A Miracle

This trip to Dallas must be in alignment with my inner being. My usual mental hurdles are just not there. Like, making it to Dallas at.all given the 8 hour drive after a 6.5 hour shift which began at 4:30 am. Why did I NOT just get lazy as I usually do and blow it off?

Then, after yesterday\’s marathon, my right ACL tightened up a lot. It was difficult to walk and I was sure that getting up in the morning, I\’d be hobbling. But it was only mildly noticeable. So I went to the race anyway. Today\’s marathon seemed easier than yesterday\’s. Maybe due to cloud cover, but it was still hot/humid, and two guys went down with heat related illness. I don\’t know, but I got my second marathon in 2 days done.

However, after finishing, I looked down at my left foot. I could see a little pink color on the sock. This concerned me that blood was seeping out of the toe wrapping. But when I took the sock off, I couldn\’t see any bleeding. So, I don\’t know where the blood came from. The blister on the bottom of my foot did get a little worse, but not that bad. My left knee is not sore at all!

Within 2 hours of finishing this marathon, I knew I wanted to go do my half marathon tomorrow to make it  a Texas triple. I want to do it. That\’s weird. Usually, I\’d be finding an excuse not to go do a half marathon. But I feel myself wanting to.

During the race today, I found myself very conscious of the thoughts in my head and remembering that I get to choose the thoughts I am thinking and then ask myself what thoughts I wanted to think. What thoughts feel good? What thoughts would help me finish this marathon? This marathon. Not tomorrow\’s or some other thing that happened in the past or future. I stopped telling myself the various stories about my history which usually occupy my mind.

I saw a baby turtle.

Watched a hundred Southwest Airlines planes land and take off (the race is right next to Love Field).

Drink your fluids.

So, I need my body to heal up enough to tolerate a half marathon tomorrow morning. and, I need to not flinch or beg off. Not make excuses for my sorry self. I am ready to move forward.

What am I like as a person? I run marathons for no particular reason. I don\’t step on bugs.

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.

My Bread is Buttered on the Texas Side

Gah! I\’ve lived in Texas 3 years. I think you can get in to Texas but you can\’t get out. And I suppose there is nothing wrong with that.

Today I ran 21 miles in Seabrook averaging 13.4 min/mile despite doing 4x1s. That is 4.5 miles per hour since I know a stop to talk was included in that time. Now all summer in Houston, in ungodly heat and humidity, I was barely able to crack 4 miles per hour, and couldn\’t really stay out 5 hours. Now, the first somewhat cool day with a stiff breeze, I\’m so much better. Heat training is worth it.

Yesterday, a pack of bicycles went down a road just as I was coming to the crossing. Someone said \”there\’s Laura.\” Another one said, \”Hi Laura!\” Who were these mystery people? Today, I saw my neighbors walking in the park. Another couple I see running in the park every week told me how much they admired me. Another guy asked me if I was an ultra runner. Apparently I look like the real thing.

On Friday, I had a chat with N. He wants me to come back to work for him. I probably will. See, my company is selling the part of the business in Texas. The exact group I currently work for is disappearing. So, I would move across the fence and go to work in the group I was in last year. And, forget moving back to Kansas with some other part of the company. N. is the side of my bread with butter on it.

Another thing. I had a creative moment which yielded a innovative idea. I sent the idea to the plant manager. I didn\’t hear anything from him. Then I saw him last week and asked him about it. He hadn\’t seen it in his in-box. 2 more days and I get an e-mail saying he loves it; and lets do some more brain storming. This plant manager is in the \”for sale\” part of the company.

I have done well with all of my work for the \”for sale\” part of the plant. My skills are valued. Not so much with the other part of the company.

All these bits of anecdotal evidence add up to: Texas has been good to me. It is the side of the bread where my butter is.

In the spiritual part of my life, the butter is on the Course in Miracles side. What I am saying is that there are spiritual truths which are found in many spiritual traditions; but the way they are explained and taught in the Text and Workbook for A Course in Miracles is the way I\’ve found success. Anyone who has had a massive revelatory, emotionally invasive spiritual experience still has to work on making meaning out of it for the rest of their life. Their big moment disappears into the daily distracted life. They still put their pants on one leg at a time. They pick up their bag of racks and continue down the road.

My revelatory experiences have not been massive as far as I can discern when I read someone else\’s story. But mine are in fact daily. Everyday, especially during my morning study of the ACIM text, I completely understand Oneness. And I can find Oneness during the day too. Like out running today, I was able to grant Inner Joyful Eternity to any person I thought of. I knew that Reality is Joy. No doubt or argument was present. That is truly a spiritual experience.

