Sunday, April 29, 2012

Frisco 50 - I am an Ultra Runner

It is Sunday morning. I am in an airport. I just walked back and forth along the concourse for 2.5 miles. Last night, I sat in a hotel room and looked at my second place medal from the 50k (31 miles) I ran. It is a symbol of something.

I am an ultra runner again. I will say, for me, there is something more to a 31 mile race than a 26.2 mile race.

My trip to Kansas City has caused me to realize: I don't care about Kansas City. I am a person without a commitment to a place or a tribe. This is the result of my Course in Miracles studies. Yes, I walk about the world, but I am not really attuned to it. I know it is a dream. I see my own charade being carried out and I don't need to judge anyone else's charade.

I met interesting people at the 50k race: Mr Florida, Ms Ithaca, Miss Ft Worth, Rob...

Running in the last few miles, I did realize that this race was showing me what I am made of. I was beyond what training could do. I was just being guttish. My legs hurt but it seemed not to matter.

The aid stations were out of water. The finish line was out of finisher's medals. A deer fly bit me enough to draw blood. I got the last diet coke.

Being from Houston, the humidity was my friend.

I had one thought on my mind: The gift of Christ is all I seek today. This phrase is from A Course in Miracles. I mention that because many Christians would not agree with the premises of the Course. But while I was running a 50k, there was a young man running a half marathon. I saw him at the start with a large wooden cross. At about 6 miles, I was passing someone, and another person in a shorter race was coming back at me (meaning 3 of us across a 10 ft wide trail). Just then, the man with the cross came from behind and passed me. I didn't hear him. I said, "Sorry." He quickly adjusted the cross to keep from hitting me and said, "that's ok."

Watching him run forward, I thought about all the things people do for religion and in this case Jesus. I mean, I did spend 4 years in a monastery and know the shenanigans the nuns pull. Then I realized: the problem with Christianity is that everyone has their own belief about Jesus.

Now in the airport, I hear there is a scandal in the Roman Catholic church related to nuns. Really?

I had lunch with an old friend during this trip. I feel bored with the conversation. Walking back and forth in the airport, I realize that Kansas City is not special to me. I lived here 25 years, but there is nothing there for me now.

Back in Houston. DOMs is setting in. I must keep moving.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Endless Path

If I had stayed in the convent, I'd be spending the weekend sitting in this room with these elderly nuns:

I pretty much hate sitting around rooms going through namby pamby discernment exercises. It is not like manufacturing groups don't also have meetings and set goals. Its just that things move along quicker. We don't have to ask who we are.

I am gathering my things and packing my bags. I have an ultra-marathon on tap this weekend. I'll be here, doing this and looking pretty much like this:

This is a picture from 3 years ago; the last time I was in this race.

Instead of being a nun with no possessions. I am an engineer with a six figure salary, a car, a home and everything else. My own treadmill, elliptical, nordic track, ex-bike and weight set. I have a stock of 4 new pairs of running shoes in the closet.

Instead of practicing Roman Catholicism and sitting in Adoration before the holy eucharist, I practice A Course in Miracles and sit before the inner altar where Christ is. And long distance running is my prayer. Endurance is my meditation. The endless trail is my contemplation.

How long can I go? What will it feel like?

When I left the convent, I didn't give up Christ, or silence or contemplation. But a part of me can't forget them. If you asked me if I am better off where I am now, I'd answer yes. But I still look back. I still look back.

And then I look forward. I look forward. The path is long. The path is my conversation with God. I am spirit, talking through Spirit in communication with Source.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ultra Insanity

Incredible. Unbelievable. I'm sure I am crazy; for running at least.

So, I have wanted to enter another timed endurance run. I can't completely explain why. Being on your feet for 24 hours does hurt. But, well, sometimes you just should.

I am going to a 50k endurance run in Missouri this weekend. I signed up for that because I wanted to see what shape I was in and to remember what it feels like. Then I planned to train all summer for a 12 hour endurance run in September.

But, I found out yesterday that I am scheduled to go to one of our plant sites in Massachusetts in May. Then I remembered that there was an endurance run nearby which I had figured that I didn't want to do since I am short on vacation and I am going to Canada at the end of May.

