Finished the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee

Finisher Certificate

I did it. I finished the 2nd Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. It took 54 days, 147:37 hours of running. 642.9 miles.

I finished 5 days faster this year than last year. This speaks of focus, intention, health, expansion. Despite the heat, I did the miles relentlessly. While focused on doing miles, I did little else.

I now return to other projects and qualities of my life.

Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee – Update June 4

The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee has a course that is 643 miles long. It began May 1st and is to be completed by the end of August. I am trying to do as many miles each day as I can. So far, since May 1, I have completed 386 miles. I just got to 60%. Averaging 11 miles a day. I am amazed how my brain actually thinks that completing as many miles as possible is a necessary activity; that is, the race is something real to my brain, not virtual at all.

Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 2021

 It is that time of year. The second edition of the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. I entered this virtual race again because we got cool belt buckles last year. This year\’s version is 642 miles. It began on May 1. I have already completed 102 miles.

You can see my current location on the map just above Jackson. 102 miles is 16%.

I find that since the race started, my brain has been focused on doing miles. Not that there is any hurry. A very curious thing about my brain. It thinks it is in the race, therefore, I am compelled to do more miles than normal. 

Starting Monday was a 255-mile ultra-marathon. It took place between Phoenix and Flagstaff, Arizona, on trails. For the first time ever, it was live-streamed by many volunteers on the course. I watched as much as I could. I happened to watch the winner finish in real-time, just over 72 hours. It was amazing to watch him run in to the finish, not at all looking like he just spent 3 days in the mountains doing 255 miles. The first female came in about 12 hours later. She did look like her feet hurt. I could feel her pain. However, all the finishers demonstrated an amazing thing about the human mind. The mind can somehow keep a body going and going and going. There was a live chat on Youtube. I could see that many people felt amazed as I did. Every time I logged in to watch, there were nearly 1,000 others watching. Many ultra-runners left the live stream on their computers all day while they \”worked from home.\” And then, I went out to do my own miles. 

Speaking of the brain, I just finished another neuroscience book: \”7 1/2 Lessons About the Brain\” by Lisa Feldman-Barrett. Interestingly, this author thinks that the brain makes the mind, not that the mind uses the brain as a tool. Not a word about \”consciousness,\” unless you count the word \”mind\” as consciousness. The implications are major if consciousness is a thing made by an organic process with no intentional guidance. 

I\’ve read a number of neuroscience books. I can say that most of them do not propose that there is a consciousness, or soul, which is present at birth or that enters the body at some point. Experiments have not been able to detect consciousness. 

Neuroscience leaves us spiritualists hanging. There is no data, only individual reports. 7 1/2 Lessons also does not discuss the differing jobs of the left and right hemispheres. Perhaps in writing a logical book, the author did not give the right hemisphere a say; after all, the right hemisphere is non-verbal. If there is a higher consciousness, it would communicate quietly through the right hemisphere. The communication would be an intuitive thought received into the left hemisphere through the corpus callosum, which connects the two hemispheres. 

René Descartes, a philosopher who died in 1650, knew as much about consciousness as we do. We still don\’t know what makes a human out of an animal. We prefer to see ourselves as special in the universe, more conscious than any other animal; but we could be wrong about our specialness.

Bad Ass Marathon

I have a friend who thinks I am a bad ass. I haven\’t known how to respond to that since I don\’t feel like a bad ass.

