Sunday, November 27, 2011

Koyaanisqatsi



This word is Hopi for "Unbalanced Life".


It can mean you have too much of any one thing in your life. Too much work, too much stress, too much exercise, too much alcohol. It especially can mean too much mental processing on one topic or another (money for example). Paradoxically, sometimes we need to unplug to re-charge.

Right now for me "Balance" has meant more down time, not so much 'body in motion', but more importantly, dropping the sense of urgency to do do do go go go.

So I have had a few weeks off of running and traveling. Just running when I feel like it, and not having to travel too much for work has certainly helped too.

Next week I leave for San Fransisco, and some deep woods walking in the John Muir woods, and the Point Reyes National Sea Shore.

Will I RUN? Maybe.

More importantly, this trip is about being there. Seeing the giant redwoods, and the pacific ocean. I really am enjoying the calmness right now, and I'd like to keep that sense on this trip.

How much balance do you have in your life?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Subjective Experience




A car accident happens. In an instant, less than a second, events start to unfold: Metal is twisted, glass is shattered, brakes are engaged and tires are skidding and squealing.

Everything finally comes to rest. Cell phones call 911.

The police arrive. Witnesses are called upon. The people involved with the accident are always questioned, but their testimony is often tainted, subjective, emotional. In fact, even the so-called 'objective' witnesses many times see the situation from a different angles, and with different cognition.

Everyone experienced something in those moments, sometimes traumatic, sometimes life-changing.

Authorities can many times re-create the facts, based on the final positions and conditions of the cars, but without that how often do we ever get to the truth of what really happened?


How many of our life experiences (both those we witness as external events, and more importantly those that are products of our perceptions and emotions) are colored by both our cognitive and emotional biases and our lack of understanding of the physical world?


Memories. As time goes on, memories of an event change. In fact, as we recall a memory, we are not even recalling the original event. We are recalling the last memory we had of the event. A memory of a memory of a memory.

What does time and replaying do to that?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Big Three Questions





At the bottom of it all, I have three BIG questions.

1) Why are we here?

2) Who is God?

3) What am I having for Lunch?

The first two are easy to understand, and seemingly universal. The third is a joke of course, but if you think about it, humour has bits and pieces of truth layered in its DNA.

GK Chesterton once said:

"all the jokes about men sitting down on their hats are really theological jokes; they are concerned with the Dual Nature of Man. They refer to the primary paradox that man is superior to all things around him and yet is at their mercy".

So often I find that the AHA! lies in the HAHA!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crap I Find

The one thing I can say for religion is most of the time, it seems to lack a sense of humor. So for today, lets lighten up a little bit.

I would give credit to the original author, but as far as I know its unknown.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Heart and Mind




One of the loneliest things to be is without a peer group. Without support, without understanding, without friendship.

One of the issues I face with this blog, and some of its contents is that much of it at times feels like, well, verbal masturbation. It has no rebuttal, it has no dialog, it has no support. Recently, I found an on-line group where many share my thoughts, feelings, questions, etc. There, I hope to continue not only my own self-education in critical secular thinking, but with a gentler approach to those who still follow a theistic view. I want to understand, I want to approach it with an open mind and heart, in safe discussion with those who do think differently than I. If the result is a changing of some of their views, or a better understanding of mine, so much the better.

The Group is called "Project Reason" and I believe it was started by Sam Harris. I started with Sam Harris' blog, and I have Brothergrub to thank for that.

I trust that my running friends and family weren't not offended by whatever I have written. It certainly was never my intention. I know that asserting anything against someone's deeply held beliefs is no way to get them to see things differently; all I have to do is consider how I feel when a fundamentalist approaches me with fire and brim stone. This kind of attack is met with resistance and much opposition. Might is met with might, fire with fire. It has a galvanizing affect on both parties. Please, lets not have oppression in any form, from either you, or I.