I hate shopping. If I could get everything from Amazon.com and never go in a store, I would. Well, I am giving a talk at a symposium next week. I need a suit. A suit can\’t be bought on-line. I\’ve been procrastinating because I hate shopping and I hate all the traffic near the mall. Yesterday, I finally bit the bullet and did the chore. I finished my run early, showered, drove to Dillard\’s, asked directions to the lady\’s suit department, stopped the first associate I could and explained what I wanted. In particular, I hate women\’s pants that are low cut. The damn things always feel like they are falling off and a shirt won\’t stay tucked in. I don\’t actually know how women are supposed to dress anyway.

Actually, when I finally decide to go an buy something, I also plan to accomplish the mission in one trip without any fooling around. I buy cars that way too.

Well, very quickly, the lady found a pair of pants that fit perfectly. I got the whole suit and 2 shirts for $700. I didn\’t care how much, only that it fit and I looked ok. I made sure the lady thought the shirt was ok. It helps alot that if you go in a store around here and say you are an engineer, they ask if you are an astronaut; so the clothes they show you are not a bunch of girly nonsense. Well, they asked me if I was an astronaut anyway; and I didn\’t say no.

I\’m a fake astronaut but a real engineer and ultra runner. Texas immigrant.Embodied Inner Joyful Eternity.

Prayer of the Heart

From the ACIM Manual for Teachers 21: \”Strictly speaking, words play no part at all in healing. The motivating factor is prayer, or asking. What you ask for you receive. But this refers to the prayer of the heart, not to the words you use in praying. …The prayer for things of this world will bring experiences of this world. If the prayer of the heart asks for this, this will be given because this will be received. It is impossible that the prayer of the heart remain unanswered in the perception of the one who asks. If he asks for the impossible, if he wants what does not exist or seeks for illusions in his heart, all this becomes his own. The power of his decision offers it to him as he requests. Herein lie hell and Heaven. The sleeping Son of God has but this power left to him. It is enough. His words do not matter. Only the Word of God has any meaning, because it symbolizes that which has no human symbols at all. The Holy Spirit alone understands what this Word stands for. And this, too, is enough.\” (bolding mine)

Other books have been written about the prayer of the heart. I had quite forgotten this phrase. I had heard it first in the Forest of Peace, my first monastic home in Oklahoma.

The phrase cause me to sink in silence into my heart, some layer of consciousness deeper/ different than ordinary daily consciousness. What sort of experiences am I asking for in my heart? I feel the energy of certain images and I know what I was seeking positively or negatively. I can change the negative associations to feel positive too. I realized that the positive interpretations are truly my heart and my negative interpretations are my ego. The ego is so easily over-ridden in this activity.

Anyone who attains enough conscious awareness to over ride the ego\’s shabby sense of self and hateful outlook on everything can have a happy life. I can have a happy day.

And so I went running, on a very glorious day of coolness here on the Gulf Coast. I was nodding to the other runners and thinking about my spirituality. I thought about what sort of energy seems to come from my heart and drive my life. I thought this must be the prayer of my heart. Then I thought about the Great Rays mentioned in the Course in Miracles text. I\’ve always thought of them as coming from some point above in the heavens. But suddenly, I realized,the Great Rays come from within. And everybody is emitting the Great Rays. And knowing this a seeing it with eyes of the heart, I surely know what is meant by \”forgiveness\” in A Course in Miracles.

Jogging around Seabrook was delightful today. It caused me to wonder if I should not go to the company I work for and tell them I want to stay here; to go ahead and move my office across the fenceline to the new company.

Long Run

Here is what my day looked like:

That is an 18.2 mile run, plus the rest of my day. Well, jog walk. For Texas, it was cool. There was a massive pile of clouds off the coast. So while 100% humid, the temps were only in the 80s. So, I was able to keep going up until I ran out of drink after 4.5 hours.

I saw Clara today in the park, plus a number of other regulars. The pink birds were there. The water level in the bayou was about a foot higher than normal.

I hate Accelerade. But I do feel better after I drink it.

Then, this evening, I was sitting here thinking I should go lift weights. Another voice wanted to know why. But soon, I completed another 30 minutes of weight lifting. I tried to remember why I had a couple of years ago regularly put in more than an hour of cross training on Saturday evenings. This evening, I wondered why not go for a walk instead of lift weights. The weights got lifted. It is life itself that I allowed to drive me.

Moorings shift.

