Easter Multi-day 2014

This was a great weekend for doing miles here in Seabrook. So, that is what I did. An experiment of time and distance; except, I knew I wasn\’t in the mood for more than 5 hours on any given day. I wanted to sleep in also.

Friday I did 4.5 hours and 18.5 miles. Plus a 40 min strength workout.
Saturday I did 4h26min and 19.2 miles.
Sunday I did 4h01min and 17.1 miles. Plus I\’ll probably do some strength this evening while I listen to the TED radio hour.

My foot did really well. Yeah, that foot which had surgery in September 2013.

What amazed me is that I am not all torn up that I\’m not celebrating Easter. I was practicing my Course in Miracles lessons. I did feel connected to my higher power. But I cannot for the life of me remember what was so important about Easter. This shocks me. I spent so many years as a Roman Catholic and also in a Benedictine monastery.

The God I worship doesn\’t seem to need special liturgy. If God is love, then there is nothing more to be done.

Voluntary poverty is to dismiss ego possessions; live with no kudos, no approval, no dopamine rewards, no special liturgy. Just be nice and pay your taxes.

Voluntary simplicity is to possess nothing. No honor, no rewards, no legacy, no other people. Just walk in silence.

If all you have is silence, you have made a good start on walking with God. My adult life is characterized by the quest for inner silence and God consciousness. This yields nothing in this world. It is about as silly as doing miles every day on a boring path in Seabrook, Texas.

Tomorrow begins another work week. But I am going to be a little slacker on the miles this week. I\’m going in a real race next Saturday.

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9/80 Weekend

This weekend, I put together 42 miles in about 10 hours. Today was walk day, as in mostly walk only some jog. Yesterday was 5×1 day, as in jog 5 walk 1.

And I bought a new car:

Totally happy with it. Its my second Prius, 4th Toyota. First sexy black car.

It has been a weekend of pondering inner peace. The car purchase was part of it; because it was almost a total non-event as far as life in this world is concerned. I went to the dealership. Jerked around with the sales man back and forth twice. Jerked around with a stack of paperwork. Move my stuff into the new car and go home. Inner peace would mean a not-special life. No dopamine. No highs. No lows. I\’ve been working on inner peace as a spiritual goal. My life does get quieter. But then I ask myself, do I really want this? Well, not ego does. Egos like turmoil and excitement.

Today is the start of Holy Week for the Christians, especially the Roman Catholics. It is a hellish week for monastics. \”The Demons\” go wild with annoyances. As for myself, I don\’t really see the point anymore. It has been several years since I finished my bible studies and decided most of it was the domain early Church Bishop\’s agenda; and that what Jesus said or did has been misinterpreted ever since.

Sitting in my AA meeting this week, I had a revelation. See, I felt guilty that I left my home town at the age of 26 to move halfway across the continent. Got sober and attempted to do step 9 by letter with a raging alcoholic. Didn\’t work. She kicked me out of her life and then died before I ever saw her again. Yesterday, I for the first time thought, \”What if all that was The Spirit\’s way of sparing me additional pain including a life as a drunk?\” What if I was doing the next right thing and how it turned out had nothing to do with me? Then, I should accept The Spirit\’s gift of a sober life and be happy.

Today I did my miles in Brummerhop park. 41 laps. I thought about self transcendence. My whole ultra career go started and stays on because I hope for self transcendence. Truly, walking laps in a 0.37 miles loop is unglamorous and the only thing to do is repeat the day\’s spiritual lesson. For hours. I could call it training for the 55 hour race I signed up for. But really, its original purpose was self transcendence. I attempt to think thoughts not from the worldly source. I attempt to quiet my mind and hear spiritually sourced thoughts.

And just keep walking.

And just keep walking.

Ultra Fever

It happens every time I am not in severe pain: miles.

Since regaining use of my left foot 5 months ago, doing miles has been problematic even though continuously improving. The place where the scar ends on the bottom on my heel can be incredibly painful. And other place on the bottom back of the heel hurt for no explicable reason. But these things are getting better.

