From 0 to 46.195 in 18 weeks.

I finished the counselling courses in June, and was looking around for the next thing. But we made a pact this year that I won’t go back to school this year: It’s E.’s turn. (I’m not really envious, actually, he’s doing math-stuff).

But I need goals. It is how I operate. External deadlines.

This time, I bought myself some new trainers, and have booked tickets to Newcastle for the weekend of the 25th of February. I am going to run the Northumberland Trail Marathon.

This will be my second marathon. My first trail race.

For the record: I have no idea what my marathon time was 5 years ago. I made it in before the cut off. That was my only goal. I have never been a fast runner. 5 years ago, I was less than a year from haven taken up running again – after a 17-year hiatus. Back of the pack all the way. Shamelessly so.

They don’t call it Dorking for nothing. 2011.

The Bacchus marathon in Dorking, England goes through vineyards and up a hill that wants to be a mountain. I loved the trail section up the hill. The mud, the view. I was slow enough through the fields to see the slow-worm, like the Norwegian stålorm, that I had no idea existed anywhere else.

The run was perfect. My friends were waiting for me at the finish line. (Though practically everyone else had gone.)

It was the experience I was after, not the competition. I have no interest in running through city streets.

Now I’m mid-pack on short runs around the lake. But I’m still aiming only to finish the course in February. Injury free.

I’ve been out of sorts since the biphasic sleeping experiment. I learned, too late perhaps, that bipolar people should probably not mess with sleep. My immune system crashed, and I have been fighting off infections since.

But tomorrow is a new day. Mid-week, nothing significant about the date: always a good jumping off point for a new adventure. 18 weeks, a 2 week warm-up, then the 16 week program I found here.

E. is training with me, and running with me. Well, probably not with me, though I suspect we’ll start at the same time — and meet at the castle.

This should get me through most of the darkness.

This is the edge of the light that comes just before spring.

(It is only 53% booked as of today, if you are interested in meeting up with us at the castle!)

Meditation Notes: 1

imageI’ve always struggled with my own heaviness during seated meditation. I relax quickly – disconnecting from the body is easy – but I sink, untethered in this way. It’s like being dropped in dark water, and feeling icy, unpredictable currents flowing around my thighs, over the sensitive skin of my upper, inner arms. I can abandon my body, but not the metaphors of pain.

Not having much affinity for Freudian therapy, I don’t believe understanding where it comes from will ever help the feeling go away.

Running is different. I can focus on my breath, and on my body as the point of entry with this world and the source of all my experience. I disconnect by observing connection. Circles of awareness that must include the root-tangled earth, and often include birdsong.

After watching the film To Spring from the Hand, a documentary about the former dancer and potter Paulus Berensohn, I decided to try seated meditation while working with clay.

Pay attention to the breath, he says.

And I do. The breath, and the slowness that comes. The balance of wills: my will and that of the clay. Give and take. Inhale and exhale. My mind through my body, connected to the earth.


Because Running is Using the Heart

The last time I kept a blog, I was training for a marathon. I was making major changes in my life, at a point where people generally decide to do it, or not. Midlife crisis, they call it.

I made more changes than I had anticipated, because change never happens in isolation. But there is no such thing as a midlife crisis, really. No one can predict a midway point to any destination. There are, however, lookout points all along the way. If you take the time to pull over, get out for a minute. A rest stop.

It wasn’t the first time I had experienced a “crisis”: took on major challenges, took off into completely unfamiliar territory. It wouldn’t be the last time. Won’t be.

Things are different now, though. Now, four years after running a marathon, I’m restless again. But this time, I’m looking backward as well as forward–and no longer afraid to do that. There are practices and beliefs I’d once nourished, things I’ve dropped or forgotten, that I now understand the value of. For example, the potential for faith. All kinds of faith.

I once knew that living is dying; we should remember that fact, in order to die in a way we choose–no matter how death might take us by surprise. There is a man in Denmark who lives each day dying well. And, I hate myself for my first thought after listening to him: I need to move to a place where I can dig a pond, like he did; where I can fashion my life like his. I use the word fashion deliberately, for all it is worth. I am even considering his eccentric knit strawberry hat.

I am still there. Here. Stuck, trying to make meaningful change, to find meaning, without giving up my life and making a pilgrimage to someone else’s belief system.

Someone asked me not long ago, if I was still running. I take that as evidence I have stopped proselytising. I take that as evidence in my progress towards becoming (authentically being) what I choose to be.

I am still running. Like so many others, asking myself questions I’d stopped asking for a while.414066_359311840791185_1987797442_o-2

And telling myself that the solution is not to buy a knit strawberry hat to wear on my runs.

(Check out the mini documentaries in the links!)


Today I ran the same 4 kilometers.

20150715_110551But, leaving the canopy of birch branches, heading onto the unsheltered stretch between the lake and the pasture, I looked to the left. I felt a knot in my stomach. The tree was gone.

The solitary tree that stands in the field, that changes day to day. My mind was shuffling through possible explanations. I nearly opened my mouth to say something to E.

“Someone cut down the tree.”

Then I remembered.

There are two pastures on this trail. Two unsheltered stretches of gravel path between water and pasture.

I had let my mind wander this morning. And what I learned was that, even after seven months of running this trail, I still don’t know these fields well enough to distinguish between them when I meet them unexpectedly.

And to think, I’d wondered if I would get bored.