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

Take off the mask

Illusions of grandeur.

Momentary lapses of self-importance?

Egocentric desires run rampant.

 

Take off the mask.

 

One word breaks the crackled skin.

Not worshipped enough?

How dare they.

 

Take off the mask.

 

Anxiety, fear, defensiveness pervades like fog over the ocean.

Have your fragile assumptions been checked?

Defend that ego.

 

Take off the mask.

 

Stop the struggle.

Release yourself into the God

who created you.

Let go of your illusions of self.

 

Take off the mask.

 

Let go of the need for control.

Release yourself into the God

who birthed you.

Let go of your illusions of egocentric desires.

 

Live.

 

“The ego is the false self-born out of fear and defensiveness.” — John O’Donohue

 

 

In the darkness

Where are you in the darkness?

I am vulnerable.

I am foolish.

I am weak.

I am despised.

 

Where are you in the darkness?

You see my wounds.

You see my hurting.

You see my agony.

You see my angst.

 

Where are you in the darkness?

I want to see the light.

I want to feel the light.

I want to be the light.

I want to spread the light.

 

Where are you in the darkness?

I wait.

Welcome and Woo Hoo Runners!

I did almost 40 miles this week. Well, 37.5  But hey who is counting!?!?

The good thing about me is that I have some staying power for the distance.  Probably why I have gotten the USATF Long-Distance Masters award.

Yesterday, I think we had 11 to start our Newport group.  Here we are at the entrance to Fort Adams before the Folk Festival sign.  An appropriate greeting, “Welcome and Woo Hoo!”

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Again, I am the supremely color-coordinated one.  Someone noted, Robin always matches and my “ego” blurted out, yep, I do!  I take great pride in my running outfits.

Well, mile after mile, we kept losing some folks so that around mile ten or so, there were just four from our original pace group.  A large contingent broke off into another pace group earlier on.

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And, Ron, at the age of 65 looks better than all of us at that point. Although his hat is off centered – he says that is to the sweat can roll off to one side.  I suppose I don’t look so bad either.  My hair is blowing in the wind like a movie star or something… or something.

At about mile twelve, it was down to 2. Yes, 2 – Ron and I to finish off our 14.  Our two remaining fellows had some technical difficulties that they had to attend to.  They made it in short order though.

Some days this happens.  One group pairs off with another, and then another two pair off, and then before you know it…you are still standing or your not.

We all got to try the new donut shop in Newport.  I admit I didn’t have a donut and the Nitro coffee was a tad overrated.  After defending my place in line, I needed to crush some shopping at Run Newport.  Why I needed another water bottle is beyond me, especially when I drink diet orange.  And, another headband?????  Who knows.

I did ok for 14 miles.  My only pain is the ache in my glutes.  Quite literally a pain in the ass.   When I run a marathon, I keep some Advil or other ibuprofen with me.  Studies have actually shown that this can decrease marathon performance so I only take it when the glutes are screaming.  But when I do, I pop the suckers in.  Once I do that, I can pretty much get the rest of the miles in.

Today, I headed to the Blue Hills for a two-hour trail run.  My Sunday runs need to start being on trails so that I can get my ankle strength up and adjusted to the terrain for my 50K.  I did roll my bad ankle again today and hopped to a rock in pain but it seems to be OK now.

As part of this workout, I did 20 x 1 minute all out up a hill with 1-minute recovery.  Boy, was I glad when that was all over.  The aim of this workout was quick leg turnover up the hill.

Needless to say, I didn’t look so pretty today as I did yesterday.  Trail running is a LOT more difficult than road running.  A lot more intensive on the demands it places on the body.  And the dirt, rocks, bugs, you name it.  Did I say more demanding on the body!?!?

I did use this an opportunity to test out my new “Scott Jurek” Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest.  For those of you who don’t know who Scott Jurek is, there is no need, just know that I have fantasies about him. Really last year he ran the Appalachian Trail beating the last standing record.  He did it in 46 days.

 

While a bit of overkill for today, I need to start using it to get accustomed to it and for the weight, it adds.  Thanks, Paul.  Nice Christmas present.  It makes me feel a little tiny teeny bit like Jurek.

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I am not so sure why I continue to make my own routes but here is one I planned out meticulously.  Always I get off course so easily.  Perhaps, I just need to break down and pay the $2.50 for the actual Blue Hills trail map that has all the trails outlined. However, you think I would know this by heart now.  It is not my first Blue Hills Rodeo.

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After a few miles in, I made it to my favorite spot, a little “kettle” pond that apparently was so low it didn’t make it in the photo.  I was aiming to get it in the background.  All you can see is the teeny tiny bank to the right of my head.  Nonetheless, it still felt like an oasis for taking a quiet reflective rest and for a lunch of gummy chews.

Well, I am looking officially trail like here. My sweatband needed to become a headband.  And, so there you have it.

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And, when I got back to the parking lot, what did I spy… A JEEP with a Vermont50 sticker.  This is the exact same race that I am training for.  I took that at a sign from the universe that “I got this…”

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A few pre-races on the docket now.

August 26 – 1/2 marathon –  Black Bear Half at Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.

September 9 – Charles River Marathon.  I am not one for inaugural races.  I like the kinks worked out of them but at least this starts near Harvard so I will be smart about it.

I would really like to do the 25K Around Cape Ann since I have done it a number of years but that is September 4 and would not allow enough time for rest before the marathon.

So the weeks are flying by and training is upping.  I think very soon I will be nearing 50 miles per week.

Who were you?

Cold sweats in the middle of the night.

Waking stuffing food in my face.

 

Who were you?

 

A violent crime unreported.

Twenty odd years ago.

You plumaged my soul.

 

Who were you?

You threatened me.

You left me to fight.

You took all of me.

 

Who were you?

I let no one in close.

I keep everyone at arm’s length.

They reach out, I recoil.

My heart is frozen.

 

Who were you?

 

On that night.

My soul closed.

It took me away with it.

I recall only odd fragments.

Only what my soul allows.

A blessing.

 

Who were you?

You thief?

The greatest robber of them all.

 

Shame, guilt, embarrassment.

Who were you?

 

You stole my innocence and my belonging to the heart.

Tears roll down my face.

I shake even now.

 

As I shove food in my mouth.

To close my soul once again.

To hide you deep inside.

A violent crime left unreported.

 

Who were you?