Tag Archives: Running

At the end of 2011

I started this blog over a year ago because the practice of running was such a sensory experience for me I wanted to capture what was happening and share it. At first I put down all my running sessions in a loose sort of log, and tried to write down the thoughts that opened up in me as I learned to run longer distances, live with the elements.  I found running to be spiritually nurturing. I definitely had to call upon God when I ran, and remember that it was through God that I could do anything. My blogs became more general and opened up to other experiences, particularly spiritual ones.

When I finally let go of the goal of running in the marathon in 2011, due to injury, and lack of time to train. I got up to 16 miles in a long run, but my goal of 20 miles the next long run ended after 10 painful miles with a heel spur.  I found I could no longer blog  perhaps because my blog was so wrapped in my marathon aspiration.  I did share my entry about my mentor, but it had led people this site who could learn my identity, and some of the most private things I shared about my relationship.  This scared me from blogging further, and I removed my triumphant post about Grete’s Great Gallop 1/2 marathon, because it would have definitely revealed me.

I don’t know if this is a goodby to this blog, as I write all this, or a reaffimation to continue.  I did not do a ‘post a day’ or even a week.  I am so thankful to this blog, and I am thankful that I am still running, although very short distances now.  It is a season for me of letting go, of slowing down.  I have a few days off, I hope to come back to my relationship with this blog and myself.  I thank my subscribers and wish them joy in this New Year.

running into it, or running away

I lost a mentor and a colleague and someone I was always half in love with.  He was my department chairperson when I was a faculty member.  He took good care of me you could say, shepherding me for five years though the tenure process, had a hilarious dry wit, we used to joke for hours sitting side by side at our desks and I wanted to get closer to him but never felt I could.  He didn’t come to work for a few days, but it was summer and the secretary was ignored although she feared something was wrong, until he missed a day when he had appointments, no answer to anyone’s calls or emails.  Another colleague went to his apt.–the tv was on but he did not answer.  They called me, and I called the police, who had to break in, and found his body.  Then I had to find his niece and tell her, the only loving relative we knew of, as well as call most of the department and deliver the terrible news.  I flew to Chicago the next day for a conference, and met his niece there–so incredible that I was on my way and that she lived there.  For a few days, I was at the very center of his death and I was actually grateful to be there, to find a new closeness to him.  My new possessiveness is interesting–when others express their own grief, I am jealous.  No, no, the loss is mine–mine!

I ran yesterday afternoon from Robert Moses Field 5 to Point O’Woods and back, at least 11.5 miles, but I was right on the beach and the curving coast line added more..my longest run ever.  As the sun set, I saw two billowing  storm clouds side by side, anvil shaped but the opposite of anvils in their lightness.  I slowed to greet a grazing doe who batted her long lashes at me and let me come very close. I wanted my run to be dedicated to him, but it became dedicated to me holding on, to me breathing, to me focusing.  I was glad to be alive and began to feel lifted again.  Today I find I have released him a bit.  It saddens me to think so.  I don’t ever want to forget.

The University of Nature

I stayed at Ananda Ashram this weekend in Monroe, NY.  I took three yoga classes, attended a fire ceremony and attended a kirtan led by Shyam Das, one of Neem Karoli’s disciples.  I have not done that much hatha yoga in quite awhile, and I had to just witness the change in my practice,  because doing anything but witnessing, (such as struggling, grasping, raging)  would have just not been yoga. I realize that running has become my yoga, and cannot replace it by a little dabble here and there on the mat.

The founding guru, Sri Sarasvati Brahmanda called Ananda (Bliss) Ashram a university, where nature could teach its students.  The grounds were beautiful, and a family of deer grazed peacefully close to my quarters and a sudden storm surprised us during chanting.  I realized that my love for ashrams and yoga centers is closely linked to the opportunity they hold for communion with nature.  I have found that with running too.

My muscles were tight and sore in unfamiliar places after the classes, on my way back home, I stopped at Robert Moses State Park and ran for 45 minutes as the sun went down. I found my focus, I went inside and began to check in..my posture, my stride, the sensations..When I was done, I felt as if I had shaken out all the tightness and my legs were like rubber bands, ahh, that felt better…I started to feel ananda...

Chariots of Fire

Nigel Havers as Lord Lindsay

I have been running barefoot on the beaches of Fire Island  for the past weeks.  It’s been transforming to my practice of running and just an absolute pleasure.   I park my car at Robert Moses Beach  Field 5 and have gotten as far as Cherry Grove, over 7 miles away–that day I took a few hours off before heading back. (Bronx 1/2 marathon end of the month–I hope I can do it!)

