Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How to Rock Rocky Raccoon 100

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

I owe the Rocky Raccoon 100 race big time.  Until finishing my first 100 miler I did not know how brave, tenacious, and capable I actually am.   I didn't realize I was so mentally and physically strong.  I didn't understand that my body and mind were vigorous soulmates. Running my first 100 mile race  changed my entire outlook on life.  I am damn strong.  I can handle just about anything. 

Before getting together with friends this evening, I was jotting down some advice that helped me get through Rocky Raccoon, and thought I would post in case it might be helpful to others. So take it for what its worth, because everyone's experiences are different...but this is what works for me.

1.  Expect to finish.  Period 

2.  Start off easy.  This course is pretty flat and runnable except for the roots, and that is what tends to get to you after mile 60.  Take regular walk breaks if that is what you practiced.   If  you would walk it on loops 4 and 5, walk it on loop one.  Run your own race.

3.  Take it one loop at a time in loops one and two, one aid station at a time in loops 3 and 4 and one step at a time in loop 5.

4.  Don't be deceived into thinking it will be warm because the race is in Texas.  It gets damn cold out there at night and  your body is tired of working for you.  Pack clothing.  Smartwool shirts and handwarmers are musts.  (Oh yeah, and it could be warm too- because this IS Texas.)

5.  Keep up on your nutrition.  Never get behind.  When in doubt, get calories in your body.   Coffee rocks....especially when mixed with hot chocolate.

6.  Write WIN in permanent marker on your hand. This stands for WHAT DO I NEED (now).  Figure it out.  Calories?  Hydration?  Electrolytes?  If you don't know, ask someone who has more sense than you like your pacer or the aid station volunteers.

7.  Keep your brain working and alert.  Find someone else on the course and tell them a story.  Do math problems in your head.  What was that stupid mantra you came up with the week before the race?  Stay positive.  It doesn't always get worse.

8.  If you really need it and you have the time, take a 15-20 min nap.  Game changer for me.
Did I mention coffee and calories at night?  Magic Fritos?   A shot of coke?  (the drinking kind).  Yes.  If it helps, do it.

9.  You are going to be an emotional wreck at some point.  You could whine, cuss, cry, yell, giggle uncontrollably.......get a pacer who can deal with your shit and then tell you to get going.

10.  I believe its a lot harder to make up excuses to everyone for why you  DIDN'T finish for weeks and weeks after the race than to just finish the damn thing.  Keep moving until they pull you off of the course kicking and screaming. 

11.  Remember that you signed up for this.  Its fun.  And not fun.  And fun again!  Smile, thank the  volunteers who have been up just as long as you have, and enjoy the day.  Where would you rather be then playing in the woods?

Best wishes for an amazing journey!!!!  :)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

God is hiding in the desert.

"I have climbed highest mountains.
I have run through the fields.  Only to be with you..."

Sometimes life blesses you with divine moments.  Experiences so profound that we truly begin to understand the God within each of us.  This weekend, wrapped in the giving arms of a mourning community, I was blanketed in unconditional love.  I witnessed God in action.

I grew up in the tradition of the church, but over the years have found myself creating a distance between my beliefs and the dogma of religion.
God is love.  Love is all you need.  Amen.

I've studied the religions of the world a bit and have come to understand the existing commonality that finds us all searching for our place in the universe; our ultimate source and infinite light.
But soul searching on a lonely path has left me void of the beautiful traditions held in church:
The story telling and  prayers; the music and praise; the sharing of doubt and the community of faith.

As I witnessed the angels of a Hispanic Catholic community uphold a fragile family facing loss, I was touched by the heritage and tradition.  I tasted fruits of generosity and drank in flowing kindness.
And I became satisfyingly full in the grace of God.

Confined mostly to the Mojave desert, the Joshua Tree was so named by the Mormons believing that the tree resembled Joshua himself reaching up his hands in prayer.  The high desert with its mystic plants, arid mountains and tenacious people reminded me that we are not alone in our spiritual journey.  We need each other, and like the Joshua tree, our roots extend deep in love to ensure our survival.

I too raise my arms in thanks to the desert for reminding me that when we hold hands, our energy becomes stronger.  Enveloped in each other's love, God is manifested in us.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Give thanks in all circumstances

"...give thanks in all circumstances."
1Thessalonians 5:18

"Until you are grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want." 

This resonating quote from John Kralik's book  A Simple Act of Gratitude has created a powerful and life changing  mindset for me.

John writes a story of a troubled life, one like so many of us experience daily.  His relationship, job and financial issues cause debilitating stress.  He has become absorbed in what he believes is a horrible livelihood-  a monster filled existence set out to devour him.  He is tired to the bone and grasping at any straw he can in order to feel adequate.
Let's face it- at times.....any of us could be John. 

On new years day, John has one of those "come to Jesus" moments while out hiking. He clearly hears in his head:  "Until you are grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want." 

Aha.  Damn! A friend told me the same exact thing lately.  It must be true!
In return, I have started to look around to find things that I am truly grateful for, and the positive response to my soul and existence is unparalleled to anything I have ever experienced.

When I am lonely, I am thankful for those who lift me with love and make me smile.
When I am frustrated at work, I give thanks for my amazing colleagues who give their greatest effort  and patience everyday.
When I feel inadequate, I raise up those who realize and remind me of my full potential.
When I worry about finances, I give thanks that my bills are paid.
When I doubt my decisions, I am thankful for a life of passion and adventure. 
But first and foremost I choose to live in the moment.  I've come to realize that the greatest experiences are happening now. 

Trail runs under a full moon.
Corny jokes told by 12 year old boys.
Practicing the art of  liquid eyeliner with your daughter, and still sucking at it.
Texts that say "I love you and I just wanted to make you smile."
No drop bike rides.
Warm showers
Hot meals
Strong coffee
Margaritas with your best friend
Stories you don't want to end.
Early bed times
Sleeping in

When you live in the moment with a heart of gratitude, it truly is all good. 
So in return I challenge you.  What are you thankful for today? Write it down, write a thank you note, and live in the pool of happiness.