Saturday, 24 September 2016

Doing what you do and knowing why!

On the 26th of June I ran the Aletsch half marathon in Bettmeralp, Switzerland. I had not run in a 
organized event since 2007, due to a previous meniscus rip and repair operation in my knee, which put a stop to competition runs. Hence I had invested six months of training into the preparation for this trail 
run so I knew I would finish. All my long runs up the mountain slopes, behind my doorstep had gone perfectly, even if rain and fog had been more my companions than sunshine this year. My last run up our own small mountain, on the last Monday morning before the run, had given me my own personal best 
time and I felt ready for the approaching challenge. Then just two days later, on Wednesday my immune system began to slacken. 

Not surprisingly for me that just before an event I would be required to join mind, body and soul together to reach my goal. I seem to experience regularly these self-inflicted challenges. Often with added doses of other obstacles placed in my way. I actually have almost hardly ever known it to fold out in any other 
form. Once I would have felt the universe was ganging up on me and making life harder than I desired it 
to be. Now I am aware that I only experience, within the present moment, what I need to resolve at the time; releasing old habits or no longer needed patterns, so as to become more in tune with my life and 
all its levels. As you could also say “nothing happens without a reason!”

At the Kindergarten where I work all were inflicted with either a childhood sickness or the snivels and I unconsciously accepted, I consciously would pick something up, and deal with the consequences! I had taken on this running challenge in Advent last year, as a group of running friends had all raved about the “Aletsch” experience and it was decided we would either re-live or be participating for the first time together; accepting the call to ascend from 1900 too 2700m, covering 21km and feeling the energy of this UNESCO world heritage site the challenge was on. 
I heard the mountains personal call to me. Yes I would be ready even although hesitate because I was at 
the time in a personal transitional period, requiring me do to a lot of soul searching, so I saw this as part 
of my personal therapy. The training runs I knew would require only my running routes to be longer but 
not more units than my normal programme. And the time spent with Pokie along the trials, etched in the side of the southern tip of the Black Forest, were only enrichments to my health and mindset.

Rain, wind, fog, snow, ice and darkness were my six-month training buddies. The elements demanded protective clothing and an iron will, to get out and slow pleasure jog, no matter what. The season summer had been in the mouths of many in our region, a dirty word this year, though I was glad for the missing 
heat as I clocked up my kilometres. Now my hedging the colds and sickness around me began to put a spokes in the works.

I realize that if something doesn’t sit 100% with me I attract that which I fear towards me. It is a universal law that our minds desires are our future experiences. This scares a lot of people when they see their 
focus has been on not getting this sickness, job experience or relationship entanglement. Yet the 
underlying reason is rather to challenge us to focus on the potential imbedded within a situation. 
Therefore when our thoughts are being directed to achieving the highest good for all involved and 
ourselves too, the strength of these “mind-energy waves” is intensified.

I took on this running challenge to kill a demon. While running the K78 Swiss Alpine ultra in Davos several years ago, I fell over a tree root and ripped my meniscus. As I was not aware of the damaged I had caused I continued to run but at km 60, at a height of 2330m, a storm blew in making the organizers shut down the race at this point, blocking all those reaching this milestone from continuing. I had only 18km left of the 
race and was devastated. It has always remained with me like a bad taste in the mouth, even though I 
know to tangle with the elements in the Alps, is no lightly taken on task. So here I was about to take on the battle of my weakened system, altitude, the ego and me.

A visit to the chemist on Thursday morning confirmed what I already knew (when you have an 
autoimmune disease and several other permanent health issues you become very fine-tuned to caring for your system) this was the beginning of a cold. So I started up the thyme and sage tea routine along with “juicing”, getting as much sleep as possible and trying to remain calm. I would go with my hubby and 
friends on Friday to the Alps and make a hard cut decision on Saturday night, if I was to run on Sunday morning or not.

