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2014-08-30 - DNF The Ring

~40 miles @ ~22 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/The_Ring_2014_mile_13_z.jpgThe Ring — the Massanutten Trail 71 mile loop — again ends for me at mile 40, as in my 2011-09-03 - DNF The Ring experience. I miss the 9:30pm cutoff at Moreland Gap by half an hour.

And it's all good! As I tell friends, "I fail to achieve my one goal, which is to have no goals!"

Maybe that's the value of focusing on "Possibilities, not Expectations" (PnE), of appreciating experience precisely as it is, of not hoping things were otherwise than they are, and of not obsessing over plans that don't work out.

These first two photos are from the first aid station, mile ~13 at Milford Gap. The Massanutten Trail is marked with orange blazes.

Today brings back great memories of past runs and hikes along various segments of the trail — especially 2008-01-20 - Massanutten Mountain South Training Run and 2009-01-04 - Massanutten Mountain Mayhem with Caren Jew. In my first attempt, 2009-09-05 - One Third of The Ring with Kate Abbott, bad blisters and a fall stop us at mile 25.

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/The_Ring_2014_mile_16_Massanutten_butterfly.jpgA "Red-spotted Purple" butterfly perches on a leaf at mile ~16. Today also features ants, spiders, mushrooms, and a glimpse of what was perhaps a black bear crashing through the underbrush 100 meters away, in Duncan Hollow, mile ~26.

At the Aid Stations and in the race along the way are a bunch of super-nice folks, including:

Jackie Ong — who planned to run with me in the night but had to drop at mile 35, bad blisters and exhaustion

Leonard Martin — cheerful, steady, funny, experienced

Rachel DuBois — from North Carolina; she lives within 10 minutes of the Umstead 100 miler course where she did her first 100 earlier this year, through-hiked the Appalachian Trail in the 90's, has daughters ages 6 and 13, is fast on the trail and in the dark

David Snipes — suffering today, when I meet him sitting on a rock in the Little Crease notch and he tells me me to pass word at the next aid station that he is dropping and hiking down to the road

Jeff Gura — a friendly gentleman from Potomac, who knows me from MCRRC races

Sean Lawler — suffering today from vertigo, which forces him to drop at mile 25; he's the one who recognized me and said "hi" as a colleague and I were leaving a business meeting a few months ago; he ran the Catoctin 50k last month and finished half an hour ahead of me there

Behind me in this mile ~18 image is the Fort Valley, farmland between the pair of Massanutten Mountain ridges.

Today's trek features some major learning experiences:

running out of water between aid stations (miles 13, 25, 34) — even though I carry three big bottles (and chug a full quart bottle (!) of Gatorade at 0630 before the 7am start!) and consume copious amounts of watermelon and soda at every opportunity. Can I somehow carry even MORE water?

slowing down radically in the dark (to ~30 min/mi) — and still taking several small falls (unlike in the daytime), and being totally unable to keep up with Leonard & Rachel at night

having something to wipe one's face with — esp. on hot/humid days, with sunscreen washing into eyes; perhaps a small towel, washcloth, or handkerchief would help?

mosquito netting — Jackie Ong wears a veil to keep gnats out, and at first I don't recognize her when I catch up to her at mile ~28. Rachel DuBois, with us for some miles there, says, "I'll give you $50 for it!" Smiling, Jackie refuses.

trekking poles for long hikes on rocks — Rachel carries two, Leonard one, and Jackie repeatedly wishes she had brought hers.

carrying a plastic sandwich bag — to fill with cookies or other treats at aid stations, and to nibble from in subsequent miles

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/The_Ring_2014_mile_20_z_south_fork_Shenandoah_River.jpgIn the background here is the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, at mile ~20.

