One thing that I find incredibly tough is being present in the current moment. It seems I’m always looking at what I have to do later on, tomorrow or the weekend. My focus is far off in the distant future or in the negative. Regardless, when I do somehow lean into the moment , no matter how mundane, I feel a sense of well being.
The trouble is when there is too much going on in your life and or your head it Canberra a real challenge
Focusing on the more boring and tedious aspects of our lives is not something we normally consider. I ran into this thought funny enough while running. I was thinking about flow and how to achieve this sometimes elusive feeling.
Think about running and not thinking about running same time
This is how I usually start this particular day. Loaded with excitement and anticipation (which for me is rare most days). After getting everything I may need for an almost always raining trail run, I eat the usual stuff, go to Starbucks and it’s off to the races. In this particular case it’s the greenbelt trail out in plainview Long Island. I always like to get to the starting line early because of my excitement and that I’m not one to procrastinate. While there I usual walk around, read, and just try and chill out while taking in the overall vibe. Reading seems to really help right before racing and reading How bad do you want it, seems timely and appropriate.
So after the 50K start those of us who signed up for the 25K began at 8:30A.M. The beginning of the race is always literally an uphill battle until we enter the trail system in which the uphill battle becomes that much more of an uphill battle after the initial bottlenecking. Going down the trail is the same as in years past. Follow the markers, try not to reck yourself, and devour all the watermelon and fuel you can at the rest stops.
One of the greatest things about summer is the more time we get to spend outside. This being especially important if you work inside for your daily source of income. When the warm weather hits Long Island one of the things that really brings joy and much needed stress relief is getting on the bike and just getting out in the sun. My preferred summer riding consists of road riding starting early on Sunday’s. There is typically less cars on the road which is an added benefit to my early morning endeavors. Over the years I’ve developed several routes always starting but not always ending at my house. I’ve had out and backs, loops, and out and backs with loops. The really fun thing to do occasionally is going on a known route and at some point just going down those roads you usual just pass by. Getting lost is always an adventure. One thing that I have not changed over the years is my first rest stop, Starbucks. I’m there pretty much every Sunday so the baristas know the cyclist in the primal jerseys and shorts. I don’t really waste too much time there cause I’m in a rush to go get lost. Drink of choice, dopio. The double espresso shot is a nice extrinsic reward for journey thus far. So for me the thoughts of biking and espresso goes hand in hand with summer and sun. A time to refresh and enjoy the ride.
It’s funny how certain things remind us of when we were a child. I was never really a runner until later in life but play was always a part of my childhood days as well as currently. The actual type of play might have changed as everything does but not the overall sense of play.
During one of my recent runs I slid under a fence and hopped over two other ones. When I hopped and slid these fences I was immediately brought back to my childhood in a sense. It reminded me of playing manhunt with friends. When we played I would usually climb trees as all boys will do. It seems that even as men we are all still boys. Having the mindset of a child is not a bad thing, in fact in today’s world it is a rare blessing and sometimes hard to obtain.
Another childhood thing myself and many other kids did was to play in the leaves. My parents used to make us help with the fall and spring clean up and as all kids will do found ways to play. Recently I have just been going out and raking leaves as its own form of play. I just think of it as a workout. But the added bonus is that it’s is a workout with purpose and the results are plain to see.
Another good winter workout Is snow shoveling. It’s great because it’s similar to a lift but it’s outside and has purpose. The workout is just a benefit. Again this is something some of us did as children for our parents and also for making a couple bucks for comics and candy ( two other things that remind me of being a kid). This winter maybe I’ll try to help people out and shovel family and friends driveways instead of going to the gym.
It basically comes down to being outside with a task and purpose. Using your physical abilities also enhances your mood and overall mental well being. It’s not just being outside but the more important thing is to have a child’s mindset. A child would not hesitate to go outside and play not matter the conditions be it raining, sleeting or snowing. Play is all about your perception. I can think of play as going to work and sitting at my desk all day. as long as I think with this child’s mindset it will be fun no matter the task.
