratitude I experience every morning after about an hour’s workout and as I run to the top of a hill. I look behind me and see many who never attempt to get through the lethargy.

Fitness is my way, my truth and my light. Fitness brings me to joy and gratitude. In the extraordinary beyond the cloud of lethargy, I am in communion with truth, the Son of God, our one Self. Joy and gratitude are Jesus.

Joy and gratitude are my true home. I follow my seeker’s mind. I set my seeker’s mind free to soar beyond the cloud of lethargy and into joy and gratitude.

Non-Performance Running

Running just to be.

Early in the morning, I arrive at the top of a certain hill. By the time I get there, I’ve worked out on machines for 45 minutes and then run 25 minutes. As I make my way down the other side, I feel the energy of fitness and I love it. I don’t live on the same page as most people, let alone most 50 something women. I know there are other women in this town who quietly go about the business of being an athlete, being extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary. I like that idea.

What called me to spend 2 or so hours each weekday on exercise; or 5 hours each weekend day? My mind is very quiet and I am not on a quest and I have no goals. Yet I’ve been working out like a fiend lately; and want to only do that. I have been feeling the limits of the endeavor as I build fitness. I have the desire for endlessness which comes from the extremely long workout, the endless workout.

All my life there has been something pulling at my heart strings. It is not endless running exactly. It is what is behind the running; the place where my mind goes during a workout.

What called me to run also called me to contemplation. Spirituality precedes any potential supportive role that exercise might have on the consciousness of God. I love the spiritual program of contemplation and action I have found. With the help of the Holy Spirit, one can perceive a world peopled only with holiness and embraced by a loving peace.

Swell! Sweet! Cool!

God Consciousness

From the 3,100 mile Self Transcendence Race blog
“I learn that I need to be in the heart and stay there…When one does this then the discomforts of running and also the discomforts of life itself remain at a manageable distance…to focus on one’s inner cry. This comes …. only when one recognizes that they indeed have an inner thirst and inner hunger for something higher within oneself. \’For this I am very grateful that I feel this inner hunger, inner cry, or love of God\’…”

It is a good morning to muse on The Beyond, God Himself. A Course in Miracles has given me food. For 8 more days, I will have one thought as part of a review exercise: “My mind holds only what it thinks with God.” A subsidiary review thought for today is: “Let me remember I am one with God.” This morning, as I sat down for my morning text study, I totally got stuck on this one line (17.IV.1): “God established His relationship with you to make you happy…”

The power of ACIM is not to use these thoughts as affirmations and repeat them mindlessly; but to allow them to permeate the ego’s defenses against them (usually numbness) and allow them to be the reality that you are.

I ponder God because I want a God consciousness. I don’t want a reality where God is absent. I don’t want a reality of fear and annoyance towards others. I don’t want a reality where any one relationship has taken over my life and consciousness to the exclusion of God. I allow myself to stop and ponder the implications of a relationship with God. I allow God to permeate me. And then I just go through the day knowing that I am not alone. If I become afraid or angry, I can be assured that my ego has spoken, but I don’t have to believe it’s interpretation of things. I am a thought in the Mind of God. How come I don’t know it? How come I see a world of deprivation instead?

My fitness level is fabulous. I got up at 3:45 this morning. After my spiritual study, I spent 70 minutes on the ex-machines. I have no injury issues from my 42 mile weekend.

Outsized Ode to Something

More than anything. I find what I\’m hungry for when I shut my eyes and listen in silence, searching my mind, looking at the inner light. There, I find Something. There I connect to Something.

Oh so long ago, barely a teenager, I began to seek for something in endurance. I swam back and forth in a pool by myself. I rode a ten speed bicycle by myself. I shot baskets by myself. I ran by myself. I even tried to work with a horse in the mountains of Squaw Valley, California. Endless hours devoted to endurance.

What I find in silence, I also find in endurance. I could say I find nothing. Or I find the nothing which is the Something. But there is nothing to want about it; except this nothingness keeps calling me back. I keep going to the nothingness. I go with my worldly ambitions and fears; and come back with nothing. And then do it again. And then do it again.

I seek to connect to Something which gives me nothing and for which I thirst. This seeking is the ultimate ultra, endless silence, infinite long slow distance. No medals. No t-shirts. No qualifications. Just an ineffable endless nothing connected to Something.

Slowly, day after day, I play with Endurance; and my world transforms, perception shifts. I allow this world to slip away.

Be open. Consider Something more. Let It have control. There is nothing for me to do but long slow distance.

This morning, I was so filled with joyous gratitude. I worked out for 40 minutes on ex-machines and then ran for 55 minutes in a warm humid pre-dawn hilly heaven. I am so happy with this.