Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Guess it was Zen...

Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy and Compassion

Zen defined - a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind.

The moment occurred as I crossed over from mile fourteen to fifteen and then progressed until I was completed my allotted eighteen miles.  More than any runner's high that I had ever experienced, but crossing over to a new level of feeling as though I could have continued running for a long time after the eighteen miles.  The strangest occurrence was when I began to pray, just to a higher power I was just in a meditative state.  Praying is not something I do on a regular basis but that morning I did.  I remember distinctly what conversation was going on in my mind at the time. All I was thinking/saying/praying was help me get through these last miles in the manner that I hope to achieve at a later time, and thank you for helping me get so far.  I am a spiritual person but not religious.  My beginning to pray/meditate at that moment was certainly foreign to me. 

As I have discussed my experience with a few different people, some religious, a psychiatrist (don't get excited she's my client) and a fellow "run-aholic"  they all responded in the same way.  They described my experience as a "Zen" moment.  I never would have thought of it as a Zen moment however after further analyzing of the moment, I would have to agree fully.  Zen is the state of mind where the focus is so great the mind and body are in one accord.  It was completely empowering and the last miles seemed earsier than the previous.  The feeling was completely addictive and far more than the runner's high which had been gone for several miles.  I have to be careful though because the quest for Zen may take while to get to and I do have to engage in other activities besides running like life.

Nik and I were out with his mom on Saturday night.  Our waiter, who was fabulous, began talking to us about his little daughter , Nora who had been born about eleven weeks prior.  I watched his face beam as he told us about her.  I leaned over to Nik and whispered that the guy talked about his daughter the way I talk about running especially and now swimming and cycling.  It dawned on me that I love exercise as much as I love my children, very interesting observation. 

Last year as I was just beginning my running journey toward becoming an endurance runner, the eight mile mark nearly killed me.  I fondly remember running my first six on the road.  That afternoon I slept for I think about five hours.  I laugh at myself a lot now in hindsight of last years disastrous training season.  I have learned so much, and how to and how not to do train.  The main thing I have learned is nutrition and how my body responds to training much better with proper sustaining.  I remember hitting the fifteen mile mark last winter and being disoriented all day after, hurting intensely and sleeping and propping my legs up because they ached so badly.  Well I survived, making me stronger,  smarter and even more determined to complete my journey. 

The past three Saturday runs have been filled with anticipation, preparation and even a little trepidation.  The reason was ampted up miles.  The mileage was fourteen, sixteen and eighteen.  Each run began with a conversation between, me, the road, my body and ultimately my mind.  I told the road that today your ass is mine.  I will conquer you.  My body knows that it is strong, fueled and can handle the mileage, I just reaffirm that with that realization I always exhale heavily.  My mind, I think, it has to be in accord with my body and even stronger to push through because the mind always wants to quit first, probably due mostly to boredom.  Which leads to the next cataloging of thoughts that occur, accomplishments, how far I have come in the past year.  Personal records I have set, and people I have inspired always make me smile.  Those positive thoughts though run out at about mile fourteen for me then I am left to do what occurred on Saturday, meditate and just keep running.   If I keep running I don't really know what is hurting, it's really  hard to start back running after walking.  As I have mentioned before, the fastest way home is to keep running, that comment from the Ironman athlete is going to be the death of me, but it is on automatic repeat in my mind. 

Another thing that I have been trying to incorporate in my runs is finishing up fast, not coasting in but just all out at the end.  Saturday I was able to do just that, I threw up after, but I did it. 

There's a point after I've had a good run where I sit and stare as I replay the run over in my mind.  I analyze and reanalyze how it felt, what I was thinking, if I need more water stops, gu's, did my shorts aggravate me, did I get any new blisters on my body from ill fitting clothes, how many hills did I do.  A whole check list is in there, ingrained in my mind. 

The ultimate though is getting Nik to drive me through the course after so I can show him what it was like that morning.  Most of the time I don't realize the amount of hills, it's all road to me.  As long as I focus on just what's ahead of me the hills seem to disappear becoming in my mind flat or at least less intimidating.  A conversation between us usually follows with his saying that I am crazy for running such a long, open hilly course.  I always say I know I'm nuts, but I did it and I did it well.  that sense of accomplishment is worth it's weight in gold.

I'll share a secret.  Nine years ago on October 1, I was told I wouldn't be able to run again.  For a moment I had accepted that statement,  but not any more.  I should have made a wager with him.  Guess he didn't know who he was talking to.

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