So, there is a 55 hour race over New Year\’s in Houston. The race rents cubes in a tent so you can stay right there onsite. I wanted a cube so I signed up for the race as soon as I noticed it was open for registration.

I have tried several times to do 100 miles in one race. But always I\’ve been defeated: mentally. The closest I came was a Silverton in 2011 with 86 miles. If I had just sat down on that last day and ate, and not been afraid of falling on that mountain in the dark, I could\’ve…..  At Ultracentric, it only took 54 miles to tear up my little toes, then I was shivering like crazy and food running out my bowels…..  At Aslinger, I got 80 miles in 20 hours before quitting because I knew I couldn\’t make 100 miles in 24 hours.

But anyway, I keep trying.

This weekend was not only miles for marathon training but miles for ultra preparation. I promised myself 10 hours of walking at any speed. Friday night I walked 7.2 miles in 2 hours. Saturday, I jog walked 5x1s for 20 miles and then walked another mile, which only took 4h53. Today I walked and jogged for 3h14min for 11.55 miles. All told 39.75 miles. Damn good.

As I was walking today, I knew there was no stopping me regardless of how bad this might be for me. Or how silly the idea of 100 miles in 55 hours is. I just must try again. I know the crew-less person has almost no chance of finishing 100 miles. I have almost no chance. But I still must try. I know people who are decades older with leg issues who slog their way along to get their 100. I am going to try again.

Between now and New Years (8 months) is a hot Houston summer. I\’ve always been able to walk even in heat and I have a couple of small loops which are mostly trees. The 3100 mile Self Transcendence race begins in June. That always inspires me to do my laps. I\’ll just keep trying to add hours. I might go to San Antonio and walk a couple of marathons in a couple of days. But I will keep walking.

Consciousness Is

I didn\’t get up when the alarm went off today. I thought my foot would be hurting and that I\’d not be doing miles (since I did 20 yesterday). But alas, the foot feels pretty good, so I\’ll head out shortly.

In the mean time, I lay in bed and wondered: what can I do to be more spiritual? See, I reached an impasse. The Course in Miracles says that Spirit does not know ego, but ego incessantly tries to achieve recognition.

I came down and started my study. I thought about the Marathon Monk, the ultra runners, the cloistered nuns, the Zazen practice, the traumatic brain injury. I conclude that these people achieve the belief in God because their ego let go.

If I stick with the ACIM definition that the ego is a belief system described as autonomy from God, then the people who achieve enlightenment through the above listed means have achieved the required letting go.

But my life is somehow not on one of those paths. My attempts to do those things have failed. I return to the reality that I am attempting to use consciousness to transcend consciousness. And that is when I realized: just let consciousness be.

That is the answer, don\’t attempt transcendence. Let it go.

My first inkling of God was on a hot day in Jerusalem where I watched Hassidic Jews in fur hats and coats praying at the Western Wall. I perceived that they had something I wanted. And so my ego swung into action and began its pursuit of God. In itself that is not a bad thing. Looking at it another way, I heard the call of God to return to Him.

In the moment, any given moment, I can return to God. But there is no associated achievement. And so I become confused. Americans are supposed to achieve. But God consciousness is not an achievement. It merely is.

So, I don\’t need to be a marathon monk, or a cloistered nun, or fast for 40 days, or live alone on a hill top, or get in a car wreck, or have cancer, or etc. I need to let go in any moment. This is in fact what I have been doing. I not only let go, but also take up Spirit as my mode of living.

My ego wishes for more, but that is all there is.

Houston Hundred 51.6k

I started the day with a 53 mile high speed drive.

A very small race, parking next to the course was easy and picking up the packet was easy. I saw my friend Kim from Galveston who does many 100 mile races a year. I also spied out Scott and Liz from N. Carolina. I read Scott\’s blog and knew he was coming to this race. Liz has run 35 and Scott has run 26 one hundred miles race this year.

Just before the start, we were treated to this beautiful sunrise.