Our hearts and minds are built for each other, and without each other, we are nothing. Lastly today, I leave you with a quote from Bart Ehrman, writing in the Humanist. It succinctly makes my heart yearn for such a world:

....
When someone leaves the womb of the church, they need to have somewhere else to go. They need warm, loving, welcoming, safe communities of like-minded people where they can establish social networks and find fellowship with people who share their world views, their loves, hates, concerns, passions, and obsessions. They need context within which they can discuss the big issues of life, not just politics but also life-and-death issues. They need places where they can celebrate what is good in life and where they can work to overcome what is bad.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New 2012 Plans




Jan 14 : 5 day CC ski trip, Ski race in Iron Mtn MI
Feb 4: John Dick 50K
Feb 5: Backpack trip to Superstition Wilderness, AZ
Feb 25: Birkebiener 50K Classic Ski Race, Hayward WI
Mar 31: Clinton Lake 50K
Apr 28: Chippewa Moraine 50K
Apr 29: Sedona and Grand Canyon Hiking Trip
May 12: Ice Age 50 Mile
June 2: Kettle. Not sure what yet, 100 Mile or K? Or just pace?
June 16: PIE Ride 100K or 100 Mile
July 6: Kickapoo kayak trip
July 14: Dances With Dirt 50 Mile
July 23: 7 day Backpack trip to Superior Trail
August 18: Marquette (MI) 50K
Sept: Superior Trail races? Date?
Oct 14: Glacial 50K -OR- Wild Duluth 100K
Nov 3: Ozark 100 (tentative)
Dec 1: Pine Mountain 40 (tentative)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fueling The Machine


As Athletes, how often do we think about our recovery?

Does pH give a good indication of our recovery process? (A pH of 7.0 is considered Neutral, but a body pH of 7.5 is more in line with optimal health and performance). I think it might be a good measurement (my recent pH measurement was a dismal 6 -6.5. A good indicator of a system under stress?).

What am I willing to give up or change for better recovery? Coffee, alcohol, meat products, dairy products are all acidifers. So are many simple sugars we consume during our events or long training runs.

Are there replacements for these simple sugar intakes? Or if not, are there things we can do post-recovery to speed the process and re-balance our system so it can heal and recover?

After my recent experiences with sub-optimal performance (and health), I am much more interested in how diet can affect my performance.

Training I understand. Diet? Recovery? Not so much. For the past six months of so, I have broken the circle of TRAIN > STRESS > REST> RECOVER > REPEAT. Too much 'train' and too much 'stress' without recovery leads to breakdown; along with too much of the wrong things going into my machine. Garbage in > Garbage Out.

Right now, All I have are questions, but for now I am going on a coffee hiatus (OK, 5 out 7 days), alcohol hiatus, red meat hiatus, and I am looking for a good pinole recipe.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Recovery and Plans for 2012



Thanks to the Flying Spaghetti Monster for quick healing.

Well, thanks to two weeks off and doing almost NOTHING, my overall system seems pretty well recovered and the heart blips have settled down. Every body has a multitude of systems (skeletal, muscular, digestive, cardiovascular) and they all need rest and recovery. In my case one system just had not received enough recovery time and was showing signs it needed a break. I need to be a little cautious, and not return to full blown training but ramp it up slowly in preparation for the 2012 Ultra season (as well as my skiing, backpacking, kayaking and biking trips).

Its too bad I have to work, there is so much to do!

Jan 14 : 5 day CC ski trip, finish with Ski race in Iron Mountain MI (my first!)
Feb 4: John Dick 50K
Feb 5: Backpack trip to Superstition Wilderness, AZ
Feb 25: Birkebiener 50K Classic Ski Race, Hayward WI
Mar 31: Clinton Lake 50K
Apr 28: Chippewa Moraine 50K
Apr 29: Sedona and Grand Canyon Hiking Trip
May 12: Ice Age 50 Mile (Its payback time!)
June 2: Kettle. Not sure what yet, 100 Mile or K? Or just pace?
June 16: PIE Ride 100K or 100 Mile
July 6: Kickapoo kayak trip
July 14: Dances With Dirt 50 Mile (tentative, I'd like to find another race in July)
July 23: 7 day Backpack trip to Superior Trail
August 18: Marquette (MI) 50K
Sept: Superior Trail races? Date?
Oct 14: Glacial 50K -OR- Wild Duluth 100K
Nov 3: Ozark 100 (tentative)
Dec 1: Pine Mountain 40 (tentative)

Its what I have so far...... Some race plans may change, especially for races I've done already.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Conflicts




In my last post, I spoke about empathy and the belief in a higher, supernatural power.

