Saturday, November 26, 2016

Another Zone Experience

I wish I could express what it is like to be in the marathon zone. Whenever it happens, it makes all marathoning so worth while.

I don't have a family, so I'm happy that I got to spend Thanksgiving running marathons with my marathon family. It is so cool to see a small crowd of marathoners get together for multiple days of races. Some of these people are Texans and I see them at Texas marathons; but some are from out of town and I see them when I go out of town. Angela, Clyde, Robert, Ila, Maggie, Kevin, the guy from Mumbai...

I ran 2 marathons. The first day, I played it safe as usual. I set my Garmin for 3x2; then easy jogged for 3 minutes and fast walked for 2 minutes. I finished day 1 in good shape in 5:42 (not counting pit stops). Then chilled in my hotel room.

Day 2, I felt good. I was surprised that my big toes seemed pain free. The usual blisters were not there. At the start I took off running easy. No walk breaks for 8.7 miles at 11:20/mile pace. Then my head did some math and figured that even if I did the 3x2s, I'd only lose about 3 minutes per lap so I might as well take the walk breaks.

But as soon as I started the walk breaks, my running speed took a quantum leap. I mean, I was flying whenever I was running. I became free. I thought, "well I don't have to do another marathon tomorrow so I might as well let my body go." And I did. I began to run just for the pleasure of running. I had one line of a Christmas tune going in my head. Otherwise, I had no presence of mind. I was sheer movement without ego. Man, I loved it. Even with the walk breaks, I still managed an average pace of 11:20/mile. I finished in 5:05 (including pit stops).

What was also cool is I somehow got it in my mind as I came in sight of the course clock, that I could beat 5:05. I actually sprinted the last 0.2 of a mile or so. I haven't sprinted in a long time. I haven't just ran full out in forever. It felt awesome to just let go and go. Are 57 almost 58 year olds allowed to do that? For no reason! I mean, there were no awards for this and I wasn't passing anyone. It was only for myself.

I'm pleased to say that nothing got injured either. I'm going to run tomorrow. I'm going to consider running fast in my next marathon in 3 weeks.

Monday, November 14, 2016

It About the Buckle

Racing season in Texas is winter for everyone else. Summer is just too hot, day and night, for racing. Any racing I do in the summer is in some other state. Racing season lasts until April or May; though May races have to start at 5 am.

This weekend I did my first 2 races of this year's racing season. Long ago, I had a discount to do the Jackalope Jam, a timed race. I signed up for 24 hours hoping to do 100k and get a belt buckle. In the mean time, the Houston running festival in December is offering attractive Texas themed buckles for the marathon. In 2014, I traveled to Calgary hoping to get a buckle. But it was their 50th anniversary and gave out huge bronze buckles which are not able to be worn on a daily basis. Rats! Last year, I went in the Fort Worth marathon to get a marathon buckle. But, while pretty on the front, the working part on the back was dis-functional, so it couldn't be worn as a buckle. Rats!

I have 3 honestly earned race buckles. But I wanted another.

A few months ago, I realized that the Jackalope Jam was the same weekend as this year's Fort Worth marathon. So if I failed at Jackalope, I couldn't turn around and go to Fort Worth. However, I could just do a marathon at Jackalope and also go to Fort Worth. I also realized I didn't want to hurt as bad as 61 miles would hurt. However, I have done several multi-day marathons this year. I really enjoyed the Fort Worth marathon last year and didn't enjoy the Jackalope at all.

So, I opted to do the double marathon and get my buckle from Fort Worth.

Yes, it is all about the buckle:

And what a pretty buckle that is. So worth it. I love it.

For this weekend, I had a secret performance goal: how quickly could I do 2 marathons. See, the Jackalope had a 6 hour time limit and we had to do 27 laps to get a 26.2 medal. So I put a little pressure on myself to get done in time, including pit stops. Fort Worth is the better course for running fast but it was on day 2. I finished Jackalope with 27.8 miles (according to my Garmin) in 5:37 using 4x1s. That is outstanding considering I did have to hold back for day 2; and it was hot after the first 3 hours. For Fort Worth, I decided to set my Garmin for 3x2s. I wasn't in any hurry and wanted a low impact day. I took the early start to get more time in the cool morning and to relax on finishing time limit. But still, I finished the race in 5:35. It must be that whenever I was running, I was moving well.

My friend Angela, who was at Fort Worth, said I was looking strong.

I realize I like going fast. I'm not sure how much fast my legs can stand. And I've decided that I'll get to 100 marathons in this life, but no need to hurry. I've adjusted my racing season accordingly. I have another double marathon over Thanksgiving, but that is mainly to enjoy a group of people I know will be there. But for December, I decided not to do a double and instead, run fast at Houston Running festival. I did really well at that race last year and want to try again. And in February, I'll do a fast half marathon instead of a slow full.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Four Marathons Four States Four Days

In a way, what led me to try 4 marathons in 4 days started many years ago. But also, it was an urge to push my envelope some in hopes of even doing more.

I like doing distance because it gives me a chance to look inside myself and see what I am made of. There are emotions. There are thoughts. It is about self transcendence. It is about prayer.

There is a community of runners which does ridiculous numbers of marathons. My trail-mates for this event are people who have run anywhere between their first and their 1,500 marathon. But mostly people who have run gobs of marathons. I've only run 68, a relatively low number. This was a six day series. I only ran 4 of them. Most of the other 85 or so marathoners in each race ran all 6.

And, if I can run 4 marathons in 4 days, then maybe I've got a fix on how a multi-day race might come out. I'm in terrific shape right now.

Here also, there is the camaraderie of the other runners. I see people I know at these races. Maybe it is about relationships. A relationship with Clyde, or Larry. Clyde was at my first triple marathon this May. Clyde is 69. He was finishing his 200th marathon. They had his picture around the course and on the last lap numerous people, mostly an entourage of girls, joined him; along with having impromptu pit stops where he drank some alcoholic beverage. It just so happens that I was finishing my marathon on that lap too. Clyde and his entourage kept passing me and then stopping to drink; when I would get ahead again. Finally I made sure I got ahead and finished before he got there so I wouldn't finish in the middle of his party. Clyde was at my first quad, but a much different version whose wisdom I enjoyed.

Then there is the matter of old people doing amazing things. Like 84 year old women finishing Iron Man triathlons within the time limit. Women of my mother's generation! I am "only" 57, yet it is my generation that first ran an Olympic marathon, who first finished Iron Man triathlons. At these races, I meet some of these amazing elderly athletes.

And why? It all started with reading race reports of people who did these events and how they felt about it. It started with the 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence Race. All of these distance events cause people to look inside.

I wanted to look inside my soul. If I went in an event, I'd do more than I would do by myself.

In February of 2016, I was successful at running a double marathon (2 marathons in 2 days). I was super pumped and in the zone on day 2. I quickly signed up for two more races which were triple marathons. At each of these, day 3 was super zone day and I ran incredibly fast.

I had known of Mainly Marathon series for more than a year. I kept looking and wondering how I could do such an event. I don't have much vacation time. There is alot of driving each day. Moving hotels each day. But under all that is a multi-day endurance event which I had a chance of doing.

I got a very large bonus from my company this year. I decided that I would take a week off work without pay and go on a marathon adventure with that money. On April 20, I bought my air plane ticket. On April 22, I signed up for the races. My dream was to become a reality.

On September 12, the day before flying out, I'm wondering why I am doing this thing. What alot of energy expended to fly to Denver, drive to South Dakota, then Wyoming, then Nebraska, then Colorado again. For what?

In the days leading up to the race, I didn't have any meaningful thoughts about why. Mostly I felt lethargy.

After a perfect flight from United airlines, in first class on a dream liner, I drove though gloomy and cold weather from Denver to Spearfish, SD. The first thing I did in Spearfish was buy a cheap jacket at Walmart. It was cold for this Gulf Coast girl.

First marathon was in Belle Fourche South Dakota. It was on a bike path along a river. I ran it using 3x2s in 5:47.

ACIM lesson: My holy vision sees all things as pure.

Thoughts: This trip is the ultimate ego fiasco. I'll do it all and still not know the existential me; or not have changed my ego's anger at all.

