Friday, November 30, 2012

Pursuit of Endless Miles

November was a good month, solid: 90+ hours of workout including 240+ miles. I did 100 sit-ups every day.

I don't know what I am doing tomorrow. It depends at this point on work. But, maybe a 20k, maybe a 50k. I got some new trail shoes recently and they need to be experimented with.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Universe

This morning, during my spiritual study, I had an amazing moment of clarity about why I get upset about who gets recognition and who doesn't. Or upset about anything. I totally knew what my thoughts are doing to me; and how ACIM forgiveness erases my upset. I completely understood that I can't get out of my own thoughts, but that something higher can help me. That I can in fact live in a world where that higher thing governs and not my fear, anger or hate.

A Course in Miracles text 26.X inspired:

The world is fair because the Holy Spirit
has brought injustice to the light within.
Giving and receiving are the same.
So hate is answered in the name of Love.
Forgiveness is the answer to attack of any kind.

The words "Holy Spirit", "light within", "name of Love", and forgiveness leap out at me as a course student. The fact that it is my own thoughts creating my unhappiness, hate, fear, etc. comes to mind. I'd rather have the presence of the Holy Spirit and God consciousness than my mental turmoil. But how to get rid of the turmoil? Practice mental discipline. Attack of any kind is noticed (I mean thought attacks) and I turn to the phrases. Automatically, attack dissapates and I remember I want the world not created by my attacks.

There is another world not created by my attack thoughts. I can live there. A Course in Miracles teaches me how. I have Help. I can have a happy day.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 - Results

I read 3 nun books this weekend. One nun realized that the Roman Catholic church is wrong about a number of things; but still thinks the Bible is true. Another left her order but never left the church; and realized that she didn't fit into life anywhere. Another book was just stories about various nuns in various orders. Since one of the stories was about someone I knew and several places I had visited, I could see that it was still a romanticized and pedestalized work of fiction.

I had a fantastic workout day yesterday. I'm itching to move from the 20k to the 50k at the race next Saturday. The HSE department at work is tremendously bust for the next 6 months as a massive turn around gets underway at our chempark.

So, something happened over my Thanksgiving retreat. I felt extreme happiness with myself. Last night as I finished the 3rd book I made an internal decision: I'm going to quit being a nun. That is, I've been out of the convent 9.5 years. Certain ideas and attitudes need to be forgotten as they aren't Truth to begin with.

I still won't eat meat. I'll still abstain from alcohol since it is poison.  I'll still be a Course in Miracles student. I'll still run my ass off. But I'm quitting certain other behaviors. I'll share as I go along.

This morning, I was up at my usual 3:19 to do spiritual study before working out. From ACIM 26.VII.17: Forgiveness is the answer to attack of any kind. So is attack deprived of its effects, and hate is answered in the name of love.

This is ACIM in a tweet. Forgiveness is looking beyond the illusion/delusion. Attack is all these thoughts against others, a sign of inner hate and fear. And remembering Love as the only reality or real existence, all problems are solved and fear ended. I can live by this and I need it to have a happy day.

As I said yesterday, "You create your own reality dummy." So project happy instead of fear and you've got it made.

That and a massive load of endorphins will get you what you want.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

a Breakthru of Sorts

Yesterday, I jogged for 17.5 miles with little walking. After my 54 miles trek last weekend, I found yesterday's run incredible. I am a person who does a 50 mile jog without much trouble and bounces right back.

I found my self insanely happy. I signed up for a 20k run next weekend.

Something about that 54 miles trek which ended at 2 am in frozen darkness was not a failure but a breakthru. Somehow, its not that I failed at 100 miles but that I am free of the need to go 100 miles. I'm incredibly pleased that 50 miles is the normal course of things. And my weekend of reading nun books had also set me free. This I can't really explain why. But I have heard the Spirit whisper.

My ACIM lesson this morning said: Spirit I am, a holy Son of God, free from all limits, safe and healed and whole, free to forgive, and free to save the world.

Also, during my reading, I had realized that looking beyond is the whole way out of the dread of this world.

This morning, I found that the joy was still conscious for me. I started out my run, planning a 10 mile jog. As I started running, I found myself thinking my usually litany of why I am different and against others, with impending doom related to work lurking above me. Within 0.3 miles it suddenly hit me: You create your own reality Dummy.

And suddenly I knew. I just need to stop projecting whatever. It has been given me to look beyond, I can see the face of Christ. Thats it.

Evidence: yesterday in an AA meeting here in the bible belt, Baptist mecca, a woman mentioned she was a Unitarian and atheists attended her church. Another mentioned the 4 Noble Truths. Ok, so A Course in Miracles should not bother these people.