“Your beliefs don’t make you a better person; your behavior does. —Anonymous”
The third Great Lake I have attempted to swim the length of was that of Lake Michigan. The total length is approximately 307 miles (540,320 yards). I started this lake after the Lake Erie adventure on Wednesday may 21, 2014 and finished on Friday December 5,2014. I’m going to again try and give some details about some great swims I had in he process as well as whatever else comes to mind.
So this morning I woke up after a night of midnight snacking, mostly on tomato sauce rich stuff which destroyed my stomach. I still did my normal Friday swim before work but it took me a while to not feel bloated. I didn’t even use my Clif bar at the normal point during the swim cause of the bloating and feeling guilty for over eating the night before. Anyways, I reached the 307 mile mark this completing my Lake Michigan swim.
One thing that is important in life is to have routines and swimming has been engrained in mine. Even when I really didn’t want to go I went. Occasionally I would swim less but the important thing is that I got in the water. I am not fast nor do I even consider swimming a ‘hard’ workout anymore. I’m used to it and am more efficient than when I started. That being said I really consider swimming as more of a relaxing, meditative activity.
While in the water I can let my mind wonder for a little bit before I start counting my strokes. I would plan the day’s activities, wonder about what to fuel my body with, or other none important matters. It’s funny sometimes the things that come to mind when the blood starts flowing. More than once I actually laughed underwater. Yes, it is possible. When I wasn’t overthinking about mundane matters I would be counting strokes. Either 1,2,3,4 or 1,2,3. I have a whole system where I go easy sometimes and other times breathe to this side or he other.
Besides counting I have grown to love the variety that comes with using paddles and fins near the end of the swim. It keeps things interesting and adds another layer of fun to the, ‘workout’. They extra equipment has helped me to really feel the water a bit better. The paddles are the biggest ones I could find and have helped me with my hand entry. The fins remind me that I have legs and they also need to work in order for me not to sink. That has always been my main goal, trying not to drown while in the process find fun.
Brendan Francis said ,”At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one’s lost self.” That’s one of the things you discover when you are not bombarded with the details of life. Being in the water, running or cycling you will discover your lost self. I think swimming is the best way to do it because it is a total immersion of your environment. You in a way become part of the water. There is nothing but you and the sound of splashing. I plan to continue to find myself by swimming because we need to. We change as we grown each day. Here is to living life and not letting it control you.
“Just keep swimming”
Break up tasks into bite size chunks 900 = 300/300/300
Longest swim was Mon may 26, 2014 13000 yards.
Sun june 22, 2014 8am west neck swim 5K 1:22.43
Everything is an art form. It all depends on how you look at it, your view. You know, the whole “glass is half full” saying. The glass can be half full, optimistic, or half empty, pessimistic. Some people may look at someone chopping wood as a seemingly mindless act with no value or significance. To me however it is one of my art forms.
There is more to chopping wood then meets the eye. It seems like all that’s required is some anger and muscle power. I cannot disagree that both of those help in the task of taking down the enemy. The label enemy given to the piece of wood helps in focusing on what the goal is. It is the enemy and needs to be burned.
Sometimes the enemy is tougher than normal. In my short time doing this art I have discovered that oak can be much more difficult to defeat than say white birch.
The simplicity of splitting and sorting wood is one of the major reasons I find pleasure in it. Besides it being a great exercise it also takes you away from the complications that have arisen in this fast paced world. It’s funny, Life is so stressful so to help relieve the stress we have to do something stressful. It really all comes to life balance. We need to have balance in life in order to be a functional, productive human being.
Life is always a balancing act and juggling it without having outlets to blow off steam will result in a loss of balance. The trick is to just get started. Tell yourself to do something for 10-15 minutes. Once you get past that initial period it becomes easier and you can relax and enjoy it.
“When was one dishes just wash dishes” is a quote I heard a long time ago. It means to get he most out of anything your are doing regardless of the task. You may hate to wash dishes but if you change your viewpoint and just ‘wash the dish’ to the best of your ability and stop complaining about it joy will follow from the simple task. Same goes with cutting wood and anything else in life.
