My Other Marathon

Besides the marathon I’ll be running in March 21, I’ve signed up for another one of sorts as well. This one starts in just three-and-a-half hours. It’s called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.

I’m not really sure which is the greater challenge … to build up to the point of running more than 26 miles, or to write a 50 kiloword first draft in 30 days. Well, actually, it’s got to be the latter. This will require a heck of a lot of discipline, every day or almost every day for the entire month. After work, writing will be my top priority. Fortunately, I’ve prepared myself a bit and feel (more or less) ready and definitely eager to take it on.

Inspirations I’m working with: The myths of Atlantis and Icarus, a setting in Mallorca and Barcelona, and the exciting possibilities of space and time.

In Training

I’m in training. For a marathon! Yeah, you read that right, and it still sounds as unbelievable to me as it does to anyone reading this who knows me.

Sure, I wrote earlier about starting a running program; I began running again this spring rather stupidly. I just started jogging, and tried way too quickly to extend my runs. I didn’t begin by getting my body to get used to the idea of moving first, by walking, then gradually adding jogging, and slowly, smartly building up my bones and muscles from those of Internet potato to jock wannabe.

And after I finished my 5k race in May, I slacked off, and stopped running again, although with geocaching as a hobby, I’ve been getting outside and moving a bit more than I used to.

images.jpgFast-forward to the present: Almost everyone on my team at work (yeah, fellow geeky Web developers and engineers!) has been reading either Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, or The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer by Whitsett, Dolgener and Kole, or both.

The first book is about ultra-marathoning, and deals with the subject on two levels. First, it’s a brilliantly-written account of its practitioners, from the Tarahumara people of Mexico, to some of the most colorful characters in the the States that you’ll ever read about.

The second level is a examination of the science of running, which is no less interesting, and to me, was even more so. One mystery that McDougall was intent on solving, is why US distance running capability has been decreasing since the 70s.

Over the course of his investigation, with discussions ranging from sport science laboratories to casual conversations with extreme runners, a pattern emerged that running injuries exploded proportionately with the advent of running shoes, and a rapidly-growing segment of doctors, coaches, and runners are eschewing shoes for barefoot running or minimal footwear, such as Vibram FiveFingers.

The results (for many people at least) have been remarkable. Some people with debilitating running injuries have been quickly able to surpass their previous abilities, and there are coaches now who insist their athletes train barefoot to prevent injuries.

I had decided to order a pair of FiveFingers long before reading Born to Run, and the book only increased my interest. Last week, I received my VFFs and the feeling was amazing—exactly like being barefoot, but with protection from the glass, stickers, and pebbles that make city streets foot-hostile. Alas, my shoes were a size too small, but I’m looking forward to getting the right size later this week.

nonrunnerguide.jpgMeanwhile, I’m following the Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer. It’s from 1998, so naturally doesn’t have the latest and greatest information about footwear, but it seems a sane (though still scary) guide to get a non-runner like me to complete a marathon. The marathon-training program is 16 weeks long (about the length of a college semester, which is where this approach was developed originally). There’s also a more basic 10-week program to prep complete non-runners to have the strength and stamina for the training program. Needless to say, I’m in that preparatory phase.

All in all, this is pretty amazing stuff. More and more, we’re realizing that the corporate-controlled running shoe industry is slowing us down and killing our feet, that our God-given arches and natural pronation is the best shock absorption possible, and that what we’ve had all along is all we ever really needed.

footprint.jpgThis renewed attention to the bare foot makes me think of one in particular: the empty footprint. As Karen Armstrong wrote, the first symbol of Buddhism wasn’t the Buddha-image, but the Buddha’s footprint. That, to me, is a wonderful illustration of the impact of spirit and mind upon matter, more distinguished by what’s not there than what is there.

A few updates

Sorry for my long absence. Really, I am.  A lot has been going on:

  • I lost Talbot in late April.  He was hit by a car, and I felt so bad about his death, that I really couldn’t write about it then.
  • I went to the US Esperanto Congress in St. Louis and had a wonderful time, and made some new friends.
  • I visited my Dad, and helped initiate him into the world of the Internet, the Mac and the iPhone.  In turn, he gave me an iPhone, and taught me a bit about riding motorcycles.
  • I’ve begun a new approach, (yes, again!) to my weight-loss goals.  I’m using The Gabriel Method and I Can Make You Thin together, listening to both CDs daily. This is quite a bit different from any other approach I’ve tried, as the focus is on re-training appetite itself and getting the body to want to be thin, shifting the burden from the conscious mind to the subconscious. If you like, you can follow my progress on my reviews at Amazon.com.
  • I haven’t actually been completely silent on the interWebs. I twitter.  If you’d like to follow me, I’m frimmin on Twitter. (Big surprise, huh?) However, don’t expect very exciting tweets from me.  I mostly use it as a public IM with friends.
  • I’ve taken up geocaching.  It’s cool that the information age is giving birth to some new hobbies that take you outdoors.
  • After 3½ years of spiritually floundering, I’m discovering a renewed sense of purpose. More about that in my next post.