However….after today, maybe I do.
Wouldn\’t someone who has run, as of today, 100 marathons in her life be a bad ass? Or who ran a 100 mile race? Or became a millionaire? Or who finished monastic formation? Or successfully accomplished FIRE (financial independence retire early)? Or who had been sober for 34 years? Or hold down a job at Starbucks at the age of 62? Or, many other things I have accomplished in this life.
So, someone who completed a 600+ mile virtual race across Tennessee, in half the allotted time, ought to be a bad ass. 
Well, a few days ago, I did the math and saw that I was getting down to the end of my race across Tennessee.  A tiny thought went through my mind, \”Do a marathon to finish it off.\” Along side of this impending finish was the fact that I had failed to complete a virtual marathon during April because when I had got to 22 miles, my feet hurt and I quit because a virtual race didn\’t mean anything.
Well that is a good idea: finish off a 600+ mile/ 2 month effort with a celebration by running a marathon. Be a bad ass! But also, I felt a little resistance because of that failure in April. Should I try this again? I didn\’t want to feel like a failure again. I haven\’t done that many miles in one run for awhile. Can I do it?
To sign up for the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee was an impulse from my inner being to begin with. It felt so right. And, 20,000 other people, and some dogs, have joined me. My success at carrying out the project was effected by alignment with my inner being. My energy was lined up with my inner being and momentum was generated to complete the project. In fact, I have been obsessed with getting miles every day, even walking on the treadmill to complete miles in the afternoon after a shift at work.
But, to do a marathon by myself, I needed more than a vague idea. I needed to strongly intend to do it. I needed emotional momentum. I needed to line my energy up with the idea. This means some practical activities like getting all my drinks ready the night before. Taping my toes. Setting my alarm clock. It is hot here so a person has to get up early to finish running a marathon. Still, I had to sit down with my journal last night and explore my fears. I had to complete a focus wheel to raise my vibration in relation to the idea. I had to segment intend by remembering how I felt during a 50 mile race last November when I had been in the zone and finished trouble free. I had to think honestly about this upcoming segment and my intentions for it. Was the idea an ego idea that would fail or an inner being idea which would succeed? It is up to me to decide and then  line up with the energy. These energy activities are to experience the success in advance so it is the cause. 
The alarm went off at 4 am. I did have to decide at that point whether to get out of bed. That has happened before too, not making it out of bed I mean. But I did get the idea of how I would feel if I completed a marathon versus how I would feel if I went back to sleep. I remembered how good it feels to run in the early morning coolness. I chose getting up.
I had a cup of coffee. The bad ass idea went across my mind. A bad ass has to get up early if she wants to do a bad ass thing. I did a meditation on physical well being. I felt much better. I felt like I just needed to be easy about it. I grabbed my hydro pack out of the refrigerator and made it out the door by 5 am.
I had planned to complete the marathon in two parts. First running from my front door and then going to a park with many trees during the hotter part. The first part went super well. It went so well that I extended it to 18.3 miles before getting back to home base. It was mostly cloudy and I felt appreciation that such a cool morning had been given to me. 
When I got home, it was still cloudy and I had to decide where to complete the run. To go back out from my house or go to the park. I thought about how clouds can suddenly vanish and I thought about how much easier it is to run in the shade. I picked the shade. So I hopped in my car and drove the two miles to the park. Good choice. The clouds did disappear and by the time I had finished off the final eight miles, it was 87F. Course map (the straight line from green dot to hash mark is in the car, but not included in miles):
What surprised me however was that my feet and legs didn\’t reach any devastating level of pain. For the run, I had plenty of emotional momentum to keep going, but also, I wasn\’t in trouble with blisters. I didn\’t bonk.My feet didn\’t hurt. My hip didn\’t hurt. It was amazing. It has been a long time since I have felt so in the zone for a long distance effort. 
The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee is now complete. I will finish in roughly 1,590th place of 20,000. I feel like a bad ass.
I have the corona virus to thank for my amazing athletic feats of the past 3 months. Without corona there wouldn\’t be these virtual races. Actually, the corona virus has been very good to me. Everything about me is thriving at the moment. My mode of existence has shifted. There are many people who are doing amazing things during this corona virus time. Not everybody is worried about sickness. Just look around you and you will see them.
Stay tuned. I have another virtual race coming in two weeks. It includes a 50k race which has to be done in one effort. 

Exciting Times

May 1st began the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. The course was 635 miles from a lower western side of the state to the very tip of the state on the eastern side. As of yesterday, I\’d completed 603 miles.

