49% Race Report – Jackalope Jam

How did I end up continuing my hate relationship with the Jackalope Jam? The first 2 years it was on a course with ruts and I ended up with amazing bad blisters. Even though the second year I planned only to run a marathon, the damage was done. I was smart enough not to sign up the third year. They had moved the race to a treeless course under the April Texas sun. The 4th year? This year? I wanted to run a timed event. This one was in Texas (no airfare required). They moved it to February, so maybe the heat would not be a problem. I didn\’t know that I would get into Snowdrop, so Jackalope was a second choice. I had a discount code. Bammo, click submit, many months ago.

Fast forward: I had an amazing 50 mile race in October in nice cold Kansas. I had an amazing Snowdrop, completing the 100 miles. So I had high expectations for Jackalope. The video of the course looked ok. I got a hotel room. My training and overall physical shape is good: high hopes for getting 100k.

Before the race began:

I sounded great didn\’t I?

After more than 8:39 hours of racing, I got 32 miles.

Here is my video after day 1.

The wheels came off. Somehow, I think I was using much more energy jumping around between ruts in the road to avoid other people and rocks. The afternoon turned out hot, into the 80s, so maybe I didn\’t hydrate enough. There was no big issues with blisters. But after 28 miles, I gave up the jogging. I felt lousy. I didn\’t want to eat, a sure sign of heat related issues. So I walked up to my B goal of halfway to 100k.

I went to my hotel and showered. I found myself very much wanting to eat my burritos and fruit. As the evening progressed, I realized that I didn\’t have any reason physically not to continue the race in the morning. What I didn\’t have was a driving motivation to continue. In fact, I was viewing another 31 miles on that course as 8+ plus hours of hell. More ruts, more people. Smelly, too full porta potties. Another 90 people on a crummy course meant I couldn\’t pick the easiest parts of the road. The belt buckle wasn\’t very shiny. Essentially, I had no thing I wanted to work for. Instead I thought I\’d just be pissed off all day.  I laid in bed from 3 am to 4 am trying to decide what to do. Finally I realized that I didn\’t have 51% yes. It was a close decision, but I was at least 51% no.

Now I run ultras at all because of how it feels when you get one done. But the motivation to finish has to be there the whole time. Being pissed off won\’t buy me what I\’m looking for.

So I didn\’t go back to the race. I came home. There are more races on my schedule and one more day to this weekend.

There is something about me that wants to do more in life than be employed and then die. Ultra running, or even marathoning, gives that to me. But I also have other dreams. Maybe finishing ultras is a way to satisfy my dreaming nature until it is time to quit my job. The question of exactly when to quit my job is on my mind alot. The time is soon.

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The Oldest Woman

I don\’t suppose 56 is all that old. Actually, I thought I was 57 until ultrasignup.com corrected me. At 56, I am the oldest female in an ultramarathon to take place today. It starts at high noon in the middle of Texas. The main challenge is that it is hot. It will take me about 9 hours to walk and jog my way through 32 miles.

Today, I am on lesson 69 in A Course in Miracles: My grievances hide the light of the world in me. I am also reading The Power of Now by Tolle for the second time. The ACIM \”light of the world\” is Tolle\’s Now, pure consciousness, Presence, the life in me. So the point of doing this race today is to practice being being.

Yes I meant to say \”being being.\” Or rather, being Being. Out there in the heat, in a forest park, I\’ll be saying my ACIM lesson. Every so often, I\’ll say \”good job\” to some passing racer. No doubt I\’ll get into a conversation with some one. I\’ll be thanking the aid station volunteers for their help. At the end, I\’ll get my medal, get in the car and come home.

It doesn\’t really matter if I finish today. It matters that I was there.

Snowdrop T minus 2 days and counting

It is Saturday eve. Tuesday morning I plan to toe the line at a 55 hour endurance event. In my house, piles of clothes and food have begun appearing. A couple of things are already in the car. I got my hair cut today. Monday, I pick up my packet, get my toes taped and put my gear in the bunk house.

I don\’t think I have felt so good in my legs for a long time. Thanks to bronchitis this week, I\’ve been resting. But even when sick, I went for some long walks. The fresh air of a walk seemed to help me feel better. The drugs the PA gave me for my cough seem to have prevented the weeks of coughing I see many others have.

But still, walking/jogging 100 miles is alot. I don\’t really know if I can. Things can just go wrong. My brain is my worst enemy. This time, I got a hotel near the race so I can go regroup; but not quit all together. This race is on a cold windy course. I have all my winter clothes from when I used to live in Missouri ready to pack. Including a down parka.

Patience. Patience. Patience. Just quietly keep walking.

btw: like the ship channel skyline? I just put that picture on top of this blog today. Needless to say, I love chemicals and making them is my profession.

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.

Consciousness Itself

Most people think that running is about training for a race or a time goal in a particular race. They think of how dreadful all that running is. My adventure into ultra-running came about as an extension of meditation; a way to discover consciousness beyond daily striving.

