It’s Great to be Alive

That is what I said to myself as I finished my run today. It was sunny, but not humid. 15.4 miles. I carried a pack with a liter and a half. I jogged through a forest. I felt awesome. (YouTube video linked under the picture.)

My 50k (31 mile) race is in two weeks. So far this month I’ve covered over 250 miles, 4 long runs, weights almost every day. I love living the life of a professional athlete. Yes, since quitting my part time job I’ve gone full on athlete. I love it. This is truly doing what I want when I want: training for long races. I just drank a green smoothie. That helps alot too.

I am dreaming. I found out about a running tour of Mont Blanc, in the French Alps. It is definitely on my bucket list, 2023.

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Training for Ultra

Sunday two weeks ago, I was listening to an Abraham Hicks CD. Abraham said, “quit picking fights with yourself.” Somehow at that moment, my energy shifted. I had a moment of clarity regarding a fight I was having with myself. I know what I want to do with my life and I was suddenly able to do it. I immediately quit my part-time cashier job and focused all my energy on training for ultra marathons. The S&P 500 went up. My life expanded.

For the past two weeks, I’ve achieved 90 miles per week in jogging and walking plus an average of 20 minutes a day of strength training. Even some cross-training on exercise machines has been accomplished. No wonder I spent part of the afternoon laying on the bed, digesting food and reading books.

Every morning, for two hours, I study philosophy. I’ve recently been heavily interested in Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Plato plus Descartes plus NASA have given me an equation for the operation of the universe and the meaning of life. Yeah, I won’t bore you with the details of universal microwaves and folded dodecahedrons.

I always wanted to be an athlete and a scholar. This is what life looks like for such a person.

In 3 weeks, I have a 50k (31 mile) race. Barring a heat wave, I am ready to go. I am better trained than I was last April when I did the same course. But the real goal of this fall is a 50-mile race in October. The 90-mile weeks are really aimed at this. In the 50k race, I will be the oldest entrant. In the October race, some people my age will be doing 100 miles. I have yet to figure out that mental challenge.

I was jogging around a small park in Missouri, wondering when I would stop for the day. Other people were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Other runners were touring Mont Blanc. All of us were expressing the human need to expand; and not the chain of pain that most people drag around with them. I’m glad I’m a runner.

Training Update

Have I mentioned lately how much brainpower is devoted to thinking about my next race? Most of it. Hardly anything else gets any focus. I’m excited, with less than a month to go.

The training block is almost over. The last long run is scheduled for March 2. This day is chosen because the temperatures for the next 9 days are a bit cold to spend more than 5 hours outside. Yesterday I got in 21 miles. Today I got in 16 miles. The two days of long runs help a lot with confidence for completing 50 miles in less than 24 hours. I also dialed in which shoes I’ll be using. I’ve ordered necessary supplies like protein drinks and KT Tape. I’ve been looking at my running log for the past few years and determined that I have completed enough (11) long runs this January and February to consider myself trained.

Behind the scenes are things I don’t talk about very much. Like weight lifting and core strengthening. Pretty much 5 or 6 days a week, I do a short weight workout which touches on arms and shoulders plus core. These workouts are only about 20 minutes. I have 4 different routines. It doesn’t seem like much compared to people who go to a gym and spend an hour several times a week. However, my stomach and arms are pretty well ripped. At work, I get to squat a lot, so no need for squat exercises. At work, I spend a 5-hour shift on my feet most workdays, I also spend two hours doing exercise on workdays. So, I spend a lot of time in motion. This time on feet counts for ultrarunning training.

Also behind the scenes is nutrition. I’ve been mostly plant-based for a long time. In the past month, spending most of my working day in the vitamin department of a health food store, I’ve shifted a little on supplements. My vitamins are now liquids derived from whole foods. I get fulvic minerals. I’ve added a daily tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar. I’ve increased the amount of collagen I take. I eat a salad almost every night.

My goal in life is to still be completing ultra-marathons when I’m 80. It might not be fast but I will still be there. I know people who do this now. I have idols. I’ve already surpassed more than 90 percent of my demographic at physical fitness. Yes, I retired so I could go running more.

