Trip Report – Flatlanders

On Friday morning, I started the trip and today I finished it. Now I have 2 more days to ponder its mystery. I visited the monastery I left 10 years ago. I went to an AA meeting in my old home group. I went in a running race. I read a book called \”The Empire of Illusion.\”

United Airlines, TSA, National Car Rental, Parking Spot, Panera (St Louis Bread), Marriott (Fairfield and Springhill), Honda, WalMart, Quick Trip, Jason\’s Deli, Barnes & Nobel, Coke, Pepsi, Silk, Starbucks, Wrigley\’s, Asics, Succeed, RockTape, and others; gave me a fantastic good time without any hitch at all.

Its really about the people. Like this morning. I arrived at my gate very early, in fact, the earlier flight was still at the gate. I went up to the gate agent and said I had a very stupid question, could I get on the earlier flight? She laughed and said I\’d have to work much harder than that to have a stupid question. She then went on for more than 5 minutes about stupid questions. This was a very friendly conversation. I was there for her.

The people at my old AA group mentioned several times about how I had affected them in the past and how they felt honored to be in my presence.

At the monastery, I got a tour of the new construction, visited the old sisters, ate in the refectory and talked a long time to the Prioress. I met the father of one of the sisters. He was a massively alive 80 something; eyes so bright so energetic. I cried a bit at the side of Sr Priscilla. I love her but she is 97 and barely moves. I held court with another group of elderly sisters. Some of the sisters I knew came over and hugged me; others ignored me. I noticed the silence. I know I have too much energy to stay at that place; and no desire to be so cloistered, bored, sedentary, Catholic.

Priscilla is in the middle.

My friend in Kansas City made me breakfast and we talked for 2 hours.

I then went to St Louis. I70 was construction free. I went in a timed race. The heat index was between 97 and 100F for 5 of the 6+ hours I was out there. I completed 26.6 miles before deciding my heel was in enough pain. I got to talk to several other runners.

Leaving the Parking Spot today, they only had one exit lane open, and none of the self check out lanes. So about 50 cars were lined up trying to get out. I was friendly to the cashier and she was able to tell my how hard it was.

I don\’t own any electronic products that begin with i. I plan to stay out of that community, just like Face Book and various other main stream activities.

I am satisfied with myself. I live in Texas. I am sober. I have the benefit of having gotten my world traveling out of the way when I lived with my parents. My only journey now is the one to God. Yes, I walk with Spirit.


Chapter 17.V – Fantastic

I get it: Some monks are explicit. They live in a monastery. My life is implicitly monastic; hidden behind a veil of worldly life.

This morning, I rode my elliptical with my eyes closed, chanting my ACIM phrases to a monastic melody I learned in the convent. Then I went outside for a sweaty jog, and continued to chant.

Inspired by A Course in Miracles 17.V:
Do not breathe life into your failing ego.
You have chosen but the goal of God.
Accept with gladness what\’s not understood.

I thought about my failing ego in several areas of my life. I though about how my upcoming 12 hour race could be so ego deflating if I stick to walking. I thought about how I see a 24 hour race as walking through the dark night in order to achieve a dawn, a sunrise. I want to walk through the dark night. But I realized how it is a human failing to think we can\’t achieve a dawn without a dark  night.

In A Course in Miracles, we have \”this holy instant.\” We immediately shorten the path in this holy instant. The holy instant in Christ; no crucifixion required. Salvation is already here.

Choose the Spark of Beauty


This morning, I was studying chapter 17.IV in A Course in Miracles text. Here is the part that inspired me: \”Let Him [Holy Spirit] uncover the spark of beauty in your relationships, and show it to you…It is still up to you to choose to join with truth or with illusion. But remember that to choose one is to let the other go. Which one you choose you will endow you with beauty and reality, because the choice depends on which you value more…the spark of beauty or the veil of ugliness…\”

I thought about how I didn\’t hate my boss this week and how many people texted me on my anniversary. I decided to allow the love that had been present; which is to choose the spark of beauty I had been shown.

After this, did I become insane? Here\’s my story.

Earlier this week, I got an e-mail about a new 24 hour event in Houston in December. (I went in a 50k there last year). So, I would really like to walk 24 hours. And my new shoe design might allow for a \”Kinhin\” Zen walk for 24 hours. I\’m after the meditation side, not the distance side mind you. I mentioned it to a guy at work. He said he\’d be happy to hand me cups of water and drive my butt home. (Transportation could be an issue after being up all night.)

