16 12 2010

“You know what’s the loudest noise in the world, man? The loudest noise in the world is silence.”

Thanks, Mr. Monk, for that and for so many other things. (And if you haven’t read Robin Kelley’s book, it’s a wonderful story.)

Run With Mu is taking its own vow of silence until the early days of 2011. Enjoy a peaceful holiday season.

Honorably mentioned

8 12 2010

Deep bows to those who nominated Run With Mu for an Honorable Mention in the “Best Skilled Writing” category as part of the Blogisattva Awards for excellence in Buddhist blogging. Given the absence of this blog from most blogrolls on the ones I visit, I always figure Run With Mu is too Zen focused for runners and too running-oriented for Zen Buddhists. And readership here is modest and is grown very organically; i.e. it’s all I can do to post here once in awhile, much less advertise. So I’d have to say this was something of a surprise. But it’s always nice to know when someone is inspired by something here.

Anyway, as Linus in Peanuts once said when he got a gold star on a spelling test, it’s always thrilling to be recognized in one’s own lifetime. Thank you!

Small race, big hearts

6 12 2010

I finished the Run Like The Wind 12-Hour in Austin this past weekend with 53.32 miles and a nice 3rd place finisher’s plaque. What a rough little jewel of an event this was. “This is old-school ultra running,” one participant said, and with the laid-back, hospitable race director and the small field of runners who cheerfully, vocally supported each other all day long regardless of differences in ability level, you had to wonder why a new school would ever be constructed. I felt lifted up and carried along all day through the good and bad, and there is always both. As someone once wisely noted, “If you’re feeling good during an ultra, wait a few minutes.”

A late-morning start and round and round and round on a winding, well-shaded and cedar-mulched one kilometer trail. The morning was coolish but it warmed up considerably in the afternoon to mid-upper 70s. I typically have stomach issues in the heat and Saturday was no exception, but I simply slowed down, continued experimenting with various combinations of water and different foods, and finally righted the ship just before sundown. It began cooling off considerably shortly after sunset and my pace improved to its fastest all day.

Finishing a race like this with no major physical issues is always a blessing, but it was even more of a blessing to see the kind of care and attention bestowed on a very small pack of runners by a terrific race director. One runner was on a gluten-free diet and the RD cooked vegetable barley soup just for her to help keep her refueled. Everyone was given the kind of personal care and attention that should be the norm for any human-directed event, not just a small ultra race.

Remembering the race director’s selfless compassion has made me more mindful of others today — and that is no small thing. I hope to keep that with me, long after the plaque has been broken or lost. And what a wonderful way to start Rohatsu week. I may not be in sesshin this year, but I feel like my own celebration was Saturday.

Taper nothingness

3 12 2010

In the final hours of my taper for 12 hours of intense kinhin in Austin tomorrow. It’s been a quiet taper, with none of the madness (nervous hyperactivity, verboseness) normally associated with my tapering. Quiet and still, for the most part.

I’ve been reading sparingly — Thoreau’s journal as always, interspersed with poems by Merwin, Dickinson, and Basho. Last night it struck me that Thoreau can sound a lot like Merwin at times, and Merwin can sound a lot like Basho, and Basho can sound a lot like Thoreau … full circle poets. But Dickinson, as she apparently did when she was alive, stands alone.

A journal entry by Thoreau reminded me so much of a poem by Merwin that I decided to have a quick go at paraphrasing it, Merwin-style:

Winter Boots

they stand beside me in the chamber
dreaming of far woods and wood paths
of frostbound or sloshy roads
of being bound with skate traps
and clogged with ice dust

I don’t think I’ll need winter boots in Austin tomorrow, but I’ll need strength, acceptance of the here and now, and the occasional energy gel. Deep bows to the friends who are hosting me and cheering me on. And best to those racing (or supporting others who are racing) this weekend.


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