Other observations today include:

remembering to "notice the music" — wind in the trees, birds, distant train whistles, feet on the trail, rattle of a rock that I bump off the narrow path when it tumbles down the cliffside (when that happens, think, "Lucky that's not me!")

deliberately touching the trees and rocks — and feeling the connection with the world, as a good friend suggests trying (esp. after dark!)

fierce clouds of gnats between miles 25 and 35 — Leonard Martin says he missed getting a superb photo, dozens of tiny flies forming a halo around a backpacker's head in the sunbeams

climbing the über-steep Waterfall Mountain ahead of Jackie & Leonard, wondering if there should be a defibrillator at every switchback

joking with Leonard, mile ~36 — about following behind him to admire his well-defined calf muscles. I say, "That's why you carry the trekking pole: to fight off the ladies who swarm around you!"

getting a ride back to my car from Moreland Gap (mile 40.7) where I drop, with Caroline Williams (who also takes Tony Escobar and a hilariously foul-mouthed lady runner)

stopping to stay alert on the way home 11pm-1am — in Front Royal to get a chocolate "shake" at a McDonalds drive-through window, and in Haymarket to buy a bag of Corn Nuts at the COLDEST Sheetz one could imagine

weighing 4 lbs less when I get home than when I left home at 4:30am on Saturday morning

Bottom line happy outcomes from The Ring in 2014:

So as always, It's All Good!

- Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 04:40:10 (EDT)

Disciplined Precision

From the end of Chapter 13, "Hard and Soft", in Ezra Bayda's Being Zen:

This is the natural progression of the practice life. We need the discipline to see these layers of judgmental thoughts and mental pictures. And it requires hard effort to stay with the bodily discomfort that comes with these thoughts. Yet we also need to understand how simply breathing into the center of the chest, residing in the quiver of being, and then extending spaciousness and compassion to our struggling, conditioned patterns is the essence of what it means to soften. To soften difficult self-beliefs is to truly understand that these are not the deepest truths about ourselves. As we learn how to make this soft effort around our relentlessly judging mind, as we learn what it means to awaken a sense of heart, we begin to relate in a new, more spacious way to the ancient wound of our seeming separateness. What we're doing is learning to receive and accept the whole of our being, just as it is, no longer judging, editing, rejecting.

Through the disciplined precision of our efforts, we'll come again and again to our edge—the difficult places beyond which we've previously been unable to move. Through the willingness to soften and surrender to what is, we learn that we can gradually move beyond that edge. It is only through this interplay of hard and soft, of effort and letting be, of will and willingness, that we learn to our amazement that we can emerge from the lifelong tunnel of fear that constitutes our substitute life into the nitty-gritty reality of our genuine one.

(cf. Softening into Experience (2012-11-12), Ground of Being (2013-10-03), Vaster Sense of Being (2014-08-23), ...)

- Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 04:21:13 (EDT)

2014-08-27 - Orange McLean Orbits

~8.5 miles @ ~11.6 min/mi

"We all got the Orange Memo today!" an appropriately dressed dog-walker points out, as Kristin and I run by him in downtown McLean. Kerry, up ahead, has orange stripes on her shorts. It's a dawn mini-adventure trek, past the elementary school and middle school that Kerry's kids attended. Perhaps some day we'll stretch the Georgetown Pike segment of the route to include a lap around their high school track as well.

At the loading dock pink tinges the horizon. I can't get the Garmin GPS started (bad power switch?), so after a minute's delay off we go without it. Fog hangs low over meadows. Kerry reminisces about picnics, parties, and pushing tots on swings at the playground. A crosswalk delay brings to mind the classic romantic comedy movie "WALK, DON'T RUN" and, when we reach the stream Dead Run, the similar 50's-era fishing film "MAN'S FAVORITE SPORT". Some miles later I toss in a caveated plug for the crude-but-fun "CRANK 2" in the context of car-battery improvised-defibrillator banter.

There are no bunny or deer sightings, but at one point Kristin scolds me, "Slow down, White Rabbit!", as I trot ahead. Then she takes the lead for a strong mile 7 sprint, which she credits to a quad espresso belatedly kicking in. Back at the start "Team We're Not (Too) Obsessive" does an extra 50 meters to get all GPS readings past 8.5 miles. Kerry stops and just smiles at us. Cooldown walk discussion includes tentative plans for long runs on fall/winter Friday morns. Runkeeper shows data on the trek.

- Monday, September 15, 2014 at 04:14:33 (EDT)

David Schramm

About 16 years ago New York Times science columnist Dennis Overbye wrote an essay, "Remembering David Schramm, Gentle Giant of Cosmology". It sketched out a bit of the life and work and style of Schramm, the astrophysicist, professor, and wrestler. Some of Overbye's images:

The first thing you needed to know about David Schramm was that he wouldn't hurt you — not unless you got in his way on a racquetball court or a wrestling mat or unless he had cajoled you onto some mountain with no way down. Not unless you took issue with his classic computations on how the elements were formed in the thermonuclear furnace of the Big Bang at the beginning of the universe, in which latter case he would form a posse from his mafia of astrophysical confederates and perform the intellectual equivalent of beating you to death with a baseball bat.

