Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Great resources to share

There are some running and yoga-related podcasts that I listen to regularly that I wanted to share and recommend in case any of you are interested. I cannot download these here in Cameroon -- there's no such thing as broadband here! But a dear friend in the US downloads them, puts them on a CD and mails them to me each month.

First, a great source for running music is Podrunner created by dj steveboy:  These are podcasts he produces weekly, I believe, although there are a ton in the catalogue you can download now. Each mix is about an hour long, has a theme and a stated bpm (usually from about 135 to 170 bpm). I find dj steveboy's mixes great to run with and they keep me going when my butt is dragging. Check 'em out.

The other great podcast to recommend is Yogamazing with Chaz Rough: Again this is a weekly podcast with a year's worth of archive of yoga classes. Each class has a theme and is roughly 20 minutes long. I usually combine 2 or 3 of them to make an whole yoga session for myself. I love these because they let me "take a class" even though there are no yoga teachers anywhere around. Also, Chaz is a fun guy. Even when he's trying to be deep and spiritual, he's has such a happy voice that nothing seems too serious. This is particularly good for me.

I also love to listen to Steve Runner's Phedippidations podcast: but I can't listen to that while I run (I can't listen to talking, it just doesn't work for me), so I usually listen to this when I am making dinner! It's very inspiring nonetheless.

So, go check out some of these folks.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Basics make a difference

I'm waiting for the guys at Buckeye Outdoors Training Site to upload all my data for the past year plus, but in the meantime, I did upload this past week, so you should be able to see it on the right.

After my daily meditation, I decided to check my e-mail and try to complete a bit of Internet research I started last night and couldn't really do because the connection was so bad. (I was looking for a good rain jacket to run in -- something that didn't just soak me from the inside because it held my sweat in and something light, since it doesn't really get that cold here. I decided on the Patagonia Spraymaster which, for some unknown, but incredibly lucky for me reason, was half price in a couple of the women's colors!)

While I was online, a good friend of mine was online in the US and we started to GoogleTalk, which is always great fun -- talking to someone on the other side of the world in real time for free! However, this delayed me so that I did not get out for my long run while it was still cool. It was not oppressively hot when I left so I thought I'd be okay, but I did not really factor in the effect of the humidity. I have to say that I don't have amything that tells me the temperature and here, they report it in Celsius which means almost nothing to me, so I don't really know how hot it is. SportTracks, my running log program, fetches the forecast when it can and it has been saying 87 Farenheit for the high for the past couple of days. That's pretty darn hot, isn't it?

I got out the door around 10:30am and there was a nice breeze in my face the whole way going. Of course, when I turned around -- no breeze. And it was humid! Like Yaoundé or Florida. By the end of the run my entire backside was just sticking to me. That made me feel a bit self-conscious.

But the worst part was that I ran out of steam. I turned around at 5.3 miles, although intellectually I thought I should have run 14 miles this weekend. I felt okay for the first half, but the last mile and a half going out was downhill, which means that when I turned around I had a nice long uphill to confront. I did run the whole way up it, but shortly after that felt really spent. Around mile 8 some children offered me some water (I stopped at a community spigot that was not flowing) and it tasted sssooooo sweet. Mmmm. But I walked three or four times for a bit and stopped to stretch twice.

When I reflect on this, I realize two things. Really basic things:

1.      Weather matters, particularly heat.
2.      Nutrition matters.

The weather you know about. Getting out by 7am would have made a huge difference. (Although I was incredibly lucky because I walked into the door of my house moments before the first torrential downpour of the day!).

Nutrition? Ah well. Yesterday I went to a wedding. Having only eaten a banana for breakfast, by the time we got to the reception, I was starving. I immediately drank a Coke because my blood sugar was so low I was faint. And then I ate what they served -- a snack of peanuts, fried cookie-like things called chin chin, a Quarter-sized piece of fish and two Quarter-sized pieces of chicken. Later on, I drank a Djino (carbonated fruit cocktail). For dinner, I had a bowl of rice with garlic and oil "sauce" and a beer. This morning, I did think to eat a banana before I went running.

But, it wasn't enough. Or just basically lacking in nutrition. Oh, I did have an avocado with my rice, so I ate one vegetable all day (or are avocados a fruit?).

This has happened to me before. So now I am bringing consciousness to this area -- it really makes a difference what I eat the day before my long run.

