Monday, November 20, 2017

La Porte Half Marathon

Big announcement: I ran a half marathon today. I am super pleased with my time: 2:13. Because I didn't try that hard. Because I don't train at 10:13/mile speeds. And because it was 3 minutes faster than 2 years ago, the last time I ran that race. And also because in less than 2 months I'll be 59 years old. That seems old, yet here I am. I ran a half marathon.

People always want to know how fast I was. I'm usually embarrassed to say because my time is not great. I'm pleased with it, but it is not in and of itself impressive. Racing is not about winning; although I am competitive. Racing is fun. I saw one or two people I knew, but racing is not really a social event. I don't have people cheering for me at the finish line. I race for myself.

My last race, in October, was a 50 mile ultra marathon with less than 100 people entered. This half marathon had 3,700 people entered and I ran fast. The 50 miles took 12.5 hours. The half marathon took about 2.25 hours. One race went out and back between two rows of trees on a rails to trails course through the Kansas countryside. The other went over a humongous bridge over the Houston ship channel. Such different races. But both gave a sense of satisfaction from the accomplishment.

Yesterday in the half marathon, my Garmin thought I blew off over 1,400 calories. Today, the day after, I did a slow walk jog for 17 miles and used only 1,380 calories. So, yes, my half marathon tired me out; as much as a 50 mile race.

Both races stick in my heart. Different but valuable experience. That is why I do it: it feels good to have the experience.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Spirit Trail 50

Last weekend, I stepped up to the ultra plate once again. This year in April, I ran a 50k in 6:38 and I felt good at the end and knew I could keep going, maybe even do a 50 miler. Then in June, I managed to get myself signed up for the Snowdrop Ultra 55 which in over New Years Weekend. So a 50 mile training run seemed like a good idea. Next thing was to find a race north of here. Texas has been!!

The perfect race seemed to be at the Prairie Spirit Fall Classic 50. It was in Ottawa, Kansas. The course was an out and back on a rails to trails path. The weather turned out to be perfect. The start was a bit chilly at 29F with a slight NW breeze, and I cooled off again after the sun went down but by then I only was cold for 3 miles.

50 miles is a long ass way! I mostly ran completely by myself. Everyone in the 50 mile race, all 30 of us, started in our own wave. By 5 miles in, we'd pretty much sorted out by speed. The course is mostly lined with scrub trees, with soy bean fields on either sides. We went north through town for 2.25 miles and then went south until we had gone 27 miles. Then turn around and go back 23 miles. Psychologically, this race layout is perfect because going to the turn around seems like little more than a marathon and going back, 23 miles doesn't sound like very far.

What do you think about for 12 hours of straight down the path by yourself? Mostly, I had in my head a song by Gloria Gaynor called "I Will Survive." Just the refrain over and over. I kept checking my pace. The first 15 miles was all running at 11:30 pace. Then I switched to 3 run x 2 walk. I maintained a good pace to the 27 mile turn around; arriving there in 6:20. There was a train crossing just before I got to the turn around so I took an extra long walk break and luckily, the train passed. The guy at the aid station made me a fresh hot grilled cheese sandwich which enjoyed. I also used a nice warm bathroom and washed my hands in hot running water.

Going back the last 23 miles was into the wind. It wasn't a bad wind and the day heated up into the high 40s. I slowed down however. The thing about me is I often think about quitting when I am in a race; and I mostly run marathons. For this race however, there were no thoughts of quitting at all. It was like finishing was a fore gone conclusion. And furthermore, I experienced no problems with blisters or with my knees or feet. My upper body became a little achy from my back pack. I drank 3 Ensure 350 calorie protein drinks plus numerous gels and a couple of bars.

On the higher thought plane, I wondered if I was in alignment with the universe. Whenever my mind seemed to wander into negative territory, like what if my knee starts hurting or I have a heart attack or something, I checked my alignment. The negative thinking went away and I just kept going forward. I'd realize that there was nothing physically wrong with me so no point in projecting some disaster. I projected finishing instead .

Why was I doing this? I am a single person so there is no fan club I'm trying to impress. I started ultra running as a way to pray and for a hope of self transcendence. Deep prayer didn't seem to be happening. The other reason was because I wanted to see what it would feel like. In the past, after a 50 mile race, I would fidget in bed and if I had to get up my legs felt like nails. That didn't happen this time. The running part never felt that bad and later, I never felt that bad. Amazing the shape I am in.

I did get a little choked up as I pulled into the finish line. I did it! 12 hours 26 minutes. Awesome!

The race itself is pretty bare bones. The t-shirt was cheap and ugly. The buckle did not come with a fancy ribbon. The aid stations were ok and the volunteers good.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

10 Years Ago

It was 10 years ago today, July 29, 2007, that I first started reading A Course in Miracles. I am still reading, though this year it is the new Annotated Edition published in February.

