“There is more ‘religion’ in five Kilometers of a cross-country race than in a 1000 church services”

I am ever astonished to this day how consistent devotion of practice and belief in oneself leads to divine action, to high performance. While so many others, particularly in my age group and beyond, long ago hung up the training and embraced resignation, I am yet blessed with the passion, the values, and the tribe to experience each day with vibrancy and elegance.

Saturday morning began with a simple Pre-race Ritual, grabbed my racing flats, and headed out the door, on foot mind you, down the trails and roads to a local and ever popular cross country race. Its not that I felt ‘ideal’ that morning yet I know enough about racing and encountering my ego’s inhibitions not to let that determine how I would be or how I would run. Its always about running free, with courage.

After a bit more of a warm up I was informed about other fast runners showing up, defending champs, high school studs, et. All. One’s performance however, one’s experience in the ancient discipline of running across hills, thru streams, across muddy fields, over stumps, in other words; cross country, is about your own experience and what you make it. I don’t kid around when I race. Those who finish ahead of me I hold no grudge against or consider more or less than myself. I bow to whatever suffering they had to go thru to be ahead of me.

So as the gun went off I embarked with as much nerve as I did when I was a twenty year old top collegiate runner. After all, age is not a matter of chronology. It was a awesome course…All dirt and mud, thru cottonwoods and around sage, lots of turns, plenty of hills and uneven ground, even around a autumn corn field or two. Does it get any better on a fine fall morning? Are people actually inside sleeping or gaming or stuffing their pie holes when they could be experiencing what I and the many others of all abilities are this morning?

In a short while I found myself and one other, a young tough college kid from Adams (Adams State College all time leading national cross country champions pushing the pace out front. I felt go(o)d. Heart pounding, thighs burning, the breath smoothly taking in the pran, mind steady..Zazen steady. This is what it means to be alive. All your senses on full. Your spirit integrated with each foot fall and scent in the air.

Oh’d I do? Second overall beating the defending champ by more than a minute. First in my age group (30-49) by a long shot. Time on this gnarly course: 17:19…I’ll be working on the that little benchmark.


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