^zhurnaly 0.9906

Zhurnaly Logo
Howdy, pilgrim! No ads — you're in volume 0.9906 of the ^zhurnal (that's Russian for "journal") — see ZhurnalyWiki for a Wiki edition of individual items; see Zhurnal and Zhurnaly for quick clues as to what this is all about; see Random for a random page. Briefly, this is the diary of ^z = Mark Zimmermann ... previous volume = 0.9905 ... complete list at bottom of page ... send comments & suggestions to "z (at) his (dot) com" ... click on a title link to go to that item in the ZhurnalyWiki where you can edit or comment on it ... RSS

Bull Run Run 2013 Photo

This image of Dr Stephanie Fonda and me, captured by Aaron Schwarzbard at mile ~30, was used in Ultrarunning Magazine's July 2013 report on this year's Bull Run Run 50 miler.

Incredibly enough, I actually appear to be momentarily running. Aaron is a great photographer!

(click for high-resolution version, on which one can make out the elapsed time, 8:01, on my wrist GPS)

Stephanie Fonda and ^z in DO LOOP - photo by Aaron Schwarzbard

- Monday, September 02, 2013 at 19:22:22 (EDT)

2013-08-17 - Rock Creek Trot

~17 miles @ ~11.8 min/mi

T-shirt found in the middle of East-West Highway: "Adcock's Trapping Service — If it runs, climbs, slithers, or flies, we'll catch it!"

It's a lovely-cool August morning trek along Rock Creek with Gayatri Datta, Sandra "Sam" Yerkes, Barry Smith, and Rebecca Rosenberg. I see 2 Warren St rabbits at dawn + 6 big deer along Capital Crescent Trail and on Ray's Meadow. Sam and Gayatri and I meet at 0630 at Candy Cane City and do an out-and-back with a little extra loop along hilly Leland St and then join Barry and Rebecca a little after 7am. We jog upstream along Rock Creek. After ~3 miles Rebecca and I turn back with Barry to escort him to his car, since he has a race later today to run. Gayatri and Sam continue onward.

Then Rebecca and I head upstream again, and meet Sam and Gayatri just inside the Beltway. On the return-return-return journey Sam and I are in the lead when a couple of buff young ladies dash past us near the Susanna Ln branch. We give chase and are close behind them until they stop at Ray's Meadow and salute us. "It's good for the youth," I tell Sam, "to see that their elders can still keep up with them!" Rebecca and Gayatri join us and, passing the Meadowbrook Stables, a handsomely chiseled young shirtless man zooms by. "Shall we try to catch him?" I ask the three ladies with me. We all laugh.

Garmin GPS and Runkeeper roughly concur. Splits from the Garmin are 10:11 + 8:28 (rushing to make it on time to meet Gayatri and Sam) + 14:13 (pause to get started) + 12:43 (hilly Leland St) + 16:47 (pause to sync up with Barry and Rebecca) + 13:16 + 12:01 + 12:13 + 11:53 + 11:36 + 11:37 + 12:10 + 10:39 + 9:53 (Sam and I give chase to a pair of youths) + 12:54 (good-byes) + 9:44 + 9:33 and a final fraction at ~9 min/mi pace.


- Sunday, September 01, 2013 at 05:10:58 (EDT)

Best Response to Feedback

Yesterday a colleague at work shared a link to the essay "The Fail-Safe Organization" by Steve Peha. It's mainly about agile software development, via the theme of how to help people in a company know themselves and learn from their mistakes. In the course of that the writer muses on how to deal with feedback. In particular:

The best response to feedback is "Thank you". Often, when we receive negative feedback, especially in front of our peers, we feel the need either to apologize, to take immediate action to correct something, or to challenge its veracity. In the heat of the moment, neither of these strategies is an optimal response. The optimal response to feedback, whether positive or negative, is simply to say, "Thank you." There may indeed be something that needs to be corrected right away but a knee-jerk reaction to fix things is likely to invite more feedback if the reaction fails to address the issue. Apology is also a reflexive action many of us feel the need to take when we receive negative feedback. But apology complicates matters. What does "I'm sorry" mean? Does it mean that one is overcome by sorrow? Does it mean that a situation will be corrected or kept from recurring? Does an apology even indicate to the person giving the feedback that the feedback is understood? No. How about: "Thanks for the feedback. It gives me a better understanding of what you need." Wouldn't something like that work better?

Thank you!

- Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 04:29:12 (EDT)

Mom and Me

^z and Mom (Minnie Merle Meinke Zimmermann) at the front door of her home, where we moved ~1964:


- Friday, August 30, 2013 at 04:06:03 (EDT)

Herbivore Eyes

Dear friend Kate Abbott's hilarious comment, when she hears of my Intermittent Carnivorism:

"Go for it! Your eyes are like a herbivore's — you need to bring them forward!"

- Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 04:12:49 (EDT)

2013-08-14 - Wednesday Evening Ramble

~7 miles @ ~11 min/mi

"Have a good run, Mr. Zimermann!" One of DS Merle's friends has just arrived at the New Place — it's about 6:30pm — for a gaming session of "Battlestar Galactica". I set off trotting from the end of the driveway into Wheaton Regional Park. A new path catches my eye, around the southeast side of Pine Lake. Then it's Arcola Trail to the horse trail to Northwest Branch. Wonderful weather, lovely cool and dry, but not another soul is visible for most of the run along the creek. As the sun starts to set I ponder wading across to return on the path that follows the opposite bank, but decide instead to take the Lamberton Dr side path. Sidewalks lead back to Kemp Mill Shopping Center where I suddenly recognize where I am: Sligo Creek Trail! A quick blitz upstream, past a big deer that stares at me and then ambles across the path when I'm back in Wheaton Park. Too dark to take photos now, the GPS is tantalizingly close to sub-11 min/mi pace, and distance is tantalizingly close to another integer. So I take the long way home, down Parker Av to Georgia Av and back home on Henderson Av. Runkeeper estimates splits as 11:07 + 11:32 + 11:01 + 12:34 + 10:35 + 10:04 + 9:08.

- Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 04:07:35 (EDT)

Intermittent Carnivorism

Some dear friends are sure that Hell has frozen over: a few days ago, visiting my Father on what's left of the family farm in central Texas, I knowingly and deliberately ate meat, for the first time in ~15 years. Before and after pictures of the plate:


A dear friend asks, "Why?" My response is that there were no major deep philosophical or logical reasons, but just a variety of self-experimental or silly or social excuses:

But the main reason: isn't it a bit compulsive and neurotic-fanatical to maintain a "streak" for so long? I've felt that way with some ultrarunner buddies who think they absolutely must jog at least a mile every day for months on end or longer. Likewise with comrades who have run a particular race every year since time immemorial, and who insist on doing it in spite of injury, lack of training, horrid weather, etc.

And yeah, I'm OCD — but I can also obsess about not being excessively obsessive, eh?!

(cf. SufferTheAnimals (2000-06-11), CompassionateCarnivorism (2002-11-19), Franklin on Vegetarianism (2008-06-17), Omnivore's Dilemma (2009-05-16), No Simple Answers (2009-12-01), Philosophical Vegetarian Issues (2010-07-15), ...)

- Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 07:42:03 (EDT)

OKC 4, Round Rock 2

http://zhurnaly.com/images/Round_Rock_Express_2013-08-23_box_score.jpgDS Merle and I land in Austin Texas late morning on 23 August 2013. By 6:30pm that evening my brother Keith already has us in our seats at a AAA Pacific Coast League minor league baseball game, Oklahoma City versus the local Round Rock Express.

The official box score from the Austin American-Statesman summarizes the game's statistics, but the score that I keep (see below) tells the story: dominating innings by home team pitcher Josh Lindblom, exciting double plays by the visitors in the second and third innings, two home runs by Oklahoma City in the sixth which put them ahead, and no threats from Round Rock after the third.

In the later innings I explain DS Robin's "Estimating Expected Future Runs in an Inning" statistical study and resulting formula. Keith and I apply it in a range of situations, including a sacrifice bunt (which advances a runner to no avail) and a two-out runner-on-third situation.

The scoresheet doesn't indicate soda, curly fries, peanuts, and funnel cake consumed. Nor does it indicate temperatures in the upper 90's, or my brother's kind cycling friend Otto who gets us the tickets and comes by to chat.

"Dr Zimmermann and Dr Zimmermann," my brother introduces Merle and me. When Otto jokes about being honored to be in the presence of such great intellects, Merle responds self-deprecatingly, "We're sitting here in front to protect you from foul balls with our giant heads!"


(cf. RoundRockExpress (2004-06-04), BaseballBlues2006 (2006-08-04), Reno 7, Round Rock 2 (2011-06-03), ...)

- Monday, August 26, 2013 at 06:37:22 (EDT)

It Never Ends

From Day 35 of Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison's Meditations from the Mat, in which the flowing style of postures (asanas) in Gates's yoga leads him to muse:

... it is our tendency to pay attention to the postures themselves, but not to the spaces in between. So it is in life. We leave one relationship or job and set our sights on the next. We cross one item off the to-do list and dive into the next chore. The illusion is that the posture ends. The reality is that the posture never ends, it just shifts from one form to the next, one lesson to the next, one opportunity to the next. We remain life's student whether we are inhaling or exhaling, in a relationship or out of one, saving the world or looking for a temp job. The posture never ends. I am in the posture when I look into my wife's eyes, and I am in the posture when I look into my waiter's eyes. Both are holy interactions. The illusion is that there is separation, levels of importance, beginnings and endings. Yoga brings us to the understanding that the posture never ends.

(cf. Try It for a Few Years (2009-05-19), Being with Your Breath (2010-02-20), ...)

- Sunday, August 25, 2013 at 22:39:50 (EDT)

Chips Galore

http://zhurnaly.com/images/H-Mart_chips.jpgDW sends me to H-Mart, the local Korean grocery, for "chips". What comes home?

 * Rice-veggie puffs

 * hot-and-spicy crispy seaweed

 * sweet potato

 * shrimp

 * onion baguette

and ...

 * octopus!

- Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 16:10:05 (EDT)

Remembering to Remember

"The key is remembering, or rather, remembering to remember."

... a valuable meta-mantra worth remembering (!) from "Defusing the Anger Bomb", an essay by "Vishvapani" that suggests pausing for a moment before reacting — to create a chance to be self-aware, to observe, and maybe to choose how to act appropriately. Then, "... when difficult things happen we have access to all the wisdom and understanding we have developed in our lives and the skills to apply it, whatever is happening."

(cf. DeliberateSpeed (1999-08-23), DeliberateOpinion (2001-10-14), Meditation Made Easy (2008-11-01), Karma (2009-07-15), Waking Up to What You Do (2010-03-21), Find the Beauty (2011-04-03), Emotional States (2012-04-26), ...)

- Friday, August 23, 2013 at 07:00:43 (EDT)

2013-08-11 - W-and-OD Trail with Kate

~15 miles @ ~11.2 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/WOD_Trail_fluorescent_shorts_z.jpg"Those shorts glow like a neon sign!" Kate Abbott spots me from a block away as she drives up at dawn to rendezvous at the W&OD Trail caboose in Vienna. We fill pockets of hydration backpacks and set off a little before 6:30am, eastward along the bikepath.
In the humid warm morning we trot to milepost 4 and back, with great "trail talk" conversation along the way. Multiple electrolyte capsules and energy gels ward off cramps until the final miles. Kate spots some giant sunflowers by the path and we pause for the photo op.http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/WOD_Trail_Kate_Abbott_sunflowers.jpg
http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/WOD_Trail_mile_4_Kate_Abbott_z.jpgGarmin GPS and Runkeeper roughly agree, with splits by the Garmin including all pauses of 11:53 + 11:05 + 10:40 + 10:38 + 10:30 + 10:31 + 11:06 + 12:26 + 10:59 + 10:51 + 11:00 + 11:54 + 12:14 + 10:59 + 10:07 and a final fraction at a similar pace.

- Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 04:06:31 (EDT)

Clinging Is Optional

In the chapter "Our Love Affair with Personal Pronouns — Especially I, Me, and Mine" of the little book Mindfulness for Beginners, Jon Kabat-Zinn explores nonattachment. He prefaces his comments with:

The Buddha taught for forty-five years. He is said to have said that all of his teachings could be encapsulated in one sentence. If that is so, perhaps we might want to remember what it was, even if we don't necessarily understand it all at first. Imagine forty-five years of profound teaching distilled into one sentence: "Nothing is to be clung to as 'I,' 'me,' or 'mine.'"

Kabat-Zinn goes on to explain:

... What it means is that clinging is optional, that we can recognize it when it arises and choose not to feed it. It means that the selfing habit is a major part of our default setting, that mode of mind that we revert to constantly when we go unconscious or drone on in the automatic pilot doing mode It means that how we related to all our moments, all our experiences, is a choice. It means that we can make the choice, moment by moment, to recognize how much we do cling to "I," "me," and "mine," how self-oriented and self-preoccupied we can be, and then decide not to cling to them, or more reasonably, to catch ourselves when we do. It is saying that we don't have to automatically and with no aware ness fall into the habits of self-identification, self-centeredness, and selfing. What is more, if we are open to looking at ourselves afresh, we can readily see that these thought-habits actually distort reality, create illusions and delusions, and ultimately imprison us.

So when you hear yourself using the words "I," "me," and mine" a great deal, perhaps it can serve as a signal to quietly reflect on where this is taking you and whether it is serving you well.

(cf. Coming to Our Senses (2009-01-01), Beginner's Guide to Insight Meditation (2011-08-05), ...)

- Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 04:26:09 (EDT)

Expect the Unexpected

Recently a dear friend complimented me:

"Every day with you it is the same old thing ... VARIETY!"

And yes, I do try to surprise, play the wild card, put a new twist on the old canard, push the envelope, ...

Though hmmm, if change is the only constant, perhaps something needs to be changed about that. If change is the only constant, perhaps something needs to be changed about that. If change ...

(cf. KnowledgeAndConsistency (2001-02-07), One Transcend Suffices (2009-10-14), ...)

- Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 04:15:15 (EDT)

Do a Little a Lot, Not a Lot a Little

In Rolf Gates's and Katrina Kenison's book Meditations from the Mat, "Day 138" offers some good thoughts on perseverance:

Perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence, and benevolence of spirit—that sounds great, but how do I get it? Stephen King says, "Writing equals ass in chair." I would go on on to say that asana equals feet on mat.

