Frisco 50 – I am an Ultra Runner

It is Sunday morning. I am in an airport. I just walked back and forth along the concourse for 2.5 miles. Last night, I sat in a hotel room and looked at my second place medal from the 50k (31 miles) I ran. It is a symbol of something.

I am an ultra runner again. I will say, for me, there is something more to a 31 mile race than a 26.2 mile race.

My trip to Kansas City has caused me to realize: I don\’t care about Kansas City. I am a person without a commitment to a place or a tribe. This is the result of my Course in Miracles studies. Yes, I walk about the world, but I am not really attuned to it. I know it is a dream. I see my own charade being carried out and I don\’t need to judge anyone else\’s charade.

I met interesting people at the 50k race: Mr Florida, Ms Ithaca, Miss Ft Worth, Rob…

Running in the last few miles, I did realize that this race was showing me what I am made of. I was beyond what training could do. I was just being guttish. My legs hurt but it seemed not to matter.

The aid stations were out of water. The finish line was out of finisher\’s medals. A deer fly bit me enough to draw blood. I got the last diet coke.

Being from Houston, the humidity was my friend.

I had one thought on my mind: The gift of Christ is all I seek today. This phrase is from A Course in Miracles. I mention that because many Christians would not agree with the premises of the Course. But while I was running a 50k, there was a young man running a half marathon. I saw him at the start with a large wooden cross. At about 6 miles, I was passing someone, and another person in a shorter race was coming back at me (meaning 3 of us across a 10 ft wide trail). Just then, the man with the cross came from behind and passed me. I didn\’t hear him. I said, \”Sorry.\” He quickly adjusted the cross to keep from hitting me and said, \”that\’s ok.\”

Watching him run forward, I thought about all the things people do for religion and in this case Jesus. I mean, I did spend 4 years in a monastery and know the shenanigans the nuns pull. Then I realized: the problem with Christianity is that everyone has their own belief about Jesus.

Now in the airport, I hear there is a scandal in the Roman Catholic church related to nuns. Really?

I had lunch with an old friend during this trip. I feel bored with the conversation. Walking back and forth in the airport, I realize that Kansas City is not special to me. I lived here 25 years, but there is nothing there for me now.

Back in Houston. DOMs is setting in. I must keep moving.


The Endless Path

If I had stayed in the convent, I\’d be spending the weekend sitting in this room with these elderly nuns:

I pretty much hate sitting around rooms going through namby pamby discernment exercises. It is not like manufacturing groups don\’t also have meetings and set goals. Its just that things move along quicker. We don\’t have to ask who we are.

I am gathering my things and packing my bags. I have an ultra-marathon on tap this weekend. I\’ll be here, doing this and looking pretty much like this:

This is a picture from 3 years ago; the last time I was in this race.

Instead of being a nun with no possessions. I am an engineer with a six figure salary, a car, a home and everything else. My own treadmill, elliptical, nordic track, ex-bike and weight set. I have a stock of 4 new pairs of running shoes in the closet.

Instead of practicing Roman Catholicism and sitting in Adoration before the holy eucharist, I practice A Course in Miracles and sit before the inner altar where Christ is. And long distance running is my prayer. Endurance is my meditation. The endless trail is my contemplation.

How long can I go? What will it feel like?

When I left the convent, I didn\’t give up Christ, or silence or contemplation. But a part of me can\’t forget them. If you asked me if I am better off where I am now, I\’d answer yes. But I still look back. I still look back.

And then I look forward. I look forward. The path is long. The path is my conversation with God. I am spirit, talking through Spirit in communication with Source.

Ultra Insanity

Incredible. Unbelievable. I\’m sure I am crazy; for running at least.

So, I have wanted to enter another timed endurance run. I can\’t completely explain why. Being on your feet for 24 hours does hurt. But, well, sometimes you just should.

I am going to a 50k endurance run in Missouri this weekend. I signed up for that because I wanted to see what shape I was in and to remember what it feels like. Then I planned to train all summer for a 12 hour endurance run in September.

But, I found out yesterday that I am scheduled to go to one of our plant sites in Massachusetts in May. Then I remembered that there was an endurance run nearby which I had figured that I didn\’t want to do since I am short on vacation and I am going to Canada at the end of May.