But, my boss said I could fly on a Friday and of course my air fare is on the company. So, why not go to an endurance run. It is not like I wouldn't spend all weekend running anyway. It is my only chance for a 24 hour run this year. My foot is a bit sore, but undergoing good treatment. But if my only goal is to remain on my feet for 24 hours, why not?

So, I'm now all booked to go to "3 Days at the Fair" although, I'm only in the 24 hour race.

It is my chance to feel the community of one of these endurance runs. It is my chance at extended running meditation for this year. I love the thought: Just go around the loop, thru night and day. Peaceful. Connected to the others. Miles piling up.

Here are some pictures:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The 3 Agreements

Many of my peers (new age yuppies, tail end of the baby boom) have read "The Four Agreements." These seemed like wisdom when I read them.

Recently, my spiritual journey with Jesus and A Course in Miracles, has lead me to understand that there are 3 agreements which I can break. They are the secret vows that everyone of us makes with the separation concept.

I have broken my agreements with: fear, hatred and guilt. I no longer believe these are true and I am no longer totally vulnerable to them. I don't believe the ego's lies without question. I think I must have accepted Atonement somewhere along the line. I am/have forgiven myself. So I do not have to go along with any agreement to hate anybody, be afraid of others or feel guilty for my dream.

In this, the pain disappears and the Son of God is free. I walk with the living Christ instead.

Today I am on Lesson 287: You are my goal my Father, only You.

Who would have thought when I got kicked out of a monastery that I'd go on to a greater Communion?

I am getting ready for a 50k race next weekend. So, I'm going a bit easy on myself so I'll be ready. I'm feeling competitive. At the same time, the 10 day Self Transcendence Race is underway in Flushing Meadows, NY. I also truly year for endless time on the trail. My body cannot do 50 miles a day for days in a row, so the Self Transcendence race is out of the question.

But I still go for hours as suits me. Even walking uphill on the treadmill fills my need for endurance. Endurance activities are merely a dream of eternity, where I truly am. Accepting Atonement, the dream is undone and I live in eternity.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Crack in the Universe

No, it wasn't bright lights or euphoria. But a moment of extreme clarity and complete understanding. Of what? For a moment, I had a complete understanding of how I am joy and if I live consciously from that truth, the illusion changes to total happiness and joy.

I'm not sure I still have a grasp on that knowing which was so clear a couple hours ago when I was exercising.

It came to me in terms of picking races. What if.....personal bests and Boston Qualifications are created way before the day of the race and everything that happens is created metaphysically of thoughts?

 So, let me start with the idea I want to have a happy race. I give this idea to Spirit and let Him plan. I just go along. Then, I go to the race calendar and see whats on there. Lets say that some race leaps out at me as one I really want to do. Coupled with the idea the Spirit is in charge, I enter that race because I know thats the one selected for me by Spirit.

So, now, I just go about my training, picking my race day outfit, planning travel, etc, secure in the knowledge I will have a happy day. I know the "moons will line up" (or that I'll be lucky) because Spirit is in charge of giving me a happy day.

But what if I don't trust Spirit? What if I am afraid I won't get what I want? What if I think God answers prayers by sending difficulties? Then, I didn't really want a happy day. I really want fear and pain. If thats what I want, then that is what I get because I wanted it.

So, I just bring these openly to Spirit and they go away.

As I pondered the idea that my best races were actually planned for me by Spirit and that I just trusted and went along, giving all credit to Spirit, suddenly the universe disappears. Truly it is an illusion. I did nothing. All was Spirit. I am spirit.

It is a metaphysical truth: the universe does not exist, so I can change it.

The Frisco 50, next Saturday, seems to be such a race. On the day I thought of it, I had clicked submit and purchase airplane tickets without qualms of any sort. Same with the Copper Mountain Half on June 30. But no matter how much I pondered a race in Tulsa, I just didn't feel comfortable with entering. At work, there was an assignment I delayed on because I couldn't decide what to do with it. Then, I got some additional information and suddenly, I knew what had to be done. What if I was waiting for a spiritual moment to move easily forward instead of forcing this myself? Things go badly when I force them myself.

I can't explan how clear this was during a moment of clarity. I totally knew the truth. Now, hours later, I can't explain it but I still know it. I also know that another glimmer will arrive and that one will stay longer and be clearer.

My psalm for today, devised last night is:
Today I wake to joy expecting but
the happy things of God to come to me.