My plan is to not write about it again here, for a time. Instead, I will devote myself to the understanding of Christianity point of view, so as to better frame my position. I'll start by reading "Mere Christianity" (CS Lewis), and "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" (Josh McDowell).

I hope that those who profess a faith in Christianity will do likewise, and read the following:

Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary (Ken Daniels)


The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ

I've disabled comments once again here.

Cosmological argument





I wrote this up, without having researched it first. Once I started looking around I found I had essentially re-created the Cosmological argument. I have some difference, but the likeness is interesting. My Notes and comments are of my own doing. These combine many different disciplines and influences from my reading. They are however, still my own thoughts and musings.

---------Argument starts here---------

Observation: “Objects” or “Effects” appear to exist separate from the “Object” I call myself. I say “appear” because technically speaking, I can’t prove that. There is a whole school of thought around the concept of “Adviata”, and is too much for this discussion. For the purpose of this discussion, I will take it as a given that “Objects” or “Effects” happen outside and independent of the “Object” called “me”, the observer. The appearance of separation and the separation are considered equal.

Observation: Every “Object” or “Effect” seems to have an underlying cause. IE: If A moves or is created, it is because B moved or created it, and B was moved or created by C, etc, until we get back to the ORIGINAL CAUSE.

Deduced: Therefore, there must have been an ORIGINAL CAUSE which started the chain of events leading to everything’s existence.

Inferred, from most major religions: the ORIGINAL CAUSE is a supreme, supernatural (read: outside of nature) being who has an interest in what we do, and made us in his likeness and image.

--------Argument ends here--------------

Comments: Why do we infer this? We think about the logic that takes us back to a beginning cause; is the idea that the creator made us in his image just anthropomorphic? Why wouldn’t it be a whale, or an invisible pink unicorn?

We are complex enough to believe that we must have a reason for existing. We are self aware; within our puny brains we believe we have ‘heard’ the creator speak to us, give us instructions. So we postulate that the creator endowed us with the SAME abilities, and a connection to the creator. Those thoughts, connections and instructions are unverifiable, but also un-falsifiable.

What if the original cause is beyond our understanding? What if those instructions are all in our heads and the result of seemingly disconnect thoughts coming from our own chemistry? Since anything we think is within the frame work of our understanding, anything we can postulate, think or imagine could automatically be what the original cause is NOT. Maybe the ORIGINAL CAUSE is by its nature beyond our understanding. Can you understanding a larger picture when you are a part of it? In other words, can "you" stop being "you" even for a second?

More Comments. The idea that there must be a 'beginning' of a chain of events implies "time". Time exists only within the framework of 'our' universe. Before there was something, was there nothing?

If this universe (including time) was created from 'nothing', by definition, the ORIGINAL CAUSE must be outside of that. This is subject to our idea of "beginning" because beginning automatically implies a starting point in time, which as I just stated only exists within the framework of what we know, and this universe.



I know its a lot to digest. but this is what I think about.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Empathy



Definition, EMPATHY: The intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

WARNING: This post is about the belief in God. I am not discussing the existence or non-existence of God; only the belief therein. I do not mean to offend anyone. If speaking empirically about the existence of that belief, or lack thereof, will possibly offend you, please read no further. Go in Peace. Realize that I mean no harm, nor disparage your beliefs; I am not trying to de-convert you. I only question your logic because I want to understand it. A word of caution, I have spent a life time looking for that belief for myself, including in the Bible. I once had a running partner who was an Evangelical pastor, and after three years he still couldn't convince me, even with his vast knowledge in apologetic's. I would like nothing better than find that belief and faith, to work around the logic and doubt lodged in my mind. To have that community, the sharing of those deeply held convictions. To allow the ad hoc explanations for the contradictions, the faults, the outright immorality found in the good book.

