Another race? Yep.​

So originally I had on the docket a 2.5-hour trail run at Mt. Ascutney this coming Saturday. That is where the big race is taking place next weekend.

But, lo and behold, I have something grander planned.

I found a 13.1-mile trail race in Pittsfield, MA on Saturday with 3,000 feet of elevation gain.  What did coach say, “YES!”  So, I guess my 2.5-hour run has now become another 5-hour run.

I am up in Vermont getting ready to lead a Board retreat for my client, so after the retreat tomorrow I plan to head out for a 1.5-hour run and then drive to Pittsfield.

Can you imagine?

Since August 4, I have lost 13 pounds.  13!!!  I have dropped from 132 down to 119. My “fighting” weight is 112-115.  I don’t think that I will get there by next weekend, but I will keep trying.

So wish me luck on Saturday running in the mighty Berkshires.

And, then a nice easy week of recovery runs planned.

I do have to say, I am getting a tad bit nervous for my race next Sunday.

Can I confess that?

And, there you have it.

Next Sunday is the big day.

Here are some race photos from this past weekends race.  As you can see, I love the half-marathon distance.  13.1 miles may be a lot for some, but it is a warm-up for me!21728009_10155649871282480_2242102865838750774_n21730790_10155649836047480_4618368143871846543_n21751289_10155649879702480_7512233293093597870_n

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51 miles. Enough said.

I have come to realize that ultramarathon training is a bit more intense than marathon training.

For me, it has become somewhat of a love-hate relationship.

What do I love?

Running on the trails puts me in touch with nature.  I see and hear things that rarely do I in everyday life.

The training itself puts me in touch with myself.  I want to give up, give in, and just throw in the towel.  But I don’t.  I persevere, I have discipline, and I continue moving forward into doing the things I really think I can’t or don’t want to and then marvel at how far I have pushed myself.

Literally to the brink of exhaustion.

What I am told is that there is a reason.  Back to back runs adjust the body to tired legs.  You must run on spent, drawn, legs for hours.

I guess that is what I pay a coach to do to me!

This weekend, I did a nice 18 mile run in Newport.  It probably was the best run that I had in a while.  That was after already running 1 hour 15 minutes on Friday.

My friend Bill and I got it done together.  The rest of our group stopped at 14.  We kept it moving.

Yep, and I am the one in the center built like a “truck” in black with of course my stylish flower running skirt…  I definitely needed the compression socks on a run this long.  They saved me!

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Today, while I didn’t think I could do it, I did. I ran five hours on the trails at the Blue Hills with no one else’s company except my own breath, heartbeat, and inner thoughts.

Minute by minute – hour by hour, I got it down.  There were points I had to stop.  I have low blood pressure so there were points that I felt dizzy. I stopped munched on a chew, rested, and then got right back at it.

Overall, I hit 50 miles this week.  51.3 to be exact.  And, I am at 932.78 miles for the year.  Almost at the 1,000-mile mark.  Almost.

I am gearing up for another “grind-it out” week.  I have a 22-mile trail race on Sunday.  You would think that with a race, my workouts would diminish, but this race is more of a “training run.”

So, again, my coach has me hitting back to back runs with one planned on Saturday, the race on Sunday, and then another run on Monday.

Then it repeats all over again the following week.  Another 18 mile Saturday run with another 5 hour-trail run on Sunday.

I am praying to just have the mental stamina to get through the next few weeks.

I must remember that when it comes to ultrarunning – it is all mental.

Say a prayer for next Sunday…

Jay Peak is one of the toughest trail runs in the country.

Here is what is said, Finish and become a member of the elite crowd known as “Jay Peak Trail Race Finishers”…aka “one of the toughest runners in the country.”

Walk or run, if you complete this race, you will forever view other trail races as “cute”.

Here is an elevation map (yep almost 7,000 ft in 22 miles):

elevation-map.png

Here I am resting and then giving the “I am finally done THUMBS UP!”

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SaveSave

I click like

I click like.

I scroll by your life

silently observing

the faux

creation of what you want me to see.

 

I click like.

I accept your request

another photo

to add to my

1,000 or more I have

already collected.

 

I click like.

I click like.

I click like.

 

You can’t hurt me.

You can’t abandon me.

I don’t give you my authenticity

and allow you to see me

the real me.

 

I don’t bare my soul

to you.

You can’t reject me.

Faux intimacy.

 

I stay in a shallow swamp

of instant gratification.

Never allowing connection

to my

deep, dark soul.

 

You can’t hurt me when,

you can’t let me down.

I click like.

The deep blue sky

Stillness and then everything ceases.

The clouds break and above appears

blue, crystalline sky.

 

I toss all that is swirling into the clouds

as they slowly escape

taking my hopes and dreams

taking my thoughts and feelings

taking you with them.

 

You struggle to stop it and I see a cloud

rise above.

I push, I push, I push

it away

into the deep blue sky above.

 

Down floats a feather from the blue,

blue sky.

All that remains of what I let go of.

