Sunday, April 5, 2015

Marathon #45 and spiritual practice

When I went to The Woodlands marathon about a month ago, I took along a spiritual book. As I sat in my hotel room for an evening reading that book, I felt like I had a mini-retreat. I decided to do that again with the Irving marathon.

I arrived in Dallas on Friday about 2 pm. Packet pickup was near downtown so there was traffic even given it was Good Friday. Packet pickup was at Luke's Locker. I have never been in such a huge running store. Amazing, all the bright colors. Unfortunately, every thing cool was $150. So I used my $10 coupon to get some insoles and a seat cover.

Another traffic jam getting to my hotel next to the Irving Convention Center 12 miles away.

Very nice room at the Holiday Inn Express, an easy 2 min walk to the starting line.

I settled down with my spiritual book "Humility Matters" by Mary Margaret Funk. There is a history between Sr Meg and me which I won't go into now. But because of the history, I respect her spirituality and teachings. Regarding humility, I was reading about how to de-rail thought trains. Her technique, which is not unique to her, she terms "un-thinking".

So I was thinking about the various times my ego gets all fluffed up over some behavior of some person out there. My ego begins yammering and pointing fingers and having an amazingly loud go of it in my head. I hate this but I often fall prey to it. I was reading Sr Meg's procedure. Now get this: the procedure is fresh in my head. Also is some silent meditative practice as I watch the sun go down on the Irving Convention Center.

I slept good and was awake early. I shuffled around the hotel room getting my race gear in order and packing and another period of quiet time with Sr Meg. Then I waited in the lobby since it was windy and chilly outside. Also, figured the hotel restroom was the best place to snag a last minute pit stop.

Then I walked with others over to the start. There was lots of traffic for other people trying to get parked. I was happy my car was at the hotel.

While waiting in the starting area, I said hi to a guy from Ottawa, Canada who noticed my blue BMO gloves and wondered if I was Canadian. I confessed to having got them at Vancouver, but that I was the only American in a Canadian running club. I also praised NCM as the best organized marathon I've been to.

Off we go. The course starts off on city streets, goes onto a bike path with two out and backs, some city streets on the second out and back, then returns to the convention center. The marathon starts a few minutes before the half marathon. The bike path was very scenic, lined with upscale Dallas suburbs.

They had some exercise equipment along the bike path. One was a rowing machine peacefully placed under a tree. This reminded me of a guy I know who rows alot.

I'm chatting here and there with people I'm running with. I spent much time with a young woman running her first marathon, Lindsey. The half marathoners quickly caught up with us and it was impossible for me to maintain a slow pace. Consequently my first 10k was done at 9 min/mile pace. Since it was out and back, I kept looking for people I knew, one lady in particular. This lady was claiming this as her 800th marathon and there was a press release about it. I see her in many races as well as go to the races she directs. So I was looking to say hi.

Didn't see her on the first out and back. Hummm, strange. Heading into the second out and back, I crossed the half way mat at 2:21. Wow, too fast. But I was feeling good. My Garmin was set for 7x1s. So even with the frequent walk breaks, I was running fast. During this stretch, I was worried why I didn't see any faster runners coming back. But the mat and mile markers assured me I wasn't off course.

Finally, speed demons coming with a lead police motorcycle. Yay!! Good job!!

When I was at about 13.5 miles, I finally saw my friend walking towards me at what would have been mile 21+ for her. I said hi and got a hi five. But my mind immediately started doing math. How fast is she? She normally does marathons in 5 to 6 hours. Then, the 3:30 pace bunny passed me. My brain said, "No freaking way." She can't be ahead of that bunny.

Stop pause. Remember I mentioned Meg Funk and humility and un-thinking? Here is where my spiritual work begins. So what if my friend is cheating her way into the Guinness Book of World Records. I can't afford to have my ego start yelling at me and having a conversation about others behaviors. Any spiritual seeker knows this. So I have to practice unthinking. I need to run my race for me now. My life is my business and my business at the moment is managing my thoughts.

I pray. I offer the budding resentment to my Higher Power, Spirit. I ask for help with my thinking. I occurs to me that this incident is not by accident. I must have asked for practice while I was studying Meg's book on Humility.  Then, some miles go by where I'm not thinking about my friend at all. Then, my ego fires up again. Then I redirect my thinking again. Then my mind is quiet again. Repeat for 2.5 hours in the sun while running a marathon. I say hi to some others I know. There are many Marathon Maniacs so I am saying "Go maniac" alot.

Towards the last few miles, I am feeling good. It is warm but not too bad. I have enough liquids. My legs are achieving tired but not injured. I decide to run it in. I catch up with Lindsey at about half a mile to go and she decides to hang with me. From that point, we can see the convention center and it is a light down hill around a curve. Great view. We run fast, side by side, to the finish. I clock in at 5:06.

Incredible, my fastest marathon in several years.

I'm 5th of 5 in my age group. And this too requires thought management. I've won aG awards in 4 of 5 races this year. Have a good day and finish last.

I walk back to the hotel. Change in the lobby restroom. Jump in the car and high tail it to Houston. For once, I45 is a breeze.

Last night, in my quiet home, I think more about my friend. I have looked at her race results including the several places where she is missing splits. I may be right, but my thoughts are my problem. I think about A Course in Miracles. I realize I have projected this. I have asked Spirit for a lesson and Spirit has provided. I remember the ACIM lesson that says, "Give me your blessing Holy Son of God." And I mentally fell at the feet of my friend. The only way to deal with this problem is to realize that I am looking with the body's eyes, not Christ Vision. But remembering the lesson, I am granted knowledge. I know I can see it differently. I know I can look beyond. I know I can see the Real World by seeing my friend through Christ lenses. I do it.

I also thought about the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I thought about the prayer from it I use, "I pray for ____. I pray for her health, her prosperity and her happiness. I pray that everything I want for myself be given to her." And then I realize I got nothing. I just gave it away. I ask my Higher Power how I may be of service. My life is service. In this case, a spiritual service.

Funny thing is, this lesson is not over. At the end of this month, I'm going to two races put on by this lady. They are small races so I will of course say hi and be gracious. It is not up to me to make her feel guilty. It is up to me to accept the Universe's lesson on humility and thank her for my salvation. I have to go to work for the next 10 years with people who similarly behave in ways I judge as wrong. For them, I cannot afford the resentments. I need inner peace. Well an objective lesson with one person can be practiced and improved with all these other people.

That is my Easter Story.

Today, I am making my beans and bread. Laundry is done. Car washed. I might need a nap.

Irving Marathon course video

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