We had an uneventful start. The course was a 2 mile paved bike path around a park. The only thing was, it was cold with a brisk north wind. Cold? Well, 32F/0C; but for someone who was running in a tank top 2 days ago, it did feel like a freezer. I started with 3 shirts, a fleece, gortex jacket, tights, wind pants, hat, gloves and buffy.
After the first lap, I removed the fleece. After the second lap, I removed the wind pants and buff. After a couple more laps, I went to a lighter jacket. But, all the rest of the stuff stayed on for the duration. One mile into the wind. One mile wind at the back.
Then began my mental games, which is why I run ultras anyway. I had a break through in my mental game today. So, the running plan was to jog steady the first 8 laps to halfway and then do some jog/walk for the second half. I didn\’t sweat one drop, so even though my running was at 12 min miles, it seemed that I had to make frequent pit stops. Thus my time is a lot slower than it should have been.
Starting about mile 10, my mind was trying to come up with a legitimate excuse to quit. Like, how could I get out of there after only 20 miles lets say. So, I remembered the spiritual phrases I had on a slip of paper in my pocket. I got these out and started repeating them over and over. I therefore \”changed\” my thinking. Believe it or not, it is my ego that likes big talk but not big performance. It is my ego that wants to quit instead of doing what I came to do.
My shoes were comfortable and my toe tape job seemed to be working well. So I really had no excuse to quit. A Clif shot with caffeine helped alot.
After 8 laps, 16 miles and race half over, I started to jog 3 light poles and walk one. This rhythm was very great. And then came mile 21. A crucial time, get ready for it. I became conscious of my defeatist thinking and how it screwed with all my past efforts. I told it, \”f*** you, I am finishing this f***ing race.\” Determination arose within me. For the first time, I definitively told my ego to F***-off.
My ego went into hiding after that. I quietly practiced my spiritual phrases and jogged my 3 poles/ walk one. But soon I was on a downhill slide. I celebrated on my marathon lap; only 3 more laps after that. Nothing could stop me now. 
Some of the 100 milers passing me were jealous of me finishing. I was very happy to be finishing. During this race, I reconsidered what I learned about myself at Ultracentric and affirmed that I have characteristics not compatible with running 100s. I watched Kim go through the serious business of setting up and thought about how cold it would be as she walked all night long. \”Whatever for?,\” is what I thought. It is such serious business and I don\’t want to do it. And I\’m happy I don\’t have to go through all that suffering. And I\’m VERY happy that 2 days from now, I\’ll be able to run on New Year\’s holiday, cuz that is what I do when I don\’t go to work.
But still, it is necessary for an ultra runner to go in ultras. I don\’t do 32 miles when I am training on my own. But I was willing to put it out for a race. And the ultra runner\’s mind needs real life practice at the mental games in order to be successful. I have a 50 miler in Missouri in March, so my mind needs this 50k practice.
Finally my bell lap. The volunteers knew it was my last lap. So they were waiting at the finish with my medal and they took my picture. I was last place in the 50k, but second place of the women; so I got a trophy.
7h43min, 32 miles.
And then a 53 mile drive home.

Four Days of On Call – Monday

I\’m thinking it is God calling; not work.

Yesterday was a massive breakthrough day. The break through was finally able to admit that my monastic teachings are a corruption in my brain and I must re-wire if I expect to live happily \”out here.\” The main problem is form over content. The content of the lay people I meet is as vital as the vowed religious. The form of the vowed religious is equally decorative as the form of the lay people.

When I left the monastery, it was with a commission: be a monk in the world. And I spent a good 9 years developing that. But I now realize it is killing me. I got it wrong. But I have also found environments to change that. In going back to AA, I re-claimed a spirituality separate from form. In AA, you can clearly see principle of A Course in Miracles at work for healing and uniting. The little gap is cleaned and God builds the bridge (text 28.III.2):

