Addiction, Archetypes, Body Image, character study, Colorado, Dharma, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Faith, Fear, introvert, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, mountains, Non-Fiction, Relationships, Running, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Trailrunning, ultramarthon, Wyoming, Yoga

twenty six under three

286 marathons and we’ll call most of them sub 3 hour. When I ask how he was able to run that many marathons he says it was more than 300 and he runs them as fast as he can because he doesn’t like running. I don’t believe but sit and stare at the moon shining through my two sliding glass doors and wonder what goes through his mind. He likes to eat pizza and drink Mountain Dew–its like meeting an earlier version of myself but I have yet to run a marathon.  I am intrigued by the paradox as he eats an entire pepperoni pizza and his calf muscles pop out with each step. He’s not sponsored yet and I secretly think about helping because we wear the same shoe size and my Mizuno’s have gotten another hole in the left toe like clockwork. Enduance athletes are a safe zone of friendship–its guaranteed they don’t mind time alone and that they won’t ask questions when I say I just need to go on a run.

A little different this time–I don’t have to hear a laundry list of accomplishments but every once in awhile hear a story of sleeping in a car after winning a race or getting banned from a race in Wyoming because his 43 year old friend got with the race directors 23 year old niece.  I laugh having seen these situations play out in other ways in other circles. I ask if he lifts weights as I become fascinated with the human body–my own arms giving the deceiving suggestion of upper body strength when really I know the lengthened muscles start to pop out as I lose weight–you can start to tell a yoga body from the thinness and stomach and and arm muscle definition. I love course marshaling races to study the obliques of Boston marathon qualifiers and the quads of Tour De France qualifiers. Pushing the body to the brink confounds me and so I’m obsessed.

We talk about toenails falling off which is a thing–the shoes can be the best shoes in the world and after a certain amount of mileage in a week things just start breaking down. He’s the human version of my philosophy of running–to get better at running, just run. He explains he will do a longer, slower run one day and a short, fast run the next. He discusses using the treadmill (dreadmill) to crank up the speed and I think about this technique for myself learning to leap and glide to gain some speed. Seven minute miles for 32 miles impresses the heck outta me and while I might not ever do it, I like to deconstruct the feat in others. My marathon achievements are in the mind–26 miles of advanced degrees completing my coursework on time but hard to say if I qualify for the big race–the PhD. I’m fairly certain I want to go back and often muse on a dissertation topic revolving around rural areas and mental health care.

The pain in my shoulder that became so strong in March and April is coming back slightly and I wonder what this stress may be about–trying to fit in all my clients and doing good work, worrying about my next job and how to develop a program when I’m still working. Entering two metaphorical races, one right after the next, I will be digging deep to pace at both. School counseling different from clinical counseling I think about how much I will miss my sessions in the garden and outside but also excited to hold groups in a school setting and hear children singing and laughing. I’m intrigued by it all and just as I quiz my new runner friend I ask questions to the universe about how to be my best at this job.

Doing my best means being around others who are doing their best. A new friend who’s running inspires me and who speaks to me kindly will help me see my own assets. Course marshaling at races with world-class athletes inspires me to keep going in the race in my mind. I DNF’d my last relationship because it was becoming dangerous. Lightening on the peaks, mud on the trails, water alarmingly low. I have this tendency to try out a difficult hike knowing full well I may fail and then going back to understand where I messed up. But, I don’t need to go back to this race. I won’t improve my results because the whole thing was rigged. Like that crazy swamp in The Princess Bride, wild boars flopping all around–I’m gonna go ahead and leave the forest. And so I find the knights-of-running, some wearing shiny armor and some less obvious and soak in the bravery that will help me conquer this next dragon of life.

“Originally, I heard that if you get 10 states done, you could join the 50 States Marathon Club. I didn’t have I time goal; I just wanted to do them all. As I kept going through them, I got better and faster. When I did get through them, I realized I had 30 of them under 3:00. So I went back and did the ones where I didn’t run sub-3:00. I had a couple real close calls. Utah was the hardest—I missed four times before I got the time I needed. Some of the western states are tough for people because it’s hot or the altitude gets to people.The dumbest thing I did was I did a marathon in Missoula, Montana, and I drove the 1,150 miles home afterward because I had to work the next day. I’m really proud of the spreadsheet where I keep my results. It’s obvious I’m a nerd.”
-Gary Krugger 

 

Archetypes, Body Image, Dharma, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Fear, Health Issues, Laramie, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, mountains, Non-Fiction, Running, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Trailrunning, ultramarthon, Universiality, valley

there is no finish line

Using the sides of the washed out trail I bounce from left to right down a small hill on the trail I hear calls and songs of other runners.  I see all sizes, all body types, and folks who are sprinting, walking, skipping.  Running is one of those things that you can do anytime, anywhere, and for any reason.  It brings folks together, its gives us a purpose.