No fever came. The aches in the joints and ligaments receded within a day. A slight cough remained on the bronchial. I was weakened bodily. My mind asked myself why was I doing this? Just to please my hurt pride from years gone by? To say with fifty you can still run? Yet this I can I do easily by me at home so why do I put myself under the stress and competition pressure? Now there lay honestly the golden question! It 
felt it was to show myself a past experience had not been in my control but it had been my choice how I experienced it.

Do I run for me? Yes. 
Did I feel I needed to run to show others I can? No. 
Do I get pleasure out of running such a hard trial? Yes and No! 

When running and hiking after my pace I love it. Feeling I have to compete with or against others makes 
me cranky. This is just the same for many when faced with challenges where the levels to be reached, are predetermined by those outside of your personal field of knowledge. The times set for running are given 
by the organization to keep you actually from harms way, as the ground covered during the race has its 
own difficulties, and requires a fitness level from you, so that you can get through it still standing.

Sunday was upon me before I knew it and my mind was made up. Run what you can, march the rest. Time didn’t matter but competing and completion did. Altitude has a way of pushing you too your limits and 
the first few kilometres had me feeling as if a bulldozer had run over me, as the body become dense and heavy. The first drink station was positioned at 5 km and I literally was hanging out for its arrival, as I had decided against carrying my own drink bottle or for that matter anything else that could burden my free movement. By 8km came the first need to march as the assent increased. This was a necessary way to conserve energy for later as I felt I was coming into my flow. By 11km a short wood stretch, meant shade and soft ground under my feet before the alpine trails started. Here I was in my element. Moss, a babbling brook, and mist amongst the undergrowth swirled its way into the pines over head. A small butterfly flew 
in front of me and I to did the same right over my own feet, “flew” as a sharp stone in the pathway caught the top of my shoe, sending me several meters along the mountain side. Winded and startled, I realized I had been totally a drift from what I was doing (running a race!) and the universe had jolted me back with a start to reality. Now I had also a spilt right front shoe to contend with.

If you need an instant reminder of why you have undertaken a task, just daydream for a second and get jostled back with a whack. So now it was “hobble and recapture my breath”, while I considered my next move. By the time I reached 15km I knew it would be jog/march till the end otherwise my shoe would not hold up and my knee had an interesting twitch going on inside it, meaning it to had also taken on more of the fall than I realised.

So it is often with endeavours in life. We plan. We learn. We set ourselves tasks, levels and jobs to 
complete and something just gets in our way, along “the way”. It was at this moment that the woods 
opened up and the Aletsch glacier lay spread out before me disappearing into the majestic Alps ahead. Oh, such a breath-taking sight. A truly timely reminder indeed of my smallness and invincibility, in the schema 
of the world.

One thought suddenly fleeted across my consciousness: “If I should die right now, is this run worth being 
my last moment?” A yes came out instantly and with full force. I was doing what I loved. I was in my element, tackling life with each limp of my body and mentally in control of what little I could be. I was 
living my life, my way, fully in the day. Simple. To feel your own greatness and realize it is but a fleck on the whole plan of a larger scaled construction, is to know everything does have a reason and a season to be played out.

So it was that I marched forwards, at times slow jogging a few steps but most of all keeping my eyes wide open to the beauty around me and how I was interacting to its lay out. The last few kilometres were a reminder of my smallness. I completed the run.

I have some wonderful memories of this weekend but more importantly I know I need not run ever again 
an event to kill a personal ego demon in my mind, show some one else I can run or feel a it gives 
somehow a validation to who I am.

My fears are self-inflicted. My limitations self implied. For when we join in unison with our true self and be present in the now, each experience enriches our capabilities to expand beyond that which we know. Our knowledge is deeply rooted in being part of all that we touch, feel, hear and see. To know your self in 
depth is to give up to the mountains call and become once again, very small along the crust of the earth. Moving forwards. Taking time to let go and let be. Running my way and being here now within the 
moment. Being present in my now. No more or no less. Perfect, simply as it is.


The Listener

The listener doesn’t need to hear For his soul is already attuned; To the sounds that encase him Like a blanket that fits, Snuggly over ...