At 6 feet 4 inches and 230 pounds, his red-topped head cocked bemusedly in his soft chuckle, David Schramm, cosmologist, the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor in the Physical Sciences and vice president for research of the University of Chicago, indefatigable champion of the Big Bang theory of the universe, one-time Olympic wrestling hopeful and sole proprietor of Big Bang Aviation, was impossible to ignore, especially when he indulged his characteristic habit of lifting his thick arms, as during the heat of argument, as if to squeeze your head. ...

... When Dr. Schramm, 52, plowed his twin-engine Cessna into a Colorado wheat field a week before Christmas and died, cosmologists and astronomers could not believe he was gone. It was as if a mountain had suddenly and inexplicably disappeared from the landscape. Rock stars die in plane crashes. Astronomers are supposed to die in bed, sunken by the gravity of a lifetime of solemn thoughts and shy nighttime excursions into the depths of the cosmos, wreathed in a nebulosity of eminence. In the world of the universe, however, Dr. Schramm was a rock star, ... a gentle giant, a larger-than-life adventurer who played hard at both science and life, and whose energy and optimism inspired those around him to be better than they were.

Around Chicago they called him Schrambo for his physical audacity and feats, but his real daring had been mental, prodding his colleagues and the rest of the scientific world, especially particle physicists, to take seriously the implications of the Big Bang. ... He personified greatness, but it was not a selfish greatness. It radiated outward. In his presence you felt that could be better than you were.

(cf. Late Physicists (2000-09-24), Fast Forward (2002-02-21), Rich Flammang (2002-08-14), Chandra Stories (2004-02-25), Hannes Alfven (2004-10-16), Hans Bethe (2004-11-29), Ray Davis (2006-06-03), Physics Today Obits (2010-10-20), ...)

- Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 04:41:54 (EDT)

2014-08-25 - Pimmit Hills and McLean Treks

~7 miles @ ~11.5 min/mi

Two fearless bunnies on Davis St watch Kristin and me during the final mile out-and-back, past zebra grass bundles and a lady carefully pouring mystery liquid onto cracks in her driveway. Rewind to 0535, when I come up the back way and sit in the hall outside Dr K's office, while she awaits me at the top of the regular stairs. We sync up after a few minutes delay, and from the loading dock admire Venus and Jupiter low near a pink horizon before setting out on a loop around campus.

Climbing the driveway-hill I caution, "Look out for that car ahead — we wouldn't want Kerry to run us down on her first day back from vacation!" And, coincidentally, it is Dr Kerry, arriving early to join us. She and her husband Clay had a great time in the Caribbean, scuba diving and enjoying the beaches. We interrogate her during the trot down Anderson Rd and along Pimmit Dr, but happily there are no horror stories this trip. But she does have a thousand messages to deal with in her inbox. Arghhhhh!

As we turn from Route 7 onto Magarity Rd the rising sun reflects off distant buildings and recalls the song "Red Rubber Ball", the chorus and a verse of which I attempt to sing, much to my fellow travelers' amusement. I tell Kristin about Hash House Harriers and some of their naughty-quaint traditions. She recounts a good "Tot Story" or two from the weekend's adventures with her kids. Runkeeper reckons the route.

- Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 06:55:59 (EDT)

Byron Katie

Byron Katie is a writer/speaker whose self-inquiry method — "The Work" — teaches a Buddhist-like radical questioning of one's believed thoughts. As she summarizes her approach, you begin by writing down "... judgments about any stressful situation in your life—past, present, or future—about a person you dislike or worry about, a situation with someone who angers or frightens or saddens you, or someone you're ambivalent or confused about...". Then you "... put each written statement—one by one—up against the four questions and let each of them lead you to the truth." The four questions:

  1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
  2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? (Yes or no.)
  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

And then: Turn the thought around. (rewrite the statement, changed as if it were about you instead of somebody else, or inverted to the extreme opposite statement, or swapping subject and object, as appropriate) "Then find at least three specific, genuine examples of how each turnaround is true for you in this situation."