Wow !
Today I walked 6 miles. That leaves 25 more miles. I\’m planning to do all those miles on Sunday in the form of a virtual marathon. A marathon to celebrate Virtuality. Vitality! 
A part of my brain believed that this virtual race is really a race and I should put as much as I could into it. And, whenever I am not at work, I really have nothing to do except go for walks. That\’s why I have finished 2 months before the deadline. Essentially, I did as many miles as I could for the past 2 months. I am really astonished at the number of miles I have completed. 
Only lost one toenail.  😁
I\’ve loved almost all the miles. I love both the pathways through the forests and the pathways across wide open prairie. 
I don\’t know how to stop. So, I signed up for another virtual race which starts in the middle of July. It is a short one however: 4 different distances to be completed during a 7 day span. The challenge is that one of the distances is 50k. I\’ll have to get up early and try to get some big miles before it gets too hot.
I am putting my memorabilia from virtual races up on a wall. I want to remember this year of pandemic.

The Why

This morning, I ran another 11 miles to count for my Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. There are less than 100 miles to go. I\’m looking forward to finishing. I can hardly wait to finish so that I no longer have this commitment hanging over my head. Oh, sure, I go running alot without a virtual race commitment. And I am finishing this virtual race at east 7 weeks before the deadline. But because it is a \”race\” I\’ve felt compelled to do as many miles as possible, between 5 and 15 every day depending on whether I work or not. I still get around to lifting weights 2 or 3 times a week, but I have ditched exercise machines for doing miles. I think that the exercise machines offered some advantages which I am missing while engaged in the race. They were working some different muscles, were non-impact and were high intensity. But I feel compelled to get miles done first.

Why is that? 

This map shows me at mile 527, 83%; though I\’ve run another 11 miles since this map was updated.
Aside from running miles and working at Starbucks, I\’ve been attempting to build momentum for my writing project. Just writing this blog is writing.
I\’ve also made a little progress on Jean Paul Sartre\’s \”Being and Nothingness.\” I like this alot: 
\”Consciousness has nothing substantial, it is pure \”appearance\” in the sense that it exists only to the degree to which is appears. But it is precisely because consciousness is pure \”appearance\”, because it is total emptiness (since the entire world is outside it)–it is because of this identity of appearance and existence within it that it can be considered as the absolute.\”
Or these phrases:…\”The percipi referred us to a percipiens, the being of which has been revealed to us as consciousness\”….\”the immanence of self in self\”…
For one thing, I encountered the word percipiens within the first 4 pages of this book and could not grasp what was meant, but now I do. 
For another thing, whether Sartre meant it or not, the descriptions of consciousness as nothing substantial and pure appearance seem to help me know and deeply feel my own higher consciousness. My total existence as a being and an appearing existence seem to make sense to me and I feel very good pondering and allowing these abstract notions.

Letter 5/31/20

The most interesting, poignant, thing happened today. I was running in a small park which is out in the county, surrounded by fields. The park itself is very uncrowded almost all the time, which is why I like using it. Today I was running 2 mile laps and stopping at my car for drinks of water. The run was going very well and I was appreciating it.

During my last lap, I noticed a very very small fawn. It was all by itself and making this pathetic little bleating cry. Very small. No mama deer anywhere in sight. Oh my god. My heart was crushed. This poor little fawn had no mama. About that time, another car came by on the park road. It slowed down looking at the fawn, but also, I was out in the road too. They rolled down their window when they got to me. I asked if they had their phone could they call an animal shelter or something. I pointed out that the fawn had no mama. 
We were not able to call anyone right then, it being Sunday. I said that I would try to call later. As I jogged away, I noticed that the young man had got out of their car and was walking toward the fawn. I assume that they caught it, as it wasn\’t there when I drove by after I finished my lap. 
Such an amazing thing to see human hearts reach out to this tiny living being who would die without help. Oh, yeah. The people who stopped to help the fawn were black. 
I don\’t know much about love,but I think this was it.
In other news, I am just over half way in my virtual run across Tennessee. In the month of May, I jogged or walked 335.7 miles.  The winners of the race finished in 11 or 12 days (621 miles). And many of them are participating in a race back to the start. I know of a 73 year old lady who is planning to walk there and back within the 4 month allowed time frame. Me? Once, I get across Tennessee, I\’m done.
Here is a map of the course and my location. And, the race t-shirt came yesterday.