Gifts

I had a good weekend. Saturday I jog/walked 22 miles. I was going a bit faster than ultra pace but also carrying lots of water for weight. This speed annoyed one of my tendons in my left heel. Sunday is ultra walking day. When I do a race longer that 50k, you can bet there will be lots of power walking. So today, I walked 20 miles. I felt really good and no problems at all from feet or legs. No compression today and no tape on my knee. I did really well and I felt good.

So, my best ultra pace, for going all day is just under 4 mph. Think about it. Get your mind around a hundred miles of walking.

A year ago, my doctor released me from my boot and scooter and I took my first few steps on my foot since surgery 6 weeks earlier. God that hurt. A half a mile took me 18 minutes and it hurt like hell. Today was essentially pain free.

Why do I do this? I don\’t know, but after I get out beyond 15 miles, it is hard to get me to stop. I usually stop when I run out of water. Today I stopped because I forgot to lower the crock pot temperature before I left the house and figured I shouldn\’t leave it more than 5 hours.

Gift: I was looking at the Desert RATS web page. They have been working on it. It looks like the longest day is not 43 miles. That is down from 52. I can envision completing 42 miles on day 4, in 20 hours including some climbing. I had assumed I\’d DNF 52 miles. But 43 is within my capability.

Gift: I had prayed according to A Course in Miracles to see a person differently. That person is now one of the site leaders who will work closely with me on my new project. I hadn\’t thought he was at all interested but it seems he really is very enthusiastic. So I do get to see him in a new context.

Gift: I got an e-mail from my brother this week. It is the first time in decades he has initiated contact. Usually it is me that e-mails him; and sometimes don\’t hear back for days.

I\’ve been considering my spiritual journey. It seems that as I get better mentally, the high points of emotion no longer occur in conjunction with spiritual insight. Like silence really is silence. Not silence plus ecstasy. I realize that for many years my spirituality has been aimed at \”better than.\” That is, as I left the monastery, I had to feel as good as or be better than the nuns. And this translated into an arrogant attitude towards the ordinary citizens who are far too busy with living to worry about God more than once a week.

A few days ago, I was reading an introduction to the work book for A Course in Miracles. It said that the first part was for undoing of thoughts and beliefs. The second part was for building a new spiritual belief system. I\’ve always had trouble with the second part. So I started it again. It has alot less words. I\’m going to give it a good chance.

See my life is changing. Last week was good evidence. I sold a tremendous idea to the manager of a large chemical park (800 employees plus 1000 contractors). Then I sold the idea to his top staff. It is a pinnacle for me in terms of self worth, getting out of self, feeling engaged. But also, expanding an idea by giving it away, being in a holy relationship. These are Course in Miracles concepts and it is cool to see them framed this way. My illusion is changing, healing, swinging into a happy dream. I am committed to staying at this site out of joy not money. That is hugely significant for me.

54th Birthday Eve

This morning, I finished the text of A Course in Miracles for the eighth time.

And then, I walk jogged on the treadmill while I pondered spiritual phrases. I offered my thoughts to whatever higher self I have. I had to spend 2 hours trying to show a troublesome colleague how to do something and I was afraid I was going to be angry at him. So, my early morning pondering included prayer.

The meeting went extremely well. I believe that when I gave my fears to the higher self in the early morning, that a new reality was created. My day became a happy dream.

I ditched work early as I usually do on Friday.

Coming home, the last book of the Wheel of Time series had arrived. So I have a birthday book. I did slink upstairs to lay on the bed, eat oatmeal cookies and start the book.

But about 4, I came down again to begin my 5.4 Cross Training Workout. 5.4 in honor of my 54 years. The workout involved 5 cross training stations (bike, elliptic, step platform/KB circuit, Versa Climber and Nordic Track). In between 20 minutes at each of these, I did 10 reps of TRX upper body combo, plus 40 swiss ball sit-ups.

Tomorrow, I hope to do a private marathon and on Sunday a private half marathon. This is my private Reverse Goofy.

