Tag Archives: 2008 Summer Olympics

Spirituality: A Running Definition

A sadhu performing namaste in Madurai, India.

Image via Wikipedia

I had hoped we were ready to move past the point of defining terms and such, but I guess we had forgotten the most important term.  This term is actually in title, no it isn’t running or art.  Confused? Well it is actually in the series title – Spirituality.  Keeping in mind that Warren Kay is a Christian, but is writing to a much broader audience I really liked his definition of spirituality.

The way you live your life in light of your beliefs and values is what I call spirituality in a general sense.

This definition actually pulls together several elements of the definition provided by Webster. It is simple and broadly applicable.  Kay comments on the spiritual experience – making it clear that it doesn’t have to be dramatic like Paul’s conversion in Acts or the Angel speaking to Mohammed but that they are “far more common… and are usually something much more down to earth.”  He says that a spiritual experience can be something as “simple as the appreciation of beauty and friendship.”  Again I would agree with his ideas about the spiritual experience.

Kay devotes several pages of Chapter Two to talking about reductionist points of view.  He offers several arguments against reductionism, including a running one. The thrust of his point is that reducing running to a simple biological activity takes away much of the experience itself.  The runner’s high – simply a biological process.  While the biology is accurate it does seem that there should be something more.  I may be a little biased by my WASP point of view but I don’t want anything reduced simply to neurons and microbes.  Every living thing was created for a purpose, every chemical reaction has a reason, including the runner’s high.

Taking a look through history Kay claims that:

Running has been an activity of necessity and enjoyment for thousands of years, and in a number of cultures, running has had a close association with spirituality and religion.

I’ll assume these are correct.  He claims that the Olympic Games were originally created as a religious ceremony.  He also talks about a group of Buddhist Monks in Japan called “Marathon Monks” who were swift and able runners taking on a 1,000 day running challenge, which is quite extraordinary, as their ultimate spiritual prize.  His final example come from the Lung-gom-pa runners of Tibet who often run 200 miles in a day and can run for 48-hours nonstop.   Either of those two groups would be quite amazing to see.

His closing thoughts for this chapter are good so I’ll go ahead and quote them here:

… running, unlike many other sports or human activities, doesn’t need external tools or devices: you have your body, and that’s all you need.

Running encourages simplicity – a principle that tends to foster spiritual growth.

This, [simplicity] in turn, helps you experience a feeling of freedom and joy when you run, a feeling that is different from anything you experience through any other purely human activity.

I can’t agree with that last point enough.  Whenever I slip off the watch and mp3 player and just go out for a run it can be a totally different experience than any other run. My run this past weekend at the Louisville Swamp is a great example of one of these moments.

[tags] Sacred Art, Running, Spiritual, Warren Kay [/tags]

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August Highlights

I can’t believe that it is already September.  The summer has flown by and school is getting ready to start back up.  Yikes! I think I joined with everybody else out there in throwing off my sleep schedule to watch the Olympics – including an amazing marathon performance, lots of new world records, and some great examples of the true Olympic spirit. Watching the Olympics raised the question in my mind, do I have what it takes?  Despite adding on 4 more weeks of marathon training I doubt I’ll run anywhere close to a 2:06, at least not for the full distance anyways.  Weeks 9 10 11 12 are all in the bag.  I’ve now run increased my longest run ever to about 21 miles and I’ve done the distance twice now!

When I wasn’t busy increasing my long runs I threw in some races.  I almost got a 10K PR while running the Hennepin Lakes Classic.  I managed to get a 15K PR two weeks later in the MDRA 15K.  Two weeks and a 20 miler later I set a new PR in the half-marathon distance, by a minute and a half at the Rochester Half Marathon.

I’ve been meeting and getting to know a lot of runners through a tool called Twitter.  It has been a fun way to connect and share about running and other random bit of life.  I even introduced the idea of tagging runs in Twitter so we can see each other’s better.

I am almost a 1/4 of the way to my goal for raising $2,000 to support the great work of World Vision around the world.  This month’s related posts included:

August 2008/2007 Monthly Mileage

Running – 175.5 / 123.26

Biking – 184.1 / 25.3

Swimming – 700 / 0

Last year was an eventful month as well.  I raced a few times, not doing as well as I did this year.  It was also extremely hot last year in Indiana, while my summer here in Minneapolis hasn’t been too bad! So to help deal with the heat I offered some tips to avoid the inferno. I raced a 5K and a 10K. I got a Sansa MP3 player and talked about the other “equipment” I used to run in.  This was pre-Garmin days! In the Olympic build-up year I took a look at an unusual banned substance – Caffeine. Yes, in high enough quantities, caffeine is considered illegal. A fun and popular post that I wrote was titled “Ways to Ruin Your Next Race.”

I hope you had a good August and are looking forward to fall coming!

[tags] Highlights [/tags]

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True Olympic Spirit

So far there has been a lot of great competition in the 29th Olympiad. For me this is the first Olympics where I have seen any controversy or even thought about boycotting the Olympics. Ultimately, after reading comments from both current and former Olympians about the decision I think the world has made the right choice to not boycott.

Yes, China has a lot of policies that are really messed up and harmful to many people around the world. Every country has some policies that someone would vehemently disagree with, but the Olympics are about overcoming.  Overcoming adversity to triumph.  Overcoming fear and getting personal goals.  Overcoming politics and creating peace and unity.  The theme for this year’s Olympics is One World, One Dream.

Yao Ming & Lin Hao

Yao Ming & Lin Hao

I’ll step off my soap box and highlight some great stories about the Olympics and Olympians.

1) Opening Ceremony was pretty sweet – lots of colors, emotions, and powerful stories about the flag bearers. Including the story about Lin Hao, one of the students in May’s deadly earthquake in China.  According to the reports, this little guy pulled 2 classmates out of the school building.