It is day 42 of the Sri Chinmoy 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence race. I've been following the race every day on the Perfection Journey blog and via the web cam. This year I notice that I have interest in only one of the racers: a 58 year old woman who walks her 60+ miles each day.

In my own life, what about self transcendence? In some way, my inner silence is the evidence. At the moment, my ego is stymied so I am pretty calm. There are lots of people changes at work. That could be evidence of inner changes. I have been without potato chips since the start of the 3,100 mile race (42 days ago). More evidence. This month I will have the biggest mileage and largest number of workout hours in 2 years. Evidence of shifting. I have continued to work on my writing project. Evidence of a future.

This morning, I ran 10 miles in the Seabrook heat at a 5 mph pace. That felt good. I don't have any problems left over from last week's marathons (except for blister healing). I came away from the 2 marathons with a feeling of well being and accomplishment. It was a good thing for me to do. I can hardly wait for my quad; which will be in September.

This bit of scripture has been on my mind. It is from 1 Corinthians 13.4-7. It is the only definition of "Love" I really understand; and wish I could be like; especially that bit about enduring whatever comes.

"Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. 6.Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. 7.It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes." 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Two Marathons and Friends - A Tale of a Weekend

This weekend I created an experience for myself. I ran 2 marathons and I visited 2 old friends. These were marathons 82 and 83 for my life. One of the people I visited was a Sister at the Monastery where I used to live. The other was a long time friend.

Today, Sunday, was supposed to be a relaxing day of resting and getting myself together for tomorrow. I got home late thanks to weather delays at the airport. So I didn't go to bed until nearly 24 hours after I had got up! I slept great. When I woke up, I noticed that the air conditioner seems to have stopped working. So, I called the place I have a service contract with.

Then I tried to get the bread machine going, but messed up on the button pushing; so we shall see what kind of bread comes out. Then I got the laundry going and was successful at that. Then I got the soy milk machine going and was successful at that. Then I made coffee and sat down at my book.

Here is where things get interesting. I stopped to ponder the current emotional situation; and also realized that I barely remember doing a marathon yesterday. I realized I was predicting all sorts of problems with the AC and work disruptions this coming week and how to stay at my house if it is hot. Why was I doing that? I am reading a book called "How Emotions Are Made;" which is added to many other books I have read in my life related to 'you create your own reality.' If you haven't studied reality for several years, then I say, "Don't blow that statement off, but also realize it is complicated." Reality is my emotional experience; made of a social reality I was taught and my own choices.

I realized that I didn't want a stressed out day and my mind could make choices. I didn't know how well it would work but I could at least manage the thinking.

Just as I decided to manage my thoughts, the phone rang. It was the technician saying he was on his way. Already, my universe has turned around as I had not expected that call until late this afternoon. So, I had changed the prediction and I got a happy reality. The technician arrived and quickly knew what to do. I thanked the Universe. As the technician went to his truck to look for the part, I quickly realized that I didn't want to predict further negative problems. I stood in the back yard with my hand over my stomach and projected a feeling of happiness and that everything works out. He came back with sort of the right part. A part that works and gets my house cool but then still needs to be replaced with the right one. I didn't even get through writing this blog post up to now and the AC is back on and running.

So, now, my reality is a series of my emotional experiences and now I have choices about my projections. I get to choose why I am alive. Yes there is a mind bigger than mine. I am not saying I am the creator. I am saying that I have choices about my reality, to some extent, at least now. I think I only gained the ability to have choices after many years of spiritual, psychological, neuro and metaphysical studies.

So, now about the weekend.

My flight with United went perfectly fine. After getting my rental car, I drove into the Missouri countryside to a monastery where I used to be a member. I visit every now and then when I am nearby. This time I was struck with how old and decrepit they are. I didn't feel the desire to stay there and didn't wish I could have stayed and become a sister. I didn't come away with the answer to why I went there in the first place.

Onward. The next day I went out into the Kansas countryside to do a marathon. This race had about 100 entrants, many of whom I have seen before in similar races, and many are retired people in their 70s. The race began at 4:30 due to the heat. I got in about 14 miles of good running; then I did begin to get hot and had to take walk breaks. I was extra careful about fluids and electrolytes. At each end of the short course, I sponged myself with ice water. I finished in good shape.

That evening, I thought about the two days: one with old Sisters and one with many old marathoners. I really admire the marathoners more. I thought, "if my job is to make the most of my life, then doing marathons is what I should be doing."

The midwest is having an incredible heat wave. So the race director offered a 3:30 am start for the next race. I took advantage; though my car thought it was 87F at 3 am. Given 3 hours of darkness, I ran pretty well getting 16 miles done before the sun was up enough to affect me with heat.

