A happy hodgepodge for Thursday

Zdravstvuyte! How are you doing on this zany Thursday? Is everyone feeling zippy?

Zdravstvuyte means "Hello" in russian. Dont ask THIS american to pronounce that...he cant
Zdravstvuyte means “Hello” in Russian. Don’t ask THIS american to pronounce that…he cant

I cant believe I haven’t posted anything since my abecedarian attempts to explain the neuroscience of meditation last Friday.  Have you missed me, gentle readers? I have certainly missed you. I hope you can forgive my stochastic schedule, consider this post my personal penance.

I think it might take some stronger stuff to purge my peccadilloes
I think it might take some stronger stuff to purge my peccadilloes

Life has, as always, been chaotic in my marathonsam world. I know that as an academic I should not blindly accept unscientific astrology, but, good GOLLY Tuesday’s Harvest Supermoon kicked my ass, chewed me up, and spit me out like a Chuck Norris crossed with a grain thresher.

Chuck Norris doesn't harvest grain
The Virgin Mary once saw Chuck Norris in her grilled-cheese sandwich

I’m so glad that I selected September to make time for meditation every day.IMG_4996Initially I  incorporated five minutes of a body-scanning based meditation practice into my morning running warm-up. I have recently started sitting for 5-10 minutes of transcendental-style mantra meditation each afternoon. These brief breaks to quiet my mind have been an invaluable bastion against the blitzkrieg of business that my PhD program piles upon me.

There will ALWAYS be more experiments we could do.
You have to count a LOT of bacteria in order to measure a mutation rate that’s on the order of 1 in a billion cells.

I recently read a great New York Times interview with Sam Harris about mindfulness, consciousness, and the concept of self. Harris argues that the very concept of consciousness doesn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny, and uses this to make a case FOR spirituality. He likens consciousness to a classic optical illusion: more defined by its absence than by what is actually present.

The square isn't REALLY there, it's just the part that is missing from the circles
The square isn’t REALLY there, it’s just the part that is missing from the circles

I love Sam Harris’ point about self-examination, in the style of mindfulness meditation:

If you turn consciousness upon itself in this moment, you will discover that your mind tends to wander into thought. If you look closely at thoughts themselves, you will notice that they continually arise and pass away. If you look for the thinker of these thoughts, you will not find one. And the sense that you have — “What the hell is Harris talking about? I’m the thinker!”— is just another thought, arising in consciousness.

If you repeatedly turn consciousness upon itself in this way, you will discover that the feeling of being a self disappears.

I was reminded about my own musings on the default mode network (that part of our brain that, for better but often for worse, is responsible for our own self image). Meditation diverts blood flow away from this region: there’s a physiological reason for the phenomenon that Harris describes.

That freaking default mode network always gets in our way
That freaking default mode network always gets in our way

I shouldn’t complain about having too much on my plate- I would always rather be busy than bored. I have found time for some fun these past few weeks. I fit in a fabulous fifteen mile run last weekend.

I loved cathing the sunrise over Gasworks Park
I loved cathing the sunrise over Gasworks Park

Alli and I took Porter out to Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park this past Sunday for a wonderful walk in the woods.

The mosses are bosses!
The mosses are bosses!

We’re beginning to detect some signs that the seasons are changing here in Seattle.

I'm just not quite ready for pumpkins!
I’m just not quite ready for pumpkins!

It’s not full-on tights weather quite yet, but I’m starting to see less of the sun and more of my breath during my morning runs. Yesterday’s hill-repeat workout was particularly chilly and challenging.

This is the giraffe that lives on top of the hill that I run up...I wasn't too pleased with him
This is the giraffe that lives on top of the hill that I run up, and sometimes makes fun of me as I struggle to keep pace

In other, more exciting news: I’m racing this weekend! I’ve signed up for the Cedar River Trail Half Marathon, put on by Northwest Trail Runs. The website describes the course as “not relentless, but always changing, creating a playful trail running course.”

I can get behind "playful"
I can get behind “playful”

Apparently there are “some steep sections, but no major climbs,” which sounds perfect to this total-trail-running neophyte. I have been wanting to get into trail running for quite some time (I’ve been inspired by reading “Born to Run,” watching Sage Canaday’s Instagram feed, and seeing the awesome blogger stuftmama totally conquer a crazy race called “Stairway to Heaven“). This little event is definitely the kiddy-pool version of true trail- and ultra-running, but I’m excited to strap on my water wings and splash around in the shallow end for my first foray into the sport.

Maybe someday I’ll find my inner MUT (Mountain Ultra Trail)-running mountain, but for now I’d need a miracle and WAY more training to be able to run UP a fourteener.

It goes without saying that I'd need a banana along with my miracle
It goes without saying that I’d need a banana along with my miracle.

Finally, before I put this post to press, I’m excited to announce that, as of next Monday, I’m officially in training for the Seattle Marathon. I wrote myself a training plan, and I’m hoping to substantially improve upon my time from Tacoma.

Love me, love my crazy calendar
Love me, love my crazy calendar
IMG_5059
So it begins

I’ll be blogging about my training (as well as whatever else interests me) in the coming months. I ran the Tacoma City Marathon to support the Seattle Humane Society. I still am affiliated as a charity athlete with this wonderful organization. Myself, and the animals of King County, would be eternally grateful for your support again this time around. I’m stoked to start ramping up my milage again: stay tuned to this space, there will be rain-soaked running-gear selfies aplenty.

What’s going on with y’all?

What are you excited about right now?

 

 

One thought on “A happy hodgepodge for Thursday

  1. Loved the clip from Sage Canaday! I always knew I was on to something when I’d want to run as much of the hikes as I could when I was younger. Need to go find some mountain races next year!

    Like

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