This morning was my usual Saturday struggle to get out of bed. The only reason to get up early is to run before temps rise above 90F. As a walker however, it doesn\’t really matter. So I slept until 7. Then, I did my spiritual study, prayed about the December 24 hour run. I heard rumbles outside, but I decided to go for a short walk in El Lago and test the shoe.

The first 50 feet out the door, I\’m thinking I\’ll drop down to the half marathon for the Nebraska race in 3 weeks. See, the modified shoe won\’t work in Nebraska on a hilly dirt course. Depressing.

50 feet later, another thought shot across my mind. Well, you could go to St Louis since you are already entered in that 12 hour run.

I shook my fist at the sky. \”G-d dammit, that is the exact opposite thought from what I wanted!\”

During the first mile of my walk in El Lago, I saw the faint trace of a rainbow. An omen? Was God speaking? It poured on me twice during the first 2 hours; but since this is Houston in August, it is always at least 80F. If you get wet, no big deal.

I thought about the 12 hour race in St Louis. It makes a ton of sense. Before dreaming of a 24 hour race, why not see how 12 hours go? And the course in Fenton (St Louis) is perfect for my shoe. The driving is about the same as if I went to Nebraska. I already know some people who will be walking in Fenton. No time pressure for a 12 hour time period. It fits the scope of meditative walking (not racing).

So, crap. I think I\’ll go to Fenton.

Today, I walked 4 hours in my shoe. I came home once to modify it and finally stopped at 4 hours cuz I needed to modify again and I realized that the thicker sock was tearing up one of my little toes. Fang (one of the heel spurs) was quiet today. The only problem was the back of the shoe heel wasn\’t short enough and kept banging into the bottom of my heel and hurting it (4 hours of that really was enough). So, I have 3 weeks to get the shoe right. I don\’t even have to decide for sure until that week so I can shift my hotels around. But, I think Fenton will be much better for me.

I\’ll try again with the shoe tomorrow.

I am finally here…

Prelude on Saturday: I signed up for Flatlanders many months ago. Coming home from Colorado in July with so much pain, I had no idea what I would do about this race. I didn\’t even buy my airplane tickets until August; and I cashed in all my points on everything so that no matter how bad I did, there\’d be no financial loss.

Don\’t try to make it mean anything.

Sunday morning, I got up with the alarm. My drinks are made. I did something new. When I travel, I am always concerned about reducing my load. So I took an old copy of A Course in Miracles paperback and sliced off the workbook. This is very small and light weight and I am reading the lessons as if they were the text. The lessons contain much teaching. I am programming my brain with A Course in Miracles in order to have a happy day. To have a happy day, I need to walk with Spirit not ego. Begin the free flow of spiritual ideas.

Lesson 4 in the work book. What thoughts are crossing my mind? These thoughts, good or bad, don\’t mean anything. I flash on the human quest for enlightenment. Is it not just another human wishing they were pain free and happy all the time? I thought about how \”Untethered Soul\” mentioned to let in the power at all times and feel good all the time. My heel hurts. This brings me apprehension, annoyance, failure.

L5: form does not matter. Can I enter today a transcendent state? I could say, \”I want to have a happy day.\” And, \”I will make no decisions by myself.\” I am afraid of my own self. L7: I see only the past. L8: My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts….my mind has been merely blank.  I seem to be thinking about how painful and miserable today will be and how it will end in failure.

L9: I see nothing as it is now.

So I drive the 2 miles over to the race, and set up my personal aid station. I say hi to some of my compatriots. This is important. We are in this together.

It rained for 2 or 3 hours in the morning. But it was warm, so I ran all day in a tank top. About 3 hours in, I realized that I felt pretty good and that if I kept the pace just a tiny bit faster, I could get a gold medal for 50 miles. So I worked at it.

I met Joyce and Norm (in their 70s) and their daughter. I met Lee. I said hi to many others. Andrew was doing an outstanding job of counting laps. My nutrition program seemed to be working.

I have no idea how my brain came up with \”Skip to My Lou My Darling.\” I couldn\’t remember any verse lyrics but that song played over and over. It is totally funny what your brain can come up with.

About 2 hours in, I had a revelation: the reason I quit ultra marathons before the end is because I think now one cares about me. In fact, a major reason behind much of how I feel about life is I think no one cares about me. But that is not true; especially in a race like this: we are all needed and no one can do it without the others. Wow!

6 hours in, I met Julie, a 53 year old woman who was trying to break the course record of 60 miles. So, if I wanted to be happy, I needed to go for the gold since there would be no age group win for me. I cheered for her and she cheered for me.