2) Lopez Lomong has an amazing story. He was selected by the US Olympic Team Captains to carrying the red, white, and blue into the Olympic stadium.  You probably have heard this but he was a “Lost Boy” from Sudan. He literally ran for his life to flee the terrible violence that has killed millions.  He arrived here and has built a great running reputation.

3) Sudanese Athletes are competing and trying to overcome the violence in Darfur. Training with logs, boulders, and paint cans several athletes are in contention for medals, including Abubaker Kaki Khamis in the 800m. From the Washington Post:

“We see this as an opportunity to bring us together and lift up the country,” said [Abdullah] Nyala [Sudanese 1500 meter runner], whose parents are farmers in Darfur. “We have all tribes on the team, and there is no problem.”

“I’ve got nothing to do with the government,” Nyala said. “I’m running for Sudan, I’m running for the whole country, and I’m also doing it for myself.”

4) Ryan Hall has an amazing story and I am a big fan.  I’m sure you have heard about him! Runner’s World recently did a great spread about him. As did The New Yorker. He is a solid athlete and a medal contender in the marathon.

Lots of information is available at NBC’s website. Track events start Friday, Aug 17. The USATF has a lot of information at their site as well, including a complete roster with bios about most of the athletes.  The Final Sprint has and will have more information and stories about athletes and “live coverage”. Finally, Down the Backstretch, a Minnesota focused blog has a list of some great links to follow Olympic coverage (the links focus on more than just Minnesotans!)

[tags] Olympics, Sudan, China, USATF [/tags]

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Olympic Trials: Triumph and Tragedy

In an amazing performance early Saturday morning, Ryan Hall shattered the Olympic Marathon Trials record in an amazing 6 mile breakaway to finish in 2:09:02 (4:55).  He finished over 2 minutes ahead of his soon to be teammate Dathan Ritzenhein who broke away and finished in 2:11:07 (5:00).  Third place was captured by Brooks-Hanson standout Brian Sells who finished in 2:11:40 (5:01).  Khalid Khannouchi was able to hang on to fourth place and will the alternate for the US Olympic Marathon team going into the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

What should have been a day of celebration for US Distance Running and young American athletes, was also a day of mourning the loss of a friend.  Ryan Shay collapsed on the course at about 5 1/2 miles into the race.  According to various reports spectators quickly administered CPR and the EMT’s arrived quickly, but he was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital.  Our hearts go out to his wife of 4 months, his family, and friends which includes Ryan Hall.  Officials are still unsure of what actually caused him to collapse and we’ll likely not know for at least a week according to ESPN.  You can read Shay’s pre-race bio here.

Indiana Connections

Kyle Baker was a graduate of Highland High School, he ran a 2:31:37 (5:47) on Saturday placing 94th.  Kyle, 31, now lives in Grand Rapids, MI. Kyle qualified for the trials during last October’s Twin Cities Marathon running a 2:21:02. Baker has earned accolades as Michigan Runner’s Male Runner of the Year in 2003 and 2002 not to mention an impressive collegiate resume which includes several All-American and Big-Ten titles.  Baker was also profiled in a December 2002 issue of Running Times.

Cecil Franke, 39 from Dublin Indiana, competed in the trials and ran a 2:25:01 (5:32) placing 67th.  Cecil ran a 2:20:43 at this spring’s Boston Marathon but used his 2006 Columbus Marathon winning time of 2:18:13 to qualify for the Trials. Franke is a high school Cross Country coach at Centerville High School.  Last year in addition to his Columbus Marathon win, he also won and set a course record in Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon.

Ryan Shay ran for Notre Dame and was from Michigan.

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Olympic Trials Preview

The Men’s Marathon Olympic Trials are set for November 3 at Central Park in New York City. The race begins at 7:30 and will be featured briefly throughout the morning on NBC, but will be streamed live at NBCSports.

A map of the course (pdf) and spectator guide are available at the NYRR site. The USATF describes the course as

… a criterium-style course in Central Park that will start in Rockefeller Plaza and finish near Tavern on the Green. The criterium loop in Central Park will be the reverse of the loop used when NYRR hosted the USA 8 km Championships from 2002 to 2004. Athletes will run the loop five times, with distance added to complete the full 42.195 km of the marathon.

According to a press release

2004 Olympic Trials champion Alan Culpepper (Boulder, Colo.), Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi (San Diego, Calif.) and 10,000m and marathon Olympian Dan Browne (Portland, Ore.) lead a host of contenders who have officially made their bid to become the first members of Team USA’s Track & Field squad for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Also joining Culpepper, Keflezighi and Browne on the official entry list for the November 3 event are half-marathon American record-holder Ryan Hall (Big Bear Lake, Calif.), 2004 Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein (Eugene, Ore.), Brian Sell (Rochester Hills, Mich.) and two-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman (Tucson, Ariz.)

As of 10/21 Khalid Khannouchi has the fastest qualifying time of 2:07:04 (4:50).  The slowest time posted is 2:22:02 (5:25) which is actually 2 seconds over the “B” standard.  The “A” standard which means that USATF will pay for your trials participation is a 2:20:00 (5:20).  You may also obtain the “B” standard by racing a 5K in 13:40:00 (4:23) or a 10K in 28:45:00 (4:37).

You can watch a video collection about the athletes, the event, and American running at New York Road Runner’s Chasing Glory site.  Runner’s World also has a large selection of information.

It looks like it should be a great race, especially the finish.  Who do you think will win this year’s Marathon Trials?

There actually is an Anderson connection to one of the runners, but I can’t remember who he is.  Anyone remember??

The Women’s Marathon Trials will be held April 20 in Boston.

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