Friday, August 26, 2005

Takuan Soho

Revisited one of my favorite books, Takuan Soho's "Unfettered Mind." Takuan was a monk, calligrapher, gardner, tea master, and poet. Born in Japan in 1573, served as counsel to many of the Samurai of the day. My all time favorite quote comes from this book. I apply it to ultrarunning, being on the trails, whatever:

"Be like water flowing over the rocks--the water flows constantly, not stopping to consider its path around the next stone."

Takaun wrote several instructive letters to swordsmen of his day on strategy and focus. A few highlights:

"I do not fight for gain or loss, am not concerned with strength or weakness, and neither advance a step nor retreat a step. The enemy does not see me. I do not see the enemy. Penetrating to a place where heaven and Earth have not yet divided, I quickly and necessarily gain effect.

The accomplished man uses the sword but does not kill others--when confronted with his principle-they cower down. He uses the sword and gives life: while he deals with his opponent with a sword, he leaves everything to the movement of the other man, and he is able to observe him just as he pleases. "

Sunday, August 21, 2005


We were out at Forest Park today for our 4 hour training run. The morning blessed us with much cooler temps and sunshine if not lower humidity. Started at 6:30 a.m. My legs felt pretty tired for the first loop, 50 minutes or so, then miraculously gained strength as the morning went on. Took an e-cap at one hour, went across to the steep climbs of the Pimiteoui Trail. At 1:45 ate a banana, filled up with straight water in the bottle. We did the reverse loop starting with Wilderness and got back to the parking lot at 2:35 or so. Another e-cap and more water. Pam's ITB started hurting on the last loop, but things calmed and we finished strong. The hills out there are great for the quads, i'm feeling it tonight for sure, but the strength gained is huge. Finished in 4:06. Our strategy incoporates enough walking that I don't feel too beat up during the week. Overall I felt very strong for this run--maybe couldve used a bit more fluid intake, but all-in-all was very happy. When isn't a looooong run in the woods great?

Started reading "The Shaolin Grandmasters' Text" today, written by an order of Shaolin monks in Oregon to better explain the philosophies of this Zen sect. Promising read so far. I'm most interested in how Taoism affected the development of Shaolin and how it's incorporated today.

"The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao."

Friday, August 19, 2005

Depositing Memories

It' s funny how the feel of a hot summer evening, the angle of the sun at dusk, can transform me back to childhood--back to running barefoot on the soft grass, hitting walnuts with my aluminum baseball bat for hours. These aren't just hollow images from the past flickering across the screen of the mind, but rather tangible parts of who I am as a person.

I believe every moment is sacred. I'm fully aware of my many shortcomings, and while oftentimes I fall short of my own ideals, even the underwhelming moments are meaningful, patches in the quilt of time and life. With each passing human year of this life I become more cognizant of the importance of being engaged, mentally and physically, as immersed as possible in my senses and perceptions of the world. Each day that Keegan grows is another day that he has changed forever. This isn't a negative thing, it's something to be savored, being able to watch this little boy make his way through the world. Every snapshot is a deposit in the memory banks. These memories can be retrieved from a private bank of reminiscence and reflection, going a long way in keeping the spirit strong no matter what is dealt to me in life. Of this I am certain.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

If Ya Luv Luv Show Ya Luv

Been training for the Glacial Trail 50k in October for the last couple months. We did a 3 hour in brutal heat at Forest Park, then two weeks later a 3 1/2 hour at McNaughton in much more tolerable weather conditions. I'm still running about 10-15 pounds too fat. Maybe I'm just not putting in the total mileage or intensity to drop weight. Or maybe it's the beer. So far the long runs have gone well, legs are holding up and the strength is coming back. The eight months off for the tibial fracture took alot of the muscle strength I'd built up. It's slow to come back. I'm gonna try this thing anyway, barring injury beforehand, since it's the race I was gunning for before the injury. Mostly I just want to see that trail in fall and the race is a good excuse to do it. We're planning on 4, 41/2, and 5 hour runs over the next 6 weeks. These long runs/power hikes will tell where things are with the training. I have no concern for time or racing anyone, just finishing, so no pressure in terms of distance covered or speed. This will be an interesting experiment to see where things are by early October. Keep em crossed.

I went back and re-read a few chapters of Ralph Wiley's "Serenity: A Boxing Memoir." I just love his writing style and he captures on paper what I love about the sport. Why "Serenity," you ask? Read it and find out. Another recommendation would be Joyce Carol Oates' "On Boxing," of which I had her autograph my personal copy when she spoke at ISU a couple years ago. You had all these arrogant professors and literary types fawning over her in the book signing line trying to impress her with their knowledge of her work. I get up there and we end up holding up the line for 5 minutes talking boxing. How frickin' cool is that, talking about the style matchups of swarmers and pure boxers with one of America's foremost authors. Rock n' roll.


Nuisance "Sunny Side Down" and "Confusion Hill." I've had these in heavy rotation lately. One of my all time favorite bands. There is nothing better than cranking "Harvest Time" on crisp October evening by the water, cold Pilsner Urquell in one hand, fishing pole in the other. I'll say it forever: Nuisance was a better band than Nirvana and Andrew Asp was a better songwriter than Cobain could've ever hoped to have been.

Rocker-T "If Ya Luv Luv Show Ya Luv." Fundamentalist Rastafarian Reggae from a white dude. Seriously. It's good, really good.