We encounter our first obstacle to asana practice off the mat—in the form of our endless array of reasons for not practicing today. I generally practice first thing in the morning for just that reason. As the day goes on, I am at increased risk of talking myself out of it. I know all the excuses and then some. And so I tell my students: Plan your week around your practice sessions; develop yoga buddies and make yoga dates; do a little yoga a lot, instead of doing a lot a little. Apply the yamas and the niyamas on the mat. Buy some cool yoga clothes, get the props you need, buy a good mat, make it fun. Go to weekend workshops if you can, take a yoga vacation. You don't need to make yoga practice your life, but do make it a part of your life. Give the opportunity you have been given the respect that it is due.

Especially relevant, and generalizable to many worthy pursuits: "do a little ... a lot, instead of doing a lot a little"!

(cf. SelfReliance (1999-06-16), John McPhee (2008-03-09), Rule of 200 (2010-08-25), ...)

- Monday, August 19, 2013 at 04:16:59 (EDT)

2013-08-10 - Rock Creek Rambles

~16.5 miles @ ~11.7 min/mi

At 0610 I'm ready to roll, but the GPS isn't — so for four minutes I pace the street in front of home. A large moth flutters and lands on me, and I gently encourage it to fly away. Finally the satellite signals lock in, and it's time to hasten to Candy Cane City to meet Gayatri Datta and Sandra "Sam" Yerkes who are waiting there. I apologize for being three minutes late. We proceed upstream, then return to the parking lot a bit after 7am where Barry Smith, Emaad Burki, Ken Swab, Rebecca Rosenberg, and Sara Crum join us to trek downstream into DC and return. Much bawdy banter between Emaad and Ken ensues, facilitated by Sara and not to be repeated here. Back at the cars again during mile 14 Rebecca kindly shares ice pops, two of which help me recover. I've already consumed 4 Succeed! electrolyte capsules and one energy gel. Upstream again I trot ahead with Sara and a subset of the gang, then branch off for home at Ireland Dr where I pass a laboring cyclist during the climb up. Garmin and Runkeeper generally concur on distance and pace. Splits from the Garmin: 9:40 + 8:34 + 12:13 + 11:17 + 11:01 + 16:38 + 11:08 + 10:23 + 11:40 + 12:38 + 10:27 + 11:00 + 9:56 + 18:45 + 10:58 + 10:33 and a final fraction at 9:41 min/mi.

- Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 04:35:46 (EDT)

It's Not What You're Thinking

Recently one dear friend who must remain nameless was chatting online with another who's having some relationship challenges. "You may not be getting what you need," she wrote to him, then immediately added, "And it's not what you're thinking!"

An excellent comment, with fortuitous meanings besides the obvious double entendre. Maybe getting or needing or thinking aren't nearly as appropriate simply being — in the present moment, without clinging or evaluating or expecting ...

So a new candidate mantra, to join "It's All Good" and "It Turned Out OK":

It's Not What You're Thinking

(cf. "Mindfulness * Nonattachment * Oneness"? ...)

- Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 05:35:54 (EDT)

2013-08-04 - MCRRC Riley's Rumble Half Marathon Race

~13.1 miles @ ~8.7 min/mi

A cool Sunday morning with temps in the lower 70's brings a new half-marathon PB on a hilly course. Kind comrade Barry Smith drives me to the race and back; we find a 7-11 on the way home and I insist on getting him coffee and a chocolate milk. Before today's race I suck down an energy gel, and during it I take two more, at the 40 and 80 minute marks. Rebecca Rosenberg is distributing electrolyte-ice-pops at the mile 8.5 aid station, and one of them helps too. Speedy Albino Castro, whom I've met in recent months at the Mi Rancho restaurant in downtown Silver Spring where I often pick up Tex-Mex carryout, gets cheers whenever I see him during out-and-back segments of the course. Friendly Adeline Ntam, Ken Swab, and Emaad Burki are also running today.

Ken introduces me to his softball teammate Meghan Walsh, a 24-year-old who has only run one half-marathon before and never longer. We chat before and during the early race. Meghan is from Boston and has a great accent; she is looking forward to the Marine Corps Marathon this October. I offer thoughts on training, injury avoidance, optimal pacing, etc. After a too-fast-for-me first four miles, during which I take the lead on downhills and am passed again on the climbs, she pulls ahead for the rest of the journey and finishes ~45 seconds in front. Brava!

The official results show me in 115th place overall, 95 of 285 males, 4th of 16 in the 60-64 male age group, at 1:52:56 gun time and 1:52:33 chip time. Runkeeper agrees generally with the Garmin GPS, which estimates rough mile splits of 8:10 + 8:09 + 8:17 + 8:09 + 8:51 + 8:38 + 8:27 + 9:14 + 8:51 + 8:12 + 7:58 + 9:12 + 8:12 and a slow final fraction when I fail to stop the watch in a timely fashion. (Runkeeper says ~8 min/mi on that last bit.)

Compared with the prior four years:

- Friday, August 16, 2013 at 04:31:04 (EDT)

Nacelle Dawn


Glow of sunrise on the airplane's engine during an early-morning flight back from Texas, 10 June 2013 ...

- Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 04:07:40 (EDT)

Oblique Life

A lovely article was forwarded by a friend of a friend last week: "Expert on Mental Illness Reveals Her Own Fight" by Benedict Carey, published in the New York Times originally on 23 June 2011. It tells the story of Marsha M. Linehan, a psychologist who developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

DBT, according to Wikipedia, "... combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice." DBT appears to help people with a variety of brain chemistry issues, including Borderline Personality Disorder — people who sometimes cut or hurt themselves, sometimes kill themselves.

Carey's article describes Martha Linehan's own past in unblinking, sensitive detail, and includes an extraordinarily moving short video interview with Linehan herself. It quotes Elyn R. Saks, "There's a tremendous need to implode the myths of mental illness, to put a face on it, to show people that a diagnosis does not have to lead to a painful and oblique life." Treatment can involve "... mindfulness meditation, a Zen technique in which people focus on their breath and observe their emotions come and go without acting on them ...".

In recent years some of the stigma and shame have begun to fall away from mental illness. Most psychological problems seem rooted in brain chemistry gone awry, patterns of thought that have somehow shifted into dysfunctional instability. Several wonderful friends have told me of their own struggles, past and present. That revelation takes bravery and trust. I am awed by their courage, and strive to help wherever I can. Learning more and understanding how they feel helps them (and me) in so many ways.

(cf. UpheavalsOfThoughtRevisited (2002-12-13), BeautifulMind (2004-05-10), Awareness, No Blame, Change (2009-04-19), Guide to the Good Life (2011-02-26), Worst Zen Student That Ever Was (2012-03-10), ...)

- Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 04:45:37 (EDT)

Expectations vs. Possibilities

In Chapter 5 of Phillip Moffitt's Emotional Chaos to Clarity, titled "Letting Go of Expectations", the author distinguishes expectations (which he says "assume a certain result and are future oriented") from possibilities:

In contrast to expectations, possibilities are based in the present moment, where you're alive to the mystery of life. Being open to exploring possibilities stimulates the mind, makes life interesting, and provides you with the energy and motivation to live as fully as you can in the present moment, in light of your intentions. You don't assume that the future you desire will come to pass, because the future is unknown. Being open to possibilities also acknowledges that what you think you want may change with time, or that there may be a different future you haven't thought of that will bring you more happiness, or that the future may turn bleak, or that you may die before the future can unfold. Real joy is found in what is available to you right now.

