This Week in the Life of an Ultramarathoner

Monday started with a relief. What ever is wrong with my front tooth, it can\’t be found on an x-ray. Then I had a pleasant drive to College Station Texas. And I gave a well received professional presentation wearing a $700 suit.

Then I went to San Antonio and ran a 50k endurance run. That is, 31 miles; an ultra-marathon. I signed up for this race because I wanted to see what shape I would be in at the end. I haven\’t run that far in a long time. I have a 55 hour event coming up over NYE, so I wanted to see how I would feel after a 31 mile race. And being in a race, I was more sure about finishing it. I wanted to see if I could then do more walking since a 55 hour race would still have much more time and the potential to walk 100 miles in the 55 hours.

And there is the crux of the matter: quitting. For the first 2 hours of the event, my brain was fighting me, trying to come up with some way to quit and also save face. I wasn\’t even in real pain, just feeling like quitting. The race was 10 laps of 3.1 miles each (out and back). After one lap, I had a rational thought: I know how to laps. I do them every weekend. 10 laps is not that bad. Then I got it up to 6 laps. After that, I thought, \”only 4 more.\” Then later I thought, \”less than 2 hours.\” Then, one more lap. In the last lap Christopher Cross arose in my brain and I ran like the wind. Then I was done: 7 hours and 7 min not counting pit stops.

I asked my friend, \”Why do we do this?\”

It is not real clear, except for a few moments of real prayer I had during this race. The prayer occurred when I was in the moment. I was just taking these steps right here.

The drive home was pretty easy considering the time of day. Tough to get out of San Antonio, drive about 85 mph to Houston, tough to get through Houston.

I started ultra-marathoning for the sake of self transcendence. Then I waffled around with wanting to do 100 miles or something. Then I thought I\’ll do a massive number of marathons. Then I returned to the laps. The 55 hour run is laps. I should be right in my element.

I will not worry about doing more than 50k in any of my training. And I will continue to walk alot, along with my cross training. That is best for the 55 hour run. I will stay entered in Desert RATS. That race is too much for me, but I don\’t have to do every mile to experience a week of camping and more that 100 miles of desert meditation.

Thursday evening, I clicked \”withdraw\” from the internal job board for my company. I\’ve decided to stay in Texas and accept whatever comes. I want to engage in the place where I am now.

I feel different about my home now. Driving down NASA Blvd this morning I thought about Carmel-by-the-sea and Seabrook (where I live). Seabrook is not Carmel, but it has feature I need like a nearby trail system and affordable housing and employment. There is a nice AA group. It is a good place to continue my spiritual studies.

My legs are ok for doing more miles today, but I don\’t need to push them. So I got groceries and washed the car as my workout.


Flying Again

How\’s the running coming?


Today\’s miles were mostly covered at about 12:30 pace for 12.4 miles. Yesterday I got 10.1 miles done at a slightly slower pace. Next Saturday, I\’m going in a half marathon race.

I am fit. It is 3 months and one week since I got my boot off and started walking again. Lord, that first week, walking was horrible. And for a long time, even sometimes now, shoes drive me crazy at work. But running usually goes good since I am moving. At work, I sit and fluids go down. I even started wearing compression socks at work.

While I was running today, I was thinking about interior silence. I watched my thoughts and emotions as I yelled at little kids on bicycles who weren\’t watching where they were going. I remembered to return to the day\’s spiritual lesson. then I looked out on the bay and saw a kayak sitting quietly shrouded in fog. I realized that it is not enough to repeat the lesson; an image that projects the emotion of peace is needed. So now, besides thinking thoughts of inner peace, I also put an emotionally connected image of peace (the kayak in the fog). then, I don\’t have to yell at small children. I just see them. There cocktail party in my head, which is all most of us think is our life, can end in peace. In peace, I enter \”The Silent Land\” (Martin Laird) where I hear God.

Remember the phrase \”Get a life\”? I got silence. God is all I ever wanted.

3 of 4 Nuns…

…morbidly obese.

I used to hate this when I was a nun. I hated it double bad when the monks next door called and offered to let us pick apples from their damn trees. So not only did I have to pick the horrid apples but also peel and cut them up. All for what? Pie?

And I gave up an afternoon 5k for this?

I didn\’t fit there. True.

Today I jogged for 4 hours around Meador Park and Pine Gully:

I somewhat intentionally run past this place. I come out of the tall swamp grass and get hit with breeze off Galveston Bay. I really like it and I like the view from here.