\”2 No mind is sick until another mind agrees that they are separate. And thus it is their joint decision to be sick. If you withhold agreement and accept the part you play in making sickness real, the other mind cannot project its guilt without your aid in letting it perceive itself as separate and apart from you. Thus is the body not perceived as sick by both your minds from separate points of view. Uniting with a brother’s mind prevents the cause of sickness and perceived effects. Healing is the effect of minds that join, as sickness comes from minds that separate.
3 The miracle does nothing just because the minds are joined, and cannot separate. Yet in the dreaming has this been reversed, and separate minds are seen as bodies, which are separated and which cannot join. Do not allow your brother to be sick, for if he is, have you abandoned him to his own dream by sharing it with him. He has not seen the cause of sickness where it is, and you have overlooked the gap between you, where the sickness has been bred. Thus are you joined in sickness, to preserve the little gap unhealed, where sickness is kept carefully protected, cherished, and upheld by firm belief, lest God should come to bridge the little gap that leads to Him. Fight not His coming with illusions, for it is His coming that you want above all things that seem to glisten in the dream.\”

You don\’t know how hard it is to do something simple, like go to dinner, when everything in your brain is screaming against it. After the AA meeting where I blurted out my  revelation, I bought 2 pieces of carrot cake and ate them.

Of course, I didn\’t agree with some of the decadence of the religious order where I found myself. Of one thing I am glad to be free of: religious holidays in the convent. Oh Lord. Saturday would have been spent cleaning and decorating; while I wished for some free time to go running. Today would be spent cooking and  secretly decorating the chapel for Midnight Mass; while I secretly wished for time to go running. We\’d gather in the chapel for Christmas lessons; and living out the contention over who got to sing them. Then we would be up til the wee hours doing Christmas Vigils and Midnight Mass and serving cookies to guests and then cleaning everything up. Tomorrow would be more liturgy, table setting and then a feast. I hated the feasts. They took too long, seemed decadent, required a ton of dishes; and I wanted to go running.

Nothing like clean rural Missouri air and hilly dirt roads to clear a nun\’s mind.

I have also corrupted some of A Course in Miracles. I hope to continue to correct my thinking with His help.

Lesson 127/8:
The world I see holds nothing that I want.
Escape from every law in which you now believe.
Allow His Voice to teach love\’s meaning to my open mind.
Love\’s meaning is my own and shared by God Himself.

Last week, I covered 76 miles and did 23 hours of workout, plus 3 strength sessions. Yesterday, I walked 15 miles. This gave my Achilles a little break. I have a race next this Saturday.

I am one of the 5% of people who don\’t participate in Christmas. Send your insults and guilt trips; I\’m still not going to do it.

Today I am going to the park for a few miles. I have experimented with taping my toes but not cutting holes in the shoes. I still need to solve the issue of tearing up my toes before I can do more than 50 miles. My previous tape jobs have been hit and miss. At Ultracentric, it was a massive miss. So, back to the drawing boards. It doesn\’t help that I have 2 pairs of new shoes, men\’s size 10, when I think 11s are going to be my future.

A Mental Game – Ultracentric Learning

That\’s what ultra-running is for me. I learned something really significant this weekend at Ultracentric.

When I quit the race, it was because I thought I was going to die. That is, I thought that I couldn\’t get any nutrition due to the squirts, that the shivering was due to shock and that I was suffocating in my car. So my brain instructed me to do something about it. A cheap room at the Holiday Inn was all I could think of. And once I put my chip in the timing tent, and left the race site, my game was over. I know me.

But, the next day, I knew I could\’ve gone back and walked some more. Today, I jogged 8 miles and did another hour of cross training plus some TRX upper body. Clearly, I didn\’t leave my soul or my heart on the race course.

So I figure that my brain kicked in to survival gear long before I was anywhere near dying. But since I live in my thoughts, I was powerless to go against survival gear. I could only obey it\’s command to find a warm room and also go home as soon as possible. I think that people who have crew are able to have the crew solve their problems, and tell them they are not going to die. But alone, you believe whatever is in your mind and act accordingly.

But even if I had a crew, I\’m not sure I\’ll ever do 100 miles. I still am against tearing up my body/feet so bad that extended recovery is required. I like being able to workout again 2 days later. I\’m all about the long term and the middle way. 50 miles is within my training envelope. I seem to be able to do it without too much trauma. I forget that 50 miles is still a hell of a long way.