Living a life that is open to possibilities is like a request, rather than a demand. Your well-being is not contingent on the future. You therefore have greater access to imagination and intuition. Your mind is clear and less reactive, and you make better decisions. You respond rather than react to life as it unfolds.

(cf. PleasantSurprises (2002-08-08), LightMind (2002-08-22), Present-Moment Reality (2008-11-05), Contract Scribbled on a Rain Cloud (2009-03-04), Discover Zen (2009-03-06), Not Always So (2009-07-04), Power of Now (2011-12-14), ...)

- Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 04:31:46 (EDT)

2013-07-27 - Catoctin 50k Trail Race 2013

~32 miles @ ~16.1 min/mi

rattlesnake in ferns by the Catoctin Trail at mile 12 of the Catoctin 50k 2013 Crotalus horridus, aka the Timber Rattlesnake, the only rattler found in Maryland. This one is hiding peacefully under a patch of ferns by the Catoctin Trail at mile 12 of the 2013 Catoctin 50k race. I wouldn't have noticed it if a group of runners ahead of me hadn't been walking circuitously through the bushes to avoid it. When I pause to take photos of it, creeping closer and closer, after the fourth snapshot it rattles (or rather, buzzes) at me to let me know that it has had enough of that! I scamper safely away.

2013 is an odd-numbered year, and luck is with me as it was in 2009 and 2011. The course is tougher than it was a few years ago, a mile or so longer due to trail re-routing after segments near Fishing Creek suffered erosion. Official results put me crossing the line in 8:34:44 — 125th out of 144 who make it within the cutoffs, sixth of nine age 60 or older. Not as good as the 7:53 of 2009, but better than the 9:04 of 2011!

(click on the image for a larger higher-resolution version)

This dramatic and almost-symmetric elevation profile of the out-and-back terrain is from the Garmin GPS which says 31.96 miles; Runkeeper using the iPhone GPS measures 33.08 miles. Compare with data from the 2008 report and the map in 2010, even numbered years when I DNF'd but enjoyed the company of Caren Jew and Kate Abbott respectively. To avoid the jinx I was cowardly and skipped 2012.

This time I meet a flock of great people: veterans James Morgan and Gary Knipling, young Sonya Bingham whom I run with for the first few miles, beer-loving Patty Beauchesne, tattooed Tom Mitchell, sweeper Mark McKennett, Race Director Kevin Sayers, MCRRC comrade Ron Ely, ... so many good memories!

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Catoctin_50k_2013_mile_14_scenic_overlook.jpgI begin almost DFL as shown in a video of the start — look for me ~20 sec in, near Tom with late arrivals Ron and Sonya close behind. I also appear in a Catoctin 50k video report by the Frederick News-Post — note the back of the ^z noggin featured in the first seven seconds, as I move Tom into position for a pre-race photo by the banner. The race is covered in "Catoctin 50K 'suffer-fest' a mettle test", an article in the Frederick News-Post by Graham Cullen.

As for my perspective on the event: I drive up early, start late, and experience some delay in the traffic jam when, after the initial parking-lot loop, we queue up to enter the narrow trail. I arrive at the first aid station, Hamburg Rd, with only 7 minutes or so to spare. After that scary scene the rest of the trek is comfortably ahead of the cutoffs, 25 minutes to the good at the halfway point and 40 minutes ahead by the finish. I pass Gary Knipling as he accompanies Johanna Lockner along a rough stretch of trail. A welcome thunderstorm drenches the final half-dozen miles. It makes the rocks slippery, but by this point I'm mostly walking anyway.

On the nutrition front, I discover that grapes and grilled cheese sandwich squares fit nicely into pockets for later nibbling. I enjoy a slice of pizza and an ice pop during the return trip. Watermelon is welcome at several aid stations, as is beer and of course water to refill my hydration backpack's bladder. Helpful volunteers add ice which is a boost.

At the Scenic Overlook rock pile I pause to be photographed by a friendly fellow traveler. And during the entire journey I only fall down once — yay!

(cf. Catoctin 50k 2008, 2009-08-01 - Catoctin 50k Trail Run, 2010-07-31 - Catoctin 42k, 2011-07-30 - Catoctin 50k Trail Run 2011, ...)

- Sunday, August 11, 2013 at 04:35:07 (EDT)

Mindfulness As a Love Affair

In the Introduction to Mindfulness for Beginners Jon Kabat-Zinn observes:

Ultimately, I see mindfulness as a love affair — with life, with reality and imagination, with the beauty of your own being, with your heart and body and mind, and with the world. If that sounds like a lot to take in, it is. And that is why it can be so valuable to experiment systematically with cultivating mindfulness in your life, and why your intuition to enter into this way of being in relationship to your experience is so healthy.

A little later Kabat-Zinn explains how to use the CD of guided meditations that accompanies this book:

There are two complementary ways to [practice]: formally and informally. Formally means engaging in making some time each day to practice — in this case with the guided meditations. Informally means letting the practice spill over into every aspect of your waking life in an uncontrived and natural way. These two modes of embodied practice go hand in hand and support each other, and ultimately become one seamless whole, which we could call living with awareness or wakefulness. My hope is that you will make use of the guided meditations on a regular basis as a launching platform for an ongoing exploration of both formal and informal mindfulness practice, and see what happens over the ensuing days, weeks, months, and years.

(cf. Try It for a Few Years (2009-05-19), ...)

- Saturday, August 10, 2013 at 18:11:32 (EDT)

Self Improvement Lists

To explore and revisit, a tiny trio of links to thoughtful self-improvement lists and sporadic related musings:

- Friday, August 09, 2013 at 05:46:38 (EDT)

More Meditations from the Mat

Three further tidbits from the Rolf Gates and Katrine Kenison book Meditations from the Mat:

- Thursday, August 08, 2013 at 04:18:53 (EDT)

Luka and the Fire of Life

Epic fail: Salman Rushdie's young-adult novel Luka and the Fire of Life falls far below its predecessor Haroun and the Sea of Stories. That earlier effort echoed Alice in Wonderland and other marvels of inventive wordplay. Luka is more a hybrid between Harry Potter and Ready Player One. Will video gaming metaphors from 2010 resonate in 2020? Elements of Luka already feel sadly dated. Restart and try again ...

- Wednesday, August 07, 2013 at 04:17:15 (EDT)

2013-07-21 - Matthew Henson Overshoot

~8 miles @ ~11.4 min/mi

"Turn back at the invisible line!" Ken Swab tells Barry Smith, Stephanie Fonda, and me. We're trailing behind him and Emaad Burki and Rebecca Rosenberg on the Matthew Henson Trail, and meet them as they return. But we don't see the invisible line and end up at Georgia Av before reversing course. Further humorous banter includes discussion of our Seven Greatest Problems, metaphors for sweating too much, and unmentionable medical procedures.