What I let be taken away.

 

It floats and floats gently down

until it

settles near my feet,

softly landing  into stillness,

reminding me of divinity and union lost.

Reminding me of you.

 

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Lake Winnisquam – touching the three lovely NH towns of Belmont, Sanbornton, and Tilton.  A new, beautiful place that I am coming to love each week more and more.

 

 

 

 

 

You, yes, you.

You, yes, you.

You stopped me in my tracks tonight, yes, you.

I walked outside, and you were ever so near

yet hidden in the dark underbrush.

 

I was in a foreign land, far from home.

You startled me with your chorus.

 

I stared off into the blackness, you caught my attention.

Who were you all?

Singing as if you were a grand symphony

all in unison and somehow not, but it all seemed right.

 

I, busy with work, preoccupied with all I had to get done.

You caused me to pause for one brief, fleeting moment

in admiration of your brilliance.

 

Yes, you.

You stopped me in my tracks.

Perhaps hundreds of you.  Maybe even thousands.

Who knows?

 

Tree frogs and insects and other magnificent creatures

I could not name.

For one minute, I ceased all my thinking

as you serenaded me in delight.

 

Whom am I?

I thought.

I am nothing compared to the mysterious livings

of a world outside my grasp.

Magnificent, living creatures

far more than I

 

You, yes, you.

I can still hear you from my window.

You who know more about existing than I.

Shush, let me listen.

 

 

 

 

Running at Kripalu

Well, this weekend I was at Kripalu.  That would take a whole other blog post to describe my experience – glad I went is a good summary.

Yesterday, I decided to skip a session to get my two-hour trail run in. While I was reluctant to do that because Stephen Cope is one of my favorite authors, I had to.

Lucky I.  I had a taste of the Berkshire Trails.  How beautiful.

I navigated by Monk Pond to Bald Head.

I was about three miles in when my cell phone blasted a severe weather alert.  A line of marching thunderstorms was about to cross the region.  Well, what do you do in that case?  You are alone and you are in the middle of a forest.  Nothing.

These are the moments that I hate running alone in the woods.  And, other moments like bears, snakes, tripping and falling, multiple deer hooves, etc., etc., etc.  You begin to understand that you are not in your natural element and that nature is much bigger than you.  There is a whole other world out there………

I was on a Mountain Race when I hit a severe thunderstorm last year.  There is nothing you can do.  The trails become rivers down as they funnel all of the flash rain down and the lighting you just keep moving.  I think that was the race that my cell phone “fried” in.

So, I picked up the pace and just kept going, saying a silent prayer. I came to an overlook where a man was meditating on the edge.  I didn’t want to bother him to say “hey, buddy, see those dark clouds…”  Perhaps his meditating saved us.

The storm passed north of us.  Barely, but it did.

So, I continued my run.

It was a spectacular one.  I was waiting to see the mama bear that they say lives back there but no such luck.

All in all, it was a wonderful seven-mile jaunt on some of the nicest trails I have been on.

Did I say steep though?  Yes, steep.

Today, I woke up with a head cold.  Probably the casualty of sleeping with my windows open soaking in that crisp Berkshire night air.

I struck up a conversation with the Cafe operator and he noted that I could sneak over to Tanglewood as it is free after 9 p.m.  I just couldn’t muster the strength.  And, it was bleedy dark.

The Yoga and breath work was so intuitive and soul-connecting but that is an inspiration for another blog.

My training sucked this week. So, I am hoping that was a symptom that my body is a bit run down and thus the cold.  I hit the track this last Wednesday to find that football practice has already started after Paul gently warned me.  That means that this week, I need to head to Umass Dartmouth to get my workout in.  The track there is far superior it is just a hike.

This is a new week of training.

A 16 miler on the docket for Saturday with an almost three-hour trail run on Sunday.

A new week dawns.

 

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The call to live everything…

THE CALL TO LIVE EVERYTHING

One of the sad things today is that so many people are frightened by the wonder of their own presence. They are dying to tie themselves into a system, a role, or to an image, or to a predetermined identity that other people have actually settled on for them. This identity may be totally at variance with the wild energies that are rising inside in their souls. Many of us get very afraid and we eventually compromise.

We settle for something that is safe, rather than engaging the danger and the wildness that is in our own hearts. We should never forget that death is waiting for us. A man in Connemara said one time to a friend of mine, ‘Beidh muid sínte siar,’ a duirt sé, ‘cúig mhilliúin blain déag faoin chré’ – We’ll be lying down in the earth for about fifteen million years, and we have a short exposure. I feel that when you recognize that death is on its way, it is a great liberation because it means that you can in some way feel the call to live everything that is within you.

One of the greatest sins is the unlived life, not to allow yourself to become chief executive of the project you call your life, to have a reverence always for the immensity that is inside of you.

 

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John O’Donohue

Excerpt from WALKING ON THE PASTURES OF WONDER
John O’Donohue in conversation with John Quinn

Inishbofin / Co. Galway – 2017
Photo: © Ann Cahill