I finished the race and hurried back to the hotel so I could have free breakfast. Then I showered and drove to Kansas City to meet a friend. My friend and I talked about her new hobby of mushing dogs (you know, having the dogs pull a sled). We talked about retirement. We talked about my plans for post retirement. This friend knew me when I went to the convent; and yesterday, just shrugged when I told her I still don't know why I went to the convent. It is not important is what that shrug seemed to say.

Then I went to the airport. At the airport, I found that United would upgrade me to first class for $59. I took the deal. Shortly, I was settled in my seat and taxiing for take off. Suddenly a ground stop due to weather. I was glad for that first class seat if I had to sit on that plane very long. I wasn't real happy; but I didn't even try to change my mental predictions until they had to taxi back to the gate to wait. I then began to watch my mind and try to become a pool of calm. It did take some time to get all that sorted out and get airborne. As I tried to snooze on the plane, I realized that I hardly remembered at all that I had run a marathon that morning. Today, I wonder what social reality I was participating in. Many people did not get back on the plane; preferring to instead travel at some other time.

I decided to honor the weekend experience by writing about it and getting one of the photos printed at Walgreens. Yes I ran 2 marathons. My weekend seems to be about how I was creating reality. I am learning what I am doing.

What about the AC? Getting it fixed today is just one of the chores I needed to get done today. It really was quick and easy; and since I have a service contract, it cost no more to get it done today than any other day. This speaks of how my life usually goes. And because most of my life is easy, I have time to do marathons and then wonder why I do them.

PS: the bread came out fine.

Day 1

Day 2

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dear American

It is day 16 of the 52 days allowed for the 3,100 Self Transcendence Race. Three of 10 people are above 1,000 miles. Wow! What a lot of perseverance, endurance, tears, loss of sleep, discipline and unswerving focus on moving forward.

Dear American, say to your government and the media, "Not my soul." By this I mean, be that high integrity person which you are and don't allow the shortcoming of the government distract you from your personal worth. To engage in quiet dis-ing of the president and hating the health care struggle is to sell your soul. I am mainly speaking to that large quiet group of people who go to work and pay taxes. We fund everything. We take up the yoke of work which is our embodiment of honor and integrity.

Now or never, stand up for yourself. Discover your slave narrative and overcome it; then vote for people who have integrity. Not the ones who merely lie. Hate the cost of health care? Do what you need to do to be healthy. Stand outside the pale by engaging emotionally only what brings worth and integrity. You have to pay your taxes but you don't have to be begrudging. Hold the hand of a small child. Take a walk in the neighborhood. Wash the car. Mow the lawn. Do your job. All these little things comprise your personal 3,100 mile self transcendence race.

Are you an alcoholic or an addict? Let today be the day you do something else.
Do you eat too much? Let today be the day you are free to do something else.
I personally engage in self punishment and self sabotage, despite being a very successful person.

Today is my day to do what I know is right. My mental self immolation can change direction. Today I make the declaration of independence and start to live it. Do you doubt I can be more emotionally free starting today? Will I slip? Yes. Will I forget? No. Will I keep on the course of my personal 3,100 mile self transcendence race? Absolutely. I have all the thoughts necessary for healing and moving forward.  I think this has been going on for a long time, but today I feel empowered. I don't feel helpless or hopeless in relation to my seeming emotional flaws. I don't feel the usual hate towards the world around me. I feel good towards myself. Freedom is ringing in my body, mind and spirit.

We the people of America are damn good people; but we need to stand up and be what we are. We need to stop the government from robbing of of our great nation. That is what we really want.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Eve of Self Transcendence

Tomorrow is the beginning of the 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence Race.  I got hooked on this race years ago because it taught me how running could be a meditation. Learning about the inner runner was the start of my desire to be an ultra-marathoner. Now, I use the 52 days of the race to focus my workouts on inner running; self transcendence as it were. Catholics has Lent. I have Self Transcendence.

Heading into these 52 days, I find myself in a very decent place physically and emotionally.

Check out the Perfection Journey blog to get daily stories about the people in the race.

Here is a quote from Sri Chinmoy:
The outer running
Begins on the road
And ends on the road.
The inner running begins
Inside the silence-heart,
And it continues
Along Eternity’s Road.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Can't Afford It

Yesterday evening I was thinking about dopamine. I was reading an article about how cell phone apps are programmed to trigger certain brain responses and encourage fixation on checking the phone. This linked up in my mind to our nation's, and my own, obsession with Trump entertainment. That is, the media are marketing moral outrage and something in our brain loves it.

I think it is my negative ego which loves all the controversy. I get some sort of dopamine pleasure by reading about the battles in politics with Trump. But I don't think I can afford to carry on this chemical pleasure; and it surely is a type of porn and addiction.

So today I drove to work in silence. My beloved NPR has been shut off. I thought about what I wanted to think about. Some of my thoughts are work related. But also I thought about what my spiritual work has produced in me. One of the themes of my spiritual work is "conscious contact with a power greater than myself." One of the requirements of conscious contact with a higher power is consciousness itself. That is, I must accept consciousness in totality. As soon as I am conscious, then I am aware of my dirty little secrets, like taking pleasure from the Trump bashing. And so I must do something about myself.

