Allow me to wax spiritual for a moment, will ya? I just launched my newest book with a lump in my throat. It’s a birthing process to see a book that’s been in your computer become a physical object people can buy at a bookstore. This new book is not about running; it’s an anthology about women in religion, a subject close to my heart. And I want it to do well, want people to like it. To get it. I’ve been holding my breath all week as reviews trickle in.
In a book-launching process, you tend to do a lot of interviews to get the word out that a new book has been born into the world. Today a reporter asked my co-editor and me a question that went something like this: “Where do you stand in terms of religion today?”
My answer: “I’m a runner.” I went on to say that every time my foot hits the ground, I connect with the Ground of Being that theologian Paul Tillich named in his writings as a metaphor for God. I’ve struggled for a long time to put words to how running has become spiritual for me, how it is like prayer and worship and repentance all at once. Today when I spontaneously used the term “Ground of Being,” I thought, that’s it! I put myself down on something solid when I run—something more solid that my wavering sense of self or my ever-present anxiety about any number of things (the list is so long, I don’t even want to give examples). With every footfall, no matter how fast or slow, I hear something in my soul: “I’m real. I exist. I live. Right here in this world. Right now.”
So this week, as my new baby takes her first breath and we all wait to see if she will live to be big or small, I run to feel grounded in what is as real as anything I know: No matter what, here we are, all of us, doing what we can to make a difference in the world—all the while knowing that the present moment (each footfall on the trail) is all we really have.
Here was my training schedule for the week:
Sunday: 5 slow miles.
Monday: No running. I drove to Seattle for a TV interview.
Tuesday: 3 miles with a friend
Wednesday: Pace work. 6 miles total. I ran 2 miles at my 10K pace, one slow mile, and two more miles at my 10K pace followed by one more slow mile. For the first time, I did my pace work on the trail instead of on the track so the uphill portions were slower than the downhill portions. My average pace for the first two miles were under 9:25; for the second two miles, the average was closer to 10:15. Hills! Something to work on.
Thursday: No running. I drove down to Seattle for our first bookstore reading.
Friday: Speed work. Three miles alternating one minute at my one mile pace and one mile of jogging for recovery.
Saturday: I plan to do a 4-mile slow run, reserving my long run (16 miles) for Sunday.
How’s your training going? What are your spiritual insights this week?
I just got your book in the mail and read a couple of entries last night (yours, of course, was my first one). Such amazing work and I’m sure not at all easy to put out there into the universe.
Of course, I love your running metaphor. I remember a few years ago when we lived in Portland and running a race in Forest Park. I felt very connected to my own spirit and then the spirit at large. I’ve had similar experiences on a short four miler through the neighborhood and on a twenty mile run along a trail near our house.
What I’ve learned about “spiritual running” is that I cannot force or predict when those moments occur. I just have to be present as I run one step at a time.
I hope the book is a big success and I hope I see you around mile 17 at Boston!
Thanks Bev. I so hear you about not being able to force the feeling, too. I almost think it’s just the practice itself that makes me feel grounded. I’ll be looking for you in Boston!!
It has been quite a while since I dropped by! Life of a busy student I suppose! Life is good, starting a new quarter is always a refreshing and frightening thing, but so far this quarter has been lackluster at best.
I say that not because I haven’t enjoyed it, but in my first 7 weekdays I have had 5 of my classes cancelled due to faculty being out of town (one was a funeral which is a valid excuse). So I haven’t quite had the time to dive into classes fully. Next week will be my first full week and hopefully that is better!
My classes being cancelled though has allowed me to be at practice though with the team. Although slower, I work harder in a group with similar goals, although most of my training over the last 5 years has been alone, I know I get better with the team. I will be sad to part ways with them down the line, but I will take full advantage of my time with them now.
I added a 6th run to my workouts last week and am back on a true training plan with ups and downs of speed work and what not. It’s good. I have great ambitions and plan to keep things going through the summer working my long distance back slowly to hopefully the high teens for my long run by September.
You mentioned the Windemere the other night? What are your thoughts on it, when were you looking to make a stab at it? I have considered it for a Boston Qualifier for next spring, but haven’t quite decided on which I will use, CDA is right then, too. I am more comfortable with that one having run it before. Windemere is a good course though a bit of a rolling terrain, but net downhill starting a bit higher in Idaho and making it’s way to downtown Spokane, running a long the river. The only real problem I have heard as far as complaints is that it occasionally has a train crossing at a point well into the marathon. They’ve alleviated this with a couple of timing mats on either side of the tracks and edit times as needed if people get caught.
Hope Bill, the pugs and yourself are doing well!
Hey Brandon! I was wondering when you said you were looking at the Windermere. i was thinking of writing you and saying, “No Brandon, you’re not to do that race this May! You’re just recovering from an injury.” I’m glad you’re thinking about next May.
Bummer about your classes. I hope things pick up. You know they will, and then you’ll be begging your profs to go to a funeral. Bill is good and the pugs are still cute. Big hug to you.
Haha definitely not this May. Far too soon. No plans are in motion to get myself back up and running slowly. It’s a process! I will probably run a marathon in next May, but I am currently eyeing the Eugene Marathon in late April,so long as they don’t move the race. I’d love to run Eugene, it’s been my Oregon Marathon from the get go.
I think Eugene would really be fitting for my seventh and return to the marathon. As well as for my qualifying race. There’s a lot of running history in Eugene. I seriously look like Pre right now too. I could pull off the Pre look once more for a little rendezvous at Hayward Field.
So who knows! I would love to keep it going though, and definitely add an ultra over the summer too! That would be a lot of fun! That’s over a year out though, time now is focused on the present of my running. Getting back over the first initial weeks of fast speed training and the soreness that comes with that!
Good luck to Bill Monday! Hugs to you as well!