Is Katie totally enlightened, all the time? In A Thousand Names for Joy, a book with her husband Steven Mitchell in which she comments on the Tao Te Ching, Katie says at the end of the Introduction:

I'm open to all that the mind brings, all that life brings. I have questioned my thinking, and I've discovered that it doesn't mean a thing. I shine internally with the joy of understanding. I know about suffering, and I know about joy, and I know who I am. Who I am is who you are, even before you have realized it. When there's no story, no past or future, nothing to worry about, nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to be, it's all good.

... and, at the end of Chapter 13:

People used to ask me if I was enlightened, and I would say, "I don't know anything about that. I'm just someone who knows the difference between what hurts and what doesn't." I am someone who wants only what is. To meet as a friend each concept that arose turned out to be my freedom.

(cf. Present-Moment Reality (2008-11-05), Coming to Our Senses (2009-01-01), 0-1 (2014-08-29), ...)

- Friday, September 12, 2014 at 04:37:59 (EDT)

2014-08-24 - Sligo Creek with Stephanie

~4.8 miles @ ~13.5 min/mi

Gentle Sunday morning Sligo Creek ramble with Dr Fonda, returned yesterday from family visit to NY and sadly suffering from lower back pain: we discuss the potential benefits of changing pelvic orientation (I'm confused re "Cat" vs. "Dog" tilt), mindful Taiji upright posture, drugs, shoe-shopping therapy, etc. The standard runner's prescription — "Up Your Mileage!" — is perhaps suboptimal treatment.

At the Silver Spring International Middle School track we join a flock of walkers and trot one lap, saunter halfway around, then run another circuit at Stephanie's insistence. Two buff young men sit on the sidelines facing each other and doing synchronized foot-leg twirls together. I reminisce about scary-limber ladies performing yoga stretches there a few years ago (see 2010-06-19 - Boys of Summer Speedwork and 2010-11-21 - Ten 800m Repeats). Funny what sticks in the mind! Stephanie teaches me how to pronounce one of my favorite words, "lithe".

The Reward (besides delightful conversation): breakfast at the Woodside Deli near Amy Couch's home, where we start and end today's trek. Blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs with cheese, potato latka, fine coffee — yay! Stephanie has scrambled eggs with salami, "and 15 pieces of bacon. Food to heal the back...". Data is stored at Runkeeper.

- Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 04:17:36 (EDT)

Two Kinds of Thoughts

The first chapter ("Beginning Zen Practice") of Charlotte Joko Beck's book Everyday Zen offers a sharp distinction between productive mental activity and the usual tangled knot inside the mind:

There are two kinds of thoughts. There is nothing wrong with thinking in the sense of what I call "technical thinking." We have to think in order to walk from here to the corner or to bake a cake or to solve a physics problem. That use of the mind is fine. It isn't real or unreal; it is just what it is. But opinions, judgments, memories, dreaming about the future—ninety percent of the thoughts spinning around in our heads have no essential reality. And we go from birth to death, unless we wake up, wasting most of our life with them. The gruesome part of sitting (and it is gruesome, believe me) is to begin to see what is really going on in our mind. It is a shocker for all of us. We see that we are violent, prejudiced, and selfish. We are all those things because a conditioned life based on false thinking leads to these states. Human beings are basically good, kind, and compassionate, but it takes hard digging to uncover that buried jewel.

- Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 04:25:49 (EDT)

2014-08-22 - Kristin's Georgetown Pike Adventure

~8 miles @ ~12 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Shrubbery_Duck_Cooper_Middle_School_McLean.jpg"Duck!" We climb the hill toward Cooper Middle School and pause to photograph the beaked tree and the low fog blanketing the meadow. It's a lovely hyper-humid morning.

When I get to her office at 0540, Kristin is already mapping out a candidate route for today's trek — and the funny thing is, it's exactly the path I was going to suggest! Instant consensus achieved, off we go. Just above a lavender-pink horizon, Venus and Jupiter line up to point at a fingernail-clip moon. In McLean Central Park two big deer flee at our approach.

"Imagine: in an hour we'll be heading back along this same path," I warn, "so let's take our time now!" In spite of walk breaks and traffic-light pauses we stay ahead of our ~12 min/mi goal pace. Chafing anecdotes and a few seconds of work-related conversation fill in between noticing the music of birds, traffic noise, and airplane rumbles. A beautiful end to the week! Runkeeper and Garmin record the route.