I did tonights workout in silence, even with ear plugs in. I said spiritual phrases. I wondered about my workout needs, the why of it.  Is it just so I can eat cookies? Is it just so I can have a wall covered with medals?

No, I think there is a deeper urge or need. It is a way of life. But I have yearned for infinite endurance almost my whole life. maybe even as a small child on swim team I dreamed of mega numbers of laps. By 13 years of age, I had discovered long distance running. And never quit.

Entitlement

I used to have a lot to say on this blog. But since moving to Texas, I have less to say. This seems to me because I don\’t need to promote anything about myself. That is, I seem to have gotten over my need for approval from any church or monastic order. I know my spiritual program works for me; but that most people wouldn\’t agree that it is a valid theology. So, I seem to have forgotten my soap box about spirituality or contemplation. Doesn\’t mean that God is not constantly on my mind.

Why is Mitt Romney a candidate for president? Well, I saw a picture of him for the first time today (ummm….yeah I don\’t watch tv). IMO, he\’s just another pretty face. Bet Barak has a nicer ass. But, I\’m not registered to vote and don\’t vote.

1% has the money and the tax loopholes. 47% are victims. I\’m part of everyone else who actually pays the taxes. Anytime the government wants money, they come to us. Doesn\’t matter who exactly is elected.

I saw a picture of nuns from my former convent sitting around talking about the Church\’s \”Year of the Spirit.\” Really? Someone needs to make such a proclamation? What about every year? But, mostly as I looked at the picture, I realized how much I don\’t belong locked in a monastic life. No I really don\’t want to ever be in another encounter group.

It has been several years since I had a deep meaningful conversation with anyone. If something comes up in my life, I just think about it and then decide. I don\’t ask advice or opinions. I discuss work issues with colleagues, but that is about it.

 I have a sense of entitlement. I am entitled to at least 50 miles and 20 hours of exercise a week. I just had a 4 day weekend. My Seabrook training camp included 76 miles plus 3 hours of non-running cross training plus 100 sit-ups a day and 2 other strength sessions. Whew, I was tired.

But I still got up at 3:15 this morning, did my hour of spiritual work and the 75 minutes of cross training before getting to work at 6:30.

 I really really liked the 50 mile race I did on September 1st. It caused me to consider that perhaps I am an ultra-sprinter since I really don\’t see the point of destroying my body as a 100 mile run does. That said, I am signed up for Ultracentric for 48 hours in the hopes of trying to get 100 miles.

I signed up for a 50 mile race next year (and bought the airplane tickets to get there):

This weekend, when I was working out, I kept meditating on this (from Chapter 21 of ACIM):
Happiness is constant, unshakeable.
If I want it because it is the thruth
that God constantly loves His Son.

As I meditated, I conceded that there\’d have to be a God. Also, we are His Son and He loves us. Anything else is not real.

Training

It is September 8. I\’ve been on vacation for 8 days, with one more to go tomorrow. I have done 106 miles of walk/jog; and a total of 31 hours of exercise. I hope for another hour this evening, plus a weight workout. I hope for another 14 miles tomorrow morning and a cross training hour in the evening. Here\’s what my year to date chart looks like:

I like running and working out. When ever I have time off work, that is time to train; not lay on a beach and overeat. Vacation is time for miles, as many as possible.

July vacation, when I went to Colorado, was pretty terrible. My heel was in soooo much pain. But, I seem to have worked my way through that for now.

Its cooled off in Texas: only in the mid-90s for the past few days. Yesterday, I slept in and didn\’t get around to going outside until 11 am. Of course it was already near 90 by then so I used a shady park. I stayed out for 3h14min. But, it did wipe me out for the rest of the day. But I was up early today and feeling good. I did 3h35min and then got the groceries.

Secret Running Thoughts

I ran/walked 16 miles this morning knowing full well my left heel is trash. Was I so slow because of this? Or just the heat in general? When I walked the last miles, I was gasping for air even while walking. Is it hard to breath 65% humid air when it is 85F?