But, my boss said I could fly on a Friday and of course my air fare is on the company. So, why not go to an endurance run. It is not like I wouldn\’t spend all weekend running anyway. It is my only chance for a 24 hour run this year. My foot is a bit sore, but undergoing good treatment. But if my only goal is to remain on my feet for 24 hours, why not?

So, I\’m now all booked to go to \”3 Days at the Fair\” although, I\’m only in the 24 hour race.

It is my chance to feel the community of one of these endurance runs. It is my chance at extended running meditation for this year. I love the thought: Just go around the loop, thru night and day. Peaceful. Connected to the others. Miles piling up.

Here are some pictures:

The 3 Agreements

Many of my peers (new age yuppies, tail end of the baby boom) have read \”The Four Agreements.\” These seemed like wisdom when I read them.

Recently, my spiritual journey with Jesus and A Course in Miracles, has lead me to understand that there are 3 agreements which I can break. They are the secret vows that everyone of us makes with the separation concept.

I have broken my agreements with: fear, hatred and guilt. I no longer believe these are true and I am no longer totally vulnerable to them. I don\’t believe the ego\’s lies without question. I think I must have accepted Atonement somewhere along the line. I am/have forgiven myself. So I do not have to go along with any agreement to hate anybody, be afraid of others or feel guilty for my dream.

In this, the pain disappears and the Son of God is free. I walk with the living Christ instead.

Today I am on Lesson 287: You are my goal my Father, only You.

Who would have thought when I got kicked out of a monastery that I\’d go on to a greater Communion?

I am getting ready for a 50k race next weekend. So, I\’m going a bit easy on myself so I\’ll be ready. I\’m feeling competitive. At the same time, the 10 day Self Transcendence Race is underway in Flushing Meadows, NY. I also truly year for endless time on the trail. My body cannot do 50 miles a day for days in a row, so the Self Transcendence race is out of the question.

But I still go for hours as suits me. Even walking uphill on the treadmill fills my need for endurance. Endurance activities are merely a dream of eternity, where I truly am. Accepting Atonement, the dream is undone and I live in eternity.

A Crack in the Universe

No, it wasn\’t bright lights or euphoria. But a moment of extreme clarity and complete understanding. Of what? For a moment, I had a complete understanding of how I am joy and if I live consciously from that truth, the illusion changes to total happiness and joy.

I\’m not sure I still have a grasp on that knowing which was so clear a couple hours ago when I was exercising.

It came to me in terms of picking races. What if…..personal bests and Boston Qualifications are created way before the day of the race and everything that happens is created metaphysically of thoughts?

 So, let me start with the idea I want to have a happy race. I give this idea to Spirit and let Him plan. I just go along. Then, I go to the race calendar and see whats on there. Lets say that some race leaps out at me as one I really want to do. Coupled with the idea the Spirit is in charge, I enter that race because I know thats the one selected for me by Spirit.

So, now, I just go about my training, picking my race day outfit, planning travel, etc, secure in the knowledge I will have a happy day. I know the \”moons will line up\” (or that I\’ll be lucky) because Spirit is in charge of giving me a happy day.

But what if I don\’t trust Spirit? What if I am afraid I won\’t get what I want? What if I think God answers prayers by sending difficulties? Then, I didn\’t really want a happy day. I really want fear and pain. If thats what I want, then that is what I get because I wanted it.

So, I just bring these openly to Spirit and they go away.

As I pondered the idea that my best races were actually planned for me by Spirit and that I just trusted and went along, giving all credit to Spirit, suddenly the universe disappears. Truly it is an illusion. I did nothing. All was Spirit. I am spirit.

It is a metaphysical truth: the universe does not exist, so I can change it.

The Frisco 50, next Saturday, seems to be such a race. On the day I thought of it, I had clicked submit and purchase airplane tickets without qualms of any sort. Same with the Copper Mountain Half on June 30. But no matter how much I pondered a race in Tulsa, I just didn\’t feel comfortable with entering. At work, there was an assignment I delayed on because I couldn\’t decide what to do with it. Then, I got some additional information and suddenly, I knew what had to be done. What if I was waiting for a spiritual moment to move easily forward instead of forcing this myself? Things go badly when I force them myself.