Re-Centering

A good friend of mine told me that my mother’s death would change me. He was right.

I’ve found that I’m re-prioritizing things in my life. I’m wanting to integrate into my life more of the things that I’ve neglected and strike a better balance. One of those areas is the body. Seeing death up close has reminded me that this body only lasts a relatively short time under the best of circumstances, and I’ve not been giving mine the best. So in addition to my semi-vegan diet, I’m exercising more, and I’m currently in training for a 5k run in early May. (Man, have I got a long way to go!)

But things are already progressing well. I now can run 1600 meters (that’s a mile for my fellow Americans) without pausing or feeling exhausted, and I’m getting a little bit closer to getting back into shape every day.

I’ve also become aware of how much of my life has been spent sitting on my butt in front of computer screens. I really want to reduce that a bit. I’m not talking about changing my work, but I might be talking about changing my play. Parkour, anyone? Of course, I know I’m not ready for that yet. (Emphasis on yet.)

Her Passing

My mom passed away Sunday evening. She had been hanging on, despite the fact that all of us had individually encouraged her to let go. However, when all three of us–my brother, father and myself–did so together, and assured her that nothing, not even death, can break our bond to her, she left quickly.

My brother and father had to take a phone call in another room, while I sat by her bed, held her hand and sang to her. While I was singing The Sloop John B., she quietly stopped breathing.

I want to go home
Just let me go home,
I feel so broke up,
I wanna go home.

Please keep my family in your prayers.

Thanks.

My Mom

My mother is dying. Although I try to be very personal and open on my blog, this is something I haven’t wanted to put out there till now. She’s been very sick for the better part of a year now, often in great pain, and in and out of the hospital several times. She’s made her wishes known that she wants to die naturally without artificial life support, and we’re respecting that. She’s coming home tomorrow.

I had the good fortune to visit her a week ago during her last, short recovery. We had some good times together and I am so grateful I had the chance to say goodbye while she was conscious and lucid. But just four days later, things changed dramatically. The doctors today said she probably has less than a week.

If this request resonates with you, please pray for my mom, Corrinne, that her transition may be painless. And also please pray for my dad, Lloyd, and my brother, Bob, and myself. This is a difficult time. Thank you.

Buddy



 


Last Monday, I lost Buddy. Apparently he was jumping from a tall wooden fence, caught his paw on a shorter, chain-link fence, lost his balance and broke his neck. I’m certain I found him only a few minutes after he fell.

Other than a instant of having a cut paw, I don’t think he felt any pain. I, on the other hand, felt quite a bit.

Simply put, it tore my heart out to lose him.  I cried a river the night I found him, and when I buried him the next day. But even though he’d be alive still if I hadn’t start letting him out six weeks earlier, I know I made the right decision. The last six weeks of his short life were simply packed with joy.

Buddy

Remember when you came to me,
Barely more than a kitten?

Remember when you were at first frightened
of the big black cat in your new home?
And how soon you became friends and brothers?

Remember your aikido matches on the living room rug?
Your daily lessons with Talbot,
Throwing you as you’d try to lunge at him unseen?
You a white blur, him, a black,
together a yin and yang of fun and fight.

Remember how you enjoyed sleeping next to me
And telling me that when the sun comes up,
I should too?

Remember the massages I gave you when I came home?
Kneading the loose skin between your shoulders,
putting my hand on your back
and beaming all the love in the world to you?

Remember discovering how wonderfully warm a seat
my monitor was,
with the benefit of putting you in petting reach
while I surfed the Web?

Remember rocketing and ricocheting from room to room,
inviting Talbot and me to the chase?

Remember watching the great outdoors on the windowsill with Talbot?

Remember when you decided to seize your freedom
by breaking the window screens?

Remember the first time I let you run and play outside?
How I told you to be careful? How worried I was?

Remember jumping and landing vertical on tree trunks?

Remember the food you killed and brought home to me?
Four squirrels and a pigeon, Buddy, mighty hunter.

Remember how the neighbors laughed
to see you come running at my call?

Remember when you were kidnapped by a do-gooder
who thought you were lost?

Remember how you left, jumping off a fence, and onto a cloud?

I will never forget.

Bonan nokton, mia kara katetĉjo.

Freedom!

After about 25 years of caffeine addiction (and the last 20 of those specifically Diet Pepsi addiction), I’m finally free.  Free from caffeine, free from artificial sweeteners.

Hallelujah!

I’ve tried many times over the years to quit, but this time I succeeded.  I used Newton Homeopathic’s Caffeine Addiction tablets, and have only had one episode of the dreaded withdrawal headache.  More may come, but I’m ready for it if they do.

I imagine that I used to spend more than $1000 a year on Diet Pepsi, not to mention other caffeine sources, like chocolate.  It’ll be great to have that extra money in my pocket, and the extra chemicals NOT in my brain.