Sunday, October 9, 2011

Turn the Page

Last night was the demise of my self-illusion that I can be an ultra-runner. Things started out pretty decent at the Heartland 50. After about 7 miles, the rain seemed real; I mean actual rain not just sprinkles. I calmly slipped my garbage bag over my head and continued on into the darkness. But my brain reached a barrier. I believed it would rain all night, and I couldn't believe it would be at all good or worth it to spend the night running in the rain. Other people kept going. The rain really wasn't an awful downpour or anything. I just couldn't believe it was worth it to spend the night in it.

Arriving at the aid station at 8 miles, I planned to either get a ride back to the start or run back there myself. I said, I am not cut out to run all night in the rain. Without too long a wait, I found myself tucked into the back of a Ranger extended cab pickup and driven to the start. The magic of the night took place here. I sort of knew these 2 guys. I finally got the courage to ask the question. Do you know Bill W? Why yes they did. Sitting in that tiny cab was 79 years of sobriety. Amazing!

Driving home last night, I came to the realization: my capabilities do not extend very far into adventurous places. My mind just can't do the difficulties required of an ultra runner. Partly because I know there is no reward for me at the end. My brain did not produce one single dopamine reward molecule related to the upcoming pain of 50 miles in the rain. So, lacking all mental motivation, I caved quite quickly. I'm surprised I started at all as I knew that part of Kansas had a big green spot over it on the radar. Daring is not part of my belief system. I don't have the belief system that produces the dopamine reward which produces the ultra performance.

My ego no longer responds to the rewards of completing a race. It knows that I'll just get in the car and go home without fanfare; only to start again the next day.

How can I say that I have no daring in me? Didn't I throw away my life and go to a monastery? Well, it was a secure old big bucks monastery. Didn't I run 86 miles a Silverton? Well, I didn't run 100 miles because of this very mental limitation. And I covered my 86 miles in a very conservative way. Didn't I go running off to Israel by my self when I was 21? Well, yeah, but I was already a skilled international traveler so going off without mommy and daddy was just a natural progression.

Owing to my DNF, I had a pretty normal Saturday. I spent the first part of the workout listening to This American Life as I rode the ex-bike. I spent another 30 min listening to Prairie Home Companion as I rode the nordic track. Then, I plucked my hydro-pak from the refrigerator (where it landed after last night's debacle) and went out for a 3 hour jog/walk in the surrounding suburbs.

I am disillusioned with modern Christianity, but not necessarily with Jesus himself. I am disillusioned with enlightenment as I'm sure it is mainly a dopamine reward and not God. I am disillusioned with various food fads. I am disillusioned with ultra running or any running rewards related to competition. I am somewhat divorced from society and family life. Where is my motivation for living going to come from?

I am about to move to Houston where I will buy an ordinary house, however small, in a ordinary subdivision and live without visible difference than the surroundings. I'll go to work, pay the bills and make sure the lawn is taken care of. Is there any such thing as a suburban mystic contemplative? Do you have to be a monk or a Buddhist to discover God?

Steve Jobs had to die before he immediately became a wisdom figure.

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