I have 2 more days of running before hopping on a plane for Germany. I\’ll have some walking in Germany and I am going in a half marathon next Sunday. But mainly it will be an enforced rest from so much training. I\’ll come back just 2 weeks before Ultracentric 48 hour race; hopefully well rested.

I am not morbidly obese:

This is me at last year\’s Seabrook Race Weekend. I\’m entered again for 2013.

My work is not picking apples or mopping floors as it was in the convent. I am actually at the peak of my career. I\’ve been at the Baytown plant almost a year and find myself highly respected. My services as a Process Safety Engineer are highly valued; and managers from parts of the plant I\’m not assigned to are asking if I can help them. In Germany, I\’ll be giving a presentation. Little ol\’ ex-nun me? Yup.

The Catholic Church has declared a \”Year of Faith.\” Like, why does such a thing NEED to be proclaimed except the flock doesn\’t have any faith? But because of that, there is a web page that offers a daily e-mail with part of the Catechism, such that the whole thing is read in a year. I signed up for it. I am so far astounded at the matter of fact verbiage: God said this and did this and nothing else will ever be true.

Now we know this lengthy tomb, The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, was written by the Church hierarchy (a group of celibate priests who probably never cried out \”Oh God\” during an orgasm). It is unbelievable to me, several years after leaving the Church, that such matter of fact statements can be made.

My God is much bigger than that.

After I found out I was kicked out of the monastery, I had 3 days to find a place to live, pack up and get out. I went to the monastery to know God. My most intimate encounter came as I was being kicked out. The experience of God-Consciousness has never left me; although I was afraid that being deprived of being an official spouse of Christ would leave me out. Jesus Himself is more real to me now. I made vows to God privately in my last days before I was supposed to make monastic profession. I knew they were real. I just didn\’t know what I was asking for when I said \”Yes, whatever….\”

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?


A Course in Miracles, 11.I:

\”You must ask what God’s Will is in everything, because it is yours. You do not know what it is, but the Holy Spirit remembers it for you. Ask Him, therefore, what God’s Will is for you, and He will tell you yours. It cannot be too often repeated that you do not know it. Whenever what the Holy Spirit tells you appears to be coercive, it is only because you have not recognized your will…..The projection of the ego makes it appear as if God’s Will is outside yourself, and therefore not yours. In this interpretation it seems possible for God’s Will and yours to conflict. God, then, may seem to demand of you what you do not want to give, and thus deprive you of what you want. Would God, Who wants only your will, be capable of this? Your will is His life, which He has given to you.\”

Today I went running in my newly beloved Seabrook, Texas. I say newly beloved because I appreciate it much more since returning from Colorado. About 90 minutes into the run I could see the sweat dropping off the bill of my Badwater hat. I\’m sure that never happens in Badwater. I watched the drips one by one fall to the red gravel of the path in Seabrook. The running went well until about 9 miles. Then the lightening became too close for comfort. I ended my run at 10 miles; but that was about all my foot wanted to give anyway.

It should be noted that I wear a Badwater hat for lofty inspiration; not because I ever will run Badwater.

I came home and had my salad at 9:30 am; then a massive nap. Then I watched the fish at the Monterey Aquarium via the live web cam.

I go back to work tomorrow after a week of vacation. 92 miles covered since 6/30 when I started off running at Dillon Reservoir in Colorado.

Just now, I wanted to try and see if anything important had happened during this retreat from work. I sat down in front of A Course in Miracles and read what is quoted above. I noticed that there are two ideas: my will and God\’s Will. But it also points out that there is only one life and one will: that which I share with God. Then it points out that my ego does not want this.

Thus, I seem to throw away God, fear God and feel life long conflict.

I seem to always wish I could have a quantum leap in my thinking. But I get daily changes and glimmers of light.

Wonder why I haven\’t bought my air plane tickets for my September marathon yet? I\’m waiting for something but I don\’t know what.

Edit: I just spent 30 min riding my ex-bike and pondering \”Your will is His life….\” Really, think about it; for yourself I mean.

Another LSD

Seabrook, Texas

I can\’t believe I love it here!

Crimony, another Saturday Sweatfest in Meador park.

A miracle run in that I did it at all.

But my mind was on A Course in Miracles and the thoughts I got this morning from my study:
Escape from this image by leaving it behind.
Withdraw investment and the gift of life is mine.
Give only honor to the Sons of the living God.

God is love. Thoughts that Love would not have thought are my ego. Ego thoughts are also attack thoughts. Answer any ego thought with something like what is in italics above. This denies the ego any reality. Any loving thought is being vigilant for God. This changes everything.