Yep, the basics make a difference.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

It's funny I'm ordained

I'm going to try something new. If you look on the right side of the screen, you should see my workouts. There's this great new site I found (from another runner's blog) where I can upload my workouts and they'll show up automatically here. Hopefully in the next week, everything will be up there for your viewing pleasure and I'll stop entering them in manually in the blog entries. Since I haven't got it all set up yet, here's this week:

Mon:    Run     3.01mi  27:34   Yoga    30min
Tue:    Run     5.06mi  46.23   Yoga    60min
Wed:    Run     6.52mi  58:12   Yoga    50min
Thu:    Run     5.04mi  44:28   Yoga    50min
Fri:    Run     3.82mi  33:47   Yoga    50min
Sat:    Cycle   8.59mi  42:54   Yoga    50min
Sun:    Run     10:10mi 1:39:14 Cycle   8.7mi   45:47

So, I thought I'd reveal that it's funny, to me at least, that I'm ordained, particularly in the Episcopal Church. I think it's pretty funny that I'm part of an established church at all. Just one of the many ways God amazes me.

I say this because my own spiritual life happens 99.9% outside of church. The three things I do/have done that are the most "spiritual" for me personally are:

        - shamanic work I've been deeply involved in for the past 16 or so years which is where I've had the most intense, direct encounters with God. If I have a theology, it has come out of these experiences far more than reading anything. Experience is the foundation of my faith and I consider a blessing that I am a mystic. It does seem to be more acceptable to mention this in polite Episcopal company, but that may only be because I am from California <g>.

        - listening to Christian pop music, which really expresses my experience of wrestling with God and trying to be a Christian in the real world far more authentically than any of the hymns in the hymnal. I'd say my favorite artists are Chris Rice, Jennifer Knapp, Ginny Owens and Caedmon's Call.

        This chorus from Caedmon's Call's "Faith My Eyes" (on the 40 Acres album) spoke to me today:
                So Keep'em Coming These Lines On The Road
                And Keep Me Responsible, Be It A Light Or Heavy Load
                And Keep Me Guessing With These Blessings In Disguise
                And I'll Walk With Grace My Feet And Faith My Eyes
        And even though I come from California which is a pretty "woo woo" kind of place, believe me when I tell you, the Episcopal Church does NOT play music like this. At least not yet. They did do one "U2charist" last year, but that just makes me laugh and roll my eyes. I'm sorry folks, but U2 is not "youth" music -- that's my generation and I just turned 45. Though, from what I heard, the event was a great multi-generational event, so it's definitely a step in the right direction;

        - yoga and running which really push and help me to integrate, to embody, what I experience and believe spiritually. Augustine may have had problems with having a body, but I don't, and it's a critical part of my being in the world and relating to the universe. If it was important for Jesus to incarnate in a physical body, I figure it's probably at least as important for me.

Now, there are a lot of things I love about the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion in general (that there is an Anglican Communion being one of them) and I feel relatively comfortable with Christianity as the "language" through which I communicate with and about God. There's not another Christian Church that speaks to me. If I weren't Christian, I'd probably be either Sufi or Hindu. I've studied a lot of other religions and those are the only other two that resonate with me.

But when I was an infant, I was baptized and "sealed by the Holy Spirit. . . and marked as Christ's own forever" and wouldn't you know those sacraments actually create a reality in the universe. I walked away from Christ. Pretty far away, actually. And then I was called back and I couldn't get away. I feel a bit like a fish who was reeled in by the fisherman. I suppose that's fitting.

Monday, March 12, 2007

In the nick of time

Well, I went for my long run early Sunday morning and I was just in the nick of time. An hour after I came back, the rain started to pour and lasted most of the day. Luckily I didn't wait until after church to go or I would have had to run in the rain, not my favorite thing. There were a few drops when I went out and so I wore a hat (which I never do -- too hot on the head and well, it messes up my hair <;) ), but the sprinkle never turned into anything until later.

Ran 13 miles and it was good to break my 12 mile mental barrier. However, planning my route so that the last 1.5 miles was uphill -- not the smartest move. I walked at least half a mile of it. Phewy.

Really got back into doing yoga almost daily this week and that felt really, really good.