For a Labor Day weekend, mine is pretty tame this year. 11 years ago, I had recently been kicked out of a convent and was about to start my new job as a cashier and barista. Ten years ago, I was about to start a new job in my old field of environmental engineer at an ethanol plant. Five years ago, I was starting my new job with an old employer, having been laid off from the ethanol plant. Three years ago, I was in Silverton Colorado running my first multi-day race on a mountain at 10,000 feet. Two years ago and last year, I was running a 12 hour race in St Louis.

This year, I\’m running in Texas. Texas has enveloped me. It is quiet here in my house even though it is in the middle of other houses. While I am not doing anything spectacular this year, Labor day is yet an anniversary. I have been with my current employer five years. Yesterday, I finished another complete reading of A Course in Miracles Text. I\’ll start again soon.

Tomorrow is another day for running. For sweating. For watching the tiny crabs with the one big claw. For looking at birds. For dreaming about my expedition. I already have vision and it pleases me.

I\’m finally accepting it….

I live in Texas. I live in this house and work at this place and there is no escape. I\’ve always escaped or somehow been moved on. So much so that I didn\’t realize how I was taking Texas as a temporary thing.

But yesterday, I bought a bookshelf for my upstairs bedroom and moved books from boxes onto the shelves. Somehow, this lent an air of permanence to my residence. People who move might leave the stuff in the boxes. People planning on staying some place will unpack and settle in.

The new bookcase tells me what I have decided.

This weekend was almost my first private multi-day since foot surgery. I jog/ walked for 5 hours and 20.5 miles on Friday. I cross trained for 2h47min on Saturday. Today, Sunday, I did another 3.5 hours and 15.35 miles of jog/ walk. I don\’t really plan all this. When I go out for a long run, I just go until I run out of time or it starts to hurt real bad. So yes I am training for a marathon. But no, I am not following a training plan. I just go out and if all is well, I keep going.

I don\’t know why I like to do miles. If I lived in the mountains, it might not seem so strange to spend a day hiking. But, it is very boring where I live. The deep reason for why I do this have not been discerned. But dreaming of endurance has been in my brain since a very young age. But like silence, my brain does not speak of why this must be so.

I have to quit asking questions of silence. I should quit expecting it to make me wise. Silence just is and must be enjoyed without demands.

To be in the world but not of it: At the practical level, it means not participating. Like not eating the food of the masses, or watching their TV, or doing a family, or … get the point? But one level down it means thinking different. This is possible if you train your synapses to respond differently. Another level down it means a focus in another direction. This means that life and all of its purposes and awarenesses and desires are in a direction not of this world. This is possible but not easy since distractions come along continuously.

They built monasteries to help this process. Men went to the desert to help this process. Had I stayed in the monastery, I\’d have to be \”of this world.\” A small enclosed world different from society; but a world none the less. I\’d have to conform to them and their religion. The knowledge that makes this world an illusion would not have been obtained. The deeper thinking is possible for one allowed intellectual and spiritual freedom; but not one confined in a religious prison.

I live as a solitary. I study spiritual material. I don\’t eat the meat or watch the TV. I don\’t have any ear worms except those from the 60s and 70s which are triggered frequently but not that often.

Jesus in not Lord. Christ just is.

Some Undreamed Of Me

Well of course, I had to have dreamed it or it wouldn\’t be.

Today\’s lesson from A Course in Miracles: There is nothing my holiness cannot do. And then I had quiet. I thought a positive thought. I mean, a positive thought came to me. It was: What if I asked to shamelessly follow Jesus and live a life of prayer, and I have ended up in this cave of prayer. I mean, I really came to understand my dwelling as a cave of prayer. Not a suburban duplex but really a cave of prayer. No, it doesn\’t look like what a Desert Father lived in at the dawn of Christianity. No obvious holy objects or altars. But none the less, it is a cave of prayer.

Today at work, a picture was taken of me. Yup, I work in a chemical plant. The fancy head set is because it is noisy around the refrigeration compressors and I needed to talk with the technician. Don\’t I look cool? Well, actually, if I didn\’t know that was me, I don\’t think I\’d recognize me.

Oh…yeah…. it is cold in Texas today. Hence the jacket.

I even was able to finally explain to someone in a sound bite and without recrimination why I am a vegetarian. And also say it is my own conviction of my own belief, not some religious rule that came from others. I don\’t belong to any religion. You have to pray if you want a conviction. Once you have a conviction, Spirit will keep you safe forever.

I am safe forever. I don\’t think I realized that before.

I can rest in quiet too. The incessant yammering is still.