The morning's sweat begins for me with a 20 minute warm-up, mowing the front 20% of the lawn at the New Place, 0650-0710. (DS Merle finishes the job later in the morning.) Then I cruise to Ken-Gar, with an unopened bottle of Succeed! for Ken who needs one. Stephanie is already there, and we chat about life as we walk to the water fountain where I pre-hydrate a bit. Things are generally going well — Dr Fonda did some amazingly great ultras within the past few months — and we agree that we haven't run together for far too long.

Back from the MHT at Milepost 7 of Rock Creek Trail, where the morning began, Rebecca meets the trio and takes Barry under her wing for extra mileage, Stephanie stops so she can run more this afternoon, and I leap into the car to head for Donut King to procure a dozen you-know-what for the Starving Masses on the home front. I've forgotten the Garmin today, so Runkeeper provides the only trackfile; it concurs with Barry's and Stephanie's GPS records.

- Tuesday, August 06, 2013 at 06:36:55 (EDT)

Constant Effort

From a talk given by Shunryu Suzuki on 1966-11-09 [1]:

"In this world we live by constant effort. Even though gains are small, the act of sincerely trying to improve little by little is salvation ..."

... as in Arnold Bennett's comment (1908, The Human Machine), about how Human Nature is only improved "... by the continual infinitesimal efforts, upon themselves, of individual men, like you and me ...".

(cf. ThankGoodness (2002-12-25), ...)

- Monday, August 05, 2013 at 04:30:07 (EDT)

2013-07-20 - Sweaty Saturday Twenty

~20 miles @ ~12.3 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/MZ_GPS_graffiti_Rock_Creek_Park.jpg4 electrolyte capsules, 2 energy gels, 1 donut — with temps in the 80s & dew points in the 70s it's a soggy jog mainly along Rock Creek. The ramble begins at home, at 5:36am. Neighborhood streets lead to the Capital Crescent Trail, to Rock Creek Trail, and then Candy Cane City. Gayatri Datta and I trot together along Beach Dr to the restrooms just before Military Rd, where I draw my initials "MZ" in GPS-graffiti on the fields.http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Forest_Glen_Annex_tributary.jpg
http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Forest_Glen_Annex_oven.jpgThen it's back upstream to Candy Cane again where at my mile ~10 we meet others in the gang. Most decide to turn back after half an hour or so, but Megan O'Rourke is training for an Ironman and wants extra today. I accompany her farther along RCT, but she's faster than me and needs more, so I turn back early. Rebecca Rosenberg meets me near Cedar Lane and we dither a bit until Megan reappears. We join her for the return journey.

Just inside the Beltway I branch off and, approaching the Forest Glen Annex, add a little distance by diverting the southern way along Ireland Drive in the woods. A sign marks a polluted stream. Nearby the remnants of an old stone building — kiln? oven? — remain. The gate at the top of the hill is closed and the fence there is distorted, as though someone climbed over or a tree fell on it. I turn back and take the usual path homeward.

Angles and colors in the roofline of "The Pagoda" at National Park Seminary catch my eye, so it's another pause for photography, and then a final dash. The Garmin wrist unit reads a quarter mile more than the Runkeeper iPhone GPS.

Splits from the Garmin: 10:49 + 10:29 + 15:47 (pause at CCT to meet friends) + 11:17 + 13:08 (including GPS graffiti) + 12:08 + 13:23 + 12:44 + 10:43 + 15:53 (another CCT pause to rendezvous with others) + 11:09 + 10:28 + 10:21 + 11:34 + 13:01 + 13:21 + 11:18 + 12:03 + 12:41 + 13:00 and a final half-mile fraction at about 10:11 min/mi pace.


- Sunday, August 04, 2013 at 05:02:35 (EDT)

Right Attitude

Radhika Nagpal's recent essay "The Awesomest 7-Year Postdoc or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tenure-Track Faculty Life" is an optimistic musing about an intelligent approach to a high-stress job. (Full disclosure up front: the author is now a professor at Harvard, so some may feel that the positivism in her essay has not been properly tested. OK, but that doesn't make it wrong!) Nagpal, a mother and computer scientist, describes her work ethic and observes:

Most people I talked to seemed surprised. Several of my close friends challenged me to write this down, saying that that I owed it to them. They told me that such things were not done and were not standard. That may be true. But what is definitely true, is that we rarely talk about what we actually do behind the scenes to cope with life. Revealing that is the scariest thing of all.

I've enjoyed my seven years as junior faculty tremendously, quietly playing the game the only way I knew how to. But recently I've seen several of my very talented friends become miserable in this job, and many more talented friends opt out. I feel that one of the culprits is our reluctance to openly acknowledge how we find balance. Or openly confront how we create a system that admires and rewards extreme imbalance. I've decided that I do not want to participate in encouraging such a world. In fact, I have to openly oppose it.

So with some humor to balance my fear, here goes my confession:

And yes, "Revealing that is the scariest thing of all" is spot-on. So is striving to achieve balance in one's life. Nagpal's seven rules, in brief:

All good, but note especially I try to be the best "whole" person I can and I have fun "now" — great wisdom!

- Saturday, August 03, 2013 at 08:05:35 (EDT)

2013-07-16 - Humid Dawn Parking Lot Loops

~3.5 miles @ ~11 min/mi

At 5:45am it's already super-warm and damp, as Kristin Heckman and I set off from the loading dock and run around the office neighborhood. Two rabbits eye us and then dash away near mile 2 of our meandering route. The iPhone's GPS glitches and records an extra 0.2 miles when I cut through the MITRE-3 parking garage to pick up a towel from my car. At 0630 we greet Kerry Buckley and Ed Brown as they prepare to begin their run. K and I are done!

- Friday, August 02, 2013 at 04:07:42 (EDT)

Bodhisattva Warrior

In Chapter 1 of The Bodhisattva's Brain Owen Flanagan offers a stirring (if technical) description of the ideal "twenty-first-century Socially Engaged Buddhism" as a bodhisattva:

... She is enlightened insofar as she understands the causal interdependence of everything (pratïtyasamutpāda), the impermanence of all things (annica), and the nature of herself as anatman as possessed of no immutable essence that is her self. She conscientiously stays on the Noble Eightfold Path, overcomes the common mental afflictions (egoism, avarice, hatred, and the like), eventually embodies the four divine abodes, the six perfections (incredible patience, great mental acuity, extremely subtle perceptual sensitivity to the needs of others, and so on). Armed with compassion, lovingkindness, sympathetic joy, and equanimity, she takes her battle for happiness and against suffering into the world. The bodhisattva is a courageous and virtuous moral activist, a warrior. She lives an active life of virtue, having become sufficiently enlightened to understand that in so doing she attempts to realize her full humanity and to achieve whatever excellence lies within the human range. She is flawed, incomplete, unsettled in her own skin and in her world in all the normal human ways. Being human, her being, her relations, her existence are fragile. She works to live without illusion, but like most persons is prone to comforting hopes, expectations, even beliefs.

Flanagan contrasts this "metaphysically minimalist conception" with a less-satisfying more-mystical vision of bodhisattva development over "innumerable eons" of rebirths, possession of super-powers, etc.

And then, alas, Flanagan continues to beat the poor horse for half a dozen more pages. Maybe that's just what philosophers do ...