I can\’t explan how clear this was during a moment of clarity. I totally knew the truth. Now, hours later, I can\’t explain it but I still know it. I also know that another glimmer will arrive and that one will stay longer and be clearer.

My psalm for today, devised last night is:
Today I wake to joy expecting but
the happy things of God to come to me.

I awaken every moment.

Why Be Alive

This morning, I had a new thought decision. I\’ve decided I no longer will say \”I don\’t want to be alive\” or \”I\’m not here for any particular purpose\”; I\’ve decided to choose why I will live. I am free in that regard.

See, my whole life, I\’ve compared myself to others and seen them doing much more worthy things. Or they had religious validation. Or they were more enlightened. Or they were part of families and caring for others. It is true that I have no particular place in society and no one else cares if I am here or not. If I disappeared, hardly anyone would notice. I interpreted this situation as meaning that I don\’t need to be alive and have no reason to be here.

This is not correct and it has been corrected. My purpose in life happens to be more abstract than others. I have the gift of life; but I happen to believe that the biggest part of that gift is not in this world. I\’ve decided to stop trashing the gift, accept it and choose to move forward with it.

Did I tell you? I just started reading the Course in Miracles Text for the 8th time since July of 2007. I always find new things I missed before. My goal is to read very slowly and savor each thing said.

Here is a map of my next race:

I will be running a 50k (31 miles) along an old railroad bed across the southern Missouri countryside. I\’ll probably take about 7 hours to do it. It is a small race; a few compatriots going 50k or 50 miles. It is nothing like Boston. And here is where my philosophy departs from this world into the abstract.

I have qualified for Boston but never entered. I could have been there this year. I look at the thousands of people and know it is one of the last places I\’d ever want to be. And with my attitude, I realize that Boston is just a media hype. Without the marketing and media, it would just be another big city marathon.

I\’ve run marathons and longer races under hot and humid conditions . I don\’t know why everyone is crying so bad about how hot Boston was. It didn\’t crack 90F for instance.

Ready Freddie

Yesterday, I did a 25 mile jog/walk. In the evening, I did some free weights and another 25 min of elliptical. The last 25 mile run I did was 3 weeks ago. Last weekend, I had a 3 day training extravaganza. This week, I had a bit of a cut back recovery week (only 47 miles).

Thats the background. Today, I only did 10.1 miles, mostly walking with numerous fast pickups. I felt much better than after my last 25 mile run. I like looking at my garmin during a pickup and seeing 8 min/mile in the instantaneous speed box.  I\’ll probably do a bit more workout this evening.

All this is to say that I think I\’ll do fine at my 50k race in 2 weeks. I haven\’t done a 50k since last September in Silverton, CO.

I entered the Frisco 50 because I wanted to remember what it feels like to go that far. I don\’t have the mental fortitude to do it by myself. I am familiar with this course and the location is easy and cheap on Southwest Airlines. I am signed up for a couple of 12 hour runs in the fall, but before I buy any airplane tickets for them, I need to feel the 50k.

I think ultra running is a sport that comes from a different place than marathoning. My mentality for this is very different than when I am training for a marathon. I seek the quality of endlessness, not speed.

I am reading \”The Song of Prayer,\” a supplement to A Course in Miracles. Here is my psalm:

Let prayer but leave the ground where it begins
to rise to God and true humility
will come to grace the mind that prayed.

The only way I survived 4 years in a convent was to remember all day one line from the rule of Benedict: I am a worm and no man. The only way I survive in daily life as an engineer is to remember humility. When I place myself below, and take my dog out of the race and surrender to God, things go well. That is all I care about.

Hogwash (not)

Blogs about God can be boring. The God topic seems so \”something.\” I guess because I no longer get inspired by anything other than A Course in Miracles text. I no longer want anyone else\’s opinions.

More robots read this blog than people.

Many running blogs I find interesting. I love reading ultra runner blogs and hearing about long runs.

Why is this post called \”Hogwash\”? Because: Last evening, I took an evening off workouts and I gave God some space in my mind. After a bit of silent conversation, I thought, \”God is not hogwash.\” And so, I start from there by just taking up the listening position.