I have the spiritual tools. More about what I will do will be coming forth. Starting Sunday is the 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence Race (google it). Annually I use these days for my own self transcendence. Some people have Lent. I have self transcendence.

By the way, the last time I shut off the news for years was when Clinton was president and I decided not to listen to any testimony about Monica Lewinsky.

I am a member of the silent majority. I go to work and pay taxes. No matter who is in Washigton, they want my money.

Monday, June 5, 2017


I know I am human today because I felt a common pain. The thing hadn't happened to me but I understood how it felt.

There is a thing happening to many people in our corporation. We are the competent experts who keep the company running; but not given promotional opportunity since clearly our careers are ending. It is like a death to realize you are at the end. Your career has stopped. This is pain.

I talked today to a colleague who just now experienced this problem. I also talked to her about what I am doing in my life. I realized that I am happiest when I discuss having a phase 3 of my life and a new career.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

What Makes My Life Worth Living?

I've struggled with this question on and off all my life. Especially after I left monastic life, I wondered, "What good am I?" I didn't get to be Sister ____ OSB, and have the world think I am special. I am a single woman, professional engineer. Nobody's mother. Nobody's wife. Not religious at this point.  All of these are society's measurements of what makes a good person or a worthwhile person. And I have dissed myself over them so much.

Today, I asked myself what made my life worth living today? I remembered the deer that came within 3 feet of me. It is a doe who limps and I've seen her in that park before. Seeing her was worthwhile.

I jog walked slowly for 4 hours today. It felt really good to do low impact. Doing this made my life worth living to me. While I am on my feet for 4 hours, I get to dream of running marathons. Running marathons is a worthwhile activity to me.

While I was jogging, I was thinking about my metaphysical life. I thought about my recent decision to stay in Texas at my current job. So I asked the Universe what was I going to do now? I realized that I need to let the fabric of my mentally controlled view of the world to unravel a bit. You'd have to study metaphysics to know what I am talking about, but it has to do with "I am responsible for the world I see." As I thought about letting the fabric unravel, let go of control, I got a vision of my boss. Suddenly, I thought, "let go of the control," and the fabric of my boss unraveled revealing a hole in the fabric and the bright light was shining beyond it. This vision is a true practice of A Course in Miracles "forgiveness." Forgiveness is looking beyond, undoing. It was astonishing to envision the unraveling of my mental control of the world.

Another thing about this weekend is that I finally made it to Home Depot to buy some paint for my front door. The associate did a great job of helping me because I know nothing about paint. And I was scared of doing the job. But I did do the job today. Now, watching my ordinary consciousness fiddle and be scared by using my higher consciousness is in fact a thing to be aware of. It is a doorway into the fact that I have a higher consciousness and I can be aware of it.

So if I have a higher consciousness, do I have to ask the question of the worth of my life at all? For sure, a higher consciousness just is. There is no measurement of its worth. Exploring consciousness, finding the higher has been a desire of my lower consciousness for decades. To have  worthwhile life, do I need to be great or famous or in a helping profession? My life was worth living to me today. I need to find small worthwhile parts of life each day; and not judge myself as less worthwhile because I work at a corporate job.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Marathons 80 and 81

I didn't start my running career with a goal of 100 marathons. I ran my first marathon at age 19 and didn't run another until I was 35. I don't think I planned running another marathon at all. During my 30s, I could run 5ks fast enough to win awards and that was enough for me.

Then, around 2008 I heard about the Sri Chinmoy 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence Race. I ran my next marathon as a prelude to becoming an ultra-marathoner. I was fascinated with ultra-marathons as a means of self transcendence.

I don't think I have achieved self transcendence. But in the past few years, having moved to Texas, I realize there are many more marathons to run than in Missouri. I began to have friends which had run 50 or 100 or 600 marathons. I began to see my own number of marathons piling up. So that is how I got here.

Marathoning is fun for me. I get to travel to various places; as well as make friends. The trip to Red Deer Canada for marathon #80 was a social trip. I got to run a marathon on an outstandingly beautiful course and meet friends.

The trip to Dallas for marathon #81 was about seeing friends. It is in Dallas where these people are who run hundreds of marathons. Dallas weather was fairly decent for this time of year; but the course around Bachman Lake is nothing to rave about.

I think alot about the reasons why 100 marathons is a sort of goal. It has been since 2012 that I began to run numerous marathons per year. At first I wanted to run 50 marathons. That number came and went. So then I thought I'd like to say I ran 100 marathons. It will be 2018 before I get there. When it happens, I will notify one or two people. They will say, "Congrats." Then the whole thing will have passed by and number 101 will be planned.

