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.


The Holy Road – Ultracentric Report

Is it this?

Or this?

I\’ve done both. The first one is of the chapel at The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. A place where I spent several years. The second is the road at Ultracentric. Ultracentric is an ultra-marathon. this road is part of a 2 mile loop.

I\’m not sure there is a difference between a nun and an ultra-runner. None is more special to God; as God gives salvation to all.

I just spent 15 hours and 54 miles on the Ultracentric road. I met several people. Many of the people are retired, but able to walk all day for several days. One gal had a broken arm but walked like crazy. One man had osteoporosis, but 50 years ago, he was an Olympic cyclist. Some were great runners who did run most of the time.

The park was near Dallas Fort Worth airport. As I watched the planes all day, it occurred to me that I was totally glad to not be waiting around there for a frigging airplane. But I also realized that I got the \”no place like home\” feeling whenever I came in for a late night landing from a business trip.

They had a wonderful tent kitchen on course making food for the racers. But it was meat centered. So no lunch for me. I realized that I am so outside the pale as a vegetarian and that I don\’t lead a food centered life any more. I\’d gone through this same awkwardness at work on Friday as the department had lunch together; but I refused to eat the oil soaked pasta and ate my home-made salad. This not-part-of-the-society life is a friction. But I felt a new courage to be me. The non-food-centered life is part of my monastic legacy; or maybe just an ongoing loathing to sit and eat with people.

I did real well with my 4 mph pacing up through 32 miles, but then lost time as the temperatures fell, I put on more clothes and stopped jogging and only walked. I had said my goal was 100 miles so I was being conservative on speed. I was determined to keep walking no matter what.

After 13.5 hours, I looked at my counter and saw that I had been 50 miles. It was dark and cold, few lights in the park. A lady was behind me. I slowed and mentioned that I had just passed 50 miles and that no matter how long it took me, I had done the deed. She had been there a day longer than me and had 130 miles. She was a Chech ex-pat who lived in Las Vegas and was a dealer. She walked with me for more than a lap. She wanted company to stay awake. Her goal was 200 miles but she knew she wasn\’t going to make it. So we talked. My voice becoming more and more ragged in the cold air (34F).  I discussed my qualms about the long road ahead. I had learned about myself as the day wore on. As the 40 mile mark passed I admitted that I don\’t really want to tear up my body any more than what is required for 50 miles. I don\’t like that idea because it might mean that I am out of commission for a couple of weeks. That happened the one time I made it to 80 miles. Nearing the middle of a cold dark night in Dallas, I became concerned about walking just long enough to extricate myself from the situation; going home as soon as possible.

When my dealer friend stopped for a bio-break, I went on by myself. I was feeling ok it seemed, except for 2 bouts with the squirts. It was nearing mid-night. I stopped at my car to eat and think about what to do. Round 3 of the squirts demanded an outlet, luckily my car was close to some really good restrooms. As I walked out, I felt totally weak and uncoordinated: bonked hard.

So I crawled into the car where there was an air mattress and a warm sleeping bag. Well problem A; the sleeping bag fits the Prius good, but I don\’t. So I couldn\’t lay flat. Hell of a time to find that out. After 50 miles it is futile to think my body is going to be comfortable on either side. And I was shivering uncontrollably; I guess I was colder than I had realized. Was I going into shock? After awhile, I began to wonder if I was using up all the oxygen in my air tight Prius. But I couldn\’t open a window without getting up and going around to the drivers side, then all the noise outside would be too great. I had to do something different. I had the number for the Holiday Inn on the top of my BB call log. I called them to see if they had any vacancies. They did and at 2 am, they offered me a fantastic rate.

Suddenly my race was over. Self preservation won. 10 min later, all my stuff was thrown in the car and I was on the road. By 2:30, I was in the hotel lobby and talking with the very friendly clerk who I had met the night before when I stayed there.

I showered. Drank my soy milk and swallowed some spirulina and read my book. Then, I turned off the lights and did go to sleep. At that point, except for a destroyed toe nail, my body didn\’t seem too bad. I woke up at 8 am and could have gone back to the race course and walked some more. I could have at least gone to get my participants medal. But I couldn\’t shake the idea that that was stupid. Why go continue to walk around on sore feet. My plantar tendon was the greatest vote. And I didn\’t go ask for my medal since I didn\’t want to explain to anyone why I was quitting when people in much more pain continued on.