So, this morning, I woke up before the alarm, did my spiritual study, and hit the trail at 6. In my mind was the following God thought: I do not understand what anything is for and so I do not understand what anything means. I merely rise and go to Him in peace.

I kept that up for 6 hours and I jog/walked my way through 25 miles and 60 oz of water and other fuel. I think I will be able to complete a 50k in 2 weeks.

But the situation does need reflection. I realized that I have to do ultras because I want to be training for 6+ hours or have the opportunity to be on a trail for 7+ hours; not for swag or any sort of bragging. It is the idea of endurance which I so much seek. Endurance is eternity to me. I yearn for eternity. And, A Course in Miracles is my only solution to that problem. A number of friends are running the Boston marathon on Monday. Despite running a qualifying time of 15 min less than what is required for entry (which would have put me in the second qualifying bracket and I would have got in); I would hate the whole Boston experience. So I didn\’t enter. I\’m glad. I can think of nothing worse than being in huge crowds and spending big bucks and being pissed off about it for 3 days. Along with running a PW race.

Instead, I\’ll be in Missouri in 2 weeks quietly shuffling along for 31 miles, picking up my finisher medal and going home.

For me, its the very act of quietly shuffling along. I\’m the most unimpressive runner on earth.

After I got done with my run, I had a small green smoothie sitting in a cooler in the car. It was THE.BEST. SMOOTHIE.EVER. Loved it.

Easter 2012 – Miracles

Today was a miracle day. I mean, wow, should not have happened.

At 3 am, I was awake. I decided that doing more running today was not a good idea so changed all the alarms (which had been set for 4:30). And slept til 7.

After getting up. I decided I felt pretty good. I decided to go to the park for a walk of undetermined length. It is a nice day but would still be very hot by noon. So, I get to the park about 8:35. The parking lot has the usual large quantity of cars belonging to runners.  

I walk across the parking lot and start in on my walk. After a couple of minutes, I wondered how jogging would feel. OK, a minute or two of slow jogging. A couple of minutes of walking. Lets try jogging again (couple three minutes). Ok, walk again.

Well, after about a mile of that, the jogging portion had turned into 3 minutes of race pace running. WTF? I mean FFS! What am I thinking? But, I look at times on the garmin and I see times between 8 and 10 min miles! So I actually kept that ridiculous pacing up for 15 miles, 3h03 (just about 5 mph average).

A 15 mile interval run after 22 miles on Friday and 20 miles yesterday. How did that happen? I should have been wasted already. So, Friday and Saturday were easy non-stressful miles but still….

Today was a real workout, but incredible.

Was it the titanium neck band? haha, I paid $35 for a titanium neck band. I bought it as a fashion statement on Thursday. I even tied 3 knots in the front for the holy trinity (me, myself and I).

I walked the 16th mile back to the car; not tempting my luck.

Then, my only chore on the way home was to buy gas. After entering my credit card, I was fumbling around with the nozzle and put my wallet on the back of the car. I remember thinking, \”Don\’t forget to get that after you get this nozzle in.\” Of course I forgot. Arriving home, I thought I needed to move the wallet from the car to my backpack only to discover it wasn\’t IN the car. Oh sh!T. I jump out of the car and look at the back…………………………..My wallet is still sitting there. PTL! Thank you, thank you.

This weekend, not counting Thursday eve, I ran 58 miles and worked out 14.3 hours. I wonder if I am ready for the Frisco 50k in 3 weeks?

One toe nail won\’t be making the trip.

Ultra Again

It is only a 50k, but I am signed up. Yesterday, I clicked all the buttons: airplane, hotels, rental cars, parking, race entry.

After my 25 mile jaunt on Saturday, I walked another 8 miles on Sunday. This gave me 43 miles between Friday night and Sunday. I felt it. But it felt good. There is something that happens to the body and mind the longer you go. It is memorable, yet not exactly explainable.

My ACIM Psalm for tonight and tomorrow is certainly beautiful and cuts completely to the heart of life:
Be in my mind, my father, through the day.
I trust all things to you. Fear has ended.

You realize that as soon as you completely surrender your life and stop judging it, then you have nothing to fear. Nothing is left for you to worry about. Nothing bad will happen because you have not projected it.

I imagine myself an ultra runner; just chugging along a road with no beginning and no ending, all is pure bliss.