But also, I like to look at where I was in life during marathon number x. Or delve into the endurance and perseverance of any person who runs that many marathons. I have obviously invested much energy, time, thought and effort into a project. Since everything I do is a symbol of life, I should come up with why I am doing this. I'll know soon.

Red Deer finish:

Texas Threesome day 2 shirt and belt buckle swag:

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Number 79

Yesterday I finished my 79th lifetime marathon. It was a good day at the office; but also, not so thrilling.

In March, I was thrilled about the marathon I finished. In February, I was thrilled with the marathon I finished. In April, I was super thrilled about the 50k I finished. Yesterday? I don't know.

The marathon was in Waxahachie, Texas. I had a pleasant drive from Houston and a nice hotel room. The hotel was only a 10 min drive from the race start. The race was starting at 7 am. So factoring in time to use the facility, time to get a good parking spot, time for spiritual practice, time to pack up the hotel room, and I was up at 4:30 am.

Now I need to tell you about a little problem. A week ago, I fell down on a crushed granite path. The granite is quite sharp and it scored my elbow pretty deep. That wound was weeping blood until Wednesday when I finally went to the drug store and bought a large size water proof bandage. On Friday night in my hotel room, I decided to take the bandage off. The deepest gouge was still open. I decided to let it dry overnight. In the morning, it still looked open, not scabbed. Instead of putting on the new bandage I had with me, because I didn't want it in any race pictures, I decided that the wound would dry up under the sleeves I was going to wear for the first part of the race. This turned out to be a mistake. See below.

The spiritual study did not go so well. I couldn't focus on it. I kept shifting my attention to the internet. I've wondered about this lately. That is, maybe I do spend too much time looking at things on the internet. Maybe it is killing my brain. The book I brought for spiritual study wasn't pleasing me. It was supposed to be about Quaker silence; but it was too focused on Jesus is Lord.

I got to my parking spot about an hour before the race. I was listening to a radio show about what some prescription drugs are doing to people. I was thinking of my boss. He is in ill health, taking blood pressure and cholesterol medication; but also being terribly over weight. But really, this is my judging. It is secret arrogance.

About 30 minutes before the race, I walked to the park bathrooms and took care of business. I went over to the start line. I didn't see any of the people I was looking for; but I did see a couple I often see at races around Houston. So I introduced myself and we happily chatted for a few minutes.

The race started at 7 am. It was cool to begin with, but I knew it would be hot later. I do what I usually do; that is, run pretty fast until it gets hot, when I usually become slow into the finish. After the first lap, I decided it was warm enough to take off my sleeves. When I did that, I learned that the one sleeve had stuck to the elbow wound. When I pulled it off, I also sprung a leak. Whoops! Now my arm is bleeding and looking gross. I used the sleeve to keep wiping it up and when I got to the aid station, they gave me a big bandaid. Unfortunately, the bandaid didn't stick very long so I ended up with a gross looking elbow for my pictures. But it did stop bleeding at least.

I ran really good for 19 miles. Then I started 3x2 jog walk due to the heat. I finished in 5:14 which is still under 12 minute miles, and so perfectly fine. I got my medal, walked to the car and drove home.

Last night, I sat and contemplated my day. I was met with an unexpected inner silence. There was no joy in finishing. No thrilling moment to focus on. No emotional high or low. This morning, I was yet again doing spiritual study. I was thinking about my life. Work is ok but not stimulating and yes, I'll be working there for several more years. Everything is organized and paid for. Life is fine.

My God consciousness seems to be waning. maybe it has been waning for several years; but seems worse in the last year. I need to do something creative and energizing; even if I am not yet retired and don't have much time. As I sat there, I thought, "Decide to climb a mountain." The idea of climbing a mountain, really a metaphor for doing something big for me, is an enlivening idea I get excited. In that context, 100 marathons is a mountain. The 79th leg was just a leg. Let it be. Not every leg is a thriller; but don't quit because of that. My whole life I have been climbing a spiritual mountain. At the moment, I can't see more than a layer of fog.

I have a really good spiritual book here at home. But I find the exercises difficult and I notice that I can't focus. Somehow, this is the iPad's fault.

Today, I went for a 7 mile walk in a forest. I was thinking about my race plans for the fall. I'm excited I'm signed up for a 50 mile race. I wonder what I'll do in December. I wasn't giving much thought to what is 2 weeks from now. I somehow need The Universe to help with my God consciousness. Something has to get better.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Distance On My Mind

I am in the middle of a special period of time; the Sri Chinmoy Ten and Six Day Races. There are these marvelous people, some very fast, some slow and old, who are spending 6 or 10 days completing a 1 mile loop around a park in Flushing Meadows, New York. There is also a daily blog which gives pictures as well as spiritual insights of the runners. It always inspires me to want to do more miles.