(cf. Believing in Leprechauns, Misplaced Concreteness, ...)

- Thursday, August 01, 2013 at 07:44:08 (EDT)

2013-07-14 - Hyper Humid Heat

~10 miles @ ~11.6 min/mi

"We could braid a rope from these vines," I tell comrade Ken, "and lower you down from the trestle to Rock Creek, so you can get a drink. Let's use the hairy vines with leaves in groups of three!" Ken is running without a water bottle today, but says he will be OK since he only intends to do ~6 miles. Nevertheless, relative humidity above 90% makes for a stressful, soppy trek. Walk breaks commence early and come often, even starting from home at 6:41am. A tiny bunny races across the Capital Crescent Trail. In downtown Bethesda with bottle refilled I'm resting in a chair in front of Barnes & Noble, awaiting friends, when a desperately dehydrated young lady comes by. She gratefully accepts water from me, and waves again when our paths cross on her way back half an hour later.

At B&N Barry Smith appears, having run from his home (a mile farther than my 4), followed soon by Ken Swab and Rebecca Rosenberg. From CCT milepost 3.5 we head east at my request, back to marker 0.5. Ken teaches me to eat wild raspberries from the bushes by the trail. Back at Jones Mill Rd K&R return to Bethesda and Barry & I branch north, taking Susanna Ln back to Rock Creek Trail, climb Ireland Dr (a new route to Barry), and then head home. The digital scale shows me down ~4 lbs in spite of best-effort drinking and a Succeed! e-cap. Garmin reports a bit over 10 miles, but Runkeeper using the iPhone GPS gains half a mile glitching out of the Wisconsin Av tunnel. By the Garmin the splits are 10:14 + 9:50 + 10:06 + 9:24 + 13:36 + 11:20 + 13:43 + 12:33 + 13:08 + 11:52.

- Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 04:11:22 (EDT)

2013-07-13 - Moonbounce Loop

~14 miles @ ~11 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Moonbounce_Castle.jpgA moonbounce castle graces the front lawn of a mini-mansion on hilly Leland St, on a hyper-humid Saturday morning trek that makes for a sweat-soaked shirt, slick shorts, soggy socks, and stinky shoes. On Rock Creek Trail young Suzanne helps me hobble halfway up Stonybrook St — I introduce myself, give chase until her turnaround at the Mormon Temple gates, then continue on. She tells me that she runs by time on weekends, by distance on weekdays.

Five big deer cross Old Spring Rd and swivel their heads in parallel to track my passage. Über-slippery mud in the tunnel under Connecticut Av is a reminder of yesterday's floods. Pause at Candy Cane City to greet friends who gather there for their 7:30am group jog: Ken Swab sports an eye-catching new INKnBURN "Running Gear" mecha-print shirt but refuses my offer to fight him for it

Runkeeper is a little more conservative than the Garmin today.

- Monday, July 29, 2013 at 19:17:09 (EDT)

Seventh Series

Another mantra to join "It's All Good", "This is America — you can do whatever you want", "Good, But Different", "Deal with it and Move On", "Notice and Return", "Soften into the Experience", and other cheerful bumper-stickers to help recover affectionate self-awareness when things get hectic:

"Seventh Series!"

As yogini friend Rayna Matsuno Weise observes, re the difficulties of raising a family:

Our teacher always said, "Oh, having children very difficult. 7th series!"

(In Ashtanga yoga, Rayna explains, there are only six series of poses; most people never get beyond the first ...)

- Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 18:12:47 (EDT)

2013-07-12 - Holmes Run Run

~7.5 miles @ ~13 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Holmes_Run_Duke_St_map.jpgFriday afternoon's office picnic is held at Lake Barcroft in northern Virginia. Organizer Chris Buehler tells me of Holmes Run Trail that follows the stream that the lake drains into. Run op! I leap off the boat at the southern end of the lake, cross Columbia Pike, and run downhill to find the origin of the trail. It zig-zags across the creek repeatedly on round concrete stepping-stones, and at the first crossing there's a massive deadfall that requires stopping and crawling through branches and between limbs. Hope no poison ivy there!

Heavy rains last night and this morning raise the water level to the point that some of the stepping stones are covered, but only by an inch or two. Big puddles decorate the path, and a spooky muddy tunnel at one point is flooded to ankle depth. I get briefly .lost on neighborhood streets, zig-zag, and backtrack. A sketchy-looking fellow is smoking something under the Duke St overpass, so instead of venturing further on the overgrown creek bank, I follow Duke St to the Metro station at King St and take the subway home. As I exit the train I try to dry the small puddle under me on the seat.

Runkeeper on the iPhone shuts down with a quarter mile to go, when I stop to take photos of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. The Garmin GPS shows the entire path.

- Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 04:33:09 (EDT)

Austin Public Library Lion


Statue at the Windsor Park Branch of the Austin (Texas) Public Library — photograph taken during a run 2013-06-09 - Sunday Austin Memory Lane ...

- Friday, July 26, 2013 at 04:18:10 (EDT)

Optimism Apps

A dear friend sends a link to "Optimism Apps", little programs that help track one's subjective-emotional state in various dimensions over time and correlate that with sleep, diet, exercise, meditation, therapy, medication, and diverse other parameters. Fascinating — and even more so when the words "self improvement" pop up in the FAQs:

The Optimism apps were originally developed as electronic mood charts. Mood charts have long been recommended by psychiatrists and therapists, for their clients to use in monitoring their mental health. Traditionally they have been used by people with a mood disorder, like depression and bipolar disorder.

Our experience is that Optimism is used much more widely. The second most common use is for self-help or self improvement. They are also commonly used for PTSD and other anxiety disorders, ADHD, and a range of physical illnesses.

... and as a self-improvement junkie I must start experimenting! The idea of self-monitoring also brings to mind elements of a couple of classic science-fiction stories that have rattled around inside the old noggin for decades now:

... different spins on the notion of making self-awareness explicit.

(cf. Rereading Cordwainer Smith (2012-06-16), ...)

- Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 04:05:19 (EDT)

2013-07-07 - Catoctin Trail Trek with Caren and Mary

~6 miles @ ~21 min/mi

"Look! Two dimes!" I proudly show Caren Jew the coins I find on the ground two miles into our journey this morning on the Catoctin Trail. Profit!

A few hours earlier, Mary Ewell picks me up from home. We meet Caren at the Exit 10 parking lot at ~7am to carpool north. It's Mary's first visit to the Cat and we pick one of the gentler segments, between Hamburg Rd and Delauter Rd, for the intro. A dozen or more runners plus a handful of mountain bikers zip by us as we cruise, with intervals of trotting on "embarrassingly runnable" sections. Caren and I reminisce about all the good times we've had out here, including:

The Catoctin 50k race is coming up in three weeks, so this is a great preview and refresher to ~20% of the course for me. Several of the other runners whom we meet plan to run it. Alan Gowen, president of the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club, greets us on his outbound and return trips. He has finished the Cat 50k eleven times, which puts him in a tie for third place on the all-time list — wow! Others who pass us include a pair of cheerful young ladies in brightly colored compression socks and a fearless woman who, when we admire her faux-denim running skirt, flips it up to show off brilliant orange spandex shorts underneath. Her gear, she says, is from INKnBURN. Fancy!

Runkeeper and Garmin GPS data agree to ~1%.

- Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 04:14:36 (EDT)

PMA at Hardrock 2013

A lovely lesson in positive mental attitude, from Paige Dunmore's report on being a pacer for Brad Koenig at the Hardrock 100 miler this year:

What an experience!! And what a great reminder that life is what you make it. You think it sucks, but seriously, shut up and get over it. Around the next bend is the most amazing experience. To quote what I posted on Facebook after it was all said and done (because I just can't sum it up better than how I did in the moment): Hundred mile runs (especially the rough experiences) are such a metaphor for life: sh*t gets real, it gets hard, it hurts, it makes you cry and then smile in the same moment ... but you never give up, because that's not an option. You don't check out when plans fall through; you reassess, regroup, put your head down, and keep moving forward.

Brad went at least 9 miles off course and still finished the race. Shades of the observation by Rayna Matsuno (Weise) on getting lost at the Laurel Highlands ultramarathon in 2005 ...

- Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 04:15:22 (EDT)

2013-07-06 - Heat, Hills, Humidity

~14.5 miles @ ~12 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/NPS_satyr_lover_and_hot_z.jpg"Bike back!" both Gayatri Datta and I say when we first see one another. Bicycles are pursuing each of us as we converge on the Capital Crescent Trail near the big downtown Bethesda construction site. I arrive a few minutes early, five miles from home via hilly Leland St, with pauses to take photos of flowers and observe rabbits in front yards. Within two miles the sweat-soaked shirt has come off. This morning's ramble is exhausting, and according to the digital scale I drop 5 lbs. in the course of it, in spite of drinking multiple bottles of water and taking S! electrolyte caps and an energy gel.

Gayatri and I run another out-and-back mile on the CCT and then meet Barry Smith. He leads us east on the CCT and through Elm St Park back again to Leland. At Rock Creek we turn upstream, pause at Meadowbrook Stables for restroom visits, and then stop again to visit with Sonya and her cute son in the racing stroller, covered with netting to keep the bugs out. Barry insists on doing a Mormon Temple hill climb up Stoneybrook St, and Gayatri and I acquiesce. On the way home I pause to take more photos of statues, posing with one of a satyr and his lover.

Runkeeper awards me a bonus ~0.2 miles relative to the Garmin GPS when we emerge from the Wisconsin Av tunnel and it reacquires the satellites. Splits by iPhone are 10:26 + 9:26 + 11:40 (photo break) + 10:00 + 9:18 (sprinting fast down the CCT) + 11:40 + 9:53 (GPS glitch) + 11:35 + 12:37 + 19:47 (Meadowbrook Stable break) + 11:20 + 12:53 + 13:31 + 12:33 and a final fraction at 10:48 min/mi pace.

- Monday, July 22, 2013 at 04:15:17 (EDT)

2013-07-04 - Humid Holiday Ramble

~12 miles @ ~11.6 min/mi

Gayatri Datta, Rebecca Rosenberg, and Barry Smith plan to run this Thursday 4th of July morning from Candy Cane City at 7am, so about half an hour earlier I set out from home to meet them. Like yesterday I divert through the National Park Seminary to orbit the lovely Mermaid Fountain. I also pause to take photos of other statuary in the NPS. Then it's time to accelerate to make sure I get to the rendezvous on time. Gayatri texts me at 6:59, just as I arrive. We laugh together as I round the corner and text my reply from line-of-sight.

After a few minutes Rebecca and Barry appear, and we set off upstream, the direction I just came from. Two big deer cross the trail in front of us, near where I saw one earlier. When we get to the base of the Mormon Temple Hill the others prefer to take the less-steep way to the top, along Old Spring Rd, in spite of my arguments that gravity is a conservative force and it doesn't matter which way we go. A chipmunk on the curb dashes away from my foot. Rebecca and I run ahead and have a splendid conversation about life and training and challenges. Rabbits eye us warily. I run with Gayatri down the hill as we chase the other two. More runners and cyclists appear now and pass us along the trail.

Rebecca and I sprint ahead to the Rays Meadow water fountain and then await our friends. At the traffic triangle on Meadowbrook Lane Rebecca and Barry wonder were a path eastwards leads. After they return to their cars I follow that path on my jog home, and discover it simply goes a block and terminates at the dead-end Abilene Dr between the houses. Mystery solved! In the final half mile along Warren St a young man with jarhead crewcut and "Marines" on his shirt is walking a large dog. "It's too hot to wear it," I tell him, waving the singlet wrapped around my left arm, "but this is a Marine Corps Marathon shirt!" He smiles.

Runkeeper and Garmin agree fairly well. Again, I weigh myself and find that I've lost ~3 lbs in spite of taking two Succeed! electrolyte capsules and drinking oceans of water.

- Monday, July 22, 2013 at 04:11:25 (EDT)

2013-07-03 - Wet Mormon Temple Hill Repeats

~8 miles @ ~9.9 min/mi

At 5:41am there's plenty of light, so after bidding DW goodbye I trot in light rain through the woods — diverting to circle the lovely Mermaid Fountain — to Rock Creek. It's a workday Wednesday but I have a dental appointment at 0830 and awaken early enough to get some mileage in. Several dear friends are having a hard time nowadays in their home lives, and they're in my mind as I begin trotting up Stoneybrook St on the half-mile 5% grade Mormon Temple hill climb.

Try for two repeats? Three? Four? Five seems a stretch, but the first couple go smoothly at 5:10-5:20 for the climb and 4:30ish for the descent. The #4 RideOn bus outbound passes me and I wave. Another repeat, slowing during the downward trek to respond to a text message. The drizzle washes salty sweat into my eyes, and I use some water from my bottle to wash my face off. Pushing hard, the fifth climb is the fastest at 5:00 flat by my watch. I salute the #4 bus on its return trip and the driver beeps his horn in return.

On the homeward jog via McKenney Hills Park I divert past the neighborhood pool, fantasizing that bathing beauties may be visible there. Three are indeed present — two old bald men and a hairy younger fellow, swimming laps and pausing to chat. Two rabbits dart for safety as I pass by them. At home my weight is down 3 lbs due to dehydration. Runkeeper and Garmin generally concur on distance and pace.

- Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 05:49:43 (EDT)

Meditations from the Mat

Dear friend Kate Abbott, yoga instructor and ultrarunner, recommends Meditations from the Mat, a collection of 365 short essays by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison. Rolf is a master teacher of yoga. His spirit — that Kate witnessed personally, in classes and workshops she attended — shines throughout this book. I'm not yet convinced that yoga is for me. Or maybe it is, but not right now. In any case, the ideas that Gates and Kenison investigate in Meditations are worth pondering. Maybe half are off-target, too narrowly yoga-centric or personal-historical. (Which half? Can't say, and it may vary over time!) Of the remainder, maybe half are too mystical or religious. (ditto!) Of the remainder, .... (ditto!)

And that still leaves a flock of powerful musings. Start the scrapbook with Day 28, reflecting on life as a journey, a quest for pleasure, success, community, liberation:

We all get stuck somewhere along the path. The good news is that eventually we find that we have no choice but to let go and move on. We may temporize, rationalize, attempt to compromise. We may denounce the system, we may even grieve. But finally we do begin to grow again.When my older sister died I fought against the loss for years. Even as I mourned her death, I railed against the injustice of it—she was too young, too bright, too full of promise and possibility to die.

At long last I came to the breakthrough point, the surrender. I realized that her life, and my fury, were truly over. She was gone, and if I really loved her, I owed it to her to ensure that her passing would bear spiritual fruit in my life. For that to happen, I would have to let go. The relief was profound. There was nothing left to do.

Like in Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club: "And then, something happened. I let go. Lost in oblivion. Dark and silent and complete. I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom." Or some sentiments of John Darnielle in Woke Up New, about "the morning when I woke up without you, for the first time". That song concludes:

And the wind began to blow and all the trees began to bend
And the world in its cold way started coming alive
And I stood there like a businessman waiting for a train
And I got ready for the future to arrive

More snippets from Meditations on the Mat to follow ...

- Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 04:59:10 (EDT)

2013-06-30 - Sunday Shuffle

~11 miles @ ~11.5 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Parallel_lines_DO_converge.jpgParallel lines sometimes do converge, eh? It's a high-humidity sweat-soaked neighborhood ramble this morning, with a digression to circle the northernmost point of the DC diamond, a boundary stone placed in 1792. Comrade Norm Kahn is out for a morning stroll and waves.

Barry Smith runs mile 5 with me, and then Rebecca Rosenberg, Sara Crum, and Ken Swab join us for miles 6-9, including a Mormon Temple hill climb. It's great chatting with Rebecca about life and friendships and challenges. Then another solo climb up Stoneybrook past the Temple, and home alone along the northern route, cutting through the valley behind McKenney Hills Park and the new elementary school.

Two rabbits peek out during the first mile. Runkeeper and Garmin generally agree on mileage and timing. Splits by the Garmin: 10:19 + 11:07 + 9:57 + 10:12 + 11:31 + 17:08 (including meeting-up with the gang) + 11:22 + 11:20 + 11:46 + 10:05 + 10:32 and a final fraction at 9:42 min/mi pace.

- Friday, July 19, 2013 at 04:04:58 (EDT)

Mindfulness for Beginners

Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness for Beginners is a sweet little volume, published in 2012, by the author of Wherever You Go, There You Are and Coming to Our Senses and Full Catastrophe Living. The audio CD that accompanies the book offers five gentle guided meditations. The subtitle summarizes the entire enterprise nicely: "reclaiming the present moment — and your life." Most of the ~75 little chapters are only a page or two each. Of them, the one on page 16 ("Taking Care of This Moment") offers a thoughtful, lovely-brilliant musing on the centrality of now:

When it comes right down to it, our entire past, whatever it has been, however much pain and suffering it has included, becomes the very platform for doing the work of inhabiting the present moment with awareness, equanimity, clarity, and caring. You need the past that you have; it is raw clay on the potter's wheel. It is both the work and the adventure of a lifetime not to be trapped in either our past or our ideas and concepts, but rather to reclaim the only moment we ever really have, which is always this one. Taking care of this moment can have a remarkable effect on the next one and therefore on the future — yours and the world's. If you can be mindful in this moment, it is possible for the next moment to be hugely and creatively different — because you are aware and not imposing anything on it in advance.

More gems to follow ...

(cf. Present-Moment Reality (2008-11-05), Work of a Lifetime (2009-02-01), Just One Thing (2012-12-02), ...)

- Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 04:26:17 (EDT)

For back issues of the ^zhurnal see Volumes v.01 (April-May 1999), v.02 (May-July 1999), v.03 (July-September 1999), v.04 (September-November 1999), v.05 (November 1999 - January 2000), v.06 (January-March 2000), v.07 (March-May 2000), v.08 (May-June 2000), v.09 (June-July 2000), v.10 (August-October 2000), v.11 (October-December 2000), v.12 (December 2000 - February 2001), v.13 (February-April 2001), v.14 (April-June 2001), 0.15 (June-August 2001), 0.16 (August-September 2001), 0.17 (September-November 2001), 0.18 (November-December 2001), 0.19 (December 2001 - February 2002), 0.20 (February-April 2002), 0.21 (April-May 2002), 0.22 (May-July 2002), 0.23 (July-September 2002), 0.24 (September-October 2002), 0.25 (October-November 2002), 0.26 (November 2002 - January 2003), 0.27 (January-February 2003), 0.28 (February-April 2003), 0.29 (April-June 2003), 0.30 (June-July 2003), 0.31 (July-September 2003), 0.32 (September-October 2003), 0.33 (October-November 2003), 0.34 (November 2003 - January 2004), 0.35 (January-February 2004), 0.36 (February-March 2004), 0.37 (March-April 2004), 0.38 (April-June 2004), 0.39 (June-July 2004), 0.40 (July-August 2004), 0.41 (August-September 2004), 0.42 (September-November 2004), 0.43 (November-December 2004), 0.44 (December 2004 - February 2005), 0.45 (February-March 2005), 0.46 (March-May 2005), 0.47 (May-June 2005), 0.48 (June-August 2005), 0.49 (August-September 2005), 0.50 (September-November 2005), 0.51 (November 2005 - January 2006), 0.52 (January-February 2006), 0.53 (February-April 2006), 0.54 (April-June 2006), 0.55 (June-July 2006), 0.56 (July-September 2006), 0.57 (September-November 2006), 0.58 (November-December 2006), 0.59 (December 2006 - February 2007), 0.60 (February-May 2007), 0.61 (April-May 2007), 0.62 (May-July 2007), 0.63 (July-September 2007), 0.64 (September-November 2007), 0.65 (November 2007 - January 2008), 0.66 (January-March 2008), 0.67 (March-April 2008), 0.68 (April-June 2008), 0.69 (July-August 2008), 0.70 (August-September 2008), 0.71 (September-October 2008), 0.72 (October-November 2008), 0.73 (November 2008 - January 2009), 0.74 (January-February 2009), 0.75 (February-April 2009), 0.76 (April-June 2009), 0.77 (June-August 2009), 0.78 (August-September 2009), 0.79 (September-November 2009), 0.80 (November-December 2009), 0.81 (December 2009 - February 2010), 0.82 (February-April 2010), 0.83 (April-May 2010), 0.84 (May-July 2010), 0.85 (July-September 2010), 0.86 (September-October 2010), 0.87 (October-December 2010), 0.88 (December 2010 - February 2011), 0.89 (February-April 2011), 0.90 (April-June 2011), 0.91 (June-August 2011), 0.92 (August-October 2011), 0.93 (October-December 2011), 0.94 (December 2011-January 2012), 0.95 (January-March 2012), 0.96 (March-April 2012), 0.97 (April-June 2012), 0.98 (June-September 2012), 0.99 (September-November 2012), 0.9901 (November-December 2012), 0.9902 (December 2012-February 2013), 0.9903 (February-March 2013), 0.9904 (March-May 2013), 0.9905 (May-July 2013), 0.9906 (July-September 2013), 0.9907 (September-October 2013), 0.9908 (October-December 2013), 0.9909 (December 2013-February 2014), 0.9910 (February-May 2014), 0.9911 (May-July 2014), ... Current Volume. Send comments and suggestions to z (at) his.com. Thank you! (Copyright © 1999-2014 by Mark Zimmermann.)