This week: 65.6 miles, and 21 hours of cardio (includes jogging and cross training), and 5 strength workouts.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Heidegger fans will recognize the concept. I was thinking about it in my solitude this morning. "The world" (society and its norms) have to subside before something else has space to grow. This is why I spend time alone and in quiet. But today, I thought of "world" as a verb. That is, to create your own reality, you need a dynamic concept; so world becomes "to world." Stagnation is the world. Creation is "to world."

Silence and solitude is not outcome based. It purpose is not to produce enlightenment or anything. Silence and solitude produces "is-ness;" from which a different basis of life can be found. The general pre-occupation of society with TV, food, position, money, fear and anger can dissipate in silence and solitude. Beliefs about who and what I am, or what is my usefulness can be adjusted based on an inner idea as opposed to outer peer pressure.

And so, I venture forth to the park again today. It is cold for the Texas coast. I am wearing long sleeves.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Hermitage - day 2

Other than the internet and nods to people in the park, I haven't spoken or interacted for 2 days. I didn't need anything at the store and that is usually where I interact on weekends. Or the AA meeting I've gone to a couple of times is on Saturday evening.

I entered a race. I bought some running shoes and RockTape and Doctor Krackers. I paid the corporate credit card bill. I posted on my internet running club.

I've so far worked out 10.6 hours including 2 strength sessions and 33 miles.

I finished one nun book and am halfway through another. One of the books had a chapter on a nun I actually know. She was nearly the most friendly of the sisters in my monastery; and the one whose advice I did not take on the eve of my crash and burn. If I had, I'd probably be dying behind those 4 walls. Instead, I was honest with myself and others. Hence, I find myself here.

My ACIM lesson is: I am one Self, united with my creator, at one with every aspect of creation, unlimited in power and in peace.

I said that lesson in my head while jogging. I also dream while I jog. I dream of endless miles and upcoming races.

My desire to be a nun was driven by a desire to engage in contemplation. This desire came from reading too much Merton and Zen (haha, what a combination). I wanted to shamelessly follow Jesus and live a life of prayer. I thought you had to leave the world of distractions.

I sit alone with my thoughts, sifting through both A Course in Miracles and other books. I sift through the endless miles and races. I feel the incredible responsibility I bear as a process safety engineer in a large chempark. Especially now as we enter a period of construction and then startup. Process Safety is always blamed for not catching the mistakes of others.

As I ran today, I felt good. I can't run 100 miles. But 50 miles is sort of a normal thing. 50 miles I take in stride.

In the world, this is holy:
But I am this:

I was setting up my personal aid station at the start of Ultracentric. The blue top I have on I got during my trip to Germany 3 weeks ago. Only 70 euros (a freakishly high number of dollars).

In A Course in Miracles, we all are holy and the point of the practice is to remember it. ACIM is about content not form. ACIM is undoing specialness. I can look like anything or do anything, and practice the thought training. Salvation is a state of mind.

Do you know how emotionally difficult it is to decline to go along with society at every turn? I don't expect a spiritual benefit or propose that I am closer to God than anyone. I'm not special. I propose that I need to undo society programming by not adding to what I already have and slowly undoing past programming.

In a few minutes, I am going upstairs to lift weights. Then I will come down and ride the nordic track for a bit. I just ate a favorite meal: melted cheese sandwich and coffee with peppermint mocha creamer.

I don't really need to go to the store tomorrow. We'll see if I talk to anyone. I know I'll nod at the people in the park.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

4 day weekend

For most folks it is Thanksgiving. For me, it is a 4 day weekend. And, I thank God that I do not have to participate in Thanksgiving. I love being off the hook. I remember various times in the past, in particular when I was in the monastery. I used to feel so guilty if I went for a jog instead of either cooking or decorating the tables. And we sat there waaaay too long. And there was an amazing mountain of dishes to be done after.

Speaking of the monastery, I gave in to my inner angst for this 4 day weekend. I ordered several "nun" books from Amazon and am having a nun-book-read-in this weekend. See I understand my personal quest for God. I understand that religious orders promise fulfillment of that quest if you become one of them. But I am one of the most unlikely-est people I can think of to spend 4 years in a Roman Catholic Benedictine semi-cloistered monastery with 60 elderly women. I got kicked out of the monastery, and the "false" promise of spiritual fulfillment. The training in monastic practices did significantly alter my life; and I use this to continue my quest in a much more efficient manner. I went in to the cloister and came out different. I am still unwaveringly on the spiritual quest. I am not Roman Catholic, but firmly a student of A Course in Miracles.

I need to go deeper into what this experience could have meant. So reading books about others should give me a broader perspective and give me the freedom to think about my own experience.

Otherwise, a 4 day weekend is for training. This morning I did a 10 mile jog. It was wonderful to be in the warmth of the Texas coast; but also foggy so a blanket of quiet was laid down on everything. Others were out jogging too. It was so peaceful.