A hot humid day in Houston, after about 3 hours of jog walk produces mindlessness.

I love A Course in Miracles because it is a text book. As I read it and practice it\’s lessons, a Teacher enters my consciousness. I don\’t need to travel to India or even around the United States. I receive inner peace right here. I \”look beyond\” right now.

My only mistake, seemingly, is not having the great emotional experience that others write about in their books. This experience distinguishes them from all others and seems to once again produce separation. It is my inner job to let this go.

I once was in a monastery and a Benedictine novice for 4 years. Within 3 days of my monastic profession, invitations printed and sent, altar flower arrangements in the cooler, I was suddenly kicked out. At the moment of being told to leave, I spontaneously (out of the blue) visualized a white bird suddenly having a golden ankle chain cut and it flew free into a blue sky.

When I want freedom at any time today, I think, \”Eternal Silence lives It\’s life in me. Stately Quiet Love has set me free.\” I suppose I am able to fall down in adoration before Stately Quiet. It is here that I am free.

I had a dream during my final retreat in the monastery. I dreamed that I was dust mopping the long hallway near the Novitiate. I finished my cleaning work and then I was sitting outside on a rock, looking up at a starry sky, waiting. \”Love is the predominant form of existence,\” is the word that I heard in this dream.

All this is important now since the same thing is happening. My universe is changing. The waves of emotion tied to thoughts about appearances and perceptions attempt to take me away. I must sit in quiet calm right now.

I can see how my life is merely a love affair of joy and Joy.

A Day to Make You Think

This morning, I woke up well before the alarm clock and got up. I got my courage together in order to make it out of bed. You would not think a person like me needs to do that, but I do. I don\’t really understand the difficulty in terms other than momentum. Once I am moving, I am moving.

I was reading in A Course in Miracles text 2.V.18: \”I am here only to be truly helpful. I am here to represent Him Who sent me. I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because He Who sent me will direct me. I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing He goes there with me. I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal.\”

It comforts me think I do not have to worry; that He is here to direct me. I do feel content to be where He wishes.

I did not memorize any phrases today so I did my jogging with my dream of an expedition and what will fill my 3,000 cubic inches. The thing about the expedition, as hard as the running will be, the idea of camping is more mind boggling.

It is still hot and humid in Houston. The mosquitoes were viscous today. Lots of runners were out on the trails.

I kept going until I ran through the 90 oz of liquids I had available: 4h33min. It was hard. I\’m not really ready for Top of Utah marathon. But training in the summer in Houston is just impossible.

Something about the heat and the sweat gives me a life or death outlook. I drink alot. I keep the calories coming. It is too easy to begin to feel like a swoon is coming on.

But compared to my dreams, 4 hours of jogging is nothing. I got less than a fifth of the miles needed for Snowdrop in December. For Desert RATS, I can only obtain maximum fitness for me, but no where near the miles needed.

That is the thing about ultra running. You can\’t train for one; except mentally.

My day makes me think. Wow! How will I do any upcoming race?

On a weekly basis however, I can build fitness. This week, with one holiday, I got 75+ miles and 22+ hours.

Living Gold

Plotinus Enneads 4.7.10: \”Imagine living gold: it files away all that is earthy about it, all that kept it in self-ignorance preventing it from knowing itself as gold; seen now unalloyed it is at once filled with admiration of its worth and knows that it has no need of any other glory than its own, triumphant if only it be allowed to remain purely to itself.\”

It says something about me, my essence, that I have plowed my way through more than 400 pages of Plotinus. The writing is from 250CE or so. And I am not previously at student of Plato, so I didn\’t at first understand the terminology.

I bring up Plotinus today in relation to a special hate relationship I\’ve had to pray about for the past few weekends. Students of A Course in Miracles will know about special relationships and special hate relationships. Well, there is a person in my life who I dreamed into an object of hate, attack and then guilt. So I turn to the Holy Spirit to practice ACIM forgiveness, a practice of looking beyond or looking within. The words of Plotinus were a very good help today as I kept \”Imagine Living Gold\” as something of a mantra while I ran.

I cannot afford the agony of a special hate relationship. I cannot afford to judge or resent anyone. Spirituality is the only tool I have for healing of my own mind. I have nothing enlightening to say about God because all my energy is taken up with healing my resentment. I pray for X. I pray for his health prosperity and happiness. I pray that everything I want for myself be given to him.

Selah! I am now free.

If I am committed to finding The One, then I need to be free of this world. Downward mobility, resisting the powers and principalities clothed in society\’s norms, grasping for more, insatiable competition. All these urges are in me. I try to be the opposite.

Running laps in Brummerhop park is extreme nothingness. It wears one\’s ego down, clears the dross and I find Living Gold.