So, I had a non-stop trip to Houston; and with no commuter traffic, I was home in 4 hours.

Ultracentric – On the Road

This is how my car looked as I got ready to come to work today. See the blue air mattress and how handily it fits in a Prius?

I had a dream last night. I ran one 2 mile lap of the course and then stopped. It was a beautiful course. I couldn\’t remember why I stopped because there didn\’t seem to be anything wrong with me. So I started to worry about what excuse I would use to tell others why I didn\’t finish the race.

Very metaphysical!

I am letting go. I don\’t control what time I get done with work today or the traffic getting out of Houston. So, let the adventure unfold. Whatever happens, happens. The Holy Spirit is in charge.

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.

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.

Very Sweet Weekend of Training

I\’m not sure I can believe this, but I guess it is so. Between Friday night and Sunday morning, I\’ve covered 40 miles plus 2 hours of other cross-training; over 12 hours.

That is fantastic. So, I got 260 miles this month and 96 hours; the best this year. I even had to reformat my graph to fit the 260 miles on it:

I\’m not very fast, but I get the miles and time in. Well, my next race is a half marathon in Germany and then Ultracentric in Dallas. I spend my time thinking about Ultracentric. I\’m signed up for 48 hours, but won\’t even get to Dallas until 8 or 9 hours after the race starts (work issue). I just hope to make the most of the time I have there.

It is a strange life I live: work all week with about 2 hours of training per day. Spent all weekend alone either running, eating or laying on the bed. This style has been going on for several years. I could say its for racing, but it goes on regardless.

In two weeks, I\’ve scheduled a 4 day weekend. It will be good to do this just before going to Germany (where there won\’t be much more than short morning walks). My trip to Germany is for work, not fun.

Next Running Adventure

I am the owner of airplane tickets to go to St Louis this weekend. I planned to go in a 12 hour race. It looks like the remnants of TS Isaac will be drenching the St Louis area on Saturday into Sunday. So it looks like my race will be in the rain. I am a wimp in some ways. If this race did not involve airplane tickets, I\’d probably stay home.

As it is, I might as well go. I\’m taking my huge plastic covered duffle bag and my good rain suit and even the poncho. I\’ll have 2 changes of shoes and clothes.

But I know it will be a mental challenge for me. Overcoming my own brain will be tough. I wonder how long I will last; or what sort of rants my habitual consciousness will produce.

Going through the mental challenge is mainly what ultra runners do. Failure to breach the mental barrier is my own shortcoming. So, if I last 12 hours at Flatlander\’s, no matter how far I go, that is good success for the future. I really want to succeed at Ultracentric in November; but to do that, I need to be able to keep walking no matter what my habitual consciouness says.

Pending Anniversary Days

Tomorrow is my sobriety anniversary: 27 years since I last drank. I don\’t go to AA anymore; and my desire not to drink is more related to maintaining a spiritual connection than it is to a disease.

August 9 is the 9th anniversary of getting kicked out of the monastery. I became a monk in the world.

So, I have some new running goodies scheduled to arrive as presents. And I am having a mid-year performance check-up with my new boss on the 9th. That is sort of cool since being a fabulous engineer is important to my life in the world.

Well, I wrote that sentence early this morning. About the noon hour: Surprise! I was given a monetary Special Recognition Award. Wow! I have not ever received something like that before.

This morning, I made it out of bed in time for a 70 minute workout, of which 30 min was speed walking outside. I can\’t get my mind off the long distance races I have coming up. Mostly, I hope for a good time at Ultracentric.com in Texas. I have signed up for the 48 hour, knowing full well I won\’t be able to get to Dallas until at best 8 hours after the start of the race. It will be my first experience of camping on the course instead of going to a hotel. I am excited about it because it seems like my foot is healing up and I\’ll be able to do this event.

Of course, Ultracentric is after my company sponsored German work vacation and a half marathon run in Germany.

Crimony! A Course in Miracles is good. Go study it.