“When enlightened, chop wood. After enlightened, chop wood”
Tesla Hertz 2014
Frustration has hit me hard. The traffic last night and the stressful blood withdrawal I made this morning are partly to blame. But one of the main things is the fact that I’m just in taper madness mode. I did not really taper too much but it makes me feel better thinking I did.
The day before the tesla hertz trail run I did my usual thing before races. I did a shortened swim (5000) and had my traditional brown rice pasta among other stuff the night before. After getting everything ready, stressing out, having a couple of drinks( not in that order) I tried the best I could to get some sleep.
The forecast was rain. So upon waking up later than normally for a race, I walked outside to determine what I wanted to do. That’s what I usually do if I have a ride scheduled in order to see if it would be better to switch the workout. But the rain wasn’t too bad and also it doesn’t matter with running. Playing in the rain is fun except when your feet are soaked and you lose toenails.
So after eating the usual breakfast it was off to the waldbaums parking lot to get situated and get the machine coffee I always do before this run. I talked to a couple of people, read a book and hung out until the race started. Before the race was about to start me and some of the other runners I knew from last year stood under a tent chatting and trying to stay dry and warm.
We were instructed to run the counterclockwise loop and follow the blue foot trail to the aid station and the red foot trail back to the start/ finish line. All along the route there was pink ribbons to help verify you are still on the right path. At some points it looked like a breast cancer advocate spider ran around the woods and dumped pink thread everywhere. This was also the first time I just wore a regular hat backwards during the run. I wore my Devils hat as opposed to my usual running hats. Trail running is much more layer back and that’s why it is so much better. I usual go for a bandana but I wanted to show I have a little devil inside. The weird thing was the fact that at first the hat felt heavy from all the rain getting soaked in it. As I continued I got the weird flow state and knew I was wearing the hat but it felt like it was part of me. Hard to really explain and sounds crazy, that is why I love to run.
As with last year I loved the rest stop. The biker guy with the sleeve tattoos was maning it again. He was even there the next day when I road ghost along my usual Sunday route. Probably wasn’t good to go as long as I did after a race but I can’t help myself, love the bike.
On the way back to the start/finish line I forgot about the one and only big hill. It was a nice surprise considering that the course is florida flat for the most part. I got back to the start with my right knee talking to me, not too bad but it was talking. Despite having low energy And the nagging knee probably from a mix of not really running to much I Decided to try one more loop.
Upon coming to the aid station again I was in pain. On my way there I was even thinking of seeing if I could get shuffled back to the start. It’s amazing what some sugar and Advil will do for you. I really liked the HEED drink they had as well as the hammer gels. They both seemed to work really well and can’t wait to try them in training when I’m stronger and not injured. As I’m writing this I’m suffering from a left knee injury I got the Monday after the race. The right one healed up or moved to the left knee. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to go for a bike ride the day after the race but I wanted to see how the race was progressing the next day.
So after I finished the two loops I bailed out, said my good byes, and made hast for the local red mango as a post run victory sundae.
Surprisingly I didn’t even finish it. I think it was all the junk I had to carry me through the run but I wanted to reward myself anyways. The real reward was when I got home. I got settled, ate some healthy stuff, took a shower and took the best one hour nap I ever had. These after race naps are the best reward for all the effort you put in. While I was in my endorphin induced coma I kept visualizing the downhill parts of the trail run. My leg even twitched a bunch and it felt like I was still running. Such a great feeling of peace.
The rest of the day from what I remember was just as good. Felt peaceful all day. Played some destiny I think. It was a while ago and I just remember having the endorphin high with the occasional post race depression due to finishing a big task and not having it on the agenda anymore. I still had my owl beer which is a traditional must after a running race. All in all a great day except the lingering left knee now runner injury. Can’t wait to do it next year and hopefully finish.
“it’s about making the time to do your ART”