My self talk was incredibly good. I remember wanting to let go, not control. I could hear some inner voice say about my speed, \”How\’s this?\” as I sprinted along. I said, \”That\’s great. Lets keep going.\” Into the 6th hour, I pulled a crumpled up, soggy scrap of paper I had forgot was there out of my Nathan belt. It had stuff from A Course in Miracles: \”Abandon ego on behalf of Him. Seek peace alone and know the power of God. This holy instant is all the time there is. All separation vanishes when holiness is shared.\” I started meditating on this and Skip to My Lou vanished. I was better now a cruising pretty fast. I knew that abandoning ego meant letting go and letting whatever power was inside me be in charge. That is why my self talk was so good. God offers power to everyone, but I needed to accept it now, today, this holy instant.

Along in here, I had an an apple and a Starbucks bottled frappucino. And then I felt a ton better. I can\’t at all describe how good I felt, and practically sprinted for a lap before that wore off. But it bought me some needed cushion time. An hour or two later, after various other calories, I had another frappucino. And not too long later, I spent quality time in the bathroom; but I felt much better after getting some stuff out.

Sharing a race course was sharing holiness. I even had to ask a stranger to get the cap off my frappucino. She became part of the \”we\’re in this together team.\” I even included the people who bottled that drink and the executives who thought of it in the first place.

The last 2.5 hours were hard. My brain didn\’t track with what Andrew was telling me about my laps and I kept thinking I had one more done than he had said. So I arrived at 1h50min left and needed 7 laps. Crap. I put in a fast one fueled by another frappucino. Then I finally got to 2 laps with 51 min to go. I put in another good one and left myself 31 min for the last lap. As I passed one of the other runners who was standing by her chair, I said, \”one more fucking lap.\” She laughed and said she knew what I meant. As I continued to tell everyone about my fucking last lap, a beautiful clear rainbow lit up the sky.

haha, for once, I didn\’t quit before the miracle. I\’d been out there for nearly 12 hours and had put enough heart into the thing to far surpass what I thought I could do at the start.

Next Running Adventure

I am the owner of airplane tickets to go to St Louis this weekend. I planned to go in a 12 hour race. It looks like the remnants of TS Isaac will be drenching the St Louis area on Saturday into Sunday. So it looks like my race will be in the rain. I am a wimp in some ways. If this race did not involve airplane tickets, I\’d probably stay home.

As it is, I might as well go. I\’m taking my huge plastic covered duffle bag and my good rain suit and even the poncho. I\’ll have 2 changes of shoes and clothes.

But I know it will be a mental challenge for me. Overcoming my own brain will be tough. I wonder how long I will last; or what sort of rants my habitual consciousness will produce.

Going through the mental challenge is mainly what ultra runners do. Failure to breach the mental barrier is my own shortcoming. So, if I last 12 hours at Flatlander\’s, no matter how far I go, that is good success for the future. I really want to succeed at Ultracentric in November; but to do that, I need to be able to keep walking no matter what my habitual consciouness says.


I was discouraged this morning. The scales just won\’t cooperate, despite 20 hours of exercise a week. I don\’t seem able to cut back on eating. My body seems to be able to exist on very few calories. But it is also always true that my mood is dismal early in the morning. I am usually down on myself. And at the moment, the Course in Miracles text is detailing my ego\’s need for specialness.

But, after some spiritual study, I approached the ex-bike. I grasped the haki-machi I wear as a head band. This morning, I remembered what it means: warrior spirit. As I put it on my head, I gained that little bit of extra energy. I felt the gates of resolve and light open to an \”enlightened\” attitude. I will walk forward a bit at a time, daily. I don\’t care what sort of depression I may be wading through.

On Saturday I fly to St Louis. On Sunday I run a 12 hour race. My heel is in almost no pain.

Right now, I am at work stupid early in order to participate in a global conference call.

The cold Coke Zero is wonderful. All life is good. I will persist in the difficult emotional work which is my contribution to human evolution.

To persevere despite how I feel is what I call character.

Happy ACIM Anniversary

Today, 7/29, is my Course in Miracles anniversary. When I started 5 years ago, I thought it might take 5 years just to get a grasp on it. I think I do have a grasp. I study the text everyday, practicing \”lectio divina\” which is one of my monastic practices. I\’ve read the Text 8 times. I\’m currently on chapter 13 and I made my prayer out of 13.III today.

Dear Holy Spirit,
I bring my thoughts to You.
I seek the reference point.
I am a loving mind.
Grandeur is the right of God\’s Son.

Chapter 13.III
\”For His answer is the reference point beyond illusions, from which you can look back on them and see them as insane. But seek this place and you will find it, for Love is in you and will lead you there.\”

Love, peace.