At the same time, at least for 48 hours this weekend, there is a similar race here in Texas; the Jackalope Jam. A one mile out-and-back on a treeless Texas cattle ranch. And it is already hot here in the Houston area. I know one of the people in this race. This race is posting live results. So I have been checking in on my friend. I know her physical struggles and I know she only walks. I know it was hot yesterday. But she did get 56 miles in her first 24 hours. I am impressed. As of the moment I write this blog, she is up to 71 miles, with 20 more hours available in the race. I wish I had the patience to walk back and forth on a dirt road for 71 miles.

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I wish I was like that. By myself, I took 2 long runs this weekend. Yesterday I got myself 21 miles and today I got 20 miles. In the heat, my speed slips to nearly 4 miles per hour since I walk so much. I'm impressed I stayed out there and did it. It is a sweat fest for every run until November.

Most of my runs today were spent jogging back and forth in a small forest near me. I need the shade. I was saying my Course in Miracles lesson. I kept diverting my brain from wanting to argue about some work issues. But finally, I remembered this line from the lesson, "...and I choose the world I want to have..." Immediately, this caused my brain to shut down and instead I felt as if I was beaming positive light into the world. Like I was choosing joy and sending it out. I need to remember that. I have a challenging week ahead.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The People Side of Retirement

I am reading a book about the joy of retirement. It says that one reason people fail at early retirement is that their buddies are at work and they miss them when they retire. On the other hand, it says that one reason people retire early is that the people at work are an irritation. These are seemingly contradictory reasons. Two camps of people.

I am in the camp that would be glad to be rid of the people at work. Not because they are bad people; they are a very nice group of people. But because I am never my real self when I am around them. For instance, the depth of spirituality I experience in the fellowship is incredible. But the fact that I am a recovered alcoholic at all must be hidden from the people at work.

For instance, my boss is a very competitive man. So if I allow my natural creativity and quick thinking to come out, he squelches it. He has to win against me. Work coaches say that I should sell my ideas in some undercover way so my boss accepts it. So, guess what that means? It means I can't just freely be myself. Politics and corporate hierarchy cause people to not be themselves.

The whole spiritual side of my life is hidden from the people at work. Is that necessary? Well it is until I can figure out if someone there has any sort of practice close to mine. So far I have noticed one person who belongs to an alternative church and we are inching towards more disclosure. Perhaps if there is someone else, they are hiding as much as I am.

There is my problem of being gender non-conforming. As far as I can tell, all the people are normal heterosexuals with statistically normal families. Suburban families all the way. Divorces here and there as you might expect.

There is the problem of being an ultra-marathoner. You know, I don't run for training or for running races. I run for quasi spiritual reasons. I can't discuss with someone who never exercises at all exactly what is going on with my workout regime.

For my whole career, I've not related well to the people at work. For most of my career, I worked with white males. I had no interest in golf or fishing or hunting or football. So these were nice guys but not my buddies.

So for me, yes I am tired of not being myself most of the time. My handicap is that I don't really know what it is like to be me around other people. The true inner me wants to be alive. Where should I go? Is it possible in a corporation?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Enlivening Activities

This morning I ran 11 miles at an 11 min/mile pace. That might not sound like very much to many people. To me, it felt great. It was a hot Texas morning and I sweated like crazy. It felt great.

Earlier, while I was doing my morning spiritual study, I thought about my life and the dilemma of retirement. Recently, my employer offered a small incentive to people who retired within a certain time frame. I was eligible. The deal caused me to really look at my desire to retire as well as my finances. I decided that it was just a little too soon for me to retire. But I also decided to do something about my life. That is to do something about intellectual stimulation in general but more specifically my declining intellectual stimulation at work, and the sapping of energy which goes along with it.

Some people retire because they want to do something meaningful with their lives. At some point the factors of money, age and desire for enlivening come together and the decision is made to leave. I am near enough to that tipping point that I need to prepare consciously and seriously.

So this morning, I made a list of enlivening things in my life. It turns out that running, fitness and racing are enlivening. That is why I do it. It is enlivening to be on the starting line of a race with a number pinned to your front. Just being there ready to finish the race. It doesn't matter how fast, just that you are. "Beingness" at its finest.

I thought about a 70 year old lady I met at a race once. She plans to do 7 ultra marathons this year. She got one done already. She walks them in races which have a generous time limit. I want to be able to walk 70 miles when I'm 70.

Last week, I did my first ultra marathon in a couple of years. There were 16 ladies in the 50 something age group who also did the ultra marathon. That is quite outstanding.

Enlivening just to think about.

I've signed up for a 50 mile event in October, including cashing in my frequent flyer miles to get there. Enlivening.

My morning spiritual study is very enlivening. Sometimes AA meetings are enlivening.

But work is usually not enlivening. I need to drop the rocks and let it be.

See you on the trails:

Sunday, April 9, 2017

It Takes an Ultra

Yesterday was the first 50k race I've done for awhile. The reward was 11 hours of sleep. I haven't slept that long in ages.