I'll do a cross training workout this evening. And repeat for the next 3 days.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

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.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

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.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

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.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

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.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

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.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Desperately Searching....

.....for a hill.

I live in a totally flat area. No hills for 60 miles. So today, I bit the bullet and started training on tall grassy mounds. Up down around, up down around, etc. Well, the quads do get some work that way.

The tallest mound there is about 20 feet, surrounded by long 5 foot mounds. So, there. I did it for a little while today.

The whole time, I was thinking about a guy I met a Silverton 1000 in 2011. His name is Ed Ettinghausen. You can Google him and find out that he holds a record for running 135 marathons in one year. What I most remember about him at Silverton is that he seemed to be barely moving. Yet, when I checked the results later, I saw that barely moving adds up after awhile. I was impressed. I want to be like Ed. See, my knees/heels aren't pain free and won't be in this lifetime. But, I can go forward slowly. What I lack is the mental stick-to-it-ive-ness. Yes, I have tons of perseverance, but it usually fades before the end of my physical resources.

So I have some racing challenges in my future where my mental game will get a total workout.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Last night, in the Charlotte airport on my way home from Germany, I saw a young female sailor in her whites with a big back pack and carrying her cap. I felt a slight swelling of tears. That was my wish a long time ago: to be in the military. I stood at the recruiting table in college and yearned; but back then, women didn't get to do anything interesting. I wanted the uniform and the way of life. I couldn't have it.

The same thing happened when I stood at the doors of The Church. I realized that within those doors was a mysterious religion governed by men. I couldn't go in. I went and became an Episcopalian. I eventually breached The Church and even entered a convent and went to school at a seminary. But in the final analysis when I decided to walk away, the all male hierarchy was something I couldn't devote my life to.

The customs agent was making small talk with me as she checked my passport last night. She wanted to know what I did. I proudly said I was an engineer. She seemed to perk up and wanted to know what kind. I even more proudly said I was a Process Safety Engineer.

So, I got home without any problems last night. I slept ok but got up at 6 am. I have been drinking tea and reading A Course in Miracles Text: The laws of chaos, chapter 23.II. I am doing laundry and I am dressed in running clothes. I reflect on my life as it continues on. I realize that Germany was good for my career, but not a dopamine reward experience. And then a breakthrough thought....

My convent life was really about leaving the world physically. A Course in Miracles is about leaving the world in your mind; because you learn it is an illusion. So, I have been on an intentional journey away from dopamine rewards (ego) and the result is that the world means nothing. Again I decide today that only God consciousness means anything to me today.

And so a person gets out of bed in the morning. I look forward to a practice of God consciousness and the ACIM practice of looking beyond. And whatever else, training or working, is not the focus. The focus can only be God.

The young woman in the sailor suit? I hope she gets her dreams. and I know that my dreams were yearning for Something. I now define Something as God consciousness. God is all I want.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Reflections on Germany

I am in the Charlotte airport on my way home from a 10 day business trip to Germany; home base of the company I work for.

I can't frame this experience at all really. I used to have definitive points to assess about sizable events in my life or seeming milestones. But I don't find any big rocks for this trip.

In terms of A Course in Miracles, this lack of emphasis could be the right thing. It means that my life is not hanging on ego or dopamine reward experiences.

I'll list my musings:
My talk before the large group went very well and many guys said I did good; even the next day. What I remember is that Mr VP who introduced me also took credit for me as formerly of his group; and I got an ovation on my way to the podium (most only got the final ovation).

I had written "Be Awesome" on my hand. Later, I e-mailed my picture to my boss in Houston. She said I was awesome.

I felt gratified that I got up early and went in a race on Sunday. Not that I did well, but that I got out of my  easy rut and challenged myself to drive to a strange place and go through all the normal things done at races, only in German.

The fact of meeting important people and flying around first class hasn't gone to my head. In fact, I did remind myself of something from the Rule of Benedict: I am a worm and no woman. Staying small headed is how I go through a day with a good deal more joy than if I got too big.

I went to a group banquet. It lasted 5 hours and the wine was flowing freely. I didn't drink. I don't often mention that I am a sober person. In fact, I haven't been to AA or even spent any time thinking about sobriety in years. But, during the banquet, during a quiet moment in the ladies room, I thanked God that I was sober. See as a drunk, I'm sure I would have somehow embarrassed myself and felt terrible shame. As it is, nothing happened. What didn't happen was I didn't become a drunk with a big head and mouth.

I ran almost every day in Germany. I completed 100 Yurek Crunches all the days but one. I did my spiritual study every day.

So all these musings lead me to wish I had some thread of learning. But I just live my life each day. None of these events throw it out of balance. I have no huge mental fantasy regarding my glorious future in my company. Actually, I just hope for a good trip to Ultracentric in 2 weeks.