I have had an extremely great month for miles:

The amount of hours can only increase slowly and reach a working girl max pretty soon. But I have been running more (cross train less) so the miles go up. This mileage from a person who is rebuilding a foot that had achilles surgery and 6 weeks of non-weight-bearing.

Starting at 12:00 am on Friday this week, I am starting a 7 day race. I can\’t tell you how eager I am to take 7 days off work and do laps in Brummerhop park. I can\’t tell you how I relish the Houston heat and humidity. This weekend I spent 40 miles and 8.5 hours literally dripping with sweat. It was awesome. I wore my new Nathan Vapor Shape and took sips every 5 minutes or so. I wore my Solumbra sunhat with the wide brim and neck drape.

I go around and around Brummerhop park and pray my mantra. It is a tiny park; but it is across the street from my house and it does have trees. Shade is all important in a place like Houston.

I think alot. I think about the Sri Chinmoy 3,100 mile race. I think about my own running and what races I might like to go in. I think about work and the friction I feel because I don\’t go along with certain group norms.  And the strange life path that lead me to Houston. WTF: Texas. Freaking Texas. I live in freaking Texas! How did that happen?

Endless Spiritual Miles

It is 2 1/2 weeks since Calgary Marathon. I really did a good job of preparing for 26.2 miles, hoping to finish in less than 6 hours. Compared to the utterly flat landscape of south Houston, Calgary is hilly and altitude. I did well with that part. My foot which had surgery last September did well too. I am happy with my trip. My Canadian peeps were awesome. Even United Airlines did a great job.

Now, time for a hot humid summer on the Gulf coast. My next race is a virtual 7 day race July 4- 10. The race is linked to my fitbit and I get a buckle for 100 miles. I am going to take it seriously. I like to be at home where I can feed myself, shower, sleep in a bed and the course is right by my home. No adventure at all, just miles.

I\’ve been reading a book called History of God by Karen Armstrong. It is incredibly interesting to learn where Christian sects get their dogma. Ms Armstrong gave the first explanation of the Trinity I\’ve ever understood. The meaning of Jesus is really quite different than churches teach. Christianity as practiced denominationally in the US is what I will now call Pauline. Consider, vast amounts of people practicing some religion mainly bastardized from letters not all written by a man who had a delusional experience but never knew Jesus and argued with James and Peter and eventually separated himself.

The adventure of the Sermon on the Mount is totally lost to denominational Pauline Christianity. That religion is for the masses of people who want to belong and feel safe.

I like more and more that since leaving the monastery nearly 11 years ago, I have done my research and stood up for my convictions. I\’ll accept anyone\’s personal experience of the Spirit of Christ; but not religion. Daily I do spiritual miles. These miles add up. I am grateful for them.

I am 55 years old. I thought I was post menopause, which I am. But I am just learning that hormone induced emotions continue on since now I am missing what I used to have. Yesterday, I discerned that my black cloud of more than a year ago had come back a few weeks ago. When I realized how that was exactly how I felt (seeing the world thru a red haze of hate for no reason), I mentioned it to a female colleague. She told me about a natural supplement she used. Now, I am trying it. I don\’t want the cloud. It is incredibly difficult to find a MD that will give you more than 20 seconds and no prescription unless you are hysterical. So, I go the way of hearsay. Other women will talk about what works for them.

Endless Miles

Yesterday I went in a 25k race in this park.

Today I walked 24.5k in a different park.

Yesterday, being in an actual race, I was trying to keep my speed up and practice for the Calgary marathon. So in my mind, I kept running over the numbers and figuring if I could finish in less than 6 hours.

Today, I was thinking 55 hour race. I only walked, but kept running over the numbers of how many hours to get to 100 miles.

But, 100 miles can\’t be the goal. This goal definition has been wrasseled out of my mind finally. My mind has already determined that 100 miles is just a number; its meaning wrapped up in what other people think. So my mind has rejected it as a goal. Also, what other people think has been relegated to the dopamine reward cycle. So doing what others praise me for can\’t be the goal and also the praise itself is rejected by my mind. I can\’t describe the massive disgust I feel when I say, \”I ran 96 miles,\” and \”they\” reply, \”too bad you missed 100.\” This is why I can\’t make 100 the goal. I can only make doing what I can my goal.

So I decided to do what I have to do but not tell anyone. Right at that point, another runner in the park (whom I\’ve seen but not talked to before) came up to me and asked me what I was training for. So much for my secrecy plan.

My goal is the depth of my being. My goal is to throw my heart (slowly) over the bar. My goal is downward mobility. My goal is giving my all, drinking my dregs, ego deflation at depth.

I honestly don\’t think I came to this world to achieve stereotyped approval. I came here to finish my realization that this is a delusion; and seek only Ideal Form (see Platonism).

Sounds depressing right? Well, if the choice is \”Ideal Form\” , then a worldly goal will never work for me. It is more important to me to find my truth than your truth.

I did miles this week. I will do miles next week; and that is all there is to it.