For once in Texas, the day began rather cool at 55F; though it would get into the 80s by noon. So I decided that even though this was an "ultra", I'd get lots of miles done before the heat set in. I decided to run the first loop and then do walk jog on the second loop. I knew I'd be dying in the heat and the sooner I got done the better.

So, I ran the first half in 2:58, and completed the whole race in 6:35. The time includes 3 bathroom breaks and 3 slow pit stops in the final 10 miles to get ice and take an icy sponge bath.

This was my 78th endurance race of 26.2 miles or more. I know there is more to running races than shiny medals or the goal of 100 marathons. I wish I had some words of wisdom.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Lure of a New Dream

I have mentioned before: maybe I will leave my high paying corporate job, leverage my nest egg and seek phase 3 of my life. I thought I had put that dream to bed and would stay at my corporate job. But I realized this week, I can't do this anymore.

Some inner part of me decided I am done. I need to withdraw my commitment to the company.

That still leaves me with a decision to do what most people don't do. Downward mobility.

I have one gig lined up for post retirement already. But after that, I may well go hermit and discover solitude in earnest. Go hikkomori!

This morning, I jogged in a forest for 3 1/2 hours. It was slow jog walk. I liked it.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Seabrook Trail Challenge

Yesterday I ran a marathon and today I ran a half marathon. It is called the Seabrook Trail Challenge. I got some very interesting swag. Three medals which magnetically link together.

I put alot into this race. I always put more into a race than I do a training run. But I pushed myself hard this time. Maybe because I knew that it was going to be hot and I wanted to get done as soon as possible. Maybe I wanted to see what kind of shape I am in. On Saturday, there was a chance of winning an age group award.

But I surprised myself. For several years, I've mixed walking with running in marathons. It is to reduce impact and injuries. It is because I'm not really sure of my knees. It is also because I do alot of miles every weekend, and run many marathons per year; so tearing myself up too much in any one race makes no sense. But recently, I've only been doing one race a month, so I've been working on more running and less walking in marathons. Well, at least during the Texas winter (it is not possible to run that much during the summer). In my February marathon, I pushed the "all running" out to 14 miles before that race got too hot. Yesterday, in my marathon, I ran all the way to 20 miles before switching to 4x1s. I knew I was hot at 18 miles and was slowing down. But my average pace for 20 miles was 10:40 minutes/mile. That is amazing to me. Then today, for the half marathon, I ran the whole thing at an easy pace of 11:30 min/mile.

I did get first in my age group yesterday; but only because the faster ladies weren't there. But I was happy about it none the less.

This total performance makes me wonder what I can actually do. How good are my knees and achilles right now? Is all that cross training doing a good job? In 2018 I'm signed up for the Houston Marathon. I wonder if I should actually "train" for it. A big race should provide plenty of competitive urge; none of the loneliness I usually have in small races.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Re-imagining the Dream

My last post claimed I'm thinking about leaving my job; leaving the American dream. Then I got my bonus. Adding up all the money I actually make convinced me that continuing to work makes financial sense.

So the real problem with my life is me and my attitudes.

And I have spent 31 years working on said attitudes; but with a major distraction. If only I could be spiritual, float around and never work again. Such a dream landed me in a monastery for 4 years; which cost me about $500,000 in lost wages.

As a result of my current investigation into quitting my job, I realized a couple of things. Yes, work is hard and I'm like most people in not wanting to do it. Spiritual directors say that we should follow our dreams and not work at "jobs". But is working at an engineering job in a chemical plant really killing my soul? If I believe so then yes, it is. If I am consciously going to work with some other attitude, then no. Any emotional problems I have with the people at work are no different than the emotional problems I had with the sisters in the convent. And quitting work altogether would leave me with the same emotional problems.

So the real problem with my life is me and my attitudes.

I have access to attitude improvement. Mostly, it is practicing A Course in Miracles. Keeping in my mind, Course thinking instead of ego thinking is a challenge. Daily opening of the book puts fresh healing cooling balm into my brain.

Another result of this "quitting" investigation is that I seem to have pushed away my 2 spiritual advisers. I need to accept my own choices as the best for me no matter what these so called spiritual advisers say. I am an engineer and I must have chosen that for this life's purpose. I am not a spiritual author; and I won't suddenly become one just because I quit my job. My life is not a worthless life because I work as an engineer.

Yesterday, the bug man came so I don't have bugs in the house. Today, the AC man came to check the AC, so the house is cool. Is having the money to pay for such services so terribly un-spiritual?

Tomorrow, I'm going in a marathon. On Sunday, I'm going in a half marathon. Because of doing the 2 races in a row, I get a special medal. The swag gets hung on a wall with numerous other bits of swag. Am I guilty of a terrible shallowness because I love medals? I love races, even though I come in behind. Does this make me a spiritual loser?