Last week:

Tue:    Run 5.04mi      44:56
        Yoga    60min
Wed:    Run 4.02mi      35:51
        Yoga    60min
Thu:    Run 7.02mi      63:09
        Yoga    12min
        Cycle 9.06mi    45:11
Fri:    Run 3.09mi      31:25
Sat:    Cycle 8.93mi    45:43
        Yoga    25min
Sun:    Run 13.11mi     2:08:07
        Yoga    30min

I've been doing a lot of thinking about forgiveness. Having a Lenten practice to forgive one person/thing each day is really difficult, but it is a great practice because it forces me to look at why it is so difficult.

The first thing I ran up against was the thought-form "who am I to forgive so and so?" That is, it seemed the height of arrogance. Isn't forgiveness God's job? And what if the person doesn't feel like they need or want forgiveness, especially from me?

Just a few days ago, I became aware that I was still very angry about something that happened to me a year ago. It was something I should have (rightfully) had some control over -- or so I thought then and still do -- but in the end, I did not have any control over -- and it radically altered the course of my life. At the time, my response was to just "get it" and move on. But the anger and resentment remains. So it occurs to me that forgiving, in this instance, would be really helpful for me. I doubt the other people involved give a hooey and I'm sure they don't think they did anything that needs forgiving.

I am not sure how to do this in a way that really works -- that is authentic and "does the trick" so to speak. But I am praying about it.

I sure wish this could all be as simple as forgiving some harried commuter who cut me off on the highway. . .

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Eating wheat is "naughty"?

I had an unexpected meeting in Bamenda on Monday and an unexpected trip to the field on Wednesday and never got around to posting last week.

The week:

Mon:    Yoga    50min.
Wed:    Run     5.04mi  46:49
Thu:    Run     7.08mi  1:05:46
Fri:    Run     3.09mi  30:20
Sun:    Run     12:05mi 1:58:26

I also did yoga a few times, but I didn't keep track.

The whole loving myself thing? Mostly the week was about eating wheat, and then forgiving myself for doing that. It was a "loving myself means letting myself be naughty" sort of thing. Why is eating wheat "naughty"? Because my body is pretty intolerant of it. So then I was led to reflect on what is *good* about eating wheat and what is *not really workable* about eating wheat.

Why eat wheat? It is easy. Bread, in particular, is there, requires no prep and it readily available here in Cameroon. Since pasta (another form of wheat) takes about the same amount of work as rice, it offers little or no temptation. But bread (in all its both sweet and savory forms) and cookies, well, it's really easy and available. Secondly, I like many of the things that go *on* bread. And I had a real craving for jam. What can you do with jam that does not involve bread? Not much. (Although, believe it or not, I have discovered that rice is also a pretty good transport vehicle for melted margerine and strawberry jam!). Thirdly, it's comfort food. Always has been. It's both cultural and familial.

But now, why *not* eat wheat? It makes my face and chest break out in acne. Second, it stops up my nose and sinuses and makes it hard to breath. Third, it clogs up my digestive and elmination systems. And the next two were things I just noticed during the weeklong wheat-eating binge and are quite compelling to me. Fourth, it makes me tired. Literally sleepy. Is it some sort of hypoglycemic reaction? Maybe. But I get 7-8 hours of sleep a night and live a much lower-stress life than any American and I was sleepy all the time last week. And fifth -- it doesn't fill me up, doesn't satisfy me and makes me keep eating and eating. This was a connection I never noticed before. I've seen this pattern before (the eating even when I *must* clearly be full or at least not in need of any more food), but I've never connected it to eating bread before. But after six months of eating virtually no bread, then eating it for a week, it became really obvious. The more bread I ate, the more I wanted to eat. It was weird. As if the bread had MSG in it or something. I would eat it and my taste buds would be pleased, but then they would just want *more*. And my stomach would not feel full -- until it felt *too* full.

Somehow, that last one is quite compelling. I don't like bread, or even convenience, enough to gain weight again. And the getting stuffed up thing is a really good immediate reminder because I can really feel it when I run. So, for the last several days I've "been good" and when I've thought about eating bread or a gateau or something, I notice that my taste buds try to convince me that it is a great idea, then I think about having trouble breathing and that is a downer, then I think of it making me want to just eat and eat and eat and my good sense kicks in and says, "nope, don't really wanna do that."

I'm hoping I can get to the point that I've just conditioned myself to find it so distasteful that it is no temptation -- I did this successfully with meat 30 years ago and dairy products 20 years ago and have never looked back.

And my conception of what it means to love myself has matured a little bit over the last week, I think.