- Tuesday, September 09, 2014 at 04:16:42 (EDT)

2014-08-20 - Kerry's Loop Backwards

~7 miles @ ~11.5 min/mi

"Adventure Run!" After Kerry's intro to the Dead Run Stream Valley Trail on Friday, and our exploration of the same route in reverse on Monday, Kristin identifies other connector trails on the map and suggests we try those today.

A last quarter moon emerges from clouds as we set out towards a pink glow on the eastern horizon. From the Churchill Rd crossing of Dead Run we first follow a new trail downstream, but it dead-ends at Ingleside Av and there's no obvious way forward through the brush. Backtrack, then west past a fearless front-yard rabbit to Churchill Road Elementary School, where we do a lap around the miniature track behind the playground. Then meander toward a big tree that's shaped rather like a duck, up the hill to Cooper Middle School near the Beltway and Georgetown Pike where a big bunny flees at our approach.

South along the shoulder of Balls Hill Rd, admiring old stone façades and new mini-mansion construction, stepping aside for commuter cars. Pass Kerry's street and discover a neat nursery with a scarecrow standing amidst rows of blooming flowers. It's Mehr Brothers Flowers at the corner of Balls Hill Rd and Old Dominion Dr.

Return along Old Dominion, with walk breaks to pour water over our heads and admire the sunrise. Stop the GPS's when all exceed 7 miles, then regret that decision as the cooldown walk turns into a sprint down Chain Bridge Road! Runkeeper and Garmin capture the data.

- Monday, September 08, 2014 at 04:14:56 (EDT)

Nothing But Faith in Nothing

A 1998 unrequited-love hit song by the alternative rock band Eve 6 is titled "Inside Out" and has a catchy chorus that begins:

I would swallow my pride,
I would choke on the rinds,
But the lack thereof would leave me empty inside.
I would swallow my doubt,
Turn it inside out,
Find nothing but faith in nothing.

... and how Zen! To believe, but only believe in nothing — non-attachment, non-judgment, non-clinging, non-doing, non-trying, non-caring, non-... — the empty-set {} foundation upon which everything else is built ...

(cf. On Somethingness (2000-01-17), No Concepts At All (2001-02-22), Nothingness Shows Through (2005-12-06), Not Care (2006-02-13), Joy of Sets (2010-06-25), Untitled (2012-07-29), O (2012-10-24), 01 (2013-11-05), 0-1 (2014-08-29), ...)

- Sunday, September 07, 2014 at 06:43:11 (EDT)

2014-08-18 - Kerry's Loop Extended

~7 miles @ ~11.8 min/mi

"Get lost?!" says Doug going into the gym at 0540, when he overhears me telling Dr Kristin that maybe we should try Kerry's Loop backwards, "... if we don't get lost." Does he assume we're clueless, or that we're about to run some vast distance? Unclear.

After admiring the moon peeking through clouds overhead and the first pink glow of dawn, once GPS lock is established off we go. "Notice the crickets chirping!" Kristin admonishes, and "Hear the birds!". We cut through park paths to Hwy 123, pause for morning commuters racing to work, and at McLean Central Park and the Dolley Madison Library pick up the Dead Run trail heading downstream.

At Churchill Rd a spotted fawn, two does, and a two-point buck nibble somebody's front lawn. We pause to photograph the historic marker at the Colonial-era "Bienvenue" house, zig-zag back across 123 and along Chain Bridge Rd, and soon find ourselves at McLean HS track. Kristin insists on "a few" laps, which turn into 4. Then after a bit of meandering in search of a water fountain or unlocked restroom, it's back to our starting point. K spots two rabbits on Davis St in the final mile. She adds a parking lot loop to get all GPS readings safely over 7, including Runkeeper and Garmin.

- Saturday, September 06, 2014 at 07:06:16 (EDT)

Work as Practice

From Being Zen by Ezra Bayda, Chapter 12 ("Work and Practice"):

Even if we like our work, or at least have no intention of leaving our present job, there are always ways in which we can make awareness practice a greater part of our workday. Perhaps more than anything, this requires a shift from how we normally relate to our work—as separate from practice—to seeing our work as our path. We often forget what our real job—our life job—is. Our life job is to become awake to who we really are. When we remember this, we will be less likely to separate our work from our practice. We'll begin to understand that it's possible to practice with everything we encounter, even at work. To make this shift challenges our long-standing conditioned views and habits; consequently the best way to transform the relationship with our workday is by taking small steps. This is where mindfulness practice, in which we bring attention to the texture of the present moment, can be particularly helpful.