I awaken every moment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why Be Alive

This morning, I had a new thought decision. I've decided I no longer will say "I don't want to be alive" or "I'm not here for any particular purpose"; I've decided to choose why I will live. I am free in that regard.

See, my whole life, I've compared myself to others and seen them doing much more worthy things. Or they had religious validation. Or they were more enlightened. Or they were part of families and caring for others. It is true that I have no particular place in society and no one else cares if I am here or not. If I disappeared, hardly anyone would notice. I interpreted this situation as meaning that I don't need to be alive and have no reason to be here.

This is not correct and it has been corrected. My purpose in life happens to be more abstract than others. I have the gift of life; but I happen to believe that the biggest part of that gift is not in this world. I've decided to stop trashing the gift, accept it and choose to move forward with it.

Did I tell you? I just started reading the Course in Miracles Text for the 8th time since July of 2007. I always find new things I missed before. My goal is to read very slowly and savor each thing said.

Here is a map of my next race:

I will be running a 50k (31 miles) along an old railroad bed across the southern Missouri countryside. I'll probably take about 7 hours to do it. It is a small race; a few compatriots going 50k or 50 miles. It is nothing like Boston. And here is where my philosophy departs from this world into the abstract.

I have qualified for Boston but never entered. I could have been there this year. I look at the thousands of people and know it is one of the last places I'd ever want to be. And with my attitude, I realize that Boston is just a media hype. Without the marketing and media, it would just be another big city marathon.

I've run marathons and longer races under hot and humid conditions . I don't know why everyone is crying so bad about how hot Boston was. It didn't crack 90F for instance.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Staying in God

I have not been able to focus on the daily lesson from the ACIM workbook, but have loved digging into each of the little blurbs and each of the prayers that go with the day (WBII). I have made myself a wonderful psalm for today. I have been pondering it as I workout this evening:

Let me not worship idols.
I am he the Father loves.
Sacred silence is my real self.
My holiness remains the light of Heaven.
My holiness remains the love of God.
Holiness is what I really am.

Here in the ego world, most of us don't consider ourselves holy. But if you could open your mind to the idea, then think of how wonderful to honor the idea instead of trash it; and realize you are the light of heaven and the love of God. Would you trash what God loves?

I just find that fascinating. It brings me into communication with my creator. I "Know" the truth and it has set me free.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ready Freddie

Yesterday, I did a 25 mile jog/walk. In the evening, I did some free weights and another 25 min of elliptical. The last 25 mile run I did was 3 weeks ago. Last weekend, I had a 3 day training extravaganza. This week, I had a bit of a cut back recovery week (only 47 miles).

Thats the background. Today, I only did 10.1 miles, mostly walking with numerous fast pickups. I felt much better than after my last 25 mile run. I like looking at my garmin during a pickup and seeing 8 min/mile in the instantaneous speed box.  I'll probably do a bit more workout this evening.

All this is to say that I think I'll do fine at my 50k race in 2 weeks. I haven't done a 50k since last September in Silverton, CO.

I entered the Frisco 50 because I wanted to remember what it feels like to go that far. I don't have the mental fortitude to do it by myself. I am familiar with this course and the location is easy and cheap on Southwest Airlines. I am signed up for a couple of 12 hour runs in the fall, but before I buy any airplane tickets for them, I need to feel the 50k.

I think ultra running is a sport that comes from a different place than marathoning. My mentality for this is very different than when I am training for a marathon. I seek the quality of endlessness, not speed.

I am reading "The Song of Prayer," a supplement to A Course in Miracles. Here is my psalm:

Let prayer but leave the ground where it begins
to rise to God and true humility
will come to grace the mind that prayed.

The only way I survived 4 years in a convent was to remember all day one line from the rule of Benedict: I am a worm and no man. The only way I survive in daily life as an engineer is to remember humility. When I place myself below, and take my dog out of the race and surrender to God, things go well. That is all I care about.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hogwash (not)

Blogs about God can be boring. The God topic seems so "something." I guess because I no longer get inspired by anything other than A Course in Miracles text. I no longer want anyone else's opinions.

More robots read this blog than people.

Many running blogs I find interesting. I love reading ultra runner blogs and hearing about long runs.