The problem with my life is not my life. It is how I feel about it. And I can change my decisions about what a good life is. I need to drop the rocks.

The Dream can be a dream of inner joy. Joy just is. Joy does not have to be caused. Just think the word Joy, and I feel better instantly.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Leaving the American Dream

My company is offering a buy out. Earlier this week, I got an e-mail saying I was eligible. I felt a sudden surge of joyous energy inside my body; like, "yes, get out of jail." Along with that, I also thought of about 4 business opportunities. Dreams of meaning sprung into place.

So, this morning I began looking at a 30 year financial plan and income prospect plan. It is a doable situation. The picture would look much better if I worked until I was 65, but quitting at 60 is doable. But it is counter-cultural to decide that low on the hog is where you plan to live in order to be off the corporate America grid.

Ponder that if you are a baby boomer or a suburban dweller. The energy and aliveness of the sixties has been swallowed by corporate jobs, mini-vans, white wine, Starbucks and children's college educations. What did all of this mean?

Is the purpose of my life just to pad my retirement? Or maybe to have health insurance?Maybe not.

My point is just to think about it. Forgetting the comfy life style which is the hallmark of the American dream could be just the thing my life needs in order for me to be truly alive.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

True Freedom

Are you ever trying to make a life critical decision?  Should I do this or that, meaning something like leave this job and search for a new idea?

Or are you ever just upset with things as they are?

I am in the midst of transforming my life, perhaps. I was trying to figure out if I am running away from a situation or answering a call to a new situation. Then I read this in a book by Ekart Tolle called Stillness Speaks:

"True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment. This inner alignment with the Now is the end of suffering."

This didn't tell me what thing to choose, but it did give me the opportunity to ask myself, "What if today is exactly as I chose it?" I became at peace with this idea and walked out the door to go to work.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Jail Break Half Marathon

It is interesting to compare my racing style and physical outcome between full marathons and half marathons.

I don't train for speed at all. In fact, while I do exercise a couple of hours every day (not all running), I have no "training plan." I just do what I want. And since I run many marathons, I don't ever try to go fast. Going fast puts wear and tear on my body that I don't really need.

Last Saturday dawned clear and cold (for the Gulf coast). I felt good. When the gun went off, I took off. I found that I was easily running 9:30 minute miles. I just kept doing it. I finished a half marathon in 2:05. Dang good for me. I haven't done that in 4 years.

But I was more exhausted after that than I am after a slow 26 miles. My next race is a challenge. Marathon on day one and half marathon on day two. It probably will be hot. So last weekend is it for speed for me this year.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Galveston Marathon

So, I haven't blogged in awhile. I guess I got tired of posting marathon race reports. On January 1, I ran the Texas marathon. On January 29, I ran the Sugar Land marathon. On February 12, I ran the Galveston marathon. That brings me to 76 lifetime marathons. Here is a picture of a over heated me at Galveston:

I bought the picture and then scanned it for here. Not a great scan. What I most like is that my arms do appear to have muscles. Yes I lift weights. I have always been fascinated with muscles. I must have been a guy in my previous life. As a woman, my muscles will never be too impressive but I keep working at it. As I remember being a teenager and fascinated with my back muscles, I remember other things about those years. It is a wonder that I survived my early life without many more bad things happening to me.

In January, I passed my 58th birthday.

Mr Trump was inaugurated. The news continues to be almost solely about his administration; and the crazy doings of a very strange man. Unfortunately we are looking at "normalization of deviation" and nothing will be integral again. There haven't been any statesmen in Washington for a very long time. Our country will be going down.

I got the new Annotated Edition of A Course in Miracles. This new edition is really fantastic. The person who wrote it got the original shorthand notes of Helen, the original scribe of A Course in Miracles, and then published this edition directly as the notes say. Much new material. A fantastic work.

Speaking of work. I continue to diligently hack away at problems with my manager. I have a fantastic coach for this effort. I have learned alot about emotions. But in general I am unhappy. I continue because I must grow. My boss wants me to be a bonsai but I am a tree and cannot put up with the pruning any longer. I am 58 years old with 35 years experience in this field. I can't just go get another job at this level in this field. However, in the not too distant future, I will quit and go do something else. Also, my boss will be retired in a couple of years anyway. I am needed to do what I do. My problem is what would be known in psychological terms as "differentiation of self" or less technically as "taking back my self." Living my equality, not begging for it.

I remind myself that I didn't come into the world to be unhappy at work every day. But A Course in Miracles continually reminds me that it is my own thoughts which are the problem. I have hope for my thought patterns and am working through the work book again. I still can't figure out why I am alive; but the spiritual work I do has been with me since the age of 22. My struggles at work are really a butterfly trying to get out of a cocoon. I need to be free and I don't need anybody's permission. White bird must fly or she will die.