When we speak with someone on a given topic, one of our first responses is to find common ground, to create harmony and connection in conversation (ie: Where you from? Really? I live only a couple miles from you). We do this instinctively; we are pack animals, we want safety, connection and trust.

To the word, empathy. Listening to those who believe, I cannot get to any sort of empathetic position for your belief; its an empty glass. Vaporous. No, not even vaporous; Null. I cannot have any empathy for anyone who claims a belief in God; I can only have questions, which I continually ask when given the chance.

On the other hand, ANYONE who has Christian beliefs understands perfectly my position of non-belief; if you doubt that, Christian friends, consider Islam. You have no trouble dismissing the God of Islam under the pretense of non-belief; whether you've ever considered it or not, we are all ATHEIST NON-BELIEVERS from someone else's religious perspective.

So, Christian friends, before we converse on the belief in the Christian God, if our discourse is strictly on the Islamic God (or even better, Evolution), you and I, we will surely find common ground. We share the same thoughts, mis-givings, questions, and logic. We have empathy you and I. As I do with the Islamic believer when discussing the non-belief in the Christian God. We are all empathetic with others when it comes to non-belief; it just depends on whose God we are discussing.

The only difference between you and I: I extend it one non-belief further than you do.

I do not know and probably will never experience what it feels like to know or believe in the Christian God, though I tried for a long time. I cannot fake it, or declare I do believe, without a deep fundamental misgiving that I am lying. Lying at my core. I was once given the advice to 'fake it until you feel it', which felt even worse. Faking creates a wall, a receptacle of the lie, and the original conviction only grows stronger, not weaker. I don't recommend that tactic. Its something akin to brain washing.

So, I hope in this short post, I hope, we have found empathy you and I. We both use a critical eye to look dispassionately and logically, trying to find the evidence, discarding faulty thinking and unreasonable belief. If only in the negative space; the emptiness, the void of the thousands of other options in the word non-belief.

Its what we've got; its our empathy, yours and mine.

So dear readers, for the first time in a loooooong time I am opening up this post for comments.

(Footnote Warnings. If you start quoting the bible as evidence for your belief in it, I will declare your logic circular and immediately dismiss it. Example: I have a book that was written by a pink elephant. I know the pink elephant exists because I have the book, and it says he exists. Another example, called un-falsifiable evidence: He is invisible and lives in my pocket; you are asked to disprove it. The burden of proof should always lie with the one who makes a claim, not the other way around. This last example is more on the existence of God and not your belief in him, I provide it mostly as a warning to think critically.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Do No Harm





So two days after my Ozark DNF, I am putting some reflection on it. First, I am 99% sure I would have made it with no repercussions. However, it was that 1% that stopped me, because of the ramifications of that 1%.

Ir-repairable harm to my heart, and/or forever ending my running career. Forget about DEATH, I was worried about LIVING with a really bad decision; and maybe still DNF'ing just at a later time. My heart was BLIPPING an extra beat about every 5 minutes. Its a feeling like your drummer is out of syncopation. I have had it before; its a sign of over-training and too much stress (work this time).

I had a chance to think long and hard about while I was running that last 10 miles. For two and a half hours, I dissected my logic to drop. I tried to take out whatever pain I was feeling; which was about none, actually. I have felt much worse on three of my four 50 milers. My legs felt great, sort of like they had about 20 miles on them; energy level was through the roof; I had managed my nutrition better than I have ever done. I could have 'mailed in' another 10 or so to make it to total of 50 miles, but you can't do that with a hundred miler.

Logic simply said to weigh the cost-benefit, the risk-reward of continuing onward.

And the risk, however small was too great, too big of a price to pay if my decision to continue turned out to be the wrong one. As an ultra runner, like most, I am my own best doctor. That holds true ONLY when I can be objective about my decisions not being colored by my desires. I had a desire to run 100 miles, and I had to take that out of the equation when I made my choice. Then it became easy.