This time of year is very reflective for me. August 8 is the anniversary of my sobriety in 1985 and getting kicked out of the monastery in 2003.

Despite getting up at 8 am, and starting my walk at 9:45, a cloud cover came at 10:45 so I could continue walking for another 4 hours. I suppose that walking 5h19 minutes or 18.5 miles is pointless. I find I am proud to have a life where I have nothing better to do than walk for 5 hours on a Sunday afternoon. I didn\’t really plan on walking that long. I just loaded up my hydro-pak and said I\’d walk for a short while.

I spent the time repeating my prayer (above). I realized just before I started that today was the beginning of my last 8 day retreat before being abruptly kicked out of the monastery (9 years ago). I briefly looked at my journal for this day. Oh my, I was a tortured soul.

Upon leaving the monastery, Sister Mary Margaret Funk advised me to just be a monk in the world. I\’ve continued my monastic practices to live up to the monk part. And at work, I am part of at least 3 projects which span the globe and bring me into contact with people all over the world.

Now I am a Course in Miracles student. My mind is far more peaceful that it was when I started 5 years ago.

When I first started walking today, I had the park to myself. I could imagine not knowing what my body meant; just imagined myself as a primordial consciousness in a primordial forest. Then, as various families showed up for their kids to play on the slides, I practiced \”Grandeur is the right of God\’s Son.\”

While walking, I thought of the 3,100 Mile Race and how a couple of the guys will finish tomorrow and Tuesday.

I thought about my own plans to walk a 12 hour race in September. I realized that in that race, after 5 hours, my feet and mind will feel about the same as today, only I\’ll be trying to walk another 7 hours. No doubt, St Louis will be hot and humid too. I wonder if my mind will give up at 26.2 miles; or if my heel will just feel horrid and I\’ll stop.


Last night, I pondered this while I walked on my treadmill. Chapter 5.I: The Holy Spirit is the Christ Mind which is aware of the knowledge that lies beyond perception.

Yesterday was a celebration. See, I\’ve been trying to figure out what or if I should go in a race during my next vacation, around Labor day. I\’m signed up for 2, but mostly because they are races that sell out. I signed up for a 12 hour race in St Louis long ago. I signed up for a half marathon in Utah very recently. I signed up for the half marathon because it was shorter and I thought I could do it with my sore heel; and the venue was very scenic.

Two weeks  ago, I ran 6 miles and it killed me. that coming after spend a huge chunk of money for \”treatments.\” I decided to ignore the doctors and just stop running; practical advice they failed to give. Last weekend, I exercised 11 hours between Friday night and Sunday, with an 18.5 mile walk on Sunday. That walk was far less painful than the 6 mile run had been the week before. 

In between the two weekends, Southwest Airlines had a seat sale. But I failed to buy tickets because I couldn\’t decide where to go, if anywhere. On Monday of this week, I realized that my foot was doing really well, but I couldn\’t find the seat sale on the Southwest website. I couldn\’t justify $400 (just the airfare) for a stupid race. 

So I waited.

Again on Tuesday, my foot felt really good, even with some jogging. I decided I really wanted to do the 12 hour race in St Louis. This because I wanted to walk 12 hours. There would be camaraderie on the 1.4 mile course. The other master and senior women finishing in 2011 were going at walking speeds. Many of the people just walk 26.2 miles and stop.

I checked the Southwest web page; suddenly I figured out where the special offer was. Prices were reduced. So I quickly got out my Luv voucher and my points and got tickets. Then, I used my Spot points at the Parking Spot so I have free airport parking. Then, I called National car rental and cashed in my miles for a free day on a rental car. I\’m paying weekend rate for a Marriott hotel room. So all in all, I\’m not paying that much for my 2 day trip to a race. So, no matter how bad I do, its ok financially.

The way all this suddenly seemed right and came together was amazing to me as I had not realized how many points I had to spend. And whatever mental road block I\’d been carrying for a couple of weeks was gone.

Here is the place of my next ultra:

This morning, I did 30 min of tempo elliptical and another 20 min jog on the tm. I feel so good and so hopeful about myself. At the same time, I stand in typical human conflict. We all live amidst competing forces: too much food, work demands, fitness, other people, government, finances, the delusion of aging.  My life of peace within this continuous hurricane of conflicts is taught to me by the Holy Spirit and A Course in Miracles. In 4 days, I celebrate my 5th year as a course student. When I first started my studies, I thought it would take 5 years to get even a grasp of what it was really saying. This is true.