There are those who love competition and dig deep to find new places in the heart and spirit found by pushing through pain, bombing up mountains, falling down hills, traveling new distances, recording new times. These folks inspire me with their grit and determination.  These are the runners I admire, watch, and cheer on from a distance when I course marshal races.

There are beginning runners who find so much satisfaction when they realize they can run a mile, they can run a 5k, and they are capable and able.  These runners find gifts in the sport everyday as they realize their own potential and try out new shoes, new shorts, and slowly begin to realize their own worth as they put one foot in front of the other and progress minute by minute, day by day.

Ultramarathoners have a different goal to pace evenly, to breathe rhythmically, to find the meditative qualities of runs lasting longer than a day, runs lasting into the night.  These runners can sometimes be quiet and have the pensive look as if they have been sailing for months and their feet are not quite on the ground.  Their legs always show some measure of training and their philosophy is to walk, rest, but always move forward.

Trailrunners are out for the beauty, for the grounding element of nature, for the varying terrain, and the solace of the mountains and nature.  These runners might even carry backpacks or take on night runs like the ultramarathoner to converse with the moon and whisper to the aspens.  They find new ways to steady the pace up and down the trails and sometimes they like to get lost and to push the edge of the unknown path.

After our run we all break bread and as I look around I see the church of running.  We all sing hymns in our feet at different paces, different shapes, different steps, singing with our bodies and voices.  We know that running is something bigger than us, that it brings us together and feeds our spirits.  We talk of the races coming up, how we will crawl or sprint up Jelm mountain, put a team together for a relay in the desert, run one hundred miles in August, or simply plan the next run at the park.  Running is our heartbeat, running is our friend, running is an aspect of who we are, who we want to be.  It teaches us how to be with ourselves in the moment with our breath and to cherish each step that gives us the larger gift of running, the glorious gift of life. 

“The five S’s of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit.”

-Ken Dohert

Asana, Body Image, character study, depression, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Health Issues, Laramie, Mental Health, Mindfulness, mountains, privilage, Running, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Trailrunning, ultramarthon, Universiality, Wyoming

limitlessness

I’ve been at a lot of races lately and some sounds and sights are familiar. Cold mountain air in the morning, frantic energy at the starting line. Heavy breathing and panting, feet grazing and flopping on dirt roads, quiet muffled sounds of headphones, and the crazy eyes. Those crazy eyes. Watching as the normal gaze of distraction turns shiny and human desire bubbles up from the belly of determination–color unnamed yet so familiar. Ruddy cheeks frame the eyes,  the blush of anticipation that transcends anything sexual. Eye color doesn’t matter because it’s not the color that’s doing the talking.  The hue becomes the energy of someone who has tapped into what it means to be elite. This person will be fast. This person is creating their experience.

What inspires me is being around limitless passion.  Passion that transcends suffering, pain, or any imagined barrier (because they are usually imagined, this life is limitless if we create it so). Raw, messy, passion that pulled Viktor Frankl through a concentration camp—creating meaning in an inherently meaningless world. His spiritual strength fed the fire that fueled his will to continue on, to survive, because life took on some kind of meaning. It became bigger than him.

Struggling and suffering are not always bad. It is through struggle that growth occurs—when the river is forced to find a different path because the force of the suffering, the winter melt-off, is too great. The path might be slow at first but the river carves land, edges of rocks, rumbling loud in spring, gathering strength in winter.  It becomes its own artery of life and aspiration. Find something bigger than self and struggle becomes universal.  A mountain to climb. One hundred miles to run. A prayer to an open sky. A race to win. A story to write. A fable to tell.

Take the first step by going out of your comfort zone. See yourself as part of an infinite story.  You are not the first or last to arrive on this path. And the key is to do what you have to do to get what you want and realize your own strength. 

What is it that you want?

What is it that you will do?

How will you become limitless?

 

“If you can’t run, then walk. And if you can’t walk, then crawl. Do what you have to do. Just keep moving forward and never, ever give up.”
― Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner