Monthly Archives: February 2011

2/23/11 Next Challenge

Thursday.  For some reason I don’t feel worthy of writing a blog entry about my Journey to Fitness today.  It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride.

Saturday I attempted my long run of 16 miles.  I didn’t make it.  I only made it to 14.  But the good news is, it was better than the week before.  For the First 10 miles I was virtually pain-free and sticking to my run/walk better than I ever had.  Every 4 miles was coming in under my projections.  I was happy.  Then I got trapped in some terrible wind.  Although I had already been running with the wind for the for first ten miles it hadn’t been that bad.  All of a sudden the temperature dropped about 10 degrees, the winds picked up and it started to snow in my face.  I was not dressed properly (no gloves and I needed more layers.)

At first I was trying to fight through it and then the wind and snow simply won.  I made it to mile 11 (needed to get to 12 before my turnaround) and bailed around on my 4x4mi out and back project.  I was knocked out.  I finished 14 but the last four were just brutal.  I knew I was in trouble as I was shivering even when running.

But in all of that there were some really good things.  I think for the first time ever, my medicine is at the right level.  I am experiencing no cramps.  None.  My legs feel fine.  My arms feel fine. My hands feel fine.  It’s really a new-found freedom.  I’d like to say its a miracle but it’s not, it’s just three weeks on the right dosage.  I wake up every morning and the first thing I notice is how relaxed my muscles feel.  It’s been a year and a half of tension that is just gone.  And every morning I am waking up feeling so grateful.

The prior week I was suffering with back of the knee cap pain.  This week I think I got it under control.  Boswellan cream and 4 tylenol and I felt nothing. Nothing.  I really had no pain at all for the run — unless you count the wind and icy snow in my face.

I was so happy for 10+ miles and then it all came crumbling down.  I was wrecked.  I went to bed at 7 pm and didn’t wake up until the next day.  One thing I can’t handle any more (any more?) is the cold.  I have no internal temperature regulator.  I’m just cold all day, all the time.  Cold, cold, cold.  And it’s not like I’m not carrying around some insulation!

All that said, I was 100% convinced that I could have done my 16 and even more.  This weekend I get to try for 18.

Sunday I was okay but not chipper.  I decided to give myself a day off.  Monday I did a nice walk and a decent swim and Tuesday I did a 4 mile run/walk but mostly walk. Too cold. I think I need to break down and use my inhaler.

Last night I got home from dinner with a friend only to get a call that they were taking my mother to ER at 9 p.m.  I was exhausted, no way I could get in the car and drive the 2 1/2 hours home at 10 p.m.  Long story and 12 hours later, she is home and is fine.  I stayed up all night talking to my niece at the hospital telling her dates of service, dosages, past history, don’t let them do this, tell them that.  4 doctors and a redundant and unnecessary ct scan later (why wouldn’t they listen to me?), they sent her home.  The emotional stress on everyone was huge.  I cannot under-estimate the effect of emotional stress on everyone including myself.  I guess the important thing to remember is to let it go once it is over.    Step away from the stress. Everyone is fine.

Today I am off for another run and I have set the intention to get on my bike.  There is a problem there and I haven’t quite figured out what it is.  I have not been on my bike since it was taken from me at mile 70 of Canada.  I’m not afraid of the bike.  I’m just not looking forward to the huge relearning curve.  Can I ever find the love again? Step one is to get the bike set up and find the pedals.  I’ve been saying that for 2 months. If I can get that done today I know I will at least get on the bike to see how p.o.’d Tina is at me.  Betty doesn’t have pedals either.  I’ll have to go look for those too.  I’m actually kind of nervous to try riding outside so I need a couple of indoor sessions.

And finally onto my latest challenge.  The chopra 21 day mediation challenge went so well (I’m well past day 30 and still going and now it is just a part of every single day I wake up. I’m in a groove.  After meditating this morning, I finally opened my February issue of Yoga journal.  They had a lovely little simple every day practice routine and when I flipped the page lo and behold it was part of the new 21-day challenge of yoga journal.  Wee hoo! Nothing I like better than a 21 day challenge! For 21 days they will post a yoga workout and meditations.  Free. They will have daily newsletter and chat room to share your experience.  They will have online videos of all the yoga workouts. Free. Since I had such great success with the Chopra 21 day mediation challenge I decided to go ahead and sign up for the yoga journal challenge.  I signed up today and tomorrow morning will be day 1.  Did I mention it is Free? You can modify according to your time availability and fitness.  Once again the idea is to create a habit. 21 days.

Click Here to join Yoga Challenge with me.

Looks like the Chopra challenge is still available too Chopra Meditation Challenge

Now all I need is someone to create a 21 day bike challenge for me…..


How much fun is this guy having?

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2/18/11 Oh Happy Day!

Friday.  What a couple of great days yesterday and today.  Everyone is happy.  Released from the prison of winter.  Temperatures in the 50’s and even 60!!!  I had an amazing run yesterday.  I’m still doing the run/walk thing and that will be the way it is through the marathon but I did 8 miles yesterday with zero knee or muscle pain.  In fact I felt stronger at the end than I did at the beginning.  I was channelling a friend’s old race report.

I read in a race report once a friend of mine wrote that when he was starting to suffer he would pick up the pace.  I always thought he was nuts.  Hurting?  Slow down.  Avoid pain, what’s wrong with you?  But for some reason it popped into my head and here is the interesting thing.  It worked.  I started with 1 mile of my best power walk (which ironically is about the same pace as my run/walk but harder to maintain.)  Then I did 3 miles of 1 minute run 1 minute walk.  No problem so I decided to up it to 2/1.  Around mile 6 my quads were starting to fatigue.  For some reason this race report popped into my head.  So I decided to see what would happen if I picked it up instead of backing off into more walk.  Amazing.  The pain went away.  My legs actually hurt less running faster.  Of course I could only do it for 2 minutes at a time but it seemed to work every time.  I would think I was fading and needed to stop and I would pick it up for 30 seconds and the pain went away.  By the last mile I was just running my 2 minutes harder and not even trying to slog.  This is a very interesting phenomenon to me.  How can running faster feel easier?  I will have to pose this to coach Shifu I’m sure there is some kind of formula for why this is.

The other great thing is now I am two weeks into my lower dose of medicine and I feel a HUGE difference.  HUGE.  All that tension in my muscles is gone.  No more hand cramping.  My arms feel loose and relaxed again. Even my legs feel relaxed. It’s a miracle I tell ya.  A miracle.  She only reduced my Synthroid by 125 mcg per week.  That’s sounds like nothing but it feels huge.  I was so tense before, all my muscles felt like they were contracting all the time.  My left hand kept locking in cramp. But now they are just relaxed and normal.  I feel normal.  I feel good.  And it’s going to be 60 degrees!!  I just can’t express how happy I am.  I was truly miserable in the cold, tight, tense everything hurt.  And now I can breathe and run and smile and  be happy.  Nothing hurts!  It’s a Happy Day.

I officially started training for Escape from Alcatraz this week.  Okay I say officially because I didn’t do anything other than my running.  I will get in the pool and on the bike but right now I have the Marathon looming ahead so Alcatraz is kind of on the back burner.

Saturday I will attack 16 miles (still a 2 minute run/1 minute walk).  I’m kind of excited to give a try with my new relaxed muscles and mini speed boosts. The possibilities are endless.  Everything is looking up.  Amazing what a little sunshine will do for your soul.


Check out this video of the sand stairs at Alcatraz.  First time it actually occurred to me, hmmm I wonder if can actually do this race?

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2/16/11 Meditate on it

Wednesday.  I’ve been absent.  Bad week last week.  Not such a great week this week either so far, but I think I see some sun peeking out and I think I will feel better once I get outside.  Simply put, I just can take this cold and wind any more.  I’m just not cut out for this.  I need warmth and I’m sick of wearing twenty layers to get it.   I’d go to Florida but have too much to do.

Did my 14 mile run on Saturday and it was an epic mental journey.  Miles 1- 7, eh, not great but I was doing it.  Miles 7-10  I hate this, I absolutely hate this. Back of my kneecaps are scraping and they hurt, I couldn’t run.  Found myself crying out of frustration and thinking this is stupid why am I doing this?  Mile 10, my hip goes out.  I can’t run.  I’d give up but I am too far from a cab.  Keep walking.  Stretch. Mile 12.  Huh.  My hip feels okay and I can actually run a little.  Mile 14, geesh, I feel fine, I could keep going if I had to.  What a big baby I am.  I laugh at myself.  What a gamut of emotions.  What an ego.  Stop taking yourself so seriously….  Geesh…  You were never a runner.  Why do you pretend that you have lost something you never had?  Just enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and forget all of this ego.  Attachment.  Stay in the moment.  Forget the expectations….  Try again next week.  You covered 14 miles.  Next week cover 16.  Just get it done.

Sometimes I have blog topics I need to write down because I try to use this as a learning tool and reminder for when I get too full of myself (as noted above), but sometimes the topics come to me.  Last week I had three different people ask me about meditation.  Okay when three different people ask me about it I’ll be happy to share what little I know.

First and foremost you do not have to be a Buddhist to meditate.  I am not a Buddhist.  I’m not an anything  ist, ian, or ant.  I don’t pray or chant any words that I do not know the full meaning of and agree with.    I am not trying to convert anyone to anything.  I use meditation to explore and train my mind, not to channel some religious experience.   Go with where ever your path takes you.  Please don’t think you have to join something to explore your own mind.  It is your mind….

I just completed the Chopra 21-day meditation challenge and I really enjoyed it because they took through several types of meditations that I have never done before.  I did all 21 days and now I’m doing a second round.  I do it in conjunction with my regular meditation. I start with their meditation and then I do a little more to fill out 30 minutes.  It was my first time, for example, doing  chakra meditation and surprisingly I really enjoyed it.  I don’t particularly believe in chakra’s but I also didn’t believe in Acupuncture until I started doing it.  I cannot negate something I have yet to investigate.

I’ve been meditating on and off for about twenty years.  I think started in my early 30’s.  I definitely did not have a daily practice until my 40’s and even then I would say I have not been diligent.  There is only one thing I know for sure about meditation; I feel better when I do it.  When things fall apart for me I can usually tie it to a stall in my meditation practice.  In sports, meditation is a great tool as well.  To learn to control your mind is an incredible advantage.   You’ll hear people talk about the Flow or how Athletes get in the moment.  It just means they’ve entered that space of mindfulness of being completely and totally in the present moment.   Meditation can help get you into that state more easily.  I think back to the days of tennis when I would repeat, “watch the ball, watch the ball. ”  That chant would turn into a hum and all I could see was yellow fuzz.  That was meditation.  That was a mindfulness meditation.  When I really and truly watched the ball, stayed in the moment and saw nothing else — those were my best moments.  When I worried about the score, how I would feel if I lost or  what my result would be — it was over before it started.  Even if triathlon and running, when I get my mantra going,  shoulders back, loose hands, hips forward, shoulders back, loose hands, hips forward — then I enter that beautiful place called Flow, Mindfulness, the present moment.  (Note to self on today’s run, ditch the watch and just run.)

For me meditation does not deliver an immediate impact.  I don’t finish meditating and go “Wow, I feel so enlightened.”  In fact, sometimes I finish meditating and I feel frustrated that I couldn’t “tame” my mind more.  But most of the time I let it flow and I know for me, it is not about stopping the thoughts it is more about watching and redirecting.  I notice the effects of meditating subtly, later, at certain moments when I can catch myself and bring my mind back to the present instead of whirling like a mental dervish.  Or if I am stressed it gives me a tool to return to normal breathing.

I don’t have a magic formula on how/where to meditate but I can relay what I have done and what has worked for me.

I started with reading some books on the subject and over the years I have picked up some tips from more books, classes and seminars.  Here are some of the things that work for me.

First thing I will say is you have to be comfortable.  Don’t think you have to sit in a lotus pose or anything fancy.  I often sit on a cushion cross-legged but recently in the cold I have been sitting upright in my bed, back against the wall with my covers covering my legs and a blanket around my shoulders.    If you are sitting cross-legged, you want to try to have your hips higher than your knees.  So you may have to put one or two pillows under your tush to get your hips up.  You must be comfortable otherwise you won’t sit and you’ll be fidgeting.  Sitting upright in a chair is just fine.

You want your back straight.  Doesn’t have to be rigid  but straight.  I always like to think of the energy going up and down my spine and trying to give it a straight avenue.  If you need the back of a chair, or a wall that’s fine.  You are not meditating less because you are using assistance.  They don’t grade for difficulty in meditation.  There are no black diamond meditation techniques….  Or maybe there are and I don’t know them yet.

Eyes opened or closed.  In Shambhala teaching they tell us to have our eyes open, looking softly down and ahead.  In many other meditation styles I have been told to shut my eyes.  I personally like eyes shut better but I understand that if you can train yourself to meditate with your eyes open you can more easily bring that meditation practice into every day life — like at a subway or bus stop.  You can sneak in a little mediation at your next business meeting and nobody will be the wiser.  I say if you do whatever feels comfortable  you will continue to do.

Hands.  Everyone seems to have a different place to put your hands.  Some say resting in front of you, one hand resting in the palm of  the other.  I’ve seen some people make a connection between their middle finger and their thumb and place hands up on their legs.  For me, If I am sitting cross-legged I find it most comfortable to let my hands drape gently over my knees.  Again, I don’t think they hand out demerits for hand position.  I think the most important thing is to get rid of distractions.  Whatever is comfortable.

Incense, background music, fine if you don’t find them distracting.  I sometimes use both, sometimes I just like the absolute quiet.  Nothing to sing along with, but sometimes chimes or nature sounds are nice to transport you to a mindful state and take you away from the hum of the city.  I do have a regular mediation space but I’m also learning to not be attached to having to have everything perfect.  If you can’t meditate where you like, like where you are and meditate anyway.

In yoga class I learned about belly breathing (and later in running played around with it as well).  I find belly breathing a great way to concentrate on your breath. Easy way to start, on the exhale, stomach goes in and squeeze out all the air from the stomach first and the squeeze out the lungs.    On the inhale the stomach fills first and then up to your lungs.   (For me it was almost the opposite until I realized I was only breathing into the upper half of my lungs anyway).  If you get confused just think exhale stomach IN, inhale stomach Out — the lungs take care of themselves.  When you focus on your breath it gives you something to keep coming back to.  As you start to find your mind wandering you just keep coming back to the breath.  In, out, in, out.

One tip I sometimes use if I am having a very noisy “Monkey Mind” kind of day.  I’ll use a counting technique to help me settle down.  Just slowly count from 1 to 10 and back over an over again.  When you lose count, start over. When running I will use this counting technique to control my pace and breathing.  I count my exhales in a rhythm.  I can’t break the rhythm up hill or downhill.  It’s not easy.  It’s funny, in tennis drills when we have to hit cross court and down the line a hundred times, I find I do better when I count.    I don’t know why but it must be some form of concentration.

How long?  I would never tell anyone to start out meditating for an hour or even a half hour.  My max meditation session is 30 minutes and I often don’t get up early enough any more to do a full 30 minutes.  Right now I’m only doing it once a day but from what I read twice a day is optimal.  Here’s the kicker, you can actually feel benefits with even 5-10 minutes a day.  It does not have to be some kind of long torture session.  If it is your first time I would say 5 minutes.  Take a break and maybe come back for 5 more minutes.  Work your way up to 10 then 15.  You’ll know what is right for you.  This morning I did 30 minutes but I often feel fine with 20.  I never do 1 hour.

How to stop thinking while you meditate.  You can’t.  Well I can’t.  The more important part for me is not how many times your mind wanders,  it is how many times you get it to come back to the present.  (Not how many times you fall, how many times you get up.)  One tip someone gave me once is to label it “thinking.”  For example, you are nice and cozy in your form and taking in nice belly breaths, in and out, in and out.  In and out, in and out.  Did I forget to turn off the stove?  Stove, I should make some chilli for lunch?  Chilli, did I remember to buy Chili powder? ……   Instead of getting upset that your beautiful meditation has been destroyed simply say to yourself “Thinking” and return to your breathing, In and Out. In and Out.  Somedays it can get crazy in my head.  I can’t believe he said that.  I’ll repeat conversations over  and over in my head.  Or I have a deadline and I can’t stop thinking about it.  No matter what it is I just say “Thinking” and come back to my breath, In and Out.  If it is a really bad day and the thoughts are really loud, I’ll use the counting to ten and back technique.  Then I’m not placing my mind on breath, I’m placing it on the numbers.  Sometime I get to two and have to start over again. Some days are easier than others.  But I don’t try to stop my thoughts, just notice them and redirect my mind back to my breath or other intention for that day.

Here are some resources online and in person for getting started.

I really thought the Chopra 21 day meditation challenge was great.  I think you can still sign up The site has a lot of other resources too such as these guided meditations: (you may have to sign up to get into the library but it is free.)

Any and all books by Pema Chodron are great.  I consider Pema Chodron a Spiritual archetype for me.   (Chopra does a cool meditation on archetypes too).  I really like this audio CD (book on tape) and pull it out every once in awhile.

In NYC, my first meditation classes were at Shambhala on west 22nd street I still consider that my meditation home base.  I’ve taken several classes there and really like it.

I’ve also done some sitting at New York Insight Meditation.  I liked it but not as much as Shambhala.  They have a nice tip sheet on meditating.

Currently I’m taking a class downtown at the Interdependence Project.  This is good for lower East siders.  Too far out of the way for me but I really enjoyed by class with  Ethan Nichtern.  They have beginning meditation classes and drop ins  I’ll be taking two classes online with Ethan Nichtern this semester.

That’s all I have for now.  Hope this helps.



This is a picture of a typical meditation session for me.



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2/8/10 Party Challenge!

Tuesday.  Focus, focus, focus.  Here it is.  The kind of week designed to make me fall.  I’m not going to fall.  I am determined to make this work.  I WILL make this work.

Tonight I have a dear friend’s 50th birthday party.  Mexican restaurant I’ve been to before and had some difficulty with food choices.  Lots of old tennis friends will be there and I know I’ll want to imbibe and chat and catch up.   But I just had guac and chips last week do I really need them two weeks in a row?  Choices… sigh.

Wed/Thursday travel to CT.  I’m doing better with the eating while on the road but not perfect by any stretch.  Still very easy to grab and go instead of stop and chop for a one day stint.  Steamed veggies and brown rice are good and easy and I like those.  No drinking.   No chips. Make sure to get my workouts in.

Friday.  Going away party.  Dear old friend leaving NYC for good, must go say good bye.  Downtown bar.  Not even sure if they serve food. Only way out of that one is fly in and fly out.  Heavy drinking crew there.  Will be great to see some old friends there too though and catch up.  (Why do I have to do all this catching up?  Where have I been?)  Will have to be a seltzer night or I will never get my crucial 14 miles in on Saturday.

Saturday night.  Dear friend’s 35 birthday.  That’s a special one.  But wait these are all special.  Another restaurant.  Another celebration.  But after a 14 mile run I should have accrued enough points for the night.

Sunday night.  Yet another dear friend’s birthday.  Okay what is with all the February birthday’s?  I thought September was bad.  Another restaurant.  More wine.  Better do a swim, bike and RUN on Sunday.

I feel a little defenseless.   At the same time I feel determined to get through this.  I know all the tricks.  Read the restaurant menus before you go.  Decide what you want before you get there and don’t even look at the menu.  Alternate drink with water.  Order appetizer instead of entree size.  Concentrate on the company and not the calories. I think that’s all well and good for one party.  But four?  Really?  In one week?  In February?   The only good thing is everyone respects my being vegan so nobody tries to make me eat cake.  Thank goodness!  I can’t even imagine having to eat cake on top of everything else.

On top of all of this my Vitamix broke yesterday!!  Unbelievable.  I don’t make it do anything stressful.  They are sending me a new part.  So I can’t make my protein shakes for three days.  Conspiracy!!!

I have a lot of workouts to do this week.  Working out will be my ticket out of fudge.  I feel good.  Cold is 100% gone.  Not even a sniffle.  Today is mile repeats time trials.  I want to do better than last time.  I have to get in a couple of swims and on my bike (no I have not put the pedals on yet).  Thursday a 7 mile run.  Friday try yet again to get to yoga.  Saturday 14 miles or bust.  I feel good though.  I feel like all my chemicals are in the right balance.  Breathing.  Meditating.  Ready to slay some dragons.


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2/7/11 21 Days

Monday. I think I am finally better.  Took a week but today I woke up NOT coughing and I feel awake.  Onwards.

Had a good meeting at WW on Friday.  Completed 4 weeks and I’m down 8.4 pounds which is great.  Was it easy? No. It has taken a lot of focus and preparation.  At the same time I can’t exactly say it was hard either.  It was just different. I know I keep saying the free fruit saves me but it is true.  I eat a lot of fruit every day.   All free points.  But somehow it seems to be working.    As one of the gals in the meeting says “It’s not the banana that makes you fat, it’s everything you ate before and after the banana.”

My breakfast is the biggest change.  I no longer eat oatmeal for breakfast and for the last two weeks I have had a protein shake for breakfast every day and I think I feel a difference. I would prefer to chew my meal instead of drinking it, but I’m not starving all morning like I used to be.  My basic recipe:  I start with a 1.5 cups of water, add 2 big scoops of vegetable protein powder, 1 tbls of nut butter, 1 cup of frozen berries, 1 banana, 1 tbls chia seeds (flax too if I have).  Makes a huge protein shake and it is only 6 points.  Sometimes I have toast too if I’m really hungry.  Very easy to digest.   I’m still trying to follow Dr. Fuhrman eating guidelines (which work GREAT with WW).  I’m trying to eat some kind of bean or lentil soup for lunch every day.  Lots and lots of veggies, veggies, veggies.   And for dinner I do some kind of veggie saute with tofu and rice.  I’m trying hard to stay away from processed food but that’s not always easy.

I’m finding it very difficult outside of the house. Holy Moly!!  Anything in a restaurant is crazy number of points.  Mostly because of portion sizes (and fat.)  I can blow through an entire day’s worth of points in one restaurant sitting.  It’s scary.  For right now it’s just salad when I’m out.  Too complicated to figure anything else out.

Last Tuesday I concluded my annual January Purple Teeth Challenge.  I went the entire month of January and a couple days into February with no alcohol of any kind.  I’d like say this with as much pride as in previous years but frankly it was a bit of a let down.  It wasn’t that hard this year.  Maybe because I was focusing on WW?  Maybe because I was focusing on the early marathon?  I just didn’t even think about wine until the last week when I thought it was February and it was still January.   It was an anticlimactic challenge.  Have to come up with something better.   I created a NEW challenge for myself, TRACKING my food!  Now we are talking!!  Forget challenging myself to NOT do something, Challenging myself  TO DO something is harder.  I’ve already done 28 days of tracking my food.  I want to see how long I can go…

I’ve finished day 13 of the Deep Chopra 21 day meditation challenge.  It’s a very nice intro to meditation.  The meditation guide David Ji, takes the listener a wide variety of meditation styles.  I’m enjoying it.  The idea of the 21 day challenge is that it takes 21 days to create a habit.  I think I’ve meditated for 21 days straight before but I can’t be positive.  I may have missed a few days.  Usually what happens is I meditate for two weeks then I don’t meditate for 3 weeks and notice my focus start to drift.  Then I start meditating again and start to feel better and then I forget to meditate and the cycle continues.  One thing I can say for sure.  I feel better when I meditate.  I feel better when I start my day with an intention.  I recenter myself to approach the day with an open heart.

There was an interesting article on about how the Chinese are tracking (yes even the Chinese are on Weight Watchers now).  They don’t have the same government requirements for nutrition to be posted on their packaging, so they were posing the question, why was it still working for the people in China when they had to guess at the ingredients/points of the food going into their tracker?  The answer turned out to be mindfulness.  Tracking is mindfulness. It’s not whether or not they are going over the points every day that determines if they are going to lose weight, it’s the process of writing it down that is making them aware of what they are eating so they lose weight.   Let’s face it.  If  you were forced to write down seven pieces of pizza, would you really need to know the points to know that you’ve gone overboard?   When I thought about that idea that tracking is mindfulness and my ongoing quest to meditate, be present, be mindful, I realized I had no excuse any more.   I also remember there was a time in WW that was working for me when I just wrote everything down without the points and it did still work.  Sticking with it is the trick.  Now I guess I have to admit if I don’t track my food I’m saying I don’t want to be mindful.  I’ve been caught once again in my own logic trap.  I saw I want to meditate and be mindful but I don’t want to track?  Not easy to wriggle out of that one.

Workouts non existent last week, just whooping and coughing.  But I got out yesterday and did 11.5 miles run/walk.  There was a big race in the park so I was running forwards and backwards trying to avoid them.  Found a friend from WW who was doing her very first road race and I power walked the last 3 miles with her.  I was very proud of her because she was one of the gals I used to meet with on Monday nights from WW and do workouts with.  She’s trying to qualify for the marathon 2012.   I love to see people moving forward.  It’s good stuff.

LA Marathon is around the corner and then onto Alcatraz.  Much work to do before I’m ready.


Quote from today’s mediation “Transforming Judgment into Understanding allows peace to replace hostility.  Understanding fosters forgiveness which dissolves anger and fertilizes hope.  This is the foundation of emotional freedom.”  David Simon, the ten commitments.    I think that’s just a fancy way of saying, don’t take it personally, everyone has their own crap to deal with.



Emotional Freedom is Moksha.  When


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2/2/11 Driving the Bus

Wednesday. Been slacking on the documenting.  I am in a fierce fight with a cold since Sunday and I am determined to win.  I will take a head cold any day but when it goes into my chest and I start that hacking up a lung-on-fire I just can’t take it.  So far I have contained it with the help of Robitussin DM MAX.  I have to say this stuff seems to really work.  The regular Robitussin didn’t seem to help much but this stuff (has to say MAX) really seems to just shut it down and I’m thanking every 2 teaspoons.  I give it a 10.

Otherwise, everything has been going well.  I’ve been working out (except yesterday and so far today).  I’ve been tracking in WW and really working hard on staying within their guidelines (only possible due to the free fruit).  I managed an 11.75 mile run on Saturday with a walk to and from the park and I was okay.  My knees took a beating last week with hill repeats,  snowshoeing but they held up enough to let me finish.  I did it all doing a 2 minute jog 1 minute walk and that is probably what I’m going to stick with through the LA Marathon.  I have booked my flight for LA so there is no turning back.  I’m kind of glad it is a point-to-point marathon as it will make it easier to just keep moving forward to the end instead of looking for a way to cut out early.

What I really wanted to write down today was a story that was told to me in class last week and it has been ringing in my ears ever since.  I’m taking a class on Buddhism and Psychology.  It twists my brain quite a bit.  I think if I had stronger fundamentals in Buddhism I would grasp more but right now I’m kind of grabbing bits and pieces here and there.  The gist of the class (as I interpret it) is that modern psychology has taken quite a bit from Buddhism and the class discusses a lot of the similarities.  There are two guys teaching the class — one a psychologist and one a Buddhism teacher.  I think they work well together.  They may be two of the smartest people I have ever met.  I listen to them speak and my brain hurts and I wonder how much their brains must hurt all the time?

Last week, the psychologist (named Kaplan) was discussing a form of therapy called ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.)  During this discussion he told a story that has been used in explaining ACT (he paraphrased someone else and I’m paraphrasing him — which any Alan Watts fans out there would know the interesting part is in the retelling…)  Bear with me, this really does have something to do with my Journey of Fitness.  The paraphrasing of paraphrasing goes:

Image you are driving a bus.  Your job is to get the bus to, let’s say, the Bronx.  Along the way the bus stops and lets people on and lets people on.  Some of the people are very mannered and well-behaved.  They pay their fare, they sit down and have nice quiet conversations and thank you upon entering and exiting the bus.  But sometimes some rowdy people get on the bus.  Sometimes some downright scary people can get on the bus.  You know some of these passengers because they have been on your bus many times before.  They may start yelling things at you.  They may be disruptive.  They start yelling what an awful driver you are, telling you to make turns or run lights, they taunt you, make fun of you, make your life all around miserable.  What do you do?

For awhile you can ignore them.  But after some time it becomes too much and you decide you want to deal with them.  You are going to shut them up for good.  You stop the bus.  You start trying to tell them nicely to be quiet and you try to reason with them.  Doesn’t work.  You become more demanding and start yelling back at them.  Doesn’t work. You try to physically throw them off the bus.  They laugh at you and become even louder.  What can you do? (insert lively discussion here about outlandish things you can do to try to get rid of the noisy people — end discussion with they are still on the  bus.)

In the end, the only thing you can do is drive the bus and get to the Bronx.  Those unruly passengers are going to be there whether you drive or stop so you might as well drive.

The Bronx represents our intentions, the bus is our mind and the unruly passengers are all those demons that haunt and taunt you and stop you from getting to where you want to go.  I, like many people, have spent years trying to squash my demons.   Trying to understand them, cajole them, plead with them to go along with the plan.  I go for a while with everything seeming to be quite and when I least expect it, those demons pop up and sometimes take me by total surprise.  Really?  You’re still on the bus?  I thought I kicked you out a long time ago.

My take away from this story is to set your intentions and go.  The voices will be there.  Instead of trying to fix them you become the observer of them.  Oh there’s that voice saying you’re too fat.  Oh there’s that voice saying you’re not working hard enough.  There’s that voice that says you are too slow, incapable, whatever.  The kick is, it is equally important to ignore the voices that say you’re working too hard, you’re too good, you’re smart enough.  (I know those voices are not quite as loud).  But regardless of the voices, the important part is to drive the bus.   To follow your intentions and let the voices fall where they will.

For me this was not a lightbulb turning on over my head, this was a chandelier turning on.  Of course it is not the first time I have heard of go with the flow, lean into it, don’t fight it.  But for me it really was the first time I thought, Gee what if I just don’t try to fix what is wrong with me?  What if I already am fine?  What if there is nothing to fix?  What if I simply work on defining my intentions and follow that path.  Let the voices chatter away as they like,  I have places to go.

All week I can’t get this image of the bus out of my head.  I see how it applies to every part of my life.

In training I struggle so much with I’m not where I was a couple of years ago (and that was still light years from where I wanted to be.)  I’m doing a jog/walk now and struggling with that.  I hear voices in the back of my head saying you’re too old, you’re too sick, you’re too fat, just dump this triathlon/endurance stuff and just do 40 minutes of aerobics three times a week.  Stop embarrassing yourself! Why aren’t we there yet?!?!?

In diet I struggle with many of the same voices.  You’ve done this before, you’ll fail again.  You can’t track.  You’re doomed to fail again.  You can’t resist Stacie’s Pita chips so don’t even try!  Listen to Geneen Roth, no Listen to Dr. Fuhrman, they’re all wrong just do squats per Tim Ferris.  Why aren’t we there yet?!?!?!

My bus is packed.

The idea of ACT and of Buddhism (as I grossly interpret what they are trying to say) is you are not your thoughts.  You are the driver.  You are the observer.  You state your intentions and drive.  The passengers get on, the passengers get off.  The more you drive, the more you learn to observe and not stop the bus. The real key is to know your intentions. Know where you want to go and just drive.

I guess daily meditation is like driver’s ed. I’m still working toward a learner’s permit.


Very interesting video on the Marathon Monks.  No gels, no sleep, no fancy running shoes.  :

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