The image I see is basically hate. The illusion looks like a bunch of people I am more or less annoyed with; but its reality is hate. Hate is what I really want to stop. If I fear other\’s judgement of me, then I know I have projected my own self judgment. This can be left behind. Judgment can be denied by answering the ego with an opposite thought. If you can\’t think of an opposite thought, then ask for one and it will show up. If you want it, you will notice it.

21 days to Ultra Monk\’s Colorado training camp. It is a free training camp; after you buy the plane ticket, the rental car and the hotel room.

Body Odor

These are the musing of a struggling athlete who is also successful.

Last night, I slowly jogged around Bremmerhop park 20 times, thats about 5.3 miles. The point of the run was to get outside despite heat and humidity; and it is not really even hot and humid yet. But I have plenty of daylight. If I get in this habit now, it will be easier this summer.

Bremmerhop park is half swamp. I shared my run with a white bird who had long red legs and a long red beak.

This morning, I got up and pulled on yesterday\’s shorts and bra; then went downstairs for my coffee and spiritual study. It is a pretty ugly scene, not holy at all: a smelly sleepy person with a dull mind. I sit there. My thoughts are split between Jesus in A Course in Miracles and troubles with my Texas running.

I\’ve had to concede that running on concrete is much harder than running on asphalt; hence more time on the treadmill and the attempt at afternoon running which can be on \”hard\” dirt. But also I don\’t understand, despite mileage reductions, plantar fascitis has been plaguing me. I had sort of a chronic case, ignored for years, in Missouri; but it now requires more time off from running.

On the other hand, I knew when I moved here that I would increase my cross training and reduce running. So I work out at higher calorie burn rates on the elliptical, nordic track, ex-bike, versa climber and treadmill. This does not necessarily bother me. Walking uphil on a treadmill with ankle weights seems a necessary part of training for someone who loves 12 hour ultras.

I return to the woman sitting in smelly shorts and pondering Jesus. Maybe she is holy. She is happy in her work. She is happy with her co-workers. Her athlete ethos is alive and intact. In the silence, she listens to the Greater Silence.

If I let go all is peace.

Working on hazardous chemical safety is at least as holy as doing the dishes.

This weekend is Seabrook Race weekend: two days of races. I am entered into two half marathons. I am excited about the 3 shiney medals I\’ll have hanging in my house by Sunday night. Here is a look at the Pelican Challenge medal for doing 2 half marathons and the two finishers medal for 2 half marathons.

Really Good Run

I had a really good run today: 20.2 miles around the loop from Meador Park to Pine Gully Park. I did it at ultra low impact slow pace. And that is what made it incredibly good: very little aches and pains.

I got to dream of doing another multi-day race or 24 hour race later this year. I haven\’t quite decided which one yet, but it looks like I am coming out of my transition difficulties.

Here is a picture from last week\’s race. I ordered it from PR Photo, but this is a screen shot:

The lessons I kept my mind on were: \”The stillness of the peace of God is mine.\” and \”Today belongs to Love. Let me not fear.\”  I can be hurt only by my own thoughts. Keeping them on spirit, I did not feel pain.

A Good Gift

As luck would have it, I went to an offsite meeting today; which was over at 11:30. I then had a mission to complete. I have an ultra running friend who ran 44 miles on her 44th birthday. She is an impressive and inspiring lady who did 44 miles despite some health issues. She inspired me as I sat in my meeting this morning reading her blog. The good gift was an afternoon AWOL so I could complete my birthday running plan.

My plan was not quite as difficult as my friend. I decided to commemorate my 53 year by running 53 laps around the park near my house:

A lap is about 0.27 miles or 3.3 minutes. It took me 2h53 min to complete the 53 laps. I have a lap counter I wear on my index finger.

I thought much about multi-day races I have done. I wished I could get to one again; but my body is not really able to do an all day event right now.

I also thought about something I heard on the radio this morning, \”…athletes have come to Houston this weekend hoping to become Olympic athletes…\”

This weekend\’s Houston marathon is the US Olympic qualifying marathon. The Olympics have always touched some sore spot inside me. So I teared up as I drove along thinking about the joy of winning.

As I ran, I repeated over and over a couple of lessons from the ACIM workbook: \”I am surrounded by the Love of God\”; and \”Creations gentleness is all I see.\” Tomorrow\’s lesson is, \”My heart is beating in the peace of God.\” As I stop to allow the reality of my heart beating in the peace of God, all the world stops too. Total peace emerges and heaven is known.