Why is this post called "Hogwash"? Because: Last evening, I took an evening off workouts and I gave God some space in my mind. After a bit of silent conversation, I thought, "God is not hogwash." And so, I start from there by just taking up the listening position.

So, this morning, I woke up before the alarm, did my spiritual study, and hit the trail at 6. In my mind was the following God thought: I do not understand what anything is for and so I do not understand what anything means. I merely rise and go to Him in peace.

I kept that up for 6 hours and I jog/walked my way through 25 miles and 60 oz of water and other fuel. I think I will be able to complete a 50k in 2 weeks.

But the situation does need reflection. I realized that I have to do ultras because I want to be training for 6+ hours or have the opportunity to be on a trail for 7+ hours; not for swag or any sort of bragging. It is the idea of endurance which I so much seek. Endurance is eternity to me. I yearn for eternity. And, A Course in Miracles is my only solution to that problem. A number of friends are running the Boston marathon on Monday. Despite running a qualifying time of 15 min less than what is required for entry (which would have put me in the second qualifying bracket and I would have got in); I would hate the whole Boston experience. So I didn't enter. I'm glad. I can think of nothing worse than being in huge crowds and spending big bucks and being pissed off about it for 3 days. Along with running a PW race.

Instead, I'll be in Missouri in 2 weeks quietly shuffling along for 31 miles, picking up my finisher medal and going home.

For me, its the very act of quietly shuffling along. I'm the most unimpressive runner on earth.

After I got done with my run, I had a small green smoothie sitting in a cooler in the car. It was THE.BEST. SMOOTHIE.EVER. Loved it.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter 2012 - Miracles

Today was a miracle day. I mean, wow, should not have happened.

At 3 am, I was awake. I decided that doing more running today was not a good idea so changed all the alarms (which had been set for 4:30). And slept til 7.

After getting up. I decided I felt pretty good. I decided to go to the park for a walk of undetermined length. It is a nice day but would still be very hot by noon. So, I get to the park about 8:35. The parking lot has the usual large quantity of cars belonging to runners.  

I walk across the parking lot and start in on my walk. After a couple of minutes, I wondered how jogging would feel. OK, a minute or two of slow jogging. A couple of minutes of walking. Lets try jogging again (couple three minutes). Ok, walk again.

Well, after about a mile of that, the jogging portion had turned into 3 minutes of race pace running. WTF? I mean FFS! What am I thinking? But, I look at times on the garmin and I see times between 8 and 10 min miles! So I actually kept that ridiculous pacing up for 15 miles, 3h03 (just about 5 mph average).

A 15 mile interval run after 22 miles on Friday and 20 miles yesterday. How did that happen? I should have been wasted already. So, Friday and Saturday were easy non-stressful miles but still....

Today was a real workout, but incredible.

Was it the titanium neck band? haha, I paid $35 for a titanium neck band. I bought it as a fashion statement on Thursday. I even tied 3 knots in the front for the holy trinity (me, myself and I).

I walked the 16th mile back to the car; not tempting my luck.

Then, my only chore on the way home was to buy gas. After entering my credit card, I was fumbling around with the nozzle and put my wallet on the back of the car. I remember thinking, "Don't forget to get that after you get this nozzle in." Of course I forgot. Arriving home, I thought I needed to move the wallet from the car to my backpack only to discover it wasn't IN the car. Oh sh!T. I jump out of the car and look at the back................................My wallet is still sitting there. PTL! Thank you, thank you.

This weekend, not counting Thursday eve, I ran 58 miles and worked out 14.3 hours. I wonder if I am ready for the Frisco 50k in 3 weeks?

One toe nail won't be making the trip.

One Good Thought

Maybe it is left over monastic training on contemplation, but I often wish I could focus on one thought and go deeper into God through it. Today, reading the Manual for Teachers, A Course in Miracles, I got this thought:

"Holy are you, eternal, free and whole, at peace forever in the Heart of God."

I totally see how if I think that of everybody and everything, then the illusion of this world ends. And, the teacher of God is not asked to be perfect, merely willing to follow the Teacher.  This is salvation and it is appropriate for Easter.

Now, off to the park for a few miles.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday

This morning, I got up with my alarm clock at 5:30. I did my spiritual study and got in the car to go to the park about 6:45.

The full moon was hanging low in the western sky, dawn was already on the wane.

