Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Real World

Monks lead very busy lives.

6 a.m.: Matins
Noon: Diurnum
5 p.m.: Vespers
7:40 p.m.: Compline

In between those services, they are busy making delicious meals (the other CIA (Culinary Institute of America) is right across the river; apparently one of the monks is an escapee from there); working in their garden; or making incense (which is how they make their living).

There are worse ways to live.

So that was my schedule for Saturday and Sunday, plus attending a talk by our retreat leader (if you wished).

I'll tell you: it was hard getting any running in with all that going on. So here's what I did: I woke up at 5:15 a.m. on Saturday (it's really dark out at 5:15, just FYI). I believe the temperature was oh, around 5 degrees. Maybe. Did I have running tights with me? I did not. Do I own running tights? I do not. I did, however, bring long white, silk underwear with me since I heard it might be chilly. So I put those on, with my royal blue running shorts over them, added a dri-max t-shirt, topped with a dri-max (white) turtleneck, plus green gloves and a lovely plaid scarf ... I looked like ... a freak? Whatever. Turns out not all that many people are up at 5:30 a.m. Except the monks, and they were busy.

So, I trotted up the monastery driveway to the main highway in West Park, New York, and decided to run for just 45 minutes (the schedule called for a 3-mile run, but I had no way to tell miles).

It's amazing how running, combined with utter terror of pitch blackness, which was only occasionally lifted by the lights of giant 18-wheelers flying past about 10 inches from your nose, along with the fear of the bears that probably lived in the woods aligning both sides of the road ... well, it's amazing how all of that can combine to kinda warm you up, real fast. My heart was pounding before I even put one foot in front of the other.

Once the sun came up, it wasn't so bad:

And in fact, it was fantastic.

As was being silent. Except for the fact that the older woman I drove up with kept hunting me down throughout the weekend to tell me such things as where I could hang my coat (on the coat hanger), or ask me if I'd seen the dog (I had), or try to tell me about last year's retreat. It got to the point that I started ducking her. I guess she was lonely; but damnit, I was there for silence! And, please tell me, why would you go to a silent retreat, and bring your laptop, like one guy did? WHY??

The monks belong to an initiative called "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (caution: a bell will ring), in which religious organizations toll their bells whenever there is a public execution. On Friday night, they told us about this organization, and said there had been an execution that day (I think in North Carolina), and then they tolled their bells for the prisoner, the executioner , and the victim(s). That was very cool.

It was odd walking past people, nodding to them, but not talking. Or sitting through meals, and not talking. Odd, but very freeing, because? No b.s. allowed. No stress of making small talk with strangers. (Am I anti-social?? hmmm.) At lunch, one of the monks reads aloud; they were in the middle of a Bill Bryson book. Meals were taken in a room overlooking the Hudson River.

Like I said: there are worse ways to live.

So, yeah, running:

I am following Hal Higdon's novice 0-10k plan, trying to teach myself how to run. Yeah, yeah, it's kinda funny, ha ha. Just ran a marathon, now I have to learn how to run 2.5 miles. Legs like lead, huffing and puffing. Tell me please, if I stay with this, will it get any easier?? I know it's not supposed to be easy, but easier?

This morning: 2.5 miles (that's what the schedule said!) in 26:47 minutes.

I will give me this; I'm persistent.


a.maria said...

ok...i just left you a comment and it never posted..WHY oh WHY am i blogger retarded? you'd never know i design websites for a living.


ok well, all i said was... i'm jealous you're getting to run and you're hysterical for having run in silk.

oy. stupid blogger.

Susan said...

running with monks - that is the coolest.

Lara said...

That sounds like a wonderful weekend and good for you for getting out for a run!

Yes, it does get easier! I mean, when you look back in 2 months or 6 months or a year, you're going to say 'Wow, look how far I've come!'

Simba's Mom said...

Sounds like a wonderfully relaxing experience not having to make small talk!

Glad that the run went well!

susie said...

that sounds like my kind of weekend. there's something really wonderful about not having to talk or communicate. except then I think too much. and that's not always a good thing. anyway...you will find that running gets easier. I remember saying: I can't get past 20 minutes. I can't get past 45 minutes...and then... how will I ever run more than an hour. step by step. you do. you will.

David said...

Beautiful sunrise.
Running near monks.
Running in long white silk underwear.
Green gloves. Plaid scarf.
Tolling bells.
What a weekend.

jeanne said...

David: you certainly caught the essence. It's almost poetry the way you write it! :)

Kim said...

I am jealous of your running attire...I only wear my son's old ratty football shirt and a pair of men's athletic shorts. My husband says I make him pant with lust when he sees me in my running clothes....but for some reason I don't believe him ...(he says the same thing when I wear my paint covered sweats to bed)
Please let me know if running gets easier because everytime I run I think I am going to pass out from lack of oxygen. I don't even smoke and it sounds like I am a 3 pack a day girl. My legs hardly ever feel tired it is all cardio!!!

21st Century Mom said...

All that silence sounds really nice and foo on the talkative lady. I would have avoided her, too.

Yes it does get easier. When I first started running it took me about 3 weeks to work up to 1 mile. I was so proud of myself for running that far!
Keep on keepin' on and you will go from a 10K to a 12K to a 1/2 marathon to another full marathon. Good times!

Dorine said...

Monks, and truckers, and bears. Oh my!
It's good to have you back. I kept checking your site for messages, forgetting that you had a trip. I must say, I'm very impressed at your dedication to running. "Five degrees? No problem. I'll just put on my silk long underwear, even though it's designed for 30 degrees!" If marathoning teaches anything, it teaches how to go out and do what you don't feel like doing. At least sometimes.
It sounds like a memorable run. That's one of the things I love about running--the places we see, the experiences we have.