Second marathon was in Sundance Wyoming. It was on a horribly rocky gravel road around a fair grounds. I walked and jogged based on the footing in 5:48. The uneven footing beat up my toes more than I wanted and I began to worry. I had worn an extra knee support on my right knee and was very glad that the knee was protected from the extra wobbling.

ACIM lesson: I am surrounded by the love of God.

Thoughts: Talking to Clyde, he said he tries to make everyone's life happier by trying to put smiles on their faces. I totally felt my own reticence at that moment. I felt my dis-like of colleagues due to my own biases.  My life is a struggle with myself. I know I am difficult and keep trying to be better.

Driving to Chadron, I saw a perfect double rainbow. I sensed something bigger than myself; or a gift.

Third marathon was in Chadron Nebraska. It was in a beautiful park and mostly on park road; except for a patch of grassy trail that we covered each lap, out and back. The grassy trail was uneven and I worried about turning an ankle; it also beat up the toes. I was worried that I'd not be able to do marathon #4 after that.

ACIM lesson: Creations gentleness is all I see.

Thoughts: Specialness and self pity. I was judging the people who had achieved various levels of marathon quantity awards, frequent marathon awards, shirts saying "I did this" or that. As I struggled with the "trail", I felt sorry for myself, but also realizing I'm there with many other people doing the same thing. I thought about how difficult it is to bring anonymity and service into my life.

Fourth marathon was in Sterling Colorado. It was in a beautiful park and on good dirt footing; though a little hilly. I used mostly 3x2s and finished in 6:20.

ACIM lesson: My holy Self abides in you God's Son.

Day 4 of my time on course, many of the other runners recognized my steadiness in going forward. I thought that maybe my jogging and power walking were helping them to do more.

I cried at the end of the last lap. I was over come with emotion that I actually finished my first quad. This was the brief moment when I knew my soul. It took 4 days and over 100 miles, but finally I felt myself without my ego's intervention. The JOY brought tears to my eyes and tremendous NOW.

After the race, I talked to Clyde. He talked about the family of marathoners. People joined in doing something they love. I was among people like me. People who think a vacation is to go and run several marathons. Clyde lives in Texas so I will see him again.

The deepest longing and yearning that every human has for "something." That is really why we were there. It wasn't the Titanium Award, or the Everest Award, or the world's record for most lifetime marathons. It was the human spirit.

At a minimum, this vacation brought a relief from thoughts about work. Experiences bring thoughts. But I am not at my end, no conclusion. I am still on a journey. I don't have the final answer to my being.

For swag, we got a shirt, one main medal and a medal for each state, plus a little tag that says 2016.

Osmium Marathon Maniac is 4 marathons in 4 days.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Spiritual Progress

This blog has been a bit silent. That is because it is summer. No racing during the summer. The Self Transcendence Race is over. There is only sweaty slow miles eeked out of stubborn-ness.

I have had a 4 day weekend. It came on the heels of a long discussion with my boss labeled "performance."  As an imperfect person, having a discussion with another imperfect person, it would be impossible for my ego not to fight about it. So I entered a long weekend in emotional turmoil. Mentally, my ego was attacking all of my colleagues for one reason or another. I grabbed my spiritual tools.

I am reading A Course in Miracles for about the 10th time. It's words are a healing soothing balm.What am I thinking that God would not have thought? What would God have thought which I am not thinking? Can I change my mind to think with God's.  Also on Friday, Ekart Tolle's "Stillness Speaks" arrived. Tolle teaches about separating your self from the ego yammering. Not new information, but I get sucked surely into the ego's reality time after time. It ruin's my life. Mixed in here are techniques to cleanse my energy.

A phrase from ACIM: Let the Holy One shine on you in peace. Let every voice but God's be still in me.

My mind is full of thoughts about running away from my life. I check LinkedIn. Where can I get a job? I know in my heart it wouldn't fix anything and I'd surely take a huge pay cut. Also, keep in mind, my ego is freaking out over nothing. It is my nature.

I sat this morning during my spiritual time. I knew the ego's hatred was there. I wondered when my spirituality was going to solve this problem. I felt defeated.

I went running. The miles were hot. My ego was mentally attacking my boss and other colleagues. I kept noticing and then saying one of my ACIM phrases. At some point I degenerated into a mantra, "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us."