Applying mindfulness is the blue-collar work of practice. There is nothing romantic, mystical, or even exciting about dealing with the nuts and bolts of our mundane daily routine, beyond the subtle satisfaction that comes with beginning to understand that it's possible to practice with everything. We see that picking up a ringing phone, closing a door, becoming aware of sounds, or even going to the bathroom can all be used as reminders to be awake in the moment. Our work then becomes an opportunity to wake up.

(cf. Work of a Lifetime (2009-02-01), Being Zen (2014-05-26), Extended Retreat (2014-07-19), ...)

- Friday, September 05, 2014 at 04:30:50 (EDT)

2014-08-16 - Rock Creek and CCT with Gayatri

~28 miles @ ~12 min/mi

GPS tunnel glitches exaggerate distance and pace. As dawn breaks, walk backwards up the hill from Rock Creek, scanning the eastern horizon for planets. Alas, none seen. At mile ~3.5, approaching Bethesda on the Capital Crescent Trail, meet up with Sam (Sandra) Yerkes, Jennifer Wieland, and Gayatri Datta beginning their 21 mile loop. Report spying two rabbits already. Jennifer counters with one sighting, plus "another that my cat threw up!"

The cool day spawns flocks of cyclists, runners, inline skaters, and pram-pushers who swarm the path. Sam and Jennifer trot ahead with the blessing of Gayatri and me, since their pace is ~1 min/mi faster than what we can comfortably maintain. Gayatri glimpses them leaving Thompson's Boat Center just as we arrive. Buy a Cherry Pepsi from the vending machine and promptly drop it on the ground, making for a bit of foaminess.

Fill water bottle from the garden hose and walk slowly up the Potomac, while Gayatri waits in line for the ladies' room. At a flat concrete green-and-gray meditative labyrinth set in the ground commence treading the maze, but only get a quarter of the way before Gayatri materializes and we continue running together. At a high horizontal bar pause to stress-test the puny arms. They can only achieve half of a complete pull-up.

After ~23 miles belatedly begin to feel slightly energetic and with Gayatri run faster to get her back to her starting point. The rest of the journey home is good with a final sprint to pull the Garmin average pace estimate down to an integer. OCD? No, some of us prefer to alphabetize the letters and call ourselves CDO. Runkeeper and Garmin track the trek.

- Thursday, September 04, 2014 at 04:18:14 (EDT)

The 100/0 Principle

A colleague at work recently recommended Al Ritter's 2010 book The 100/0 Principle. Its subtitle is "The Secret of Great Relationships", and it's a thin book that's even thinner, given large print, small pages, generously spaced layout, and repetitive anecdotes. That doesn't mean, however, that the key theme isn't brilliant:

Take 100% responsibility for a relationship, and expect nothing in return.

As the author admits, this sounds paradoxical but "When you take authentic responsibility for a relationship, more often than not the other person quickly chooses to take responsibility as well." And even if they don't, since you expect nothing you haven't lost anything. And even if they don't, you've learned something. And even if they don't, something good will happen anyway.

In other words: love, don't judge. The concept is great, and applies to work, friends, family, and everywhere else in life. It meshes with the author's rather explicit Christian beliefs, and of course with Buddhist metta ("lovingkindness") and other religious-philosophical doctrines. But alas, The 100/0 Principle is so cheerily redundant that in spite of being a fast and friendly read it's quite frustrating. (And yes, I take 100% responsibility for feeling frustrated — I'll work on being less judgmental!)

(cf. 01, 0-1, ...)

- Wednesday, September 03, 2014 at 04:14:44 (EDT)

2014-08-15 - Introduction to Kerry's Loop

~7.2 miles @ ~11.4 min/mi

A rabbit scampers across the parking lot at 0545 as Kristin and I do warm-up loops, admire Venus and Jupiter low in the east, identify Auriga's bright star Capella halfway up, and tip heads back to peer at a third-quarter moon high overhead. Kerry arrives and leads us along beautiful woodsy paths through McLean back yards, winding along small streams and past the community center and library and playgrounds, where her kids first learned to ride their bikes.