Dr Alice did not say stop running. She has a plan. The pain brings a mental challenge. What\’s it all about Alfie? Why do these miles? Do they matter for anything?

For some reason, they matter to me.

Somehow, they go together with ACIM teachings (I\’m in ch 7 at the moment).
\”That is all the world of the ego is. Nothing. It has no meaning. It does not exist. Do not try to understand it because, if you do, you are believing that it can be understood and is therefore capable of being appreciated and loved. That would justify its existence, which cannot be justified. You cannot make the meaningless meaningful. This can only be an insane attempt….The ego’s picture of you is deprived, unloving and vulnerable. You cannot love this. Yet you can very easily escape from this image by leaving it behind. You are not there and that is not you. ….Perceive any part of the ego’s thought system as wholly insane, wholly delusional and wholly undesirable, and you have correctly evaluated all of it. This correction enables you to perceive any part of creation as wholly real, wholly perfect and wholly desirable. Wanting this only you will have this only, and giving this only you will be only this. \”.

I can not explain the 669 pages of the ACIM text (let alone the workbook). It has taken me almost 5 years of continuous reading to get even a grasp of the principles. But, I\’m accepting that this world is the ego\’s and means nothing. So why do I run? To burn calories?

The glitz and glamour of age group awards and personal bests and the praise of others have worn off. Or, has it? Does the thought of a shiny medal still hypnotize me? Why do I still want to run 24 hours when it will only tear up my feet? Am I powerless over brain synapses?

I (my ego) has been attacking me with the running question for decades. It became worst in the monastery. You\’d think praying and Benedictine community would have over ruled running. But, the fear of being unhealthy and fat drove me.

The running question is no different than the God question. Really they are the same ego thought: fear of God and the ego\’s quest to rule over Him.

My 2011 3,100 miles race took more than 11 months. In 2012, I\’ll only get about 2,400 miles.

Stop staring at the ego\’s picture of hate. Answer it.

I want to go here (Merrill\’s Mile):

Just sitting and listening. That is all life is anyway.

The Power of MY Thought

I have ignored this concept usually. One of the teachings of A Course in Miracles is to accept the power as supported by the Holy Spirit\’s thought system, put in the effort to direct my thinking and believe in its power, stop believing in the ego\’s dissonance.

25 years ago, I heard that thoughts create reality. I didn\’t grasp or live in that belief. In other words, I denied the power.

I wake up every morning with a head full of crappy thoughts about myself and the world. But I quickly sit down and do a little studying of a Course in Miracles. This always enable me to direct my thinking towards love, joy, peace, Help; essential okay-ness.

Essential okay-ness is necessary for me. Without it I\’d need to kill myself, take drugs, eat myself to death or something.

Chapter 7.VI excerpts:

\”Your ability to direct your thinking as you choose is part of its power. If you do not believe you can do this you have denied the power of your thought, and thus rendered it powerless in your belief….Produced by fear, the ego reproduces fear. This is its allegiance, and this allegiance makes it treacherous to love because you are love. Love is your power, which the ego must deny. It must also deny everything this power gives you because it gives you everything….The ego therefore opposes all appreciation, all recognition, all sane perception and all knowledge.\”
Part of my doldrums are related to my left heel pain. Actually this pain is getting better and piece by piece the issues are being solved. But since I am not pain free, I get down about it. Actually, I get down because I am not Scott Jurek or any number of other amazing ultra-runners. I get down as I\’ve only been working out 16 hours a week instead of 20. I get down for only running 50 miles a week instead of 80. I get down because I weight 134 instead of 130, or 129. I worry about my Colorado running vacation because I might not be able to do 8 hours of walk jog every day.
So, you see a pattern here?  Where have I set my bars? Insane? So, it is A Course in Miracles that turns the doldrums around every morning. THE Answer is a spiritual remedy. My ego allies with the doldrums and supports going down. Spirit supports the essential okay-ness. I feel much better in okay-ness. I need to feel better. 
Self transcendence is choosing Spirit instead of ego; and then getting out of bed.
And then go running. Yeah!