Then very quietly. I thought, "I am spiraling into depression." Then, "My ego is having a melt down." Then, "Yes, your ego is having a melt down, but you aren't." Quietly but suddenly, for the first time that I can remember, there was a separation between me and my ego. Suddenly, the meltdown had no power. I felt ok. My turmoil is only co-dependency.

Now you need to know, this was a small moment, entirely mental, with no outward activity. I was just doing my miles and living the inner mental reality. I give credence to that one thought which defeated the emotional break down. I had a reality other than the ego one. For once, I didn't get myself "all worked up" for no reason.

I don't know how my work life will go tomorrow or the next day. Technically, I am super. But getting along with others is a problem. My ego wishes there were no other people. How do I live with that? I can see it but not get it to stop. Don't dwell on it. Instead, speak one of the ACIM phrases. Just choose ACIM.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Self Transcendence 52/52

I deeply honor all the runners in the 3,100 Self Transcendence race. Today Kaneenika finished. She is the last finisher, though 5 more runners will stay on the course until midnight tonight. The video of Kaneenika bring tears to my eyes. Think, I sometimes cry for myself after a marathon. Think of the emotion after 3,100 miles and 51+ days.

Perhaps these emotions are why I run marathons. The human spirit comes forward into the conscious realm.

Today at work, a little spat with my snarky boss. But the guy in the shop was incredibly nice to me, going over board to help me.

I need to remember my human spirit.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Self Transcendence 51/52

The real story of this year's race is found in the post today by the race director: "To keep going when a finish is hopeless must be a difficult pill to swallow. ... it is intriguing for the other five to taste the emptiness of a self-imposed purgatory. Here is where their inner depth kicks in. What better time than now to show their real strength, their real fortitude, their real dedication to the highest reality. What better time than now?"

It is a thing to contemplate. What is that inner force that drives one through pain? I don't go to these extreme lengths with self inflicted pain, but I do feel that inner force. It gets me out of bed. It seems to me that we all have to keep going with our spiritual growth; whether by choice or imposed by The Universe. A Course in Miracles states in several places that it is a way to save time.

Today, I went for a very lovely 2 hour run in the park. It surprises me that even though I did 25 miles yesterday, I ran painlessly this morning. What a privilege to run up to Pine Gully park in time to see sunrise over the bay.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Self Transcendence 50/52

Only 12 people start the 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence race. This year, 2 didn't finish the number of days, 5 will finish the 3,100 miles, the rest are doing as many miles as possible. The rest of the people in world didn't start. Or did something else. It takes me a year to do 3,100 miles.

Today, I went outside for 3 1/2 hours, only 2 of which were jogging. Then it was too hot for me so I walked until I ran out of drink. Then I walked home and decided to finish today's workout on the treadmill. At least some jogging occurs on the treadmill. In total, I got 19.4 miles in 5 hours.

While I was outside, I thought of my favorite 3,100 mile runner. It was astonishing yesterday to see a video of the start for that day. She was limping badly. This was on top of the daily blog where there has been a picture of her getting out of a van. You can tell it is a difficult task. Yet, she still does more than 50 miles each day. It is a thing of contemplation, her body-mind relationship. In the middle of it, is her spiritual teacher.

And I gave some thought to pictures of the US men's gymnastics team without their shirts. Wow!

Also, I was doing my own metaphysical work. This means, watching my thoughts. When they get stuck on some resentment towards another person or society, I need to move that energy out. Change the thought. My Course in Miracles lesson today was "My home awaits me. I will hasten there." And to lift your head and notice Silent Consciousness which exists in the trees. Become aware of Something Higher and don't let my mind stay in resentment.

When I got on my treadmill, I was looking at cue cards I have. Over time, I have written meaning full sentences from ACIM Text on the cards; so I can be reminded while I am on my treadmill. Things like the ego's goals, specialness, Love, Oneness, The Holy Spirit.

But I didn't take my body to excruciating pain like those ultra runners. I will go for a walk later since I have a vacation day tomorrow.

Only 2 more days to my self transcendence retreat. I will miss checking on the runners and the focus on my own self transcendence. I will also note that this important annual celebration of my personal history is gone for another year. There will be more miles and more marathons. I have a spiritual dream that I need to keep alive.