So, despite my self knowledge, I know I\’m not done dicking around with 24 hour events. And Thanksgiving weekend is nothing but a personal multi-day running experiment for me. I have no friends or family and disagree with the whole premise of national gluttony celebrations in a nation of fat people. I disagree with eating meat in general anyway. So I look forward to miles and cross training time and weight lifting. Don\’t forget the strength.

My next race is 12/29; and its in Houston. So 50 miles and home to my own bed!  Love it.

Ultracentric Prelude

I have several things on my mind related to this race. But the first one is: how traffic will there be getting out of Houston at 4:30 tomorrow. Normally, I\’d cut work, but as of now, I can\’t. I\’ll feel much better after I get off the Hardy Toll Road and onto I45 heading north.

I\’ve been shuffling my things around the house; some for this bag, some for that bag, some in the car, some for the cooler. I\’ve been making final adjustments to the shoes. The air mattress fits perfectly in the Prius.

But, why? I\’ve failed 3 times at 100 mile attempts. Either I\’m just in too much pain; or I lose heart.

I started doing ultra-marathons as part of my Self Transcendence project. I don\’t think I\’ve ever been far enough or long enough to transcend anything. But I still do the long distance running.

I think alot about my quest for enlightenment, or Self Transcendence. I think about my convent life and how it never could have worked. The \”Grand Silence\” I practice every night at home and all weekend long is more than the convent had. My long distance running is a Grand Silence.

So, back to the 100 mile question. I guess I won\’t know what the prize is until I obtain it. Certainly, what it means to me is not what it means to others. I\’ve read lots of race reports. I don\’t think I want what they have.

It is now Wednesday evening. I\’ve played with this blog several times today. But the answer finally hit me: its whats on the race shirt I got in Colorado last summer.

See, my Colorado training vacation was almost ruined since my left foot was killing me. But I saw this on the back of the race shirt and started crying. I realized that despite my decrepit body, I was out there completing a half marathon, even if I got last place.

I\’ll toe the line at Ultracentric but after that, I don\’t want to measure myself in comparative numbers but in heart. If I throw my heart over the bar, thats all I want.

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.

Inner Ultra Runner

I am not my ego\’s hate and fear.
I can only be the Self of Love.

These are the phrases I jog/walked with today; 20.1 miles. I spend my time pondering God and the Holy Spirit, along with wondering how far I am going. I don\’t really plan these runs. I just put on a full hydro-pak and keep going until something hurts, it gets too hot or I run out of water.

Every weekend the inner ultra runner raises its head and takes command of my life. Now that I have discovered that I can run 50 miles in 12 hours while training at walking speeds, I know the inner ultra runner will continue to make its weekly appearance. Today as I was jogging, I thought about this inner determination. I also thought, \”why not let it go on?\” And so I did.

To want to run ultras is insane. I can\’t remember that I felt good at the end of 50 miles; and my struggles in my hotel room afterward were not pretty at all. But the rainbow in the sky on the last lap was worth it. The feeling of zooming when you have been running for 10 hours was incredible.

I do not know if I am just wasting my time and my body or building my legacy. Who cares about legacies? I\’ll be dead. And anyway, several 53 year old women are out there on the ultra circuit, doing better than me. I still feel like a novice wanna be.

My 9 day vacation is over and I go back to work tomorrow. I\’ll be back to the daily friction of carving 2 hours of work-out time out of a busy work day. Demands from colleagues on all sides. And then the need to regroup after work before I can do a work out. Up at 3:25, do it all and into bed at 9. Disgusting.

I have to go to Germany and give a presentation in a few weeks. It is so important that practice presentations are scheduled as global conference calls. I\’m too lazy to go buy some new clothes. I\’ll look like a dork as always.

Next weekend, I\’ll be up for another pitiful performance. Luckily, summer may end in Texas. Last night, the temps dipped below 70F for the first time in 4 months. It was the first day in ages that seemed \”fresh\” or \”crisp.\”