I kept being reminded of the iconic beach running scene in CHARIOTS OF FIRE which I had seen the year it came out.  I was definitely not a runner at that time, so since the film had been flashing  through my mind on every single run I took, I decided to Netflix it..

Talk about ‘running and praying’

I can’t believe how much I loved seeing this film again.  This time, I understood the elation and pain.  Although I am decidedly not a sprinter or a competitor, the actual visceral experience of running is best communicated in this film above others I have experienced–just look at this picture and see Lindsay’s runner’s high..everything about this film is gorgeous, the guys, the women , the clothes, the scenery.

I was about 20 years old when the film came out.  I really loved the Harold  Abraham story, the angst filled Jewish gentleman who ran to prove himself to the powers that were, and who agonized over every slight and defeat.  Now almost 30 years later, I very much more loved Eric Liddell, the man of God and conviction who refused to compete in the Olympics on a Sunday.  Two lines in the dialogue blurred Liddell’s strict observance of Christianity–one line (written by the actor who portrayed him, Ian Charleson) suggested that humans find God and strength within (perhaps a reference to the Holy Spirit?).  The second line, delivered by an American competitor, suggested that his choices were “something personal.”  I thought the writers portrayed this character in a way that could be generalized to all audiences, and it probably added to the appeal of the story.

The film I came to understand, was riddled with inaccuracies, but it led to such a satisfying story, I was quite alright with it.

The film inspired me to get on wikipedia and find out everything–very saddened to know that Ian Charleson who played Eric had died at age 40.  And of course,  I was reminded of the death of my old favorite, Brad Davis who played Jackson Sholtz, the American champion.  All that youth and beauty..gone too soon.

Last night when  I came home from running on the beach under purple skies at sunset my feet were nothing short of ecstatic about walking on the carpet, waves of pleasure rode through me…a runner’s high smile crossed my face, and the Vangelis score rang in my ears..

20 weeks from today

The Marine Corps Marathon is 20 weeks away.  It is time for me to get serious about training for it.  Today I ran/walked for over 2 hours in beautiful Hecksher Park, in my new Merrell Pace Gloves–my ‘barefoot’ shoes I had found in my closet basically fell apart.  I loved the ‘gloves’ as soon as I tried them on–they provide more support than did my others and a great freedom in the toes without the Vibram 5 finger look, although Vibram obviously engineered these, as the brand is stamped on the botttom.  I had enjoyed being anti-consumerist as well as barefoot, but I think these shoes will really work for me.  My legs were tired afterwards.  I am giving good love to my feet with shoes like these..but weekdays 9-5 have not given up heels..I still feel I need my work costume, complete with severe glasses which have clear glass in them to make me look more serious and studious…ah to spend all my days being real on the trail..

1 Corinthinans, 24-27

You know that while all the runners in the stadium take part in the race, the award goes to one man.  In that case, run so as to win!  Athletes deny themselves all sorts of things.  They do this to win a crown of leaves that withers but we a crown that is imperishable.

I do not run like a man who loses sight of the finish line.

that moment..

I had been on a running roll–I ran despite 15 hour work days, I ran in Florida despite great heat, I got up early and ran and took military showers and left for work with wet hair, I ran after work although hungry and tired.  But I have slowed.  Its the moment now, I can either get something more to eat at Starbucks right now and keep doing homework for my online course, or do some work for my job so I can feel caught up when I get tomorrow morning, or go home and vacuum my house and clean the cat litter.  Some days, all of these thoughts are much less attractive than going to one of the beautiful LI parks and running. But today, for some reason, I am less ambitious..I am talking myself out of the marathon because Runner’s World prescribed  12 months of 15 mile weeks, I won’t QUITE make that, and should press on, but its that moment..I am finding excuses..I am backing down.   I think I got burnt out at work–some major presentations one after another, some problems with coworkers that keep me up at night rehearsing assertive scripts…

My last two runs were wonderful.  One early morning on LI, nothing special but just solid and felt good.  The one before in FL was more of an adventure–I ended up on a remote trail, and for the first time, I saw an owl in a tree, I have only seen them in zoos before, I also scared a deer, we practically ran into each other, and he snorted and gave a little scream which then really scared me and he hightailed around and clomped off.  On my way back, he was on his way back, but this time he snorted only without the scream.

So, I illustrate this post with an image of an owl, an image of wisdom.  So wisely, I am going to try to go out and run in a few minutes.  I know I will return happier, more balanced, more energized.