I got to the park, sprayed myself for mosquitoes and started off on another long jog/walk of undetermined distance. The boys who work for the city were setting up an Easter egg hunt. As I got further down the trail towards  the water, I could see a red ball of a sun well above the horizon.

Am I training for an ultra? Am I just doing this because this is what I do?

I give nods to the people I see every Saturday. Some are fast runners. Some are slower and clumsier than me; which seems hard to imagine.

I think of a guy I heard from recently. He was in second place in a marathon when he strained his calf and had to quit. It was the first DNF (did not finish) for this 30 something speedster. He thinks he'll quit running. What? Quit running just cuz you don't want to be a slow poke also ran?

I think of another guy who worked really hard to qualify for Boston. But he only qualified by a few seconds. So he didn't make the cut. So he quit running and got fat. What? Is that all you think running is?

Running will hand your ego to you on a plate. Every time.

I keep slogging along. After one 8 mile lap, I have a pit stop at the car and head out for a second lap. Easter eggs are strewn all over the place. Corrals are set up to keep age groups apart. The weather is perfect today, but hot for a runner.

Back to Pine Gully park and out to Red Bluff. At 15 miles, I am tired and my legs are sore here and there. I double back around the bayou for 0.6 miles of high speed walking. I can't decide when to quit. My legs hurt, but that seems not to be the deciding factor.

I get back to Meador park. The Easter eggs have all been collected and parents are walking their children back to the cars. I think, "I still want to run tomorrow and I should get groceries now (in case the stores are closed tomorrow)." And so, arriving at the car after a 17 mile slog, I stop.

Well, it is Saturday. I'll workout some more this evening when a Prairie Home Companion comes on.

I haven't a clue as to why I need to do this. I need a cup of coffee.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Yesterday, Holy Thursday, I thought about the Catholic Church and how after the Thursday evening service, they take the "bread-which-is-Jesus" out of the church; and then pretend Jesus is not in the church. Then, on Friday, they serve "leftover-bread-that-is-Jesus." Then at the vigil on Saturday night or Sunday pre-dawn, they make new "bread-which-is-Jesus." After that, Jesus stays in the church for the rest of the year.

What? Really?

At this point in my life, that all sounds preposterous. One of the reasons I left organized religion was because I believe that every molecule, photon and the smaller or even non-existent particle (thinking of you SGL), is either holy, spirit filled and the Real Presence; or their is no God and none of this matters.

I believe there is a Higher Power. I don't say God because there is too much incorrect teaching about what God could be. But none of this matters as it is an illusion.

So, in the monastery, Good Friday was used for penance and confession. When I was a novice, I was excluded from some of the sisters activities; so I did the unseemly thing. I went running.

As I was running today, I thought about my monastic life. As a matter of fact, I owe my current spiritual capability to my monastic training. See I don't get involved in distractions from the knowledge of God's presence because of those 4 years cut off from the world. I want to be grateful to the sisters rather than being angry they kicked me out. As a matter of fact, my spirituality is far better now than if I'd remained in a Roman Catholic Convent. As I ran, saying my day's psalm, I did feel happy for the gift of contemplation.

Let me remember what my purpose is.
Let me remember that my goal is God.
Setting aside all little senseless aims.
Achieving only what You want me to.

To celebrate Easter this year, I thought of buying a symbolic piece of body wear. It turns out, I spent $35 on an aqua titanium neck band. It is white and I tied 3 knots in it to symbolize the Trinity. I look very hip in it.

Today was Good Friday indeed. I got up at 5 and hit the park by 6:30. I jog/walked 8x2s for almost 4 hours. Then I came home just as the guys delivering the new treadmill showed up. I bought a new treadmill because of too much concrete in Texas and no hills at all. I got a really good Life Fitness treadmill. It cost less than 2 weeks salary (after taxes and 401K). This afternoon, I walked another 5 miles uphill on the treadmill as well as lift weights and do core. My new shorts also came today.

So different from being a nun. Here are some picture from my last half marathon where I won 2nd place in my age group. The last one is with one of my Canadian friends.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Remedy for Everything

God is the only goal I have today.

That's it. As soon as I think that, my fears dissolve. That is, fear is not just fear. It is my goal of fear. Yes, all my fear is made by me to meet the goal. Once I am afraid, I have no chance of knowing God and knowing I am loved and cared for and safe.

