Huh, Huh, Huey Huey (Huey Huey Huh Huh)

23 07 2011

Training in the heat has resumed. I’m still doing some treadmill running mostly for shorter/more intense workouts. Wednesday evening, Saturday and Sunday are reserved for longer outdoor runs and, as sad as this is, I’ve actually already gotten acclimated to running in 85+ temperatures for up to nearly 3 hours. I suppose we’re all going to have to learn to get more acclimated, as the global climate continues its slow, disturbing changes.

Still early training days, and not much to say about them for now. I’ve also recently become a first-time grandfather to a beautiful baby girl, who I’ll get to hold in less than three weeks. Seeing her pictures and knowing I’m her “Pop” is, to paraphrase newlywed Abraham Lincoln writing about his marriage, a matter of profound wonder. It’s also a reminder that time is oozing on, and that every step I take in ultra training is a step closer to the day I won’t be able to do it any more. Not yet. But, of course, it will come.

I actually made two weekend sesshins in a row, which was invaluable time spent sitting and staring at a wall. It’s so wonderful how every sesshin encompasses the same basic schedule and activity, yet every one has its own personality. These were intimate sits where every breath in the room could often be heard. I was very glad to get some of my attention back, and realize how many different kinds of “hot” there really are … and how the ball of noisiness I perceive I’m hearing, when I allow it to unravel like a big ball of tangled yarn, is actually a continual symphony, resonating with infinite variety.

Thanks in part to those sesshins, this morning during my long run I was able to slip into the rhythm of my steps and breathing, which together played for me: “Huh Huh” (in breath) and “Huey Huey” (out breath). I found my groove and ran along to the sounds of Huh, huh, Huey Huey, Huey, Huey, huh, huh, around the lake spillway, up the east shore and all the way home. My own runner’s mantra!

Getting in more than a few miles

11 07 2011

My first official long run training weekend for the 2011-2012 race season went well. Yes, it was hot, but I took my time, followed my breath, ran cautiously and logged nearly three hours on Saturday morning and nearly two more on Sunday.

Recovery was challenging but not unexpectedly so; I obviously still have some heat acclimation work to do and, given the times and temps during both runs, my energy levels were low for most of the weekend. As a result my attitude was a bit on the cranky side too, but at least I was aware of it. All in all, not a bad start to training. I am participating in a sesshin this coming weekend which will make long runs impossible, but my race training will resume in full next week.

Recently I sat immediately after a run and noticed it felt like the third or fourth sit of a zazenkai or sesshin, rather than a first sit. Usually it takes a few sits into a Zen retreat for your mind to stop churning, but I’m guessing that thanks largely to the run I was able to “go deep” pretty much right away. A lot of the mind-emptying you normally have to do in the early part of a zazenkai or sesshin is probably handled quite efficiently during a typical training run … you almost literally run your thoughts into the ground. For some reason, that realization struck me during this particular sit.

I’m more convinced than ever that there are millions of runners all over the world who are meditating and don’t even know it.

Changing the rules: my fall race schedule

6 07 2011

I posted recently about my body telling me it wanted to run more, and how I responded by running more, and how my body responded positively to running more. Things were taken several furlongs further this past weekend when I sat down, did some searching, and came up with a tentative fall race schedule … along with the realization I wanted/needed to start ramping up mileage now, rather than the first of August.

What can I say? My body is telling me it’s ready, and there’s no sense in holding it to a predetermined timeline. I’m starting to run longer again this week, although I’m still many weeks from peak mileage. But it’s time, and it appears racing is still something I truly want to do, rather than just another habit.

This is how a longer off-season can be very helpful: rest, recovery, and reevaluation. Not so much a conscious, thinking reevaluation, but just letting the body do most of the driving. I’ve become a pretty firm believer that your body and gut know a lot of important stuff; your mind just makes 3D movies for your ego to star in. In recent years, I have tried to never enter an off-season with the expectation that I would participate in even a 5K again. I try very hard not to think about racing again at all.

And when I give my body and gut time and space to reconsider things and go with what emerges, the right action usually will be made clear. Then it becomes a matter of aligning my mind to my body’s thinking. Which isn’t always easy, as we typically go about most things the opposite way.

So here’s my tentative race schedule until the end of 2011:

9/17 Tour des Fleurs 20K, Dallas, TX
10/9 Tyler Rose Half Marathon, Tyler, TX
10/22 24 The Hard Way (12-hour version; trail), Oklahoma City, OK
11/19 Wild Hare 50 Mile Trail Run, Warda, TX
12/3 Run Like The Wind 12-Hour (trail), Austin, TX
12/31 Across The Years 24-Hour (lottery dependent), Nardini Manor, AZ

We’ll see about Across The Years (ATY). If not ATY, I’ll find another 24-hour or 100 mile race in the same general time slot to fill the gap. So far as early 2012 goes, I’ll cross that bridge once I’ve crossed a few others.

Goals? I’d like to enjoy and be present with every step. I’d like to log 60+ miles for a 12 hour race (my best is a little over 58). I’d like to crack 100 miles for 24 hours. I’d like to end the season healthy. I’d like to really take pleasure in my training, and realize that training is of course running too. and that running is still something I enjoy and still a vital part of my Zen practice.

A lot of desires for sure. So, here we go. To quote one of guitarist and composer Robert Fripp’s many wonderfully appropriate aphorisms, “With commitment, all the rules change.”


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