We pause at "Benvenue", a colonial farmhouse that was also a Civil War field hospital, and at Starbucks where Kerry insists on buying us coffee. On the way back, we're overtaken by a pack of ~40 McLean High School cross-country runners. Kerry recognizes one of her daughter's friends. The school parking lot is blocked off and marked for marching band practice. Kristin recalls long-ago days as a majorette.

Runkeeper and Garmin record progress.


- Tuesday, September 02, 2014 at 04:11:08 (EDT)

Giving Up Hope

Charlotte Joko Beck in Everyday Zen (chapter "Practicing This Very Moment") suggests:

I once said something in the zendo that upset a lot of people: I said, "To do this practice, we have to give up hope." Not many were happy about that. But what did I mean? I mean that we have to give up this idea in our heads that somehow, if we could only figure it out, there's some way to have this perfect life that is just right for us. Life is the way it is. And only when we begin to give up those maneuvers does life begin to be more satisfactory.

When I say to give up hope, I don't mean to give up effort. ...

And maybe that applies to ultrarunning, especially distances beyond one's capabilities, and to work, and health, and relationships, and everything else in life. Don't have goals or expectations or plans. Just be open to possibilities, accept whatever happens, and be happy in the moment.

And from the film Fight Club, "And then, something happened. I let go. Lost in oblivion. Dark and silent and complete. I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom."

(cf. Lose Track (2002-11-11), All Good (2007-01-13), Expectations vs. Possibilities (2013-08-13), Let Go (2013-10-18), Processes not Goals (2014-02-20), ...)

- Monday, September 01, 2014 at 09:11:40 (EDT)

2014-08-13 - Pimmit Hills and McLean HS

~5.8 miles @ ~10.2 min/mi

Kerry and Amber both leave for family holiday Saturday, so much of today's conversation revolves around vacation readings. Kerry again mentions The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson, which her kids in high school are enjoying; it involves cyborg-human philosophical issues. I put in plugs for P. G. Wodehouse's humor, Liz Williams and Roger Zelazny for literary sf, and the early cyberpunk works of Vernor Vinge, William Gibson, and Neil Stephenson. Amber has recently suggested Winter's Tale and Oryx & Crake, which she offers to lend me. We loop through Pimmit Hills, pause at the office to unlock for colleagues, and then at Kerry's suggestion trot to McLean HS for a lap around the track to jazz up the GPS map. Runkeeper and Garmin capture path and pace.

- Sunday, August 31, 2014 at 13:45:12 (EDT)

2014-08-11 - Falls Church Sunrise

~5.6 miles @ ~11.5 min/mi

Three big bunnies and four deer greet new comrade Peter Mörtl, Kerry, Kristin, Amber, and me for a dawn neighborhood loop near the office. Kristin starts early and has ~1.5 miles already in the bank when I meet her for an orbit of the parking lot. At the loading dock then we pick up the others at 6am. The cut-through path takes us across Pimmit Run to Lemon Rd Elementary School, where Kristin points out lovely low fog on the meadow. As she crouches low beneath tree branches in front of the church I say, "You should practice 'Snake Creeps Down'!" (a T'ai Chi form). Amber reports on her long bike ride with family over the weekend. Kerry rolls an ankle on Idlywood Rd, fortunately not too badly. Runkeeper and Garmin record our actions.

- Sunday, August 31, 2014 at 13:41:27 (EDT)

2014-08-10 - Sligo Creek with Dr Mary

~6 miles @ ~15 min/mi

As Mary Ewell and I are about to start our run at Sligo-Dennis Rec Center a woman passerby says, "Hi, Mark!" It's fast Theresa Allio, whom I ran with last month and of course fail to recognize. "I'm sorry, but you'll have to embarrass me a few dozen more times before I learn your name and face!" I sadly tell her. (cf. 2014-07-13 - Meet Theresa).

Three rabbits flee during a warm and humid Sunday afternoon trek, as Mary and I alternately walk and sprint along Sligo Creek. A digression on natural-surface trail and neighborhood roads takes us to the big millpond near Dennis Av that Barry Smith showed me last year. Fun conversations touch upon the value of lovingkindness (metta) meditation, upcoming race plans, the challenges of working for an unenlightened boss, the benefits of weight training, and the importance of listening to one's spouse. The payoff: a Chinese feast at Palais du Lune that includes eggplant in garlic sauce and veggie egg fu yung. Runkeeper and Garmin show the way.

- Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 03:37:23 (EDT)

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