DO NO HARM
.

Do no harm does not equate to inaction, meaning do nothing. The choice to STOP is an action, not inaction. Logically speaking, I had to choose, there was not a "no choice, no action" option in this case.

This does not mean I am not disappointed. On the contrary. Now, I've got a pebble in my shoe. Just like when I DNF'd my first 50, it gave me the resolve and drive and commitment to do what it takes to get it done.

I am definitely not done with the HUNDO. Not even close.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Getting My Kicks




Its been called “The Mother Road”, officially “The Will Rogers Highway”, “Main Street of America”, and finally “The Most Famous Road in the World”.

From 1926 to 1985, that iconic road existed from Chicago to Los Angeles. Named Route 66. It was an idea, a collection of roads, and to travel it was to travel for the journey as much as the destination.

So this weekend, I’ll take the vapor trail of the Route 66 past St Louis, into a rural area south called Steelville, MO. I’ll have the honor of wearing the number 66 in my attempt at 100 miles. 102, to be more specific.

How to prepare for a journey longer than any other you’ve taken? One mile at a time, one Aid Station at a time. Remembering first, its about the journey, and not the destination.

Frankly, there have been times and days recently when I believed I just wanted to say I’ve run a hundred miles, not that I actually wanted to do it. I wanted to get there, and wear the mantle.

But that’s just ego talking. You can’t run a hundred miles by being impatient; by trying to be there, instead of here.

I really want to run a hundred miles, not say I’ve run a hundred miles.

Route 66, it was about the journey. The diners, the roadside attractions, the miles, each one holding the promise of something new and exciting. Watching the miles go by from the back seat of a station wagon when I was 10 years old, I didn’t want to be anywhere but right there, at that moment.

Fields of corn and wheat zipped by, gas station soda pop from a clear bottle. Red and orange and yellow. A jack knife from an old Indians road side store. I still have it.

So one hundred miles. I don’t know if I can do it, I don’t know what will happen. But I’ll give it my best shot. Always do.

Closing:

A travelin’ man,

Knows ease and speed,

He carries with

All he needs

Burma Shave.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pacing at Ozark

Here is my pace calculations for Ozark. Obviously it won't be this even, given course anomalies, weather, crying jags, questioning my sanity, breakdowns, AS time etc. But at least its a starting point.

Ozark
Aid Station Miles into race Next Seg Dist Total T Segment T Cut-off Time Clock reads:
Start 0 8 0 2:08
6:00 AM
Grasshopper Hollow 8 9.6 2:08 2:33
8:08 AM
Sutton Bluff (1)* 17.6 5.2 4:41 1:23 11:30 AM 10:41 AM
Stillwell Hollow 22.8 5.2 6:04 1:23 12:45 PM 12:04 PM
Johnson Hollow 28 6.8 7:28 1:48 2:30 PM 1:28 PM
Gunstock Hollow (2) 34.8 8.7 9:16 2:19 4:15 PM 3:16 PM
Brooks Creek (3)* 43.5 7.5 11:36 2:00 6:30 PM 5:36 PM
Highway DD (4) 51 8.2 13:36 2:35 9:00 PM 7:36 PM
Martin Road 59.2 9.3 16:11 2:56 11:45 PM 10:11 PM
Hazel Creek (5)* 68.5 7 19:08 2:13 3:00 AM 1:08 AM
Machell Hollow 76.1 5.4 21:21 1:42 5:30 AM 3:21 AM
Berryman campground (6)* 81.5 6.5 23:04 2:03 7:30 AM 5:04 AM
Billy’s Branch 88 7 25:07 2:13 10:00 AM 7:07 AM
Henpeck Hollow (7)* 95 7 27:20 2:13 12:00 PM 9:20 AM
Finish – Bass RR 102 0 29:33 0 2:00 PM 11:33 AM







First half pace 16





Second half pace 19





Numbers are Drop bag locations





Asterisks are Crew Access