But as soon as I shift my goal from fear to God, I feel fine. I have no goal in this world.

Today I had a bit of extra time. First I bought a new treadmill; a good one from an equipment supplier, not a box store. I need this to reduce my concrete running and to do hill workouts here in flat Houston.

Then, after a little "work from home" and lunch, I went out for a 9 mile jog in the park across the street.

An interaction with another person today left me with a low grade ego resentment. As I ran laps around the park, I sorted through my fear. After about 1 hour and 20 minutes, I realized I could give it to God. And so I did. It vanished.

Nothing can bother me if I stick to my goal: God is the only goal I have today.

Monday, April 2, 2012

It just begs...

....for a space in my mind for God:

Let every voice but God's be still in me.
Let no ego thoughts be kept by me.
In deepest silence would I come to You.

Yes surely, I feel the call of silence inside; an opportunity to be with the One I love.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday

If only.....I had not been kicked out of a monastery, today would not have happened.

Palm Sunday was the beginning of my most dreaded week of the year. Sisters were practically beating their breasts over their feelings that their sins had pounded the nails into Jesus' flesh. And then tensions were high over who was chosen to do what during the Easter Liturgy, how was the altar to be decorated, who was cooking, how would the tables be set for the feast, choir practice, cleaning; but worst for me was the segregation of the novices. I mean how can you expect to assimilate someone into the community if certain community meetings were off limits. I hated the whole thing.

Instead, a couple of days ago, a runner from Alberta Canada came to visit me in Texas. We ran a half marathon today. I would not have the pleasure of this friend except for, where we first met.

Here's how my day went: far different than the monastery. I woke up at 2 am with on my mind. Runners reading this will know what Active is; and it was on my mind because I have a problem with my account. It was bugging me. But then, I fell asleep at about 3 and woke up with the alarm at 4. I quickly got out of bed and dressed in my race clothes.

I came downstairs for coffee and an hour of spiritual study. Then I pinned on my number, made my race energy drink and a green smoothie for after the race. Then I went and picked up my friend. We got to one of the race parking lots. We were incredibly early and didn't see anyone. Walking in the dark, we had to ask a cop where the start actually was. We got there and found many people. I had parked at the outermost lot.

I peed 3 times in various bushes. A bag piper played the national anthem. The fire chief counted us down and off we went.

I had decided to actually race this race. I mean not just run to finish but put some effort into it. I felt good. I knew that I could run fast enough to get an age group award. I was certain my friend would get an age group award and was thinking it would be fun if we both were on the podium. My legs actually felt good; no plantar pain.

Part of my Course in Miracles lesson for today was, "Let me not see myself as limited." This is a great lesson for a running race. The day was hot and humid. I do absolutely NO speed work. All my training is done at 12 minute miles or slower. But I have speed in me when I feel like it.

So I ran the first 2 miles at about 8 min miles and averaged 8:50 for the first 10 miles. At that point, my previously injured right ACL had a couple of twinges. So I slowed down to 9:40 miles.

I didn't talk to anyone much in the race. But my friend's husband and daughter were along the course at several places. I got a high five from her at one place.

I kept repeating my ACIM lesson. It kept my brain from projecting disaster with the knee. It also kept me running much much faster than I have trained for. Nearing the finish, I was able to sprint in. I desired to get in under 2 hours and made it.

At the finish, they had cold wet wash cloths, cold water, people cutting off timing chips and people handing out medals. The timers had a big screen showing almost instantaneous results. I saw my friend who had finished in front of me. She got 1st in her age group and 3rd master woman. I got 2nd in my age group.

I like races even when I just "finish" them. I like them when I see friends. I like them when I win. I like celebrating freedom from religious life.

I am currently signed up for 5 more races this year. 3 of these are ultra-marathons. All of them are out of town: Springfield Missouri, Ottawa Canada, Copper Mountain Colorado, St Louis Missouri and Dallas Texas. I already have airplane tickets for 3 of these races.

This on top of some highly complimentary words from my boss at work this week: "You've done a world of good." Since I work in a global company and practice process safety management, that statement is literally true.

I'll post pics after I get them. Thank God I am spiritual and not religious. I get to celebrate spirit instead of church.