Achievement

Yesterday, I was talking to a lady who runs 60 to 70 marathons a year. There was a man in the race who has run 250 and another lady who has run 350.

I\’ve been a runner for 40 years. It has never crossed my mind to focus on that many marathons; or even keep track of how many I have run beyond the past year or two.

I was realizing the human propensity for raising the bar on ourselves. Nothing is ever enough for us. Bucking this trend is part of my spiritual program. My life is not based on achieving higher numbers. So after my marathon, I return to metaphysics. What was I creating in that day with those people. The man who ran 250 marathons is also a preacher. He managed to give our little group of runners a 2 minute sermon about Samuel which was interesting and not mention Jesus Christ at all.

Today I run/walked 18 miles. This run was on top of yesterday\’s 26 mile race. I could feel the tiredness after about the first hour. I didn\’t plan to go more than 13 miles, but I wasn\’t able to stop myself. Give me some water and a couple of Clif Shots and not much pain and there is no telling how long I\’ll go.

After 17 miles, I realized: there is no chain, no end.

This evening I went to an AA meeting. It was a birthday meeting so 2 people told their stories. Other people have such dramatic stories. I don\’t really like listening to them. But just sitting in the meeting gave me the humility to be grateful for sobriety.

I am no longer jealous of people who had gurus, who had magnificent spiritual teachers, who channelled wisdom,  or  had supernatural help. I\’ve come to believe in my inner Teacher. My moment of clarity came yesterday. I was thinking about a Course in Miracles. If I project this dream of a world, then I also projected the course into my life. In a sense, I created it and my Teacher speaks through it.

The dream of my life does keep getting better. I don\’t really know why I had to move to Texas. But I feel this place embracing me. Even as I meet the same people at races, I know I\’m becoming Texan. I don\’t think I ever was a mid-westerner, or felt like Missouri wanted me. I know that I am a 60s style Californian. But I see that it goes ok with Texans.

It\’s Hard….

…. to blog when your mind is quiet.

Today, Sunday, I went for a easy 14.3 miles in Seabrook. It was a final check on my shoes for long distance comfort. I needed to see if I got my customization completely comfortable. It went astoundingly well.

I spent the run with the following phrases from ACIM Lesson 76: \”I am under no laws but God\’s.\” Hold your mind in silent readiness to hear the Voice which speaks of the truth of Love.

So, if you have a truly quiet mind, there can\’t be much to say. In worldly terms, it is not a life. I accept this emptiness and just wait. I get up each day and do what must be done and go to bed with the same amount of nothing I woke up with.

Do interesting things happen? Yes. Are the interesting things over and then I move on? Yes. Excitement seems to not stick with me. I have nothing most of the time.

That said….

I am getting ready for Ultracentric in Dallas next weekend. I am signed up for 48 hours, but this is just because I can\’t finish 100 miles in 24 hours (the next lower race). I have not obtained more than 86 miles in any one race. So this is an attempt at an unknown. Can I keep walking long enough to go 100 miles? Or at what point will the pain win? There will be pain.

Year to date:

Today is my anniversary of my migration to Texas.

My life has been through many phases. Born and raised in Berkeley California. College at the University of California. Moving to Missouri and working in various places. The years in AA. The years riding Harley\’s. The years in the convent. The years in a small town in Kansas. And now, Texas.

At this point, silence returns. A Course in Miracles is my chosen theosophy, but it urges silence. Space and time must be given to silence. Silence returns silence.

Again

I have been in Texas a little over 10 months. Just today (Saturday) I realized: my past is over. There may be people in Missouri, Kansas or California who remember me. I work for the same company as when I was last in Kansas City. But I am here now. I am in Texas.

I am not plagued with the quest for enlightenment which drove me both into the convent and out of it; and drove the first 8 years of post monastic life. Enlightenment as a quest is part of the mental programming I somehow received.

Here is Texas, I am free to decide \”whatever.\” I don\’t have to seek God.

This morning (Saturday) I had an unusual thought: start the day from a projection of what I want; not a material want but a way of being.

So it is Sunday morning and I am about to head out for my usual long distance walk. I\’ll use trees today as I slept in and it is hot outside.

But I had a genuine moment of clarity. Life is easy. It is only hard if you see it that way. I have a picture of a chemical plant on this blog for a reason. I like it there. I like my colleagues. I accept a successful career, fitness endeavor, economic outlook. None of this has to be corrupted with religious teachings or even the idea that the other people are bad.

And so, if I accept success, I don\’t have anything to preach about or a soap box to stand on. And so I am free. Free to do miles. Free to be alive.

I am just a girl with a blog. Nothing special.