"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Friday, April 08, 2011

Tomorrow's mantra

Hello friends, it's been awhile. Is this the beginning of a renewed blogging habit? I don't know. Many good things have been/are afoot and I can't begin to summarize right now, but I wanted to say something on the eve of my attempt at the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run. If my phone battery holds out for the duration, I will have GPS tracking so anyone who enjoys watching grass grow can log in and see where my dot is somewhere between Sacramento State University and the city of Auburn. You can track me here at Runkeeper.com: http://runkeeper.com/user/emily2fish starting at 6:00 a.m. Pacific time, as long as the battery's charged and the creeks don't rise (the creeks have been a potential problem, actually - my 'drop bags' for stashing gear at the 26 and 40 mile points are going to have extra shoes and socks in them).

If things go remarkably, ideally, perfectly well, I might be able to finish in 11 hours. 10 hours 59 minutes is my 'dream' time. 10:59:59 or better would qualify me for other even more far-fetched adventures, should I ever choose to pursue them. But finishing in under 13 hours will be considered an official "finish" for this event and I would feel pretty darn good about an official finish.

I've been having kind of a rough 'head' day. This distance running thing (as with other endurance sports) is as much a head game as it is about legs moving and lungs delivering oxygen. So I'm not going to let my head get in the way of showing up. I just need to take one step, and then another, and another, and just keep taking them, for 10-13 hours or so.  A wise man once said (to paraphrase) that endurance means not pulling up the flower to see how the roots are doing. Just let it keep growing and see what blooms eventually.

A similar concept is expressed in the Prajnaparamita (Perfect Wisdom) mantra - translations vary but the gist is "Gone, gone, gone beyond, always going on beyond, hail enlightenment!" The Sanskrit (though pronunciations tend to vary widely as well) sounds like "Gah-tay, gah-tay, pa ragahtay, parasahm gah tay, bo-dee swa-ha!" 

Whatever your preferred mantra/invocation of endurance, you're invited to sing along at any point. My secret last-gasp endurance weapon in long runs and hard climbs on a bike is to sing all seven verses of "How Firm a Foundation." For one thing, it's got perfect cadence when you're trying to hang on but not going that fast any more. For another thing, there's all this stuff about fiery trials and deep waters and in every condition of sickness and health. For yet another, by the time you get through all the verses, you've covered some ground.  And finally, the original version of the hymn as I learned it in childhood contained the words "You who unto Jesus, you who unto Jesus, you who unto Jesus for refuge have fled." Naturally it always sounded like "Yoohoo...Yoohoo...!" which is no doubt the reason why it was later changed. I still like saying "Yoohoo" unto Jesus though. I think He likes it too.

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